David Rodeback's Blog

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Saturday, June 24, 2006
This Week's Readings

Excellent writing from the usual suspects, plus a section of favorites from and about Great Britain.


Jeff Jacoby weighs the relative merits of private charity and government welfare in disaster relief. You won't be surprised, I hope.

Paul Greenberg is talking about a lot more than a grassroots holiday, Juneteenth, in this excellent essay on freedom.

Let's talk about earmarks again, and how deeply rooted they are in the Capitol Hill culture. Robert Novak writes.

In another excerpt from William Bennett's new book, we read of some Catholic clerics who opposed the brutality of Spaniards against indigenous peoples in America in the century or two after Columbus arrived.

If this is Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s, midlife crisis, we should all have one very much like it.

Charles Krauthammer tells why we love Australia.

British Favorites

The American left has President Bush immediately at hand and doesn't have to work much to dredge up their loathing of the more distant Ronald Reagan, but who does the British left have to hate, when they want to hate one of their own without restraint? Lady Margaret Thatcher, of course -- one of my political heroes, she and President Reagan having essentially been a matched set. You could change the name and gender and Americans could feel right at home with these thoughts from Simon Heffer in the Telegraph. (What is wrong with me that I don't automatically assume people who disagree with me are evil incarnate?)

The fact is that a basic law of the charm factory has once again been proven: that no day is too short, and no opportunity too tangential, to vilify Lady Thatcher. To this, we might add another observation: that people with a certain cast of mind have come to see her as so inhuman that no act of vilification can be deemed too much.

Insults and obloquies normally cast only at the long dead, or criminals with no reputation to lose, are flung at her. Acquiescence in her demonisation has become one of the essentials of polite society. She was long ago de-feminised by men who wished to revile her. Now she is being dehumanised by those whose political creed is, they are always telling us, long on "compassion".

In fact, the Iron Lady deserves a longer excerpt; Heffer is still the author.

However, last week a light was shone in on my ignorance. A long-time servant of the BBC explained to me, in a moment of stunning insight, why the Leftists . . . are so bilious and angry even 16 years after Lady Thatcher left office: it is because they lost. They were wrong. They were humiliated. They have become bores with nothing else to say. They were not, of course, defeated just by Lady Thatcher: the coming down of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War defeated them, too.

Their defeat was then compounded by the speed with which the party of the Left - Labour - abandoned many of its historic principles and, in order to be elected, adopted what can only be described as a Thatcherite consensus. And finally, Mr Blair put the icing on the cake by (we are told) promising that, at her death, Lady Thatcher will be granted the state funeral she deserves.

Consider how angry, how seethingly, dribblingly, incontinently, steamingly angry, you would be if you were a Leftist, as you reflected on the past 25 years or so. First, Lady Thatcher had policies that, after a period of bloody but necessary economic restructuring, improved not merely the growth rate and prosperity of the private sector in general, but also helped create wealth for millions of people who had hitherto owed everything to the state. People suddenly owned their homes, owned shares, and had the freedom to spend more of their disposable income.

Second, her example flashed around a world benighted by socialism, so much so that she remains a heroine in those nations liberated from it. Freedom, choice and prosperity have replaced oppression, uniformity and poverty. Do these people ever ask Poles, or Latvians, whether they wish the clock could be turned back to the age of socialism? How do they explain that things in such lands are so much better, and people so much happier, now?

Finally, why hasn't "their" party undone all the "damage" of Thatcherism? . . . It is because she was right, and they know she was right. They cannot, however, bear to admit it. All they can do instead is tell lies, call her names and spit with rage. Don't laugh at them. Pity them.

Joseph Loconte profiles Winston Churchill's war leadership.

To appreciate what Peregrine Worsthorne (a quintessentially British name) has to say about modern liberalism, as in liberal democracy, you'll have to understand that the word liberal has a storied and honorable history that doesn't much resemble the absurd caricature embodied by "liberal Democrats" in the United States lately. The article as a whole is more thoughtful than this terse conclusion suggests:

So with remarkable rapidity, from being a doctrine designed to take government off the backs of the people, liberalism has become a doctrine designed to put it back again.

Liberalism used to be dedicated to doubt, cynical about certainty and, above all, suspicious of power. All I am urging is that liberalism should start applying these attitudes as rigorously to its own powers and certainties as in the past it applied them to everybody else's.

Fathers, a Mother, and a Girlfriend

Dutch Martin accuses the welfare state of destroying black families, including his own. The key word is fathers.

Armstrong Williams talks about the things his father did, which an absentee father cannot do.

Larry Elder remembers his delightful mother.

I'm not sure of the meaning of Gene Weingarten's commentary -- "Makeup Humor: It's the Best Kind." But it's Gene Weingarten, so I read it.


Suzanne Fields writes well on a generation trying to be happy instead of working, and with nothing to rebel against. (Look out, it's hereditary.)

John Leo mulls the state of free speech in America on the subject of homosexuality.

Dennis Prager attempts to explain why liberals worry more than conservatives about global warming.

Tony Blankley has tongue firmly in cheek as he discusses methods professionals use for murdering lobsters.

Burt Prelutsky has me wondering if hysteria isn't the human psychological norm, not the exception.

Celia Rivenbark uses bubbas, hoes (garden implements), and snakes to illustrate that the South is still the South.

Speaking of illuminating potential consistencies, Kathleen Parker has some thoughts for us. You'll think they're about smoking, but they're really about freedom, with a side order of is-it-a-person-or-an-unviable-tissue-mass. Here's an excerpt.

But people have a right to be stupid, to make bad decisions, to marry the wrong guy, to eat the wrong foods and, alas, to elect the wrong people to public office.

The more things change, the more they stay the same -- such is Jonah Goldberg's view of the Internet.

Iraq, Iran, Islamic Jihad, and the Axis of Evil Generally

War on Terror? War Against Islamic Jihad? Struggle to Make Everyone Think We're Swell? What we call a thing matters immensely. That's not a new idea, but Diana West's explanation is well worth reading.

Read Jack Kelly and wonder again why Pennsylvania and/or the Democratic Party aren't simply beside themselves in shame over Mr. Murtha.

Kathleen Parker wonders why there is little fanfare from the White House accompanying the declassification of some materials documenting how we actually found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Ehsan Masood profiles young Islamic reformers who (one may hope) are an early phase of the Muslim world's belated getting a clue about dissent and tolerance.

Wondering about that resolution on staying in Iraq, which a lot of Democrats voted for, too? Mona Charen fills us in.

Diana West's brief piece on war and civilization will give you pause.

Jonah Goldberg describes a recent, possibly unfortunate White House revival of the spirit of Woodrow Wilson.

Immigration and Beyond

George Will calls November's "the border election."

Jennifer Roback Morse debunks moral arguments for unlimited immigration.

According to Wesley Pruden, failure may be progress in Capitol Hill's wrangling with immigration.

Walter Williams highlights Karl Marx's and others' racism, suggesting that immigration protestors might not be so fond of Marx if they had actually read his writings.

Julia Gorin wonders in a biting piece why we bend over backwards to support, defend, and excuse Islamic supremacists and Hispanic supremacists, but not white supremacists. It would seem consistent, wouldn't it? (Just in case someone misses the sarcasm -- someone always does -- I note that she doesn't think we should be so accommodating to any of these.)

The Internet

Bush-bashing aside, here's a good New Republic editorial on an important topic: net neutrality.

John Owstrowski chronciles attempts to curtail free political speech on the Internet.

Writing and Editing

Again, if you ignore the ritual Bush-bashing, David Kusnet's piece on a speech writer and his craft is insightful.

Not only good writing matters. Good editing does, too, says Paul Greenberg.

National Politics

President Bush had a good week; Democrats therefore had a bad one. Paul Greenberg comments. I liked his second piece, in which he considers electoral implications, even more than the first.

Does anyone disagree that someone who rapes a child deserves the death penalty? (Probably.) Debra Saunders gives at least three sensible reasons why we might not want to legislate that, even if it does seem just.

Jack Kelly analyzes the unfortunate phenomenon of irresponsible investigations of crimes political opponents did not commit.

Mark Steyn slips talk of Democratic self-destruction into a metaphor involving actual people bicycling while wearing political graffiti, but not clothing. (I am avoiding the various appropriate n-words for that condition because I don't want to show up that way in search engines.) If you don't want to know what the slogans were or where they wrote them, don't read this.

Is there hope for some restraint in federal government spending? Doug Wilson thinks so.

Jeff Jacoby muses on Philadelphia, freedom of speech, cheesesteak sandwiches, and the English language. Here's an important point: " Nothing in the Constitution gives those who are offended the right to silence someone else's speech."

Chicken Little Revisited

Wesley Pruden takes up global warming.

American Fork

Barbara Christiansen reports that the American Fork Library is getting several dollars' bang for each taxpayer IT buck, and has a new online catalog.

Is it an Alpine School District property tax increase or not? Who can tell any more . . . This is a Provo Daily Herald story.

So now even the Census Bureau can't count? This KSL story is about American Fork, among other local municipalities.

A resort on Utah Lake, near American Fork? KSL reports on that, too.

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