Around the Web

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of Suzanne Venker’s 3-part NewsReal series on why marriage matters.

You’ve gotta be kidding me: someone’s turning Maureen Dowd into a sexed-up action heroine in a new comic book? It’s so absurd that it would be hilarious…if not for the fact that the plot is yet another way in which entertainment outlets are injecting a false narrative of the Valerie Plame saga into the national consciousness. Historical revisionism is no laughing matter.

First Geraldo Rivera revealed how “open-minded” he was about what “really” happened on 9/11, and now losertarian Judge Andrew Napolitano has joined the Truther brigade. It’s way past time for Fox News to can both these clowns.

Comedy great Leslie Nielsen, dead at 84. I plan to take some time this weekend to watch Airplane! in his memory; I’d encourage all of you to do the same.

Donald Douglas slaps around a richly-deserving losertarian blogger.

Neil reminds us that ethanol is a dud.

And this Thanksgiving, I’m really, really thankful for a little wonder-virus called Stuxnet.

Odds & Ends

Sen. Jesse Helms has died. Rest in peace, Senator.

Now apparently four-year-olds
need sex ed. Yes, you read that right. How does one even reason with such insanity?

This Independence Day, Thomas Sowell
reflects on patriotism.

Now ABC News is noticing that Barack Obama has an Iraq problem. Looks like it’s
time to wake up from the Hope Dream.

A few weeks back I saw the Robin-Williams-runs-for-president comedy
Man of the Year. It was entertaining, but certainly no side-splitter. Williams’ “independent, third-way” character tilted left-of-center, predictably, but what really stands out is that, for a movie about the position of commander-in-chief, I don’t recall a single acknowledgement that there’s a war going on (I understand it’s a comedy, but still.). Kinda hits home the point that the war just isn’t real in the minds of Hollywood.

Speaking of movies, I went to see
The Incredible Hulk the other night, and thought it was great, the only drawback being some inconsistent quality in the CG work. It was everything the 2003 film should have been.

Goodbye to a Giant

From National Review:

Our revered founder, William F. Buckley Jr., died in his study this morning.
If ever an institution were the lengthened shadow of one man, this publication is his. So we hope it will not be thought immodest for us to say that Buckley has had more of an impact on the political life of this country—and a better one—than some of our presidents. He created modern conservatism as an intellectual and then a political movement. He kept it from drifting into the fever swamps. And he gave it a wit, style, and intelligence that earned the respect and friendship even of his adversaries. (To know Buckley was to be reminded that certain people have a talent for friendship.)
He inspired and incited three generations of conservatives, and counting. He retained his intellectual and literary vitality to the end; even in his final years he was capable of the arresting formulation, the unpredictable insight. He presided over NR even in his “retirement,” which was more active than most people’s careers. It has been said that great men are rarely good men. Even more rarely are they sweet and merry, as Buckley was.
When Buckley started National Review—in 1955, at the age of 29—it was not at all obvious that anti-Communists, traditionalists, constitutionalists, and enthusiasts for free markets would all be able to take shelter under the same tent. Nor was it obvious that all of these groups, even gathered together, would be able to prevail over what seemed at the time to be an inexorable collectivist tide. When Buckley wrote that the magazine would “stand athwart history yelling, ‘Stop!” his point was to challenge the idea that history, with a capital H, pointed left. Mounting that challenge was the first step toward changing history’s direction. Which would come in due course.
Before he was a conservative, Buckley was devoted to his family and his Church. He is survived by his son Christopher. Our sadness for him, and for us, at his passing is leavened by the hope that he is now with his beloved wife, Patricia, who died last year.

Happy Belated Birthday, Mr. President

Ronald Reagan would have been 97 years old on February 6th, 2008.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

“Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.”

John Vincent Coulter, RIP

This week, Ann Coulter eulogizes her recently-departed father. It begins:

The longest baby ever born at the Albany, N.Y., hospital, at least as of May 5, 1926, who grew up to be my strapping father, passed away last Friday morning.

As Mother and I stood at Daddy’s casket Monday morning, Mother repeated his joke to him, which he said on every wedding anniversary until a few years ago when Lewy bodies dementia prevented him from saying much at all: “54 years, married to the wrong woman.” And we laughed.

John Vincent Coulter was of the old school, a man of few words, the un-Oprah, no crying or wearing your heart on your sleeve, and reacting to moments of great sentiment with a joke. Or as we used to call them: men […]
Read the rest, and please say a prayer for the Coulter family.

Remembering Rev. Jerry Falwell

What Was It About Falwell That’s Supposed to be “Little”?

Michael Medved, 5/17/07

Secular militants have provided no shortage of intemperate, vicious, mean-spirited reactions to the death of Jerry Falwell but perhaps the most revealing came from Christopher Hitchens (author of a new book attacking religious delusions, “God is Not Great.”)

Interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN, Hitchens seemed oddly obsessed with repeatedly applying a single—and singularly inappropriate — adjective to the late Dr, Falwell.

In the course of the interview, Hitchens decried “the empty life of this ugly little charlatan…” and then asked “who would, even at your network, have invited such a little toad….” Shortly thereafter, he declared, “The whole consideration of this horrible little person is offensive to very, very many of us…” He also concluded that Dr. Falwell even counted as insincere in his religious faith, suggesting, “He woke up every morning, as I say, pinching his chubby little flanks and thinking, I have got away with it again.”

In what possible sense did Jerry Falwell count as a little man?

In the most obvious, physical sense Hitchens’ attempt to belittle Falwell might reflect the common envy of a small guy for a larger, stronger specimen. Aside from the late pastor’s obvious girth, he stood well over six feet tall. I’ve shared refreshments with both Falwell and Hitchens, and the Brit’s not bigger in any sense of the word.

Of course, Hitchens and his apologists might respond that describing Falwell as “little” denotes his ultimate insignificance, his limited intellectual, spiritual dimensions, not his physical size, but even here the dismissive term hardly applies.

As the driving force behind the emergence of the modern Christian conservative movement in U.S. politics, Falwell changed history – as even his most vitriolic critics concede. “The Moral Majority” which he founded played a crucial role in the Reagan landslide of 1980, and even more conspicuously led the way to the stunning, unpredicted Senate sweep that gave the GOP control of the upper house of Congress for the first time in 26 years. Twelve Republican challengers – most of them outspoken Christian conservatives – seized the seats of twelve highly entrenched Democratic incumbents (including such luminaries and former Presidential candidates as George McGovern, Birch Bayh and Frank Church). Liberals may lament the outcome of that watershed election but it’s impossible to dismiss its importance.

In other words, this purportedly “little charlatan” Jerry Falwell, managed to bring about a big shift in American politics – thereby qualifying as a major figure in all the battles of the Reagan Presiency and beyond. Everything about the man actually counted as big – big ambitions, big plans, big ideas, big impact. In addition to his well-known role in politics and media, Falwell qualified as a spectacularly successful institution builder. His Thomas Road Baptist Church, which he founded from scratch in 1951, now draws 22,000 members, and booming Liberty University (founded in 1971) educates nearly 8,000 students (more than Dartmouth or Princeton). Emerson once said that “any durable institution is nothing more than the lengthened shadow of one man.” In that context, Falwell counts as a big guy, with a big shadow.

There is one possible sense in which a major figure might be described as “small” – if even this powerful, influential individual comes across as petty, obsessed with trivialities, nursing grudges and slights.

Falwell possessed none of these characteristics of smallness, and managed to strike up unlikely friendships even with his political and religious adversaries. Opponents as diverse as Jesse Jackson and Larry Flynt remembered him on his passing as a “friend,” praising his graciousness and geniality while emphatically rejecting his ideology. Falwell engaged in frequent, sometimes furious battles in politics and pop culture but he did so, for the most part, as a proverbial happy warrior. The New York Times wrote in their obituary: “For all the controversy, Mr. Falwell was often an unconvincing villain. His manner was patient and affable. His sermons had little of the white-hot menace of those of his contemporaries like Jimmy Swaggart. He shared podiums with Senator Kennedy, appeared at hostile college campuses and in 1984 spent an event before a crowd full of hecklers in Town Hall in New York, probably not changing many minds but nevertheless expressing good will.”

The fact that some of Falwell’s critics displayed
so little good will on the occasion of his passing (“Ding Dong, Falwell’s Dead!” exulted a typical headline at CommonDreams.org) reflects their insecurity and bitterness, not their certainty. Religious believers feel no need to sneer and celebrate when a noted atheist leaves this life. If, as the skeptics believe, there’s no fate awaiting any of us beyond a future as worm food, then deeply religious people have no more reason to worry than their irreligious counterparts.

If, on the other hand, there’s a watchful God who’ll ultimately judge us all by Biblical standards, then the non-believers may face significant reasons for concern. No wonder an angry atheist like Christopher Hitchens reacts with such defensive fury to the very idea that Falwell (and, ultimately, the rest of us) will go on to some form of eternal reward.

Despite the effort to disregard him as “little,” Falwell qualified in every sense as a large figure– big hearted and cheerful, secure and sincere in his own faith, with enormous dreams and major impact. He never would have stooped to a cruel, small-minded, petty and pathetic publicity stunt like smearing one of his ideological adversaries on the very day that opponent died.

So who, then, is the real “little toad,” Mr. Hitchens?




Other remembrances:
Ann Coulter, Zev Chafes, Armstrong Williams