Friday, May 15, 2009


Tomorrow is a special day here at Viewpoint. It was five years ago, May 16th, 2004 that my brother Bill and I launched this humble venture. It was born out of the conviction that there had to be a better way to share ideas with friends and family than by bombarding them with articles and e-mails. Not only was it annoying to the recipients but it was getting a little cumbersome because among my acquaintances there were different audiences for different topics, and I didn't think that most people had the time to read a lot of the stuff anyway.

I wondered if it might not be more effective to just have a site where people could come if they were interested and find commentary on current events, religion, science, and philosophy - the topics that most interest me. I had no idea how to go about creating such a site, but Bill said that it was fairly easy and set about doing it. Viewpoint is what emerged from his efforts.

Since then we've churned out over 5160 posts on a variety of topics and had over 347,450 hits, averaging around 7500 hits a month over the last three years.

Surely it's a conceit to think that one has something to say that others might wish to read or hear, but I suppose that it's a conceit shared by everyone who writes, teaches or preaches so I don't let myself feel too guilty about it.

I do wonder sometimes, though, how long I'm going to keep it up. It does take time to put a day's posts together, and I often wonder if there aren't other ways I should be spending that time. Then I get an e-mail like the following from a reader named Dave, and I'm energized to keep going for another couple of months.

Dave wrote:

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your website. I am relatively new to it, but I look forward to checking it every day. I love the range of topics you post on; it all is very interesting and thought-provoking to me. I am a recent college grad (I grew up in York) now living in Philadelphia, so as you can imagine with the liberal way-of-life out here, it is very refreshing to hear common sense ideas and rational, well-informed thinking.

Your archives and search capabilities are great tools for learning more about specific topics. In fact, since earlier today I overheard people talking about gay marriage, I searched for that on the website and just finished reading nearly all of your posts about it. I now feel as though I have a much more tenable, and convincing, stance should I ever find myself debating someone.

Finally, I feel I must comment on your communication skills. Your command of vocabulary is top-notch. Sometimes I find myself going back and forth between the dictionary and your posts, only to find you've chosen the exact word needed for your idea. In this day of cryptic internet abbreviations and phrases, it is a welcomed change to read your polished writing. It has certainly helped me add to my own vocabulary.

In sum, I really appreciate and admire your site. Keep up the fantastic work.

On behalf of Bill and myself I want to thank Dave and all of you for your readership. It's knowing that you think it's worth your time to come here that makes our time and effort all worthwhile.

Thanks again,

Dick Cleary

Letter of Amends

Robin is a self-described "recovering liberal from Berkeley" who writes her family and friends a letter of apology for all the unpleasantness she put them through before the scales fell from her eyes. It's good, especially the second half where she explains what brought about her epiphany.

Here's the nut of it:

In February of 2008, I saw a new client, a bright and sensitive young woman who came in looking like she just escaped a war zone. In some ways she had; she had innocently shared with others at her job that she voted for Hillary rather than Obama. Immediately she was being targeted for abuse that put her in fear for not only her job, but her life.

We both suddenly became aware that something had grown really dark in the Democratic Party. I started hearing about many other incidents where loyal Democrats were being physically and emotionally threatened for supporting Hillary. A woman in Berkeley had her front window broken because it displayed a poster of Hillary. Randi Rhodes, an Air America talk show leftist, called Hillary a f______ witch. (Rhodes was recently promoted to a national talk radio show, illustrating another disturbing trend: the deafening silence about what Rush Limbaugh has dubbed the new "thug-ocracy.)

An acquaintance had her car broken into, and the only item stolen was a NoObama bumper sticker. A South Park episode featured an episode where a nuclear weapon was being aimed at Hillary's genitals. My local greeting card store sold very flattering cards about Obama, insulting ones about Hillary, and a Hillary "nutcracker." When I complained, the young male manager literally laughed in my face.

Things went from bad to worse when Sarah Palin entered the scene. When Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice President, there was no debasement of her character, no sexual threats. But with Palin, a full scale "wilding" ensued that chillingly reminded me of the random sexual attacks on women by gangs of men in New York. She was called every vile name in the book by both male and female liberals.

Actress Sarah Bernhardt hoped a gang of black males would rape her. When Palin's church was torched with children inside, the press was missing in action (somehow I imagine the press would have been all over this if Obama's church were torched). Not only was the misogyny disgusting, but the classism was abhorrent. The Democrats, by ridiculing Palin's voice and her education, were acting like arrogant snobs. The party had changed, I had changed, and the differences looked irreconcilable.

The final straw for me was when a close friend flew into a rage at me when she learned I wasn't supporting Obama. The political became personal when she began impugning my character. Worse yet, she tried to intimidate me into changing my mind by threatening to dump me.

Suddenly a light went on. The peace and love and flower power of the old left was dead and gone (if it even existed to begin with except in my imagination). The Democrats had morphed into a power hungry Thought Police, and I was done with them. My new motto in life: don't PC on me.

Robin concludes with these questions:

But now the problem is: how in the world does one be a conservative these days? How to stay brave and committed when conservatives are being targeted, punished, and shunned on a daily basis? How to sleep at night knowing that the country I have finally come to love may be destroyed from within by a massive Big Brother government?

Maybe one reason the Democratic party has shifted so far toward the hard left is that a lot of intelligent people like Robin, people who sincerely believed that liberalism held the answers to our problems, have been so repulsed by the tactics of the ACORNs and the antics of the Keith Olbermanns that in order to preserve their own sense of self-dignity and integrity they just have to dissociate themselves from it all and leave the party to the leftists. Maybe.


Agile or Indolent?

Changing one's mind is indicative of one of two things: intellectual nimbleness (i.e. the ability to change course in light of new evidence) or intellectual laziness (a failure to think matters through in the first place). When the change of mind occurs only occasionally we may assume the cause is an agile mind. When it happens frequently it's more likely due to the latter cause. In the president's case I'm not sure yet which it is, but his switches seem to be occurring with uncomfortable frequency, at least in matters bearing on national defense.

We noted earlier Mona Charen's recitation of some of them, and now Jake Tapper of ABC informs us that Obama has had yet another change of heart.

President Obama defended his decision to fight the release of photos showing detainee abuse Wednesday afternoon, saying it would only put American troops in harm's way and create a backlash against Americans.

"The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger," the president said before departing on his trip to Arizona. "Moreover, I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse."

The move is a complete 180. In a letter from the Justice Department to a federal judge on April 23, the Obama administration announced that the Pentagon would turn over 44 photographs showing detainee abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush administration.

In other words, the Obama administration is going to fight against releasing the photos even if it means going to court and even if it means opposing the ACLU.

This is a good decision. Indeed, in almost every instance where the president has flipped I think he's come down on the side of doing the right thing, but it's worrisome that he could not see it was the right thing until after he had made so much political hay promising the left he would do the wrong thing. Did he really think through those promises before he made them or was he just iterating the knee-jerk positions of his leftist constituency? Do his tergiversations suggest that the president is intellectually gifted or intellectually lazy?

If it is the first we have cause to be hopeful. If it's the second we have cause to be alarmed.