September 1st, 2014

A classic dish

Today’s a holiday, and I decided to mostly take a break from writing about politics.

You know what’s going on, anyway, right?

So I want to provide a thread about something entirely different: one of the favorite dishes of my youth, spaghetti and ketchup.

Not like this, no!

spagKetch

The delight of my childhood was a different thing entirely: the spaghetti cooked not too hard or too soft, and then bathed in butter and just enough ketchup to give it a mild reddish-brownish tint after being heated and stirred patiently for many minutes till it had transformed itself into an indescribable thin and dryish coating that was incredibly savory.

More like this:

spagKetch2

My mother didn’t cook it, alas. But the mother next door, who was my honorary mother and at whose home I ate many a lunch, did. And it turns out that I am not alone in having spaghetti and ketchup as an ambrosial culinary memory.

This post has been a long time coming. I first thought of writing about spaghetti and ketchup a year and a half ago. The wheels of the blog grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.

September 1st, 2014

Hey, what about that “mind/change” story?

Every now and then I get an email or a comment asking me to explain whatever happened to my “a mind is a difficult thing to change” series. Why did I stop writing it in early 2008? And will I ever resume?

I used to say that oh yes, I plan to finish it soon. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

But lately I’m beginning to realize that maybe the bulk of the story is told. I’ve described the major events, and everything else would just be elaboration and/or repetition, and has already been augmented with some of my regular blog posts that have described some of the repercussions of the change for me, social and otherwise.

What I plan to someday do with it all, though, is try to work up a book on the subject. Now, I’ve been saying that for years, and so far I haven’t done a thing about it. I keep focusing so much on current events in my writing that I don’t seem to have the time and/or energy to look back and rework that material, although it still interests me very much and I want to do it.

I’ve thought of soliciting people’s stories to add to it. If and when I ever get around to actually writing it, I’ll ask these questions in a more formal way—but for now, if anyone wants to talk about your own political change experience in the comments to this post, I’d love to hear about it. Or, if you don’t want to tell about it publicly, you can email me at jaybean33@yahoo.com with your story, and let me know if you want it kept private or if I can share it, as long as I keep your identity confidential. Thanks!

September 1st, 2014

Happy Labor Day

Labor Day is the bookend on the opposite end of summer from its holiday beginning, Memorial Day.

July Fourth is summer’s early peak, with the promise of long light-filled days ahead. But Labor Day is summer’s last gasp, the moment I dreaded as a child because it marked the end of vacation and the start of the school year. Spiffy new clothes, a shiny bookbag, freshly sharpened pencils, and the promise of the beautiful autumn leaves’ arrival were nice. But they couldn’t make up for the fact that a new school year was beginning. Where oh where had the summer gone?

And it goes even more quickly these days. But let’s celebrate the fact that we don’t have to worry about the start of school anymore—except, perhaps, for the teachers among you.

Here’s wishing you all a Happy Labor Day! Barbecues, picnics, parades, beach, just hanging out in your yard, whatever you desire. And for the historically-minded among you, some information the origins of the holiday.

August 30th, 2014

Two duets—same piece of music

The first duo:

And the second:

August 30th, 2014

Do conservatives have the patience for the long march?

I wonder.

It’s not that conservatives lack courage. But from the evidence I see around the blogosphere, many would rather throw up their hands and say that it’s already over, so let it all go to pot and wait for a shooting war which they think they might win. My response is “dream on”—about the “winning” part, that is. This isn’t 1776, and the weaponry of the opponents they would be facing has changed, as well as the basic values of the American people.

Some conservatives are thinking that letting liberalism play out will lead to an apocalyptic collapse, followed by a period of chaos and regrouping, ending in a rebirth of liberty. To me, that process is more likely to end in tyranny of one sort or another, or continuing anarchy.

But what of fighting what commenter “Eric” calls the “activist war”? Or embarking on a serious endeavor at the long march to take back our cultural institutions, such as the educational one I discuss in the comments section here? Does it take too much patience and organization, without enough glory? Is is just too hard, and too far gone in the other direction?

Of course, the two approaches aren’t mutually exclusive. If the long march fails, there’s always the apocalypse.

[NOTE: As I think I mentioned the other day, I have just ordered Rules for Radical Conservatives: Beating the Left at Its Own Game to Take Back America from Amazon. That's not an informed recommendation; I have no knowledge of the author, and no idea whether it's good or not. Let's just say it sounds very interesting---as does Take No Prisoners: The Battle Plan for Defeating the Left. I haven't yet read it either, but it's by an author I do heartily recommend.

Here's an excerpt from a review of the latter book from one of Amazon's customers:

A must read for every conservative aspiring political actor, adviser, counselor. Mr Horowitz examines the reasons for conservatives' inbred reluctance to engage in the rough and tumble of successful political gain, and advises specific ways to overcome a politeness natural to the conservative mind.

Horowitz is probably the person on the right who is most familiar with the mindset and tactics of the activist left, having been an integral part of it for years.]

August 30th, 2014

The collapse of the 2-parent black family…

…was not a legacy of slavery, although it is often claimed that it is. It happened much, much more recently, as this article by Walter E. Williams points out.

The article is a very short version of points that Thomas Sowell has been making for decades. Watch this debate from 1980, and note that the situation has only gotten much worse since then:

Both Sowell and Williams are black, but although I’m very familiar with Sowell’s work I don’t recall ever having heard of Williams before. But when I looked him up and started reading his personal history, it struck me that it resembles Sowell’s greatly, including the fact that he’s a professor of economics and similar in age.

As I read on, I discovered that they are long-term friends:

While at UCLA, Thomas Sowell arrived on campus in 1969 as a visiting professor. Though [Williams, who is slightly younger] never took a class from Dr. Sowell, the two met and began a friendship that has lasted to this day. In the summer of 1972 Sowell was hired as director of the Urban Institutes Ethnic Minorities Project, which Williams joined shortly thereafter. Correspondence between Sowell and Williams appears in the 2007 “A Man of Letters” by Sowell.

Logical, highly intelligent, bold, and fearless are adjectives I’d use to describe both of them.

August 30th, 2014

As Britain goes…

so goes the US.

August 29th, 2014

Two wonderful trends work to synergistic effect

Our porous southern borders, and the increasing worldwide jihadi terror threat, combine to create this almost-inevitable situation.

August 29th, 2014

Who loves liberty?

[NOTE: This is in some ways a companion piece to this earlier post today.]

Commenter “ConceptJunkie” made an interesting comment the other day. “Concept” was describing a friend of his—a very intelligent lawyer—who voted for Obama:

He still insists today that Obama is doing a great job, and there are another 40% (give or take) of the electorate who feel roughly the same way. I cannot imagine what the President would have to do to shake the confidence of these people, but I have no doubt it would have to rival the worst of the 20th century dictatorships, and in all honestly, not even that would do it for a lot of them.

When he was first elected I heard more than one seemingly-intelligent, seemingly-educated person bemoan the fact that he would be limited by the Constitution and would not be able to Do What It Takes to really fix the country.

They were literally complaining that he wasn’t a dictator. That 21st century citizens of the United States would say something like this is enough to make one despair for all of humanity, and that’s no exaggeration.

I don’t care if the President is the second coming of George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, King Solomon, Moses, Pope Leo XIII and King Louis IX, I would never suggest he or she be given that kind of power. Nor would such a leader desire it.

My observations dovetail with Concept’s.

Particularly since Obama was elected, I have appreciated more and more what I already knew to a certain extent, which is that the vast majority of people don’t care about liberty and/or the rule of law in the abstract. They might pay lip service to it, but they are all for its suspension if the person in charge talks a good line that they buy. The end not only justifies the means for them, they don’t even see that they have to justify it, or that the means are shady or dangerous, so intent are they on expediting the implementation of whatever policy they think is needed.

Only some people care about liberty deeply enough to say along with Concept, and actually follow through on their statements: “I don’t care if the President is the second coming of [fill in with the hero of your choice], I would never suggest he or she be given that kind of power.” From my anecdotal observations, the majority of Democrats don’t care, although some do (I’ve written about the phenomenon before, here). Some on the right don’t care, either, but I don’t think it’s as many, although I could be wrong about that.

I don’t think there’s a poll that can tap into this phenomenon, either, because people will lie about it, or fool themselves.

Part of how this happens is that most people read receptively rather than thoughtfully. It’s a habit that starts in school, when the student is required to spit back what he/she reads rather than question it.

It takes much more energy to read actively. I don’t think I did it often when I was young, although I think I always did it more than most. But by the time I was in grad school, although I was still a liberal Democrat, I was questioning so much of my reading that my textbooks had arguments written by me in the margins of almost every page. I was also known for challenging my teachers in class, while my classmates would roll their eyes at my eccentricity. Mostly my fellow students seemed to have little interest in the most important controversies or ethical issues. And they were not kids, either; some were even middle-aged. But they seemed to just want to assimilate the material quickly and get out of there with a degree—in fact, quite a few told me so.

Many people carry that into their lives outside of school, and bring that attitude to their reading of the MSM or watching the news. And you can be sure that the left—or any other tyrant—banks on it.

August 29th, 2014

Approval: it always astounds me…

…that Obama’s approval ratings remain so high:

approve1

Among Democrats, a few have turned on him, but most still approve. The big change since 2009 is that many have gone from strong to mild disapproval. BFD, as Joe Biden would say:

approve2

Republicans have always disapproved, and now they disapprove more strongly. No surprise there:

approve3

But I beg of you, please tell me who—WHO?—are these “Republicans” who still strongly approve (3%) or moderately approve (6%). Are they jokers pulling Gallup’s metaphorical leg?

[ADDENDUM: Another poll of interest.]

August 29th, 2014

Obama’s tan suit

First let me make myself perfectly clear: I don’t care one way or the other about what Obama’s tan suit signified, the one that has been causing such a ruckus. On the scale of things I have to criticize Obama for, it doesn’t even register.

But let me say, in defense of tan suits everywhere, that I like them. Tan suits conjure up a very specific memory for me, that of Manhattan in summertime.

Those who don’t live in New York or visit there may not know how sweltering it can be in the summer. Not as bad as DC, or cities south, but not far behind them. Humid and sultry, with skies that more often than not give off a colorless glare rather than a nice clear blue, and sidewalks on which the proverbial egg could be nicely cooked.

When I was a teenager in New York, I used to very much admire the sartorial splendor of the men on the street in summer, who in those days used to wear a great many suits. They made especially good watching the summer I worked for a midtown life insurance company. They looked good in their tan ones, and they looked good in their seersucker ones, and they just looked good.

I haven’t been there in the summer in a while, so I have no idea whether it has continued. But Obama is certainly dressed in that mode here:

tansuit1

Obama is a man with darkish skin. I am a woman with darkish skin. My experience dressing myself and looking in the mirror all these years has informed me that people like Obama and me have to be very very careful when we wear tan clothing, especially if the color is anywhere near the face. We can look washed out and sallow.

We have to be careful not to chose a tan shade that goes towards the yellow of the spectrum; best to keep it more taupe, which Obama has done here. That said, I find it best to generally avoid wearing tan clothes altogether, because they never are really flattering on me.

August 28th, 2014

Those who fight for ISIS are not Americans

And we shouldn’t call them that.

I had started a draft for a post on this very subject, but Michael Walsh has covered the ground so well that there’s no need for me to do a full court press on it.

The point is quite simple and really common sense: “Americans” who leave this country to fight for ISIS, or any other country or entity or group who is our enemy, are no longer Americans (if they ever were in the first place) and should have their citizenship revoked.

And the press should stop referring to them as “Americans,” too. I know; fat chance.

And this isn’t just true of Somalian-Americans or whatever hyphenated-Americans might be guilty of this behavior. It’s true of people like John Walker Lindh, one of the first “American” jihadis. Remember him?

I came out for a proposal like this over four years ago, when Joe Lieberman (remember him?) backed it. My support has only become stronger in the intervening years.

I haven’t gotten around to writing about the Rotherham scandal (so much happening in the world that it’s hard to cover it all without a staff, and I don’t have a staff). But Walsh has this to say:

This comes in the wake of the burgeoning Rotherham scandal, in which some strapping “Yorkshiremen” turned an entire “British” town into a white-slavery ring. (“An independent report has found that at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham by gangs of men who were predominantly of Pakistani origin between 1997 and 2013. Report author Professor Alexis Jay said that girls as young as 11 were raped by “large numbers of male perpetrators.”)

But to describe things as what they actually are would be to let the cat out of the multi-culti bag.

[NOTE: In Walsh's article I also found a link to, and a quote from, a book called Rules For Radical Conservatives. Not having read it, I have no idea whether it's wonderful or awful or somewhere in between. But it certainly sounds potentially interesting. Commenter "Eric"? Are you there?]

[NOTE II: This photo of ISIS at work appears as part of Walsh's article:
ISIS

Very reminiscent of the Nazis, is it not?]

[NOTE III: Also see this.]

[ADDENDUM: If you're curious on the details of how citizenship could be revoked, and under what legal authority, there is already a controlling statute. See this. It could be slightly expanded to explicitly include joining or fighting for groups such as ISIS, or it might even apply as already written.]

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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