Amidst all the commentary and talking-head punditry concerning the Duck Dynasty business of recent days, I’ve yet to read or hear spoken a name that always pops into my head when such controversies arise. That would be the legendary hipster junkie comic (or as Walter Winchell described him “vomic”), Lenny Bruce (1925-1966). Though while Lenny’s travails were notably different from Phil Robertson’s present trouble (which is not a First Amendment issue), it is interesting to note that the latter’s supporters are mostly conservatives, while the former garnered the support of the liberal cultural establishment of his day.
As the American left puzzles and prattles over the “homophobic” remarks of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, what’s remarkable is how unremarkable the remarks actually are; that is, once you remove the vivid vernacular by which they were expressed. At their essence, the thrust of Robertson’s remarks are merely a defense of Biblical and Natural Law—albeit inelegantly expressed. Even carefully trained secular progressives will sense a flicker of familiarity in Phil’s observations.
There are two core elements to Phil Robertson’s unpolished exposition.
“Don’t be deceived,” he admonished GQ. “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Phil didn’t cite his source, but it’s the New Testament. Biblical scholars and exegetes can debate the nuances of Phil’s interpretation, but modern secular minds ought to at least know where Phil is coming from. It’s hardly new. Prior Biblically literate generations wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow.
It is not often noted and perhaps little remembered these days, but seven decades ago this month the battles around the small Italian village of San Pietro decimated the olive groves and many of the American men advancing on well-fortified German positions.
My father was commander of Company H of the 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, during that battle. He had become the company commander in earlier battles, after one more senior officer was captured and another simply quit the fight, telling medics he “couldn’t take any more.”
The 36th Infantry Division, and my father, entered combat for the first time at Salerno, on September 9, 1943. The Salerno landing occurred the day after the unconditional surrender of the Italian government to the allies. As Rick Atkinson wrote in his excellent book The Day of Battle, the German commander, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, declared that the invaders “must be completely annihilated and… thrown into the sea,” so that the British and Americans would “realize that they are hopelessly lost against the concentrated German might.”
Washington offers many opportunities for Schadenfreude, that wonderful German word which means to enjoy the misery of others. The sudden realization of liberal professionals who voted for Barack Obama that they will be forced to spend thousands more on health insurance was one of those moments. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people!
Reported the New York Times: “Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.”
It’s not that they didn’t have coverage. Policies that they liked and wanted to keep. They were precisely the people who believed the president when he said if you liked it you could keep it. Gullible fools.
It’s Christmas. Our atheist friends are out there doing their thing. No to a crèche here, take down that cross over there, absolutely not to the Ten Commandments display somewhere else. And, of course, as the folks at GLAAD have just recently reminded us in the Duck Dynasty contretemps, there’s nothing like being out of the closet as Christophobes.
Christophobes being defined here as those with fear or contempt of Christians or those who believe in God, not to mention those who exhibit behavior based on that feeling of fear and contempt for Christians and believing in God.
Time to recognize that contrary to all the endless PR, atheists and Christophobes in fact have a God. It’s time to demand formal recognition of atheism and Christophobes for what they really are: followers of the religion that worships The God of No God.
As with the Judeo-Christian and Islamic gods, The God of No God is everywhere — both visible and invisible. He — and while The God of No God could be called She or even It, we will settle here for the irritating He — appears in a limitless number of ways.
While the likes of Jon Stewart and others in the liberal intelligentsia might dismiss the idea there is a War on Christmas, the truth of the matter is that with every passing year people are more and more reluctant to wish one another a Merry Christmas. At times, people are expressly forbidden from saying Merry Christmas, as was the case this year at an elementary school deep in the heart of Texas. This is no accident and we are the poorer for it.
You may find that you have, as I do, a slight problem with Stephen Frears’s Philomena, which is in many ways — chief among them the fine performance of Dame Judi Dench in the title role — a lovely and a touching film about a mother’s search for her lost child 50 years after being forced to give him up for adoption by the sisters of an Irish convent who had taken her in. The problem can be summed up in the words of Martin Sixsmith, who wrote the true-life “human interest” tale on which it was based at the urging of the true-life Philomena. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he notes that her secret, kept from even those closest to her until she finally decided to reveal it, was that she “had been a teenage single mother in Ireland at a time when sex outside marriage was considered a sin.” Believe it or not, Martin, it still is considered a sin. It’s just that, nowadays, neither the Church nor anybody else appears to think that this particular sin is anything to get very upset about.
Only a troglodyte does not know that Congress is a train wreck. The image is that of boorishness, immense conceit, and fecklessness — to use polite nouns. Gallup poll results in early December confirm an average approval rating in 2013 of just 12 per cent — a shocking evaluation by a constituency. The rating is the lowest in Gallup’s history. It is worth pondering what might happen to those government folks if they had to survive in in the RW, also known as the real world.
In any private enterprise with that rating from shareholders, dismissals would be rampant. Human resources professionals would be sequestered and work on weekends to design severance pay and outplacement packages. Corporate communications staff would prepare euphemistic press releases about an impending mass exodus. Paranoia would be rampant in every corridor of the company, and no one would be safe — from the thousands of toiling Dilberts condemned to gray cubicles to the CEO himself. Eventually, a corporate raider or bottom fisher would try to acquire the floundering company, only to gut it — and then restructure it to add value.
The brouhaha over this Indian person in the diplomatic corps who is alleged to have reneged on the wages she promised her domestic help and then proceeded to pay the help illegal wages and then continued in her life of crime by submitting false green card info so the slave-labor person could work legally despite being an illegal working at illegal wages, it is what you might call a case in point, as is the duck brouhaha wherein this Louisiana backwoodsman who became a TV person made some remarks to a magazine that hurt the feelings of the politico-correcto majority.
I say it is a case in point to make it look as if I know whereof I speak, but the truth is I cannot figure any of this out. I am at loss to understand the meaning of it all. It is a shame, because it is a damn sight more interesting, or at least more fun, than worrying about an imminent trip to a rotten hellhole of a country where when they get mad at you they do not stop at bouncing you off a TV show, they slit your throat and sometimes they also slit some other body parts and stuff them in your mouth, which is filled with the blood from your throat wound, you get the picture.
History admonishes us that the law has to be maintained like a carefully tended garden. Even when a law has undergone a thorough modernization less than ten years ago, when it deals with critical national security issues directly affected by technology — as does the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in regard to terrorism — it needs to be evolved even more often.
The collision of technology’s limits and our constitutional rights made for a very bad week for the National Security Agency. Two events — one, a U.S. district court decision and the other the report of a presidential committee on NSA’s activities — combined to put in doubt NSA’s ability under the Constitution to continue its massive data collection.
The second event, the report by President Obama’s advisory committee on NSA, is being advertised as a rebuke of the NSA’s practices, but it really was not. The panels’ 46 recommendations would — if adopted or enacted by Congress — do very little to change what NSA’s been doing for the past six years or so.
Well, talk about a memorable meal.
December 21, 2013
The Beverly Hills Hotel
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Dear Mr. Manager:
How are you, sir? I am an economist, actor, commentator, and lawyer. I live a few blocks from your hotel.
I eat at the Polo Lounge at your hotel a lot. I would certainly say close to 50 times in 2013 and I usually enjoy it. Once in a while there are problems with the service, but it’s generally passable.
Today was the worst dining experience I have ever had at any restaurant. At 1 PM I brought a party of four (including me) to the Polo Lounge. We ordered 3 Kobe Burgers — $38 each — and I went to considerable trouble explaining to the waiter that I wanted the Kobe burgers and not the regular burgers. After a medium wait, the waiter brought three very mediocre regular burgers. I have had the Kobe burgers many a time and know the difference well.
Time magazine and The Advocate, the leading gay magazine, have each named as their Person of the Year a man who described gay marriage as a product of Satan and gay adoption as a form of child abuse.
When he was a cardinal in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio declared that same-sex marriage is a literal diabolical effort of “the Father of Lies” (i.e., the Devil) to “destroy God’s plan…and deceive the children of God.” He said that gay marriage discriminates against children “in advance,” depriving them of “their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God.”
Michael Bloomberg’s 12 year tenure as New York City’s mayor ends this month, and he’s going out with a ban. Last week, in the City Council’s final legislative session of the year, the council passed a Bloomberg-advocated ban on plastic-foam food containers, such Styrofoam cups and takeout boxes. The ban comes with a one-year period of “investigation” during which packaging manufacturers try to prove the material can be collected and recycled. (Read: a year in which politicians can solicit additional lobbying money from the industry.)
Council also decided to ban the use of e-cigarettes, which produce completely harmless puffs of water vapor, at any location covered by the city’s smoking ban. The ban means that e-cigarette users will have to join their real-cigarette-smoking cousins on the streets outside of bars and restaurants. The irony of subjecting e-cigarette users—many of whom use the product in an attempt to quit smoking—to second-hand smoke was lost on the city council.
The latest attempt by the Obama administration to avoid the consequences of its inept implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been to issue yet another of its surprise edicts. This new Health and Human Services regulation, which was announced Thursday night, “significantly relaxed the rules of the federal health-care law for millions of consumers whose individual insurance policies have been canceled, saying they can buy bare-bones plans or entirely avoid a requirement that most Americans have health coverage.”
Now, it’s December 19, 2013. This has been a busy year for me and a year filled with sorrow and triumph and with far too much loss.
It rushed by, as time does when you get old, and now, a few recollections of the year come into my mind.
Lying in the sun room of our home in Sandpoint, Idaho, with the perfectly light blue sky of North Idaho out the windows to the west and to the east, watching an occasional eagle or sea bird or immense osprey glide by. Then closing my eyes as I heard and felt the immense rumble of Mr. Buffett’s BNSF trains going by. I did that almost every day last summer and by the end of the summer, I felt as if those trains and those osprey and that sky had kept me alive. My wife would almost always be in her reading room next door and I could talk to her in my train loving haze.
Mr. Buffett gets billions from the trains, I imagine, but I get far more than that. I get a euphoric feeling that I will not only survive but triumph. It had been a summer of extreme worry about whether the economy was slipping back into recession, and I felt reassured by the power of those trains.
Ladies and gentlepersons, let the Games begin! Always good to get off to an early start, since there might not be snow in tropical Russia when the latest winter Olympiad officially opens there on February 7. And what ice there should be is already melting away in the heated competition currently underway between the world’s top two performers. Let it be said. Joanie loved Chachi, but President Obama doesn’t love Sochi. Not the way President Putin does. So they’ve been hurling javelins at each other.
Al Goldstein, the anti-Hugh Hefner, died earlier this week. Whereas Playboy marketed the idea that men who leer at naked women embody a suave, sophisticated, almost James Bond-like cool, Screw magazine restored the popular prejudice that pornography remained a habitual refuge for sweaty, socially-awkward blokes frustrated by their inability to live their fantasies in the real world. There was honesty in Al Goldstein’s pornography.
Goldstein knew his audience because he was his audience. Before shops held dirty magazines captive in clean plastic, the “adult” aisle teemed with gawking Goldstein look-alikes. Hefner’s magazine placed women on a pedestal; Goldstein’s knocked them down into the gutter. Playboy did beautiful; Screw, ugly. The physiognomy of its readers reflected the content of its pages.
If you accidentally dropped your most treasured piece of jewelry into the toilet just as you were flushing, you’d scream, you’d cry, and you might tell a sympathetic friend…unless you were just too embarrassed.
Among President Obama’s formerly greatest champions — minorities, unions, so-called journalists and young voters — the swirling-into-oblivion administration has engendered a remarkable sullen silence, given their loss, as they passively give up on recovering their once-loved gem, now sullied by this government’s own political excrement.
Covered with the stench of debacles including Obamacare, the NSA, Syria, Benghazi, the IRS, and the AP, while demonstrating a level of incompetence so great that it must give pause to all but the most committed members of the cult of unlimited government, few liberals will be willing to dig through the muck to reclaim their once-prized possession.
While the media like to focus on Tea Party froth and Republican infighting, the key to the 2014 and 2016 elections is the effect of the Obama flush on his key supporters’ desire to vote for Democrats, or to vote at all.
We should call it the “Great Fact,” argues University of Illinois at Chicago economist Deidre McCloskey. “It” is the Industrial Revolution that, starting in Great Britain in the late 18th century, produced a 16-fold expansion in per capital wealth throughout the world. With that explosion in wealth came longer life spans, better health care, and the greatest improvement in human welfare the world has yet seen.
This explosion was not caused by government plans or at the behest of church leaders. It was the result of a force that has since become derided by those who claim to care about progress — free enterprise capitalism. In this festive season, we should reflect on its great gifts to mankind.
Alabamian, historian, and writer Winston Groom’s recent book Kearney’s March is a dramatic account of how the clear and straightforward priorities of President James K. Polk led the United States to double in size from Atlantic to Pacific—and how Mexico’s claim to the Southwest had no firm basis. Groom tells a great story. One feels one is at his place on Mobile Bay listening to the story of how America’s natural expansion occurred.