Monthly Archives: February 2010

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The exceptionalism backlash

Rich Lowry makes some great observations on the reaction of the American electorate to this past year of the Obama presidency and Democratic control in Washington that are not at all incompatible with my own from the other day (Rights versus “Benefits”). Lowry writes:

President Barack Obama learned from Bill Clinton’s mistakes in 1993-94. He ran, relative to Clinton, a buttoned-up transition. He sought to avoid Clinton’s tactical miscues on health care. And he steered clear of cultural land mines.

The backlash against Democrats in 1994 was famously attributed to “gays, guns and God.” Obama has mostly avoided stoking opposition around that hot-button triad, but faces a backlash almost indistinguishable in feel and intensity. Why?

Big government became a cultural issue. The level of spending, the bailouts and the intervention in the economy contemplated in health-care reform and cap-and-trade created the fear that something elemental was changing in the country — quickly, irrevocably, without notice.

Obama has run up against the country’s cultural conservatism as surely as Clinton did. But Obama is encountering its fiscal expression, the sense that America has always been defined by a more stringently limited government than other advanced countries. It’s an “American exceptionalism” backlash.

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Something to dwell upon

On another blog I just picked the album From Langley Park to Memphis by Prefab Sprout as “one of the essential but non-obvious albums of the 1980s” so I thought I’d post one of the essential but non-obvious songs from it, titled Enchanted. (Actually, it’s taken me 22 years to let this little slice of Brit-pop-soul, or whatever you want to call it, get under my skin, so I’d say that’s very non-obvious indeed.)

Here’s something to dwell upon
Now we’re living, next we’re gone

So if you’ve love please pass it on

’Cos it’s a disbelieving world
But sensitive as any girl …

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Mr. President (Obama): Have Pity On The Working Man

PrezNow, I know that Randy Newman is some kind of darned liberal, and (based on media reports I’ve seen) was quite recently in possession of a very fine case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. I don’t like him for his politics, but I do genuinely enjoy his artful and ironic way with a song. And all I know is that his song Mr. President (written around 1974, but with something of an aura of 1934) has never been a more relevant and sharply-aimed arrow than it is at this very moment. Today, President Barack Obama, in the face of so much incredulity — on both sides of the aisle, mind you — and in the face of so much frustration on the part of average Americans, continues to pursue his ideological goal of getting the hands of the federal government firmly around the U.S. health-care system. On this particular day he is doing it by means of a televised “summit” with Democrats and Republicans from Congress, as if all of the issues have not had more than their due airing over the past 13 months and more; as if he has just not had sufficient time to make his arguments. He persists in this vein while the U.S economy continues to descend in its death spiral, with real working Americans (and once working Americans) continuing to suffer in ever greater numbers, and with no real recovery even in sight. Continue reading Mr. President (Obama): Have Pity On The Working Man

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Family Dinner

According to Miss Manners:

Family dinner is a quaint old ritual by which everybody in the same household would gather nightly at a specific time, rather than each head for the microwave when hungry; sit around a table, rather than stand in front of an open refrigerator; share the same food, rather than argue for competing standards of nutrition, taste and morality; and be entertained by one another’s conversation, rather than by that of celebrities on television. Without in the least minimizing the demands of work, homework and working out, Miss Manners nevertheless argues that the chief ritual that binds family and civilization is sacrificed at too great a personal and social cost.


From Judith Martin’s book, Miss Manners’ Basic Training: Eating.

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The Whole Philosophy of Hell

A good thing of which to take note, I would think.

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them. A self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. ‘To be’ means ‘ to be in competition’.

That’s C.S. Lewis (or rather, his character, Uncle Screwtape) from his remarkable book, The Screwtape Letters.

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And a dog named Blue

Blue and friendJust another tale of a dedicated pooch staying beside a lost child and keeping her warm through a cold night. The story is from Arizona and features a a Queensland Heeler (or “Australian Cattle dog”) named Blue, and a three year-old girl named Victoria. The girl apparently wandered away from her home in a place called Cordes Lakes at about 5 p.m. last Thursday. The area being rugged and abutting state park land, finding her constituted a challenge that immediately demanded rescue teams, volunteers, ATVs, night-vision goggles, and a concerted attempt by local law enforcement to interrogate registered sex offenders in that locale. The night would get cold, falling to the mid-30s Fahrenheit, and the girl had been dressed in a t-shirt when she disappeared.

Despite the best efforts of all the people and resources that could be summoned, the night passed without the little girl being located. With sun-up, a rescue helicopter took off. Around 7:30, after being in the air only about five minutes, the rescuers saw the dog in a dry creek bed roughly a half a mile from the girl’s home, and then saw the girl too. Continue reading And a dog named Blue

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Dog takes three bullets, saves Ohio family; survives

Sirus the hero German ShepherdThis story is a double winner for Yours Truly, highlighting as it does both the best and noblest aspects of man’s best friend and the importance of the right of Americans to bear arms under the Second Amendment.

The events happened early in the morning of last Monday, February 15th, in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Continue reading Dog takes three bullets, saves Ohio family; survives

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Commies love concrete

From an article written in 1986 by P.J. O’Rourke:

Usually, a plane ride gives me some distance on questions of dogma, the way a martini or a lungful of hashish does. We don’t call it “high” for nothing; that was slang three centuries before the Wright brothers. Whatever those microbes down there think is no concern of mine — unless I fly into the Soviet Block. Something’s wrong when harebrained ideas can be spotted from Olympian heights. On the outskirts of Warsaw, the whole countryside is scarred with the gravel pits and gray dust plumes of cement factories. Commies love concrete. Continue reading Commies love concrete