“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
— Thucydides

“A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”
— Jean-François Revel

On Fred Thompson's Withdrawal

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

For the longest time it seemed far too early to pick a horse to back in this race. Then, before you know it, it's too late for some.

I've become a big fan of Fred Thompson's no-nonsense style, Federalist platform, recognition of the real threat posed by Jihadist terrorism, and determination to see the Iraq war through to a viable conclusion, so I was very disappointed this week to read the news that he's withdrawn from the 2008 presidential race. Glenn Reynolds had a roundup of reactions, and Pajamas Media has a campaign retrospective from Fred's first hire, Patrick Cox.

I feel pretty much as Eric Scheie does -- disappointed and uncertain who I'll back next. Despite misgivings about his nanny-stater tendencies as exemplified by McCain-Feingold, McCain has been a pretty strong second in my book. His RNC speech was a defining moment of the 2004 election for me, and he'd have had my vote for President in a heartbeat if only he had won his party's nomination. But, time will tell... Right now I'm still gloomy over the loss of Fred...

Update: Rick Moran writes:

Fred Thompson was not the most exciting candidate and certainly not the best campaigner. It was his philosophy and ideas that captured me and earned my loyalty and support. It is very difficult to simply transfer your allegiance to someone who might represent only a pale echo of your candidate’s qualities.

Sands of Passion

Monday, January 21, 2008

This has got to be seen to be truly appreciated!

On crackle.com, the same site that's carrying Penn Jillette's new video podcast, I just now stumbled across Sands of Passion -- an Al-Qaeda Soap Opera, of course:

“Like infidels through an hourglass, so are the Sands of Passion.”

It's been said that we can't reasonably expect to win a war if we can't even bring ourselves to make fun of our fanatical Jihadist enemies. So glad to see somebody's doing it -- and doing it hilariously! Catch all nine current episodes on the website.

All too many SNL sketches fall far short of being this funny...

Welcome Back, Penn!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

O Happy Day!

Penn Jillette, whose far too short-lived radio show I've greatly missed since its surprise farewell last March (earlier mentions here, here, and here), is back with a solo video podcast titled "Penn Says". This appears to be the official website, and here's an iTunes link. It's characteristically quirky, experimental, funny stuff so far (be sure to catch the discussion of "Magic Underpants"), and I'm looking forward to more!

Randy Newman's Macworld 2008 Political Rant

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Macworld 2008 is here this week, and, true to form, Steve Jobs' Tuesday keynote presentation included some pretty neat product announcements. Randy Newman’s accompanying song-form political rant, however, should in a sane world be an embarrassment to Apple. Seems like this should be getting a lot more critical attention.

I found Newman's performance pretty offensive, but watch the whole thing and judge for yourself. Apparently the song — titled “A Few Words In Defense of Our Country” with no small measure of irony — is an existing element of Randy Newman’s repertoire, which makes it seem implausible that SJ didn't know what was coming. The song is on the iTunes Store, and several videos of Newman's performance are now up on YouTube, including this one with helpful subtitles added. (You can also find Newman’s performance in the streaming Macworld Keynote video, if you fast-forward to 1 hr. 18 mins.)

On reflection, I’m not entirely sure what to make of his muddled message. The favorable comparison of our present leadership to historic figures such as Hitler and Stalin, if meant as a compliment, has surely got to be about the most backhanded compliment I’ve ever heard. With defenders like Newman, who needs enemies?

Oh, and apparently it’s PC now to publicly use terms like “tight-assed Italians” (as long as you’re referring to conservative justices on the Supreme Court)? Geez.

For good measure, he even capped it off with a little "I usually root against corporations" talk, and rehashed for us once again the familiar tired accusations of "Empire!". (I'm willing to bet he hasn't had the good fortune of reading Bill Whittle's brilliant 2002 piece on the topic.)

"The end of an empire is messy at best,
and this empire is ended like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We're adrift in the land of the brave and the home of the free
Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye."

Yes, goodbye Randy. And next time, if you really want to help us out, please, just stop helping.

Update 1/17: Well put at Angry Zen Master:

There are apparently two Randy Newmans. The Randy Newman we all know writes little ditties for PIXAR flicks and television shows and from the lyrical content of those themes, you might suspect that he’s a big sweetie. Then there’s the Randy Newman who showed up at Macworld 2008’s keynote address. That Randy Newman is quite insane.

I guess that's one Randy Newman for each of John Kerry's two Americas?

He's done it yet again

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It hasn't been my intent for Fearless Dream to become a "link blog" or sort of "backup RSS feed" for Eject! Eject! Eject!, and it's high on my freshly minted, unabashedly optimistic 2008 To Do list to put some serious time into writing about the ideas that I've been continuing to turn over in my mind and gather in note files and on bits of paper. But I can't resist the compulsion to point out, even if for the third time in a row, that Bill Whittle has come through yet again with another characteristically excellent, must-read, on-point essay: “Forty Second Boyd and the Big Picture”.*

Find a comfortable chair, as this one's a two-parter, but rest assured that the destination is well worth the journey. By part 2 I was, as I've certainly found myself before on many occasions with Bill's incomparable writing, on the edge of my proverbial seat, my heart aglow.

By all means, ignore the following and go directly to Bill's site to read the whole thing... But I can't resist quoting for well-deserved emphasis one of the many gems of expression contained in Bill's essay. It's vital that we think about these points until they really sink in, because we owe it to our fighting men and women and to the people of Iraq not to give up.

I think the Surge has had spectacular success not because of the additional troops so much as for the fact that when the media and the Democrats demanded we cut and run… we did not cut and run. We doubled down. When the calls for defeat and dishonor were at their loudest – sad to say a not unwarranted street rep we had made for ourselves – somehow, somehow we simply just hung on and gave them not a retreat but a charge.

Jesus Christ, but that must have gotten someone’s attention. Yes, the Surge is working. But I believe it is not a surge of boots that is doing the work so much as it is a surge of hope.

And hope… well, hope is a dangerous thing. For every day that Iraq returns not only to normal but to free normal is a day remembered. It is a day to which other, darker days may be compared.

Every day of success, every newly opened shop, every school and soccer game free of secret police and each and every night devoid of the terror of arbitrary arrest and execution is something to lose. It is something the murdering bastards of al Qaeda cannot give but can only take away. We have taken their sword from them. They wield it now only against themselves. They will do it, too: more pain and more death are coming, for that is all they know how to do. But hope walks the streets of Baghdad now, hope in the form of decent and brave young men and women who have held a line against all odds and perhaps bought with their courage and their blood the time we need for that hope to spread.

I certainly share Bill's admiration and appreciation for our deeply heroic and courageous men and women in uniform, who are daily putting their lives on the line for worthy ideals that are well worth fighting for, as well as for the superb reporting work that independent journalists such as Michael Totten and Michael Yon have done, telling both our soldiers' stories and the stories of the Iraqi people as they persevere in a shared struggle to build a stable free society and a future worth having. It has become my chief regret in life that I have not served my country in the armed forces. I heard the call when war came to New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania on the calm, still morning of 9/11, and after much soul-searching came to believe (quite possibly with an unmerited sense of self-importance, and/or as a rationalization for simple lack of courage) that there was some other way I would be able to help more effectively, by putting my best effort forth in the crucial battle for hearts and minds. I have thus far done but a shamefully infinitesimal fraction of what I set out to do, of what I feel duty-bound to do, in that regard. But this is a new year, a gift of time, and with it another chance to summon my best effort, to begin to repay to whatever extent possible the profound debt I owe to those who have made my life possible, to the country and culture of liberty that I hold dear.

* Links updated 2009-10-29