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17 Mar


Learning from the men who know how to win

March 17, 2005 | By |

From the Army Ranger Field Manual:

1-3. Fundamentals of ranger operations.

a. The success of an operation by a ranger unit depends on the observance of the fundamentals of the US Army’s AirLand Battle doctrine.

(9) Audacity, achieved by a willingness to accept risk.

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17 Mar


Austin Art Museum Update

March 17, 2005 | By |


I’ve heard from the Executive Director of the Austin Art Museum, Dana Friis-Hansen, who wrote to say she is sending the refund for our entry fees, and apologized quite nicely for the “bad experience” we had at the museum. Kind of understates the absurdity of the whole porn-in-a-museum thing, so I’m not sure she understands that it isn’t about the money. Still, kudos for the check in the mail. . .

More Museum Mess and The American Mind

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17 Mar


Memo to Condi Rice

March 17, 2005 | By |

There are few issues in politics which inspire greater emotion than abortion. And Condi Rice put herself right (or wrong as the case may be) in the fray by telling the Washington Times earlier this week that she is “mildly pro-choice.”

I am one of those for whom Dr. Rice’s statement would be a concern if she does choose to give Hillary competition in 2008, but I am also an admirer of hers. So here is my advice to her on how to handle this issue. Two points:

First: Come to Jesus. Condi needs to get right on this issue. Hemming and hawing and describing herself as kind of libertarian on the great moral issue of our day? It’s just beneath her. She is far too smart for this intellectual cowardice. She advocated marching to Baghdad to topple a dictator and free the Iraquis; she needs to show the same vision, determination and principled commitment to defending the innocent on behalf of American babies. See sonogram.

Second: Personnel is Policy. The problem is, even if she got right on this issue, who would believe her now? My first job out of college was serving in Presidential Personnel in the Reagan White House. Condi needs to remember President Reagan’s maxim (always a good idea): personnel is policy.

A good example of how this can work is Jim Gilmore, former Governor of Virginia. (Full disclosure: my husband was a Gilmore appointee.) Condi needs to find her own Claude Allen. Pro-lifers were wary of Gilmore, who is pro-choice. However, he appointed Allen, who is unapologetically pro-life, to the key position of Secretary of Health and Human Resources. (He is now Domestic Policy Advisor to President Bush.) He also appointed more pro-lifers to other key positions. His administration was a net gain for life concerns.

Even so. I come back to point one: you’ve got to get the basics right. Roe v. Wade is this generation’s Dred Scott. “Mildly pro-choice?” Dr. Rice, you’re better than that.

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14 Mar


Putting the shag back in shag rugs . . .

March 14, 2005 | By |

Seen around town, Austin, Texas: Keep Austin Weird. Found out what that meant. The quest for cultural enrichment for the Penta-Posse continued with a stop at the Austin Museum of Art. Instead, we found porn. Our westward adventure begins to feel like one long sex ed class. . .

That story just below. First: the hands-down favorite piece of “art” was a stack of plastic beach flip-flops in a pile on the floor. A portentous sign nearby warned: “Don’t Touch!”

I think that was there to ensure that the janitor didn’t accidentally toss them in the trash.

The Dreamer was aghast. “Why don’t I just clean out my closet for them?”

Just before leaving, we decided to take a swing through the “Community Room” which was just opposite the sign declaring the museum’s mission of outreach to families and children. It appeared to be some sort of craft festival — fun hats, scarves, jewelry.

Well, AND the larger-than-life, wall-sized picture of a naked woman done as a hooked rug.

I strolled over to talk with the young woman manning the front table. I asked her: what possible explanation could there be for putting this — and I gestured to the naked woman in high heels, reclining in a classic porn pose — on display in a museum, frequented by families?

She responded cheerily that they were a community group that had been invited to display their arts and craft work by the museum. I looked down at the table and picked up a few flyers: “Show me your KITS!: naughty latch-hook kits” and “Hot Pink Pistol.” Another young blonde coed with a bad dye job and a ripped shirt sidled up as reinforcement and haughtily asserted that, of course, the pornographic hook rug should be hanging in a museum because it is. . . art.

Then ensued a rather boringly predictable tussle about the relativity of all opinions about “art.” Still tutoring me superciliously, the faux-blonde leveled her coup de gras, informing me that my “emotional reaction” proved that this tacky piece of kitsch was akin to the statue of David.

I’m not sure which is worse: paying to take my kids to a museum and having them assaulted by pornography . . . or the elevation of Elvis on velvet to such exalted status.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for my refund. Please help. The Associate Director of Education at the Austin Museum of Art is Michaela Black, at, 512.495.9224.

UPDATE: The check is in the mail. See above.

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14 Mar


Babes on Bourbon Street

March 14, 2005 | By |

Made a quick stop through the Big Easy on the way to Austin. Hit Cafe du Monde for coffee and beignets and then headed to Bourbon Street.

Several people warned me about the seamier side of the notorious party promenade, but I hoped the Penta-Posse would be distracted by all the excitement. You would think I would have learned my lesson from Gilgamesh (see below)…

Each one of the Posse (‘cept Boo!) chose a New Orleans feathered mask and we joined the crowds walking down closed-off Bourbon Street. It was lightly raining, but we loved listening to the bands — particularly the trombonist playing Pink Panther — and the Dancer and I grabbed hands and danced with joy in the middle of the street.

Finally, exhausted and foot-weary, we turned back toward the hotel.

The Dude slipped his hand into mine and leaned in closely. Lowering his voice, so his sisters wouldn’t hear, he asked intensely: “Mom, what are those women thinking of?”

So, I guess he noticed the Hustler Club after all.

Looking at the exploitation and degradation of the female form through his eyes, how could I explain their inability to blush? How could I explain the pornographer’s ability to sell such a perverted conception of “empowerment” and “freedom?”

We’re hoping the Posse will learn a bit of history on this trip. But they may learn more about life.

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12 Mar


9-11 24/7: Pro-life by National Geographic

March 12, 2005 | By |

The abortion industry should be afraid, very afraid.

Back in 1995, Naomi Wolf shocked her friends in the abortion movement by writing in the New Republic that they needed to come up with a way to address the fact that: “the death of a fetus is a real death.”

Ten years later, this truth is even easier to see.

National Geographic has emerged (albeit probably unintentionally) as an unlikely ally of the pro-life movement. Be sure to catch a television special, “In the Womb” currently running on the National Geographic channel.

This phenomenal program is scheduled to rerun tonight (Saturday) at 5pm ET and again on March 18th.

The program features incredible 4D sonogram pictures of babies in the womb. (4D=three dimensions in real time.) Other pictures were taken from within the womb. The babies are shown in amazingly clear resolution sucking their thumbs, responding to voices, music and light, sight and sound. They can even determine whether a baby is right or left-handed by its responses. No “blobs of tissue” these.

Two key moments. One segment features a prenatal operation to fix a lung abnormality — the procedure requires two surgeries on the baby. It’s incomprehensible to watch on screen the full array of 21st century medicine mobilized to save the life of one small baby . . .and think that at the same time, even down the hospital hall, other unfortunate babies at the same stage of life are aborted routinely.

A second key moment: the narrator with the stentorian voice tells us that modern technology has revolutionized the way doctors view fetal development, particularly brain development. The old paradigm viewed birth as the beginning of the baby’s learning and life experiences. The new paradigm recognizes that the baby has been learning from his experiences even while “in the womb.”

That’s National Geographic speaking, not me.

After seeing pictures like these, it is difficult to explain to the Penta-Posse that 4,000 babies are aborted per day in the United States alone.

The Dreamer responded, “But that’s more than 9-11. Every day? That’s 9-11, 24/7.”

Every day. But with pictures like these, a new day is coming.

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11 Mar


Oh, grow up Petra Pan!

March 11, 2005 | By |

A former editor of Ms. magazine, Suzanne Braun Levine, has a new book out, Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood. Sorry, but these women can’t seem to make it into a first adulthood, let alone navigate a second one.

Writing in the winter issue of Ms., Levine encourages women to embrace the “F**k-You ’50’s.” Charming, just charming. She argues that women need to work on “mapping our second adulthood,” in order to make needed changes in society. (That list is too predictable to bear repeating.)

Here’s a key sentence: “our influence is compounded by our attitude.” Actually I’d have to agree with her. But the attitude she’s encouraging women to adopt is breathtaking in its stupidity. Adopting a posture that is vulgar, base and hostile? She thinks that’s the path to changing the world? To inspiring young women?

We’ve long had a Peter Pan syndrome for men who refused to grow up. We need one for women. Call it Petra Pan . . . adulthood is the issue for Ms. magazine and the feminists who use it as their lodestar. But they just can’t seem to grow up.

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07 Mar


Hillary’s lavender look

March 7, 2005 | By |

Viewed today along I-81 in Tennessee — giant billboard, stark white lettering on a solid black background:

One nation under me — God

Welcome to the red-states! A few miles further down the road, a giant aluminum cross, several stories high towered over the interstate.

This is unfamiliar territory for today’s Democratic elites. On Meet the Press yesterday, NYTimes columnist Paul Krugman bemoaned the “radical right’s attempted takeover of our country.” Something tells me he would find these inspirational billboards sinister.

Watch for Hillary to trot out her old “politics of meaning” as another layer of her re-coloration strategy — she’s aiming for a nice shade of purple, hoping that a little red mixed in with her blue will give her a winning lavender hue.

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07 Mar


Westward Ho!

March 7, 2005 | By |

We got up at 0-dark-thirty this morning, put the Penta-Posse in the truck — still in their pajamas . . . and headed West. I am attending a Liberty Fund conference this weekend in Austin, organized by Fred Turner (see Gilgamesh post below) on epic, and my husband has a trade show in Vegas at the end of the month — and, as everyone knows, Austin and Vegas are right next to each other — so we decided to take the kids along for the ultimate field-trip to the Grand Canyon.

Fred has had us reading the Odyssey, and the Aeneid, as well as his own epic poem, Genesis, about the settlement of Mars, in preparation for the conference. So I think I’ll blame the insanity on him: all the epic adventure inspiration. Well, adventure, yes. . . but I guess I overlooked the conflict, destruction and general mayhem storylines, as well. . .

Stay tuned. Will they survive the Odyssey in the SUV?

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05 Mar


Know Your Enemy

March 5, 2005 | By |

Michael Ledeen has written a wonderful tribute to a friend of his, Peter Malchin, “Zvika,” who recently died after a lifetime of unsung service to our country as an undercover agent. Among his many accomplishments, Zvika was the man who captured Adolph Eichmann in Buenos Aires.

Michael tells the story of Zvika’s capture of 30 Soviet agents in Israel. When Michael asked him how he tracked them, Zvika’s reply was:

“I didn’t track them at all,” he chuckled. “I just asked myself, if I were a Russian spy, where would I be right now? And once I had that answer, I went there and waited for him. It wasn’t hard to spot the guy.

What a great reminder of Sun Tzu’s admonition to “Know Your Enemy.” He said that “if you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

I learned this lesson from David Cook. I had the opportunity to ‘read’ philosophy and ethics with him at Oxford. On one occasion, he asked me to explain my position on abortion. As I began outlining why I am pro-life, he smiled and cut me off gently. Then he gave me an assignment to write a paper supporting the “right to choose.”

In the business world, they teach the concept of “mirroring” — we tend to see in other people that which we ourselves are, or believe. But that can be a strategic error in negotiation. And in policy debates. My paper on abortion was probably not one of my better efforts, but I am forever grateful to David for teaching me the wisdom behind “know your enemy.”

And I am forever grateful to Zvika, and the men and women like him whose names we will never know, who have served our country well. Much has been made of intelligence failures that may or may not have contributed to 9/11. But the only evidence of intelligence successes is, well, nothing. The nothing that didn’t happen . . .

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