Seeing The Blind Side yesterday reminded me of this November story I've neglected: At age nine an immigrant from Sierra Leone, Madieu Williams graduated from the University of Maryland and wound up playing free safety for the Minnesota Vikings. He recently established the Madieu Williams Center for Global Health Initiatives. "The former U-Md. star is providing a $2 million endowment. It is the largest gift to the flagship school from an African American alumnus and the largest sum donated by someone so young." Whatever their means, all immigrants should express gratitude to this country (as should all citizens and potential Americans throughout the world). Recall these remarks.
I recently asked an inspiring local parish priest, a Cuban immigrant, whether he had heard anyone confess to the sin of being in this country illegally. He hadn't. But isn't this a worse sin than, say, shoplifting? Now priests should not be in the business of trying to get people deported; in fact, I'd take our parish congregation, illegals and all, over any other random group as fellow Americans. As with this and other political debates, more is involved than rights or legality; attitudes toward fellow citizens weigh heavily.
Men and Women
His response to Madame. A wordless reminder that he knows how to handle his affairs. [Oh come on: what a lame reference to the rope--Ed. I know; I only share this because today's uber-ironic students won't believe such products were really in people's showers once upon a time. Anyway, to continue with the loopy copy. . .) Powerfully genteel. And yet, unrelenting in his quest for excitement. Monsieur is a robust blend of rare herbs, spices, and natural oils. A provocative, refreshing statement to Madame. Which may explain why he becomes every woman's piece de resistance.
... Mr. Obama always knew that his greatest appeal was not as a leader but as a cultural symbol.... A greater problem for our nation today is that we have a president whose benign--and therefore desirable--blackness exempted him from the political individuation process that makes for strong, clear-headed leaders. He has not had to gamble his popularity on his principles, and it is impossible to know one's true beliefs without this. In the future he may stumble now and then into a right action, but there is no hard-earned center to the man out of which he might truly lead.
And yes, white America conditioned Barack Obama to emptiness--valued him all along for his "articulate and clean" blackness, so flattering to American innocence. He is a president come to us out of our national insecurities.
This I could anticipate from Shelby, but what came over Maureen Dowd? Liberals have the most to fear from a second term of Carter.
I look at Obama somewhat differently from Steele. Postmodern Obama inverts the order of the 10 moral virtues found in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. The Philosopher goes from courage to wittiness. Obama has no use for courage--probably viewing it as an atavism (hence his trouble addressing military issues)--but this disembodied voice is all wit. That is the postmodern stance: Being above it all. Aristotle had it right, that courage and its psychic source of spiritedness is a necessary part of moral, political, and philosophic life. A fully human life requires wit but does not begin with it.
I hope you guys enjoy the upgrades we made to No Left Turns this year. I note in passing that the contents are no better or worse than they have ever been! You also know that we offer our wit and wisdom at no cost to readers, even though it may be worth something. Now, being at the end of the year and all, I am asking you to consider coming up with a few bucks to put in our poke. The tax deductible contributions will help offset the related expenses.
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My best to you and yours in the New Year.
Since I'm quoting Krauthammer today, I should include his recent perspective on the new "Obama doctrine" articulated in Oslo. I'm one of those "conservative colleagues" toward whom Krauthammer's just scolding is directed.
I was less impressed [than my conservative colleagues] by the dawn of his "new realism." What the president stood up and said was there's evil in the world and Gandhi would not have done well against Hitler.
Well, for most of us, you dispose of those issues in the first week in the freshman dorm in college after a couple of late-night discussions. And to elevate it as a great philosophical achievement ... is quite astonishing. It is emperor's new clothes.
It is obvious.
The fact that we were all impressed is to tell you how unrealistic, idealistic, and naive were all the previous speeches, starting with the speech he gave in '08 in Berlin in which he said that the [Berlin] wall had come down ... "because the world stood as one."
Well, that's not why the wall had come down. It came down because America stood fast for 50 years on the ramparts of freedom and didn't flinch, and in the end the other guy conceded and collapsed.
This kind of globalism, this universalism, this naivete runs through all of his policy.
Hat tip: NRO.
I have almost nothing to add to Charles Krauthammer's critical year-end review of the Obama administration's blundered handling of Iran. The article's recounting of "a year of spectacularly squandered opportunity" deserves to be quoted in its entirety. Here is the conclusion (with which I have previously concurred):
One way or the other, Iran will dominate 2010. Either there will be an Israeli attack, or Iran will arrive at -- or cross -- the nuclear threshold. Unless revolution intervenes. Which is why to fail to do everything in our power to support this popular revolt is unforgivable.
Climate change scandals and bickering over health care reform are silly trifles in comparison to the potential global effect of a nuclear Iran. That such a looming danger has been relegated to second-tier priority status by the Obama administration suggests the un-seriousness and continued naivety of this president. Lone maniacs with underwear bombs on planes will seem like the good ol' days if Iran asserts control over the Middle East or begins marketing nuclear weaponry to the highest bidder.
Obama needs to speak. And he needs to say that the U.S. is abandoning its policy of "engagement" -- what has it gotten us? -- in favor of tough sanctions. In addition, he needs to declare in clear terms his support for the aims of the dissidents, not just his unhappiness with the methods the regime is using to beat them back.
"[T]hose who would slaughter innocent men, women and children must know that the United States will do more than simply strengthen our defenses," the President maintained, in his response to the flaming terrorist episode. Herewith, my program: Every university receiving federal funding will be required to have anti-terrorist suppression sessions for students, faculty, and administrators. They would involve exercises such as tossing books, notebooks, and purses at a gunman (recall Virginia Tech) and thwarting a suicide bomber in a plane or other public place. This training could be part of an already required physical education class or offered as a separate session. (The model here would be the Solomon Amendment, requiring ROTC opportunities on campuses that receive federal funding.) The sessions would also be made available from state and local governments that receive federal funding.
The effectiveness of such training is not the major issue; we are after all not Progressives, who exaggerate the importance of professionalism. The key purpose is rejecting the passive victim mentality that appears to have captured major government officials. With the seeming collapse of government responsibility, the people need to revert to their natural rights. Gun training is the next step. This would be the revival of the logic of liberty.
Thus, our new mental toughness would allow airplane passengers to carry knives and other weapons that cannot be used to destroy the plane. The threat comes from bombers, not from slashers.
It's a pity such training is necessary at all, but that's what we have become. Consider that the Army is coaching spouses on how to welcome partners back home.
In the week between Christmas and New Years, national attention is rightfully directed to an obsession with summing up the year-that-was and formulating new year's resolutions. As a tribute to the former, the Media Research Center has published a categorized best notable quotables of 2009 and a compilation of the worst New York Times quote of the year.
A sample of the latter includes Thomas Friedman's praise of Chinese Communism:
Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today. One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.
The New York Times, for its part, has a year by year recount of the last decade. As the article for 2007 - the year of the housing mortgage meltdown and the surge in Iraq - is devoted to "blogs about food," one might undergo a lowering in expectations as to the substance of the Gray Lady's reflections. But the 2009 article proves quite touching in its charitable optimism.
First, they shouldn't be calling it an "attempted" act of terrorism. By affecting our behavior for the worse the mere attempt to down an airliner is an act of terrorism. Our current feckless leadership is exemplified not only by DHS Secretary (and prospective Supreme Court nominee) Napolitano but also by Attorney General Holder's boilerplate statement in his press release on the episode (with my comments in brackets):
"This alleged attack [alleged only if you think the real attack might have been gastritis] on a U.S. airplane on Christmas Day shows that we must remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism at all times," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "Had this alleged plot to destroy an airplane been successful, scores of innocent people would have been killed or injured. We will continue to investigate this matter vigorously, and we will use all measures available to our government to ensure that anyone responsible for this attempted attack is brought to justice [and given an opportunity to denounce America in a U.S. court, should his attack fail]."
Holder's boilerplate statement looks preposterous in light of his decision to try various Guantanamo detainees. One reason the "panty bomber" (Mark Steyn) waited until landing to set off his device was to assault Americans on American soil. He must also have been counting on a backup plan of addressing a U.S. court. Should that turn out to be a motive, Holder should certainly offer his resignation.
Victor Davis Hanson and his NRO colleagues have more. Let gratitude be felt for the allegedly quick-acting passengers on the Detroit flight--though maybe, according to the jurisprudence of the day, they should be charged with assault instead.