Sunday, January 31, 2010


A few recent news items, blog entries and tweets from Iran give a flavor of the meltdown that is now occurring in this once-civilized nation:

***The price of bread has risen six fold as government subsidies were removed.

***The inflation rate is now 20%.

***Labor unrest is growing as workers cannot be paid.

***Last week, a Great-Depression-style bank run occurred, leading to rules limiting the amount that may be withdrawn from a bank account.

***The cost of electricity is about to quadruple.

Meanwhile, as the regime continues the rape, torture and murder of dissidents, it has reiterated last year’s fatwa banning all satellite dishes. In addition, one-fourth of the police have been fired and replaced with men from rural areas. It is believed these new police will be less reluctant to shoot at protesters in the streets.

While the fall of this hideous theocracy appears imminent, it may yet be able to hang on for months or even years, and as long as it does, it constitutes a continuing danger not only to its own citizens but also to the larger world.

The silence and inaction of the United States government is inexcusable. There are any number of things the Obama administration might do to hasten the end of the regime and foreshorten the ongoing bloodbath, but the very least of these is for Obama himself to publicly denounce the current government as thugs and murderers with no legitimate right to govern. As we learned in the early 1990’s, the unambiguous moral condemnation of Soviet communism, by John Paul II, Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, was an important element in the fall of the Soviet Union. This is one kind of war where words matter. To protesters longing for freedom, the knowledge there are decent people in the world who support them provides hope, and a sense of inevitability to their struggle. To the thugs and their police, the condemnation is a message that the world is watching and their crimes will no longer be overlooked.

Obama must speak out because taking the side of the Iranian people is the only moral thing to do. But there’s another reason as well---the theocracy WILL fall. Whether it happens tomorrow or next month or next year, the mullahs cannot survive for long. And no one can say what will emerge from the chaos. It is in our national interest to be on the side of the freedom-fighters now, because they will ultimately be the winners in this battle.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Scott Brown stressed two issues in his campaign, and they struck a chord with Massachusetts voters. First, of course, was his pledge to vote against Obamacare. The other issue, however, which got little attention in the national media, was his plain-spoken, unambiguous criticism of Obama’s conduct of the war. Brown opposes the closing of Guantanamo, opposes treating terrorists like criminals, and favors “enhanced interrogation techniques” including waterboarding.

The embrace of Scott Brown by the voters, and the rejection of Obama’s policies in one of our bluest states, gives hope to those of us who had begun to fear that nothing could stop this icy, arrogant president from dragging us into one catastrophe after another. When the news came that Brown had won, I thought of Winston Churchill’s words. “Americans will always do the right thing,” he said, “after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.”


Monday, January 18, 2010


Both France and Venezuela have charged the U.S. is “occupying” Haiti. Aid organizations from around the world are complaining that U.S. Marines have commandeered all the landing sites and won’t let them land. Looting is widespread in Port-au-Prince and anarchy reigns throughout the country.

There’s only one possible explanation for all these problems. Barack Obama hates black people.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


If you’re looking for a comprehensive movie review, you won’t find it here. Avatar is not really the sort of movie for which a “movie review” is appropriate.

For one thing, you’ve seen it before. It was called Dances With Wolves or a dozen other things that used the same formulaic plot. An outcast from the dominant culture (almost always the evil white guys with big guns) goes to live with beautiful, pure, primitive, native people, becomes one of them, and then leads them in battle against his own (evil white guy) people. The movie has been made so often, the plot has a nickname: it’s called the White Messiah story.

Obviously, this is a heart-warming theme for the politically-correct lefties who make all the movies in Hollywood. As a bonus, you will get plenty of unsubtle dialogue that is somehow startlingly relevant to the actions and beliefs of the recent Bush/Cheney administration even though Avatar takes place on another planet in the 22nd Century. (Actually, the left-wing political cracks are so absurd and out of place that I wondered whether they were actually written by a conservative script-doctor who was trying to spoof what liberals would do with a movie like this.)

Yet, though the story and the dialogue and various bits of business along the way are profoundly silly, the very first words I said to the wife and child upon emerging from the theater were these: “Well, I certainly feel I got my $14 worth.”

And that, in a nutshell, is my review. Go. You won’t regret it. Fourteen smackers is cheap for the 3-D extravaganza awaiting you. The foliage alone on the planet Pandora is worth the trip to the theater, even in sub-freezing weather. (NOTE: there are movie palaces that lack the 3-D projection system to show Avatar, but they are showing it anyway. Shun them.)

But none of that is what I really wanted to talk about. I want to talk about the villain.

It’s a corporation, of course. The villain these days is always a corporation. In Avatar, it doesn’t even have a name. It’s simply known as “The Company,” which makes me suspect it’s actually the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Whatever it is, it’s very evil. It’s major-league evil. It’s much more evil than the pharmaceutical company in “The Constant Gardener” that hired mercenaries and killers and started wars and intentionally gave lethal drugs to innocent Africans. It’s even eviler than Dynacorp, the evil corporation in the Terminator movies. The Company in Avatar is so evil that movie patrons (not just me) find themselves snickering at how utterly, unrepentantly, hideously evil it is.

It’s a problem for Hollywood. When the peanut gallery can’t take the villain seriously anymore, they need a new villain. But apparently, they can’t think of one.

It used to be that anybody could be a movie villain. Then Italians started complaining about being villains so, taking the path of least resistance, Hollywood decided Italians wouldn’t be used as villains anymore. Then black people complained, so they stopped being used as villains too. Then it was crazy people. Then it was homosexuals, and Hispanics, and Muslims. For a while, the only villains you saw were semi-unidentifiable, crypto-Eastern-European, post-Soviet gangster punks, but Vladimir Putin must have complained because you don’t see them anymore either. Eventually, the deep thinkers in Hollywood decided that it was just too dangerous for the bottom line to cast any sort of identifiable person as a villain, so the villainous corporation was born.

For a while, it was a novelty. It was entertaining. But when, in movie after movie, the evil corporation is always the villain, it becomes necessary to ratchet up the malevolence. If your villain is an evil corporation, you need it to be even more evil than the previous blockbuster’s evil corporation. And then the next guy’s movie has to feature a corporation even more monstrous than yours. And then you get The Company in Avatar, and the audience starts chuckling.

We all want to suspend our disbelief so we can enjoy the show, but there comes a time when you just can’t swallow it any longer. I mean, even if you think that corporations are bad and wrong and amoral and yes, EVIL, we all know that these undesirable qualities tend to manifest themselves in activities like stealing a competitor’s technology, or trying to monopolize a market, or maybe even bribing a public official. These things happen. On the other hand, murder, nuclear conflagration, genocide and world domination tend not to be featured in the mission statement, even at Halliburton.

Hollywood thus finds itself in a bind. They have no bad guys left except for the one remaining entity their politically-correct shibboleths allow them to defame, and they have made it into a laughingstock. They need a new idea for a villain, and there are millions of dollars waiting for the genius who comes up with it.

I suggest blondes.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


There’s not much I can say about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab that hasn’t been said already. He paid for his ticket in cash, he had no luggage on a transatlantic flight, he was a 23-year-old Muslim who had recently spent a lot of time in Yemen, and his daddy (a prominent banker and diplomat in both London and Nigeria) had warned the State Department that his kid had become a dangerous radical. Yet somehow he was allowed to fly from Lagos to Amsterdam to Detroit without anyone questioning his bona fides.

And you can’t take a tube of toothpaste in your carry-on.

In response to this incident, no one can go to the potty or read a book during the last hour of international flights into America. In addition, Joan Rivers got kicked off a flight from Costa Rica to Newark as a security risk and Michael Yon (America’s most respected war correspondent), got led off in handcuffs today at the Seattle airport.

I wrote about airport security four years ago, when it was a joke. (See here.) And now it’s worse. After billions spent on the TSA, do any of us have any confidence in these people? I mean, if the joint efforts of the TSA, Homeland Security and the State Department couldn’t stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a guy who practically had “TERRORIST” tattooed on his forehead, what’s the point of spending more billions on the TSA and making plane travel even more annoying for the rest of us? Why bother?

The only people you can count on, as Flight #253 proved yet again, are your fellow passengers. So why not empower them? I reiterate my suggestion from four years ago, originally voiced by Archie Bunker himself. People with concealed carry permits, cops, security guards---anyone who is normally permitted to possess a handgun---should be encouraged to take it on the plane. The pilot would be informed, he would have a look at you, and if he didn’t like what he saw, your piece would ride with him. But every flight would have armed citizens on it, and that would be the end of the problem.


Monday, January 4, 2010


I finally crossed paths with Michael Coard, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and black activist. I listened to him for years on WHAT (which doesn't exist anymore), where he dispensed legal advice to all comers on a wide array of legal topics. For a lawyer, this is a sort of circus trick. It is not at all an easy thing to do, and there was never a time in my legal career when I could have done it. Yet he was able to impart something useful to every caller, and all of it was delivered in an utterly humorless and pedantic monotone that was so humorless and so pedantic and so monotonic that I couldn't help but be entertained by him.

Mr. Coard was one stop on a walking tour in the Independence Hall area of various sites relating to George Washington. His venue was the archeological lab that had been overwhelmed with artifacts from the excavations for the Constitution Center. In particular, he was interested in the slave quarters at the "First White House," where Washington had lived during his two terms as president.

And that, among all the history to be found in old Philadelphia, was the only thing that interested him. He made this point crystal clear to us several times in several different ways. As a child, he said, he had been brought to the area on school trips and had witnessed the excitement of his white classmates as they learned about the heroes of the American Revolution, but it had meant nothing to him. Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington---all of it was irrelevant to black people, he told us. He is the kind of speaker who will pick out a word and repeat it a number of times to ram it home for the listener. "Irrelevant" was the word he chose for us day-trippers. It was irrelevant to him as a child and it was irrelevant to him as an adult.

We got fifteen minutes of the humorless and pedantic monotone I had come to love on the radio, but it wasn't quite so entertaining this time, partly because there wasn't any history in it, and that's what we were there for. Instead, it was the tale of Mr. Coard organizing his Avenging The Ancestors Coalition and confronting the Park Service, and the negotiations over what would be done with the slave quarters at the house where Washington lived. And this was all that mattered to Mr. Coard, even now. Not even his close acquaintanceship with the historic buildings and monuments and historians and guides over the past few years, had changed his view that the birth of the nation, the drafting of the Declaration and the Constitution---all of it was "irrelevant" because it had been done by people whose skin color was different from his own. The people who swept Washington's floor and cooked his food were the only ones who mattered to him, because they were black slaves.

Now, we all know that slavery existed before 1776 and for the first eighty-five years of this country's existence. Fine. But what do we really need to know about Washington's cook in order to understand the inspiring and dangerous path of the founding fathers in building this country and creating the free society we have today? What possible significance does this have? There was probably a very nice German woman who made Beethoven an omelet every morning and sewed buttons on his shirts, but who cares? Does Michael Coard? And what about the guy who cut Einstein's grass?

All of us have met a Michael Coard, or someone like him, and I expect most people feel sorry for guys like this. I know I do. After all, not every little black boy on a school trip to Independence Hall feels the way he did. Most, I'm sure, get the same whiff of the heroism and love of freedom that I did when I went there as a kid. The message is an easy one for a kid to understand, isn't it? This is your country and this is how it started, in idealism and bravery and selfless devotion to a dream of human rights that no country had ever dreamed before.

So why did little Michael Coard find all this "irrelevant"? Well, somebody had to teach him to think that, didn't they? A parent? An uncle? Somebody had to sit him down when he was four or five or six and say, "Listen, Michael. You're black. You're screwed. They're all against you out there. They hate you. White people hate you because you're black, and they always will. You're a stranger here, in a land run by white people, and you're different, and they will NEVER let you succeed."

And look at the result. Michael Coard grew up in America, went to good schools, became a successful lawyer at an important Philly law firm, hosts a radio show, and is welcomed at the table when the movers and shakers in this town get together. Among the planet's inhabitants, he is firmly situated in the top 1% of humans in terms of wealth, power, and education. Yet his skin color remains the only prism through which he can view the world. Despite the evidence all around him, despite the evidence of his own life, he is convinced there is something grievously wrong with the fundamental structure of American society. And there is nothing that could happen at this point to change his perspective.

In the recent presidential campaign, commenting on her husband's success, Michelle Obama said, "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country." Mrs. Obama is 45 years old, which means her adult life began around 1982, and there was nothing for her to be proud of for those 26 years between 1982 and 2008. Nothing, until a black man (her husband), ran for president.

Well, let's see. American entrepreneurs built an unimagined new world of information, computing and technology. No, nothing to be proud of there. Life-saving drugs and medical procedures developed in American labs? Guess not. Well, how about the fall of the Soviet Union, the most vicious and efficient killing machine in the history of civilization? We had something to do with that, didn't we? Still, I guess it's nothing you can really be proud of. Billions to fight disease in Africa? Rescuing the world's victims from earthquakes and tsunamis? Welcoming refugees from around the world? Freeing 100 million people from the sadistic rule of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein? Oops, sorry---I guess that's something we're really not proud of.

Which explains why this Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer, who has had a succession of high-profile legal jobs and whose husband was about to be elected president, believed there is something grievously wrong with the fundamental structure of American society.

I believe it was 1989 when Ricky Henderson reported to Spring training with the Yankees, where he was scheduled to play the season for $2 million. He was not happy about it. It was the last year of a multi-year contract he had signed with New York, and with baseball money exploding over the previous few years, he felt he was "underpaid" because lesser lights would be getting more money than he was, at least for the 1989 season. But he had signed his contract when $2 million had sounded like a lot of money, and he was stuck with it. And he was pissed. And he let everybody know it.

Now, there are always plenty of people who will tell you athletes are paid too much money. "Millions to play a kids' game!" they cry. We could use all that money to cure cancer or rebuild the levees in New Orleans or fight cyber-bullying, or something.

I'm not those people. I'm more of a free market guy. In fact, I think the people who say that sort of thing are communists, whether they know it or not. So I don't begrudge athletes for making $2 million or $20 million or $200 million. On the other hand, if you are making $2 million to play baseball for the New York Yankees, there is a simple rule I apply to your behavior: DON'T BITCH ABOUT IT!

Which pretty much summarizes my feelings about both Michael Coard and Michelle Obama. God bless them, I say, for their elite educational opportunities and what they have made of them. They worked for their wealth and power and celebrity, and I want them to enjoy it. It's good for everybody in America that such success is possible; let's never forget there are people in other parts of the world who are screwed from the get-go no matter what they do. Eat at the best restaurants, guys. Vacation in the Caribbean. And don't skimp on the grooming products. Just don't bitch about it.

Please note---I'm not asking anyone to put a flag pin on his lapel. I'm not suggesting Michael Coard should attend 4th of July celebrations and put his hand on his heart when they play the Star-Spangled Banner. All I am saying is that if you are Michael Coard or Michelle Obama (or any number of other people), and you cannot see that the lofty perch you enjoy in life is at least partly attributable to the circumstances of your birth and the values of the nation you live in, there is a fundamental flaw in your character. If, in a public forum, you are unable to refrain from expressing contempt for the American experiment, then you need to step back and think about your life for a minute or two. Admittedly, there was a form of child abuse at work here, by the elders who told little Michael and little Michelle their lives were hopeless, but that cannot absolve them of all responsibility for their attitudes. People recover from child abuse, and whether they can or not, they should try. Others certainly have been exposed to the same mantra of victimhood and have managed to reject it.

Slavery was not the major focus of our history walk, but it was a focus. It came up several times, and always with the semi-apologetic undergirding that seems to represent the politically-correct default position for white folks on the issue of slavery. The founding fathers were all profoundly evil, of course, and they're probably burning in hell, and we are all tainted with their immutable sins, but.... And then the guide will mention, in a hushed tone, that Washington freed his slaves upon his death, or that Robert Morris only traded slaves for a short time, or that some laws made freeing slaves a criminal offense. Not that anything can excuse the perfidy of our forebears, of course, but we're historians here, you see, so we're allowed to provide a thing us historians call "context," so long as we only whisper it. Because if we say it any louder, you see, it might hurt the feelings of the "victims."

I can't think of any other area where this judge-the-past-by-the-present standard of historical thinking is applied. Typically, when we view the progress of civilization, we see just that: progress. Let’s take a simple example. According to Black's Law Dictionary, the punishment for poison-murder in 13th-Century England was boiling. Couldn't have been that pleasant for the poor bastards, but we don't do that anymore, and I say good for us. I'm happy about it. Let’s slap a happy face on the way we deal with murderers who poison their victims. We’ve come a long way from boiling. Now we put them in prison and give them cable TV. Good for us!

I feel the same way about the oppression of women. Let the little darlings vote, I say, and drink in bars and own property and have jobs and drive cars. What the hell? It's progress! Let's slap a happy face on the whole "women as chattel" thing. We don't do that anymore. We don't kill defective infants either! More progress. More happy faces! We all feel good that civilization (at least Western civilization) has moved on from practices that today seem barbaric. None of us rend our garments and howl with grief over the brutish world inhabited by our ancestors because we don’t live in that world. We don’t work sixteen hours a day just to get enough food to make it to the next day. Instead, we work four hours a day, often on the internet, then go to the gym, then wash down our linguini and fava beans with a nice chianti. The knowledge that our past was so ugly is a source of happiness. Isn't it wonderful we don't live like that?

Well, I want to put a happy face on slavery too. Why not? After all, America did not invent slavery, which has existed in every culture, among every race and every ethnic group, since the beginning of time. What America invented, along with other Western liberal democracies, was the idea that slavery should be abolished. Good for us. Boiling murderers? A thing of the past. Oppression of women? Oh, that is so early 20th Century. And slavery? Well, it's over, you see. It still exists in plenty of nasty hellholes around the world, but we've moved on. We put a happy face on it 150 years ago.

This is the approach we take regarding every other artifact of the muck we crawled out of, so why not be proud of the history of slavery in America as well? After all, the only purpose of the apologetic political correctness around the issue is to placate the Michael Coards of the world, AND THEY CANNOT BE PLACATED. Mr. Coard et al. don't care about slavery anyway, only about their personal, imagined, seven-generations-removed victimization by it. If they had any real interest in slavery itself, there are tens of millions of slaves, in a hundred countries THAT ARE NOT AMERICA, who might benefit from their concern. But today’s slaves don't seem to interest folks like Mr. Coard or Mrs. Obama. Nor does it interest the Congressional Black Caucus, for that matter, or President Obama. For the left, real slavery is purely a t-shirt/bumper-sticker/website cause, like the Free Tibet movement.


Saturday, January 2, 2010


Each year, the Ed Block Courage Award is given to 32 players in the NFL (one from each team) who exemplify “the principles of sportsmanship and courage.” Each one is a role model, in other words---someone we can all look up to. The recipients are selected by their peers, with each team voting for its representative to the Ed Block Awards Banquet, which is held in March. The banquet has raised millions for charities that fight child abuse and help its victims; it has been held for twenty-five years.

It’s a prestigious award. The work of the Ed Block Foundation has been praised by, among others, Pope Benedict.

Block himself was awarded a Purple Heart for his service under General Patton in WWII. He later worked in the US space program, and then became the head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts from 1954 to 1977. He died in 1983.

About two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Eagles announced their selection for the 2009 Ed Block Courage Award. By a unanimous vote, the players chose Michael Vick.

No one seeks this recognition and, as you might imagine, many recipients of the Courage Award will suggest there are others on the team who were more deserving. Vick’s reaction was somewhat different:

“I’ve overcome a lot more than probably one single individual can handle or bear. You ask certain people to walk through my shoes, they probably couldn’t do it. Probably 95 percent of the people in this world, because nobody has to endure what I’ve been through.”