Aaron Hanscom

Sunday, February 26, 2006


My friend Charlie responds to my FrontPage article:

I realized that my reaction to most of your stuff is: "well, that could be true" or "maybe that is right." Which I think is good, because most of the time you are stating the merits of a position that is the opposite of what, say, the NY Times would advocate. So it forces me in most cases to realize that I don't know enough facts to really take a position, since there are reasonable arguments on both sides. Most of the time I don't have enough interest in the specific issue to actually do the research to come to an informed decision, so I remain agnostic.

I guess what I am curious is: do you see yourself serving this function that I am talking about, or do you really strongly believe in the correctness of your specific position?

Take the Palestinians and the Israelis. Your position seems to be "well, it's in the Palestinians' hands"--they can renounce terror and stop advocating the destruction of Israel, and then there can be peace. Which is a reasonable position. Of course, it seems to me the Israelis could usefully stop doing things like building more settlements in the West Bank, which seems like needless provocation and will only prolong the lack of peace.

But maybe it goes back to your view that people are killers or not killers, good or evil, something like that. So if the Palestinians use suicide bombers, then they are evil and no amount of negotiation will ever change that: they are killers for life and should only be killed or captured.

But is this because they are using violence? What about the colonists in the American Revolution? They used violence to get their own country. Or the French Revolution? Many people have used violence in the name of getting themselves a better life. This has often included killing civilians. What about the Native Americans in the United States? Some of these people we view as terrorists and some we view as freedom fighters. What were the Viet Cong, for example? You could argue that General Sherman was a "terrorist" when he burned down the homes of Southerners in an attempt to make them give up and end the Civil War. Was he?

I guess what I am driving at is why you seem to feel pretty clear about who is in the "right" in the Pal.-Israel situation. It seems to me like both sides have stuff they need to do before there is peace, which is usually the case. Israel is sympathetic because they are in the midst of hostile countries. But they also have the strongest army by far in the region, the most advanced (I think) economy and are a democracy. They are organized in a way that the Palestinians are not. If I were them, I would be thinking: how can we get peace? Unless your plan is just to kill every Palestinian, which is not really a workable plan, then obviously you need to work something out. Maybe the Palestinians are being totally unreasonable (to the extent that they even have a government to negotiate with) but wouldn't you then have an interest in helping them to form a government? Maybe Israel is already doing this kind of stuff, I don't really know. But the stuff like the settlements has alwasy rubbed me the wrong way. It sort of seems like kicking the Pals while they are down, reminding them who is strong and who is weak, and I guess I feel that type of behavior usually comes back to bite you in the end.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


My latest piece for FrontPageMagazine can be found here.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Take it from me (class of 1995), it's not worth it:

"We all worry about the tipping point; it's a dominant subject of discussion when school leaders get together," said Thomas C. Hudnut, headmaster at Harvard-Westlake, one of L.A.'s largest private schools, where tuition next year will reach $23,850. "Twenty years ago when tuition was $4,000, we thought the tipping point would be far below what it is today. I can remember sitting with the chairman of the school finance committee in 1983 or '84 with his head in his hands, saying he couldn't believe we were going to break $5,000. It wasn't that long ago, and now we're blithely charging five times that much."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


It looks like T.C. Lower has found my favorite part of Seville:

For me, perfect moments appear while I'm traveling. One such moment occurred in Seville, Spain, while I was winding down a road by a whitewashed labyrinth of homes beyond whose gates were courtyards with fountains and towering foliage.

I rounded a corner and entered what looked and smelled like paradise - a public courtyard filled with the fragrance of the orange trees lining its edges. The trees provided shade for gorgeous tropical flowers and mosaic-tiled benches where, on this particular day, I was treated to the music of a local guitarist strumming his 12-string.

I've spent hours in that very same courtyard just around the corner from the Alcazar. The perfect moments in life take place when time seems to stand still. For those of you who will never fall in love for the first time again, Seville might be the best place to help you feel "that way" again. All the more reason to fight Islamic terrorists who are intent on restoring their rule over Andalusia.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Running on empty

I've long been bothered by the exercise addicts who break out into a sweat when they are prevented from working up a sweat on the treadmill. All I can tell them is : "Don't sweat it."

In Newsweek last month, Dr. Harvey Simon of the Harvard Medical School recanted a view he had preached for years: that the only way to benefit from exercise was through intense aerobic activity, complete with pounding heart and rivers of sweat. Now, citing the latest research, he says he was dead wrong, and that gentle, no-sweat exercise -- even walking or gardening -- is also highly effective.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Nuclear Family

The Orange County Register published an interesting letter today in response to my op-ed piece:

Unsung parental values

Aaron Hanscom's article, "Woe to kids without father figures" [Feb. 8], was truthful and sad. Many adults believe it's OK to pursue their own happiness - mainly at the expense of their own children - through drugs, divorce, day-care, etc.

Children need both a mother and a father in their home whose sole purpose is to raise productive members of society. That's what parents are supposed to do. Inner-city leaders and role models could help by stepping up to the plate and applauding people in their communities who are doing just that.

Julie Freese

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Picking a fight

Many people such as Hugh Hewitt are suggesting that the Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, was looking for a fight by publishing the caricatures of Muhammad. This piece of information shows who the true instigators really were:

Keen to "globalize" the crisis to pressure the Danish government, Mr. Abu-Laban and his colleagues decided to send delegations to the Middle East. They prepared a dossier to distribute during the travels. The document, which exceeded 30 pages, featured copies of the published cartoons and Arabic media reports about the controversy. It also contained a group of highly offensive pictures that had never been published by the newspaper, including a photograph of a man dressed as a pig, with the caption: "this is the real picture of Muhammad."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

August and Everything After

Unfortunately, everything after their 1993 debut album has been sub-par for the Counting Crows. Hopefully Adam Duritz will find the magic again:

We are definitely making a new album. This is just to clear things up. We'redefinitely going to be making an album. Many of the songs are alreadywritten. Some have already been recorded (at least preliminarily) anddiscussions have been held as to how to proceed. The holdup is me. I'm stillnot prepared to do the things I would have to do to go forward with an albumproject right now, especially one as ambitious as this. Actually, it's notthe scope of the album that presents the difficulty. That's the easyenjoyable part to be honest. I'm just not prepared to go on tour for anylength of time and I'm even less prepared to wallow in the filth of themusic business. I don't want to go away form home for any period of time. Idon't want to speak to anyone in the press. I certainly don't want to readabout myself in the press. And, as I said, I don't want to spend any timeamong the disappointment and (unavoidable) disillusionment of the recordbusiness. At least for a little while. It wouldn't be healthy for me right now.

Friday, February 03, 2006

An excellent point made in the Wall Street Journal today:

It's also important to consider the effect that a nuclear Iran would have on the potential for a democratic Iran. Its nuclear project is often portrayed as a matter of national prestige, the implication being that any strike against it would rally the regime's domestic opponents to its side. What Iranian dissidents tell us is closer to the opposite. A nuclear Iran would enhance the mullahs' sense of invulnerability and facilitate domestic repression.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sexual fluidity

Ancient Greece and prison(and Jake and Heath kissing on screen) prove that women aren't the only ones who have it:

If you ask the girls why they think there’s more teenage bisexual experimentation happening today, Alair is quick with an explanation. “I blame television,” she says. “I blame the media.” She’s partly joking, giving the stock answer. But there’s obviously some truth to it. She’s too young to remember a time when she couldn’t turn on Showtime or even MTV and regularly see girls kissing girls. It’s not simply that they’re imitating what they’ve seen, it’s that the stigma has been erased, maybe even transformed into cachet. “It’s in the realm of possibilities now,” as Ritch Savin-Williams puts it. “When you don’t think of it as being a possibility, you don’t do it. But now that it’s out there, it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, that could be fun.’ ” Of course, sexy TV shows would have no impact at all if they weren’t tapping into something more innate. Perhaps, as research suggests, sexuality is more fluid for women than it is for men. Perhaps natural female intimacy opens the door to sexual experimentation at an age when male partners can be particularly unsatisfying.

Don't miss

the piece of the day. Here's a sample of Gabriel Leeden's excoriation of Joel Stein, but you definitely should follow the link:

For Stein to advocate opposition to American soldiers while nonchalantly admitting his own lack of service is a remarkable display of arrogance — a "wussy" thing to do, one might say. To one who comes from similar circumstances as Stein, but has chosen to serve his country, the thought of such a spineless argument provokes disgust. As noted elsewhere on the web, Theodore Roosevelt wrote an exceptional response to Joel Stein in The Atlantic in 1894.

"It is proper to demand more from the man with exceptional advantages than from the man without them. A heavy moral obligation rests upon the man of means and upon the man of education to do their full duty by their country. On no class does this obligation rest more heavily than upon the men with a collegiate education, the men who are graduates of our universities. Their education gives them no right to feel the least superiority over any of their fellow-citizens..."

Stein is one of many pseudo-intellectuals who feel that their education and socio-economic status excuse them of the responsibility to serve. They act as if they were entitled to freedom's blessings, just in order to indulge themselves.
Roosevelt does not let Stein and his ilk go easily:

"For educated men of weak fibre, there lies a real danger in that species of literary work which appeals to their cultivated senses because of its scholarly and pleasant tone, but which enjoins as the proper attitude to assume in public life one of mere criticism and negation; which teaches the adoption toward public men and public affairs of that sneering tone which so surely denotes a mean and small mind."

The sneering tone of which Roosevelt speaks is readily apparent in so many of our leading intellectuals and politicians. It bespeaks a condescension born of elitism, which is only fostered by an isolated and privileged upbringing, untouched by the weighty ideals of duty, honor, and selflessness.