Second, I think that the whole business of working towards prosecuting Coulter is on par with the prosecution of Rush Limbaugh: a political effort of the "God-hating liberals" to get someone they don’t like. Palm Beach County election officials obviously had good reason to believe that something was amiss with her address and should have been more proactive. That’s their job. To sit around and let something like this happen–assuming it happened as they described–and then "call the dogs out" is somewhere between irresponsible and entrapment.
But the fact that both of these conservative stalwarts are in Palm Beach at all is something that I, personally, have a difficult time with. The U.S. was a country which was led by nationhood by an enlightened elite. But they could not have done that without a general population with a reasonable sense of personal responsibility. That fact was the cornerstone of "Jeffersonian democracy," and was one of the founding precepts of the Democrat Party. My own years in Palm Beach–with many drug and alcohol besotted classmates raised by the help–convinced me that "rich kid" raising would not result in people capable of leading any society through survival, let alone victory, something that was slipping out of our grasp in Vietnam. The subsequent course of history has led us to the dilemma that I described in my piece on 9/11 five years after.
But most modern conservatives are oblivious to the fact that, if we’re really serious about fixing our nations’s leadership problems, a solution is going to have to start by getting a new leadership class and system altogether. Both Coulter and Limbaugh, for all their stridency, are content with trying to "restaff" the system as it is with its elite places and–more significantly–its elite schools. That’s why I found Coulter’s insistence on an Ivy Leaguer at the Supreme Court hard to take.
The longer our system goes on as it is, the more divorced it will become from reality, and the less capable it will become to deal with the real problems the rest of the world presents it. Coulter and Limbaugh can live anywhere they like, but unless they tackle the "reality check" issue, we’re doomed to stumble from one disaster to another no matter which side is in power. Remember: Ronald Reagan, our last non-Ivy Leaguer President, suceeded by tapping the energies of "ordinary" people.
Now to the matter at hand: I still have never heard a satisfactory explanation as to why gay marriage is preferable to no civil marriage at all from those on the left. You liberals were supposed to be freeing us from such social conventions and your volte-face on this is appalling. Why should we believe you on anything else? We need to continue to vote for marriage as a union of one man and one woman until the left stops this silliness, which doesn’t look likely in the foreseeable future.
John Kerry’s shot that those who don’t study will end up in Iraq betrays one of the central problems we have in this country: those from its upper reaches don’t end up in the military any more.When we had Selective Service, people from all walks of life ended up in the military and in combat. My father, coming from a privileged background, did his Coast Guard stint in World War II. Others did also. With the end of the Vietnam War and the draft, we basically ended up with an all volunteer army that is drawn largely from the less privileged parts of society. The military, to use the expressive phrase of one NPR correspondent, reflects lower middle class values, and it does so because that’s where its people come from.
Now liberals are whacking these people from both sides. One the one side, they moan and groan about how they need all of these new programmes to rescue people from backgrounds where their families are broken, they’re poor, etc. When our glorious public school system–the most imporant agent in helping upward social mobility–fails them and they turn to the military to fix the problem, they’re taken pot shots at by the likes of John Kerry.
Years later, my father, in one of his riper moods, observed that only rednecks would work in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department. My response to that was simple: “Who else wants the job?” We need military people, police people and firefighters to protect us, irrespective of whether you think that Iraq is the way to do that most effectively or not. I’m glad to be associated with groups like the Church of God Chaplains Commission, who help to minister and support these people with trained and spiritually vibrant chaplains.
Kind of reminds me of a line from Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick: “I’ve come from the upper class to mend your rotten ways…”
Putting ministers into this category–especially in Europe–will insure that it is impossible to dismiss less than optimal ministers. The non-existence of employment at will in Europe is one of the reasons why their economic systems have the large number of structural rigidities they have. (That includes the large number of people they have on the dole.)
It is also an attack on religious freedom. For example, suppose a minister is dimissed because he or she has gone liberal (in the Church of England, who would know the difference?) Would a government that leans in that direction sympathise with that? Hardly.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are two truisms in government that make such statements absurd.
The first is that government is all about judging. Government gets things done by exerting its coercive powers on people. It’s that simple. That involves judgement. Anyone who watches any television show about courts–real or fictionalised–knows that. You decide, for example, that speech against certain groups of people are “hate crimes,” then people who do these things are deprived of their liberty because you thought such things were wrong. Tax increases? You judged that the government needed to take the people’s money (and thus their substance and life) because you wanted to do with it what you pleased and not let them keep it. Divide up Iraq, like you want? That’s a judgement too, Harold.
That leads us to the second point: government and love don’t go together. That’s one of the things that’s wrong with gay marriage: homosexuals want the government to affirm their love for each other, but love isn’t what the government is all about. Government is about power and control. We love our country, not our government.
In a recent digest, Virtue Online says the following about LifeBuilders Essentials:
LIFEBUILDERS ESSENTIALS. A discipleship course for men, co-authored with Patrick Morley, author of The Man in the Mirror. Wrote Don C. Warrington: “We use the 39 Articles as part of our instruction on the church and on its doctrine. The relationship between Anglican and classical Pentecostal doctrines is not well understood but is important in the development of non-Catholic Christianity after the Reformation, especially as it relates to perseverance and sanctification.” Their website can be located at: www.lifebuilders.to
The year before that, I had as downstairs neighbours a pair of Texas A&M students, one cowboy and one Pakistani. The cowboy lamented the fact that his apartment mate, a Muslim, wouldn’t eat fatback in his beans. The Pakistani griped that the law of his country was based on British law and should be replaced by one based on Islamic (Shar’ia) law. Sure enough, Zia-al-Haq did just that, executing Bhutto to round things out in 1979. (Note to college students: listen to your Muslim classmates and neighbours, you just might learn something!) Islamic law, with the madrassas to teach it, have become embedded in Pakistani society ever since.
But Musharraf, possibly the slickest politician in the world (more so than even Bill Clinton, and in a lot more dangerous political arena) did a remarkable volte-face to support Bush’s "war on terror" after 9/11. His idea is primarily to keep the "balls up in the air" and not to get crushed by the U.S. (to say nothing of India) on one side and the Taliban/Islamicists on the other. Now he’s trying to "de-Islamicise" Pakistan’s laws, especially concerning the status of women. But he’s finding out that a population drilled in this kind of thinking doesn’t go quietly.
Will he succeed? It’s amazing that he’s gotten as far as he has. But the jury is still out.
This is something that I, although certainly not comparable on a circulation level, took into consideration when writing The Island Chronicles. The notion that Webb is floating in the face of George Allen’s charges that his fiction is irrelevant to the campaign is simply wrong.
If one takes to writing fiction and having it published, that fiction is a) an expression of something inside of you and b) a part of your public record. Both of these make it a legitimate topic for discussion. Liberals may find this distasteful as it cramps their freedom of expression, but that’s just tough: if you don’t like how bourgeois our society is, don’t advocate gay marriage. (Click here for an explanation of that.)
Moreover, in the past fiction has been used as a way of expressing political opinion in a subtle way. Examples in Western literature abound, but it explains, for example, why Wu Ching-Tzu wrote The Scholars as if it took place in the Ming Dynasty when in fact it took place in the Ch’ing Dynasty. It was not a very flattering view of the current system, so it was safer to do it this way.
I don’t know if Webb’s fiction had that kind of political purpose to it, but what he writes is relevant to his seeking of public office. Perhaps everyone would be better off if he would do what Wu Ching-Tzu’s hero did at the end: “… I shall stay by my medicine stove and Buddhist sutras, And practice religion alone.”
When people think of "traditional" Palm Beach restaurants, they usually refer to places such as Testa’s (my grandparents’ favourite hangout) or the Petite Marmite. But for those of us who lived there in the late 1960’s, a place not to be left off of the list was Wert’s, on South Ocean Boulevard not far from Worth Avenue. Our family went there from time to time, and occasionally we would have a Palm Beach Day School function there. Started in 1924, the decor was "traditionally Florida" (the Bonefish Grill attempts to emulate this.) But the one thing that set Wert’s apart from any other place in Palm Beach was the fact that the walls were lined with baby pictures: babies in virtually every pose one could want (and a few one didn’t) with funny captions below. It was great entertainment for me, which doubtless gratified my parents who didn’t have to put up with hearing me at the dinner table.
Wert’s is long gone, displaced by tonier establishments such as Charley’s Crab. But now we have an election year with a voting public that is rightfully discouraged, if not always knowing why. But instead of things always going from from bad to worse, the reality is that, after all these years, everybody is still going "from bad to Wert’s." A lot of the malaise that infects American politics stems from the fact that we are at the end of a thirty year run of increasing social inequity. This has proceeded apace under both Republican and Democrat President and Congress alike. It has been masked to a large extent by economic growth and extensive borrowing, but as both home values and currency fall in value it becomes evident that the basic net worthless poverty of the average American cannot be hidden indefinitely.
Fuelling this is the dominance of one or more "me generations." When a me generation is mixed with power and money, the result is a concentration of both in the hands of a few who can manage to acquire and hold them, leaving behind the rest. The American dream has been maintained by a balance of a sense of public mindedness with the desire for personal betterment. The loss of the former is having the same corrosive effect that Ferdinand Lot observed it had in Rome. As we have noted repeatedly, the Democrat party, with the likes of Hillary Clinton, ought to be having a field day. However, its elites today, unlike Franklin Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy, have forgotten in their contempt how to connect with most people, and most people sense that. The "party of the people" that relies on the like of billionaire George Soros to advance its agenda is not the party of the people at all.
The Democrats want to take themselves the fastest "from bad to Wert’s," i.e., to the elite places like Palm Beach, where those who can live there and those who can’t cross the bridge daily to serve. (It’s also like Wert’s because most of us end up being treated like the babies whose pictures decorated the walls.) This is why the Republican philosophy, for all of the stumbling its bearers have done lately, is the only real check against boomer careerism. Putting the Democrats in power is like giving a pyromaniac petrol; expanding government will only expand their control, which is their only objective, and this in turn will concentrate the control of the country’s resources in their hands. The U.S. was founded under the leadership of an enlightened (in every sense of the word) elite. That enlightenment has long decamped from those who are in power in our country. Our only hope is in people who at least have some concept of the importance of the truly independent person, otherwise we will only accelerate our slide "from bad to Wert’s."