Friday, February 21, 2003 :::
DEATH OF COMMON SENSE V: The British government is using taxpayers' money to urge children under the age of 16 to have oral sex. More than 100,000 schoolchildren are now taking a course called "A Pause", which purports to teach children "levels of intimacy" that allow them to express their lustful feelings for each other without having full intercourse. It forms part of government efforts to tackle Britain’s teenage pregnancy rate, which is the highest in Western Europe. Incidentally, the age of consent in Britain is 16, so most of the behavior discussed in these programs would be illegal for the pupils to engage in.
HARVEY C- MANSFIELD, Professor of Government at Harvard University and outspoken critic of grade inflation, criticizes the "New Harvard" from the point of view of the "Old Harvard." Prof. Mansfield attacks not only the rampant grade inflation at universities like Harvard, but also the ridiculously positive reference letters that have become the norm (each student is "the best in a lifetime of teaching"), as well as too much choice in the curriculum -- combined these trends mean that students at America's best universities come in from high schools were they worked very hard, but are coddled at college. In one word: today's elite universities no longer educate their students very well.
THE IDEA OF CHARACTER was always an elusive notion. So what are the political consequences of this? Some people are genetically incapable of doing well in our society. Were the liberals right after all? Is massive forced redistribution of goods by the state the only just way of living together with the genetically disadvantaged? A macho-tax benefitting the wimps? A beauty-tax benefitting the ugly? Redistribution of beautiful mates to ugly loners? They have feelings too - and, again, they can't help it.
Thursday, February 20, 2003 :::
ROBERT CONQUEST is well in his eighties, yet sharp as ever. "'Margaret Thatcher is the only person in politics, along with Condi Rice, with whom I am on cheek-kissing terms,' Conquest says... He also likes Ronald Reagan, describing him and Alec Douglas-Hume as 'the only two politicians who wanted to get something out of you in conversation rather than tell you their views'... Like Churchill he is half-American... [and] the boldest theorist of the pro-American lobby in British politics. He would like Britain to withdraw from the EU and form part of a much looser association of English-speaking nations, known as the 'Anglosphere'. This is very close to Mrs Thatcher's visceral loathing of Europe, but informed by a much greater experience of European life and languages." It is a vision this blog shares.
HIMMELFARB: "We once had 'Founding Fathers.' Today we have the neutered 'Founders.' We once celebrated Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays. Today we celebrate the anonymous 'Presidents' Day.' We have lost a good deal in this homogenization and dilution of our language. We have lost not only a vital part of our history but also a way of honoring and transmitting that history." A musing on patriotism by the mother of neoconservatism.
Sunday, February 16, 2003 :::
LET'S HOPE THIS IS NOT TRUE. According to the Observer, Donald Rumsfeld wishes to punish German treachery in the current crisis by moving US bases to loyal countries in Eastern Europe. It seems to me that this is another example of American misunderstanding of Europe, something that has damaged both Europe and the US throughout US history. Why would Rumsfeld's alleged move be such a bad idea? First, justified and understandable as the present American frustration with old Europe may be, America does not want to aggravate tensions. America is the adult here. It should act as the adult. By resorting to childish punishments as removing bases it will only fuel the fire of its adversaries in Europe, lending credence to the idea that America is building an empire with client states that can be disposed of at will. This is the image that the US should avoid at all cost - and given the sheer size of America's power it is difficult enough to avoid by even the most benign US statesmen. Second, without US troops in Europe, and particularly in Germany, tensions in Europe will rise again. Yes, you read that correctly. And please keep the sniggers to yourself. Europe has been the most violent place in world history. The last fifty years of peace in Western Europe owe everything to the Cold War and to the American military presence. Thoughtful Europeans understand that; most Americans, alas, do not. The most vexing problem of Europe is Germany. Too big to be a normal European country, too small to be a world power, too lacking in national history (only created in 1870) and too feeble in democratic traditions, it lacks the confidence to go out in the world on its own. It needs an American leash. A physical leash, in the form of troops. They are a permanent reminder to Germany, to Europe, and to America of the nature of the German and European problem - and of the nature of the only solution to it. So, Secretary Rumsfeld, if the Observer report is true, I beg you to reconsider. Anyone who thinks I am being too dramatic about this is welcome to order some history books at my suggestion.