Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The First Noel
The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

So much Christian music celebrates Israel that I fail to see how anybody brought up in the Christian tradition can be anything other than Pro-Israel. But there are even many Jews who are either indifferent to or antagonistic in various ways to Israel so I suppose I should not be surprised at people who can sing one thing in Church and say very differently out of church. There are even whole Christian denominations that are anti-Israel, including one Methodist outfit, if I remember rightly.


An interesting little bit of dialogue via a black friend of Blagojevich:
As I was leaving, this brother comes up and says to me, "Willie Brown, even with the housing market and the economy, this has been a really great year for black people."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because we got Obama."

Then he said, "But you know, come to think of it, it was a good year for white people, too."

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Because they finally got O.J."


Only whites want a multiple murderer to be jailed? There is no doubt that there is still a huge pool of racism in America: Among blacks.


Conservative Snobs Are Wrong About Palin


Being listed in fourth place for Time magazine's "Person of the Year," as Sarah Palin was for 2008, sounds a little like being awarded the Order of Purity (Fourth Class). But it testifies to something important. Though regularly pronounced sick, dying, dead, cremated and scattered at sea, Mrs. Palin is still amazingly around. She has survived more media assassination attempts than Fidel Castro has survived real ones (Cuban official figure: 638). In her case, one particular method of assassination is especially popular -- namely, the desperate assertion that, in addition to her other handicaps, she is "no Margaret Thatcher."

Very few express this view in a calm or considered manner. Some employ profanity. Most claim to be conservative admirers of Mrs. Thatcher. Others admit they had always disliked the former British prime minister until someone compared her to "Sarracuda" -- at which point they suddenly realized Mrs. Thatcher must have been absolutely brilliant (at least by comparison). Inevitably, Lloyd Bentsen's famous put-down of Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debate is resurrected, such as by Paul Waugh (in the London Evening Standard) and Marie Cocco (in the Washington Post): "Newsflash! Governor, You're No Maggie Thatcher," sneered Mr. Waugh. Added Ms. Coco, "now we know Sarah Palin is no Margaret Thatcher -- and no Dan Quayle either!"

Jolly, rib-tickling stuff. But, as it happens, I know Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher is a friend of mine. And as a matter of fact, Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin have a great deal in common. They are far from identical; they rose in different political systems requiring different skills. As a parliamentarian, Mrs. Thatcher needed forensic and debating skills which her training in Oxford politics and as a tax lawyer gave her. Mrs. Palin is a good speaker, but she needs to hone her debating tactics if she is to match those of the Iron Lady.

On the other hand, Mrs. Palin rose in state politics to jobs requiring executive ability. Her successful conduct of the negotiations with Canada, Canadian provinces and American states over the Alaska pipeline was a larger executive task than anything handled by Mrs. Thatcher until she entered the Cabinet and, arguably, until she became prime minister. Mrs. Thatcher's most senior position until then had been education secretary in the government of Edward Heath where, as she conceded in her memoirs, she lacked real executive power. Her political influence within that government was so small that it took 17 months for her to get an interview with him. Even then, a considerate civil servant assured Heath that others would be present to make the meeting less "boring." Her main political legacy from that job was the vitriolic slogan, "Margaret Thatcher, Milk-Snatcher," thrown at her by the left because of a budgetary decision she had opposed to charge some children for school meals and milk. It was the single most famous thing about her when she defeated Heath for the Tory leadership in 1975.

At this point she became almost as "controversial" as Sarah Palin. Heath, for example, made it plain privately that he would not serve under her. And Sir Ian Gilmour, an intellectual leader of the Tory "wets," privately dismissed her as a "Daily Telegraph woman." There is no precise equivalent in American English, but "narrow, repressed suburbanite" catches the sense. Mrs. Thatcher attracted such abuse for two reasons. First, she was seen by the chattering classes as representing a blend of provincial conservative values and market economics -- Middle England as it has come to be called -- against their own metropolitan liberalism. They thought this blend was an economic dead-end in a modern complex society and a political retreat into futile nostalgia. Of course, they failed to notice that their modern complex society was splintering under their statist burdens even as they denounced her extremism.

Second, Margaret Thatcher was not yet Margaret Thatcher. She had not won the 1979 election, recovered the Falklands, reformed trade union law, defeated the miners, and helped destroy Soviet communism peacefully. Things like that change your mind about a girl. But they also take time, during which she had to turn her instinctive beliefs into intellectually coherent policies against opposition inside and outside her own party. Like Mrs. Palin this year, Mrs. Thatcher knew there were serious gaps in her knowledge, especially of foreign affairs. She recruited experts who shared her general outlook (such as Robert Conquest and Hugh Thomas) to tutor her on these things. Even so she often seemed very alone in the Tory high command.

As a parliamentary sketch writer for the Daily Telegraph (and a not very repressed suburbanite), I watched Mrs. Thatcher's progress as opposition leader. She had been a good performer in less exalted positions. But initially she faltered. Against the smooth, condescending Prime Minister James Callaghan in particular she had a hard time. In contrast to his chuckling baritone she sounded shrill when she attacked. But she lowered her tone (vocally not morally), took lessons in presentation from (among others) Laurence Olivier, and prepared diligently for every debate and Question Time. I can still recall her breakthrough performance in a July 1977 debate on the Labour government's collapsing economy. She dominated the House of Commons so wittily that the next day the Daily Mail's acerbic correspondent, Andrew Alexander, began his report: "If Mrs. Thatcher were a racehorse, she would have been tested for drugs yesterday." She was now on the way to becoming the world-historical figure who today is the gold standard of conservative statesmanship.

Mrs. Palin has a long way to go to match this. Circumstances may never give her the chance to do so. Even if she gets that chance, she may lack Mrs. Thatcher's depths of courage, firmness and stamina -- we only ever know such things in retrospect. But she has plenty of time, probably eight years, to analyze America's problems, recruit her own expert advice, and develop conservative solutions to them. She has obvious intelligence, drive, serious moral character, and a Reaganesque likability. Her likely Republican rivals such as Bobby Jindal and Mitt Romney, not to mention Barack Obama, have most of these same qualities too. But she shares with Mrs. Thatcher a very rare charisma. As Ronnie Millar, the latter's speechwriter and a successful playwright, used to say in theatrical tones: She may be depressed, ill-dressed and having a bad hair day, but when the curtain rises, out onto the stage she steps looking like a billion dollars. That's the mark of a star, dear boy. They rise to the big occasions.

Mrs. Palin had four big occasions in the late, doomed Republican campaign: her introduction by John McCain in Ohio, her speech at the GOP convention, her vice-presidential debate with Sen. Joe Biden, and her appearance on Saturday Night Live. With minimal preparation, she rose to all four of them. That's the mark of star. If conservative intellectuals, Republican operatives and McCain "handlers" can't see it, then so much the worse for them.




The Fort Dix plotters are convicted: "The Fort Dix plotters were convicted Monday of conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military, a charge that could send the five Islamists to jail for the rest of their lives. The jury's verdict is notable because media coverage of the plotters' arrest and trial traveled a familiar arc: After a round of stories noting that a terrorist plot had been rolled up, the media followed up with skepticism and suggestions that the suspects were small-timers or just messing around. The word even went out that, in effect, the government's man on the inside had put them up to it. The implication, as with the Lackawanna Six and Jose Padilla, is always the same: The Bush Administration was advertising phantom threats to justify the trampling of civil liberties and to create a "climate of fear." Lest we forget, the Fort Dix plotters were finally arrested last year after they moved to buy AK-47s and fully automatic M-16s -- not exactly the stuff of innocent imaginings and idle chatter. Every plotter is an amateur until he pulls off a spectacular attack. This has created a permanent PR problem for the fight against domestic terror plots: If you move too soon, the conventional wisdom comes to doubt that anything serious was averted. But of course, waiting too long means running the risk of another attack on American soil, something we have avoided since 9/11."

I can't help thinking that there should be more of this: "As a prank, students from local high schools have been taking advantage of the county's Speed Camera Program in order to exact revenge on people who they believe have wronged them in the past, including other students and even teachers. Students from Richard Montgomery High School dubbed the prank the Speed Camera "Pimping" game, according to a parent of a student enrolled at one of the high schools. Originating from Wootton High School, the parent said, students duplicate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts from certain websites that "mimic" those on Maryland license plates. They tape the duplicate plate over the existing plate on the back of their car and purposefully speed through a speed camera, the parent said. The victim then receives a citation in the mail days later. Students are even obtaining vehicles from their friends that are similar or identical to the make and model of the car owned by the targeted victim, according to the parent. The parent said that "our civil rights are exploited," and the entire premise behind the Speed Camera Program is called into question as a result of the growing this fad among students."

All hail Princess Caroline, for she hails taxis!: "Bloomberg columnist Albert R. Hunt makes the case for why Basil Paterson's son should appoint John F. Kennedy's daughter to replace Bill Clinton's wife in the Senate: "[Caroline Kennedy] has all the qualities--intellectual curiosity; a friendly, at times pointed, sense of humor, and a deferential manner (she hails her own cabs)--that are the stuff of a good legislator". She hails her own cabs! This is what passes for a common touch these days? Lots of New Yorkers can't even afford cabs and ride the subway instead. When we read this, our first thought was: We hail our own cabs, too. We deserve that Senate seat."

The destructive British welfare state: "To most people, I imagine, welfare seems an obviously good thing. But in fact the corrosive and iniquitous side of welfare has been evident for many decades. It's only now that people are poking their heads out of the trench and daring to say so. You can see the devastating effects of welfare in Britain, for example, in the exponential rise in single motherhood. The figures are astonishing. In the 1950s almost all children in Britain were brought up by their natural parents. Today, only around half the children in Britain are brought up by their natural parents. Half! To see why that happened, let me paint you a picture. In the 1950s, the typical working man and his wife In Britain lived in an income-tax free existence. They kept every penny they earned. For an unmarried teenager, there was no council flat (the `projects' I think you call them), no rent rebate, no rate rebate, no housing benefit or anything else. The burden of looking after her and the child fell on her family, friends or charity. Parents who discovered their daughters were pregnant were understandably furious - because they had to pick up the tab. That's why Dad stomped round to the family of the boy responsible, to call him to account. They boy's family understood the full economic implications of making babies and came down on him like a ton of bricks. From the real economic relationships there arose a real moral code - the value and the cost of things were clear. The growth of welfare benefits has been huge since that time. And within that system a pregnant girl gets special treatment (top of the state housing list etc). The fear has gone. The old idea, "Don't, for heaven's sake, get pregnant. It would be a disaster" has gone."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Always On Watch said...

Born is the King of Israel!

Replacement theology discounts that. In fact, the few churches who hold to that view of theology rarely sing "The First Noel."

Clearly, the Bible states that Israel is blessed from Above and will forever remain blessed. To deny that teaching is to throw out God's Word.