Saturday, February 02, 2008
Orange County Register
Saturday, February 2, 2008
President McCain? Or Queen Hillary? Henry Kissinger said about the Iran/Iraq war in the '80s that it's a shame they both can't lose. Conservatives have a slightly different problem: It's a shame that neither of them will lose – that, regardless of who takes the oath come next January, the harmonious McCain-Clinton consensus policies on illegal immigration and Big Government solutions to global warming will prevail. Where's Neither-of-the-Above when you need him?
Alas, the only Neither-of-the-Above in the offing is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose candidacy would shake things up only insofar as we'd all suddenly be demanding: OK, where's None-of-the-Above when you need him? Mayor Bloomberg is a former Democrat, former Republican, and current Independent, if by "Independent" you mean "Man who agrees with the conventional wisdom on illegal immigration, global warming, health care and everything else."
Democracies get the political leaders they deserve, and that's particularly true in the United States, where the primary system allows rank-and-file citizens to choose not merely which party to vote for (as in Britain, Canada and Europe) but also which individuals will be the candidates of those parties. True, it helps to be wealthy – up to a point. But it wasn't enough for John Edwards, the curiously unconvincing "angry populist" muttering darkly that "they" would never stop him telling the truth about 9-year-old girls shivering without a winter coat because daddy had been laid off at the mill. "They" didn't need to stop him. The champion of America's mythical Coatless Girl laid himself off last week. High on a hill, the Lonely Coatherd suddenly realized he was yodeling to himself.
Yet Sen. Edwards can't even claim the consolation prize of Most Inept Candidate of 2008. The Rudy Giuliani campaign went from national front-runner to total collapse so spectacularly that they'll be teaching it in Candidate School as a cautionary tale for decades to come. As each state's date with destiny loomed, Giuliani retreated, declining to compete in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina. "America's Mayor" turned out to be Hizzoner of a phantom jurisdiction – a national front-runner but a single-digit asterisk in any state where any actual voters were actually voting.
Giuliani's fate unnerves me because, unlike the Coatless One, Rudy had the support of a lot of my columnar confreres: John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary; Andy McCarthy and Lisa Schiffren at National Review; and David Frum, author of the new book "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again." Yet he backed a candidate who took off and barely cleared the runway before nose-diving into the sod.
Rudy's views on abortion were always going to be a deal-breaker for a key segment of the Republican base. And his views on gun control were likewise beyond the pale for another big faction. That didn't leave much except his cleanup of New York (whose problems were blessedly alien to Iowa and New Hampshire) and, more recently, his "war on terror" credentials, which boils down to his marvelous performance on 9/11, barreling through the dust-choked streets of Lower Manhattan and showing leadership amidst the chaos – plus a splendid coda a couple of weeks later when he told some unsavory Saudi prince to take his gazillion-dollar donation and shove it. Every malign check from the House of Saud ought to meet the same fate: perhaps we could have a constitutional amendment to that effect.
As for his performance on Sept. 11, well, yes, he was good, and he was effective on a day when so many agencies of government, at least at the federal level, had failed spectacularly – FAA, INS, FBI, CIA, all the fancy-pants money-no-object acronyms, none of whose mediocrities paid any political price for their failures.
In 2000, Rudy had been in full public meltdown. His wife learned she was heading for divorcee status from a mayoral news conference. But, unlike so many officials on 9/11, in his rendezvous with history, Rudy Giuliani rose to the occasion. You would hope that would not be so exceptional, but apparently it is.
In contrast to the moral clarity Rudy showed in returning the Saudi check, the repugnant mayor of London, after the 2005 Tube bombings, artfully attempted to draw a distinction between Muslim terrorists blowing up his own public transit (which he didn't approve of) and Muslim terrorists blowing up Israeli public transit (which he was inclined to be sympathetic to).
In contrast with Giuliani's take-charge attitude, the boob presiding over New Orleans, Ray Nagin, raged as wildly as Katrina: "To those who would criticize, where the hell were you?" roared Mayor Culpa, pointing the finger in all directions. "Where the hell were you?" We were in a town you're not the mayor of, happily.
If Rudy's performance was "exceptional," that's less a reflection on him than on the general standards of officialdom. It seems odd to me that so many experts would expect the "America's Mayor" pitch to outpunch abortion and guns with the Republican base: 9/11 will be seven years old by Election Day 2008. A lot of voters have moved on, including a lot of Republican voters. And many of those Republican voters who still regard the forces unleashed that day as an ongoing threat want something different from the Orange Alert remove-your-shoes security-state approach. If this is a "long war," as the administration took to calling it, "America's Mayor" seemed in large part to embody an early phase that has already receded into history.
Another colleague of mine, Michael Ledeen, suggests that the rise of McCain through New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida indicates that for many voters "the war" is still the issue, because, after all, what else has the senator got going for him? Surely, it's not his global-warming hysteria or illegal-immigration amnesty or demonization of capitalism. It's because he's Mister Surge.
The senator is an eloquent defender of the U.S. armed forces. A President McCain will not permit a military defeat in Iraq. But it's not clear to me he has much of a strategic vision for the ideological struggle, for the real long-term battlefield in the mosques and madrassahs of Pakistan and Indonesia and Western Europe. McCain's lead is no evidence of popular commitment to "the long war," and, absent any surprising developments, this will not be a war election.
The Clintons are nothing if not lucky, and Hillary must occasionally be enjoying a luxury-length cackle at the thought of being pitted against a 71-year-old "maverick" whose record seems designed to antagonize just enough of the base into staying home on Election Day. In the 2000 campaign season, running in a desultory fashion for the New York Senate seat, Rudy Giuliani waged a brief half-hearted campaign just long enough to leave the Republican Party with no one to run against Hillary except a candidate who wasn't up to the job.
Has he managed to do the same this time round?
Friday, February 01, 2008
January 29, 2008
For 18 years, between ages 5 and 22, I lived in a jersey. Sometimes it was green, sometimes purple; usually it was red. From clinic soccer at Lutherville-Timonium Recreational Council to Division I lacrosse at Stanford, I lived to compete.
Now, two years after hanging up my cleats, I am able to step back to examine the game from a different angle.
I coach high school JV girls’ lacrosse and spent this past summer coaching an elite-level club team. My players hailed from eight strong public and private school programs.
While coaching, I often stop to consider my high school career at Roland Park Country School. I mostly remember face paint, spirit parades to Bryn Mawr, and tossing the ball around after practice until we couldn't see it any longer.
I do not remember stress fractures, personal trainers, lacrosse tournaments during basketball season, hiring a recruiting specialist to help me get into college, or paying outrageous dues to play on a club team.
I am left to ask: What happened to high school sports in the six years I've been gone? When did being a high school athlete become a job instead of a pastime?
I talk to many athletes and parents who believe playing a sport is the golden ticket to college. Don't get me wrong; I understand what a powerful tool athletics can be in admissions and scholarship. With college tuition at many schools rising over $40,000, it's no wonder parents and athletes are desperately striving for scholarships. But at what cost?
Today, I see athletes who look tired, injured and worn out - and they're 15.
Any honest Division I athlete will tell you she commits about five hours a day, six days a week, to her sport, and more when she's injured. Talk with any athlete who is tough enough and loves the game enough to practice 30 hours a week, 40 weeks a year, for four years, and I guarantee he was not burned out in 10th grade.
I coach several good high school athletes. They compete at that level and thrive there, but I know they are not physically or mentally prepared to enjoy playing at the elite college level.
Too many of these athletes, and their parents, refuse to see Division III, club or intramural programs as an acceptable next stop. Because these athletes do not get the recruiting letters they want, parents send them to personal trainers, sign them up for additional club teams and ask high school coaches to write more letters.
In an attempt to help their children succeed in college sports, parents are sabotaging them. When will someone draw the line?
In the spring, I spend 10 hours a day teaching and coaching high school athletes. I can see the pressure, physical exhaustion and stress weighing on them. I can hear the fear and anxiety in their voices when they talk about sports.
At 18, there was nothing I would rather do than play lacrosse (or basketball or field hockey) against Bryn Mawr. I lived for the thrill of competing, and so did my teammates. The energy before those games was absolutely contagious. It didn't matter the season because we were all playing for the pride of our school and our love of the sport. No one was thinking about how this game was going to help her college career.
When are athletes, parents and coaches going to realize that the best athlete is the athlete who loves to play? She is fresh at the beginning of each season and has a healthy body that is fit but not overworked.
No club team or personal trainer can replace an athlete's love for his or her sport. It is that passion, that drive, that desire that bodes success. Sadly, I see that light quickly dying in the eyes of young athletes.
Kelsey F. Twist teaches and coaches at Roland Park Country School and elsewhere. As a student, she was named The Sun's Female High School Athlete of the Year and the U.S. Lacrosse High School Player of the Year.
That’s a grim metaphor, maybe too grim. It’s from an endorsement of Philip F. Lawler’s book, to be published next week, The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture (Encounter). The endorsement is by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, who says: “Lawler’s masterful analysis is sobering and provides an urgent incentive for authentic renewal. If St. John Chrysostom is correct when he says that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops, it would be a mistake for any bishop or priest to miss this book.” Bishop Bruskewitz and Philip Lawler obviously think that Chrysostom was correct.
One might suggest that the book is really two books, one about what has happened to Catholicism in Boston and the other about the sex abuse scandal in the Church in America. Boston is the synecdoche for the telling of the much larger story. It is admittedly a very big synecdoche, but much of the book takes leave of Boston altogether in order to examine what happened and is still happening in dioceses around the country.
The account offered is devastating and the blame is clearly laid at the door of the American bishops. Lawler is outraged, but, to his credit, his outrage is controlled. His judgments are sometimes harsh, but, in view of the evidence, they could hardly be otherwise. Throughout, one senses his palpable love for the Church, his solid orthodoxy, and his yearning for spiritual and moral renewal. Lawler was long the editor of Catholic World Report and for several years, under Bernard Cardinal Law, editor of the archdiocesan newspaper The Pilot. His treatment of Law, who was compelled to resign as Archbishop of Boston in December 2002, strikes one as an exemplary exercise in trying to put the best possible construction on the indisputably indefensible.
“The thesis of this book,” writes Lawler, “is that the sex abuse scandal in American Catholicism was not only aggravated but actually caused by the willingness of church leaders to sacrifice the essential for the inessential; to build up the human institution even to the detriment of the divine mandate.” Bishops again and again responded to the crisis as institutional managers, employing public relations stratagems to evade, deceive, and distract attention from their own responsibility. Lawler several times invokes the terse observation of St. Augustine, “God does not need my lie.” The bishops lied, says Lawler, and many of them are still lying. This is offered not as an accusation but as a conclusion that he believes is compelled by the evidence.
“The first aspect of the scandal, the sexual abuse of children, has been acknowledged and addressed,” Lawler writes. “The second aspect, the rampant homosexuality among Catholic priests, has been acknowledged but not addressed, and later even denied. . . . The third aspect of the scandal has never even been acknowledged by American church leaders.” The third aspect, the malfeasance of bishops, “is today the most serious of all.”
Over 80 percent of reported cases of abuse were with teenage boys. That does not include, of course, uncounted instances of sex with men who are of age, since those cases, as several bishops have opined, constitute no problem for the Church, meaning no legal or financial problem. Spiritual and moral problems apparently do not enter the equation. The name for this is corruption. Lawler quotes at length an article, published in 2000, before the scandal in Boston made national headlines, by Father Paul Shaughnessy:
If we examine any trust-invested agency at any given point in its history, whether that agency be a police force, a military unit, or a religious community, we might find that, say, out of every hundred men, five are scoundrels, five are heroes, and the rest are neither one nor the other: ordinarily upright men who live with a mixture of moral timidity and moral courage. When the institution is healthy, the gutsier few set the overall tone, and the less courageous but tractable majority works along with these men to minimize misbehavior; more importantly, the healthy institution is able to identify its own rotten apples and remove them before the institution itself is enfeebled. However, when an institution becomes corrupt, its guiding spirit mysteriously shifts away from the morally intrepid few, and with that shift the institution becomes more interested in protecting itself against outside critics than in tackling the problem members that subvert its mission. For example, when we say a certain police force is corrupt, we don’t usually mean that every policeman is on the take—perhaps only five out of a hundred actually accept bribes—rather we mean that this police force can no longer diagnose and cure its own problems, and consequently, if reform is to take place, an outside agency has to be brought in to make the changes.
Lawler adds: “Homosexual influence within the American clergy was not in itself the cause of the sex abuse crisis. The corruption wrought by that influence was a more important factor.” He very gingerly addresses a theory proposed by a number of commentators on the crisis, namely, that bishops engaged in cover-ups and other deceptions because they were threatened with homosexual blackmail. He cites a number of instances in which this appears to be the case and bishops were permitted to resign when their misdeeds could no longer be denied. “The blackmail hypothesis,” he writes, “provides a logical explanation for behavior that is otherwise inexplicable: the bishops’ willingness to risk the welfare of the faithful and their own reputations in order to protect abusive priests.”
The subject of the sex abuse crisis lends itself to sensationalism, but Lawler strives to resist that temptation. His is a generally sober account of a crisis that brought to light a larger pattern of episcopal fecklessness in the Church’s accommodation to, and complicity in, the forces of cultural decadence. As readers know, the sex abuse crisis—its sources and ramifications—is a subject regularly addressed in First Things. And I will likely be returning to The Faithful Departed in the magazine.
I differ with Philip Lawler on a number of points in his telling of the story. For instance, his treatment of the 1940s conflict between Father Leonard Feeney and Cardinal Cushing is, I think, too uncritical of Father Feeney. Feeney was out of line in the way he pressed the claim that only Catholics can be saved. And, despite his critique of cultural accommodationism, Lawler betrays a nostalgia for the old Boston Catholicism that has “collapsed,” even though it was, in its way, a massive instance of cultural accommodation, albeit an institutionally successful instance.
Those and other caveats aside, The Faithful Departed is the best book-length treatment of the sex abuse crisis, its origins and larger implications, published to date.
"The Punishment of Titius" by Poppi, Uffizi
By HOLLAND COTTER
The New York Times
Published: February 1, 2008
Michelangelo was a terrible kvetch. His back forever ached; popes were slow with the paychecks; the local food was always an insult, a disgrace. No one worked half as hard as he did, and slacker artists made him nuts. “Draw, Antonio; draw, Antonio; draw and don’t waste time,” he scrawled on a sketch he gave to a lackadaisical young pupil and studio assistant, Antonio Mini, in 1524.
He gave Mini many drawings — two trunks full, according to one account — as he did to several other pretty men he taught. You’ll find a choice example from the Mini cache — a stormy, swirling study of a muscular male leg — in “Michelangelo, Vasari and Their Contemporaries: Drawings From the Uffizi” at the Morgan Library & Museum. That sketch is just one of 79 16th-century Florentine works, shaped into a thematic exhibition that would give even the fault-finding master scant cause for complaint.
"The Capture of Vicopisano" (circa 1563-65) by Giovanni Stradanus, Uffizi
For Michelangelo drawing was the most practical and personal medium; it was a laboratory, a diary, an end in itself. If you could do a perfect drawing, he came to think, why bother to turn it into a painting or sculpture? Perfection in any form was the goal. One of the most famously perfect drawings he made, “Bust of a Woman, Head of an Old Man and Bust of a Child,” is in this show.
Of the three figures, the woman is the most vivid and polished. With her chiseled features bordering on masculine, her breast-baring gown and horned helmet of braids, she blends Renaissance neo-Classicism with proto-Mannerist fantasy. She looks completely at home in the mannerist phase of our own postmodernism, and was hugely influential in her time. Everyone wanted to make art this good and this strange.
“Bust of a Woman, Head of an Old Man and Bust of a Child” by Michelangelo, Uffizi
The matter of influence is important. It is one reason that 16th-century Florence is usually cast in art history books as something like the Age of Michelangelo and the Michelangelettes, or Michelangelini if you prefer, referring to the many students and emulators who toiled in his shadow. The title of the Morgan show seems to echo this interpretation, though the curator, Annamaria Petrioli Tofani, a former director of the Uffizi in Florence, has done something more interesting. Through her selection of artists she has drawn a picture of Florentine art not as a heroic, strictly top-down hierarchy but as a collective endeavor. This was exemplified by the decorative plan organized by Giorgio Vasari for the Palazzo Vecchio, the hulking fortress-palace in the center of Florence that had been city hall since the 14th century and later a Medici residence.
Heroes come first, though. Among them was Jacopo Carucci, called Pontormo (1494-1556), who zealously scrutinized Michelangelo’s work, then took it in a new direction — away from a reliance on natural forms — to create an intensely personal, conceptual style known as Mannerism. In Pontormo’s hallucinatory altarpiece of the Entombment at Santa Felicita in Florence, mourning figures float around the body of Jesus like a funerary wreath of pink and blue clouds. We are in the zero-gravity realm of mind and spirit, not on earth.
"Male Figure Seated on a Stool" (1555–65) by Giorgio Vasari, Uffizi
At the Morgan two side-by-side studies of a seated male on a single sheet of paper illustrate the transition between these realms. The figure in red chalk on the right looks grounded enough; the figure in black chalk on the left, though, is a snarl of snaking lines. It’s as if Pontormo were drawing a constantly moving model and trying to record each motion in an overlaid stop-action sequence. We don’t see a solid figure; we see the vapor trails of moving atoms.
Pontormo was a difficult character who ended up living in paranoid isolation. But for art as a record of neurosis, nothing quite compares with the work of his exact contemporary, Giovan Battista di Jacopo, known as Rosso Fiorentino, or the Redheaded Florentine, who all but erased the line between spirituality and satire.
A Rosso drawing of the Virgin and Child surrounded by saints is a brittle, twisting affair of posturing figures in a depthless space. It looks the way Gesualdo’s music sounds. It could be sincerely devotional; it could be a satire of devotion. More peculiar still is a presumably secular image of a nude woman sketched on an oddly cut sheet of paper. Is she pregnant, or just out of shape? Or does she represent a foreign, Gothic standard of beauty? (Dürer was hot in cinquecento Florence.) And what act or thought has prompted her look of languidly shocked distress?
Michelangelo's drawing of a leg, Uffizi
We’ll probably never know, just as we’ll never know where piety ends and devilry starts in Rosso’s religious art, or what led to his death, reportedly a suicide, in 1540.
With younger artists, like Bronzino (1503-72), we are in a more consciously stylized Mannerist phase. The subjective energies that charged the drawing of Rosso and Pontormo are all but gone. In their place we have the chilled, expensive exquisiteness of a court art. A Bronzino drawing of a buff male nude might as easily have been based on a sculpture as on a live model. It appears to be made of stone rather than flesh.
What links all of these artists is patronage. Each of them at one time or another worked for the Medici family, the ruling dynasty of Florence. And each of them, early or late, contributed to the decoration of the Palazzo Vecchio. And by focusing on this link Ms. Tofani transforms the show from a survey of Uffizi treasures into a concentrated historical essay, one in which Vasari (1511-74) assumes a leading role. Vasari is best known now for his “ Lives of the Artists,” the series of biographical essays that supply much of our firsthand knowledge of Italian Renaissance art from Giotto onward. But he was admired in his day as a cultural polymath, a painter, architect and writer who was also an entrepreneurial art-world insider.
Rosso Fiorentino's depiction of the Virgin and Child, Uffizi
He was a familiar type, one common in New York today. Professionally and socially ambitious, he made his way with shrewd judgment, acquired sophistication and engaging but dissembling charm, the charm of a back patter who is also a backbiter. His artistic talents were broad but thin, made up of well-schooled expertise and a knack for imitation. Because he lacked originality, he could mold himself to the needs of any patron, and he became house artist to rulers of the era.
It was largely for his connections that Cosimo I, the Medici grand duke of Tuscany, hired Vasari in 1555 to bring some order to the decoration of the Palazzo Vecchio interior. With a handpicked crew of artisans, Vasari began replacing the accumulation of older, piecemeal works — Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Pontormo and Rosso had all contributed to the palace — with a unified visual program that was essentially a walk-in piece of Medici propaganda.
Vasari was also a chief painter of the new scheme, and an entire wall of the Morgan’s gallery is devoted to his drawings, some for the Palazzo Vecchio. They range from sketches for an allegorical ceiling design to a swooning study for an altarpiece to a worked-up image of the young Cosimo dressed in Roman armor and lording it over his political foes.
"Male Nude Seen from Behind" (1540–46) by Bronzino, Uffizi
To see so many Vasari drawings — there are 14 — makes for an interesting study in personal style, mostly because none is apparent. You can tell a Pontormo or Rosso at a glance. To scan a dozen Vasaris is to see a dozen artists, all related, all slightly different, some more imaginative than others.
This also applies to the selection of drawings by several artists who worked under Vasari on the Palazzo Vecchio, in the majestic civic halls or in the Mannerist jewel box called the Studiolo. Some of these artists are familiar to even beginning students of art history. Alessandro Allori, who had studied Michelangelo’s work in Rome, is one; Santi di Tito, leader of an anti-Mannerist, return-to-naturalism movement, is another. His murmurous art — a sketch of a sleeping child is as soft as a lullaby — stands out in a room of operatic voices.
Not all the artists display such assurance. Girolamo Macchietti (1535-92) had a fabulous hand, but could made mistakes. In his study of a male figure made for the Studiolo, the left leg is, to my eye, slightly off; it doesn’t quite belong to the body it’s attached to.
Vasari's depiction of the Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi
Michelangelo, of course, would have spotted this in a flash and delivered a rebuke. (Draw, Girolamo, draw!) And he might have had problems with another Michelangelino, a whippersnapper named Francesco Morandini (1544-97), known as Poppi, at least until he saw the drawing titled “The Punishment of Titius” in the Morgan show.
It is Poppi’s copy, exacting, almost stroke for stroke, of a drawing that Michelangelo had done decades earlier, in 1532, as a gift for Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, his inamorato at the time. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but copying is also a form of love, as Michelangelo knew. “Poppi?” you can almost hear him say, “He’s young. He’s got a lot to learn. But the kid’s all right.”
“Michelangelo, Vasari and Their Contemporaries: Drawings From the Uffizi” runs through April 20 at the Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, (212) 685-0008; morganlibrary.org.
February 1, 2008 12:00 AM
In a speech Monday, Jan. 28 at American University in Washington, D.C., Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president. Kennedy endorsed Obama in spite of his longtime close ties to former president Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The fictional castles of Barack Obama.
The gods have made their choice. The Olympians have found their anointed one. Bow, bow, before the vessel of the Divine Spark!
So sayeth the priestly class of the mainstream media as they witness the divine laying of hands from the Kennedys upon the New Deliverer, Barack Obama.
He is, quoth ABC’s Terry Moran, the “new son of Camelot.” Moran continued: “Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK.” David Wright, also of ABC, proclaimed, “the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny ... Obama is now an adopted son of Camelot.”
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “Today, for a brief shining hour, the young got to see what we saw, not the gauzy images of Camelot, but the living spirit of the New Frontier.” CBS’s Harry Smith proclaimed: “In the civic religion that is Democratic politics, the most treasured covenant was passed to the young senator from Illinois.”
One would think that in this age of hysteria about global warming, the press would show some restraint in releasing so much hot air into the atmosphere. Of course, in a gasbaggery race with Ted Kennedy, everyone needs to go into overdrive.
Still, it is a startling thing to behold: Nearly 45 years after the man’s tragic death, the liberal establishment remains enthralled to the cargo cult that is the John F. Kennedy myth.
And it is a myth. Start with the “Camelot” label. It’s worth remembering that nobody used that word to describe JFK’s presidency when he was alive. The media’s marketing of the term stems from Jackie Kennedy’s recollection that her husband liked the Broadway musical “Camelot,” which had opened a month after Kennedy’s election. Theodore White, a journalist-admirer of Kennedy’s, convinced Life magazine to run with the idea. The musical’s tagline “for a brief shining moment” became an overnight cliché to describe the supposedly glorious idealism of Kennedy’s “thousand days.”
As James Piereson argues in his brilliant book, Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, the mythmaking industrial complex kicked into overdrive largely to compensate for the fact that Kennedy was killed not by the American right but by a devout Marxist red named Lee Harvey Oswald. The propaganda campaign to blame “forces of hate” — code for the American right — was one of the most fascinating instantaneous “happenings” in U.S. history. For example, a young Texas reporter got hold of a false rumor that a classroom of schoolchildren in Dallas — aka the City of Hate — cheered when they heard Kennedy had been murdered. The local CBS affiliate concluded the story was untrue. But the enterprising reporter did an end-run and filed the story with the network in New York anyway. And with that, a young Dan Rather was off to the races.
But the mythmaking hardly ended there. Suddenly, JFK was hailed not merely as a liberal but as a sort of liberal messiah, martyred for trying to save America. Washington’s Methodist bishop, John Wesley Lord, said Americans must “atone” for their role in Kennedy’s death. The best way to “thank a martyr for his death and sacrifice” was to embrace liberal politics.
Vast conspiracy theories were churned out that Kennedy was murdered because he was going to pull us out of Vietnam. The Oliver Stone crowd has argued ever since that Oswald was the fascist military industrial complex’s fall guy. This makes no sense. Kennedy ran to Nixon’s right on foreign policy in 1960. Mere hours before he died, Kennedy was boasting to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce that he had increased defense spending on a massive scale, including a 600-percent increase on counterinsurgency special forces in South Vietnam. The previous March, Kennedy had asked Congress to spend fifty cents of every federal dollar on defense.
One of JFK’s original apostles, former speechwriter Ted Sorensen, is touting Barack Obama as JFK’s “heir.” But heir to what? Certainly not policies of any kind. Obama is dovish in every way JFK was hawkish. Indeed, Obama is to Hillary Clinton’s left. National Journal rated him the most liberal senator of 2007. Sorensen himself admitted in a 1983 Newsweek interview that JFK “never identified himself as a liberal; it was only after his death that they began to claim him as one of theirs.” He went on to say that “on fiscal matters (JFK) was more conservative than any president we’ve had since.”
But Sorensen has now been overtaken by nostalgia. The legitimacy of Obama’s coronation as our new “photogenic redeemer” (a phrase historian Douglas Brinkley used to describe John F. Kennedy Jr.), rests on cloud-castle platitudes about hope and unity, lacking even the slightest ballast of realism. It’s political divinization, not policy detail. But what else would you expect from a party that has become a civic religion?
— Jonah Goldberg is the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.(C) 2008 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
by Bruce Bawer
Not very long ago, Oslo was an icy Shangri-la of Scandinavian self-discipline, governability, and respect for the law. But in recent years, there have been grim changes, including a rise in gay-bashings. The summer of 2006 saw an unprecedented wave of them. The culprits, very disproportionately, are young Muslim men.
It’s not just Oslo, of course. The problem afflicts most of Western Europe. And anecdotal evidence suggests that such crimes are dramatically underreported. My own partner chose not to report his assault. I urged him to, but he protested that it wouldn’t make any difference. He was probably right.
The reason for the rise in gay bashings in Europe is clear – and it’s the same reason for the rise in rape. As the number of Muslims in Europe grows, and as the proportion of those Muslims who were born and bred in Europe also grows, many Muslim men are more inclined to see Europe as a part of the umma (or Muslim world), to believe that they have the right and duty to enforce sharia law in the cities where they live, and to recognize that any aggression on their part will likely go unpunished. Such men need not be actively religious in order to feel that they have carte blanche to assault openly gay men and non-submissive women, whose freedom to live their lives as they wish is among the most conspicuous symbols of the West’s defiance of holy law.
Multiculturalists can’t face all this. So it is that even when there are brutal gay-bashings, few journalists write about them; of those who do, few mention that the perpetrators are Muslims; and those who do mention it take the line that these perpetrators are lashing out in desperate response to their own oppression.
Never mind that Europe, far from oppressing Muslims, offers personal freedoms and welfare-state benefits far beyond those available in any Muslim country. Never mind that few if any Europeans – certainly not gay people – are doing any Muslim-bashing. Never mind that Hindu and Buddhist immigrants, or immigrants from South America or China, feel no compulsion to react violently against their “oppression.” No, assaults by Muslims always have to be construed as defensive – as expressions not of power but of weakness, not of aggression but of helplessness. To suggest that the culprits, far from being fragile, sensitive flowers who’ve been pushed over the line by something we did, are in fact bullies driven by an overweening sense of superiority and a deep-seated malice – both of which they’ve been carefully taught at home, at school, and, yes, in the mosque – is verboten.
One familiar response is: “Well, non-Muslims beat up gays, too!” Yep – indeed they do. Yet for a while there, in much of Western Europe, homosexuality was on its way to being a non-issue. In Amsterdam in the late 1990s, I was delightfully surprised to discover that when groups of straight teenage boys passed gay couples in the streets, they just walked past without any reaction whatsoever. The sight of gay people didn’t upset, threaten, amuse, or confuse them; the familiar, insecure urge to respond to open homosexuality with some kind of distancing, disdainful word or gesture – and thereby affirm to one another, and to themselves, their own heterosexual credentials – was simply not part of those kids’ makeup. For me, it was a remarkable experience. Amsterdam then seemed to me the leading edge of a new wave in the progress of human civilization.
Alas, it is now very clearly the opposite. The number of reported gay-bashings in Amsterdam now climbs steadily year by year. Nearly half Muslim, the city is a front in the struggle between democracy and sharia, under which, lest it be forgotten, homosexuality can be a capital offense. Things have gotten so bad there that even on the part of the exceedingly politically correct, there has been a degree of acknowledgment that something has changed, and is still changing. After a group of Amsterdam Muslims beat up Chris Crain, the six-foot-five editor of the gay newspaper The Washington Blade, in May 2005, the head of the Netherlands’ leading gay-rights organization admitted that tolerance of gay people in that city was “slipping away like sand through the fingers” and that “gays and lesbians are less willing to walk hand-in-hand because they might be beaten up.”
I can testify that this is true. Yet politicians, journalists, activists, and others who cling to the multicultural mindset can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the Islamic foundations of all this bullying. Instead, they offer the same kind of nonsense that was served up by a Human Rights Watch spokesman after the Chris Crain incident. “There’s still an extraordinary degree of racism in Dutch society,” that spokesman said. “Gays often become the victims of this when immigrants retaliate for the inequities they have to suffer.”
So powerful is the determination to turn away from the plain and simple truth that Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen recently commissioned a study by the University of Amsterdam. Its purpose? To try to figure out what motives underlie the increase in attacks on gay men and lesbians by Dutch-Moroccan men in Amsterdam. “Some researchers,” wrote a reporter for UPI, “believe they [Muslim gay-bashers] lashed out at local gays after feeling stigmatized by Dutch society.” In other words, as the straight-talking Norwegian immigration expert Inger-Lise Lien put it sardonically when I showed her the article, “it’s the assailant who’s the real victim.”
As for Cohen, he would appear to be operating out of pure cynicism. This is the same mayor, after all, who has called for the Netherlands to reach some “accommodation” with its male Muslim residents that would allow them to oppress their wives, sisters, and daughters – though he hasn’t been entirely clear as to just where he would draw the line. (Beatings? Rape? Forced marriage? Genital mutilation? Honor killing?) Given such an extraordinary record of pragmatism, it seems safe to assume that Cohen would also be more than willing, in the name of peace in our time, to turn away with respectful discretion when Muslim gangs beat the living daylights out of the occasional flikker.
In any event, another mayor, London’s Ken Livingstone, has already blazed that trail. In 2004, playing host to Sunni scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has supported the execution of gay people, Livingstone hailed him as a “progressive.” When gay activists called him on this ridiculous assertion, Livingstone retaliated by putting out a dissertation-length report whitewashing Qaradawi and smearing his critics as racists.
Even as Europeans in positions of authority persist in denying the plain facts about Muslim attitudes toward gay people, leading European Muslims keep reminding us what those attitudes are. Take Norway’s Asghar Ali, deputy chairman of Norway’s Islamic Council. Ali, who also holds high-ranking positions in Norway’s ruling Labor Party and in the powerful Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, and has worked in an advisory capacity on the government’s Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud, would seem to be a model of successful assimilation. Yet at a November 2007 debate arranged by the gay student organization at the University of Oslo, he refused to reject the death penalty for gays. When asked about this issue, the head of the Islamic Council, Senaid Kobilica, said that Norwegian Muslims needed to discuss it and consult religious authorities. “While this process is underway,” Kobilica said, “I ask for understanding and respect for the fact that I am unable to comment, either about my personal position or about the position of the Islamic Council of Norway.”
Perhaps younger, well educated Muslims are more enlightened? Another participant in the University of Oslo debate, Muslim Student Association head Usman Rana, said that he personally didn’t support making homosexuality a capital crime, but that he would not criticize other countries’ practices. “There is unfortunately a tendency in Norway to degrade religious people,” Rana told Universitas, the college newspaper. “It is due to an extreme secularism among the Norwegian public. I fervently hope that our participation [in the debate on the death penalty for gays] helps to create a more nuanced view of Islam. The Norwegian public needs to become more liberal.” Once again, it’s the assailants – or, in this case, the would-be executioners – who are the real victims.
The Norwegian public may not yet be “liberal” enough to suit Rana, but the European establishment has been exceedingly so. Though Kobilica’s refusal to condemn the execution of gays caused a brief stir in the media, the Norwegian government has made no move to withdraw the Islamic Council’s annual subsidy of half a million kroner (about $100,000).
It’s very clear what’s going on here – and where it’s all headed. Europe is on its way down the road of Islamization, and it’s reached a point along that road at which gay people’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is being directly challenged, both by knife-wielding bullies on the street and by taxpayer-funded thugs whose organizations already enjoy quasi-governmental authority. Sharia law may still be an alien concept to some Westerners, but it’s staring gay Europeans right in the face – and pointing toward a chilling future for all free people. Pim Fortuyn saw all this coming years ago; most of today’s European leaders still refuse to see it even though it’s right before their eyes.
Bruce Bawer’s book While Europe Slept is now in paperback. His website is at http://www.brucebawer.com/.
January 30, 2008
US presidential candidates US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) each try to make a point during the CNN/Los Angeles Times Republican presidential debate at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California January 30, 2008.
REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2008 (USA)
The Democrats are trying to give away an election they should win in a walk by nominating someone with real problems -- like, for example, a first-term senator with a 100 percent rating from Americans for Democratic Action and whose middle name is "Hussein."
But we won't let them.
The bright side of the Florida debacle is that I no longer fear Hillary Clinton. (I mean in terms of her becoming president -- on a personal level, she's still a little creepy.) I'd rather deal with President Hillary than with President McCain. With Hillary, we'll get the same ruinous liberal policies with none of the responsibility.
Also, McCain lies a lot, which is really more a specialty of the Democrats.
Recently, McCain responded to Mitt Romney's statement that he understood the economy based on his many years in the private sector by claiming Romney had said a military career is not a "real job."
McCain's neurotic boast that he is the only Republican who supported the surge is beginning to sound as insane as Bill Clinton's claim to being the "first black president" -- although less insulting to blacks. As with the Clintons, you find yourself looking up such tedious facts as this, which ran a week after Bush announced the surge:
"On the morning of Bush's address, Romney endorsed a troop surge." -- The National Journal, Jan. 13, 2007
And yet for the 4 billionth time, at the Jan. 5, 2008, Republican debate, McCain bragged about his own raw courage in supporting the surge despite (apocryphal) Republican attacks, saying: "I said at the time that Gen. Petraeus and his strategy must be employed, and I was criticized by Republicans at that time. And that was a low point, but I stuck to it. I didn't change."
A review of contemporaneous news stories about the surge clearly demonstrates that the only Republicans who were so much as "skeptical" of the surge consisted of a few oddball liberal Republicans such as Sens. Gordon Smith, Norm Coleman and Olympia Snowe.
They certainly weren't attacking McCain, their standard-bearer in liberal Republicanism. But even if they were, it was a "low point" for McCain being "criticized" by the likes of Olympia Snowe?
In point of fact, McCain didn't even stand up to the milquetoasts. In April 2007, when Democrats in the Senate passed a bill funding the troops but also requiring a rapid withdrawal, "moderate" Republicans Smith and Chuck Hagel voted with the Democrats. McCain and Lindsey Graham skipped the vote.
But like the Democrats, McCain thinks if he simply says something over and over again, he can make people believe it's true. Thus again at the South Carolina debate on Jan. 10, McCain was proclaiming that he was "the only one on this stage" who supported the surge.
Since he would deny it about two minutes later, here is exactly what Mr. Straight Talk said about the surge: "I supported that; I argued for it. I'm the only one on this stage that did. And I condemn the Rumsfeld strategy before that."
The next question went to Giuliani and -- amid great flattery -- Giuliani noted that he also supported Bush's surge "the night of the president's speech."
Mr. Straight Talk contradicted Giuliani, saying: "Not at the time."
Again, Giuliani said: "The night of the president's speech, I was on television. I supported the surge. I've supported it throughout."
To which McCain finally said he didn't mean that he was "the only one on this stage" who supported the surge. So by "the only one on this stage," McCain really meant, "one of several people on this stage." OK, great. Now tell us your definition of the word "is," Senator.
I know Republicans have been trained not to go prostrate at Ivy League degrees, but do we have to admire stupidity?
Mr. Straight Talk also announced at that same debate: "One of the reasons why I won in New Hampshire is because I went there and told them the truth." That and the fact that Democrats were allowed to vote in the Republican primary.
Even in the Florida primary, allegedly limited to Republicans, McCain lost among Republicans. (Seventeen percent of the Republican primary voters in Florida called themselves "Independents.")
That helps, but why would any Republican vote for McCain?
At least under President Hillary, Republicans in Congress would know that they're supposed to fight back. When President McCain proposes the same ideas -- tax hikes, liberal judges and Social Security for illegals -- Republicans in Congress will support "our" president -- just as they supported, if only briefly, Bush's great ideas on amnesty and Harriet Miers.
You need little flags like that for Republicans since, as we know from the recent unpleasantness in Florida, Republicans are unalterably stupid.
Republicans who vote for McCain are trying to be cute, like the Democrats were four years ago by voting for the "pragmatic" candidate, Vietnam vet John Kerry. This will turn out to be precisely as clever a gambit as nominating Kerry was, the brilliance of which was revealed on Election Day 2004.
COPYRIGHT 2008 ANN COULTER
January 31, 2008
The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has brought foreign policy and security issues to the forefront, as America prepares to elect a president. Homeland security is part of the seamless web that links actions abroad to consequences at home.
Above all, fears that a nuclear device will be detonated on American soil have been aroused anew by the plausible prospect of political disintegration in the world's only nuclear-armed Islamic nation.
For the last two years, a national debate has raged as to what communications monitoring the government may legitimately conduct in its effort to protect Americans from terrorist attacks. Begun shortly after September 11, 2001, disclosed to bipartisan congressional leadership from the outset, with periodic review by the Justice Department, the Telecommunications Surveillance Program nonetheless came under heavy fire from privacy advocates when its existence became publicly known.
The program relies mostly on sophisticated analysis of calling patterns, with fewer than 1 in a million calls actually examined for content. Commercial monitoring of calling patterns is already routine to detect credit card and phone fraud, and is accepted by most consumers.
Last Dec. 11, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court dismissed a petition by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to examine unclassified government documents pertaining to the program. Judge John D. Bates noted "an unquestioned tradition of secrecy, based on the vitally important need to protect national security." He held that the court lacked authority to review executive branch classification decisions, and that the ACLU has neither a common law nor a First Amendment right to gain access to the requested documents.
Judge Bates cited the risks of compromising sources and methods: enabling adversaries to evade surveillance, misleading investigators, chilling potential sources and damaging relations with foreign governments. "All these potential harms are real and significant, and, quite frankly, beyond debate," he added.
Late last year the Senate put off reauthorizing the Protect America Act, enacted last August for a six-month term that expires tomorrow, that would allow the government to continue to monitor communications for counter-terror purposes. A major sticking point is inability to agree on including immunity for telecommunications carriers from lawsuits arising out of their past cooperation with government requests to monitor traffic.
Already, some 40 civil lawsuits are pending. The House intends to pass a 30-day extension of the 2007 law, while the Senate debates extension length proposals. President Bush rightly insists on a permanent extension, which any future Congress can amend.
Four senators on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, noting that taxpayer indemnification would not compensate companies for loss of reputation and from investor disfavor, asked: "[I]f we allow these companies to suffer for helping us in the war on terror, could we really blame a company for not wanting to help the next time it is called upon to assist in defending our country?"
Were companies to decline to cooperate with the government, according to former National Security Agency chief Adm. Bobby R. Inman, that "would have a huge impact on both the timeliness and availability of critical intelligence." The surveillance program has already yielded information that helped thwart terror attacks inside the United States, including a plot to import portable missile launchers, that could have been used to help shoot down civilian airliners, and another plot to cut the suspension cables on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Standard telephone company practice, going back decades in criminal investigations, holds that on being served with a request from the government, it is visually scanned by company officials for facial validity, to determine if it looks like a proper legal document. Absent an obvious facial defect, the document is presumed genuine and lawful. Given the volume of such requests — many thousands per year — imposing any burden on companies beyond a facial scan to ascertain probable authenticity would lead them to decline such requests, thus forcing the government to go to court every time. The expense of even a victorious legal defense, let lone the risk of unsympathetic jurors returning million-dollar verdicts, would cause companies to strenuously resist cooperating.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists turned our technology against us. We must not, after that, allow civil libertarians to turn us against our own technology, a critical asset in counterterror efforts to protect us from grievous harm. The brutal murder in Pakistan should remind voters that the 2008 campaign must focus on how seriously we take the threat of a homeland catastrophe involving weapons of mass destruction, and which candidate will use every legitimate security tool to protect America.
John C. Wohlstetter, a senior fellow at Discovery Institute, spent more than 22 years in the telephone industry. His work included communications law and national security. He is the author of "The Long War Ahead and the Short War Upon Us," due out this month, and of the issues blog, "Letter From The Capitol."
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
This is not the first time a Mormon has been a candidate. The group’s founder Joseph Smith (regarded by the LDS church as a prophet) ran for president in 1844, but his campaign was cut short by his death at the hands of a mob. In more recent times, two other candidates have run—Orrin Hatch in 2000 and Mitt’s own dad George in 1968. But this is the first time a Mormon has gotten so close to the presidency.
And that brings up the Mormon Question. According to a Gallup Poll , taken in December of 2007, 22% of those polled saw Mormonism as an undesirable characteristic for a president and 17% would not vote for a Mormon. Broken down by party lines, 18% of Republicans, 18% of Democrats, and 14% of Independents said they would not vote for a Mormon.
(In the same poll, 4% would not vote for a Catholic, 5% for a black, 12% for a woman, 12% for a Hispanic, 41% for a homosexual and 48% for an atheist.)
Some say the Mormon question shouldn’t even be brought up. For example, talkshow host Hugh Hewitt, a long-time Bush booster who can’t bring himself to mention Ron Paul (for example look at the table on his website here) says it’s a taboo subject that shouldn’t be discussed. Of course, Hugh is stumping for Romney and wrote a book called A Mormon in the White House? so it’s too late for him to complain about it.
Here at VDARE.COM collective, we’re interested in the National Question. Since Romney is the first Mormon this close to the White House, there’s nothing illegitimate about looking at his religion to see how that might affect his presidency.
And from a Republican standpoint, what’s wrong with exploring the Mormon Question now, before the general election?
After all, if Mitt makes it to the general election, the Democratic Party operatives might not obey Hugh Hewitt’s gag order. They could bring up all these issues, maybe more.
Nor is it a violation of the religious test prohibition in Article VI Section 3 of the Constitution, which only limits the government. An individual voter can apply any sort of test for the candidates he likes. In fact, we all do do that, don’t we?
The LDS church was founded in New York State in 1830 by Joseph Smith, regarded by Mormons as a prophet who received his doctrine by revelation. Throughout most of the rest of the 19th century, Mormonism was in constant conflict with mainstream American society, a conflict which sometimes erupted in violence. There was the "Missouri Mormon War" of 1838, the Missouri Extermination Order against Mormons of 1838, the Illinois Mormon War of 1844, the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 and the Utah War of 1857-58.
The reason the Mormons moved west and settled Utah was to get away from the U.S. But by a strange twist of fate, the Mormons arrived not long before the region was annexed in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo so they wound up back in U.S. territory. As it turned out, Mormons played an important role in the American settlement of the vast Southwest.
The real turning point in Mormon-American relations was the church’s official renunciation of polygamy in 1890. Slowly but surely it began to move Mormons into the American mainstream, without their losing their distinct Mormon identity.
Nowadays Mormons are patriotic Americans and overwhelmingly vote Republican. Their social values (though not their doctrine) are almost identical with those of evangelical Protestants.
The LDS church has shown a remarkable ability to activate its laity. In that respect they put most Protestant denominations to shame. In fact, local Mormon churches are led by laymen (Mitt Romney has served as a Mormon bishop). It’s only in the upper levels of the hierarchy that church officials work full-time.
Nearly every Mormon man serves two years as a missionary, Mitt Romney, for example served as a missionary in France. This missionary experience is formative for individual Mormons—it makes them active participants in their church, not just spectators. The experience helps lock them into the LDS church for life.
From the LDS’ beginning in 1830 in upper New York State, it has grown to embrace over 13 million members worldwide, half of them outside the United States.
Here in Mexico, the Mormons have had phenomenal growth. There are now over 1 million Mormons in Mexico . Mexico has 12 Mormon temples and the Mexico City Temple is the largest outside the U.S., which is not surprising, as Mexico has the second-largest Mormon population in the world. In the metropolitan area in which I reside, I have had Mormon co-workers and it’s not at all uncommon to see Mormon missionaries on the streets. Mormons are also starting to get into politics.
The Mexican government has recognized the size and influence of Mormonism. In President Vicente Fox’s visit to Utah in 2006 the Mexican president paid a visit to recently deceased LDS president Gordon B. Hinckley (who was regarded by the church as a living prophet.)
Fox and Hinckley discussed Mexicans in Utah. Afterwards, Fox commented: "We are very pleased at the way they have been treated in this land [Utah]". The Mexican president was referring, of course, to Utah’s liberal treatment of illegal aliens, which some attribute to the influence of the LDS church. Some have even accused the church of encouraging Mexicans to migrate to the U.S, though this is denied officially. [Church denies it lures members from Mexico Statement is response to comment from CNN By Matthew Brown Deseret Morning News, May 24, 2006 9]
What’s certain is that Utah has a rather illegal-friendly legal system. It’s one of only 4 states to grant in-state tuition to illegal aliens . Utah’s law not only discriminates against Americans from other states who can’t get in-state tuition there, it even discriminates against U.S. citizen residents of Utah—if they leave the state for 3 years they lose their right to in-state tuition, but illegal aliens never lose that right !
Utah also has poor coordination between law enforcement and immigration authorities, resulting in a de facto sanctuary policy. And it has a "driver privilege card" especially designed for illegal aliens.
In a 2006 Denver Post article, Border Issues Moot to Mormons in Utah [May 2, 2006]], Michael Riley linked the state’s welcoming attitude to illegal aliens with Mormonism, citing well-known open borders politicos as Chris Cannon and Orrin Hatch, and quoting illegal alien Teresa Campos, who manages a store (not exactly "living in the shadows"): "I’ve lived in California. I’ve lived in Las Vegas. No place is like this…they don’t think just because we don’t have papers we aren’t human beings."
In his article, Riley directly linked this illegal alien accommodation to the Mormon doctrine. According to the Book of Mormon, ancient Israelites settled the Western Hemisphere. One group became known as Lamanites. Traditional LDs teaching is that the American Indians are descendents of ancient Israelites. However, in recent years DNA evidence has shown how unlikely that is, and the latest introduction to the Book of Mormon says that Israelites are "among" the ancestors of American Indians. Since Mexicans and other Latin Americans are of majority Indian ancestry, it would be a logical jump that contemporary Latin Americans are Lamanites, and thus their emigration to the U.S. is part of Mormon prophecy.
Some Mormon Latinos have taken up this view. One Venezuelan immigrant put it this way:
"The people who come here to the United States, the people who come to Utah, are the chosen people. They come here looking for the church and they don’t know it. I am an example of this."
Arturo de Hoyos, a retired professor of sociology at Brigham Young University stated that "The Latinos are joining the Mormon Church tremendously. We believe that it is because they are beginning to remember who they are."
Maybe some reporter should ask Romney: "Do you intend to increase Lamanite immigration?"
A more recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune estimates there are 100,000 illegal aliens in Utah, and contains more happy talk quotations with Mormons who have no problem with illegal immigration. [LDS Church urges lawmaker compassion in addressing illegal immigration, By Peggy Fletcher Stack, January 24, 2008]
However, not everybody in Utah—and not all Mormons—are happy with the way things are going. A recent poll showed 60% of those questioned in favor of a local role in immigration enforcement, 74% in favor of employer sanctions, and 85% of citizenship verification before receiving government benefits. [Utahns favor local immigration laws, By Deborah Bulkeley, Deseret Morning News, January 16, 2008]
In fact there are several organizations in Utah fighting to change it (click here, here and here). Utah Senator Bill Hickman is crafting a law for the state modeled after Oklahoma’s H.B. 1804 .
However, LDS church leaders (who meet with legislative leaders of both parties at the beginning of each Utah legislative session) have already exhorted the Utah Legislature to re-introduce the "element of humanity" into the immigration debate.
That kind of rhetoric is usually code for "don’t enforce the law".
Nevertheless, the church leaders were careful not to lay down specific legislative prescriptions. Quoth LDS spokesman Rob Howe, "We communicated our policy ... The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taken no position regarding currently proposed immigration legislation."
Until 1978, the Mormon priesthood (i.e., full-fledged membership) was closed to blacks. The reason for this prohibition was related to Mormon belief in a battle fought in a pre-mortal spiritual existence. In 1978 though, the LDS church claimed a convenient "revelation" and opened the priesthood to blacks.
Romney was recently interviewed about this by Tim Russert. Watch the interview [YouTube]—the candidate handles it very smoothly.
Romney’s challenge is that (1) he doesn’t want to be disloyal to the LDS church, and (2) he wants to show he’s not “racist”. The problem is, in order to be a consistent Mormon he would also have to agree with the pre-1978 no-blacks- in- the-priesthood position. Tim Russert, the interviewer, asks Romney "It was wrong for your faith to exclude them [blacks] for as long as they did?" Mitt dodges the question and Russert gives him a pass and moves on to another subject.
But honestly, can you imagine the Hillary or Obama campaigns leaving that one alone?
Of course, in the interests of fairness, if they’re going to ask Romney about that, how about some tough questions being asked of Obama about his Afro-centric church?
But politics, and the MainStream Media, isn’t fair.
Whenever you discuss Mormonism, the subject of polygamy also tends to come up. The LDS church officially renounced polygamy in 1890 (although not its belief in polygamy in the afterlife). Those who practice it today are heretical “Fundamentalist Mormons", not part of the LDS church. But in the late 1800s, some Mormons who wanted to continue practicing polygamy fled to Mexico, among them ancestors of Mitt Romney. That’s why Mitt’s father George was actually born in Mexico.
The left-wing pundits who criticize Mormonism probably wouldn’t vote for Romney anyway. But Mitt’s biggest problem on the Right is with Evangelical Christians. They generally consider Mormonism a cult.
This has predictably led to Evangelicals being accused of intolerance toward Mormons, which is not fair, since Evangelicals’ objections to Mormonism are based on sound theological reasons.
Mormons shouldn’t be offended when other churches say this. After all, according to the Mormon Scripture known as Doctrine and Covenants, (I: 30), the LDS Church is "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth ".
In contrast to orthodox Christianity and its doctrine of an omnipotent God who created the universe and its angels and men, Mormon doctrine posits a universe of gods and men who are really one species in different phases of development. According to LDS doctrine, individual Mormons (including Mitt Romney) may, if they follow the rules, become gods in the afterlife. So the U.S. presidency is not the highest post Mitt is shooting for.
And despite the fact that Mike Huckabee got hammered for bringing it up, the LDS Church does indeed teach that the Mormon Jesus and Satan are brothers. (See here and here .)
The secretive nature of the LDS church is another thing that bothers some people about Mormons—their reticence to share doctrines with the general public, and the closed nature of their temple ceremonies. Some go so far as to speak of a "Mormon Conspiracy" to take over the country.
There may be less there than meets the eye. Certainly, the LDS church works to expand its influence (what group doesn’t?) and most Mormons are likely to vote for Romney (they mostly vote Republican anyway). But it’s interesting that even in the U.S. Congress, Mitt’s fellow Mormon Republicans didn’t all rush to endorse him. A couple of them endorsed McCain—Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore) and Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake.
Then there’s the "White Horse Prophecy", a prediction that may or may not have been made by Joseph Smith, claiming that the U.S. Constitution would "hang like a thread" and the nation would be rescued by Mormons, symbolized by a white horse. This is not official Mormon teaching but apparently a common folk belief.
How about the immigration voting records of Mormons in Congress? There are 5 Mormon senators, 10 congressmen, and 1 non-voting delegate from American Samoa.
Here are the evaluations accorded them by Americans for Better Immigration, which gives each senator and representative a Career Grade and a Recent (2005-2007) grade:
ROBERT BENNETT R- Utah, Career C- , Recent C-
In addition, Senator Bennett favors some sort of common market involving the U.S. and the European Union.
HARRY REID D- NV C Career, Recent F
Senator Reid’s recent leadership in favor of amnesty is well-known.
GORDON SMITH = R, Oregon Career C+, Recent C+
Senator Smith favors some sort of common market involving the U.S. and the European Union.
ORRIN HATCH R- UT, Career C+, Recent B+
Hatch deserves low marks for his promotion of the DREAM act amnesty.
MICHAEL CRAPO, R- Idaho, Career A-, Recent A-
This Mormon senator has a very good record on immigration, much better than that of his fellow senator from Idaho Larry Craig, who is a non-Mormon, and has a grade of C (career) and C- (recent).
So, with one exception, Mormon Senators don’t have great records. Now let’s turn to the House:
MORMONS in the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TOM UDALL D-NM, Career D, Recent D
JEFF FLAKE R- ARIZONA, - Career C, Recent C
JOHN DOOLITTLE R-CA, Career A-, Recent B+
WALLY HERGER R—CA, Career A, Recent A
HOWARD "BUCK" McKEON R- CA, Career A, Recent A
MIKE SIMPSON R- ID, Career B+, Recent A-
JIM MATHESON D-UT, Career C+, Recent B
CHRIS CANNON R- UT, Career C, Recent C-
ROB BISHOP R-UTAH, Career A-, Recent A-
DEAN HELLER R- NEV, Career A, Recent A
So, the immigration records of House Mormons are not so bad, and those of Simpson and Matheson are actually improving. Technically Tom Udall has the worst record. However, Jeff Flake and especially Chris Cannon deserve extra criticism for their negative leadership encouraging illegal immigration.
Still, looking at the big picture it’s hard to demonstrate a pattern of Mormon open borders advocacy that is worse than other congressmen.
It’s also fair to point out prominent Mormon champions of border control, who weren’t afraid to run against fellow Mormons on the illegal immigration issue. Matt Throckmorton, for example, opposed Chris Cannon in Utah. In Arizona, Russell Pearce ran against Jeff Flake and is currently working to eliminate the anchor baby loophole. Bravo for that.
At the grassroots there are many LDS members working hard to fight illegal immigration.
I have no doubt that, despite their doctrinal differences, most politically conservative Evangelical Protestants would vote for Romney if he were the GOP standard bearer. After all, in the recent Michigan Primary, Romney beat Baptist preacher Huckabee among Evangelical voters 34-29.
As for Romney’s immigration positions, on the negative side he says he wants to increase legal immigration. And he repeats the same, tired diversity rhetoric we’re used to from all the candidates.
On the plus side though, Romney doesn’t exhibit the emotional obsession with opening the Mexican border that our current president has.
Regarding illegal immigration, Romney has made some good promises. But like all promises, they will have to be followed up. Romney’s feet will have to be held to the fire to make him keep those promises.
Frankly, none of the Republican candidates (Romney, McCain, Huckabee, Giuliani or Paul) are completely satisfactory on the National Question—although some are better than others.
And the Democrats would be even worse.
The bottom line: it’s up to Americans to demand that our next president, whoever he (or she) may be, enforce the law.
Without that pressure, it won’t happen.
American citizen Allan Wall ( email him) resides in Mexico, with a legal permit issued him by the Mexican government. Allan recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here his "Dispatches from Iraq" are archived here his website is here.
Who says bipartisanship is dead? From President Bush to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, to Mitt Romney and John McCain, virtually everyone in Washington agrees: The government must Do Something to stop home foreclosures across the country. These leaders agree on the total presumption of homeowner innocence. The borrower-as-victim and lender-as-predator storylines are etched in stone. Can't let reality get in the way of election-year pander-monium.
Special guests at the State of the Union address are usually extraordinary heroes, entrepreneurs or citizens who've gone above and beyond the call of duty. On Monday night, one of those guests was an Indiana woman whose claim to fame is that she called a 1-800 number and was assisted by the "Hope Now Alliance," a group Bush convened, which, according to him, "is helping many struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure."
Subprime victims are the new heroes. Welcome to the politics of foreclosure.
Housing Czarina Hillary immediately jumped on the president's address and on news that foreclosure rates skyrocketed 79 percent over the last year. She reiterated her call for "a 90-day foreclosure moratorium on subprime mortgages and a 5-year freeze in rates on subprime loans." Borrowers who knowingly bought more house than they could pay for have no place in Hillary's world. "It is indisputable that brokers and mortgage companies lured families into mortgages that were designed to end in foreclosure," she stated in a Denver Post questionnaire this week.
Continuing the theme of duped borrowers, Sen. Chuck Schumer is crusading for more federally subsidized "mortgage counseling." He wants $200 million more, in addition to the $180 million for "Housing Counseling Assistance" that he helped stick into the omnibus spending bill last year. A significant portion of that will go to government-approved counselors affiliated with left-wing activist groups such as La Raza and ACORN.
I certainly have sympathy for borrowers who may have been misled. But for every "predatory lender" out there, you can find a predatory borrower. For every fraud-minded loan officer or mortgage broker, you can find a homeowner who secured financing and bought a home he knew he couldn't afford with little money down and bogus or no income verification. Washington is silent about this reckless behavior, which it is encouraging both tacitly and explicitly.
Now comes word from California that some of these homeowners Washington is rushing to rescue are simply walking away -- abandoning their mortgage commitments and contractual obligations. Poof: "Foreclose me. ... I'll live in the house for free for 12 months, and I'll save my money and I'll move on," one homeowner blithely told the Los Angeles Times this week.
The stigma of default is gone. Political rhetoric absolving borrowers of their responsibilities -- and encouraging them to spend, spend, spend even more -- has made it possible. And so has federal legislation intended to "help." The omnibus spending bill passed last year prevents the IRS from taxing mortgage forgiveness as income up to $1 million for a two-year period.
Finance blog Calculated Risk reported last week that increasing numbers of homeowners are walking away from their homes by choice. A Wachovia executive noted during a conference call that they are "people that have otherwise had the capacity to pay, but have basically just decided not to because they feel like they've lost equity, value in their properties..." Some are bailing for cheaper homes in the same neighborhoods. There's even a term that's become popular over the last couple of years -- "Jingle Mail" -- that describes when homeowners cut loose and mail in the keys to the bank. Ho, ho, ho.
The true victims in this "crisis" are those who paid for homes within their means and those who waited to enter the housing market. A reader in New York City wrote me last week:
"My husband and I patiently sat back and watched while our friends made a killing in real estate over the past six years. … Now, after several years, we are ready to move to the 'burbs, and we feel it is responsible people like us who are going to get hurt by this mortgage mess. We're the ones who have to sit back and wait for housing prices to fall, while our government, looking to protect only the homeowners, keeps prices artificially high with bailout programs and artificially low interest rates.
"What about programs to help out renters who didn't make any money in this bubble because we were responsible? What about government intervention to lower the still-high housing prices so we aren't locked out of the market? A natural correction in the housing market is in order, but the government seems hellbent to prevent it from taking place. In the meantime, we are priced out of the market because we aren't willing to get in over our heads financially (unlike some of these revered homeowners)."
Sorry, responsible Americans. There's no seat at the next State of the Union address, or the next Hillary Rescue roundtable, for you.
Mrs. Malkin is author of Unhinged (Regnery).