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Today is special, of course: it’s the Feast of St. Cecilia, patroness of music. It’s also the birthday of a good friend. Happy Birthday, Laura! You are truly an amazing witness to your community.


As readers of the The Imaginative Conservative already know, the TSA is nasty, and it seems to be getting nastier by the moment. Here’s the latest statement from the TSA Head (so-called), John S. Pistole:

We welcome feedback and comments on the screening procedures from the traveling public, and we will work to make them as minimally invasive as possible while still providing the security that the American people want and deserve. We are constantly evaluating and adapting our security measures, and as we have said from the beginning, we are seeking to strike the right balance between privacy and security. In all such security programs, especially those that are applied nation-wide, there is a continual process of refinement and adjustment to ensure that best practices are applied and that feedback and comment from the traveling public is taken into account. This has always been viewed as an evolving program that will be adapted as conditions warrant, and we greatly appreciate the cooperation and understanding of the American people. 

We cannot forget that less than one year ago a suicide bomber with explosives in his underwear tried to bring down a plane over Detroit. The terrorists allegedly behind the thwarted cargo attempt last month are out there bragging about how they will strike again. We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary but that just isn’t the case.

If I remember correctly (and I do), a young Dutch professional stopped the terrorism attempt, and the TSA missed it during screening. I trust the Dutch private citizens far more than I trust the TSA to protect my security.

It’s worth reminding the public that the TSA has yet to stop one terrorist, directly.
 Additionally, Pistole is admitting that the TSA is a reactionary agency. Bad guys do one thing, the TSA responds, threat by threat, and only be attenuating Fourth Amendment rights.

Winston, The Imaginative Conservative’s grand patron and mastermind, understandably dislikes me labeling our government as “evil” (only persons are evil—he reminds me, correctly), but the government is simply out of control on this issue. Not surprisingly, our president has publicly defended the TSA’s position:

But at this point, TSA in consultation with counterterrorism experts have indicated to me that the procedures that they have been putting in place are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat that we saw in the Christmas Day bombing. (“Obama: TSA pat-downs frustrating but necessary,” MSNBC.COM, November 20, 2010).

Frankly, I’m amazed at the public outcry over all of this. But, I’m also very happy regarding it. It will be interesting, to say the least, to watch the news unfold on November 24, should travelers frustrate the TSA with the opt-out option.

Again, it’s worth stating: the TSA is out of control. I don’t know what to do to prevent its obnoxious and lewd behavior, but it does have to stop. Though I only advocate non-violent resistance, it’s worth noting that Amendment number 2 comes before Amendment number 4 in our Bill of Rights.

I do have one request. Can we please stop referring to our protected personal areas as “junk”?


Though I’m not a fan of George H.W. or George W. Bush, I very much appreciated Barbara Bush’s rather snobbish comments regarding Sarah Palin this weekend. Palin might be perky and spunky and attractive and have her own reality show, but I just can’t see her as the standard bearer of the Republican Party or as President of the United States. I find her immensely embarrassing. There’s been little open discussion about Palin on The Imaginative Conservative, and I invite comments regarding thoughts on Palin and her future.

Popular Culture

My wife and I have been watching AMC’s remake of the 1967 anti-government classic, The Prisoner. Though we’ve only finished three parts of the six-part miniseries, I give the story an A+. Creepy and compelling, to say the least. Additionally, we’ve now watched every episode of Stargate Universe. I must write: I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Nothing gratuitous exists in it. Every scene, every camera angle, every light of dialogue, every note of music has purpose and meaning. At once dark, humane, brutal, enticing, brilliant, despairing, hopeful…. If this is popular culture, it’s popular culture at its highest. At some point in the not too distant future, I hope to write a full review of the first 1.5 seasons.


Finally, today, I want to thank Winston for continuing to support this journal, and I want to thank Julie Robison and John Barnes for their excellent contributions. Steve Masty, I’m also eager to meet you some day. If you ever leave Afghanistan, please let us know.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative BookstoreThe Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

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7 replies to this post
  1. I think I have to come to Mrs. Palin's defense, although on this august website I might get a few eye rolls. The fact that she annoys someone like the snobbish Barbara Bush, and other Republican elites makes me like Palin. Of course, that she absolutely annoys the heck out of liberals brings me the most pleasure. To me, far from an embarrassment, she is quintessential Americana, a wonderful example of the values and principals that make America great. She gives as good as she gets, and doesn't much care what people think.

    Of course, she's a politician, so she obviously cares what people think, thus the books, the TV show, the speeches, etc. I bet she'd make a fine president, infinitely better than the White House's current occupant, because I think she would surround herself with high quality people, just not the same old Republican establishment that almost destroyed that party.

    But she would have a huge amount of work to do to overcome the great apolitical "center" of American politics. The liberal meme that she's somehow a ditz and lightweight are quite ingrained, and let's face it, Americans (maybe it's a human nature thing) are more easily convinced that a gorgeous women can't be all that smart. Seeing George Will's not so veiled disgust when discussing Palin on ABC's This Week was priceless. She's just so, so, lowbrow! How dare she think she could be president of the United States. Go ahead, Sarah, annoy on!

  2. Thanks for the good thoughts, Mike. Much appreciated. Annoying snobs is good, to be sure, and Bush was nothing if not snobbish in her comments. My fear is this: Palin has become a caricature of herself. She's more Tina Fey doing Palin than she is Palin. Whatever integrity she possessed when she served as governor departed when she left the office, halfway through her term. She broke a sacred trust for no apparent or good reason. Now, she's profiting and basking in her bizarre celebrity status.

  3. Conservatives often lose because of their penchant for contrarianism. they see through wets and leftists, loathe them and take reflexive positions against. this alienates their own core who, normal souls, are neither so informed nor politically obsessed. when i worked for the GOP their popular monthly, First Monday, came second among subscribers to National Geographic, meaning that the RNC's million-plus readers liked wild animals and natural wonders, yet half the Reagan Cabinet and all the New Right panjandrums thought reflexive, contrarian 'nuke the whales' jokes were the bee's knees. it put normal people off. so a tendency to embrace Palin because she disgusts people whom we do not like is perhaps satisfying personally but not too prudent.

    I agree with Dr Birzer that Palin is becoming a self-caricature but where were the skills? she has some intrepid values that cost her personally, right-to-life being an example. but why do so many Americans seem to think that values are sufficient in selecting a leader when they would be insufficient in choosing, say, an eye surgeon? skill and education may matter too. Here at TIC we're sufficiently well-read to know that statesmanship requires a few other strengths beyond values: dining with cutlery, diplomacy, a knowledge of history, economics and current affairs, clean personal linen, a measured probity perhaps, a modicum of prudence and so on. Yet so many of my acquaintances on the American Right talk as if their president could be a nose-picking hick so long as he/she agreed with them on a few single issues. As if diplomatic skills, for example, were of no matter. I suppose it is another side effect of the brutalism that accompanies the death of empire. The mind that takes glee in the thought of some presidential rube ordering about all those Third World cannibals and Euro-fairies is little different than the brutalists at TSA for whom nothing matters but the joy of abusing power. Sigh. She's a woman worthy of some respect indeed, but hardly a worthwhile president of a college, much less a nation.

    Stephen Masty

  4. Guess I should clarify. I disagree with both the esteemed Dr. Birzer and Mr. Masty. What I think angers me about the way Palin has been treated is that from the get to she was demonized by the media and her political opponents, and so effectively that who she was as governor of Alaska and how she got there were completely cast aside, forgotten as if they never existed at all.

    So Mr. Masty, you may think her incapable of running a college, but somehow she was a very effective governor of the largest landmass state in the country, and one of the most important states to our country's energy production and future. Before she became a left and then right wing punching bag, she had approval ratings in Alaska of 90%, for gosh sakes. Frankly is it insulting to those of us who can see beyond caricature to claim she is somehow a completely talentless, skill-less hick from the backwoods who has no business running anything.

    And as for the claim that she quit as Alaska's governor for "no apparent or good reason," that is simply a distortion of the facts. You may disagree with her reasons, but it wasn't a willy nilly silly decision just because, well, she wanted to get rich. I was going to quote from a WaPo article at the time, but there are plenty of places one can go to to see the reasons behind her resigning.

    No, I actually think that far from liking Palin just because she annoys people, I think those reactions to her tell me a lot more about those people than they do about Palin. And maybe that's why I've not jumped on the let's ridicule Sarah Palin bandwagon with the attendant eye rolls and snickering of those who are sure they are superior to her.

  5. Thanks, Mike. I would never claim to be superior to her–she's done things I would never do or have the ability to do. And, I meant what I wrote: she is spunky, she's full of energy. The Republicans need good, solid energy, to be sure. For what it's worth, I really, really (yes, I doubled the really) liked her when she first appeared at the Rep National Convention in Minnesota. My fear is that the Republican handlers took one aspect of her personality and, to use the words of CS Lewis, exploded that personality trait to madness. From her appearances on Entertainment Tonight (which I find, not inferior–but lacking in decorum? Not sure how to put this), etc., she seems to have bought into this marketing, into her own media hype. I just want a sharp, intelligent, articulate, principled person to emerge in the Republican party to lead as Reagan once led–through the leavening of those around him or her. Reagan never accepted the credit for anything that his team (as individuals or as a whole) did. He never appeared on TV gratuitously after he got into politics. Heck, he never even removed his tie while in the Oval Office because of decorum and his respect for those who came before him. He was a true leader in every sense.

  6. Brad, I actually agree with you about Palin's handlers. I think they really messed her up, especially in the eyes of the media, who wanted to hate her anyway. Once she botched the interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson the die was cast. She was an airhead not worthy of the office. Then the piling on began, and apolitical Americans and independents were turned off. I don't think she can reverse that, and what she's done since has likely only hardened those perceptions, as your remarks here indicate.

    I think what offends me about some conservatives joining the pile, however, is something Rush has talked about for years. You will never, ever see a liberal or Democrat tear down someone on their own side when their opponents are taking shots. Unless it becomes so obvious that they are John Edwards worthy scum. But when the left/Democrats/liberals take out the knives for a conservative, you can bet in due course other conservatives will jump on board. One instance that jumps to mind is Trent Lott. When a liberal says something that is actually intended to be hurtful and is blatantly egregious, it's blown off. And we could multiply the examples.

    This doesn't mean we don't with integrity call out those on our side who do actual wrong. But too often the right accepts the premises and interpretations of the left, and joins the fray. That infuriates me. I am absolutely with Rush on this, and in large part that's what's happened to Sarah Palin.

    But I'm ambivalent about Palin myself. She is a solid Christian, conservative, liberty loving American who appreciates and embraces America's founding principals. She took on the very powerful Republican establishment in Alaska against all odds and won. She has a very independent streak that refuses to co-opted by the establishment that seeks to aggrandize its own power. And she was an effective and even somewhat moderate politician there, before she come on the national scene and was branded a bozo. I'm afraid at this point she doesn't have a chance to change the meme, especially when a good number of conservatives think the choices she is making only confirm it.

  7. Mr. Crandall, which 'conservative elites' hated Reagan as he made his way to the white house? do you consider Rockefeller-republicans conservative? or corporatist machine republicans? I imagine not! so Barry Goldwater opposed him? for whom Reagan made his famous presidential endorsement speech in 1964 and kept Reagan the conservative standard-bearer until his election in 1980? pray tell us for i don't remember the conservative opposition. i do remember how the bushskyites (as once we called them) hijacked the Reagan revolution. of course Reagan chose bush, his opponent, to be his vice presidential candidate. once elected their respective campaign chiefs met – James baker and ed Meese. baker proposed that Meese direct policy for Meese was a thoughtful, Reaganite conservative in line with the new president, while he (baker) just did the housekeeping, personnel, etc. Meese fell for the ruse and agreed, unaware that personnel is policy, and so baker packed the administration with Ford-era retreads and Bushskyite factotums while poor, decent, conservative ed Meese found himself in a tiny office evermore, cogitating and smoking a pipe with nobody listening. game, set and match, even before Reagan took the oath of office.

    My point is this – compared to alaskan Sarah Palin, Californian old-Reaganite Meese (duffer though he was) looked like Machiavelli and Metternich cross-bred. she is a pleasant and energetic naif who would be whip-sawed into cord-wood by the usual establishment sharpies ten minutes after being elected president, or less likely she could just maybe pack her administration with the kind of amiable goofs and hicks who serve most state governors – on a global stage that would be no formula for success either.

    I am oddly amused by all those decent, hometown, patriotic contributors here who think that running the great state of Alaska (a vast, frozen, teevee-dinner underpopulated by welfare bums and elk if you ask me) makes her capable of saving a once-mighty empire dying outside and in. but i am glad that you and i share the conviction that she can do more good outside and talking sense than inside and being manipulated.

    Stephen Masty

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