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Doce me faces voluntarem tuam quia Deus meus es tu

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
The zeitgeist is raging, as millions are flocking to see Fahrenheit 911. I myself have resisted the temptation to mock the Fat Man's efforts to slander the President and the war effort. No matter how booming the economy, my seven dollars are best spent somewhere else. Hugh Hewitt nicely surmises the state of one excited about Large Michael's new outing:

"But I will note the one undeniable benefit of the movie's success. It provides a handy reference to the intelligence of the person who sees it. If you encounter anyone speaking in tones even remotely approaching respect for the movie, you have proof positive that the speaker is a fool, not to be trusted on any point, for he or she has given testimony as to their ignorance of basic facts and of an inability to detect even elephant-sized inconsistencies in argument and story line."

As Hewitt notes, the best rebuttal of Moore's pseudo-polemic is the delightfully misanthropic Christopher Hitchens. Regarding the ins and outs of the movie itself, see Jeffrey Overstreet's analysis, both on the Looking Closer website, and the Looking Closer blog.

More thoughts on this later, but that's my earliest take.
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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
There are over twenty million evangelicals in this country, and all Andrew Sullivan can do is mention some nutjobs who want to succeed from the Union and imprison homosexuals. Andrew should be too smart for this, because he knows good and well that, regardless of opinions on homosexuality, there is nothing Christ-like about this position and no serious evangelical will give these people the time of day. If he's wondering why they're not being condemned, I don't know that I could give an answer. It might be because these people are such a fringe that noted evangelicals - Al Mohler, J.P. Moreland, Richard Land - haven't heard of them. Or it could be that even if they have, these men have better things to do with their time than condemn lunatics.

Millions and millions of intelligent evangelicals and this is all Sullivan can discuss. It's disappointing, because he's capable of more. For all his talk, he still does not understand the South or evangelicals. Frustrating, really.
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Monday, June 07, 2004
Some folks have suggested that President Reagan would not cling to the religious right in the manner of George W. Bush. I think it is still up in the air concerning our current President, but Drudge has linked to a speech that Reagan gave to the 1984 GOP convention. Money quote:

"When John Kennedy was running for President in 1960, he said that his church would not dictate his Presidency any more than he would speak for his church. Just so, and proper. But John Kennedy was speaking in an America in which the role of religion -- and by that I mean the role of all churches -- was secure. Abortion was not a political issue. Prayer was not a political issue. The right of church schools to operate was not a political issue. And it was broadly acknowledged that religious leaders had a right and a duty to speak out on the issues of the day. They held a place of respect, and a politician who spoke to or of them with a lack of respect would not long survive in the political arena."

Full speech is here. See the Drudge link above for audio of the speech.
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Sunday, June 06, 2004
Over at the Corner, John Derbyshire recalls a speech President Reagan gave here in Tuscaloosa on campus. The speech is here. Money quote:

"Now, I have to leave soon, but I can't go without talking a minute about a great man that I was proud to call friend -- Bear Bryant. He was sort of the essential American. And, you know, a few years back, I set a kind of a record here at the University of Alabama. I was here to go to a formal dinner where I was to be the after dinner speaker. And Bear invited me to come out and visit practice out here -- football practice.

"Well, the only way it could be worked out and the timing and all was that I had to put the tux on first. So, there I was out on the practice field throwing a ball around with about 65 fellows, and I was in black tie. [Laughter] Bear got quite a kick out of this. But he really started to laugh when it began to rain. [Laughter]

"He was a leader, patriotic to the core, devoted to his players, and inspired by a winning spirit that wouldn't quit. And that's how he made legends out of ordinary people. He was a true American hero, and he was Alabama's own.

"The greatness of America and the solution to her problems begins with the people -- with all of you. You know that dreams, drive, courage, and creativity make all the difference. You know, better than anyone, that it's in the hearts of the people that the tide begins to roll."


Amazing. And completely fitting that two great Americans should develop a strong bond. It makes me a proud American of course, but particularly a proud Alabamian.
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I was barely seven years old when George H. W. Bush took office, and Ronald Reagan returned to his adopted home of California. I remember very little of Ronald Reagan's time in office. By the time I was in the fourth grade, America's economy was booming and there was no such thing as the Soviet Union. I want to write a long piece about the malaise of the late 1970s and the change in America's attitude. I want to talk about how I was an inspired teenager who came to love American because of Ronald Reagan, but I can not.

I can say that I am sad today, because the greatest President my lifetime will ever know is dead. A man who stood firm against tyranny, who understood that all men must be free and that communism was not just another form of government. It was an evil, and it must be defeated.

I am sad because the greatest President of the past fifty years is gone, and I never had the chance to watch in living color as the Great Communicator laughed with and inspired the American people to greatness. I wish he were here today, to crack a joke about the traveling circus that mocked his death on the streets of a vibrant city. Perhaps a future full of Soviet rockets and staggering inflation would soften their cheers. I wish the lump in my throat would go away. It's become a fixture since yesterday afternoon, sitting in my grandmother's den when the news broke across the wire.

Yet I am thankful for a man who stood up to be counted among the defenders of liberty. Ronald Reagan was a giant, a champion of freedom and prosperity. May our America take up his banner as we wage war against the theocratic thugs who dare to destroy our nation. May we be ever mindful of President Reagan's tireless optimism, never failing to believe in this great nation. May he now be at peace in the presence of the almighty God he faithfully served here on Earth, and may God bless his dear wife and family.


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Friday, June 04, 2004
Andrew Sullivan is in a fussy mood because Karl Rove is looking to involve church congregations in the President's re-election campaign. I'm not sure about the theological implications of such a plan, but where was Andrew when John Kerry was having Palm Sunday services at a black church? Kerry is a (sort of) Catholic. No one believes that his appearance at black churches (or that of Al Gore or Bill Clinton or John Edwards or you get the idea) is anything but political pandering. As a Christian I would be uncomfortable if the pulpit became a political stump, and Lord knows I don't want my pastor giving me political lessons, particularly if he's not good at it. But if Sullivan wants to act like it's a new invention for politicians to use churches for a base of support, he's kidding himself.

I think Andrew is speaking in code. What he means is this: Karl Rove is utilizing churches that are almost overwhelmingly opposed to gay marriage, therefore what he is doing is bad. If the church membership had a more nuanced view of the gay marriage issue, I highly doubt that Sullivan would bother to get his dander up.
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If there is a finer country singer than Neko Case, I haven't heard her. Country music, like all American music, is marked by the landscape. That point really came to life while I was in New Orleans over the weekend. The city is defined by the Mississippi River; the image of a poor trumpet player belting out "The Old Rugged Cross" while standing beside the giant snake of a river never leaves your mind. It's not just a tourist trap, either. I've never failed to see a poor jazzman on the sidewalk. Maybe that's what Birmingham needs. A river, or at least a lake nearby.

I've spent the last four years calling Birmingham and Tuscaloosa home, sort of a dual-citizenship. Birmingham is still home, but I really think the one thing that's missing is a river. Tuscaloosa has one. Maybe that's why I don't like Atlanta. There's no river in the town. That's really all Birmingham needs to make it complete. It's exciting to watch the downtown area grow, and see the old neighborhoods in Homewood and Mountain Brook stay fresh. And in Tuscaloosa, no matter how silly the City Council is or how bumbling the University Trustees, you can always sit on the banks of the Black Warrior. It's a good place for the best things in life: cold Milo's Sweet Tea, grilled Italian sausages and sunburnt friends.

Speaking of Friends, we're about a month removed the from the final episode. It's time enough for a clear head, and so I think the show was good to have ended now. The show has received its share of criticism - too much promiscuity, carefree lives, simple-minded characters. All valid points, mind you, but it's not like we were watching the show to see if Joey would sleep with someone. It was about those moments of awkwardness on a date or the pain of a breakup or the wit of a best friend - however cheesy, that's why we watched. Maybe a smart writer could take the hint. We don't need the endless sleepovers to keep us watching. In fact, it's a distraction. Just write a show about honest people; their lives and their loves. We don't need the Greenwich Village sex-capades. People are willing to watch an honest show. Like Frasier.

Kelsey Grammar's character was long-lived and with good reason. The show was pure gold. Maybe I'd rather watch Friends, but Frasier was undeniably the better show. It's greatest strength was that it lacked the silliness of Monica and Chandler. Daphne might have been dumb, but she was not as crazy as Phoebe. It was an important show, because for once, writers wrote up to their audience, not down. And lo and behold, the people responded. Would that Hollywood would treat us this was more often. As it stands, we're left with little but reality television, ethno-centric sitcoms on the WB, cheesy teen dramas and family-friendly fare that no one could possibly find entertaining.

Maybe it's for the best. I'll restrict my television watching to sports and the news, and spend the rest of the time getting to know people better, reading, writing and taking pictures. I might learn to play the guitar. Still, there was something profoundly American about spending one or two nights a week watching a show about people like you and laughing. It might be a while before it happens again, if it happens at all. Well thank goodness for Nick at Nite and syndication. I can get my Friends and Frasier fix at 6 pm, eat dinner and make it to the coffee shop before the baristas shut her down. It's a win-win situation for all of us.
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Thursday, June 03, 2004
I wonder what it is that Andrew Sullivan wants. Yes, George Tenet should have been fired two years ago. Thank God he's gone, and maybe now we can have a responsible individual in the office of DCI. Sullivan contends that the President is avoiding personal responsibility. I just don't see it. I see the President being loyal to a fault, and that becomes a trait of irresponsibility. Still, it's not explicit. Sullivan argues that the President is part of a culture that says "If it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else." This is rhetoric, and Sullivan is capable of so much more. What exactly has the President blamed on other people? At some point Bush must rely on Tenet or Rumsfeld; he can't do everything.

As for not apologizing to the Arab people, I'm not sure what to think. There was the press conference with the Jordanian king, where Bush offered his apology. But to the Arab people, I'm not quite sure we owe an apology. That might imply that we're two groups of people on equal footing, and that's just fooling ourselves.
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Tuesday, June 01, 2004
I spent Sunday morning in a New Orleans suite watching Nancy Pelosi slander the President with weak rhetoric. Anthony Zinni took time on ABC to ramble on and on. Rhetoric and little more. It was boring and vain, sort of like Bourbon Street.

It was block after block of simple-minded indulgence, a strong odor as though every bodily-secretion had blended with beer and fried oysters to make a disgusting perfume. The same bar as far as you could see; if there were unique establishments tonight, no one could find them amid the throng of inebriated patrons. Saturday night we caught our breath in a courtyard outside O'Flaherty's, catching the score of the Lakers/Timberwolves games and listening to an Irishman sing a song about a wake and a keg. A fun half hour, but the whole thing seemed out of sorts in a French-American city. The city makes me sad in a lot of respects. One good local restaurant becomes indistinguishable from a tourist trap, and most folks can't tell the difference between a fine local shop and a junk mart full of t-shirts reading "I'm only horny on days that end in "y"." Cute, no?

On the other hand, the city has limitless romantic possibilities, what with all the coffee and fine food and the river. The National D-Day Museum is a must see for any lover of history and the American nation. New Olreans remains a fine city, however imperfect.
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