September 2015 Archives

A speech by President Ronald Reagan about parental choice in education forms the framework of this video montage, which begins with remarks from Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker, all supportive of giving parents real choice in finding the right education for their children. Many of them were involved in implementing effective school choice programs in their own states.

But Oklahoma lags behind many of these states in providing the same range of choices to their families, despite overwhelming Republican majorities in the legislature and total control of statewide elective offices. During the second half of the video, Oklahoma Republican elected officials -- Sen. James Lankford, Congressmen Jim Bridenstine and Steve Russell, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb -- and Republican party leaders -- GOP vice chairman Estela Hernandez, OFRW President Pam Pollard -- urge bold action by our state legislature to improve educational choice.

Sadly, six key Republican leaders aren't on this video. Perhaps they weren't asked (surely they were), perhaps they didn't have time (isn't this worth making time?), but I'm disappointed not to see Gov. Mary Fallin, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, State Senate President pro tempore Brian Bingman, State House Speaker Jeff Hickman, and education committee chairmen Sen. John Ford and Rep. Ann Coody. These are the people in the best position to make something happen and are likely the reason that very little has.

I am late getting this put together, late taking my own time to remember the events of 14 years ago.

Take a moment to remember University of Tulsa and Memorial High School graduate Jayesh Shah, who worked on the 103rd floor of the north tower for Cantor Fitzgerald, and to pray for his family, who deeply miss their brother, son, husband, and father. This 2002 story from the Houston Chronicle tells about Jay's family and their desperate search through the streets of New York for hopeful news that never came. Jay's family returned again to New York today to honor his memory and the memory of all who perished that day.

Many of the links from previous years are reprised below, as they remain excellent resources for refreshing our collective memory and, I hope, rekindling our resolve. Here are a few new items worthy of note:

On Facebook, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote:

Government and people of Israel stand with the United States of America in marking 14 years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

As we remember those who perished, we remain committed to fighting the forces of militant Islam that have caused so much death and destruction both before and since that terrible day. Our commitment is matched only by our conviction that we will prevail.

Bookworm Room quotes at length from a Charles Krauthammer column on the Iran deal, which notes that, not only do we have to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, and to allow them access to funds to continue to destabilize the Middle East, America is obliging itself to defend Iran against efforts, like the Stuxnet computer virus, to sabotage Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

Here Is New York has added a site called Voices of 9/11, video interviews with 500 eyewitnesses, recorded in 2002 and 2003.

Le Figaro has a montage of amateur video taken in lower Manhattan the morning of 9/11, including a clip of the first plane hitting the North Tower. The images and language are unfiltered and may be disturbing. This clip comes via Ace of Spades HQ. Ace writes:

I'm linking it because this pulls no punches. It is not sanitized. It includes screaming in horror, and f-bombs, and blasphemies (the "JFC!" one), from people recording the attacks on their cell phones.

I'm linking it just because it's something we don't see much in American media, where things tend to be sanitized, Because Backlash.

Bookworm Room reminds us why we need to remember:

Last year on 9/11, my remembrance post looked at how our political class, led by Barack Obama, seemed to have forgotten every lesson learned from 9/11. Under his aegis, I pointed out, our borders were meaningless, the always dangerous Middle East was a swirling mass of chaos, and ISIS was cutting a bloody swath through that benighted land. This year, things are worse.

Obama's Middle Eastern policies -- policies that systematically destabilized Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, and that enabled anarchy in Syria and ISIS's rise -- have led to the largest migrant crisis since Rome's downfall....

The worst irony of today's 9/11 anniversary, though, is that yesterday, the fourteenth anniversary of the day before the world changed forever, the Obama-led Democrat party took steps to ensure that 9/11, rather than seeing the peak of Islamic terrorism, will begin to look like a dry run, just as the 1993 World Trade Center attack was a dry run....

With every passing year, 9/11's emotional resonance lessens, with September 11 becoming nothing more than a sad story rather than both a national tragedy and a wake-up call. Even worse, too many of the younger generation don't even have a textbook acquaintance with 9/11. Our continued survival as a free nation demands that we remember 9/11 in a way that enables us to understand the lessons it teaches about the nature of evil and about the evil nature of radical Islam, whether it emanates from Sunni or Shia Islamists.

Ben Domenech, writing at The Federalist, calls 9/11 the day America forgot. Far from producing change in attitudes and behaviors, nothing much changed after a month or so of bipartisanship and resolve.

From 30 pictures of 9/11 that show you why you should never forget.

A year after the attacks, an exhibit of photos showing the aftermath, recovery efforts, and the indomitable spirit of New Yorkers toured the nation and is still online: Here Is New York.

The History Channel has moved its 9/11 content. There used to be an interactive site on the 9/11 attacks here, but it seems no longer to be on the web, and the archived version appears to be incomplete.

The ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 told the story of the events, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center attack, that led to the 9/11/2001 attack. Because it put certain American politicians in a bad light, it has not been rebroadcast in the US, and the original version is hard to find, but not impossible for the tech savvy. You can watch a documentary about the political pressure that led to the censorship of the mini-series, "Blocking the Path to 9/11," on the Internet Archive.

The Telegraph: 9/11: How the drama unfolded aboard Air Force One, inside the White House bunker and at the Pentagon

Some personal recollections of the day:

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer offers his account of 9/11 with President Bush aboard Air Force One, and the threat that the president's plane might itself be compromised by terrorists.

In 2009, HotAir blogger Allahpundit tweeted his memories of the day. He lived in downtown Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center.

Ron Coleman was in midtown Manhattan when the planes hit. He writes of the confusion of the day and his journey, by foot and ferry, back to his home in New Jersey.

Gerard Vanderleun was watching from Brooklyn Heights when the towers fell, recording his observations online: "Lower span of Brooklyn Bridge jammed with people walking out of the city, many covered with white ash. Ghosts. The Living Dead. BQE empty except for convoys of emergency vehicles."

Here is Robert N. Going's diary of four weeks as a volunteer in a respite center at Ground Zero.

My personal recollection of the day and the weeks that followed.

Rusty Weiss says, "9/11 saved my life," shocking him out of complacency as a responsibility-shirking young man.

Robert Spencer lists ten things we should have done since 9/11 to defeat Islamism, but we haven't because of political correctness. Number 4 rings a bell:

It is remarkable that thirteen years after 9/11, not a single mosque or Islamic school in the U.S. has any organized program to teach Muslims why the al-Qaeda/Islamic State understanding of Islam is wrong and should be rejected. Yet they ostensibly reject this view of Islam, so why don't such programs exist? Even more remarkable than their absence is the fact that no government or law enforcement authorities are calling upon Muslims to implement them.

Such programs must be instituted, and made transparent and open to inspection, so as to ensure their sincerity and thoroughness.

Tulsans know what happens when a Muslim does speak out and explain that Islamists aren't good Muslims.

Scott Ott, the artist formerly known as Scrappleface, is an evangelical Christian and a writer for PJMedia. He has joined the chorus of too-clever-by-half folks who say the way to deal with societal disagreement over the nature and purpose of marriage is to abolish state recognition of marriage.

Liberty-loving people, who revere the extraordinary innovation of a government that guards individual rights, should work now to get government out of the business of marriage licenses, employee benefits based on marital status, tax breaks for married couples, and any other kind of regulation or benefit, regarding marriage or marriage substitutes.

Here in Oklahoma, certain Republican voices have echoed his sentiments and reasoning, including party activists Richard Engle and David Van Risseghem.

The top-rated comments to Ott's column all disagree with him and point out the consequences of removing government recognition of a fundamental unit of society that arises organically from the nature of human reproduction. Here is the top comment by someone calling herself "werewife":

Sorry to have to join the general dissent here, and for a nonreligious reason. The leftist program is to reduce the active institutions of society to just two: The atomized single individual, and the sovereign omnipotent State. Everything in between - the congregation, the workplace, the club, the sports league or community theater company or moms' playgroup or whatever, and especially the FAMILY - will be reduced to an entirely personal and private matter with no status whatsoever in the public realm which the almighty State must respect, unless the group itself is an active arm/agent of the State. The Soviet Union ran on such a principle. Soon enough these United States will too, and proposals like the above will only make it easier.

For an expanded discussion of this idea, see Stella Morabito's piece at The Federalist, "How Personal Relationships Threaten The Power of the State". Morabito is responding to an article that praises a single mother who chose to keep the child's father out of their lives, and she quotes several leftist and feminist authors who see intact families as a source of inequality. Morabito writes:

In all of their ponderings about inequality, our progressive friends never fully address the ultimate source of human misery: isolation brought about by broken and weak human relationships. Of course, cultivating strong human relationships would be counter-productive to an agenda that aims to grow impersonal bureaucracy and its attendant power cliques....

Some of the 12 year olds in Lily's world are in the business of telling all of us what to do and how to live, and ensuring that the only enduring relationships we have are with our government keepers. Others among them -- in politics, academia, the media, Hollywood -- will keep in place conditions that that suppress strong personal relationships. Why? Because only weakened human relationships and alienation can serve to build a culture of distrust, envy, and divisions in class, gender, race, etc. that empowers an elite "vanguard"--among whom, politicians, academics and media moguls are prominent.

By enabling a culture of excess in which self-absorption and self-indulgence reign supreme, power elites seem invested in guaranteeing our problems will be self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating. Their bait -- sloth, sex, and nonstop mind-numbing entertainment - is a feel-good trap. Nothing substantial can be built on what they offer, least of all solid relationships....

It seems funny, doesn't it, how progressive agendas always seem to begin as "solutions" in search of problems? Collectivist agendas breed alienation, isolation, distrust, and dependency, which produce poverty, social chaos, and epidemic anxiety, which soften the ground for collectivist agendas. The myth of "inequality" is perpetuated with the prescription that further isolates people from one another.

Totalitarian states have a history (and a present-day practice) of banning groups operating independently of the state, no matter how apparently benign or apolitical their purpose, because any group can pose a threat to the state's power. Consider the illegal independent labor union in Poland, Solidarity, which brought down the communist government, aided by a Catholic hierarchy that the Communist Party had tolerated. The Chinese Communists didn't make the same mistake: They have government-controlled Catholic-style and Protestant-style churches; independent churches (known as "house churches") are illegal and subject to persecution. The Chinese government has been relentless in pursuit of a system of eastern philosophy called Falun Gong.

It is also standard practice for totalitarian governments to sow the seeds of distrust and alienation everywhere, but especially within families. Children are indoctrinated in the state ideology and taught to identify and report deviationist thought by their parents. There are no independent clubs for children, only the state-run Young Pioneers. Betrayal is rewarded; loyalty makes you subject to collective punishment.

Earlier this year, I saw the "Operation Pedro Pan" exhibit at the History Miami museum. The exhibit powerfully recounts the experiences of the children (mostly in their late pre-teens or early teens) who were airlifted to foster homes in the United States in the early days of the Cuban Revolution. The Castro government had nationalized the schools, including church-run schools, and Christian Cuban parents sent their children to the US to keep them from being indoctrinated by the Communists and against family and religion. (More about that exhibit another time.)

Here are a few more apt comments on Ott's piece. Ruta22 writes:

You lost me at "a government that guards individual rights". Your argument is a bad joke. Another example of someone who doesn't get what's really going on. Disappointing would be an understatement.

Basically, you call for us to cede both public space and government to leftwing totalitarians. Don't pretend otherwise. If you don't understand yet what the leftist plan to do in that vacuum, you need to go read some history. There's a much bigger, organized plan by the left going on that you're not willing to admit to.

I'd write more, but why bother? Anyone who can write "let's be the people of liberty who help them escape from the burden of law through Jesus" doesn't understand that the day that you are no longer allowed to openly preach about Jesus may soon be coming. That's the whole point to the leftist game plan. Got it?

"Cruising Troll" points out that the issue is not how two people relate to each other, but how society deals with this intimate relationship and its consequences:

This is the case in EVERY human society, whether a Stone Age tribe hidden in the upper reaches of the Amazon Basin or the most "advanced" secular European country. Custom and law (the two ARE related) guide how we treat these relationships, both developed over long periods of time based on human experience.

So no Scott, you're wrong about marriage. Anybody who says that government has no place to "incentivize or reward or restrain mutually-voluntary intimate relationships" is either ignorant, naive, or evil. I fully understand the libertarian impulse behind such a statement, but it is misplaced. Perhaps sufficient wealth and technology can successfully ameliorate the realities that have resulted in EVERY human society having a particular intimate relationship called "marriage" that is distinctly different from merely two (or more) people shaggin' in the bushes, but color me skeptical.

It's certainly reasonable to ask whether a particular government policy/law regarding marriage is rational, and a libertarian perspective can be valuable in assessing the matter, but less so if it starts from a position of naivete.

Just for fun, an episode of the 1950s British sitcom: Tony goes overboard buying new photographic equipment after his ancient camera blows up, and the situation becomes desperate when the first payment is due. Sid is exasperated.

"And your exposures are too long. Five minutes! You had to wait for that snail to fall asleep last week before you could photograph it."

"Well, fair's fair. He was shiftin' a bit."

Here's a fun YouTube find for fans of the Goon Show. On October 31, 1965, Harry Secombe appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show during the two-month Broadway run of the musical Pickwick. Here he is performing the big song from the show, "If I Ruled the World":

Leslie Bricusse was the lyricist for Pickwick, better known for his later work on Doctor Dolittle, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and another Dickens adaptation, Scrooge.

Vivat Regina!

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Today, Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning British monarch, surpassing her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Elizabeth acceded to the throne on the death of her father, George VI in 1952. She has been described as an "accidental queen," advancing to heir presumptive when her uncle Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 and her father, Prince Albert, the Duke of York, became King George VI.

The birth of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor on April 21, 1926 was a relatively minor event for a world teetering between two world wars and just three years away from the Great Depression.

The curly-haired "Lilibet" was destined for marriage, not the throne.

But after reigning for just 325 days, her childless uncle Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American.

Princess Elizabeth's father inherited the crown as George VI and she suddenly became heir to the throne.

When the young Elizabeth and her sister Margaret had to move to Buckingham Palace she asked her nanny: "What, you mean forever?"

On her 21st birthday she vowed to spend her life serving her country....

Queen Elizabeth's first prime minister was Winston Churchill, a man who had served in the army of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.

By the time the current holder of that job, David Cameron, was born in 1966, she had already been monarch for 14 years.

"The first time she saw [Cameron] he was playing a rabbit in a school production in which her son Prince Edward was taking part," royal historian Hugo Vickers said.

"He is the man from whom she now takes formal advice."

Mark Steyn takes the occasion to reflect upon the nature of monarchy and the increasingly monarchical presidency:

There have been moments in the last 63 years when one might have wished for a little more imagination from the Queen. But in an undeferential and unmonarchical age she has played a difficult hand very shrewdly. The picture at top right was taken by my beloved daughter during the Diamond Jubilee year. My little girl has met many celebrities, from Macaulay Culkin all the way to Lindsey Graham (at the local fair last month), but she thought the Queen was very "cool" in the way she didn't feel the need to work the room. What I liked that day was the way she didn't bother with the 40-car motorcade - just a vehicle in front of a couple of coppers, and one behind with another copper and a lady-in-waiting, all of whom would take a bullet for her, which I cannot reliably say of those Secret Service guys cavorting with their Cartagena hookers. At any rate, my daughter got within a foot of the Queen, which she'll never do with Obama or Hillary when they're conveyed by their motorcades to a simulacrum of a visit to an ice-cream parlor on Martha's Vineyard and the surrounding streets are closed and vacuumed of all non-credentialed persons. The citizen-executive has become, as Adams proposed, His Mostly Benign Highness: a distant, all-powerful sovereign -- but kindly, and generous with his food stamps, if merciless with his IRS audits.

Monarchy is not to everyone's taste, of course, least of all the pundit class in Fleet Street. But it's interesting to note that their main objection to the Royal Family these days is not that they are an affront to the masses in a democratic age, but that they're way too popular. This is republicanism as class marker: Apparently, the only argument against an anachronistic, out-of-touch hereditary family ruling by divine right is that they appeal to the basest instincts of the proletariat. I remember, years ago, being told by a Hampstead intellectual that the problem with the Queen was that she was too middle class. Today, for Britain's elites, monarchy is simply too, too common. For most of the rest of us, by comparison with all the alternatives, Elizabeth II has been for 63 years about the least worst person to have to live under.

Steyn reprises his column to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, pondering the success of Elizabeth's realms among the community of nations. For she is also the monarch of Canada, Australia, New Zealand,

In the 2012 Heritage Foundation rankings of global economic freedom, eight of the top ten nations are current or former realms of the Crown, including the top four: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand. So are about half of the 20 economies with the highest GDP per capita, and for large countries with populations over 20 million the top three is an Anglosphere sweep: Australia, Canada, the United States. Three-sevenths of the G7 are nations of British descent, and so are two-fifths of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Of course, no record is unblemished, and in the fringes and fag-ends of empire lurk Gaza, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

Nevertheless, from South Africa to India, today the key regional powers in almost every corner of the globe are British-derived -- and, even among the lesser players, as a general rule you're better off for having been exposed to British rule than not: Why is Haiti Haiti and Barbados Barbados? Whatever part of the map you find yourself in, the surest guide to comparative rankings is which territories have been under the British Crown and which haven't.

The Queen could say all this, in one almighty blow-out Christmas message to remember, but it's not her style.

Is the monarchy anything to do with the unrivaled record of the Britannic inheritance? Working for the Free French in London during the war, Simone Weil found herself pondering why, among the European powers, only England had maintained 'a centuries-old tradition of liberty'. She was struck by the paradox of the Westminster system -- that ultimate power is vested in one who cannot wield it in any practical sense. Endowing the sovereignty of the nation in an absentee monarch -- as Australia does -- is an even more exquisite refinement of the Weil theory: vesting power in its literal rather than merely political absence.

What Malcolm Turnbull objects to most -- she doesn't live here! -- is what I find most appealing. A minimalist monarchy is perhaps the most benign form of government one could devise -- except that no hyper-rationalist would ever 'devise' such a thing at all.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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