Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Quote I Like

"I will not cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth. That is a program of sorts, is it not? It is certainly program enough to keep conservatives busy, and liberals at bay. And the nation free." – William F. Buckley, Up From Liberalism

William F Buckley

William F. Buckley, the father of the conservative movement in America died today. I never met him, but I owe much of my political beliefs to him. For not only did he create a conservative movement purged of the paranoid anti-Semitic ranting of the Old Right, he help create the fusionism between traditional conservatives and libertarians that created the unique philosophy which is American conservatism (as I consider myself a conservative AND a Catholic libertarian, he showed the way).

He was not perfect. It took National Review too long to accept color blindness as the way to address race in America. That tardiness clearly harmed conservatism's appeal to minorities. And at times, his intelligence could be confused for elitism or arrogance. But he bequeathed to America an intellectual conservatism that, while clearly in trouble today has gone from a fringe movement to one of the mainsprings of American politics.

In college, reading National Review was like engaging in some sort of subversive activity. We would get the new issue, hide in some obscure corner of the library, and read it while we took turns as look outs, or so it seems in hindsight. Of course, it was never quite that way. By the time I entered college, Ronald Reagan had twice been elected president, the second time in a landslide. Conservatives had gone from being marginal figures to running the country, though of course, on campus, we were something of an oddity. But it is fun to remember it as such.

He was known for his speech and boy how he spoke. Here he is on election night, 1968.

(HT Ann Althouse)

Granted, a few months earlier Vidal and Buckley got into a shouting match on live t.v. during the 1968 Democratic Convention (Vidal called Buckley a "crypto Nazi" to which Buckley responded by threatening to punch Vidal in his "God damned face!"). That probably explains why they were in different locations.

Why can't we get political coverage like this today? Instead, today we get talking points and shouting and Ann Coulter.
Ultimately, the problem with Coulter is a problem with my fellow conservatives more and more these days. We USED to seek out the intellectual high ground. Now, it seems we are in a race to the bottom with the Michael Moores and Ted Ralls. Who can be more outrageous? Who can sell more books?

Where is the William Buckley or George Will for the next generation? Instead of Russell Kirk or Irving Kristol we are getting mediocrities dressed up in drag. In the spirit of Mencken we have Steyn and O'Rourke to be sure, but where will the intellectual foundation for the next 20 years come from?

I see the same happening on the other side. The great social critics on both sides are either gone (Buckley, Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson) or old (Chomsky, Buchanan). And yes, most of them are annoying (Mailer was a psycho and Thompson probably insane). But they were intelligent and thought provoking. In their place we have mediocrities.

Farewell WFB.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Clinton surrogates apparently have been circulating a photo of Obama in Kenyan "elder" garb. HRC should never try and make fun of the anyone else on the planet was garbed.

What is that thing on her right shoulder? Oh, sorry, that is the future President Clinton.

(Somewhere there is a picture of me at 9, as an usher at my uncle's wedding. I am wearing a beige tuxedo, with a puffy shirt. Guys, it was the 70s.)

(HT to Vodka Pundit for the story, the picture and the snarky comment)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

This pretty much sums up the last 8 years and the coming election

"The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it." – PJ O'Rourke

The Samaritan Woman

Today's gospel was John's account of the Samaritan woman. This has always been one of my favorite gospels. It seems very subtle. Unlike other important gospels, Christ is not taking on the religious establishment or challenging His disciples or accomplishing a miracle. Rather, He is sitting there, discussing mostly mundane things with a Samaritan woman. And in doing so, He wins over a group considered by the Jews of the day to be a schismatic offshoot of their religion.

The story of the Samaritan woman is found in John's gospel only. And as the homilist at my church pointed out, in some ways it contradicts other parts of the Biblical narrative, such as Matthew 10 where Jesus, in sending out his disciples, tells them to avoid pagan and Samaritan towns. Yet here is Jesus, not only entering Samaritan territory, but requesting that a Samaritan woman (considered unclean by the religious standards of the day) draw him water.

I am no theologian. But I have always found in this narrative that conversion is for everyone, and that God can be found in the simplest things.

Survivor: Cuba

The Cuban version of "Survivor" is the only one where the person NOT voted off the island loses.

Our Cuban policy has kept Castro in power. Unlike Eastern Europe, Cuba is far away from the Soviet Union. So unlike the Eastern communists, he was not kept in power with the threat of Soviet invasion. Rather, he kept himself in power by beggaring his nation. By making people turn their thoughts away from liberty and towards bare survival, he protected the regime. (Cuba in 1959 was not a poverty stricken island -- it was actually fairly prosperous. The Cuban Revolution was driven largely by the fact that the Cuban middle class was tired of playing Batista's tune).

The embargo made Castro's job easier and gave him an excuse for everything.

On top of that, the closeness of the US gave him an escape value. So people who wanted a better life for themselves jumped into inner tubes and headed north.

I am not sure where to go next. Obviously, in an election year, not much will happen. But going forward, progress can be made. Raul Castro needs to be given a face saving out. At the very least, he needs to be rewarded if he releases some political prisoners and loosens restrictions on the media. A full blown liberal democracy may take some more time, but maybe not all that much. With the exception of Haiti, pretty much all of Latin America is democratic these days. Granted, Venezuela is heading in the opposite direction, but it is Cuba which is bucking the regional and cultural trends.

Well, to Cuba Libre!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bush takes on the Zombie Threat

It is my belief that for too long, the government is ignoring the threat of zombies. This has required the citizenry to take matters into our own hands.

At last, President Bush is taking action. Is it any coincidence that the Navy shot down that failed satellite today?

(HT: The Anchoress)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bob Hope Explains Politics

Bob Hope explains everything.

Castro’s retirement

Fidel Castro "retired" as president of Cuba today. He stayed in power 49 years – that is easy when you do not have to worry about majority votes or term limits and the Constitution is what you say it is. Hearing the name Castro always reminds me of John Derbyshire's gloss on a George Orwell quote -- "Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy."

One side note, although Orwell is always quoted as "Jackboots", in actuality, he only mentioned boots. Not really that important, unless you are concerned about precision.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Like Ike!

And now, how about some Eisenhower!

The jungle was written by Irving Berlin, an early supporter of Eisenhower. When you get down to it, they do not make campaign songs like they used to.

A Little More Reagan

For commentor Rob -- another taste of Reagan, to warm up a cold Valentine's Day. A principle I think even Obama supporters can agree on.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Hate Saint Valentine’s Day

I hate Saint Valentine's Day. I did when I was single. I still hate it now that I am married. I hated it when I was dating someone. I hated it more when I wasn't. I once even broke up with someone in January to avoid the whole Valentine's Day thing.

Hopefully, my wife likes what I got her.

Yes We Can!

I find when I am feeling down and disheartened, a little dose of Reagan always perks me up again.

HT -- Instapundit

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And now for something completely different

Question: How many Obama supporters does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: None, because when Obama becomes president, light bulbs will change themselves.

Welcome denizens of the Derb. This is my very first “Derbalanche” and I invite you to look around, and comment that I have no clue what I am talking about!

And a hello to friends of John in North Carolina!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

More Thoughts on Vice Presidential Choices

A new blog "VEEP WATCH" has started to look at the vice presidential "races."

I have noticed that Sarah Palin has been getting more looks. Also getting mentioned are former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele and former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts. The thought is that Clinton or Obama have the novelty factor, which Watts or Steele would to some extent neutralize.

I like both Watts and Steele. However, I do not think one term as a lieutenant governor makes someone qualified for vice president. Had Steele been elected to the Senate in 2006, maybe things would be different. As for Watts, he has been out of the public eye for a while. Both are eloquent spokesmen for conservative ideals. While I hope they both get back into public view, neither will be the GOP's vice presidential nominee.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Is it too Early to be Thinking of Running Mates?

With Mitt Romney dropping out of the race today, it is obvious to everyone that John McCain will be the Republican nominee. His VP pick is very, very important.

1. Due to his age, he needs to pick someone young enough to handle the rigors of office (in effect, McCain's VP is going to be the ceremonial head of state in many ways, the one doing all the traveling and visiting)

2. Because of his age, McCain also needs someone who can credibly step into the office on no notice.

3. McCain needs to make various different conservative constituencies happy

4. McCain needs someone who has not spent too much time in Washington

This rules out Mike Huckabee, who only makes certain social conservatives happy and has no foreign policy experience. It also rules out people like Colin Powell and Joe Lieberman, who appeal to the same voter demographic as McCain.

Based on these criteria, I think that South Carolina governor Mark Sanford should be top of his list. Why? Going back to my criteria

1. Sanford is 47 and charismatic

2. He can point to his time in the House and as governor to show he has experience and can run a government.

3. South Carolina has a lot of social conservatives, but Sanford has also made a name for himself as a pro-business fiscal conservative.

4. He only spent 6 years in Washington. He also has excellent private sector experience.

At the McCain rally last week I attended last week, I do not think McCain mentioned Sanford by name, but he did note that South Carolina has an energetic economy, thanks to good government that lets the private sector take off. (He was making a comparison with Michigan, and its poor business environment.)

I would also include governors Crist and Pawlenty, especially as Florida is a key state and Minnesota is possibly a swing state (though Pawlenty was twice only narrowly elected).

I also would consider Alaska governor Sarah Palin but she is a first term governor of a remote state.

So Sanford should be the first choice

McCain and War

One of my commenters in response to my post regarding my attendance at a McCain rally said that "Very cute children. Hopefully you won't have to serve them up in a continued one sided war."

Well, I agree. While I supported the invasion of Iraq, I think it has been a screw up. Ron Paul was right about Iraq back in 1998. I have never been in the middle of a war (my sole military experience was some college ROTC) and I really hope my children never see it.

This hope to avoid more war is one reason I am supporting John McCain. I believe that he will never place troops in harm's way unless he believes it necessary and a last resort and he will give them the proper support they need (something I believe President Bush failed at).

I believe this for two reasons. First, due to his own experience in Vietnam. Second, for a reason Senator McCain never talks about -- one of his sons is a Marine lance corporal and has been serving in Iraq. Another of his sons is in the Naval Academy. So when President McCain is (I hope) inaugurated next January, he will have two sons in harm's way.

That I believe is the best insurance against sending troops in lightly, and making sure they have what they need to win.

And one last note -- JC, I have listened to all of the candidates (except Mike Gravel). I choose McCain.

A Quote I find Extremely Disturbing

"We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions. It is not that we do not tolerate such decisions in the very heart of our society, in wide range of enterprises from corporate empires to emergency and intensive care units. If we do not act urgently we may find we have chosen total liberty rather than life."

David Shearman is an Australian Professor who is very concerned about climate issues. I am not a total skeptic on global warming. I am, however, a skeptic on fear mongering. To me, it seems that global warming has become the latest reason a self appointed elite trumpet to prove that they need to be in charge of things. This group of enlightened individuals will step up and makes decisions for the rest of us, doling out scarce resources as they see fit, rather than trying to find replacements.

This is simply the old Marxist and fascist wine in the biodegradable bottle of environmentalism.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Anchoress on Ash Wednesday

The Anchoress has some great thoughts on Ash Wednesday. It is a great moment to remind ourselves that we are mortal and will one day die. As a friend told me at lunch today "You never know, I could check out any minute."

An orthodox Jewish rabbi once told me that to understand Catholicism you have to understand Judaism. The tradition of ashes goes back to ancient Jewish ritual, whereby those in deep mourning would "sit in ashes" as a sign. Job himself, when he lost everything sat in ashes. So the ashes say that we mourn and, of course, they remind us that our body is merely dust.

When I was in law school, we had an ecumenical service where the sermon was given by the University's Anglican chaplain. He noted the gospel that day warns us of public piety, of acting holy to be seen as holy. Jesus in the gospel warns about hypocrisy.

Yet what do we do on Ash Wednesday? We mark ourselves with ash crosses, for all to see. In doing so therefore, are we also not admitting our hypocrisy?

So besides remembering our mortality, we should also use Ash Wednesday to remember our hypocrisy.

A Quote I Really Like

"One must welcome the true conquests of the Enlightenment, human rights and especially the freedom of faith and its practice, and recognize these also as being essential elements for the authenticity of religion." -- Pope Benedict's reply to the 138 Muslim Scholars.

Pope Benedict wrote those words as part of a reply to a letter addressed to him by 138 Muslim scholars. The scholars wrote to the Pope hoping to begin a dialogue between religions, following the Pope's Regensburg Address. While addressed to a specific group of Muslims, these words I believe have relevance for us all. Some believe it is impossible to unite faith, reason and liberal democracy. Yet I argue that the three not only co-exist but are enhanced and strengthened by each other.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Obama is speaking now. There is a messianic quality about him. His cadence is that of a preacher. He is uplifting. His supporters are now chanting USA.

Say what you want about Obama, but the guy can speak. "Yes He Can!"

EDITED TO ADD -- He seems to be supporting the Zubrin plan on energy. He says he wants to support among other things wind power. I wonder if he will ask Senator Kennedy about the Cape Wind Project.


McCain is talking now. He is relaxed, happy and joking. He says that he is the frontrunner. He is being magnanimous and mentioning Romney and Huckabee.

Now CNN is splitting the screen and going to Obama headquarters.


Huckabee is speaking on ABC News now. He does have the gift of gab.


We are watching Hillary Clinton's speech now. My comment was at least she is not using her faux southern accent. My wife's comment was that she hopes Hillary does not start talking in a Long Island accent.


There seem to be lots of third place finishes for Romney. Unless he wins California, he is done.

Voting this Morning

I went to vote this morning. I had planned on taking my older son with me then dropping him off at preschool. However, my younger son got upset because he thought I sad I was taking his brother to the BOAT (he likes boats). So we turned it into a family affair.

Cool thing was that they let my older son run the ballot through the machine and gave him the voting receipt. He was telling everyone one we passed on the street that he voted.

Getting Ready for the Results

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Democrats – Just Feel the Love

While the self appointed leaders of the conservative movement continue their sulk over the McCain surge, not everything is all sweetness and light on the Democrats' side. As the Clinton machine puts Barack Obama squarely in their sights, that race continues to get ugly. So far, we have Clinton surrogates mentioned Obama's middle name, the New York chapter of NOW calling Senator Kennedy a traitor for endorsing Obama, Bill Clinton comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson in light of Obama's victory in South Carolina.

And if no one looks to have a lead after tomorrow, it may get uglier. About 20% of the Democratic delegates are "super delegates"– party leaders who are not elected in the primary/caucus process. Given the closeness of the race, it is possible that neither Obama nor Clinton will have a majority of the elected delegates. Added to that are the games being played over the Florida and Michigan delegations. Both those states had their delegates stripped because the scheduling of the primary violated Democratic Party rules. All the candidates promised not to contest the primaries, by Hillary Clinton found some loopholes and "won" the primaries. Her campaign is now pushing to seat the delegations. The link is a few days old and I cannot find the current status of the controversy.

My favorite regular commentator, Rodak, has even called for a boycott of the election if this continues.

Imagine what will happen if come convention time neither candidate has sown up the nomination. I am not saying we will get a repeat of 1968 (I doubt the mayor of Denver will be quite a ready to "preserve disorder" as Mayor Daley was). You may see a fight over the seating of Florida and Michigan and, of course, a fight over the super delegates. If this comes to pass, I plan to make popcorn and martinis.

Super Tuesday

Yesterday we had friends coming over for the Super Bowl, so we made a run to pick up some things. One of our stops was to pick up beer and wine. While there, I also picked up a bottle of Belvedere.

My wife's comment to the cashier was that the beer was for the Super Bowl and the vodka for Super Tuesday.

The Super Bowl

As a native New Yorker, I am quite happy that the Giants won. While I was always more of a Jets fan, the Jets and Giants fans do not have anything close to the depth of hatred that other rival New York area teams have.

The Mets and Yankees have a sense of history, as most Mets fans were originally Dodger or Giants fans.

The fans of the Islanders and Rangers hate each other with a passion grown out of old playoff losses (I still think Maloney’s stick was high, though it came out alright in the end) and chants of 1940 and 1983.

The Jets and Giants do not have quite that history. They only play each other occasionally. And neither team has been in a position to deprive the other of glory.

So this Jets fan says "Let's Go Giants!" and good job!

McCain Rally

John McCain swung through Illinois on Friday. I attended the rally, though got there a little late. I was stuck in the back, practically in the lobby.

One of those blurs on the stage is the Senator (not a bad photo considering it was from my camera phone).
He seemed energized and ready to put the nomination away. But before us McCain supporters get to comfortable, the latest polls from California show that Romney is making a comeback there.

A couple of Ron Paul supporters showed up of course. One of them was whispering sweet nothings about illegal immigration and the gold standard in my ear.

But the Paulistas did not take away from the excitement McCain generated.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mohammed Yunus and the Abolition of Poverty

Mohammed Yunus, head of the Grameen Bank, spoke here a few days ago. He is a real interesting guy and I even bought a copy of his latest book, Creating a World Without Poverty.

Yunus formed the Grameen Bank to give loans to the poorest people in Bangladesh, to help them get out of debt to moneylenders and start their own businesses. This has blossomed into a major undertaking, establishing not only a bank but a whole string of enterprises. All of the enterprises are self sustaining, but not profit making enterprises in the traditional sense. Rather, they are what he terms "social businesses" which means a non-profit or small profit enterprise which runs a business as a business, and generates enough profit to keep the business going and expanding. While investment is protected, dividends are not to be paid (or paid in small amounts). In his book, Yunus rejects socialist and Marxist prescriptions for alleviating poverty for one based on the free market (though he believes in heavy regulation).

I think Yunus underestimates the profit motive a bit, but then again, not really. You could argue that the Grameen principle is a way to train the poor to use capitalism to their advantage. And while the blankets and crafts that Grameen members are famous for are not what built the German or Japanese economic miracles, one imagines a time when Grameen enterprises moves onto new products.

But the guy is not standing on a street corner with a sign saying "will quit overpopulating for food." He is not standing outside a G8 meeting shouting "Give me money!" Quite the opposite. He wants to include the poor in the global market, not end the global market (I am reading his latest book and he is really pushing, among other things, free markets). I think his model, within its limits, is a good way forward for alleviating poverty

Living Lent

The Anchoress notes that, by happy circumstance, Ash Wednesday is the day after Super Tuesday. So I guess that means I will gorge myself on Tuesday night, while watching election returns and then begin the time of penance. As usual, I will give up ice cream.

But The Anchoress believes that is too easy and we should use the period of Lent for greater reflection. Hence, that most political of Catholic bloggers is considering giving up political talk until Easter. While I will not follow her example, I think she is right that Lent must be a time of self examination.

Ann Coulter Endorses Hillary Clinton

Well sort of. She has said that if John McCain is the GOP nominee, she is CAMPAIGNING for Hillary Clinton.

Why? Because Hillary would be stronger on anti-terrorism. One piece of her proof, McCain opposes waterboarding.

I have always thought that Coulter is either a Democratic Party mole or doing an extremely subtle piece of performance art. Either way, she is an embarassment.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Some Favorite Hymns

My post the other day regarding my dislike of most hymns sung in Catholic churches got me thinking, what are my favorite hymns? After all, I am a firm believer that singing makes you pray twice. But hymns must be singable, beautiful and meaningful -- and too many of the songs in our Catholic hymnal fail on all three counts.

But there are great hymns out there, some are even sung in Catholic Churches. A few favorites, off the top of my head (and not including Christmas songs):
  • The King of Love my Shepherd Is (perhaps my all time favorite, and one I want sung at my funeral)

  • Amazing Grace

  • The Prayer of Saint Francis

  • Holy, Holy, Holy

  • Holy God We Praise Thy Name

  • Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above (hearing this hymn reminds me of being little and watching the old Italian ladies walk through the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a statute of the Virgin)

  • We Walk by Faith

Of these quick hymns, three are Anglican hymns, three are "old" Catholic hymns thought no longer relevant by many, and one (the Prayer of St. Francis) is relatively old but still often sung.