Another Perspective

Another Perspective

Reframing Perspectives on the March for Life

By 1.25.15

Canadian essayist David Warren is a man with whom I seldom disagree. Imagine my surprise on reading his depressing assessment of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Warren’s “Marching to Nowhere” starts strongly, with a withering reminder of when a Representative from my state wrapped herself in discretion without having first tried valor. Last week’s fumbling retreat from legislation dubbed the “Pain-Capable Act” by Rep. Renee Elmers and her caucus gave Warren reason enough to claim that the Republican Party consists of “gutless gnomes.” That’s a line I wish I’d written myself.

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Obama Croons: I Did It My Way

By 1.22.15

As President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, I saw all of 2015 flash before my eyes. It was a smart speech that wisely stuck to “middle-class” values and was shrewdly short on details. I saw another year of the president not compromising. For Republicans, it was Groundhog Day — an endless loop of the president talking up bipartisanship without practicing it.

“Bold Call to Action in Obama’s State of the Union, Even if No Action Is Likely,” read one headline. And below it: “Obama Speaks as Though His Party Won the Midterms.” Both headlines hail not from a conservative rag but from the New York Times.

“Watching an emboldened Mr. Obama, it would have been easy to forget that he was standing there just two months after the biggest electoral repudiation of his presidency. Indeed, with economic indicators on the rise and his own poll numbers rebounding slightly, he made no reference at all to the midterm elections, offered no concessions about his own leadership and proposed no compromises to accommodate the political reality,” wrote Times reporter Peter Baker.

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Jews Need to Start Packing

By 1.21.15

When I turned to the Opinion page in yesterday morning’s Wall Street Journal and saw the heading of Bret Stephens’ article, I jumped up and slammed the table so hard, my dear husband spilled his coffee over the front of his shirt. Most mornings he doesn’t need my help to spill his coffee, but this morning I was the cause of his mishap.

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “Perfect!” Finally someone’s gotten it!”

The heading, you see, read “Packing time for France’s Jews.” And my instinct was to understand this in the most intuitively rational way possible: France’s Jews have got to start packing heat. They are being set upon by thugs, the French police are useless and the French judicial system is worse. The French liberal press sides with the attackers. The French government votes overwhelmingly to recognize a terrorist Palestinian state. Hey, sometimes it gets to where you need to take the matter of your protection into your own hands.

Of course, this is not what Bret’s article was about. Rather, it advocated yet once more what has become an almost universal “word to the wise” — GET OUT NOW!

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Mitt Should Walk Away — Not Run

By 1.16.15

Mitt Romney is thinking of running for president in 2016. According to the New York Times, that’s what Romney told a group of big donors last week. Earlier, the former Massachusetts governor was thinking of running because the only other hefty Republican who could spare the party from a nutty primary — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — was too coy about his 2016 intentions. Now that Bush seems ready to brave the ring, however, Romney still feels a need to do the deed. Again.

Romney ran for the White House in 2008 but lost the primary to John McCain. Romney won the GOP primary in 2012, only to lose to a vulnerable incumbent. I should add that though Romney won the Massachusetts gubernatorial race in 2002, he had lost a Senate bid in 1994. Having won the Massachusetts State House, he did not run for re-election in 2006. Losing three out of four political campaigns, including two White House runs, usually doesn’t make for a strong sales pitch in politics. No worries, Romney retainer Eric Fehrnstrom told the Times. “If that’s the case, then Ronald Reagan never would have become president. Reagan ran three times.”

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The Divided West

By 1.14.15

The White House’s decision to avoid the Paris rally against last week’s jihadist killings conforms to its relaxed attitude toward radical Islam. Candidate Obama in 2008 had argued that George W. Bush lost the world’s esteem by overreacting to the jihadists. Obama promised to regain that respect by approaching the problem with more calm. He in effect pledged to treat the problem as manageable and marginal. With a little more “dialogue” and “understanding,” it would go away.

This remains Obama’s attitude, which must have contributed to the White House’s view of the Paris rally as insignificant. Eric Holder, who was in Paris at the time, didn’t even show up for it, which is also fitting, since he has never been able to bring himself to consider radical Islam a motive for terrorism.

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Pope Francis Needs Our Help

By 1.5.15

Writing in Al Jazeera America, a Ph.D. student in “religion and critical thought” at Brown University recently declared 2014 “the year of Pope Francis.” Her sentiment is shared by other writers. What made her article interesting was the “pull quote” featured in its layout. Oversize type made the point that “Pope Francis’ approval ratings remain stellar, with 67 percent of U.S. Catholics rating him favorably and only 13 percent unfavorably.” The citation was based on a study of 1,016 adults nationwide by the Florida-based Saint Leo University Polling Institute, and its own web page suggests that papal favorability ratings are, if anything, higher than the number reported in the Al Jazeera piece. Data from the referenced study suggests that Pope Francis actually enjoys an 88 percent favorability rating among U.S. Catholics.

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Down With Resolutions

By 12.31.14

You can say you are going to correct your drive down the fairway or your down the line backhand shot in ’15, or for once find an intelligent stockbroker and actually follow his advice, or definitively and finally restructure the third generation’s trust funds so that whatever happens to you while on some godforsaken halfassed harebrained mission to nowheresville they will be set and while you are at it you can make sure your funeral costs are all paid up in full, you follow? A lot of things you can resolve to do.

Go ahead, I certainly am not the man who will stop you.

I will even applaud.

I will not believe what you say, though. I will not say so. I am not a negative sort of individual and I believe in giving my fellow man the benefit of the doubt and the old go-for-it. But if I know you, my skepticism will be on high alert, because frankly, if you have not done these things already, why should your will-to-power, your determination, your resoluteness, your courage, in short your strength of character change during the week of the year when you are at your flabbiest worst?

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Who Wants a Deadbeat for President?

By 12.30.14

Carly Fiorina is gearing up to run for president. National Journal reports she already has begun hiring staff.

Fiorina has run for office only once, as the Republican challenger to Sen. Barbara Boxer of California in 2010 — and she lost. Still, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO won prime attention by running and losing. She’s on Meet the Press all the time. She’s still rich and still good-looking. (In 2010, Fiorina and husband Frank claimed a combined net worth of $30 million to $120 million.) Insiders think she’s probably running for vice president; if Hillary Clinton is the Dems’ nominee, the GOP nominee likely will be looking for a female running mate. Or maybe “she’s running for enhanced fame, image and possibly the Cabinet,” opined GOP consultant Kevin Spillane. “There’s really no downside with her running.”

So maybe it isn’t totally crazy that Fiorina is running for president, even if she’s never won an election. But it is totally crazy that Fiorina is running for the White House when, according to federal election reports, her 2010 campaign still owes $486,418 to creditors. Who wants a deadbeat for president?

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Torture or Deprogramming?

By 12.23.14

Amid all the abrasive and conflicting arguments prompted by the so-called torture report released by Senator Feinstein, I am baffled by the absence of the crucial, indispensable question that never entered into the conversation, pro or con.

That question is simply why those men who were chosen to endure waterboarding never reacted to other less physically aggressive tactics designed to have revealed vital intelligence that could prevent more terrorist attacks.

If, as the report apparently alleges, less coercive measures were far more effective in extracting vital information, then why was it necessary to resort to more painful alternatives?

The gap between those who ran the CIA and who approved the aggressive tactics as a successful last resort method of extracting critical intelligence, and those who believed that such information could have been gotten by more benign methods, is wide and deep.

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A Critic of ‘Moral Laziness’ in the Torture Debate

By 12.22.14

The Senate Democrats’ recent “torture” report denouncing enhanced interrogation of terror suspects after 9-11 has ignited strong echoing support from many religious voices.

Typical for some has been nondenominational pastor and writer Brian Zahnd, who declared emphatically: “You cannot be Christian and support torture. I want to be utterly explicit on this point. There is no possibility of compromise.”

Perhaps it is that simple, but nearly all Christians prior to the last couple hundred years or less likely supported without much question harsh practices now considered torture, including Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Thomas More, and John Calvin among many others. Providentially democratic regimes in the modern era typically regard extreme cruelty by the state as unacceptable, but modesty about our contemporary moral superiority is in order.

A recent poll, to the exasperation of critics, shows most American Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals think enhanced interrogation was justified after 9-11. Many of these