Something stirred in my conscience in the fall of 1979. I was 9 years old, I had gotten into the habit of setting my clock radio alarm to go off at the very moment the local radio station was beginning its broadcast day with the Star Spangled Banner. I would leap out of bed, grab by younger brothers out of bed and stand stick-straight with my hand over my heart – and on more than one occasion, a tear in my eye.
Yes, I was that much of a nerd.
But that period of time was an ideological awaking. I began to read National Review, and my mother was teaching us about the Founding Fathers and the threat of the Soviets. And my parents had real hope in some guy named Ronald Reagan (I had never heard of him before I was nine) who was going to run for President again.
By the time the U.S. Hockey team beat the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics, I was a full-throated American patriot. I believed (probably because my mom believed) that Ronald Reagan was going to win the presidency and save the nation from communism, because God helped a bunch of young scrappy amateurs beat the most fierce hockey machine in the world. Just like God helped the young scrappy amateurs of the colonies beat the fiercest army on the planet when we won the Revolutionary War.
That was my idealistic mindset: that God truly loved this nation and would help it succeed so that millions upon millions of His children could enjoy the blessings of liberty.
That’s what made me a conservative. It’s what motivates what I do to try to advance conservatism every day. It’s because I want my children to continue to be free. I cherish my conservatism – because I spent years reading the great conservative thinkers and plunging into a career in politics and public policy to defend and advance those ideals.
So you’ll forgive me if I fear what Donald Trump is doing to conservatism.
That theme was masterfully addressed by Jonah Goldberg in this piece last week. Here are a couple excerpts:
The late Bill Rusher, longtime publisher of National Review, often counseled young writers to remember, “Politicians will always disappoint you.” As I’ve often said around here, this isn’t because politicians are evil. It’s because politicians are politicians. Their interests too often lie in votes, not in principles. That’s why the conservative movement has always recognized that victory lies not simply in electing conservative politicians, but in shaping a conservative electorate that lines up the incentives so that politicians define their self-interest in a conservative way. But if it’s true that politicians can disappoint, I think one has to say that the people can, too.
And when I say “the people” I don’t mean “those people.” I mean my people. I mean many of you, Dear Readers. Normally, when conservatives talk about how the public can be wrong, we mean that public. You know the one. The “low-information voters” Rush Limbaugh is always talking about. The folks we laughed at when Jay Leno interviewed them on the street. But we don’t just mean the unwashed and the ill-informed. We sometimes mean Jews, blacks, college kids, Lena Dunham fans, and countless other partisan slices of the electorate who reflexively vote on strict party lines for emotional or irrational reasons. We laugh at liberals who let know-nothing celebrities do their thinking for them.
Well, many of the same people we laughed at are now laughing at us because we are going ga-ga over our own celebrity.
If I sound dismayed, it’s only because I am. Conservatives have spent more than 60 years arguing that ideas and character matter. That is the conservative movement I joined and dedicated my professional life to. And now, in a moment of passion, many of my comrades-in-arms are throwing it all away in a fit of pique. Because “Trump fights!” How many Republicans have been deemed unfit for the Oval Office because of comparatively minor character flaws or ideological shortcomings? Rick Perry in 2012 saw his candidacy implode when he couldn’t remember the third item on his checklist of agencies he’d close down. Well, even in that “oops” moment, Rick Perry comes off as Lincolnesque compared with Donald Trump.
Unsurprisingly, Jonah received a lot of hate mail and pretty harsh comments. As he wrote in his follow-up piece:
There’s no way I could — or should — respond to all of the criticisms or attacks. So I’ll just focus on a couple themes. The biggest criticism — in terms of quantity, not quality — is that I am a RINO squish faker fraud no-goodnik lib sucking at the teat of the establishment blah blah and blah. These usually take the form of angry tweets and e-mails. So I’ll fold my response to this silliness into my responses to the longer-form stuff.
He then does a pretty good job explaining why he feel strongly about this issue:
I don’t think Trump is a conservative. I don’t think he’s a very serious person. I don’t think he’s a man of particularly good character. I don’t think he can be trusted to do the things he promises. Etc. If all that hurts your feelings, I’m sorry. But there’s no need to make up imaginary motives. The reason I’m writing such things is that I believe them — and that’s my job.
Even though it may not necessarily be “my job” to point out that Trump is no conservative and is doing real harm to the conservative movement, I feel very, very strongly about it – because I became a conservative as a result of years of thinking, reading, arguing, debating, defending, and advocating.
Trump just decided the next step in his ego-fueled, reality-TV existence was to run for President as a Republican, so he magically became a “conservative” overnight. Terrific!
I believe if William F. Buckley were alive today, he would once again stand athwart history yelling, Stop!
President Obama and his policies are very bad for the United States. As conservatives, we know that. Heck, most Americans believe it.
So when conservatives overreact to something Obama says, it makes other criticisms of him and his policies less impactful.
Case in point is a comment that Obama said a couple days ago about stay at home moms. The headline in the Weekly Standard blared: Obama on Moms Who Stay Home to Raise Kids: ‘That’s Not a Choice We Want Americans to Make’
Now, that certainly sounds outrageous. But is that actually what happened? Here is Obama’s quote on that point:
Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.
My interpretation is that what Obama was trying to say was that moms (or dads) who choose to stay home with their kids should be stuck earning a lower wage later when they re-enter the workforce.
I generally agree with that. What I don’t want is government dictating that parents who leave the workforce to raise kids come back into the workforce at a certain wage or salary. That should be left up to market forces. And, if business owners are smart, they will take into account the skills, experience, and talent of parents re-entering the workforce.
A good treatment on this comes from Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist. She points out that moms who choose to stay at home recognize that their earning potential will be impacted in the future – and they still make the choice to stay at home.
At the same time, I’m struck by how shallow our discussion of parenting is. Of all the things to note about how parenting changes you, the craziest is the idea that the only thing that really matters is income. Yes, I traded income for more time with my children. And I still do.
And I’m the winner in this exchange, as are my children. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family with much happiness but not much in the banking account. I don’t know. But I learned from my parents that there are things far more valuable than cash money. Time with my children far exceeds any paycheck I’ve received (it may help that I’m a writer, admittedly). I treasure the moments I’ve had caring for them, watching them reach milestones, seeing them conquer obstacles, helping them learn musical instruments or how to read. I have never had a job — particularly some of the horrible office jobs I’ve had — that came close to the joy and fulfillment I’ve had with my daughters.
The bottom line for me is that Obama gives us plenty of things to criticize fairly. We don’t need to overreach to make the point that he’s been a terrible president and that the country is in worse shape know that in should be.
If anything, the results on Tuesday are going to prove that point in spades.
Yes, my headline is poking fun at the stupid trend on the Internet of “blah blah blah, what happened next was (insert over-the-top adjective here).”
However, this video of young girls using the f word is not interesting, not amazing, not educational, not informative, and certainly not thought provoking. It is shameless marketing to sell t-shirts.
Caitlin Dewey from the Washington Post writes:
Most people would agree the gender wage-gap is bad. But is it more or less bad than profit-motivated adults instructing little girls to curse for a viral video?
That is, in a nutshell, the false equivalence at the heart of a new and wildly controversial video by the T-shirt brand FCKH8, which since Tuesday has racked up more than 100,000 views on YouTube alone. The video consists of girls, ages six to 13, dropping frequent F-bombs in a discussion of pay inequality, stereotypical gender roles and sexual violence — a concept far more dangerous to the six-year-old mind, some might argue, than any casual curse words could be.
Presumably, if you do find the girls’ language offensive, you’re not a very good feminist…
FCKH8 is, after all, a for-profit company, owned entirely by Synergy Media — a corporate branding studio that specializes in (whaddya know!) marketing. Each T-shirt FCKH8 sells retails for between $15 and $37, five dollars of which the company promises to donate to charity. After FCKH8’s last campaign — in which the company had children from Ferguson, Mo. read statistics on racism to “white people” — that cut went to the Mike Brown Memorial Fund and the NAACP. Critics, of whom there are many, were not impressed.
Another view is even more succinct. This one from Darlena Cunha:
So when a 7-year-old says, “I’m not some pretty [f-word] helpless princess in distress” in a mocking tone, my heart screams, “Oh, yes, honey, you are. Oh my God, you are. Not because you’re a girl, but because you are a child.”
Children can be helpless; sometimes they do need help, and it is of utmost importance that they know it. Because growing up in a world where people will take advantage of them in any way possible, they will need an arsenal of people they can trust to help them. We constantly tell our children to talk to a trusted adult if something questionable happens to them, be it bullying, abuse or any kind of sexual advance. By having them internalize the message that they are strong and unstoppable, we may inadvertently be pushing them along the path of blaming themselves should they somehow be unable to stop a rapist, mugger, or even the patriarchy in general.
Not to mention FCKH8 is setting up a false dichotomy by pretending that people would or should be equally offended at little girls dropping the f-bomb as they are the inequity women face on a daily basis. If there ever was a case of apples and oranges, this is it. Just because both feminism and little girls swearing about feminism contain both girls and feminism does not make them comparable on any deep level.
The best analysis comes from The Belle Jar:
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: this video is not some kind of PSA, it’s an advertisement. FCKH8 is a for-profit t-shirt company – emphasis on the profit – that has put together an exploitative and manipulative two minute and thirty five second commercial for t-shirts. And while FCKH8 asserts that all of this is “for a good cause” (they’ve promised to donate $5 from each t-shirt sale to as-yet-undisclosed organizations) the only cause that’s being promoted by this video is their bank account.
There is nothing feminist about using little girls as props in order to sell t-shirts – in fact, I would argue that this is the opposite of feminism. There is nothing feminist about exploiting a bunch of little girls by having them swear and talk about rape statistics just so that FCKH8 can make a quick buck. There is nothing feminist about creating an association between potty-mouthed little kids and social justice – and that’s not a slight against potty-mouths, because I fucking love swearing, but rather a statement on the fact that this video plays into a lot of the negative stereotypes that people already have about feminism.
I’m not against people making a profit. My problem is that FCKH8 is pretending that they are creating a useful dialogue about societal issues – when really all they are doing is selling t-shirts.
When you have someone help set stuff up for you (like a blog page) it’s a good idea to write down passwords. I changed computers a couple weeks ago and haven’t been able to log into NobleThinking – sorry about the silent treatment.
As you likely know, I fly. A lot. So I read this headline with interest:
Friday 13th travellers take chance on flight 666 to HEL
Now, they aren’t actually flying to hell. Every airport in the world has a three letter code, some which are obvious like LAX, PHX or SFO and some which aren’t as obvious like ORD (Chicago) or MCO (Orlando). HEL is the airport code for Helsinki.
Would I take that flight? Sure. I’m not superstitious (expect in baseball) and I’m writing this while on a flight on Friday the 13th already.
Sometimes it’s better to not listen to your kid’s playlist. It makes you realize they are growing up way too fast.
When it comes to Syria, I can’t imagine it makes sense to say, “Hey Russia, great idea!” Russia may not be the menace that it was during the Cold War, but it is not an ally. Still, Putin is way more cool than our President.
I’ve been in politics for more than 20 years and I figure I have pretty much seen it all. But sometimes in politics I see something so beyond the pale that it still shocks me. That is the case with the latest move by Senate President Harry Reid (D-NV) and other Senate Democrats.
They are really unhappy that Sen. David Vitter continues to denounce ObamaCare and is saying that lawmakers shouldn’t be getting subsidized health care coverage. You may remember that Sen. Vitter was accused of having a relationship with a call girl a number of years ago.
With that context, check out this story by Politico:
Senate Democrats have had all they can take from David Vitter and his fixation on Obamacare — and they’re dredging up his past prostitution scandal to hit back.
Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has infuriated Democrats this week by commandeering the Senate floor, demanding a vote on his amendment repealing federal contributions to help pay for lawmakers’ health care coverage.
But Democratic senators are preparing a legislative response targeting a sordid Vitter episode. If Vitter continues to insist on a vote on his proposal, Democrats could counter with one of their own: Lawmakers will be denied those government contributions if there is “probable cause” they solicited prostitutes.
You couldn’t make this stuff up. This is junior high school level bullying. Now, I’ve never been a fan of Harry Reid, but this is so beneath someone who is supposed to represent the people that you have to call him what is: a real a**. He truly demonstrates why the Democratic mascot is a donkey.
I love the Disney movie “Up.” So I read with interest that there was a guy who used hundreds of colored balloons to take off from Maine to cross the Atlantic Ocean. That takes some serious guts.
Alas, about 12 hours into the trip, he landed in Newfoundland and proclaimed, “This doesn’t look like France.” At least he has a sense of humor.
Happy Flag Day! As you may or may not know June 14th is the celebration of Flag Day, as formally adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. The establishment of an official flag for the United States was a powerful symbol for the nation. Sadly, this holiday is not officially recognized by the federal government, therefore people do not have a day off of work to fire up their grill under said flag, and if you were to conduct a random survey, most people probably wouldn’t know what Flag Day signifies.
As a nation we often forget the sacrifices that have been made in the name of Old Glory. Not only for Americans, but also for those around the world who catch a glimpse of the stars and stripes, the American flag represents freedom from tyranny and the rights granted to every citizen under our Constitution. In these turbulent times, I look at the flag waving atop the U.S. Capitol’s rotunda and remember that freedom isn’t free.
Whatever you want to call the current issues and events facing the United States – be it scandals, lies, cover-ups, dilemmas – in the end truth and justice will prevail, as it has throughout this nation’s history. The flag represents everything that is so good about America’s democracy. It serves as a symbol to let the world know that, though divisions may exist in our country, all is well. Politicians have come and gone, flags have been defaced across the world, but history has shown that we as a nation have endured trouble, only to rise like a phoenix – better and stronger. Long may that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
The Boy Scouts of America voted yesterday to end its ban on gay kids and teens joining the organization. This was the right decision, not only because the majority of its members supports it, but because our nation benefits when youth are “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent,” regardless of their sexual orientation.
Erick Erickson over at Red State has a different take on it. He believes that because the Boy Scouts have chosen to no longer discriminate, “the moral component to the Scouts will collapse in favor of knot tying, tent pitching, and badge collection.” Erickson says that while being gay is not a sin, acting on it is—a statement with which I agree. Sex of any kind outside the confines of marriage is a sin.
Erickson’s premise however, that admitting sinners or potential sinners causes an organization to lose its ability to teach morality, is ridiculous. Erickson declares that churches should “not turn away gays.” But, if Boy Scouts cannot admit gays and teach morality, how can churches accept gays and still preach the Gospel “in the context of teaching healthy morality and character” to worshippers? If we follow his reasoning, Erickson himself is incapable of teaching morality and character to his children. He has admitted gays into his social circle and does “not worry about [his children] interacting with and having gay friends.”
I am an Eagle Scout and participated in a scout troop sponsored by the LDS Church. In fact, the LDS Church sponsors more BSA troops than any other organization. In a statement after the vote, the Church pointed out that they have never precluded gay boys from participating in scouting activities as long as they live up to the moral code.
Jesus reminded us that we are all sinners, “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a first stone.” As Christians, we are constantly striving to be better, to “go and sin no more,” and organizations like the Boy Scouts help us—all of us—on this journey.
In a world all too often filled with hate, by accepting gay kids, the Boy Scouts demonstrate love—a tenant of every major faith—and for that, I applaud them.
It’s been a tragic week for America. Boston was terrorized during what is normally a joyous occasion – its annual marathon. The Boston Marathon is prestigious. You must qualify to enter. Runners dream about it. Even some who don’t want to run it, use its qualifying time as a benchmark when setting goals for other races. On Monday, for many athletes, their dream-come-true became a nightmare when two bombs went off near the finish line. At least three people are dead, with more than 100 injured.
Two days later, a fertilizer plant in Texas exploded. At this time, that tragedy doesn’t appear to involve criminal activity or terrorism. The explosion, which registered as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake, caused severe damage within a five-block radius. Dozens or more are feared dead and hundreds are injured.
Much of this blog, like all political blogs, focuses on what divides us. Not today. Our fellow Americans are hurting. We empathize with their sadness and fear and wish to soothe their pain. During times like these we often ask ourselves what we can do. We can donate blood, money, or time to charitable organizations. We can also be thankful for what we have. I’m thankful for my five wonderful children. I’m thankful for their good health and for my own. I’m thankful for the freedom we enjoy that is uniquely American. I’m thankful that I can make a living doing what I love, and that, in my small way, I’m helping preserve our American freedom for future generations including my own children.
What are you thankful for? In Boston on Wednesday night, many Bruins fan found a way to express their gratitude a mere two days after chaos struck their city – they sang the national anthem at the top of their lungs. You can hear the Boston accents while they sing with pride, with love, and with gratitude for the things that weren’t lost on Monday. They got back up together – and we can join them.
One of Obama’s big ideas in his State of the Union speech was to expand free pre-school programs.
And that has to start at the earliest possible age. Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for a private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. So tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America. (Applause.) That’s something we should be able to do.
I have a little experience with early childhood education… having five kids will give you some experience, and I am sure that the federal government or state government knows less about what my kids need then I do. This is yet another step in the “cradle-to-grave” mentality of the Left to inject their “progressive” thinking into children at as young an age as possible.
Have doubts? Do you think for one second Obama would allow choice in pre-school by providing payments to parents who decide to do “home pre-school?” No, if it isn’t government sanctioned, it isn’t good enough “for the children.”
But what undercuts Obama’s kid-grab is a study by his own Department of Health and Human Resources that points out that there is no lasting benefit of Head Start for children after they enter elementary school.
As the Editors of National Review wrote:
The results of the HHS study will be of no surprise to anybody who has followed the research on Head Start and similar programs. The “impacts” documented in the study were transitory, vanishing entirely by the early stages of elementary-school education. And some of the impacts were negative; for instance, members of the three-year-old cohort who participated in Head Start were less likely than those in the control group to achieve regular grade promotion. That probably is not evidence that Head Start hurt the three-year-olds; it is more probable that, by random chance, students more likely to be held back were assigned to the Head Start group, and the benefits of Head Start were not consistent enough or large enough to overcome the difference. (The result was considered “statistically significant,” but that merely means it is unlikely — not impossible — for it to be the result of chance.) But the inability of Head Start to overcome the effects of randomness is damning enough in itself.
There is nothing more dangerous than government getting their hands on our kids at an early age. I actually think that kids should wait longer to enter formal education.
A few years ago, I wrote about all-day Kindergarten and how it actually caused the regression of my son’s reading skills. I have experienced first-hand the damage that government-run early education can do to a child.
A few months later it is Christmas break and I ask Adam to sit down and read to me. To my utter horror, I realized that his reading had regressed. A lot.
At that point, I’d had it. This wonderful all-day K was actually hurting my child.
So Obama should keep his hands of my kids.
Mitt Romney may not be the orator that President Obama is, but his speech last night was a solid contrast to the failure of the hope and change we heard four years ago.
For me, one of the most significant lines in the speech was this: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.”
It is the perfect contrast. Romney is a guy who has worked hard and been very, very successful. And yet he remains humble. Even as a very successful businessman, he has taken the time to serve people – primarily in his responsibilities in his church. He wants to help you and your family, because he’s been doing that kind of thing his entire life.
I have heard some talk about how remarkable it is that this busy executive would take the time to help a 14 year-old boy go through the process of dying. Sitting at his side, helping him draft a will, speaking at his funeral.
It has probably never crossed Romney’s mind that it was remarkable in any way. It was his choice, his compassion, his duty. It was as normal and unremarkable as getting up and going to work every day.
Ultimately, the contrast between a man who serves others without a second thought and a man who is so narcissistic as to think that he “is the one we’ve been waiting for” who can “slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet” will make the difference in this election.
If there was any doubt that there is a war on women, Democrat advisor Hilary Rosen proved it continues to rage: liberals loathe women who stay at home to raise their children. Just read what Rosen had to say about Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann:
“Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” said Rosen, who was being interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the “war on women.”
Not only did Ann debut on twitter with a response (“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”) but even the Obama campaign realized it needed to distance itself from this misogyny:
“I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a tweet.
Top Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod also tweeted his disapproval: “Also Disappointed in Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive.”
I suspect that Messina and Axelrod only disagreed because Rosen made these comments in public.