Feb
18

With Apologies to Wilfred Owen

Please, somebody.

Bent double, we new beggars under tax,
Knock-kneed, reading news rags, we cursed at Drudge,
Till on the haunting views we turned our backs
And towards November’s test began to trudge.
We voted asleep. Many lost their roots
But limped on, nails-gnawed. Perry lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of the conservatives who dropped behind.

NEWT! Newt! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Hitting the clumsy debates just in time;
Santorum still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or slime.–
Dim, through the birth control and new spotlight
As he spoke unto me, I saw him frowning.

In all my dreams, as at a perceived slight,
Rick plunges at me, sputtering, choking, frowning.

If in some dull dreary dreams you too could trace
And chart the straw poll where he came in first,
Yet watch the numbers sitting in their place,
His changing face, as ne’er fails to show his worst;
If you could read, in every Jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the True Conserv’tive lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, inchoate views on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To voters ardent for senseless ceaseless electoral vagary,
This late Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro Romney Suffragari.

Here’s the original poem, since it would be sweet and right to mitigate the crime I have committed by way of this blog post. [apologies to Latinists, too, my version was all wrong. Thank you @stephensheiko.]

"Don't look at me; I was a Pawlenty guy."

I suppose this is my way of telling you that I’ve resigned myself to a Romney candidacy. I was never overly opposed to Romney, but when I chose to support Rick Perry I didn’t see much point in hedging my bets.

It became evident early on that none of the other candidates had the potential to bring organization, money and conservatism to the race – Ron Paul being long on organization but short on many other things, sanity not least among them.

It was always between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney for me. I chose to dream a little. The dream choked on its vomit in South Carolina, and I’ve been left with a Mitt who day by day finds new ways to appear out of touch and politically untethered. Yet for all that, the man is a conservative when compared to Barack Obama. There is not any doubt in my mind that Romney would try very hard to undo the damage Obama has done. He’d cause all sorts of new damage (trade war with China, anyone?) but I’m convinced he’d try.

I bear him no personal animus, which, slight recommendation that may be, is by my reckoning the best he can hope for from the conservative grassroots.

Now would someone PLEASE check my Latin?

Feb
15

I Lived Through CPAC

This past weekend I attended the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. This is an annual gathering of conservatives from across the spectrum of age, establishment and fame. The youngest unknown can mingle with influential members of the media, meet politicians and candidates for office, or (perhaps best) socialize with other members of the conservative movement.

My own CPAC experience can be summed up in a single word: exhausting.

This weekend had equal potential to be the most interesting and exciting thing I had done in months, or an awkward series of forced conversations, too much drinking to cover up the boredom, leading to a hangover and disinterest in the actual conference I’d paid to attend.

Within a few hours, my fears were dispelled. I met one person after another who exceeded their already considerable reputation in my mind.

While the night wore on, the excitement of meeting so many excellent people did not flag, but I did. At a certain point I began to sway back and forth, unable to keep my balance. I then realized that my lack of sleep and long day of travel were catching up with me pretty quickly. I retreated to my hotel, where I collapsed into an approximation of sleep.

The next morning came early, and as is my custom I awoke with the dawn despite the late night. I had paid for this conference, after all. I dressed in some rather loud red pants and a blue blazer (hoping the clothing would signal my allegiance to any Occupier who may have nested in the vicinity of the event) and was on my way.

The threat from Occupy DC may have been exaggerated.

That day, I attended several speeches (my favorite being Daniel Hannan’s) and continued to meet interesting people from my online world. By the time the late afternoon rolled around, I was nearly worn out, but I had a lot left to do yet.

Regrettably, I left before Sarah Palin’s speech really got into gear. In part this was to avoid a crowd at the conclusion of the conference, and in part it was because Palin no longer holds the appeal she once did for me. I was kicking myself later that night, as the speech received favorable reviews. But really, at this point the last thing I need is more bitter disappointment about the state of the Republican nomination. It’s better that I left.

The night’s engagement was Reaganpalooza, billed as “the” event. Chic cocktail attire was the dress, but I am so very sad to report this was not strictly enforced. In truth I was disappointed with the affair. I suspect the young man at the door bilked me out of $10, and the barman relieved me of a further $10 for a terrible glass of cabernet. When I am in a hurry I hemorrhage money, and I wanted to get inside and get lit that night, as the weather had taken a turn for the sub-Arctic.

Despite the problems with the event itself, some of the very same people who had made my weekend so enjoyable were in attendance. Even still, the situation quickly became hopeless as the crowd pressed in. There was hardly room to move, let alone drink. I slipped out after an hour in search of more elbow room and less offensive drink prices.

The next morning, I woke again at my usual hour (whenever the sun hits my face), and made ready to fulfill my Sunday obligations. The parish I attended had a phenomenal choir and organist. I really never have heard the like, back home. My home parish has a skilled organist (though I think he plays too fast), but the cantors can only be described as enthusiastic. The hymn selection gladdened my heart, bereft as it was of the Haugen-Haas-Schutte dreck that has poisoned the well of liturgical music for the last 40 years. Even the Mass settings were markedly superior, for the ease with which unskilled laymen such as myself could actually sing them.

Brunch afterwards was mainly a matter of finding a place with a fire, as the rising of the sun had only mildly improved the temperature. This accomplished, I settled in for good conversation and an acceptable Bloody Mary (I have been chasing one that I had in Charleston, SC once upon a time, and have, to date, not found its equal).

A few hours, and a maddeningly phlegm-besotted fellow passenger on a train later, I was home. I was home, and I was dead on my feet.

Suddenly my decision to put in for time off on Monday seemed not just prescient, but a stroke of genius. I slept the sleep of the just, and woke up with the bone-weary contentment that can only come from a truly memorable experience.

I looked like pure shit.

Feb
07

Going to CPAC

This week I will be headed to Washington, D.C. for my first-ever Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. This is a big deal for me.

I’ve never been one for “involvement” before – always been a very casual observer. Alright, fine: an obsessive observer. But I haven’t been deeply involved in debating and discussing politics since 2008, when I burnt out and ended this blog’s previous incarnation.

I stopped blogging for probably a year and a half. In May 2010, I pressed my wife into service designing this one. Truth be told, I am still nowhere near my previous level of output.

I wonder if this is perhaps because, in the WordPress wilderness, comments are few and far between (for me). Comments were how I measured my success at Vox. Responding to people and knowing they were reading inspired me to fire up the computer and give my take on the news.

The erratic nature of this blog aside, I’ve maintained my presence on Twitter to the tune of 22,000 individual tweets. Pathetic, right? Wrong.

Twitter is arguably better than any website for purely interactive purposes. On Twitter, I can “meet” and interact with the people who inform my views on politics, religion and culture.

And now, I get to meet some of those people live, at CPAC.

To say I’m merely enthusiastic about this prospect is to do a disservice to the concept of understatement. I am thrilled to be educating myself, meeting Internet friends face to face, and possibly meeting people I’ve only ever seen on TV.

I’ve heard that the nightlife at CPAC is…vigorous. My goal is to conduct myself in such a way that I am not prevented from receiving Communion on Sunday. We shall see. All it will take is one drink that seems like a good idea at the time to put me over the edge.

I don’t know who I’m kidding – I will take that drink. But I will look good while I do it. One of the good things about being around conservatives is that my natural impulse to wear a tie will receive very few raised eyebrows. So often I go out on the town and find myself overdressed. I have no worries about fitting in with this crowd.

Well, if you’re lucky I might even decide to write up the notes I take at the conference. More than likely it will be a confusing mishmash of half-remembered drunken anecdotes.

Jan
19

Perry’s Out; Now What?

Well it’s finally happened. Rick Perry’s campaign, derailed by poor debate performance and an insistence by some members of the conservative punditariat that vaccines were more important than a record of job creation, has ended.

It ended on a good note, as Perry left the race without playing spoiler. His supporters in South Carolina represent a not-insignificant number of voters who could tip the balance in this primary. If the goal is to deny Mitt Romney victory in SC and begin to arrest his momentum, Perry did the right thing by dropping out.

I’m not sure I agree with his endorsement of Gingrich. I understand an endorsement as a political move, certainly. I haven’t sorted through all my feelings about Newt, though. On the one hand I really like his style and he does have a record of achievement. On the other hand, I really dislike some elements of his style and his record of scandal. Is it possible to simultaneously dislike and admire pomposity? I’m terribly confused about this whole thing.

I don’t want to dwell on what might have been if Perry had performed well, or if he hadn’t been hit with the somehow-relevant-to-a-jobs-election Gardasil attack, or if Mitt Romney’s people hadn’t attacked him from the left on Social Security. The fact is that the voters in Iowa and NH made their views quite clear. I won’t even entertain the notion that many of the fine people who voted in those states were Democrats. I’m not bitter, and it wouldn’t do any good to nurse a grudge anyway.

So now I have a choice to make. Do I support Gingrich, as Perry suggests? What about Rick Santorum, who matches my views on social issues but perhaps not on the size and scope of government? Should I begin abusing drugs, the better to inure myself to eventual support of Ron Paul? That would be the most fun, I think.

Or, here’s a crazy idea: Perhaps I should get on board with Romney. I supported him over McCain in 2008. Funny thing: my dislike of Mike Huckabee is entirely due to Huck’s inability to reconcile his campaign’s fate to mathematical certitude, which I felt cost Romney the nomination. Huck was the spoiler in 2008 that Perry refused to become. But political allegiances shift with the times, and this year I find that Romney is not the most attractive option for defeating Barack Obama. That option just left the race today.

Truth be told, I’ll end up supporting one of these men by summertime. I will pull the lever dutifully in November. I may even defend the reputation of the candidate from unfair Democratic attacks. But I think especially in the case of Romney, it will be a bloodless sort of defense.

Petty? Short-sighted? Bitter? Maybe a little.

I will wait until the South Carolina primary ends to see whether I should throw my money to Romney or one of his arguably more conservative opponents. Until then, I’ll just hang round the outside and heap scorn on the deserving.

Jan
19

Obama’s New Jobs Plan

The following is [probably not -- BofN Legal] a preview of selected comments from President Obama’s latest jobs speech, at Disney World. He may decide to change it at the last minute.

My Fellow Americans, distinguished guests, children of the world, Mickey Mouse and Friends:

It is my special pleasure to be with you here at Disney World, the Happiest Place on Earth. Not quite Hawaii or the Vineyard, but I could certainly take a 5 or 6 day vacation here. This castle, man, sure beats my place in D.C. (chuckles)

Today I want to discuss with you my vision for America. I want to bring jobs back to this great country. I want to make this a place where people wake up ready to roll up their sleeves and do a hard day’s work. For far too long, laziness and irrational fear among Republicans has thwarted this effort in Congress. I’m here to tell them, “We Can’t Wait. ®

To that end, I’m happy to share my latest plan to create jobs here in the U.S.A. No shovels this time! (chuckles)

The specifics will be revealed over the next few months, but the basics are something like this: America, it’s time to become the number one tourist stop on the planet. Many nations rely on tourist dollars to provide jobs and income to their citizens. In places like Greece and Jamaica, for instance, the tourist industry allows them to provide generous government services at practically no cost to their nation of busboys, bartenders and day-tripping pleasure boat captains. I mean, until recently of course. But obviously our level of spending is very different from a place like Greece. Let me be clear: I don’t think we’re Greece.

No, what I propose is a two-pronged strategy to simultaneously devalue our currency – work I am proud to say I’ve already begun – and shorten the wait time for tourist visas to make it easier for foreigners with money to visit our shores. That’s right, folks, I’m so serious about job creation I’m going to lessen a regulatory burden. True, it’s on non-Americans but we will all benefit. Let me explain.

America has a long history of serving others. From the soup kitchen, to the beaches of Normandy, America has always been a service industry sort of country. It’s time to embrace this aspect of our national character and move forward into a new era wherein Americans do not ask what they can do for themselves, but what they can do for foreign tourists who do not always know how to tip properly.

Think of a young man who hasn’t had work for 18 months. He’s been living comfortably on the generous unemployment benefits some Republicans would like to eliminate completely. But then he sees an opportunity. By now, Brazilian girls having their…their…whatever you call a Quinceañera in Brazilian – they will be flooding this country. This young man can move here to Orlando and find work traipsing about in a Mickey Mouse costume – or well, maybe a Chip or Dale costume, got to work up to Mickey (chuckles) – in 110 degree Florida weather to the delight of moneyed foreign hordes. Look, I might want that job in a few months.

Imagine an older woman, who lost her job in 2007 or something – way before I got here, not my fault by the way. She Can’t Wait! Those costumes need mending, or some of this food needs cooking. Just sweeping up this Main Street USA and cleaning up the vomit from heat stroke victims is worth several full time jobs. Imagine how much more work that will be when we invite wealthy third-worlders with their cornucopia of new diseases to the Magic Kingdom.

Yes we can® not wait® for this measure to take effect, America. I urge you to contact Congress immediately and let them know that this summer, you want to work in the service industry. God Bless You, and God Bless the United States of America.

“Let me be clear: I’m still not going to wear these.”

Jan
11

News of the Day: Limerick Edition 1-11-12

ROMNEY SEWS IT UP, SMUG JERKS SEEM READY TO CLAIM AFTER ONE PRIMARY

What a very strange journey we’re on

When Romney can pass off this con

That he’s not progressive -

It’s very impressive!

Though a disappointing denouement…

 

It’s just a shame all the other guys

Proved themselves insufficiently wise.

But that’s not nearly fair

Because Mitt and his hair

Spent six years in pursuit of this prize.

 

After all that time training you’d think

That Mitt would know enough not to link

His Bain business venture,

And GM’s indenture,

Lest he see what support he has shrink.

 

But then folks, what the hell do I know?

Maybe Mitt is more than a RINO.

If it’s Mitt I will live

As a conservative:

I’ll stop bitching and be a wino.

Jan
08

Book Review: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

With the recent death of Kim Jong-Il, America’s favorite dictator, the situation in Chosŏn is somewhat ambiguous. What seems to be clear, through the spectacle of the funeral and fake mourning, is that Jong-Il’s son, Jong Un is moving to consolidate his power according to his father’s wishes. Indeed, what few reports have been verified indicate that sudden reserves of food have become available as if they were a parting gift from the deceased tyrant. Of course, everyone on the outside sees the chain of events, knows the history and identifies this as a blatant attempt to coerce the people into supporting the young Kim.

He fed many of his people nearly some of the time.

It’s so clear to us. Why don’t the North Koreans see what we do? I recently read a book that helped me make sense of the country – insofar as that is possible for the average person.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick is a compelling look into the world of the average North Korean. Pieced together from her interviews with defectors and her own visits to North Korea, Demick reveals a world where the kindly old lady in your apartment block is most often a government informant tasked with probing her neighbors for signs of disloyalty; where state-issued television sets are tuned to one station, and inspected to ensure they are not tampered with; where people become used to seeing dead bodies on the street, wasted from starvation; where despite this there still exists the spark of humanity and love.

Demick’s interviews reveal people who are more than just plaintive victims of a barbaric Communist regime. Oh, there are plenty of those in the book. One defector reflects on the fact that it was the good people who died first. They refused to subvert the system by stealing, or *gasp* forming small businesses that were not controlled by the Party. As the regime’s ability to feed its people waned, so too did some of the strictest rules of society, for a while. Tantalizing glimpses of freedom and self-sufficiency led the defectors to question the lies they had been told all their lives. Eventually they made a move, sometimes at great personal cost to the ones left behind.

I was in the middle of this book when Kim died. I hastened to finish it and get a better sense of what we were witnessing. As it was written in 2009 much of it is relevant to the current picture of life in North Korea. I got a sense that even with the instability in the current regime, the Korean people have a long way to go before they will be free. If the Communists go, who takes their place? Would the South Koreans even want to unify? One thing is clear, and that is that among the North Korean people there are those who are willing to defy the incredible oppression of this illegitimate dynasty. Ultimately, I’m left with some hope.

Dec
30

Events Are Not to My Liking; and Other Things of Marginal Concern to You

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write; it’s just that there are so many things I want to do at a given moment that eclipse my desire to write a blog post and cast it into the cold unfeeling nether.

All that aside, I’m here now and I’m pissed. Why? You might well ask that if you, a living human being, were actually reading this instead of being used as a mere device to accommodate my unwieldy prose. As I am reasonably confident you do not exist and are not asking anything at all, I will continue on ahead without regard to any of your subsequent “questions,” adorably ignorant though they be.

The reason my imaginary audience finds me so peevish today is due primarily to political developments. The Republican primary is, as they say in France, totally cocked up. The latest polls show Mitt Romney has a chance of winning Iowa – weird enough alone. But Ron Paul is also forecast to make a strong showing. As a final slap in the face to my good humor, Rick Santorum (a perfectly decent man with troubling Big Government leanings) is now “surging” to a heretofore unimaginable 16%. Oh, whatever.

If one envisions the Iowa electorate as a slutty cheerleader, and I do, then Rick Santorum is the next to last football player in line to be…no, let’s abandon that one. Undignified.

The fickle conservative base has utterly failed at this point to coalesce behind a viable alternative to Mitt Romney, which is nobody’s fault but our own. My feelings on Rick Perry are known, and I maintain his record on jobs and governing Texas far outweighs poor debate performances and gaffes. As each Conservative Tiger Beat Fantasy Candidate had a turn being idolized, scrutinized, and then tossed aside, Mitt Romney sat back and waited. He yet abides, though of course nothing is certain.

But that’s not even what has me spun up lately. It’s the Ron Paul thing. Has there ever been a clearer indication that the denizens of the fever swamp have ventured out of their domain of veiled anti-Semitism, clandestine-to-overt racism, neo-isolationist America Firsterism, and paranoia to walk in the sunlight with good Conservative folk? How did we let this happen?

NE-O-CONSSSSSSSSS!!!

When Buckley drove the Birchers into their holes, did we not post sentries against their inevitable return? Did these thought-goblins change shape, somehow? Glamour us with soothing harsh criticism of the Obama administration? Did we allow our focus on the rotten economy to blind us to the fact that somehow the creeps were creeping back in to the party of Conservatism?

Let’s face it very plainly – Ron Paul and his followers are not truly conservatives. There are several points of contrast, between Conservatives on the one hand and Ron Paul and his Libertarian Cult of Personality on the other. As you are doubtless growing bored with this post, I shall not attempt to list them but a casual reading of existing literature may elucidate matters.

Conservatives acknowledge political reality, foremost among those realities that America has Enemies. Ron Paul seems to believe if we do not meddle with people like the Iranians, they will leave us alone, and their regional power grasping won’t affect our interest. Ron Paul is not a Conservative. Ron Paul is an old fool.

We Conservatives are the more foolish for not being sufficiently aware of who we are to formally and finally excise the stunted little wart.

Today’s rant partially inspired by this article from Matt Lewis.

Dec
12

Look Not Into the Snowman’s Eye

It’s that time of year when the radio station robot-DJs engage their Christmas playlist subroutines. I was listening at work today, and “Frosty the Snowman” came on.

Perhaps it is more indicative of my frame of my mind than I should reveal, but suddenly I heard the song in frightening new ways. No longer was this “jolly happy soul” a mere walking snow man, he was a shambling horror driven by a desperate urge to experience life, horrible life, before he dies in slow, unrelentingly melty fashion.

An enemy of the sun, warmth, goodness; possessed of only passing regard for traffic cops; animated by dark totemic magic. Oh, we adults have forgotten that terrible day. We’ve swept it from our minds as if with a broomstick, clutched in trembling hands.

But the children…the children know. They remember how, on that day, the foundations of our carefully crafted belief systems (pathetic in their inability and unwillingness to grapple with this sanity-shattering reality) were shaken by the steady beat of a snow-golem’s approach.

Thumpety thump-thump, thumpety thump-thump.

Over the hills of snow…dare we ask what else lies beyond those hills? Dare we not ask?

 Thump. Thump.

 

THERE ARE NO LEGS MOVING THOSE BOOTS.

Frosty the Snowman
Was a jolly happy soul
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal

Frosty the Snowman
Is a fairytale they say
He was made of snow
But the children know
How he came to life one day

There must have been some magic
In that old silk hat they found
For when they placed it on his head
He began to dance around
Frosty the Snowman

Was alive as he could be 
And the children say 
He could laugh and play
Just the same as you and me

Frosty the Snowman
Knew the sun was hot that day
So he said let’s run
And we’ll have some fun
Now before I melt away

Down to the village
With a broomstick in his hand
Running here and there all around the square
Saying catch me if you can

He led them down the streets of town
Right to the traffic cop
And he only paused a moment when
He heard him holler stop

Frosty the Snowman
Had to hurry on his way
But he waved goodbye
Saying don’t you cry 
I’ll be back again some day

Thumpety thump thump
Thumpety thump thump
Look at Frosty go

Thumpety thump thump
Thumpety thump thump
Over the hills of snow

Dec
07

Blurbs

I don’t have the energy, interest, wherewithal or pluck to attempt a blog post longer than a few words. I shall therefore apply a scattershot approach, and hit on several topics or random thoughts. Join me on this potentially amazing experience.

***

Bad news out of Smithfield, my hometown. The priest there has been suspended from his duties due to shameful misconduct. As it turns out, he’s been carrying on a years-long relationship with a young woman, which has resulted in a baby. None of this came to light, of course, until his arrrest on November 28th for assault and battery on the woman. Break ups are hard to deal with, I suppose.

On the one hand, I’m striking all the appropriate poses and praying for all involved. On the other, I’m disgusted with all parties involved. First and foremost, the priest comes in for my condemnation. I’m sure it’s terribly difficult to be a priest, but nobody forces you to take the job. You know certain things going in to the Roman Catholic priesthood: get comfortable in black, you will attend lots of dinners, people will bother you nearly every day with trivial concerns, and you will be celibate. It shouldn’t be a surprise.

I’m willing to allow that “life happens” but if you aren’t strong enough a man to reconcile the differences between your vows of obedience and chastity to God and your feelings for a woman then steps must be taken. Leave the priesthood. Follow your heart/penis. Don’t bring scandal to a Church many of us already have a really hard time defending.

***

The race for the Republican nomination is another disheartening crapstorm. Herman Cain suspended his campaign after a woman came forward alleging a 13-year affair. Newt Gingrich has continued to build momentum and is now the frontrunner. This would be fine if I wasn’t sure the question of his hubris bringing him low will be a matter of a coin toss. Romney abides with his core of support, but he looks weak in many key areas that I’m not going to reiterate here. Read a damn paper.

My chosen candidate, Rick Perry, is really not performing well. There, I said it. He’s in the single digits or slightly better, which I suppose could change if/when Newt goes up in a white-hot fireball of self-regard. I’m not holding my breath. But on principle, I picked Perry. I’ll pick another candidate when I have to. But I still like him.

The rest of them are beneath consideration.

***

That’s all you get. Sorry for wasting your time.

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