Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Liberal Mob Attacks Christians in Indiana While Ignoring the Real Abuse Elsewhere

The opponents of religious freedom are attacking Republican politicians in the state of Indiana for their recent passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The attack mob is not discussing if and how this new law is any different from a federal law of the same name or such laws that exist in 19 other states.  The mob says this law permits discrimination against gays and lesbians, but its proponents say that it, like the federal law and other state laws, does not.

Ed Whelan at National Review reminds us:

H.L. Mencken famously defined puritanism as the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”  Progressivism, it seems, should be defined as the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be making a decision you disapprove of—and the fervent use of government power to prevent and punish such a decision.”

This attack is a tactic from the playbook of communist agitator Saul Alinsky, the spiritual mentor of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  Pick the target, freeze it, swarm it, smear it; avoid calm and reasoned discussion.  The ultimate goal is to break the will to resist the liberal political agenda.  Just as “women’s rights” activists condemn conservatives for every imagined slight while staying silent on the profound violence against and degradation of women in much of the world, “gay rights” proponents attack American conservatives relentlessly while also ignoring that same violence and degradation elsewhere.    

The electronics company Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook, a gay man, has blasted the new Indiana law.  Yet Cook’s Apple does lots of business, willingly and happily, with Muslim countries that commit violence against homosexuals.  So for Cook, is this dust up really about fair treatment of gays, real or imagined?

What’s going on here, when supposed “advocates” of rights for women and homosexuals ignore the real violence against them in the world, sometimes right here in American Muslim families (e.g., “honor killings”), and only attack American Christian conservatives?  What’s going on is yet another effort to marginalize and suppress political opponents of American liberals, generally and specifically. 

The general part is obvious.  The specific part is to attack Indiana governor Mike Pence, a smart, likeable, and accomplished Republican politician.  This over-the-top attack on Indiana tells us that Pence is seen as a significant national political threat by Democrats and so needs to be Palinized however possible.  Democrats play a long game.

R Balsamo

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Peggy Noonan Strikes at Ted Cruz, But Wounds Herself; Again

The dreamily erratic, mellifluous, and oft-duped Peggy Noonan is at it again.  In 2008, she utterly destroyed whatever credibility and reputation she had with her notoriously delusional and pathetic school-girl crush on Barack Obama (how’d that work out Peggy?), that at an age when people should know better.   

In 2008 she became infatuated with a rookie senator with an almost negligible resume as an Alinskyite (i.e., radical socialist) community organizer, a part-time Illinois state politician famous for setting a world record in voting “present”, and part-time lecturer (nota bene: not professor) of one course on the 14thAmendment and blacks at the UChicago Law School.  Obama was president (nota bene: not editor) of the Harvard Law Review, apparently a ceremonial post often used to promote diversity; he wrote nary a single word for it.  Looking at this man, she said this:  “His victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief....  He rose with guts and gifts.  He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make.”  While sensible, grounded people saw Obama for what he was based on his past actions and words, a man who never held a real job before the presidency, fake conservatives like Noonan and David Brooks (who infamously swooned over the “crease” of Obama’s pant leg) saw what they wanted to see.     

Now Noonan, not having learned to distrust her instincts, delivers a hit piece on Ted Cruz.  Noonan is the George Costanza contrary indicator here.  Cruz scares the beejessus out of liberals, socialists, fake conservatives, and go-along, get-along Republicans because he is smart, charismatic, and committed to principles of liberty rather than authoritarian big government.  She now says of Cruz in the Wall Street Journal in a post titled “The Too Smooth Cruz”:  “He is 44 and a first-term senator. He entered the national stage less than three years ago, though it seems like longer because he made himself so famous so fast.  He talks about Reagan, but Reagan in 1980 had been a union president, two-term governor of a huge state, candidate for the GOP nomination in 1976, and longtime leader of modern conservatism. He had been an executive; he had run things; his accomplishments could be measured.”

Though Noonan was enthralled with Obama in 2008 despite a wafer-thin resume, now the following apparently doesn’t count for Cruz, who actually has done lots of stuff at ages when Obama was smoking dope with his choom gang, working as a “community organizer” for a socialist organization, and flitting around the Illinois statehouse avoiding a voting record: 

·        Editor – a working, productive editor – of the Harvard Law Review, unlike Obama’s ceremonial affirmative-action post of “president”.
·        Clerk to the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
·        Solicitor General of the State of Texas, where he argued and won cases before the US Supreme Court.
·        Associate Deputy Attorney General in the U.S. Justice Department.
·        Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
·        Real-world experience in the private practice of law.

I’d say Cruz stacks up a world better than Barack Obama did then, and does now.

R Balsamo

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Barack Obama on Religious Identification

I say that I am a Christian, so everyone must accept that and proclaim agreement with that if asked (this especially goes for Republicans): Barack Obama.

Despite the fact that thousands of men, women, and imams of the Islamic State say they are good Muslims, and claim to be acting in accordance with the directives of the Muslim faith, I, Barack Obama, a Christian, proclaim that in no way are these people Muslim, regardless of what they say they are: Barack Obama.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ted Cruz Running

Senator Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz, the first Hispanic to serve as a U.S. senator from Texas, announced today that he is running for the Republican nomination for the 2016 Presidential election.  Cruz’s father is Cuban and his mother is of mixed Irish and Italian ancestry, despite which, Cruz jokes, he “somehow ended up Southern Baptist."

Per Wikipedia, Cruz graduated cum laude from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.  At Harvard he was a founding editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review and a named Fellow in Law and Economics.  After law school, Cruz served as a law clerk to a judge of the Fourth Circuit US Court of Appeals and then for Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court William Rehnquist.  Cruz was the first Hispanic to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.

Besides some years as an attorney in private practice, Cruz served as the Solicitor General of Texas for five years, the youngest and longest-serving in the history of that office.  In the Senate, Cruz has been a tireless advocate for individual liberty, Constitutionalism, and the impartial rule of law.  He also has been a fierce critic of the depredations of Barack Obama and his lieutenants on the integrity of the American system of government.   

Cruz is a strong and articulate advocate for his principles, and so is feared politically by liberals (and some Republicans-in-Name-Only) who thus smear him endlessly in ways large and small.  One example of the latter: just today National Public Radio, the ultra-liberal radio network largely funded by the American taxpayers, referred to Cruz as a “white Hispanic”, a term recently coined by the extremely-liberal New York Times to mean, in liberal dog-whistle terms, that somehow he’s not an authentic Hispanic.  Liberals have yet to refer to Barack Obama as a white African-American.  Unlike the milquetoast Mitt Romney, a good man but timid politically, and the feckless John McCain, who suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, Cruz will be a strong candidate.  I’m looking forward to his race.   

R Balsamo

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Obama: Mission Unaccomplished Against Muslim Terror

“Thanks to sacrifice and service of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, al Qaeda has been decimated, Osama bin Laden is dead.” –President Obama, November 1, 2012

“This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” –President Obama, September 10, 2014

“The United States has evacuated its remaining personnel, including about 100 special operations forces, from Yemen because of the deteriorating security situation there, U.S. officials said on Saturday. The U.S. pullout…  marked a further setback in U.S. counterterrorism efforts against a powerful al Qaeda branch in the country.” –Reuters, March 21, 2015

Thanks to Max Boot at Commentary

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reflections on Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway at age 24
A trip late last summer into Northern Michigan’s Hemingway country rekindled an old interest of mine in his life story.  I grew up not far from his hometown of Oak Park in suburban Chicago, and his boyhood there was of course well-known in the area.  As a boy, Hemingway fished and hunted in the “prairie” west of the Des Plaines River near his home; years later houses were built on that land and I grew up in one of them.  My interest has been not so much in his fiction but rather in his person, why he wrote and how he wrote about his life's adventures.  It has always struck me that his public persona of the great adventurer, full of vim and at times reckless vigor, was at odds with the themes of death and violence that he so often employed.  I wanted to know more about him, to see whether this was true.  And that terse writing style – perhaps I might find some insight as to why I have trouble stopping a sentence while he strained to keep one going.  Since his fiction was semi-autobiographical anyway, why not read the real stuff. 

Hemingway’s life is remarkably well documented.  He was a prodigious letter writer and many memoirs have been written by family, friends, and associates.  He saved a wealth of papers, some involving the most mundane aspects of his life.  His literary importance and the amount of personal material have led to numerous biographies.  I have been reading a bunch of material: memoirs, biographies, letters, stories.  I’ve moved through many of them simultaneously, taking each phase of his life in turn, and it has been a valuable comparative exercise.  It’s been quite interesting to see what each biographer feels is important, what he covers, and the things omitted by one that another dwells on. 

Some observations:

·       He had a most remarkable, oversized personality.  Men and women were drawn to him like flies around a bright night light.  I’ve jotted down lots of adjectives as I moved through the story of his life:  passionate, adventuresome, narcissistic, mean, kind, energetic, envious, competitive, thoughtful, bombastic, self-absorbed.  He had a commanding personality, who, as his friend the poet Archibald MacLeish once said, would suck all the oxygen out of the room when he walked in.  Friends would flock to be around him – to Northern Michigan, Chicago, Paris, Spain, Key West, Bimini, Wyoming/Idaho, Cuba – wherever he was, wherever he was going, they wanted to be there with him.  It is truly remarkable how many people, over so many years, traveled long distances to spend time with him, once there often in the company of other friends of his they had never met, forming a sort of gang in orbit around him, and typically doing something they may never have done by themselves and didn’t always particularly like – fishing and hunting.         

·       When Hemingway was in his late teens and early twenties, beginning to make his place in the world, it is remarkable how many of his close friends and associates were much older than he.  His two most important Michigan friends, the siblings Bill and Kate Smith, were four and seven years older.  As an aside, there’s reasonably suggestive evidence that he had a romantic relationship of some kind with Kate, who years later would marry the author John Dos Passos, another friend of Hemingway’s whom she met when they were both visiting him in Key West.  His first great love, the Red Cross nurse Agnes in Italy, was seven years his senior.  His first wife Hadley was eight years older, and his second wife Pauline four.  His best friend from his Red Cross ambulance experience in Italy, and with whom he roomed for a while in Chicago, was Bill Horne, a Princeton graduate eight years older.  In Paris, he socialized and corresponded with writers and artists sometimes decades older.  He was mature for his age, exciting, interesting, and interested.        

·       So how was it then that this man so full of boundless energy and adventure could be so focused on death?  When Hemingway was a teenager, his mother told him “everything you write is morbid.”  He had that strange fascination with death, suicide, and killing animals (particularly big ones) for sport.  It’s there in his writing from the beginning.  In Indian Camp, one of his earliest published stories, his alter-ego Nick Adams as a boy witnesses the terrible suffering of a woman undergoing an emergency cesarean section without anesthesia and the suicide of her nearby husband who, unable to bear her screams, slits his own throat.  The personality of the man seems so inconsistent with the themes of his writing.  Being around him in person, I imagine one would think that he was the writer of grand adventure stories. 

·       The startling number of suicides in his immediate family is well known:  besides himself, his father, his one brother, and one and possibly a second of his four sisters; and, many years later, a granddaughter.  But the number of suicides among his extended circle is also remarkable:  his third wife the writer Martha Gelhorn; his young Venetian love Adriana Ivancich; the father of his first wife Hadley; and his long-time Havana housekeeper.    

·       As an adult, Hemingway became progressively estranged from most of his family, save his sister Ursula.  When his mother died, he hadn’t seen her in 20 years, and he didn’t attend her funeral.  He had few real life-long friends.  And as with people, when he was done with a place, he moved on.  The Northern Michigan about which he wrote so passionately in his early years, which was so formative of his character, he visited just once after leaving at age 22.  From about that age as well until his death he returned to his hometown of Oak Park/Chicago only a handful of times.  When he left Key West after living there for about 10 years, he rarely returned.  His youngest son once said that Hemingway would swallow and use up places, then be done with them.  He was like that with a lot of people as well.

·        Yet he could be remarkable kind and thoughtful, sometimes to people he hardly knew.  One poignant example stands out to me:  the two touching, well-crafted letters he wrote to old Paris friends Gerald and Sara Murphy on the deaths of their two teenaged sons, one from meningitis and one from tuberculosis just a few years apart, reveal an extraordinary kindness.  The boy with TB was sick for some years, and Hemingway went out of his way to visit him, and he wrote the boy letters as well.  For recondite reasons that will be grist for generations of psychologists to come, by the tender age of 32 Hemingway was calling women not much younger than himself  “daughter,” and not long after that chose for himself the nickname “Papa.”  Imagine, say, being 40 years old and calling your 35 year-old friend Ernest Hemingway “Papa.”

·       He was a disciplined writer (and a voracious reader).  Hemingway could write anywhere; in hotel rooms, on trains, on boats.  He had to, for he was often away from his home base for many months at a time.  In 1929-1930 at one stretch he was away from Key West for 10 months, staying from days to months at a variety of locations in Europe and the States.  He was very focused on word counts – he continually mentions them in letters, often also noting how many pages he threw away.  His well-documented writing experience reveals that for him as for many great writers it was as much perspiration as inspiration. 

·       To say Hemingway was accident-prone would be an understatement.  Throughout his life, a progression of serious injuries caused by alcohol, recklessness, and just plain bad luck (such as the two airplane crashes in Africa in the early 1950s), including a staggering number of concussions, left him physically and mentally compromised by his mid-50s.  That he was a prodigious drinker and amateur boxer surely didn’t help his health any.  The courses of experimental electroshock treatments he received at the Mayo Clinic seem especially misguided and likely contributed to his mental deterioration in the months before his suicide.

Hemingway was an exciting man, a magnetic man, with great virtues and great faults.  Even if he had never written a word, it would not have been surprising if stories were written about him, he was that kind of man. 

R Balsamo