On Saturday, my Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated the Michigan State Spartans 61-51 to advance to the NCAA championship game, where they will play the Virginia Cavaliers, who earlier that day beat the Auburn Tigers 63-61. Here are some highlights from the Texas Tech-Michigan State game:
As a bonus, on Friday the Texas Tech cheer and pom squads won two national championships at the National Cheerleaders Association finals in Daytona Beach. Here’s a video of the cheer squad’s winning performance:
From the “you just can’t make this stuff up” file, meet Great Britain’s newest political party: the CUK Party.
On the day when the United Kingdom was supposed to be leaving the European Union, the globalist, largely left-liberal “centrists” formerly of the Labour MPs — Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan, and Angela Smith — and the Tory Party — Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen, and Sarah Wollaston — announced they were formally instituting their new parliamentary faction as a political party, Change UK (CUK).
You know, in the bayous of Louisiana – quelle beau pays – that’s what the Cajuns say.
And in New York’s Little Italy – que bella terra – that’s how they say it their way.
And in the beer halls of Milwaukee, you’ll hear the words wie schöne das Land.
And it’s que lindo país – that’s what you’ll hear them say along the border, down by the Rio Grande.
You know there’s a lot of ways to say it. And it’s a privilege to play it.
‘Cause a lot of good people earned it. And this is how I learned it…
On Monday evening I took the time to watch Darkest Hour, wherein Gary Oldman gives an epic performance as Winston Churchill during the days and weeks after he rose to the prime ministership on May 10, 1940. Toward the end of the film, there was a scene where Churchill decides to ride the London Underground to Westminster. While on the subway, he speaks with a woman carrying a five-month old baby on her lap. Now while that woman and her baby were likely fictional, it struck me that were that baby still alive today, he would be five months younger than my own father, who turns 79 next month.
As William Faulkner wrote in Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Churchill, who led the United Kingdom during my father’s lifetime, refused to back down against Hitler’s brutal war machine which had overrun Western Europe and threatened to do the same to Britain, ignoring the advice of his own senior cabinet ministers who wished to pursue a negotiated peace.
I think of my Great Uncle Phil, a dual Canadian-American citizen who answered the King’s call and volunteered for service in the Royal Canadian Air Force, receiving a commission as a flight lieutenant as the Battle of Britain was underway in the fall of 1940.
I think also of my great-great-great grandfather Juan Francisco, a prominent politician in the then northern Mexican city of Laredo, suffering under the heel of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s brutal oppression, but ultimately leading his fellow Laredoans into an alliance with Texas and the United States. On April 25, 1847, he was administered his oath of American citizenship by none other than Mirabeau B. Lamar, former President of the Republic of Texas.
History is not made by the weak, but by those who have the courage to stand fast.
We face a similar reckoning at present, being told that to secure our southern border against alien invaders is inhumane and heartless. No less a personage than former First Lady Laura Bush has called for compassion in dealing with illegal alien children and their alleged parents.
Well I dare ask, where was this vaunted Bush compassion during her husband’s presidency, when on Thanksgiving night in 2005 some Mexican cartel members decided to have a shootout in my parent’s tony upper middle class neighborhood in Laredo, Texas? Nowhere.
Where was this vaunted Bush compassion when hundreds of innocent Mexicans were killed as a result of the Obama administration’s Operation Fast and Furious? Silence.
What of the confederacy of dunces and rats known as the Democratic Party? They make common cause with the illegals and other foreign interlopers against their own people.
And then there is the vile nest of copperheads in the Republican Party who call themselves NeverTrump. What is NeverTrumpism, but the philosophy of despair, the creed of arrogance, and the gospel of surrender?
I will have none of it. Like Horatius at the bridge and Churchill before the Nazi menace, it is time to stand and fight.
Having been born in 1975, the ‘80s were my childhood. During that decade, there were a number of musical groups whose names were acronyms, such as R.E.M., AC/DC, REO Speedwagon, and ELO. In addition, there was also a short-lived country band called S-K-O, named after its three members: songwriters Thom Schuyler, Fred Knobloch, and Paul Overstreet.
I hadn’t thought of S-K-O in years, but my memory of them came flooding back a couple of days ago when one of their songs popped up on my YouTube Music app: “Baby’s Got a New Baby”:
Released in 1986, the song rose to number one on the country charts. It is a wistful, yet upbeat tune about a man worrying that he’s losing his girlfriend.
Regrettably, it was the only number one tune the group would ever have. Paul Overstreet left in 1987 to pursue a solo career. The band replaced him with another songwriter named Craig Bickhardt and renamed itself S-K-B, but it never again reached the same level of success and disbanded in 1989.
Meanwhile, Paul Overstreet achieved some notable success as a solo act with ten studio albums and sixteen charted singles, two of which made it to #1. My favorite song of his was “Me and My Baby,” released during the summer of 1992 just ahead of my senior year of high school.
Such songs evoke a sense of joy that has largely vanished from my life, and I treasure them as I would the most priceless jewels.
Why is it that so many of President Trump’s critics seem to have trouble comprehending that the real world does not operate or conform to abstract ideological principles?
Perhaps, as James Day Hodgson observes in American Senryu, what is fundamentally at issue is the inability of the innocent to understand evil:
Ignored evil —
The price too often paid for
Purity of heart.
“Absence of guile achieved by wearing mental blinders is a dubious virtue. The late British humorist Malcolm Muggeridge was deadly serious when he reminded us that purity of heart has a dangerous two-dimensional shallowness unless accompanied by penetrating perception. An uncorrupted heart must be coupled with a ruthless eye.”
I would add that those presidents with the most successful foreign policy achievements – Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan among them – understood that one must deal with the world as it is, not how he wishes it to be. An uncorrupted heart is far less valuable an asset in diplomacy than a relentless pragmatism.
Per EThompson’s recommendation in the comments to my last post, I will share James Day Hodgdon’s verse on Machiavellianism and diplomacy from American Senryu:
Cynics first dictum: For persuasion to succeed, Conceal the intent.
“Polls show that the title ‘diplomat’ draws a reaction of great respect among the public. How puzzling! From the time of Machiavelli through Metternich and beyond, diplomacy has been associated with duplicity. Can it be that the triumph of the diplomat lies in his ability to use tools associated with duplicity to fashion a humane result? Possibly.”
Like Ronald Reagan with the fall of the Soviet Bloc a generation earlier, Donald Trump has made great progress toward a goal once thought impossible: peace on the Korean Peninsula. Trump’s success is a direct result of spurning the conventional wisdom and hidebound ideologies of both the left and right.
That observation is just as applicable on the domestic front. Buckleyite conservatism is the political equivalent of prevent defense in American football: ceding ground to the opponent for the purpose of achieving victory. Such an approach has not worked and will never work. One cannot win by continuously retreating. Any ideology that advocates such must be rejected outright.
In American Senryu, James Day Hodgson ruminates on the subject of enemies with the following verse:
The capacity To gain the right enemies Is part of genius.
“No man in his right mind deliberately sets out to make enemies. But few men of character and virility of thought can escape gaining some. In public life, a man is often respected as much for the disrepute of his enemies as for the worth of his friends. What holds true for men, holds true for nations.”
Although this verse was written nearly a quarter century before the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency, it is more than applicable. An astounding number of the president’s political opponents come off as inveterate social climbers, moral poseurs, and silver-tongued pillocks. That is no coincidence.
As some of you all know, I lived in Japan as a young child. During the mid-to-late 1970s, my father was a U.S. Customs representative assigned to the embassy in Tokyo and my mother taught Spanish at an all-girls Catholic school. My dad’s first boss during his tenure was Ambassador James Day Hodgson, who before being appointed to that position by Gerald Ford, had served as Secretary of Labor under Richard Nixon.
In 1992, Hodgson published a book titled American Senryu: Verses by a Former Ambassador. I purchased a copy in 1993 on a visit to Tokyo, and the tome remains one of my most valued possessions, for the wisdom contained therein is timeless.
For those unfamiliar with the Japanese literary art form of senryu, click here.
Apropos of recent events elsewhere, I was reminded of the good ambassador’s verse about pettiness, found on page 53 of his book:
A melange of evil Swims noisily in the small mind Before subsiding.
“About all that can be said on behalf of the mean-spirited is that their fulminations are rarely rewarded. Most of their spiteful scheming sputters and peters out in pathetic ineptitude.”
A few nights ago, I watched the latest iteration of the Godzilla film franchise from the Toho Company: Shin Godzilla, released in 2016. A reboot of the franchise rather than a sequel and set in the present day, Shin Godzilla tells the story of the mighty monster’s rise from the perspective of the Japanese prime minister and his cabinet.
When Godzilla first emerges out of Tokyo Bay in larval form and then begins charging through the city itself, the government is overwhelmed. Given the constitutional limits placed on the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, they are not sure if a military response is even a viable option. By the time they figure out how to untie that legal Gordian Knot, Godzilla has mutated into its full adult form and has become nearly invincible. The use of nuclear weaponry seems the only option left, but can another solution be found before visiting the same fate upon Tokyo as Hiroshima and Nagasaki seven decades earlier?
Overall, Shin Godzilla is a fine film, and I especially enjoyed Japanese actress Satomi Ishihara playing the role of U.S. envoy Kayoko Ann Patterson, even if her English left much to be desired. And the behind-the-scenes political intrigue portrayed amongst Japan’s political leadership was fascinating to this former Capitol Hill denizen. Check it out.