Saturday, December 27, 2008

Surviving Christmas week

This has to be the sparsest Christmas I've ever had—which means, it just might be among the best.
One, it was true to the real spirit of Christmas in which giving and receiving a few small gifts is enough. It's the season of giving which is what counts, not seeing how much loot you can acquire.
Two, it was very much in line with my anti-consumerist ethic. I long ago grew very fed up with the whole "shop 'til you drop" mania of the Christmas season which only ends up raising people's expectations to an inflated degree, degrades the environment, blows a big hole through everyone's personal finances (especially now) and, again, devalues the real message and spirit of Christmas.
I received a DVD boxset of the British comedy Are You Being Served?, a shirt, a box of chocolate mints and £20 cash.
And that, I feel, is sufficient. I don't long for much else, except a 17 percent flat tax. Unfortunately, that's not something friends and family can provide.
I also have never understood why people feel the need to gorge themselves over Christmas and then pass Christmas off as an excuse as to why they've gained so much weight. Humans continue to amaze me with their silliness if not outright stupidity. I've continued to watch what I eat, take part in exercise and keep my waistline slim, Christmas be damned. I don't stuff myself or stop running just because it's Christmas.
However, I've had to keep myself busy over this festive week, because there's always a danger of me becoming very bored and drinking too much as a result. But I've been successful at fighting the boredom—and the excessive drink—with housecleaning, running, napping and spending time with family (which in my case amounts to only my wife and mother-in-law!), so I'm surviving this week. Christmas week is all very well, but by God, it takes strength to get through it. I can so easily find myself wishing for the arrival of January and the resumption of normalcy it will usher in. But then again, I do love order and routine, which the week between Christmas and New Year completely throws out of whack.
And, hey, the NFL playoffs start in January—another reason to get past New Year and back to normal!
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and that your New Year's Eve will be a safe and healthy one.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Obama's inaugural pick exposes hole in liberal tolerance ethic

(Previously published on Blogcritics)

If you want some real insight into how much gays and liberals respect the concept of tolerance, which they're always preaching about, you need look no further than the latest "controversy" surrounding our President-elect.Gay-rights advocates, the homosexual community and most liberals are in a huff over Mr. Obama's decision to allow California pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his presidential inauguration. Warren is an outspoken advocate not only of pro-life issues but also of traditional marriage.
The Human Rights Campaign wrote a letter to Obama in which they angrily assert that they "feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination." The editor of the gay newspaper The Washington Blade opined, "This tone-deafness to our concerns must not be tolerated. We have just endured eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality ... [t]he election was supposed to have ended that era. It appears otherwise."
Three salient points here:
(1) Messiah Man campaigned on a promise to give a hearing to both sides, to conservatives and liberals alike. The move to include Rev. Warren in the inauguration ceremony, whose church Obama visited during the campaign trail to hear Warren speak on faith issues, is a fig-leaf to conservative Christians and is, thusly, a classic Obama tactic.
(2) Mr. Obama and Rev. Warren share many thoughts on social justice. Like the President-elect, pastor Warren has not embraced fiscal conservatism and is an advocate for a government-led war on poverty.
(3) Mr. Obama opposes same-sex marriage, and this fact was public knowledge during his campaign. While his presidency will no doubt be the gay-friendliest of all, Messiah Man will not likely back down on the issue of gay marriage. Unfortunately, for most gay advocates, that is not good enough. (This common knowledge of Obama's stance on gay marriage must surely be the reason why he received less votes from gay voters than did John Kerry in 2004.)
It's understandable—and entirely predictable—that the gay community would react in this way. The gay rights movement, after all, is reeling from the Proposition 8 vote in California which seeks to overturn the legality of gay marriage in that state, and is looking to flex some serious muscle.
Obama's pick of Rev. Warren to deliver the invocation speech was just the fight the gay community was looking for. Liberals, who largely showed restraint over criticism of Mr. Obama's conservative cabinet selections, are now boiling over with disappointed rage at the Warren issue as well.
Mr. Obama asserts that dialogue is what his campaign was about, as well as his upcoming presidency.
"We're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans," Obama said in response to the furore over the Rev. Warren debate.
In other words, by selecting the Rev. Warren to be part of his inauguration ceremony, Obama was demonstrating tolerance—true tolerance. But that's not what the gay community and its liberal supporters desire.
In fact, the lesson to be learned from this debacle is not what liberals expected from Obama, but from what Obama expected from his liberal supporters. Mr. Obama wants debate and tolerance; the majority of liberals demand nothing less than total militancy over the issues dear to them.
I feel kind of sorry for the President-elect already. The poor man may only just now realize the hornets' nest he's walking into.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Do you think Obama's discovered the hornets' nest yet?

You know, Messiah Man continues to surprise and impress me. By selecting the anti-gay marriage Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation speech at his presidential inauguration, Mr. Obama is displaying true tolerance, the tolerance that the gay community and liberals are always preaching about.
But, of course, it's not tolerance but militancy that most liberals want and expect from Mr. Obama. We certainly will have change under his Presidency, but, in many cases, not strong enough for the liberals who swooned at the almighty Obama's presence and kissed the ground upon which he walked.
I think Mr. Obama did the right thing in selecting Rev. Warren. It may be tokenism with respect to social conservatives, but at least Mr. Obama is proving that he's serious in fomenting genuine debate.
Most Obama supporters feel that the selection of Rev. Warren to take part in his inauguration ceremony is a slap in the face.
Which reminds me of the reaction here in Britain to Mr. Obama's win over McCain. Predictably, the reaction was one of elation and happiness. Mr. Obama is about change, the British public asserted. He's going to make a difference in the world.
OK, fair enough. That is without question. But, two-thirds of the British public want to pull out of Afghanistan. Not only does this expose how seemingly weak of will and mind the British have become, how they've already forgotten their fight against the IRA's despicable terrorism, and how they're no longer interested in combatting Islamic terrorism. But it shows a fault line in how they regard the new Leader of the Free World.
Mr. Obama is committed to the Afghanistan war, and he will pressure Britain not only to keep up the fight there but to increase troop levels. One can only wonder how the 68 percent of limeys who oppose Afghanistan feel at the prospect of the American messiah pressuring their country to contribute more to a war they have no stomach for.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

News & events "mish-mash": Part II

As my Irish ancestors may have once said: "Jesus God almighty!" Can we not have a new president or a presidential transition that doesn't court controversy? First there was the Gennifer Flowers affair with Clinton in 1992; then in 2000, you heard the accusation against conservative judges on the Supreme Court handing Bush victory; now, we've got a "pay to play" political situation regarding the Senate seat vacated by Messiah Man, Barack Obama.
Granted, this has a lot more to do with Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich than Mr. Obama. Blagojevich, your typical sewer denzien of a political hack, was apparently offered a million dollars for the seat by Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson has denied any wrongdoing, however, and has stipulated that the governor should "forfeit his authority to make this Senate appointment." A November 3 transcript of a telephone conversation had Blago opining that the Senate seat was a "[expletive] valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."
Blagojevich has also, according to federal prosecutors, appropriated state funds in order to convince the Chicago Tribune to fire editorial board members who were critical of him, tried to place his wife on a corporate board, and tried to secure campaign contributions in exchange for official actions. And to think that Blago was elected on a pledge to clean up after his predecessor George Ryan, who is serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence for fraud!
Hopefully this will mark a turning point for Chicago and Illinois, the politically sleaziest city and state in the nation.
● I'm guessing this is a bad time for a Greek vacation. Major cities across the Hellenic nation are burning as protestors go on the rampage. All this over a 16-year-old boy? It is absolutely a pity that the young man was shot by police, but the reaction to his death is a bit extreme, or so one who was not a far-Left anarchist airhead would think.
It is an unsettling thought that democracy in Greece has historically had the concept of anarchy at its roots. And now, anarchy means being anti-capitalist, anti-globalist, anti-American, anti-police and anti-common sense. It means to raise hell at any opportunity, at any provocation.
These Leftie whackjobs certainly lay to rest the notion that extreme liberals are always peaceful, non-violent protest types.
Honestly, the Greeks can have these people. The more I learn about Greek society, the much more grateful I am that the two societies that I know best and which have informed my worldview—American and British—frown upon anarchy and the mega-violent philosophy it engenders.
● Proposals for a change in the laws regarding prostitution here in the U.K. will be most welcomed by yours truly. The new law proposed by the Home Secretary will mean that a plea of ignorance by men who purchased the services of any woman who has been trafficked or is being exploited by a pimp will no longer be a satisfactory defense. Men can also be charged with rape on account of any sexual interaction with a trafficked prostitute, and curb-crawlers also face naming and shaming.
Now, normally I raise the alarm bell over how men's contributions to society have been cheapened or ignored, and how feminists have turned the societal tables on us. However, that sentiment—however you feel about it—does not apply here. I hardly think it's right or fair to blame the women involved in prostitution, especially as prostitution these days boils down to nothing more or less than a modern slave trade.
It's the men who call the shots, from the pimps who control the sex trade to the idiot male customers who partake in the services it has to offer. To prosecute curb-crawling men and close any and all brothels with links to trafficking should hopefully shut down the demand on this perhaps oldest but no doubt filthiest of occupations. Especially when you consider that many of the women involved did not take up this "occupation" by choice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

News & events "mish-mash": Part I

Sorry, dear reader. In case you wonder why my writing becomes so sporadic at times, the reason is most likely to be that (a) I'm too busy to write, (b) I'm feeling ill, (c) I lack motivation to write, or (d) any combination of the above three—quite often, all three. So I apologize for the absence. I also don't like being away because it means I haven't responded to anything you may have written. Don't take it personally. I am definitely not ignoring your writing, and I always catch up with it once I have the time to peruse my friends' blogs at leisure.
Now that we have established that, I've got things to get off my chest here. These were all meant to be separate entries, but it's obvious that they are going to have to be thrown together in a mish-mash. So, without further adieu, here we go:
The Times, that highbrow paper of the Old British Right, recently published an opinion piece by an obviously testosterone-soaked author named Matthew Syed. I wrote a letter to The Times to give my persepective on it, but since they did not publish it—and rarely do I get rejected whenever I write a letter to a newspaper—I will do so in this space:
I'd like to register my disgust with the Opinion article written by Matthew Syed. He writes that "Britain is finally shedding its stifling and hypocritical prudishness." What, exactly, is so stifling and hypocritical about not condoning casual sex? The "prudish" attitude of decades ago ensured healthy families and a strong society.
Mr. Syed also writes that "Britain has come top among Western industrial nations in the world casual sex league." That's not the only thing Britain tops the tables with. Britain is also first in sexually trasmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, abortions and single motherhood. And this, according to Mr. Syed, is a reason to celebrate promiscuity? I'd like to know what world Mr. Syed is living in which makes it possible for him to conclude that one-night stands are not evidence of moral bankruptcy. I may be a smug married, but I do sincerely believe a commitment to someone should be a requisite for sexual activity. To be honest, I would normally regard this sort of opinion as tabloid fodder. For a venerable paper such as The Times to publish this screed is nothing short of disappointing.

I think that makes a rather satisfying riposte to the "let's all do it and not care about the consequences or the immorality of one-night stands" argument put forth by Mr. Led-By-His-Groin-and-Not-His-Brain Syed!
I can't tell you how much I've had it with left-wing celebrities. But, actually, it's the ordinary Joe or Jill who hold such celebrities so close to their hearts who really drive me crazy.
Leonardo DiCaprio cares about the environment, you see, despite having starred in a film whose production techniques completely destroyed a significant portion of shoreline in Thailand. Bono so cares about the downtrodden people of the Third World that he dodged taxes in his native Ireland so that he could save up even more money, taking part in a capitalist system that he so often inveighs against. I could go on, but the number of column inches of this entry would circle Earth's equator 50 times if I did.
Still ... then there's George Clooney. Nice guy? Probably. He certainly looks like one, a dapper gentleman down to his core, the sort of guy I'd like to be sipping coffee with, just as he does on his Nespresso ads. Clooney also loves to preach to us about the many sins of capitalism and of the American way of life; he pulled for Barack Obama on the hope that Messiah Man would deliver on his socialist promises.
And then, last week, he held a bash in London, for which it cost £10,000 to attend. Now, admittedly, the party did raise £10 million for charity, but Cripes—wasn't that just another excuse for these celebrities to prance about, drink their drinks, take their drugs and preen for the cameras, articulating with their expressions, "Look at me, aren't I wonderful? I spent £10,000 to attend this orgy of self-congratulation because I can!" The aforementioned Bono was there too, no surprise.
I just wish people would realize that the lifestyles of the celebs they hold in such high esteem buck the very crusades they so often lecture the rest of us about.
Going back to the real world, which those of us who aren't celebrities have to live in—and work in, if we're lucky—a Tory politician here in England got in trouble for suggesting that the recession could be "good for people." Insensitive comment? Yes and no.
When Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, asserted that the recession was good for us, he may have touched several thousands of raw nerves, nerves that have been affected by loss of income, loss of property, etc. But here's what Mr. Lansley actually wrote (in his blog) about the recession:
"Interestingly, on many counts, recession can be good for us. People tend to smoke less, drink less alcohol, eat less rich food and spend more time at home with families."
Face it, he's right, isn't he? If no longer having the cash to buy cigarettes forces a smoker to quit that filthy habit, then couldn't it be said that the cloud of recession did indeed have a silver lining?
After the firestorm of controversy that erupted, largely thanks to the Labour party calling him "shameful" and "out of touch," Mr Lansley issued the following statement: "I'm very sorry for any offense this has caused and I totally withdraw my comments."
He should not have had to do that. Anyone with half a brain cell could easily interpret the argument Lansley was trying to make.
Unfortunately, after 11 years of a Labour government, most people in this country have been left with only a quarter of a brain cell. (Which, of course, is just what Labour was counting on all those years ago to stay in power for so long, no doubt.)
Speaking of the Tories—and a solid reason why Labour should be trounced in the 2009 General Election—the shadow Home Office minister Damian Green was arrested and had his office and home searched by counter-terrorism officers. He was released on bail but will face further questioning in February.
Green's crime? He leaked information on the Labour Government's immigration policy, provided by a whistleblower. David Cameron, the Conservative leader, called the arrest "Stalinist," and he's dead-on with his description.
Mr. Green had this to say, shortly after his release: "I emphatically deny that I have done anything wrong. I have many times made public information that the government wanted to keep secret, information that the public has a right to know ... In a democracy, opposition politicians have a duty to hold the government to account. I was elected to the House of Commons precisely to do that and I certainly intend to continue doing so."
Damian Green was further highlighting Labour's total incompetence with regard to immigration policy and Labour decided they had enough of Green's political incorrectness. The complaint against Green, after all, came from the Cabinet Office.
The Home Office whistleblower was arrested as well, which should come as no surprise.
And the present Government insists that mass immigration is good for us. Bad enough illegals steal precious land from us, but stealing our democracy via a government so keen to encourage them?
Stalinist? I'd say that Pol Pot, Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe have all had a say Green's arrest as well.
Well, I'll have to continue this mish-mash tomorrow. It appears that I'm getting a genuine column out of stuff I intened to write columns about!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Feeling some hope for Obama's foreign policy administration

You'll forgive me for feeling this way, dear reader, but I am not feeling so awful about America's foreign policy under Barack Obama.
One: The obvious. Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State. While I shuddered at the thought of her being President, while she's quite liberal, and while she's a Clinton, I nevertheless thought she was a good pick for the post. Mrs. Clinton may be lacking in several ways—and I can never forget the way she treated those Travel Office staff—warmth, empathy and cuddliness are not what I look for in a Secretary of State. Condi was an excellent S.o.S., but it's obvious that Obama would not keep her on (despite the fact that she's black), and Clinton is apt to be much better and more effective than the maudlin Madeline Albright. Hilary is tough-as-nails and she will not back down. It was Hilary, after all, who talked of "obliterating" Iran if they attacked Israel back in April. You cannot accuse Hilary Clinton of being a dove; so therefore, I think Mrs. Clinton will make a credible Secretary of State.
Two: Robert Gates remaining as Secretary of Defense. Gates served well as S.o.D. for two years and he adds another vital hawkish element to Obama's foreign policy administration. Mr. Gates also has a close working relationship with General Petraeus, who has overseen both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and Obama is committed to the Afghanistan effort—even risking the goodwill of Britain and the European nations by demanding higher troop levels—and may even be brought around on Iraq. Adding Gen. James Jones, the former head of NATO, as National Security Adviser is also a very shrewd move on Obama's part.
Three: The almost Bush-like speech that Obama delivered the other day, in which he declared that the United States must be the strongest military power. Obama said, "To ensure prosperity here at home and peace abroad, we all share the belief we have to maintain the strongest military on the planet ... We cannot tolerate a world where innocents are being killed by extremists." He added that his administration was "absolutely committed to eliminating the threat of terrorism."
Mr. Obama seems to be travelling down a more conciliatory path while still sounding tough, something that Bush himself has been demonstrating for the past two years.
I still gravely fear Obama's domestic policies. But, far from signing away the farm, as I feared he'd do, Barack Obama seems genuinely committed to protecting America, foreign policy wise.