Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Morning With The Suffragan Candidates

Six candidates for suffragan, or assisting, bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles were interviewed this morning at Campbell Hall School in North Hollywood by the Rev. Julian Bull, who chaired the search and nominating committee that selected the candidates. I served as a member of the committee. The candidates, from left to right:

• The Rev. Silvestre E. Romero, rector, St Philip's Church in San Jose, California (Diocese of El Camino Real);

• The Rev. Zelda M. Kennedy, senior associate for pastoral care and spiritual growth, All Saints Church in Pasadena, California;

• The Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, canon to the bishops in the Baltimore-based Diocese of Maryland;

• The Rev. Irineo Martir Vasquez, vicar, St. George's Church in Hawthorne, California;

• The Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, rector, St. Clement's by-the-Sea Church in San Clemente, California; and

• The Rev. John L. Kirkley, rector, St. John the Evangelist Church in San Francisco (Diocese of California).

This video contains the full two-hour webcast. Question were submitted by those in the Campbell Hall audience as well as by e-mail. While questioners weren't identified, I'll cop to having posed this one, which was answered by Canon Mary and Fr. Silvestre: "Why is a church which proudly proclaims the equality of women on the defensive vs. Benedict XVI?"

Two suffragan bishops will be elected from among the six by our Diocese's annual convention Dec. 4-5 in Riverside.

Yorba Linda Sky

7:45 a.m.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, November 20, 2009

Radio Nowhere

"Pirate Radio," which should be played loud because of its classic soundtrack, is the fantasy that sings in the forever-adolescent hearts of music-loving babyboomers everywhere. In fact, Great Britain shut down illegal and offshore rock and roll stations in 1967 after a pirate radio tycoon shot another one to death in an argument over a transmitter. In the movie, the station proprietors are heroes, while poor Kenneth Branagh is cast as a Hitlerian, life-hating British minister who enlists a subordinate named Twatt to shut down seaborne Radio Rock by any means necessary. That's the way writer-director Richard Curtis ("Love Actually," "The Girl in the Cafe") thinks we prefer to think it happened back in the day. "Governments loathe people being free," says lovable posh tosser Bill Nighy as Quentin, the manager of Radio Rock. Right on!

The basic contours of the story are accurate enough. Since the government-run BBC wouldn't play enough rock and roll to satisfy the public, the pirate stations, including the floating ones, took up the slack. The best moments in "Pirate Radio" show everyday Brits enjoying Radio Rock's music and on-air hi jinks -- kids listening to radios under their pillows, nurses in hospitals, even Herr Branagh's secretary. The station's misfit DJs are, of course, irresistible to beautiful women, who arrive by the boatload once a week. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, playing an outlaw of music and love called "the Count" with his usual brilliance, is seen staggering up the ladder to his cabin with twin groupies, asking permission to call them by the same name to avoid overtaxing himself.

A 19-year-old intern (I guess; he never actually does any work) named Carl (Tom Sturridge) is doubly the victim of the film's misogynistic view. His socialite mother had never bothered to tell him who his father is, while his girlfriend can't resist sleeping with one of the sex god DJs. Oh, yeah, and an American blonde seduces and marries one DJ to get onto the ship to sleep with another one. Silly birds, what are you going to do? Meanwhile, when Branagh's black-clad stormtroopers finally come for them on black launches, the guys reek principle and courage. A stirring ending doesn't rescue this self-righteous, testosterone-addled, great-sounding mess.

Maybe This Is Why She Won't Wait Till 2016

Does Sarah Palin see the gathering of Jews in Israel as evidence of the impending Tribulation? Jeffrey Goldberg investigates.

Hat tip to Mike Cheever

Ready Hearts

Thanks to the vision of our next-door neighbor Art Simonian, the former city manager, Yorba Linda has a network of walking and riding trails that run up and down the rolling foothills where a future President and his brothers ran and played. Kathy and I partook liberally of Art's handiwork during a five-mile walk today, also enjoying perfect weather and late-autumn color. Heading down to Yorba Regional Park, which runs along the north bank of the thoroughly domesticated Santa Ana River, we spotted a flock of geese which I was tempted to frighten so I could get a shot of them majestically taking wing. I was glad I didn't, not only for their sake but that of the more serious photographer I spotted on the opposite bank (you can see his pickup truck in the photo) who got out his long lens and pointed it at the watchful birds as I walked back up the embankment. Maybe they'll show up soon on an inspirational poster or blog entry about dreams taking flight.

Kathy and I hadn't been in the park for years. We were almost by ourselves today. A man was taking a picture of his sports car, so look for that on-line, too. A family of three were fishing and enjoying the quiet. It used to be a lot busier (and will be again on the next long weekend). Until his death in 1858, Bernardo Yorba, namesake of our town, operated a 13,328-acre land-grant rancho here, running cattle, growing corn, beans, and watermelon as well as grapes for wine-making. His father, Jose Antonio, had an even bigger spread on the south side of the river. As we walked, we thought of our late friend Jo Lyons, a knowledgeable local historian who probably could have told us where Bernardo Yorba's two-story adobe hacienda had stood before being torn down in 1926. I was pleased to read later that the regional park was the good work of the Nixon administration, which provided Orange County with a grant to build it in 1972.

Walking back up Fairmont Blvd., we passed a Lutheran church I've driven by a thousand times. Viewing the marquee from the sidewalk, we learned that it is part of the conservative Wisconsin synod, the third largest Lutheran denomination. Founded in 1850, it has about 400,000 baptized members. An an Episcopalian, I feel a kinship with small sects, although it's yet another reminder of how fractured the body of Christ has become. Near home, we spotted our first East Lake Santa, one thing we all may agree about. On a peaceful, sunwashed day, the heart feels ready for Advent and Christmas.


Comedian, columnist, and Vietnam-era Air Force veteran Ray Hanania, Chicago-born son of Palestinian immigrants, is running for President of the Palestinian National Authority. His detailed platform is here.

Surreal Christmas Songs: "Must Be Santa" (1959)

Bob Dylan. President Nixon makes a lyrical cameo as a reindeer. Song by William Fredricks and Hal Moore.

Hat tip to Gary Baker

Serving A Grand Slam For Democrats

Is moderate Republican governor and Senate candidate Charlie Crist of Florida "toast" in the GOP?

Bibi Won't Fight City Hall

Benyamin Netanyahu blames city hall for the recent approval of 900 homes in a suburb of Arab east Jerusalem. As a result of the leak of news of a planning committee's action, he lost considerable credibility, in spite of his efforts to impress the U.S. and jump start the peace process by severely restricting the expansion of West Bank settlements.

His aides complain that the PM couldn't legally have interfered with a local decision and didn't even know about it in advance. Those who say that their statements lack credibility -- that Netanyahu must've known -- should produce evidence to that effect. It's the kind of thing that happens in a democracy all the time. In fairness to Bibi's critics, it's also true that Israel has acted a little schizo for years, favoring a Palestinian state while taking steps -- new homes in settlements, roads, water rights, the serpentine security wall -- that would seem to threaten making a state untenable.

Lots of people claim and want to believe that Israel plots everything with the goal of making a workable Palestine impossible. To me, Israel looks like a free people working out their political differences while living in extremely close quarters with an aggrieved people who sometimes act like neighbors and other times like enemies. Security risks aside, a completely coherent policy and stance would probably come hard to a people who as democrats are inclined to a system based on the principle of one person, one party.

Israel's latest moment of incoherence is helpful, because it puts more pressure on Netanyahu at a critical time. He should use the opportunity to take whatever additional step is necessary to get the peace talks started again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grand Old Fantasy

Only 27% of Republicans believe Barack Obama won the Presidency legitimately.

Psalm 109:8

Bible abuse by Obama critics.

And Keep Me Posted How That Goes For You

Hat tip to

Sullivan On Trig: "None Of It Makes Sense"

I sent a post to Andrew Sullivan and heard back from him tonight:
This is wrong.

I have never stated that Trig is anyone's but Sarah Palin's.

What I have done is ask questions that can be factually verified by Palin to confirm it, given the bizarre account of her pregnancy and labor. I asked the campaign privately and publicly, and we still have no evidence except Palin's own conflicting accounts.

Any reasonable person reading what Palin did in those eight months would be befuddled by the illogic or insanity. None of it makes sense, and it is not libel to ask the subject to prove it.

Nixon And Kennedys Agreed On Jack Miller

Jack Miller -- mob-prosecuting veteran of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and a wood-chopping, brush-clearing lion of Washington -- died on Saturday at the age of 85. Richard Nixon hired him after his resignation to deal with the Ford pardon and the National Archives. Gracious and courtly, he and his law partner, Stan Mortenson, made a practice of visiting the former President every year at Christmastime for dinner and RN-mixed martinis.

Jack was my attorney, too, when I served as an executor of the Nixon estate after his death in 1994. Jack, Stan, and their colleague Scott Nelson (who now works for Ralph Nader's Public Citizen) helped me figure out how to settle one lawsuit related to the Nixon White House materials and try another in federal court.

Mr. Nixon trusted Jack implicitly and liked him enormously. His Washington Post obit is here.

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

Texas Songs: "Dallas" (1972)

Joe Ely in Lubbock, Texas in 1980. Song by Ely's Flatlanders buddy Jimmie Dale Gilmore, whom you can see performing the song here. The excellent video above was posted by its editor and one of the camera operators. Thank you, oglepro.

2012 GOP Debacle Watch

Andrew Sullivan quotes a blogger who argues that liberal journalists really like Sarah Palin because her GOP will be easy to beat. Moderate Republicans should like her, too. Only another stinging defeat will result in a reappraisal of what the party stands for, and that's just what we'll get in 2012 with Palin leading the ticket. Besides, since President Obama is likely to win, why waste a Republican who actually might?

Forget Trig; Pass The Locusts And Honey

A promising if inconclusive post by Andrew Sullivan about Sarah Palin's memoir. While he has done yeoman service holding her accountable on other matters, what has burned at the heart of his anti-Palin prophecy (for surely he has adopted a John the Baptist-like posture towards her; make as torturous as possible her path to political success) is his own unacknowledged original sin of republishing a fabricated story about Trig Palin's birth without checking the facts.

I have it on good authority that until very recently Sullivan had really hoped to find definitive evidence of the impossible-to-believe "Desperate Housewives" pass-the-baby fiction. It would've vindicated him, destroyed Palin politically, and perhaps even put a stake through the angry and possibly dangerous movement of which she is the de facto leader. Richard Nixon's scandal, after all, helped discredit pragmatic Republicanism for a third of a century and counting.

In today's post, though, he appears to be saying that he's found no smoking gun or 8.5-pound gap. First:
I tried to write a fair account of Palin's various stories of her incredible fifth pregnancy, labor and delivery and to reconcile all the various facts we know and the various versions of the story she has told. Just for the record and because we have aired the public record on this before. I honestly however cannot make total sense of them in a way that I'm completely convinced by and so simply do not feel comfortable making any judgment on them in any way at this point. That's fair to her, my readers, my colleagues, and the innocent private people caught up in this circus.

That's progress. There were times he put "pregnancy" in quotes when talking about Trig. And then:

[F]or those things we cannot prove objectively, we just have to leave alone at this point. I believe nothing she says is true unless I can verify it. But if I can't disprove her accounts of things only she and her family can know about, I should shut up.

He should also apologize to the Palins. It was wrong of him to lend his considerable prestige to a damaging lie and then try to keep it alive for over year.

He won't, I'm sure. At this point, really shutting up would be a considerable blessing. Sullivan has promised to leave the Trig story alone before. But if he does no more than once and for all back off the ridiculous claim that a woman is not the mother of her beloved child -- if he not only stops hinting at it but stops needing it to be true for his own sake -- he can at least do his down-by-the-Jordan bit with authenticity, saving the republic from Palinism with unmixed motives.

"KSM Guilty, Obama Declares"

In invoking an alleged terrorist's execution prior to his trial, President Obama again follows Nixonian precedent.

Archival Stimulus Package

Funds are available to try to fill in Richard Nixon's 18 and a half-minute deficit.

Shrinking Superpower

Michael Barone surveys the Obama foreign policy record.

Department Of Fat Chances

Damon Linker, in what he promises will be his only Sarah Palin post, seems to think that if we ignore her, she'll go away.

Obama And The Cold War

In a harsh essay, Leon Wieseltier implies that Barack Obama considers himself too evolved for anti-communism, faults him for not standing up for freedom in Iran and China, and adds another voice to those who fear that he is weak and ineffective:
Liberals no longer remember that anti-communism was once a glory of liberalism. The president is so busy breaking new ground in foreign policy that he may not see that the ground of his foreign policy is broken. His renunciation of idealism has brought none of the rewards of realism. Conflicts that were supposed to be transformed by his magic are immune to his magic. He has no magic. There is no magic. His trip to China, where the subject of human rights was “raised,” has shown this again. When he gets back, perhaps he will meet with the Dalai Lama, but not for the purpose of “strategic reassurance.” That blessing is reserved for Hu Jintao. It makes sense that the man who refused to meet with the Dalai Lama did not make it to Berlin.

Making Their Way To The Promised Turkey

Clients of the Cardinal's Nest, the St. John's Episcopal School nursery care program

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Define Diphthong And Linguals? Doh!

What 8th graders knew in 1895.

My 2000th Post

My 100oth, on April 5, was a Paul Kelly song, "Dumb Things."

Everybody Writes The Book


Washed Clean In Dirt

Shane Claiborne on purity and the gospel:

I have a friend in the UK who talks about "dirty theology" — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man's eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

You Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone

The moderate Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has gotten Israel's attention by threatening to resign.

PERFECT Songs: "Baby Don't You Do It" (1964)

The Band, performing at the Academy of Music in New York City in late December 1971. Gary Baker and I were hanging out with Levon Helm and the tuba player, Howard Johnson, a couple of weeks ago in Woodstock. First recorded by Marvin Gaye; produced and written by the legendary Motown team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Her Boyfriend Got 100 Lashes

In Somalia, conservative Muslims murdered a woman accused of adultery while 200 looked on.

4 Out of 5 Conservative Rabbis And Imams Agree

When it comes to oppressing women.

One Out Of Two Wouldn't Be Bad

Will Andrew Sullivan announce tomorrow that he's finally satisfied (along with the rest of the world) that Sarah Palin's youngest child is Sarah Palin's youngest child? I'll bet yes. Will he admit that he erred in republishing and amplifying a shameful lie about Palin and her minor daughter before checking the facts? I'll bet no. Instead, he'll argue that the "nuanced and detailed narrative" in Palin's memoir is an implicit response to his "questions" and that he has actually performed a public service by coaxing the details from her.

Last One Singing, Wins

Andrew Sullivan runs the most important political blog in the world. For the second time in a little over a year, he's suspended publication because he's completely distracted by Sarah Palin. This time, he's published a grandiloquent "To Our Readers" flourish saying that he needs to close up shop so he and his colleagues can read and analyze her cheesy memoir.

Over Labor Day weekend in 2008, he republished a shameful lie about Palin and her minor daughter without checking the facts. He's never apologized. Instead, he stubbornly defended his action, and even now he's doing what he can to keep the lie alive. It has become obvious that Sullivan is still desperately hoping to uncover evidence that Palin is not the biological mother of her youngest child. He writes today:
There is a possibility here of such a huge scandal that we would be crazy not to take our time either to debunk it or move it forward for further examination.

Sullivan is coming pretty close to staking his reputation on this. If he were right, it would destroy Palin, not to mention also destroy or harm scores of other people who would've needed to be involved (including, of course, the other Palin children). If he's wrong, which seems glaringly obvious, his reputation won't soon recover. Also, he may yet expose his publisher, the Atlantic Monthly Group, to a libel suit should Palin decide she can show that he has acted with malice (a charge he would seem to invite when he attacks her using sexually-charged language) and with reckless disregard for the truth.

So turn off your cell phones and pagers, and don't rustle your librettos. Sullivan vs. Palin has become an operatic death match.

Do They Mean The Anti-Establishment Conservative Who Legalized Abortion, Raised Taxes, And Served Two Terms As Governor Of Our Largest State?

"The Economist" on Sarah Palin's guiding light:
She moulds herself as an anti-establishment conservative in the Reagan tradition, as do many Republicans with no office in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Obama Was Not Amazing

The Los Angeles Times says President Obama left Beijing empty-handed and reports this stinging comparison:
Ding Xinghao, president of the Shanghai Institute of American Studies, said Obama did not seem to connect with the Chinese as well as did former President Clinton. He recalled a 1998 nationally televised question-and-answer session with students at Peking University. "That was an amazing event. . . . Clinton looked the students in the eye and answered very hard questions," Ding said. "Obama's performance in Shanghai was significant, but for me it couldn't compare."

What If It's The Preacher's Phone?

Hat tip to Mark Shier

Burning Down The House

Defying President Obama and embarrassing President Abbas, Israel approves 900 more residences in the West Bank.

"Bonds Unseen": Sermon for 24 Pentecost

As Jesus and his friends sat on the Mount of Olives one day and looked to the west across the sun-drenched Kidron Valley, they could still see the Second Temple. When Christians visit the Mount of Olives today, as we St. John's pilgrims did last summer, they can see the golden Dome of the Rock and the blue dome of the Al-Aqsa mosque, but they can't see anything Christian, at least on the Temple Mount. We are linked to that sacred place by unseen bonds alone. Indeed Christians who have visited the Holy City may find that they now take it more personally when Israelis and Palestinians despoil it with violence. More than we may like to admit, the ruggedly individualistic American faithful are also profoundly influenced by unseen bonds of culture, history, sacrifice, and politics -- but especially the bonds of our oneness in Christ. My Sunday sermon is here.

Discourse That Gives Me The Blues

Obsessed with saving America from Sarah Palin, Andrew Sullivan again veers perilously close to misogyny:
Because many (straight) men found it hard to see past the boobs. Let's face it: if Palin looked like Golda Meir, there's no chance McCain would have picked her. And no one would currently give a damn. She is the Carrie Prejean of politics; and like the Ailes-tested fembots on Fox News. Women are not so dumb as to buy it. Men: well we all know what our weak spot is. We do not always think with our heads.
And if Barack Obama, one of the most attractive politicians of his time, had looked like Little Sammy Davis, Andrew?

Payback Is Funny

David Letterman made fun of the New York Times last night for assigning someone, in this era of dwindling editorial resources, to investigate the number of times the word "douche" occurs during prime time. Was he remembering the number of reporters (six) who had worked on an especially harsh article about him in early October? And how about a study of the gray lady's new puritanism?

Wanted: Volunteer Beijing Correspondents

We big-spending Americans are willing to pay $3 a month for quality editorial content.

Prejean Betwixt And Between

Rebecca Hagelin on the perils of being Carrie Prejean:

Carrie's book, "Still Standing," reveals a courageous woman whose Christian faith is still in its infancy. She was thrust into the national spotlight and all too quickly became a heroine for those who are sick and tired of Hollywood and the thought police. Unable to yet see the disconnect between her desire to be a "Victoria's Secret Angel" and the biblical morality she professes, Carrie is painfully discovering truth as she goes. Eager to support a young woman so viciously attacked, many supporters also missed the disparity between the sexy image Carrie loves to be and the virtuous woman she seems to want to become. As Carrie matures and becomes more sensitive to which behaviors reflect her faith and which ones tarnish it, she is learning the difference under glaring lights, scowling faces and an unforgiving media.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sarah's Plot Thickens

Doug Hoffman, now within about 3,000 votes of Democrat Bill Owens in the New York 23rd, "unconcedes."

Hat tip to Greg Larkin

Taking Sarah To The Log Cabin

Liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava, who would probably be a House member from New York if Sarah Palin hadn't intervened in the race and ensured the election of the Democrat, says that what goes around, comes around:
There is a lot of us who consider ourselves Republicans, of the Party of Lincoln. If they don't want us with them, we're going to work against them.

Andrew Sullivan, Savior Of The Republic

Andrew Sullivan affirms a reader's suggestion that he believes he is personally called to keep Sarah Palin out of the White House. I don't believe his services will be necessary. If she's nominated in 2012, she'll lose by an historic margin, with or without Sullivan's somewhat obsessive needling.

Ortega Fire Sky

5 p.m.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

2012 GOP Debacle Watch

Sarah's getting good reviews after her relaunch on Oprah. And Andrew Sullivan flatly concludes:
She's clearly hoping to run for president in 2012.

Not My Republican Party

Rep. John Campbell (R-Newport Beach), soliciting campaign contributions to help him "defeat the forces of socialism here and those who threaten to weaken us from abroad," issues this manifesto in an e-mail blast:
Over the past 100 years or so, an intriguing yet powerful phenomenon has been witnessed by mankind, regardless of culture, history, or circumstances. When citizens of any nation have seen their country overrun by foreign invaders or become governed by an oppressive and autocratic state, individuals would often form a "resistance" organized to stand up to the occupiers or oppressors and to fight for freedom from within. In fact, this very nation owes its lifeblood to a resistance movement born of like-minded individuals who believed so firmly in the principles of freedom and the individual rights of man that they were willing to forfeit life and limb and security to band together to fight to protect those freedoms. It is this courageous spirit, intrinsic to countless brave men and women across the world, that I now invoke.
Campbell goes on to say that readers can "join the resistance" by Tweeting and sending him money, but the harshness of his rhetoric -- "foreign invaders?" "Occupiers"? "Oppressors"? -- is unmistakable. How could this bizarre and offensive diatribe not be read as a veiled call to take up arms against the Obama administration?

As Peace Slips Away, She Still Needs A Future

Steven A. Cook writes that the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank may again resort to violence, in the form of a third Intifada, to shore up its political fortunes, drained by its internecine struggle with Hamas in the Gaza Strip as well as the Palestinian Authority's own poor choices (and, Cook argues, the Obama administration's missteps). It's the harshest of realities, Cook says, that "[t]hroughout contemporary Palestinian history, spilling Israeli blood has often been the best way for competing political factions to burnish their nationalist credentials."

Palestinians aren't the first to grasp for political legitimacy by stigmatizing or attacking an enemy, and they won't be last. All that makes the Middle East unique is the close quarters of the potential combatants as well as each side's arguable theological, historic, and moral claims on the territory.

The tension between Beijing and Taipei, equally fraught with potential violence, is far simpler to understand, since the dispute only goes back to Chiang Kai-shek vs. Mao Zedong in 1948 instead of Abraham and the Canaanites in 2000 B.C. Yet in the Taiwan Strait just as in the Middle East, both sides have a responsibility to keep in mind the other side's psychological and political situation when making their moves. Responsible Taiwan leaders, no matter what their deepest hopes may be, always think about the perils of sounding too militant about independence and provoking the mainland. By the same token, Israel knew that by stiffing the U.S. and the Palestinians on West Bank settlements, they would empower extremists. Palestinians and their supporters in Arab capitals knew that when they demanded progress on settlements as a condition for restarting talks or offering the confidence-building measures Israel demanded, they were making it easier for Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to be intransigent.

By making Middle East peace a top, early priority, the Obama administration, no matter how inept some of its moves may have been, offered those who wanted peace the opportunity to make historic progress. If we have a third Intifada, both sides bear responsibility for the failure. Violence against Israel is never justifiable. But Israel could forestall it if it really wanted to. Cook writes persuasively about how violence serves craven political interests on the Palestinian side. What about those Israeli politicians who also seem to prefer confrontation to peace?

Obama Is Nixonian

When it comes to Sino-U.S. relations, at least.

When The Nixons Stayed Seated

In an essay about the angry movement that the Obama White House calls Palinism, "Newsweek"'s Jon Meacham describes a moment of prophetic action by Richard Nixon against Goldwaterism -- as the stage was being set for a GOP wipeout that November that conservatives would proclaim (as they so often do when they help Democrats win) as a great victory:

Richard Nixon sensed trouble. seated in the cow palace in San Francisco at the GOP convention in 1964, he listened as Barry Goldwater said: "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty—is—no—vice." A 41-second ovation ensued. Then Goldwater continued: "And let me remind you also—that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." As Rick Perlstein reconstructs the scene in his book Before the Storm, Nixon reached over to keep his wife, Pat, from rising politely with the crowd. Later Dwight Eisenhower called the Goldwater speech an offense to "the whole American system." The crowds did not care: Goldwater was one of their own, riding in from Arizona to take the GOP from the Ikes and the Rockefellers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Movie Songs: "Tiny Dancer" (1971)

Song by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, as performed by John and members of the fictional rock band Stillwater and their friends in the great Cameron Crowe's movie "Almost Famous." Watch as embryonic rock writer William Miller (Patrick Fugit), a stand-in for Crowe himself, says to Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), "I have to go home." She replies, "You are home."

Hat tip to Valerie Taylor

2012 GOP Debacle Watch

Conservatives target another winning moderate Republican.

Department Of The Bleeding Obvious

Headline in the New York Times:

Experts Outline Hurdles in Trying to Defend Hasan

Thanksgiving Anticipating Chaos

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, evidently reflecting on the possible consequences for the Church of England of the Pope's bid to persuade Anglican priests who don't like female bishops to defect to Rome:

The archbishop, in his [Sunday] sermon, said: “God knows what the future holds for any of us for any of our ecclesiastical institutions but we can at least begin with what we can be sure of: that God has graced us with the lives of saints; that God has been credible in this fellowship with these people.

“This church, with its very particular place in the history of the Church of England, is one small but significant facet of that great mystery and that great gift. And, at times when the future seems more than usually chaotic and uncertain, it doesn’t hurt simply to give thanks.”


Two times I've felt really old this week: Telling musically sophisticated young people about Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble and realizing that they've never heard of him or the Band, and seeing a smiling, unconcerned President Obama get off Air Force One today in Shanghai carrying an umbrella.

I wasn't alive in 1938 (I promise) when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the infamous Munich treaty with Adolf Hitler, conceding the Sudetenland to the Nazis and creating the modern paradigm for appeasement of an implacably aggressive dictator. But since Chamberlain was famous for carrying an umbrella, especially at the airport ceremony where he announced his deal with the devil, for as long as I can remember Western diplomats would rather get wet than carry one.

Careful research (Googling various Presidents and "umbrella") reveals that there's a dispensation for Presidents who have aides hold umbrellas for them. George W. Bush also had this mishap in Russia, where President Putin was at least displaying umbrella parity (although you notice he's not actually using his, which speaks well of his prudence in front of the cameras).

Perhaps it's seeing a bumbershoot-bearing Obama at an airport in China that touches an aging nerve. I'm not saying that he is an appeaser or the communist Chinese are comparable to the Nazis. Still, if he was going to do his bit to end this old superstition, he might have chosen a moment other than his arrival in an authoritarian country whose leaders control $1 trillion in Treasury bonds, want to jettison the dollar as the world's benchmark currency, and no doubt plan to use their economic leverage to pressure him on Taiwan and other issues.

On The Temple Mount, Dig Up Or Shut Up

Israelis and Palestinians have collaborated, uneasily, on an anthology of articles about the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. A New York Times article about the project contains this objectionable paragraph:
The lack of archaeological evidence of the ancient temples has led many Palestinians to deny any real Jewish attachment or claim to the plateau.
Yikes. Where was the copy desk on that one? Imagine such a sentence about the Nazi gas chambers. Such sentences have been written, but not, thankfully, in the Times.

As a matter of fact, Holocaust- and Temple-denial are distant cousins. Radical Palestinians deny the existence of the First and Second Temples not because they have studied archaeology but as part a political mindset that tries to will Jews out of existence in Jerusalem. Their opposite numbers among hyper-orthodox Jews so devalue Islam's claim on the Holy City that they want to bulldoze the 1300-year-old Muslim holy sites -- which, as a matter of fact, you'd have to do before bringing archaeology into the argument, since most of the evidence of the Jewish temples would lie beneath existing structures. Palestinians who say it's not there should dig up or shut up.

Hasan And Oswald

My pastor brother David Stokes writes as follows about those who minimize the apparent Islamist tendencies of the accused Ft. Hood murderer:

During the Cuban Missile Crisis (c. 1962), if an American soldier would have opened fire on his comrades while wearing a Che Guevera T-shirt and yelling, “Long Live Lenin, Khrushchev, and Castro,” it is doubtful that the guy’s communist sympathies would have been dismissed as irrelevant and peripheral. The commies were the enemy.

A year after the Cuban missile crisis, the commander-in-chief was murdered in Dallas by a Marine veteran who had not only shilled for Fidel Castro and reached out to the communists in Moscow but tried to defect to the Soviet Union. It was the height of the Cold War. And yet Lee Harvey Oswald's darkest of acts didn't become a pretext for Americans going door to door in their neighborhoods trying to root out communist President killers. It was and remains obvious that he had acted alone. Most of those who resist calling Nidal Malik Hasan a terrorist or lumping him with al-Qaeda are making the same prudent distinction, at least until we learn the whole story.