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Friday, November 25, 2005

ROLE MODEL: Aislinn Ryan is an incredible runner. Last year she won the national high school cross-country championship. She didn't take time to brag; in fact, she thought her accomplishment wouldn't be of much interest to non-runners. Aislinn was wrong about that.
Ryan walked into school the Monday after the race to find the corridors decked with posters and flyers bearing her photo and a caption: "This girl is the best in the nation." After the race aired on television, the school held a special assembly to show the videotape, and the principal asked Ryan to give a speech about success. Warwick, a bucolic New York town of 32,000 nestled in the hills 55 miles northwest of Manhattan, erected a banner over West Street that read, "Welcome to Warwick, Home of Aislinn Ryan, 2004 national cross-country champion."
A culture committed to a vital future would find Aislinn's photo on the covers not only of magazines devoted to health and fitness but teen magazines as well as TIME and Newsweek. Aislinn would be feted as a living, breathing (and sweating) example of what a young person can accomplish when she applies her natural talents and is encouraged by family, friends, and community to achieve extraordinary things. Way to go, Aislinn.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

DETAILS: Previously I have discussed the fact that I was honored to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, after which I was equally proud to serve as Crown Prince of Lichtenstein during a most creative period in that nation's recent past. After further researching both matters extensively, I have come to the conclusion that I did not win that literary prize, nor did I serve as European royalty. I regret having so misstated, and I completely understand how Bill Richardson must feel today.
FRIDAY BEFORE DAWN: It's a time when a whole lot of us will be converging on department stores to get the best possible deals for Stuff. At least that's what I infer from the full-page newspaper ads in the morning paper, heralding that the doors will open at 5:00am the day after Thanksgiving. Memo: I find this bizarre. Confession: I've done it. Last year I found myself on the road in what seemed the dead of night, to make it to the Disney Store to snag a collection of The Incredibles action figures for my son. I did it partly because I bought into the two-part hype: 1) Excellent prices for 4 hours! and 2) Supplies limited! Mostly I made the trek for what I can only call anthropological reasons. Having always wondered what would make a sane person head to a shopping mall even at a normal hour the day after Thanksgiving, I couldn't resist seeing/hearing/feeling what it would be like to be one of the earliest participants in a uniquely American ritual. Suffice to say the experience is a unique altered-state-of-consciousness, one without any noticable hangover. This weekend I'll spend in a slightly related mind-altering activity: packing up my stuff for the movers. Buy more Stuff? I already have too much — and I'm paying strangers to put it in a truck and drive it across town to a new residence, where I'll unpack ... and wait for the cable guy to show up.
SIMPLE QUESTIONS: Michelle Malkin's latest column finds her wondering:
Can we bow our heads in union for one day and give thanks for our men and women who choose to fight, refuse to lose, and believe in their mission? Can we do it without distorting their legacies and pandering to anti-American elites worldwide and using their deaths to embarrass and undermine our commander in chief?
HORSE PLAY: It's not a day for the family to gather around the computer screen — but I can't resist urging you to hoist your favorite kid on your lap for a point-click chorus that might, with apologies, be called Handel for Horsies.
THE HOLIDAY: Jon Carroll of the SF Chronicle reprints his annual Why I love Thanksgiving essay, a favorite of mine over the years, here. Christopher Hitchens reflects on what makes this holiday America's most distinctive. And George Will takes a moment to honor the incomparable Bill Buckley on the occasion of his 80th:
Buckley, so young at 80, was severely precocious at 7 when he wrote a starchy letter to the king of England demanding payment of Britain's war debts. Seventy-three years on, Buckley's country is significantly different, and better, because of him. Of how many journalists, ever, can that be said? One.
AS JONAH SEES IT: The ever-witty, often insight Jonah Goldberg is somewhat less that encouraged by the contemporary political horizon:
Bush is a lame duck, Social Security reform is dead, the dreams of the revolution come up only when we gather around the campfire to sigh about what might have been. The Rinos are in charge now. Drilling in ANWR was pulled from the House appropriations budget, tax-cut extensions in the Senate were crushed in deference to the fearsome clout of … Olympia Snowe. Even on judges, the power-players are the Gang of 14 centrists and Rinos like Arlen Specter. It was Specter, not Kennedy, who gave John G. Roberts Jr. the toughest questions during his hearings. The most depressing prospect is that this will be the status quo for years to come. Liberals will shriek about GOP radicalism and conservatives will whine about the lack of it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

HIS NAME IS BILL: David Horowitz nails it concerning the man who seems to be competing with the Peanut Farmer for the most disgraceful ex-president award:
Your country is at war. It is fighting to defend a democracy in the heartland of Islamic terror. You are a former president and you are speaking in Dubai in the Arab Muslim Middle East, the war zone where young American men and women are dying in battles for freedom. But instead of words of praise for their heroism and gratitude for their sacrifice, you tell them the war they are fighting is a mistake. It is a mistake for them to be risking their lives in the service of their country. It is a mistake for them to be fighting for Iraqis' freedom. It is a mistake for them to be defending innocent people against terrorists who behead the innocent, who declare democracy to be evil and who have sworn to kill every Iraqi citizen who has had the audacity to vote. You insinuate that their commander-in-chief is a liar who tricked them into this war and that their cause is unjust. With these words, you have plunged a knife into the backs of the brave men and women who are defending your country. You have betrayed them and the Iraqi people. You have betrayed the cause of freedom and with it your country's soul. Your name is Bill Clinton and you are a national disgrace.