Monday, October 31, 2011

Liberal Tax Dodgers and the Disrespected Sushi Chef

Noman has mentioned David Mamet frequently in his posts since reading and being deeply impressed by his soul searching political apologia entitled "The Secret Knowledge."

It is a special book filled with insights about the Left, the Right, government, culture, ethnicity and more.

He penned a thoughtful and funny, even if a bit disjointed, Op-ed in the other day's WSJ.
For, the more I think about it, the more the question of taxes is central to that of liberty in general. For the question is: Who is to run the country? Is it to be run by its citizens, free to exchange goods and services for mutual benefit, or by the government, increasing both its powers and its corruption by the ability to tax? 
And who would be these Solons who would run our government, but the good-willed and otherwise unemployable, content to suck at the government tit, and spout trash for a living—e.g., that one may disrespect an absent sushi chef by an incorrect method of eating his California roll, or that a proportion of races in the workplace differing from the proportion of races in the populace at large is de facto evidence of discrimination? 
Cut taxes and these intellectual wards of the state will have to find a method of support that actually fulfills a need. Cut taxes and the "special interests" will have no incentive to bribe or "support" a candidate to the tune of a fortune, for the candidate, if elected, will have no ability to repay the bribe.
It is at least facially plausible that government from the municipal to the federal level is filled with attitude-challenged unemployables.

That is the way it seems whenever Noman has to interface with the property tax assessor or building inspector, the department of motor vehicles or secretary of state, the IRS or airport transport workers.

Higher salaries, better perks, greater job security and an enhanced ability to exert power over others than readily available in comparable private sector positions seem to have worsened the problem rather than rectified it.

Manet's prescriptions sound good to Noman.  Cut taxes; reduce the demands of government upon the nation's pocketbook; shake free of government funded concentrations of Liberal power and pieties.

To borrow a phrase, we have nothing to lose but our chains.  Let the shredding begin.

Reckless Endangerment

Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner have written a devastating critique of the public-private partnership that was aimed at putting Americans, including unqualified Americans, into their own homes.  This government-sponsored, corporation-endorsed alliance lays at the root of the financial crisis.

Their book is timely as the hallowed notion of public-private partnerships--the goodness of which is beyond question in government, academic, policy and even some corporate circles--represents policy makers' ideal for achieving social and political objectives in contemporaryAmerica.

Noman says caveat emptor!

The story traverses similar territory to that covered by Peter Schweizer's "Architects of Ruin," and Thomas Sowell's "The Housing Boom and Bust."  It provides much more detail concerning the role played by Fannie Mae, especially by it's long-time chieftain Jim Johnson, than either of those two books, however.  

Additionally, the book heaps blame upon investment banks, ratings agencies and predatory lenders for succumbing to blatant conflicts of interest, if not outright fraud.  Politicians also receive censure for their indispensable contributions to the crisis.

Peggy Noonan commented favorably upon the book in a recent opinion piece:
If [Occupy Wall Street] want[s] to make a serious economic and political critique, they should make the one Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner make in "Reckless Endangerment": that real elites in Washington rigged the system for themselves and their friends, became rich and powerful, caused the great cratering, and then "slipped quietly from the scene." 
It is a blow-by-blow recounting of how politicians—Democrats and Republicans—passed the laws that encouraged the banks to make the loans that would never be repaid, and that would result in your lost job. Specifically it is the story of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage insurers, and how their politically connected CEOs, especially Fannie's Franklin Raines and James Johnson, took actions that tanked the American economy and walked away rich. It began in the early 1990s, in the Clinton administration, and continued under the Bush administration, with the help of an entrenched Congress that wanted only two things: to receive campaign contributions and to be re-elected. 
The story is a scandal, and the book should be the bible of Occupy Wall Street...  
What differentiates this book from others is that it originates on the Left.  Morgenson is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times who achieved journalistic superstardom by assailing Enron and WorldCom.

Back-cover blurbs of praise come from Kurt Eichenwald at the New York Times, Bill Moyers of public television fame, Bryan Burrough, the author of "Barbarians at the Gate,"  and Charles Feguson, the director of "Inside Job."

The book nevertheless eschews the Democratic Party's preferred narrative of events, which now passes for conventional wisdom, i.e., that the crisis was caused by Reaganite free-market ideology, Republican insistence on deregulation, and Republican inattention to Wall Street transgressions.

"Reckless Endangerment" dwells rather on historical facts that lay much of the blame at the feet of those in government, or tied to government.

It slays a number of Liberal sacred cows, none more sacrosanct than Democratic Party mogul James A. Johnson.  In addition to service in both the public and private sectors, Johnson has served as a confidante to Democratic Presidential candidates from Walter Mondale to John Kerry to Barack Obama.  

David Brooks' review of "Reckless Endangerment" explains Johnson's modus operandi:
The story centers around James Johnson, a Democratic sage with a raft of prestigious connections. Appointed as chief executive of Fannie Mae in 1991, Johnson started an aggressive effort to expand home ownership. 
Back then, Fannie Mae could raise money at low interest rates because the federal government implicitly guaranteed its debt. In 1995, according to the Congressional Budget Office, this implied guarantee netted the agency $7 billion. Instead of using that money to help buyers, Johnson and other executives kept $2.1 billion for themselves and their shareholders. They used it to further the cause — expanding their clout, their salaries and their bonuses. They did the things that every special interest group does to advance its interests. 
Fannie Mae co-opted relevant activist groups, handing out money to ACORN, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other groups that it might need on its side. 
In 2000, a bill was introduced that threatened Fannie's special status. The Coalition for Homeownership was formed and letters poured into congressional offices opposing the bill. Many signatories of the letter had no idea their names had been used. 
Fannie lavished campaign contributions on members of Congress. Time and again experts would go before a committee to warn that Fannie was lowering borrowing standards and posing an enormous risk to taxpayers. Phalanxes of congressmen would be mobilized to bludgeon the experts and kill unfriendly legislation. 

Fannie executives ginned up academic studies. They created a foundation that spent tens of millions in advertising. They spent enormous amounts of time and money capturing the regulators who were supposed to police them.
[O]nly two of the characters in this tale come off as egregiously immoral. Johnson made $100 million while supposedly helping the poor. Rep. Barney Frank, whose partner at the time worked for Fannie, was arrogantly dismissive when anybody raised doubts about the stability of the whole arrangement. 
[J]ohnson roped in some of the most respected establishment names: Bill Daley, Tom Donilan, Joseph Stiglitz, Dianne Feinstein, Kit Bond, Franklin Raines, Larry Summers, Robert Zoellick, Ken Starr and so on.
In addition to the nine-figure remuneration that Johnson garnered running quasi-governmental Fannie Mae, his severance called for annual consulting contracts paying roughly $400,000 per year, a car and driver for himself and his wife, an office, and two subordinates at shareholder expense.

After leaving Fannie, Johnson ran the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in DC, the Brookings Institution, and the compensation committee on Goldman Sachs board of directors where he set the pay of future Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.  Johnson occupied a number of other prestige perches in both the profit (Target, United Healthcare, KB Home, Perseus Partners private equity) and non-profit sectors (American Friends of Bilderberg, the Hamilton Project, the Business Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commission).

Johnson's November 2007 initiative with the Brookings Institution, "A Blueprint for American Prosperity," aimed to form a public-private partnership to rejuvenate America's cities, just as his "Showing America A New Way Home: Expanding Opportunities for Home Ownership" had forged a public-private partnership to expand home-ownership to unqualified buyers. 

Quoting from the Brookings Blueprint:
[The blueprint is] a multi-year initiative aimed at creating a new Federal partnership with state and local leaders and with the private sector to advance American prosperity...
The ability of the United States to compete globally and to meet the great environmental and social challenges of the 21st century rests largely on the health, vitality and prosperity of the nation's major cities and metropolitan areas.
The Obama Administration has adopted the spirit of Johnson's blueprint, and undoubtedly more of its substance through the 2009 trillion-dollar stimulus bill and subsequent actions than Brookings could have imagined.

More importantly, Democratic hegemony in Washington DC has enabled deflection of criticism from the Blueprint's conceptual thrust: the desirability and advisability of public-private partnerships.  

Though Morgenson and Rosner don't explicitly make the accusation, the shaping of economic decisions in financial markets by public actors pursuing social objectives through the actions of private actors is what caused the economy to crater.

The authors end on a somber note.  In the aftermath of the credit crisis of 2008, Congress has failed to address the too-big-too-fail problem.

Fifteen-hundred pages of financial reform legislation bear the names of Fannie Mae's two most strident defenders, Representative Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd, and does nothing to address them.  In fact, Dodd-Frank exempted them from the legislation.

Many if not most of the key players that gave us the financial crisis still remain in positions of power. Notable among them are: 
  • Andrew Cuomo: former HUD director who pushed Fannie and Freddie to package more low-quality mortgages for sale to investors the world over is currently the Governor of New York
  • Barney Frank: congressional patron of Fannie and Freddie still represents the Fourth District of Massachusetts in Congress and is currently the ranking Democrat on the House Banking Committee, which he chaired between 2006 and 2010
  • Stephen Friedman: former chairman of Goldman Sachs, former director of Fannie Mae, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is currently chairman of the President's Intelligence Oversight Board
  • Timothy Geithner: former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and friend to banks and brokerage firms is currently the U.S. Treasury secretary
  • Peter Orszag: author of an apologia minimizing Fannie Mae's potential costs to U.S. taxpayers resigned as President Obama's Office of Management and Budget is currently vice-chairman at Citigroup
  • Robert Peach and John McCarthy: Federal Reserve Bank of New York economists who wrote a 2006 study concluding that there was no housing bubble are still in their positions
  • Robert Rubin: former CEO of Goldman Sachs who became the U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Clinton helped to kill the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment from commercial banking in 1933 and prevented firms from becoming too big to fail; he left to join Citigroup as a vice-chairman, the merged firm that occasioned Glass-Steagall's repeal; he is currently a trustee of the Brookings Institution and counselor to Centerview Partners, a hedge fund 
  • Robert Zoellick: former Fannie Mae enforcer has been President of the World Bank since July 2007.
This book is worth a serious read by anyone desiring to understand the crisis, and continuing threats to our economy.  Because it comes from the Left, the Left is obliged to respond to the critique rather than simply dismiss it as the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission did, for example.

One response comes from Jeff Madrick and Frank Partnoy in the New York Review of Books:
We are not defending GSEs: at its core, the GSE model is flawed. GSEs are charged with serving two masters: to keep the mortgage market working but also to maximize profits with the enormous help of an implied government guarantee on their debt. They ignored regulatory requests to raise more capital, instead borrowing at low rates to invest aggressively at the height of the market. As a result, they lost enormous amounts of money once housing prices collapsed, and they are now being bailed out by the federal government to the tune of $150 billion. 
But they did not lead the crisis; their collapse followed it. Had Morgenson and Rosner written a more cogent, analytical and detached book, they would have provided a needed service supporting GSE reform. Fannie and Freddie had basically become enmeshed in the culture of greed of the 1990s and 2000s, with Presidential and Congressional approval. But the government had also been facilitating abuses by Wall Street and the private sector and new regulations are not yet in place to stop this. What is disturbing about the currency being given the Morgenson-Rosner argument is that it is supplying ammunition to those who believe government involvement of almost any kind in the markets is bad, and that without a mismanaged Fannie and Freddie all would have been fine. 
A new and serious debate is needed about how to reform and reconstitute the GSEs. But it cannot be informed by misleading analysis and over-the-top rhetoric.
A thorough response to the Madrick/Partnoy rebuttal would require a war of statistics that Noman will allow others using the data in Morgenson's book and its sources to engage in elsewhere.  Suffice it for purposes of this post to make two observations.

First, if they want to dispel the criticism that big government, and more specifically the party of big government is largely (not exclusively) to blame for the crisis, they will need to address the umbilical connection between Wall Street, Congress (e.g., Dodd, Frank, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus) and the Democratic luminaries that paraded through the GSE's as if it were their birthright, e.g., Jamie Gorelick, Jim Johnson, Franklin Raines, Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daly.

Secondly, they will need to recognize that rejection in principle of public-private partnerships--the making of economic-financial decisions on the basis of political-social criteria--is a far cry from believing that "government involvement of almost any kind in the markets is bad."

The test is the ends that government involvement is meant to pursue.  If the end of legislation or regulation is to preserve the integrity of markets and the economic functioning of economic systems, then it is necessary and welcome.  Anti-fraud law is of this type, as was Glass-Steagall.

If the end of law or political suasion is to advance social or political goals through economic decision-making, then government involvement is neither necessary nor welcome as it appropriates and obliges an economic entity to produce results contrary to its nature.

The inevitable outcome is corruption, inefficiency, misallocation of capital and, as in the instant case, financial calamity.

That is not to say that economic decision-making is closed to ethical considerations.  All decisions, including economic decisions are always the result of human freedom--decision is the final act of prudence--and as such are always open to the domain of ethics.  Ethics always involves the exercise of human freedom, and vice-versa.

But moral decision-making is always new.  Moral decisions cannot be made in advance by others.  If they could, the decision-maker would not be free.

The connection to the broader range of considerations than merely economic ones is localized to decision-makers, and to the decision-makers that impose conditions on them for the organization.

This dynamic is not the province of social avatars systemically meddling in contextualized decision-making so as to prescribe ends deemed good in the splendid isolation of faraway places.

Examples of such "politically correct" ends would be that everyone should own a home whether they can afford to or not, or that every public employee should enjoy fulsome pay, benefits and job security whether the public can afford to pay for them or not.

Liberal politicos will have to be prevented from imposing their good intentions onto economic actors decision-making for the good of the economy, the common good, and human dignity insofar as it is shaped by moral development from free decisions.

Moreover, they will need to be constrained to pursuing their ends by private means through voluntary, intermediate associations including private companies--but not public (shareholder owned) or government-incentivized ones.

Taxpayers are alarmed at the accumulation of public debt, and revolted by the waste of precious tax revenues on Leftist boondoggles.  The tea parties have served notice, which no number of Occupy protests is likely to alter.

Regardless of what it is called, government involvement in the private sector has a very poor track record, witness Morgenson and Rosner's book, and augurs poorly for the future.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In Praise of Jeanne Crain

NoFamily enjoyed "Vicki" (1953) last night, a Film Noir goody starring Jeanne Crain, Jean Peters, Richard Boone as a nut-job cop, and a host of non-descript actors.  

It's not a great movie.  But, like most Noir, it's a thoroughly entertaining one.  Crain captivates, as she does in everything Noman has seen her in.  

Whenever the camera is on her face, which is often, the mind turns to mulling what it is that makes her so infernally beautiful.  Is it her lips, nose, eyes, hair, profile, their combination?  Who knows?  It works, though.

Vicki (Peters) is Crain's younger sister, a waitress who gets discovered in a NY diner by a good natured publicist and his columnist friend.  Vicki's got what it takes, and few scruples about using it to get ahead and leave her newfound friends and devoted sister behind.  On her way to the top, however, she gets murdered. 

The whodunnit gets interesting with the entry of Boone, a murder investigator who in fifteen years on the force has never been wrong.  That should suffice to make the viewer suspicious.

This is the kind of movie that makes you thank God for Miranda warnings, search and seizure laws and the minute code of federal criminal procedure promulgated without authority by the Supreme Court.

Special mention should be made of whoever selected Crain's wardrobe.  With the exception of a couple of funny hats, Noman spent the movie admiring the taste, fit, design, look, etc. of nearly everything she wore.  A return to 1953 movie fashions could effectuate a social revolution comparable to that provoked by the mini-skirt.  

Noman first saw Crain in "Dangerous Crossing" (1953), a very good mystery also starring Carl Betz and Michael Rennie.  She was absolutely stunning in this thriller, as the linked pictures indicate.

She is also a competent, if not stellar actress.  (FYI, Joseph L. Mankiewicz was a detractor of Cain's.)  You're with her as she wonders if she's going crazy, and as you realize that she's in mortal danger.

The multitude of stills available on Google simply don't capture the phenomena of Crain, which video reveals.  She looks the way Donna Reed would if Clarence the angel granted her most fervent wish to look her most stunning.

Crain is beautiful without being ornate, delicate without being fragile, serene without being boring, elegant without being aloof, classy without being pretentious, engrossing without being obtrusive, wholesome without being cliche...  

Noman was impressed enough to view a number of her films: "Cheaper by the Dozen" (1950 & 1952's sequel "Belles On Their Toes"); "State Fair" (1945) with Dana Andrews; "Letter To Three Wives" (1949), a marriage drama starring Linda Darnell, Kirk Douglas, Ann Sothern and Paul Douglas; and one of his favorites, "Leave Her to Heaven" (1945) a psycho-thriller with Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde and Vincent Price.

This latter film is an engrossing character study of a truly deranged person starring two of Noman's favorite Hollywood starlets.  Scenes featuring both Tierney and Crain are nearly maddening as the eye moves from one to the other engaging the mind in an irresolvable debate over which actress is the most beautiful, and why.

Crain was an oddity in Hollywood: the mother of seven children (born between 1945 and 1965) with one husband to whom she remained stormily married until death did them part.  He predeceased her by two months in 2003.  They divorced briefly in 1956, but were reconciled months later.  She was a devout Catholic.

Her bio also states that she stumped with a list of Hollywood luminaries including Walt Disney and Jimmy Stewart for the Republican cause in 1960.  The length as well as composition of the list is eye catching.  Would that Hollywood were so diverse today.

Quite a woman; quite a beauty; quite an actress.  Noman hopes that you enjoy Crain's oeuvre as much as he does.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And Baby Makes Seven Billion

William McGurn has flagged a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) news item, "The State of World Population 2011."  His comment: "Nothing brings out the inner Malthus like a newborn baby."
At Columbia University's Earth Institute, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs tells CNN "the consequences for humanity could be grim." Earlier this year, a New York Times columnist declared "the earth is full," suggesting that a growing population means "we are eating into our future." And in West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette editorializes about a "human swarm" that is "overbreeding" in a way that "prosperous, well-educated families" from the developed world do not.
Advance praise for Sach's 2008 book, "Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet," was provided by no less a personage than Nobel Laureate Al Gore:
"Common Wealth explains the most basic economic reckoning that the world faces.  We can address poverty, climate change, and environmental destruction at a very modest cost today with huge benefits for shared and sustainable prosperity and peace in the future, or we can duck the issue today and risk a potentially costly reckoning in later years.  Despite the rearguard opposition of some vested interests, policies to help the world's poor and the global environment are in fact the very best economics bargains on the planet.

Noman could read these alarums all day.  He loves their invariant structure.

(1) things are definitely going to be perilous (2) for all of us (3) because of the hairy unwashed (4) if we don't fix it right away (5) by doing what I say (and am heavily invested in), (6) and crushing the obscurantists (7) who are just selfish people (8) that don't deserve a fair hearing (or funding for their research);
(9) Conversely, things will be utopian (10) especially for the poor (11) and the sacred environment (12) if government forces people to be free, (13) according to my lights (14) which all affected can scarcely mind, (15) given my infallibility, (16) especially when everyone sees the eventual benefits (you'll thank me later) (17) and which is in everyone's best interests regardless.

Neither does the bottom line vary; it's been the same since the 19th century.  The enlightened must shackle the economy and procreation.  They must break the family's and church's hold on people.

Then heaven on earth and perpetual peace will ensue.  You can take it on their authority.  The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, if and only if government disregards the traditionally vested interests.
Many policy experts believe that governments and NGOs have the tools to limit and control the world's population. The key effort, many say, is simply making sure that effective family planning spreads throughout the developing world. "What's really critical is the political commitment of governments. Family planning is not actually that expensive," said John Bongaarts, vice-president of the New York-based Population Council. 
However, campaigners on family planning issues often come across cultural and religious factors that make educating women and reducing the size of families difficult.  Some governments make a point of trying to increase their populations, while many religious groups preach against the use of contraceptives. 
The Population Research Institute, a Virginia-based group linked to anti-abortion organisations in America, last week welcomed the news that the world's population was set to hit 7 billion this month. "Humanity's long-term problem is not going to be too many children, but too few," said the institute's president, Steven Mosher.
McGurn cuts deftly through the faulty anthropology underlying the UN's vision of the person.
The truth is that the main flaw in Malthus is precisely his premise. Malthusian fears about population follow from the Malthusian view that human beings are primarily mouths to be fed rather than minds to be unlocked. In this reasoning, when a pig is born in China, the national wealth is thought to go up, but when a Chinese baby is born the national wealth goes down. 
Behind this divide between those who worry about limits put on human exchange and those who worry about limits to growth are two very different views of the human person. The former believe that so long as people are free to trade and use their talents, the more the merrier. The latter treat people as a great mass of more or less interchangeable cogs, hence the worries about "sustainability" and "carrying capacity" and the like...
In short, it all comes down to your conception of the human person. Another way of putting it is this: Instead of looking for ways to reduce the number of people at the banquet of life, we would do better to look for ways to lay a better and more bounteous table.
Note how Malthusian Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi identifies people as a cost best obviated in order to help states avert fiscal crisis:

McGurn points to a necessary but oft-missed relation: free market economics are wed to population growth and procreative freedom (and vice-versa).  They stress the creative, innovative aspects of the person, whom Julian Simon designated the ultimate resource.

For those who view people as being resourceful, capable and contributory, there is no need to place limits on their number or productive activity.  They'll figure out what is needed in order to sustain life and procreation.

Significantly, the transmission of life normally results from love--real, self-gifving, donative love--something there can never be too much of in the world.  Children, incidentally, evoke the response of sacrificial, donative love better than anyone or -thing.

Statist economics are inevitably linked to population control and coercive measures to limit procreation (and vice-versa).  They stress the dependent, needy aspects of the person, whom editorialists at the Charlotte Gazette referred to collectively as the human swarm.

For those who view people as a resource drain, there is always an urgent need in a world of scarcity to place limits on, and control, nearly every aspect of human life, especially procreation and the free election of productive activity.

The exception to this command-and-control rule, for the time being, is any activity that leads to dependence.  Statists champion these as the absolute rights of autonomous individuals.

With sufficient exercise of such rights, especially but not exclusively in adolescence--e.g., to sexual activity, sexual identity, pornography, divorce, abortion, drug use, media of choice--people become docile, dependent and controllable.

Once self-control and character break down, once the person severs connections from others who nurture and sustain him, he will turn to the State in need.  Like any addict, he will do anything for a fix.

Apparently, the only thing capable of riling him up is the threat that those paying for it might stop.

McGurn is right as far as he goes.  Noman concurs and would simply like to add the following.  

Ultimately, both conceptions address an aspect of truth.  Not every person is a burden, not by a long shot.  Neither is every person productive, talented or resourceful.

Periodic outbursts of industrial genius keep the world advancing materially, and enable laggards and leaders alike to live in greater dignity by participating in greater bounty.

The resource-driven debates of our time concern the preferable political economy to accommodate the full range of personal capacities found in the populace, from competence to incompetence.

Noman and McGurn believe that the liberal, free-market system is preferable for reasons including that it encourages material self-sufficiency--it obliges personal effort and growth--thereby making that outcome more likely throughout society via character formation.

That is not to maintain that anybody is a self-sufficient being, an autonomous individual, which would be an anthropological error, an ontological misidentification of the fact.

It is merely to say that people will more likely develop and expend creativity, ingenuity and energy to sustain themselves and their loved ones if they are educated to consider self sufficiency an indispensable condition of responsibility, maturity, human dignity and the common good.

It is also meant to underscore the fact that people are capable of achieving, and quite often do achieve, more than they think they can, but only if they are encouraged to strive.

Conversely, Noman considers the Statist, public-sector-driven system anathema for reasons including that it encourages material dependence, thereby making that outcome more likely via character deformation.

In either case, the pedagogical function of the respective control system tends to create the reality that it views the human person to be.  The system, like any and every control system, is formative.

Ironically, those who protest for free markets, character formation, self-donation and procreation are considered mean and heartless.  Statists who encourage dependence are considered compassionate. 

Noman believes that is due to freedom advocates' incomplete articulation of principles, explanation of reasons and perhaps consideration of responsibilities to others on the one hand.  It is due to Statists' success in shaping the terms of the debate on the other.

It is undeniable that some people will fall through the cracks, whether freedom or tyranny reigns.  It is incumbent upon all of us to help them recover, and ameliorate suffering wherever possible.

It is not sufficient to champion liberal, free-market political economy and wash one's hands of responsibility to others who use freedom poorly.

The question is under what auspice is it incumbent that we help, ameliorate suffering, and exercise responsibility for others?

Here another dimension comes into play: civil society and its pluralistic moral order.

Liberal, free-market political economy depends upon the moral and cultural resources generated by robust intermediate associations, e.g., family, Church, schools, various groups of choice.  Pope John Paul II designated this aspect of social order the "subjectivity of society."

People who fall through the cracks, who cannot compete, who are not especially productive due to limitations need to be picked up, but not necessarily by the State.  Rather, they need the support of family, Church, community association, etc.

In the first place, those groups have a closer connection to the person.  In the second, the person is more bound to those groups.  He is not anonymous; neither are they.  Each is more accountable to the other.

Statist, public-sector-driven political economy considers the State responsible for the individual.  Accordingly, Statists feel entitled to control the minutest aspects of his life-- down to what light bulbs he may use, and what insurance he must carry--as well as the weightiest, such as whether or not he may procreate or open a business.

This model considers highly subjective society a threat.  As the State expands and assumes responsibility for ever larger swaths of human need, the subjectivity of society recedes.

Conservative silence on the matter, and discomfort articulating a vision of highly subjective civil society, leaves a population trained to depend on government largesse subject to demagoguery on the issue.

Thus, President Obama warned attendees at a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser yesterday that if Democrats lose the 2012 election, government will tell the American people, "You are on your own."

State assistance and isolated ruin are hardly the only two alternatives.  The suddenness with which this has become the mentally defined set of outcomes in crisis America, however, and the ease with which the President exploits it, is breathtaking.

Family, church and traditional groups have been redefined and relegated to the margins as the State has assumed control over matters formerly pertaining to their domains.

This has exposed economic activity to the ever encroaching impositions of a nanny state in need of resources, and consequently in predator mode.

The free market strain of conservatism will have to embrace the traditional sources of cultural-moral strength in order to survive.

The family-procreative-religious strain of conservatism will need to embrace free-market, low-tax, light-regulation economics in order to create conditions in which it can flourish.

The choice, simply put, is one between a culture of life and a culture of death.

In sum: (1) the Statist model is unsustainable, as eventually the dependent will overwhelm the capacity of the productive to provide; and (2) the social issues relating to individual rights and the generation of life are inextricably linked to economic issues of government spending, taxation, deficits, regulation and the like.

The UNFPA has done us a service by revealing its premises, encouraging fellow travelers to reveal their hands, and highlighting the various relations and connections on both sides of the debate.

Noman would like to thank them by encouraging readers to procreate often for the good of the economy, mankind, and especially of the human heart.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Protagonist Press

There is new demigoddess in the pantheon of Liberal activists who advanced political objectives while earning their daily bread pretending to journalistic objectivity, and subsequently lost their jobs when outed: Natasha Lennard.

Lennard is a British free-lancer who blogged for the New York Times and contributed to its coverage of the dramatic October 1st Brooklyn Bridge arrests of 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters.

OWS seems to be elevating a number of these Leftist heroes and heroines to the highest altars.
The police said it was the marchers’ choice that led to the enforcement action.
“Protesters who used the Brooklyn Bridge walkway were not arrested,” Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said. “Those who took over the Brooklyn-bound roadway, and impeded vehicle traffic, were arrested.”
But many protesters said they believed the police had tricked them, allowing them onto the bridge, and even escorting them partway across, only to trap them in orange netting after hundreds had entered.
“The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the roadway,” said Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street who marched but was not arrested.
Those tricky police--duping those poor, trusting, law abiding protestors into actions they didn't want to engage in, and receiving all that world-wide puclicity.  Police brutality!

The following day's Times carried a story under Lennard's byline, "Covering the March, on Foot and in Handcuffs," in the City Room section.
As a reporter covering the march, conducted by the Occupy Wall Street protesters, I was in position to get a close view of some events on the bridge as the arrests began. But as one of those arrested, I was also well-positioned to describe what happened next, at least for a number of those detained.
She subsequently contributed eye-witness accounts to other articles for the paper.

Her troubles (which will likely prove to be a huge boon to her career in a Leftist industry) began when video of Lennard surfaced on showing her playing a more strategic, advisory role at a confab of OWS organizers.
A newly-discovered video–filmed by Occupy Wall Street supporters themselves–reveals that New York Times reporter Natasha Lennard is not merely covering the protests, but is also apparently taking part in planning and executing them.
In the video, Lennard is seen participating as a featured speaker in a discussion among anarchists, communists, and other radicals as they examine the theory, strategy and tactics of the Occupy protests.
The discussion was held at the left-wing Bluestockings book store in New York on Friday, Oct. 14, and filmed and promoted by the radical magazine Jacobin. The audience included participants in, and apparent organizers of, the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in lower Manhattan.
Lennard, who has also written for Politico and Salon, is identified in the video by the panel’s moderator as a freelancer for the Times, and also as the Times reporter who was arrested along with seven hundred activists on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1. 
When Lennard reported on her arrest at the time, she appears to have concealed her own apparent role in the Occupy protests, implying that her arrest was an abuse of press freedom. She used her affiliation with the Times to win her early release.
The reader can judge for his- or herself as video of the meeting and Lennard's relatively small part in it are embedded in the BigGovernment link.

The Times stands by her reports, which are not in question, and indicates that it has no plans to use her for future coverage of OSW.

This freelancer, Natasha Lennard, has not been involved in our coverage of Occupy Wall Street in recent days, and we have no plans to use her for future coverage. We have reviewed the past stories to which she contributed and have not found any reasons for concern over that reporting.  
All our journalists, staff or freelance, are expected to adhere to our ethical rules and journalistic standards, and to avoid doing anything that could call into question the impartiality of their work for The Times.
The point is simply that Natasha Lennard helped to get the snowball rolling, which has now taken on a life of its own.  Her reportorial efforts are no longer necessary. The narrative has been established.  She contributed significantly by shaping sympathetic coverage at the outset.

The point of underscoring dual roles played by media types is not to prove that OWS is an all media fabrication or a top-down manipulation.  It is partly both, but certainly not exclusively.  The point is simply to highlight a phenomenon at work in all political and social coverage, not just OWS news.

People in the mainstream media are not simply objective reporters of what is happening.  They are increasingly active protagonists shaping events like OWS for media consumption in order to serve Left-wing interests.

Media bias is not exclusively a Leftist phenomena, just predominantly, because media, being dominated by Leftists, is predominantly Leftist.

With the advent of alternative media, like Andrew Breitbart's various Big- websites, the tables are turning.  The Left doesn't like it as evidenced by the initial, Politico link to this post.

We're still a long way from unmolested history.  But, at least the Fourth Estate now has a watchdog.  And it must periodically sacrifice its own on the altar of impartiality in order to maintain its pretensions.

Perhaps the unfolding landscape will confirm Mill's hypothesis, at least in the information-industry context, that truth (small "t") is more likely to emerge from a multiplicity of voices than from the imposition of a unitary one.

Certainly, the truth about OWS is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Fiddler on the roof is more than a movie.  It is an experience.  It brims with pathos and human emotions. It is overpowering, touching, meaningful.

Its protagonist, Tevye (Topol), is a very particular man in very particular circumstances.  He is many things: a Jew, a dairyman, a man in continual correspondence with God, a mensch, and a father.

Yet, he is every man, universal.

Ironically, this immanent cultural immersion opens to a transcendent understanding of the human condition before God.  Perhaps Jesus partly alluded to this possibility when he said to the Samaritan woman at the well that "salvation is of the Jews."

Tevye's life is contextualized in his shtetl, Anatevka: part cocoon due to his people's strong culture, part volcano due to the dominant culture's seething prejudices.

Ultimately, the only thing that maintains his precarious balance--that of a fiddler on the roof--is tradition.  Or, at least, so thinks Tevye at the movie's beginning.

He has five daughters that pry him from his certitudes.  Tevye is an exceptionally empathetic character whose face reveals the tumult--from pained incomprehension to astonished amazement--that his eldest daughters' romances, concessions to modernity, and the town-people's petty malice provoke in him.

He is a man filled with vitality and love, faith and understanding.  Change hurts, it surprises, it teaches him what he is capable of bearing.  Tseitel (Rosalind Harris) and Motel (Leonard Frey) are the first to test, to budge him.

"And look at my daughter's eyes, so hopeful."  His prior agreement with Lazar Wolf to cede her in marriage is no match for his father's heart.

This movie has so many famous songs--e.g., Matchmaker; If I Were a Rich Man; Sunrise, Sunset--that it's nearly redundant to mention them.  Aside from "Tradition," Noman's favorite is "Do You Love Me."

It speaks to marriage, and customs and the long, sui generis adventure with another person through and with whom new life comes into the world.  It is beautiful to see Tevye and Golde (Norma Crane) acknowledge to one another what they know but never express, or even consciously consider.

The number is occasioned by Hodel (Michele Marsh) and Perchick's (Michael Glaser) announcement of a free-thinking engagement stripped of all conformity to social norms.

Perchick is an idealist, a radical, a revolutionary.  Tevye can see the good man in him despite his non-conformity and skewed view of the world.  He also sees the love between them, and both consents to and blesses the union though it will take Hodel far away from her roots and aching father.

As with Tseitel and Motel, love will have its way despite traditions.  

The same is true for beloved Chava (Neva Small) who crosses a line by marrying Fyedka (Raymond Lovelock), a fellow intellectual but Russian Orthodox, that Tevye cannot bend his way around.

It is heartbreaking when Tevye tells Golde that Chava who is so dear to him, who was everybody's favorite child, is dead to them.  

They are both shattered, as was Noman.  What else can Tevye do, however, as his self-preservation is at stake?  He will break if he chooses his daughter over his people, his culture, his being.

It is a poignant moment, even tragic.  It is great art that rocks the viewer to his foundations.  We all have our limits.

The scenes and characters of village life are precious.  The movie affords a privileged look into a culture that is otherwise hidden to those who don't partake.

Special mention must be made of Tevye's dream, which is incomparable to any movie digression Noman remembers with the possible exception of Broadway Melody in "Singing in the Rain."  It is of that caliber.

The periodic spasming of cultural antipathy provides the irritating backdrop to life in the village.  It is what drove so many eastern-European Jews to America's shores in the early 20th century.  Despite the historicity of the events, however, they remain hard to fathom.

Tevye is a man of simple faith who lives in continual correspondence with God, mostly to kvetch, but not exclusively.  He needs God as he needs breath, and company.  He defines himself in relation to God and to his people.  His fatherhood, in contrast to mere paternity, derives from the culture these relations foster.

He is a tremendous example of fatherhood, friendship, faithful perseverance in duty despite hardships, and joie de vivre.  Tevye is always ready to break out into a dance, a joke, or a fictitious biblical citation. He is good, real, a man, a mensch.

Fiddler on the Roof is a movie that Noman has grown to cherish with successive viewings and each new No-child.  It makes him cry like a baby, and helps him understand his own life and vocation better.

No-family loves it, too.

Thank God for great art, this masterpiece, and the genius that inspired it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sabrina (1954)

Noman has never seen the remake of Sabrina.  But, he has wondered why anybody would bother to tamper with perfection.

For starters, it doesn't get much better than William Holden, Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn.  Though the male leads were big stars, it is Hepburn's picture.  She can do more with her eyes and face than Michael Jordan could do with a basketball.

It is a magical story about the chauffeur's daughter who suffers a life-long, hopeless crush on the master's playboy son (Holden's David Larrabee), only to grow into an elegant beauty during a two-year stay in Paris.  This obviates the need for further suffering as she returns the conquering ingenue.  He's hooked.  

Unfortunately, Linus (Bogart), the family tycoon, needs David to marry an heiress--his 4th nuptial--in order to cement a merger.   One of the movie's memorable scenes occurs when David storms Linus's office to protest the plan:
David Larrabee: It's all beginning to make sense. Mr.Tyson owns the sugarcane. You own the formula for the plastics. And I'm supposed to be offered up as a human sacrifice on the altar of the industrial progress. Is that it? 
Linus Larrabee: You make it sound so vulgar, David, as if the son of hot dog dynasty were being offered in marriage to the daughter of the mustard king... 
David Larrabee: There's just one thing you overlooked.  I haven't proposed and she hasn't accepted.
Linus Larrabee: Oh don't worry.  I proposed and Mr. Tyson accepted. 
David Larrabee: (piqued) Did you kiss him?
Linus extends the dialogue with a paean to free enterprise: it leads to development, factories, jobs, commerce, money in previously empty pockets, education, food, shoes on the feet of the poor, healthier teeth and more.  It's a serious apologia delivered in a comical setting.

Linus needs to get Sabrina out of the way before David's impulsiveness disrupts his plans.  What better way than to romance her while David is recovering from a self-inflicted wound.

Linus is not your typical Bogie character.  He is not so far removed from the norm as Captain Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny," but more so than Charlie Allnut in "The African Queen," or Frank Dobbs in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Come to think of it, he had an impressive range, though he's most remembered for Philip Marlowe, Rick Blaine-type characters.   He pulls Linus off admirably.

William Holden fits like a glove in the role of David, the dashing ne'er-do-well, the spoiled scion of wealth and privilege.  He plays it likably, almost cartoonishly, with Gatsbyesque smiles and jaunty leaps into sports cars and over walls.  He is pure frivolity, a perfect counterweight to Linus's captain-of-industry gravitas.

Sabrina will eventually have to choose between them as they, too, will have to make their choices.

The movie plays lightly on social themes, modernity and romantically democratic notions.  Sabrina's father, Fairchild sums it up with a pair of resigned, yet wise observations.
Thomas Fairchild: I like to think of life as a limousine. Though we are all riding together we must remember our places. There is a front seat and a back seat and a window in between. 
Linus Larrabee: Fairchild, I never realized it before, but you're a terrible snob. 
Thomas Fairchild: Yes sir.
To his daughter Fairchild says: "Democracy can be a wickedly unfair thing Sabrina. Nobody poor was ever called democratic for marrying somebody rich. "

Audrey Hepburn is captivating, exuding her trademark ethereal quality.  With her slightly foreign accent, she seems more other-worldly than merely worldly.  It is completely believable when she corrects her father's admonition that she is still reaching for the moon. "No, father, the the moon is reaching for me."

Wistfulness and playfulness have rarely combined to more charming affect.  When matters spiral beyond her emotional control she confesses to her father that she thought she'd grown up when, really, she'd just gotten a new haircut.

Noman enjoys almost everything these actors are in.  But this movie, and "Roman Holiday," make for especially good viewing with No-family.  

The No-children don't always get Bogie.  And, they certainly didn't get "Sunset Boulevard."  But, they love Audrey Hepburn, almost instinctively.  

Noman enjoys their growing old enough to enjoy "Breakfast at Tiffany's" with him.  But, there is no hurry.  There are so many great movies to enjoy together when they are young.

Sabrina is certainly near the top of the list.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Suicide of a Super Power

Pat Buchanan has written about the demise of the European-American peoples beneath the trampling of northward trekking, Third-World immigrants.
"America is disintegrating. The centrifugal forces pulling us apart are growing inexorably. What unites us is dissolving. And this is true of Western Civilization....Meanwhile, the state is failing in its most fundamental duties. It is no longer able to defend our borders, balance our budgets, or win our wars."
Noman doesn't disagree with the overall concern expressed in the assessment, though he's more hopeful than Buchanan about America's righting its course, sooner rather than later.  But, Noman doesn't blame the problem on invading hordes from the south, frijole wolfing Telmarines.

Neither is he sure that the forces tearing the West apart are centrifugal rather than totalistic drawing us to the center of one world tyranny rooted in redistributionist, command and control--in brief, anti-freedom, anti-personal--ideologies.

Specifically, Buchanan decries the acceptance of a permanent underclass.  Noman thinks it's even worse than he suggests.  The Democratic Party's only game plan seems to be to expand this base indefinitely and to milk it for votes into perpetuity.

He highlights the lethal role of dechristianization in the process of decay.  It's hard to look at TV or movies and disagree with him.   This, however, is not the fault of immigration.

Moreover, Buchanan is altogether too dour about Catholicism's American prospects.
“Half a century on, the disaster is manifest. The robust and confident Church of 1958 no longer exists. Catholic colleges and universities remain Catholic in name only. Parochial schools and high schools are closing as rapidly as they opened in the 1950s. The numbers of nuns, priests and seminarians have fallen dramatically. Mass attendance is a third of what it was. From the former Speaker of the House to the Vice President, Catholic politicians openly support abortion on demand.”
Even the collusion of atheistic communism, Russian Orthodoxy, anti-Polish bigotry and historical antipathy could not extirpate Roman Catholicism from the Soviet Union.  Conditions are much more hospitable in the US despite Catholic baiting, self-hating Catholics, radical secularism and hangover prejudices from European history.

The Church's situation is much more optimistic than Buchanan sees, perhaps because he's looking wistfully at the past rather than hopefully at the future.

Noman wishes he were more apostolic and grounded more in our true hope: eternal salvation.

Parochial schools are closing.  But, alternative schools are arising to fill the needs of religious parents and children.  There are four such choices in Ann Arbor alone, in addition to four non-endangered parochial schools and a flourishing high school.

Many, not all, seminaries and parishes are filling with John Paul II vocations.  The Church emerged from the post-Vatican II dessert with firmer direction, better catechetical tools, and more elaborated social doctrine than it enjoyed when it entered.

The Holy Spirit doesn't make mistakes.  The Church, and all humanity, benefits today from a treasure trove of Papal teaching necessitated precisely by the gauntlet it has been forced to run.

Forms have changed.  So does life.  But, Jesus still lives in his Church, as does the Holy Spirit; the Father keeps watch, hears us and cares.  He sustains us in his being.

Fear not.  Set out into the deep.

Elsewhere, Buchanan writes that "white America is an endangered species" and that Mexico is moving north."  Noman takes his point about the freedom, prosperity and toleration that this mostly caucasion, Judeo-Christian nation has given birth to.  But, he is not so concerned as Buchanan about the potential Hispanization of American culture.

As Rick Santorum rightly pointed out in last night's Republican Presidential debate, Hispanics are largely faith-filled, pious, family-loving people.  He did not mention that they are also mother-venerating, but could have.

They are also largely Catholic, even when in opposition to the Church.  The Spanish joke has the atheist asking the evangelical missionary, "If I don't believe the Catholic Church, which is the one true Church, why should I believe you?"

America could stand to learn some things from our neighbors to the South, and doesn't need to lament their cultural influence.  As good as we are, we don't know everything.  Buchanan is the first to point out, moreover, that we have forgotten much of what we knew.

Naturally, Hispanics like all immigrants need to be assimilated to America's ways, ideals and beliefs: e.g., liberty, equality, opportunity, tolerance, exceptionalism, industry, responsibility, character.  Failure to do so is less the fault of Hispanic immigrants, like Noman's parents, who come to America with stars and stripes in their eyes and America the Beautiful in their hearts, than of the multi-culti frauds that refuse to inculcate them.

One need not assail immigration in order to fix a government-caused problem.

The following left Noman scratching his head, at least with respect to the American context.
“Peoples of European descent are not only in a relative but a real decline. They are aging, dying, disappearing. This is the existential crisis of the West.”

Is Spanish not a European culture, language and heritage?  If he means to say that Mexico, Guatemala and Argentina are not European, or Western, he is wrong.

Latin America is decidedly an offshoot of European civilization and religion, no less than North-America.  As such, it shares a broad cultural heritage with America that should neither be denied nor discarded. 

It troubles Noman, who is generally a fellow traveler of Buchanan's, that he means something racial--white, Anglo-Irish, Germanic--when he references things American.  It does not help to identify it as European, or Western, and to speak of the "non-Europeanization of America."

There is room for more in this country, and the Church, than the insular group he alludes to.  There is also room in the conservative movement and Republican Party.

Buchanan writes that "where equality is enthroned, freedom is extinguished.  The rise of the egalitarian society means the death of the free society."  He's mixing two things here.

Equality and freedom are not diametrically opposed.  Freedom is an equally shared property of the human soul.  It is a freedom to choose the good, or against it.  And social equality is a condition of the free society.

Thomas Jefferson made the connection in the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
The problem is one of definition--equality of opportunity, or of result?  if the egalitarian society means the latter, which many if not all on the Left believe, then equality is problematic and dangerous to liberty.  But, one need not discredit an ontologically undeniable and socially necessary principle to correct erroneous interpretations.

"The family is the incubator of inequality and God its author."  Amen.  But, God is also the Creator before whom we all stand equal.  He is not a respecter of persons.

That is the root of an equality more radical than any distortion that multi-culturalists can conjure up.  Buchanan is capable of more precision, which Noman hopes the book supplies.
“Historians will look back in stupor at 20th and 21st century Americans who believed the magnificent republic they inherited would be enriched by bringing in scores of millions from the failed states of the Third World.”
Noman disagrees.  Rather, future generations, historians included, will look back and bless the nation's adherence to first principles and noble ideals in troubled times.

The magnificent republic we inherited--and should defend tooth-and-nail in all its magnificence, regardless of blemishes--was bequeathed to us, inter alia, by the scores of millions from the failed states of the world.

As Emma Lazarus wrote, and Liberty proclaims:
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
George Washington wasn't a descendant of the Third-World.  But, Steve Jobs was.  Leonard Lauder, Estee's son, writes in today's WSJ that immigrants and their children founded half of Fortune 500 firms like Google and Intel.
There is no doubt that immigrant entrepreneurs and their children have fueled our economy. My mother is a prime example. Josephine Esther Mentzer was a daughter of Hungarian and Czech immigrants. Estée, as she was called by her family, was always interested in beauty and cosmetics and started selling skin care products to beauty salons more than 65 years ago. Her creativity and hard work are today embodied in a successful global corporation that provides jobs for thousands of people in the U.S. alone. 
Our story is hardly unique. A new report from the Partnership for a New American Economy has found that more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. These companies generate more than $4 trillion in annual revenue—more than the gross domestic product of every country with the exception of the U.S., China and Japan. 
One need not go back far to see how important opening our borders is to tomorrow's American businesses. Companies in the Fortune 500 founded since 1985 were more likely to have been started by immigrants than those founded before 1985. Think of such names as Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo!, among other newly minted iconic companies, and then remember that they were started by first-generation Americans. 
In fact, more than a quarter of the high-tech and engineering businesses launched here between 1995 and 2005 had an immigrant founder. In Silicon Valley alone, the percentage of immigrant start-up companies is more than 50%, according to a report out of Duke and the University of California, Berkeley.
The broad brush with which Buchanan paints immigration simply doesn't do justice to the phenomenon.

He writes about the triumph of tribalism:
We may deny the existence of ethnonationalism, detest it, condemn it. But this creator and destroyer of empires and nations is a force infinitely more powerful than globalism, for it engages the heart. Men will die for it. Religion, race, culture and tribe are the four horsemen of the coming apocalypse.
Is he suggesting that we wage war on it, resist it, brace for it, or surrender to our own impulses for it?

America is not one of those countries naturally vexed with ethnonationalism.  We are not bound by ties of ethnicity, blood, land, history or culture--which in America is decidedly a small-"c" affair.

That is our advantage in this respect, despite its being a disadvantage in others, e.g., fewer commonalities.  In the countries he is referring to, Culture is King, and Capitalized.

America is bound by ideas, fidelity to ideals and adherence to propositions like the aforementioned: that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, chief among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As for America's ability to engage the heart, Noman sometimes weeps with gratitude at the singing of the Star Spangled Banner or waving of our flag.  One need not be Hispanic to feel these sentiments.

The fact that some may not share them--at MALDEF, ACORN, Harvard or the White House, for instance--says nothing about America's power as an object of love, piety and devotion.

This is not to deny the fact that our free society is always susceptible to invasion by ideas and movements foreign to it, and to various deconstructionists who utilize the benefits that America so lavishly affords them in order to destroy it, or so alter it as to make it unrecognizable.
“Through its support of mass immigration, its paralysis in power to prevent 12-20 million illegal aliens from entering and staying, its failure to address the “anchor-baby” issue, the Republican Party has birthed a new electorate that will send it the way of the Whigs.”
Mass immigration (legal) is separate and distinct from illegal immigration.  Noman wonders if illegal immigration would be such a problem if legal immigration were sufficiently "mass" to satisfy domestic needs.

It is Buchanan's equation of the Republican Party with the "White Party" that gives Noman the heebe-jebees and strikes him as being singularly unhelpful, not to mention unsavory and wrong-headed.

Where doe's Herman Cain fit in Buchanan's constellation?  Marco Rubio?  Bobby Jindal?  Why should Republicans just give up on the communities from which they spring rather than try to win them over?  Because they're not sufficiently white, or European for Buchanan?

The new electorate can vote with the Republican Party, as well as against it.

Michelle Bachmann showed us the right way in the other night's Las Vegas debate by demonstrating with passion to women that she was more in touch with their feelings, fears and needs than feminists were.

Win people!  Don't drive them away by tightening the circle of belonging and poking sticks at those assigned to the outside.

With respect to borders, he writes:
“Are vital U.S. interests more imperiled by what happens in Iraq where we have 50,000 troops, or Afghanistan where we have 100,000, or South Korea where we have 28,000 -- or by what is happening on our border with Mexico?...What does it profit America if we save Anbar and lose Arizona?”
(n.b. that would have been a better quote if he'd linked Anbar to Ann Arbor.) 
The question of where our troops might be better deployed is one on which reasonable minds can differ.  Noman appreciates that the question is in play in the Republican Presidential debates due to the presence of Ron Paul.  But, outlandish talk about losing Arizona repels even people concerned for border integrity.
“We are trying to create a nation that has never before existed, of all the races, tribes, cultures and creeds of Earth, where all are equal. In this utopian drive for the perfect society of our dreams we are killing the real country we inherited -- the best and greatest country on earth.”
Noman agrees--with undoubted national pride, parochial naiveté and more than a touch of ignorant bliss--that America is the best and greatest country on the earth, indeed in the history of humanity.  That is what his immigrant elders always preached to this first-generation American.  Eleven years of living abroad only convinced Noman that they were right.

He subscribes to American exceptionalism--we are good, blessed, and maybe even destined.  America is "the last best hope of man on Earth."

To Noman's mind, trying to create a nation grounded in human dignity and the common good of any and every person regardless of accidents of birth is ideal rather than utopian, and worthy of the highest aspirations of the greatest country on earth.

He is willing to join Buchanan's protest against the multi-cluturalists, anti-capitalists, Christo-phobic secularists, and assorted grievance mongers whose strenuous exertions claw at the nation's vitality.

He is not inclined to share Buchanan's espoused sentiments, however.

Noman is willing to assume that the excerpts selected in Drudge's synopsis so shear flagrant money quotes from reasoned argument as to make them only seem the rantings of a disgruntled xenophobe.  For the sake of conservatism and the Catholicism that Buchanan evidently cherishes, Noman hopes that is the case.

He fears, however, that Buchanan's obsession with, and virulence towards, southerners and Third-Worlders says little about his objects of reproach, and much about his losing struggle against interior demons.

Noman prays that this is not the case, and for Buchanan and those whose loyalty he commands in case it is.