May 31, 2006

Freudian slip...

Dr Weevil quotes from a news article about Haditha:

...“If the accounts as they have been alleged are true, the Haditha incident is likely the most serious war crime reported in Iraq since the beginning of the war,'’ said John Sifton, of Human Rights Watch. “Here we have two dozen civilians being killed - apparently intentionally. This isn’t a gray area. This is a massacre.'’
What’s cretinous about Sifton’s statement? It’s missing three words. If true, this would indeed be “the most serious war crime” by our side “reported in Iraq since the beginning of the war”, but it wouldn’t even be in the top 20 war crimes committed in Iraq in that time period. The ‘insurgents’ routinely kill civilians in larger numbers, and in cold blood. Of course, that does not in any way justify massacres by our side, but it’s amazing that anyone could write such an obviously false statement. Apparently, to some people, massacres by Islamist fanatics, leftover Ba’athists, and their foreign allies don’t really count as massacres....

Sorry, I but don't think this is some foolish mistake or mis-speaking. This is exactly how these people think. This is a "Freudian slip" that reveals the truth. Usually they stick in one of those "of course" disclaimers (of course we also condemn violence by the resistance movement, but...)

But they don't mean it.

You can plainly see that they don't mean it because they never put any energy into any cause that isn't anti-American. No creativity, no sparkle in the eyes, no "We have to do something!" They only get excited when there is a chance to condemn the USA.

"Human Rights Watch" is a fraud, a cover for leftism. Human rights activists, Anti-war activists and pacifists are fakes in exactly the same way. They are really leftists. And leftists are always anti-American, though they often cover it up in ways I'm sure you've encountered.

And why are leftists always anti-American? Because everyone of us has a "philosophy," a set of underlying ideas and beliefs that guide our positions and actions (Most people never examine their core beliefs, but they are there.) The underlying philosophy of leftists is (usually in a muddled and attenuated form) socialism. And the absolute number one counter-example and refutation of socialism is the USA.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:37 AM

May 30, 2006

The Mid-Twentieth-Century Template...

I was bothered by this post by Eric Muller criticizing the Pope's Auschwitz speech (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds)

His points are cogent, and they may be right...I'll have to think about them--I might even agree with some of them. And I may blog about it, though I'm not trying to turn this into a religion blog. BUT, this is very much a blog about leftism, and especially the way leftist ideas are imposed upon us as if they are already things we all agree about.

Which they were when I was younger. "Big government liberalism" was the dominant idea, and conservatism was the realm of a few "kooks" like Barry Goldwater, who were scorned by the liberal establishment in a way it's hard to even imagine now.

And most leftish discourse still assumes that their mid-20th Century template is accepted by all, and that all arguments are to be framed with that template as a premiss. And since the template has become increasingly divergent from reality, much leftish argument consists of holding actions, with, "Don't you dare change the subject" as their theme.

An example is how we are all supposed to remain firmly in the Civil Rights Era. (My daughter once said, of her trendy school, "Black History Month comes four times a year.") If one points out that liberal Democrats today are pushing policies that hurt inner-city minorities, you don't get an answer based on the merits or the facts, you get: "Don't you dare change the subject! We ARE the Civil Rights Movement!" Another example of the template is that Christians are forever "crusaders," and should forever grovel and apologize. But for some reason it's not done to point out that Arabs were crusaders too, when they conquered the Holy Land, and when they booted the Christian crusaders out again. (And that they were in fact the stronger military power of the time.) Imagine suggesting they apologize! Wooo, wouldn't that break the template.

And another major part of the template says that Nazi Germany was the worst thing that ever happened in the world, that the Nazi's were the only bad guys worth mentioning, and anyone who opposed them can be pretty much assumed to be the good guys. And Nazis = Germans (except German leftists) who should apologize for their sins forever. And Germans = Western Civilization (except leftists) which should apologize for its sins forever.

And if one points out that Communism killed far more people than Nazism, and that no one is asking Russians or Chinese or leftist-fellow-travelers to do much apologizing, the response is "Don't you dare change the subject!" Arnold Kling has pointed out that the template says that, in relation to Christians, Jews = victims, but in relation to Arabs Jews = oppressors. We see arguments crammed into that odd mold every day.

I think there's a lot more to this matter than the template assumes, and I think that the danger of the world forgetting about the evils of Nazism and the Holocaust is far less than the danger of the template we use for the subject being a tool to help the world to forget about a great many other things. Muller's post seems to be very much in the "Don't change the subject" category. Maybe he's correct in this case, but it's long past time to stop just assuming that that's true.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:32 AM

May 29, 2006

One more post for Memorial Day

I saw this poem at BrothersJudd. I think it's awesome...

Ode to the Confederate Dead (Allen Tate 1899-1979)

Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death;
Then driven by the fierce scrutiny
Of heaven to their election in the vast breath,
They sough the rumour of mortality.
Autumn is desolation in the plot
Of a thousand acres where these memories grow
From the inexhaustible bodies that are not
Dead, but feed the grass row after rich row.
Think of the autumns that have come and gone!-
Ambitious November with the humors of the year,
With a particular zeal for every slab,
Staining the uncomfortable angels that rot
On the slabs, a wing chipped here, an arm there:
The brute curiosity of an angel's stare

Turns you, like them, to stone,
Transforms the heaving air
Till plunged to a heavier world below
You shift your sea-space blindly
Heaving, turning like the blind crab.
Dazed by the wind, only the wind
The leaves flying, plunge
You know who have waited by the wall
The twilight certainty of an animal,
Those midnight restitutions of the blood
You know-the immitigable pines, the smoky frieze
Of the sky, the sudden call: you know the rage,
The cold pool left by the mounting flood,
Of muted Zeno and Parmenides.
You who have waited for the angry resolution
Of those desires that should be yours tomorrow,
You know the unimportant shrift of death
And praise the vision
And praise the arrogant circumstance
Of those who fall
Rank upon rank, hurried beyond decision-
Here by the sagging gate, stopped by the wall.
Seeing, seeing only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire
Turn your eyes to the immoderate past,
Turn to the inscrutable infantry rising
Demons out of the earth-they will not last.
Stonewall, Stonewall, and the sunken fields of hemp,
Shiloh, Antietam, Malvern Hill, Bull Run.
Lost in that orient of the thick-and-fast
You will curse the setting sun.
Cursing only the leaves crying
Like an old man in a storm
You hear the shout, the crazy hemlocks point
With troubled fingers to the silence which
Smothers you, a mummy, in time.
The hound bitch
Toothless and dying, in a musty cellar
Hears the wind only.
Now that the salt of their blood
Stiffens the saltier oblivion of the sea,
Seals the malignant purity of the flood,

What shall we who count our days and bow
Our heads with a commemorial woe
In the ribboned coats of grim felicity,
What shall we say of the bones, unclean,
Whose verdurous anonymity will grow?
The ragged arms, the ragged heads and eyes
Lost in these acres of the insane green?
The gray lean spiders come, they come and go;
In a tangle of willows without light
The singular screech-owl's tight
Invisible lyric seeds the mind
With the furious murmur of their chivalry.
We shall say only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire
We shall say only the leaves whispering
In the improbable mist of nightfall
That flies on multiple wing;
Night is the beginning and the end
And in between the ends of distraction
Waits mute speculation, the patient curse
That stones the eyes, or like the jaguar leaps
For his own image in a jungle pool, his victim.

What shall we say who have knowledge
Carried to the heart? Shall we take the act
To the grave? Shall we, more hopeful, set up the
In the house? The ravenous grave?

Leave now
The shut gate and the decomposing wall:
The gentle serpent, green in the mulberry bush,
Riots with his tongue through the hush--
Sentinel of the grave who counts us all!
Posted by John Weidner at 3:08 PM

Do not be discouraged...

I liked this. Pope Benedict, speaking to young people in Kraków-Błonie...

...My friends, in the heart of every man there is the desire for a house. Even more so in the young person’s heart there is a great longing for a proper house, a stable house, one to which he can not only return with joy, but where every guest who arrives can be joyfully welcomed. There is a yearning for a house where the daily bread is love, pardon and understanding. It is a place where the truth is the source out of which flows peace of heart. There is a longing for a house you can be proud of, where you need not be ashamed and where you never fear its loss.

These longings are simply the desire for a full, happy and successful life. Do not be afraid of this desire! Do not run away from this desire! Do not be discouraged at the sight of crumbling houses, frustrated desires and faded longings. God the Creator, who inspires in young hearts an immense yearning for happiness, will not abandon you in the difficult construction of the house called life....

Pope Benedict XVI

AP Photo/Alik Keplicz

And I like this picture. The Pope is not, to my mind, a very photogenic guy. In fact he often looks like some strange uncle drawn by Charles Addams. Here he looks like the sweet person that those have met him always describe, but also like the intellectual heavyweight he is. Dangerous (in the good sense, like Gandalf). What a time this is to be alive...

Posted by John Weidner at 2:45 PM

O'Sullivan's First Law...

On the topic of the previous post, here's the "law" I was referring to:

(John) O'Sullivan's First Law states that all organizations that are not explicitly conservative become left-wing over time. [link]

Why? For the same reason that "student government" on any campus is always a hotbed of radicals, even if the mass of the students are not radical at all. NOBODY ELSE CARES! Not enough to spend vast amounts of time and energy taking over the organization. Most students just want to get on with life and studies, or possibly both. For the lefties, this is a chance to gain power and influence and make changes that the voters would never endorse at the ballot box. They are hungry for it. They will do the boring (in both senses of the word) work.

Also, running a group like AI feeds that ravenous hunger for superiority that exists in all of us. A hunger that can not be sated by the "success" of becoming Brand Manager for Cocoa Pebbles, or making Partner at your law firm. The people who started Amnesty International probably put in their stints helping run the group, but were soon happy to relinquish that drudgery to those who were hungry for it. Which means, people who want to get something more out of it than just the satisfaction of helping the poor prisoners.

I think the same kind of thing is possible on the conservative side, but it runs against the grain, and is not seen often. One can imagine a group that was formed to fight, say, trendy liturgical changes in their church gradually being taken over by people who want to oppose everything that has a leftish flavor. But it doesn't seem to be a big problem...Any examples?

Posted by John Weidner at 10:35 AM

Frauds... - In late April, revealed that Amnesty International was canvassing their members on a proposal to move into abortion advocacy. Now the human rights group claims that their proposed foray into abortion stems from their support for women's and homosexual rights. has obtained copies of a form letter Amnesty sent to supporters who contacted them objecting that abortion violates the rights of the unborn. Amnesty wrote, that their proposal to support "sexual and reproductive rights," (SRR) stems from their "global campaign to Stop Violence against Women, as well as its work on HIV/AIDS; on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, economic, social and cultural rights and on related issues."...

I've forgotten, whose "law" is it that all organizations that are not explicitly conservative will tend to move leftwards? It's so true. Regardless of what you think about these various issues, it's clear that AI, like all the peace 'n pacifism groups, is just another lefty political gang. A sham.

They long ago compromised their core idea, by starting to "balance" every atrocity in the world with some crime by America. "Topping our list of Worst Human Rights Offenders is North Korea, with millions held in brutal concentration camps. And, moving up with a bullet, the USA, which is going to fry Mumia, and refuses to allow gays their UN-mandated marriage rights."

Posted by John Weidner at 9:27 AM

Do they "get it?"

The alligators usually eat Andrea's homework, but when they don't you get good stuff like this:

It is supposed to be an elitist canard to say that whenever something — a work of art, a philosphy, a rock group, a cuisine, anything — becomes popular, that something is, if not destroyed, than distorted out of its original shape by the desires and convictions of the members of the general public that have latched onto it. Well call me an elitist, because I believe it. Take the philosophical, moral, and ethical set of beliefs known as “conservatism.” It has lately become fashionable for young and not so young people whose public behavior and stated beliefs are anything but to declare themselves “conservative,” and to immediately set about applying that label to any of their favorite pastimes and notions.

An almost comically silly example is found in this blog post on Libertas by one “Dirty Harry.”.....Harry makes this astounding statement: What he represents is total complete and unbridled freedom. What could be more conservative than that?...

A softball, but she gives it a fine whack...

And I'd say she's right that rock music is not, and can not be, conservative. In fact what it desperately needs is to be outlawed, and driven underground. Then it might flourish again. I'm old enough to remember when it was still delightfully wicked, and just listening to it had a flavor of rebellion against boring grow-ups. Actually, my generation failed in our duty. We, and succeeding generations, should have grown up, discovered classical music and learned to hate Rock 'n Roll, thus allowing rebellious teenagers their proper sphere.

Instead we stupidly keep accepting every atrocity that comes along, and the poor little "rebels" are forced to run faster and faster to keep ahead of us. What a mess. Pretty soon rebel youth will have to start piercing themselves with barbecue skewers through the brain to get any king of buzz. Anyway, to be a conservative is to believe in Original Sin. You don't have to believe it as a religious concept, but you get it. You see it all around you. Somebody comes up with a plan to save the world or make us all happy, or just stop spam, and you say, "Oh Gawd, here we go again." Libertarians are not conservatives. Sorry guys, luv ya and all, but, no.

Maybe most of the problems we see in the developed world are the result of my generation starting the trend of not growing up. It certainly fits. And maybe that's just an inevitable result of prosperity and peace. Maybe the world is doomed. I walk around San Francisco, and see the grey-hairs still trying to be hip, and I think, We're doomed. Perhaps the conservative trend among younger people will save us, but do they "get it?" Like anything, if conservatism is to become a mass movement, it has to be debased and mass-produced. It's certainly better to mass-produce Conservatism-Lite, than to fudge-up the mass-market bohemianism that was the Hippie movement. Ugh. Things could be worse! But, this morning, I still think we are doomed.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:02 AM

May 28, 2006

At last!

One of the many loathsome aspects of Hollywood is its eagerness to portray white male businessmen as crooks and killers. And I've long suspected that this is not only trendy leftism, but is also a reflection of the sort of people you encounter if you are in the movie business. They are just telling it like it is, to them...Here's some evidence:

NYT: LOS ANGELES, May 21 — Three months after the indictment of Anthony Pellicano, the private detective who prosecutors say routinely wiretapped enemies of the rich and famous, a fraternity of high-priced lawyers who do Hollywood's business from glass towers in Century City are waking to a grim truth: the government believes they are the problem.

This town has been increasingly consumed by the spectacle of a prosecution that has touched dozens of show business figures since it began to unfold with Mr. Pellicano's indictment in February. So far, an unlikely sheriff — a 43-year-old prosecutor without a single large-scale case under his belt — has studio chiefs, agents, producers and movie stars all waiting to see if they will join those who face criminal charges, be called as witnesses or merely have their ugliest personal and business secrets revealed in court and reported in the newspapers.

But it is only now becoming clear that powerful businesspeople and stars are just collateral damage in a hunt for the real target: what government lawyers see as corruption in a legal system that is suddenly being policed after decades of neglect....

....While some Hollywood people joke that all the good criminal defense lawyers are taken, some top Los Angeles lawyers say that the best ones were avoiding taking clients now, betting that more indictments are coming and will land even bigger fish.

Any further indictments are almost certain to take aim at the lawyers — something Mr. Saunders signaled after announcing charges against Mr. Christensen. The lead partner of one of Century City's biggest law firms, Mr. Christensen, who pleaded not guilty to wiretapping and conspiracy, was caught on tape discussing with Mr. Pellicano wiretapped recordings the private detective had made of Mr. Christensen's legal adversaries talking about their strategy and other sensitive subjects. "No attorney should stoop to such levels to gain a tactical advantage," Mr. Saunders said at the time....

Sweet! Couldn't happen to nicer people. Thanks for the link to Jim Miller, who links to an interesting Guardian article, stuffed with curious celebrity tidbits, including this one:

....Pellicano did work directly with one president: during Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign Pellicano was hired, reportedly by Hillary Clinton, to discredit Gennifer Flowers, the woman who alleged that she had maintained a 12-year affair with the candidate. Six years later, with Clinton into his second term, the White House, according to the New York Post, hired Pellicano, considered a respected forensic audio specialist, to look into Monica Lewinsky's background....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:00 PM

Memorial Day

From last year, about this time...

Joe Dodson plays the bagpipe at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Ky

Joe Dodson plays the bagpipe as he stands among the thousands of headstones at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday while participating in the burial service for Marine Sgt. David Neil Wimberg, who was killed last week in Iraq.
Associated Press. army times frontline photos June 1, 2005

Posted by John Weidner at 5:03 PM

Straight talk...

The President's commencement speech at West Point is well worth reading...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:33 AM

The unreported story...

The incident at Haditha is still being investigated. If the marines did murder civilians, it was a terrible thing, and they should and will be punished.

But the press and the anti-American Left is already drooling over the story, and has already convicted, and is already telling lies. (See this by Hugh Hewitt, where he interviews Gen Bahms, whose words were misrepresented by the WaPo.)

But incidents like this, or Abu Ghraib, or My Lai, always have another story that they cast like a shadow, a sort of anti-story. And that story is NEVER REPORTED.

There are two parts to the unreported story.

One is that the tactics of the Viet Cong, or the "insurgents" in Iraq, are intended to provoke atrocities. The My Lai Massacre story is still being told--my son learned about it in school--but it's never mentioned that the Viet Cong routinely used civilians to cover their attacks, and routinely pretended to be civilians. These are war crimes, they were committed daily, but get no attention from the sort of people who are eager to find American war crimes. And the explicit intention of these war crimes, taught by the Soviets, was to provoke attacks on civilians.

Similarly, there is very little mention of the terrorists in Iraq or Afghanistan using schools and mosques and civilian crowds for their attacks. It is virtually unreported that Abu Ghraib prison was under frequent mortar and rocket attack by the terrorists, and at the same time we were humiliating some prisoners, they were killing and maiming them by the hundreds! Kinda spoils the artistic effect of the story to put in those extraneous details...

Second, the other part of the unreported story is that, for every My Lai (or Haditha, or Abu Ghraib) there were tens of thousands of My Lais that didn't happen. Daily incidents that didn't result in any massacres. Another tiresome detail best left out, so as not to spoil ones Pulitzer possibilities.

And you know what's going to make me really furious, if this works out the way these things have in the past? Not the blatant Left who will be crowing and high-fiving over this, but the hypocritical Left, who will pretend to be "heartbroken," and to be "devastated" that the "American they love could have fallen so low," and "our military's honor be so besmirched." Foul liars. They never show the slightest interest in the (infinitely greater numbers of) good deeds our soldiers do, so they have not the slightest right to pretend that they care.

Oh, and Third. It occurs to me that there is another part to the unreported story. The tactics of our enemies (and similarly the enemies of Israel, or Britain or Australia) testify to the simple fact that we are the good guys. They only work because we care. We would never try to provoke the terrorists into massacring civilians--why bother, they do it voluntarily all the time, and the press and the Left don't care about those civilians anyway.

This whole story is based on the fact that we are the good guys, and the Left and the press is allied with our enemies to use this against us.

* Correction: The interview with General Bahms was by Mary Katherine Ham. She co-blogs at Hugh Hewitt's blog.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:32 AM

May 27, 2006

The real McCoy...

You might want to bookmark this, and then, the next time someone tells you that President Bush is inarticulate, or that the Republicans are the stupid party, you can show them the original, the real McCoy, the Platonic Ideal...

(Thanks to Rand.)

Posted by John Weidner at 3:10 PM


Here, for your delectation, is a chinese food blog, Cha Xiu Bao. I recommend the video of the Chinese champ making 龍鬚麵 , Dragon Beard Noodles, repeatedly folding the dough until he has 4096 the sound of the Red Army Chorus performing Kalinka.

Thanks to WDTPRS.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:25 PM

May 26, 2006


This was passed to us by our friend Mr Effross....

Far away in the tropical waters of the Caribbean, two prawns were swimming around in the sea - one called Justin and the other called Christian.

The prawns were constantly being harassed and threatened by sharks that inhabited the area. Finally one day Justin said to Christian, "I'm fed up with being a prawn; I wish I was a shark, and then I wouldn't have any worries about being eaten."

A large mysterious cod appeared and said, "Your wish is granted", and lo and behold, Justin turned into a shark. Horrified, Christian immediately swam away, afraid of being eaten by his old mate.

Time passed (invariably it does) and Justin found life as a shark boring and lonely. All his old mates simply swam away whenever he came close to them. Justin didn't realise that his new menacing appearance was the cause of his sad plight.

While swimming alone one day he saw the mysterious cod again and he thought perhaps the strange fish could change him back into a prawn. He approached the cod and begged to be changed back, and, lo and behold, he found himself turned back into a prawn. With tears of joy in his tiny little eyes Justin swam back to his friends and bought them all a cocktail. (The punch line does not involve a prawn cocktail - it's much worse).
Looking around the gathering at the reef he realized he couldn't see his old pal. "Where's Christian?" he asked. "He's at home, still distraught that his best friend changed sides to the enemy and became a shark", came the reply.

Eager to put things right again and end the mutual pain and torture, he set off to Christian's abode. As he opened the coral gate memories came flooding back. He banged on the door and shouted, "It's me, Justin, your old friend, come out and see me again."Christian replied, "No way man, you'll eat me. You're now a shark, the enemy, and I'll not be tricked into being your dinner."

Justin cried back. "No, I'm not. That was the old me. I've changed."......... .
"I've found Cod. I'm a prawn again Christian".
Posted by John Weidner at 6:43 PM

Should have 'fessed up long ago...

From USA Today:

....Mounting research shows employees are cautiously optimistic as salary freezes thaw and companies play tug-of-war over skilled job candidates.

Workers reported high confidence in their job security, with more than 80% predicting little or no chance they could lose their jobs in the coming year, according to a May survey of 1,000 full-time employees by Philadelphia-based Right Management.

That's a big jump from six months ago, when nearly a quarter of employees said they might leave their jobs....

Leftist obfuscators have been amazingly successful in covering up the superb condition of our economy, and the success of the Bush tax cuts. BUT, reality creeps in, and the hilarious thing is that their holding back the truth means that, for many people, the good news will be new and fresh just in time for the 2006 elections!

If they had been honest, the strong economy would be old news by now...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:55 AM

Some things to ponder...

Peter Burnett, commenting on an article titled "Politicians, economists, teachers… why are they so desperate to make us happy?", writes:

...Few people seem to notice how the therapeutic culture supports the destruction of family, community and faith by trying with varying degrees of subtlety to convince folks the demands and duties of these are the source of their unhappiness. The caring professions largely share the statist fantasy of directing the lives of millions of happy, servile individuals unburdened by other loyalties.

The result is not only a loss of freedom and dignity, but also rank unhappiness. To paraphrase the late Robertson Davies, happiness is a feline condition. If you reach out for it directly, it will run away every time, but if you ignore it, it has a habit of curling up beside you unexpectedly. Better to walk face first into the storm and seek wisdom....
Posted by John Weidner at 5:54 AM

May 25, 2006

Today's quote...

There is a case for telling the truth; there is a case for avoiding the scandal; but there is no possible defense for the man who tells the scandal, but does not tell the truth.
      -- GK Chesterton
Posted by John Weidner at 11:03 AM

May 24, 2006

Fighting last!

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States went on the counter-attack against Amnesty International, rejecting its charges of the torture of terror suspects and criticizing its lack of help in prosecuting deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed allegations by the Nobel Prize-winning rights group, which cited reports that US prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and elsewhere were subject to "torture and ill-treatment."

"Nobody is being tortured at Guantanamo Bay," McCormack told reporters when asked about the charges in Amnesty International's latest annual report.

He went on to point out Amnesty's role in documenting rights abuses during the 24 years of Saddam's rule before he was deposed by the Americans in 2003 and later captured and charged with crimes against humanity.

"But when it came time to put Saddam Hussein on trial, which is happening right now, they (Amnesty) are absent. They've done zero, zip, nothing, to assist in those efforts," McCormack said.

"So in terms of where they might focus some of their efforts, I would just offer the humble suggestion that they might follow through in actually assisting with or providing some support to this trial for what they acknowledge is one of the great human rights abusers of recent times."....

What, ask Amnesty International to help harm sweet lovable Saddam? And lose all its America-hating donors? Hurt cuddly peace-loving Saddam, and offend pacifist donors? Outrageous. The administration must think AI is some kind of human-rights organization....

Posted by John Weidner at 8:51 PM

I concede your point, but...

Charlene and I liked this poem, found at First Things...

....So when the poet Julie Stoner—who in her spare time is a home-schooling mother in California—mentioned that she had an idea for a funny poem in sapphics, no one was hopeful. But she managed to use the suspension of that short fourth line for perfect comic effect:


Yes, you’re right. I’m sure Armageddon’s coming:
wars, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, locusts,
killer flus, et cetera. Yes, I’m awed by
all the destruction.

I concede your point that the world might end, and
all your puny labors will be as nothing.
Still, you can’t go out with your friends until you’ve
folded the laundry.

—Julie Stoner
Posted by John Weidner at 7:17 PM

modern and multicultural...

This was very interesting to me, especially as an illustration of how utterly stupid and racist it is to think we are "helping" minority students by giving them a dumbed-down multi-culti education. Cultural literacy and familiarity with great books are tools for success in life (besides being good in themselves).

DANTE AND CAFÉ. Mission High School in San Francisco, said the March San Francisco Chronicle, "is composed of mostly low-income, minority students, many of them new immigrants learning English." To interest students in reading, most of the school's literature offerings are modern and multicultural. "While Mission students do read a couple of Shakespeare's plays and a smattering of other classics before graduation," said the Chronicle, "much of the Western canon never crosses their desks."

But 30-year-old Callen Taylor, a social studies teacher at the school, said she noticed that her students lacked "cultural currency" -- that is, they have little or no classical or Western European cultural knowledge. The students had attended summer programs with wealthier students and had felt intimidated by their peers' cultural understanding. To help her students, Taylor formed the Dante Club. Taylor and 12 students from Mexico, Central America, and Asia meet Saturday mornings for two hours at the Morning Due Café to read and study Dante Alghieri's L'Inferno. And they earn no credits for it. "It's a hard poem, and I can't believe they come," said Taylor. "Every weekend, I'm shocked that they come and want to read it. And they like it! It gives them confidence academically and when they get that, they want more." "I used to just sleep until noon (on Saturdays) and then watch TV," said 18-year-old Khiem Vo, one of the Dante Club. "This isn't actually school. It's hanging out with my friends and talking about books. It's just getting more knowledge over a cup of coffee on a nice, sunny day. It's not that bad."....
Posted by John Weidner at 4:26 PM

Biter bit.

This was fun to wake up to...From the *ahem* New Yok Times...(Thanks to Betsy N)

The American Civil Liberties Union is weighing new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization's policies and internal administration. [Well, dog my cats! And what, may I ask, will be your position on bureaucrats who "criticize" the Bush Administration by leaking classified information that may harm our war efforts (and get US troops killed?) Oh, no change? Why am I not surprised?]

"Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement," the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals.[Tough, ain't it, being cricketized...]

"Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the A.C.L.U. adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising," the proposals state...[Oooch ouch ouch...sore spot...don't raising!]

....The proposals say that "a director may publicly disagree with an A.C.L.U. policy position, but may not criticize the A.C.L.U. board or staff." But Wendy Kaminer, a board member and a public critic of some decisions made by the organization's leadership, said that was a distinction without a difference. [It's a hilarious distinction for anyone who's been watching you Bolshies savage the President's intelligence or religious beliefs.]

"If you disagree with a policy position," she said, "you are implicitly criticizing the judgment of whoever adopted the position, board or staff." [Arguing policy is no fun. You might actually have to use facts and logic.]

Anthony D. Romero, the A.C.L.U.'s executive director, said that he had not yet read the proposals and that it would be premature to discuss them before the board reviews them at its June meeting. [Suuuure you haven't. Did you slip out the back door to avoid those pesky reporters?]

Mr. Romero said it was not unusual for the A.C.L.U. to grapple with conflicting issues involving civil liberties. "Take hate speech," he said. "While believing in free speech, we do not believe in or condone speech that attacks minorities." [Motto: "My Free Speech ends where the Democrat Party begins."]

Lawrence A. Hamermesh, chairman of the committee, which was formed to define rights and responsibilities of board members, also said it was too early to discuss the proposals, as did Alison Steiner, a committee member who filed a dissent against some recommendations. ["Too early to discuss." It's hard to make decisions when people are leaking stuff prematurely. Think about that, guys.]

In a background report, the committee wrote that "its proposed guidelines are more in the nature of a statement of best practices" that could be used to help new board members "understand and conform to the board's shared understanding of the responsibilities of its members." [Well, the USA has had some customary "best practices" that go way back. Centuries. I've blogged about them often, especially the ones about how the minority party acts in time of war. You might want to read Random Jottings, for some tips.]

But some former board members and A.C.L.U. supporters said the proposals were an effort to stifle dissent. [Ha. Ha. Ha. Wrappin' themselves in the ACLU flag, no doubt, and impugning people's patriotism.]

"It sets up a framework for punitive action," said Muriel Morisey, a law professor at Temple University who served on the board for four years until 2004. [Talk to Alberto.]

Susan Herman, a Brooklyn Law School professor who serves on the board, said board members and others were jumping to conclusions. [Another line they would sneer at if used by Republicans.]

"No one is arguing that board members have no right to disagree or express their own point of view," Ms. Herman said. "Many of us simply think that in exercising that right, board members should also consider their fiduciary duty to the A.C.L.U. and its process ideals.".... ["Process ideals?" What the @#$%&* are "Process ideals?" That kind of cackle is the equivalent of the bugs squirming when the rock is lifted and the hot light shines in. And "fiduciary duty!" Such big words the little lady is using. I would LOVE to hear more about that one.

If you read on in the article there is a perfect example of the ACLU's lefty incoherence. They are AGAINST free speech if it's by an anti-abortion group! There have been various other cases like that in the past. Against free speech by teachers protesting school busing. FOR parental rights when a reluctant teenager was being dragged home to the Soviet Union.

RANDOM JOTTINGS TIP: The thing to remember about the ACLU is that their defending the free speech rights of the American Nazi Party tells you NOTHING about their ideals, because the existence of Nazis HELPS the Left. They would have to invent Nazis if they didn't exist. The real test is when free speech hurts the Left. Sometimes they pass, often they flunk.]

Posted by John Weidner at 7:56 AM

May 23, 2006


If want an example of what a twisted parasitic evil the "Plaintiff's Bar" has become, you might want to read Jason Tomczak's Open Letter. He's the "Lead Plaintiff" in the iPod Nano Scratch lawsuit, a class-action suit against Apple Computer because the screens of the iPods supposedly scratch too easily! In fact, he never agreed to be part of any lawsuit...

On October 19, 2005, my life changed due to the unauthorized conduct of others. From that date forward, countless numbers of people around the world were driven to hate me and slander my name, sometimes using foul and threatening language.

Since October 19, 2005, my name has been infamously tied to the iPod Nano "Scratch" Class Action law suit filed against Apple...

...David P. Meyer & Associates used my personal comments and opinions as the basis of the iPod Nano suit. To my knowledge, there was no actual technical study done on the iPod Nano before the Class Action suit was filed....

....The senior partner of David P. Meyer & Associates and one of his representatives called me during the afternoon of October 21, 2005 to urgently request my signature on an attorney-client agreement - two days after the Class Action suit was filed; two days after they began their action against Apple; two days after the press had begun running the story. They then warned me that my family, friends, clients and I should expect to hear from the media and others interested in the iPod Nano Class Action suit....

UN-beleivable. A beautiful example of the "class-action" scam at work.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 PM

What did YOU do in the Great War, papa?

The war against the terrorists is just one front of a much larger war, a post-modernist war against our civilization, against Christianity, and against truth, and against the very idea that there IS truth.

So when you ask yourself, "What can I do in the war?" one of the answers is to push truth as hard as you can. and relentlessly, because the liars don't sleep.

This piece by Peter Wehner in OpinionJournal is very worth reading and passing on, because it is a very clear concise debunking of some of the lies that we are constantly told about the Iraq Campaign...

  • The president misled Americans to convince them to go to war.
  • The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments.
  • Because weapons of mass destruction stockpiles weren't found, Saddam posed no threat.
  • Promoting democracy in the Middle East is a postwar rationalization.

Yes, they've all already been thoroughly debunked. Smashed, thrashed and trashed. But that's just the point! The people who say these things don't care in the slightest about truth, and will not hesitate to repeat things they personally know to be false. In fact, they probably prefer it that way. Truth is their real enemy, and to pervert it is much better for them than just inventing a lie.

And another point. Lorie Byrd, (now blogging at Wizbang) writes:

...I have argued previously that another reason the record on Iraq should be set straight is so that voters in 2006, and especially 2008, can decide "on which side of the decision-making equation they want their leaders to err in this post-9/11 world." As Wehner points out, there was plenty of evidence to convince even John Kerry that Saddam posed a grave threat. Voters should be reminded that Democrats, when faced with such evidence, not only failed to act, but many of those who initially supported the president's decision to act, later withdrew their support. This is why Democrats, and their supporters in the mainstream media, have such a stake in rewriting the history of Iraq....
Posted by John Weidner at 11:43 AM

May 22, 2006


OK, whatever your theory of life and the Cosmos is, I'm guessing this data point doesn't fit your template. (Which pleases me. There are still mysteries!)

JOHN BERMAN, ABCNews, May 19, 2006 — I have been to Iraq nine times since the American invasion three years ago, for a total of about 10 solid months. (My wife is counting.) During that time, I have seen bombs and blood, I have seen rebuilding and restructuring, and I have seen death and democracy. So what have I heard? That's easy: Lionel Richie.

Grown Iraqi men get misty-eyed by the mere mention of his name. "I love Lionel Richie," they say. Iraqis who do not understand a word of English can sing an entire Lionel Richie song....

....I decided I had to investigate, and not just investigate, I decided I had to ask Lionel Richie himself. So I called him from Baghdad. Actually it was a formal interview. It was the first interview with Lionel Richie ever on the subject of Iraq and Iraqis.

I asked Richie if he knows just how big he is here. He said, "The answer is, I'm huge, huge in the Arab world. The answer as to why is, I don't have the slightest idea."

He has performed in Morocco, Dubai, Qatar and Libya. There is obviously something up there. The more we talked, the more he theorized as to the reasons his music might be so popular here. He thinks it is because of the simple message in his music: Love.

Richie says he was told Iraqis were playing "All Night Long," on the streets the night U.S. tanks rolled into the country in 2003....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:01 PM

If you drive, don't drink. Except for...

In other countries they sometimes, odd as it may seem, see things differently than us. Zadok reports on another sort of response to the problem of drinking and driving...

...One Italian company has a different approach. Drive Beer is a low alcohol beer which is primarily marketed on the basis that one can can drink it and drive whilst remaining below the blood-alcohol limit. Apparantly one can have two drive beers and still legally take the wheel. It really is quite astonishing to see posters with a traffic cop and a Formula One racecar driver enjoying a beer together...

He's got a picture of the ad. Pretty funny.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:10 AM

May 21, 2006

Mumbo jumbo...

From The Telegraph (Thanks to Orrin)

British animal rights activists are planning to use a training camp next month to export their violent tactics to Europe and beyond.

The AR2006 camp will be held in an undisclosed location on the weekend of June 23 and will feature classes in potentially lethal physical techniques that are described as "self-defence"....

...The camp is advertised on animal activist websites but police say there is little they can do against a private meeting of individuals....

"Little they can do?" That's madness. Lunacy. This is what happens when freedom comes unmoored from reason and common sense. When it becomes a fetish, or a sort of empty religion whose rituals are enacted with no memory of what they mean.

We already have a good place to park these crazies. A nice Caribbean vacation, with three squares a day, balmy breezes, and your own personal copy of the Koran.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:34 AM

It was indeed a true tale...

Last February I blogged the letter from the Mayor of Tal Afar, Iraq, thanking the people of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment for saving his city from terrorists.

But I wondered at the time whether I could trust its authenticity. Perhaps it was just an Internet fake? I've been burned before. I concluded, rightly, that it was too widespread, and so, if it were a fake, someone would have called it, and that news would also be spreading across the blogosphere (though not so fast as a good lie does.)

Here's a better confirmation. The mayor is visiting Fort Carson, to thank 3d ACR in person!

...."Thank you."

It was a telling gesture from Tal Afar Mayor Najim Al Jibouri, who spoke for about 20 minutes in his native tongue praising the 3rd Armored Cavalry for saving his city from certain ruin.

It was his first trip to the United States, arriving via Washington, D.C., then coming to Colorado Springs with his wife and son.

The mayor was invited as a part of a welcoming ceremony at Fort Carson for those who had just finished another tour in Iraq.

Al Jibouri, dressed in a black suit with a lavender tie, said he was glad to be back among them.

"Are you truly my friends?" he asked through a translator. "Yes. I walk a happier man because you are my friends. You are the world to me. I smell the sweet perfume that emanates from your flower of your strength, honor and greatness in every corner of Tal Afar. The nightmares of terror fled when the lion of your bravery entered our city."...
(From Rocky Mountain News. Thanks to Orrin Judd)

Rocky Mountain News, OK. I bet the story doesn't spread to the big papers. Now if the mayor criticized the USA, that would be "news." If not, not.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:51 AM

"just fiction"

Mark Shea puts DVC nicely in perspective:

[Interviewers kept] asking the tired question, "Isn't it just fiction?" I proposed a fictional film in which all the homosexuals in the world were engaged in a vast conspiracy to destroy Western Civilization.

"That would be offensive."

No duh.

The *only* time people fall for this notion that a fictional story which goes out of its way to malign and defame a billion people is "just fiction" is when it bashes Christians. The only time such people believe it will have absolutely no effect on what people think is with the Da Vinci Code. Try making a modern fictional film in which blacks are all watermelon-eating Stepin Fetchit dunces, or Jews are all conniving lechers and you will (rightly) get a storm of protest because these lies are pernicious and do real damage. But declare Christians the suckers of a 2000 year old Vatican conspiracy of murder and lies in the service of "the greatest coverup of all time", blaspheme Jesus and call all Christians fools for believing in him: that's just fiction....

Actually, it is also permissible to portray evil greedy white male American businessmen conspiring to destroy Western Civilization. (Easy too, writers and directors could just extrapolate from their own industry.) Or Republicans; it's OK to expose their horrid conspiracies and call it fiction. But neither of those frighten lefties as much as the Church.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:32 AM

May 20, 2006


Washington Post: Iraqi Parliament Approves New Cabinet: May 20--Iraq's parliament swore in its full-term prime minister and his cabinet Saturday, a political milestone U.S. leaders hope will allow a new government to begin solving the country's problems and lead to the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops...

This is a splendid moment folks! As has happened many times in the past few years, the nay-sayers have been proved wrong, and George W Bush and his supporters have been vindicated. And the people of Iraq have once again repudiated the sneering democracy-hating leftists who said, wishfully, that their hopes of freedom were doomed.

<obligatory disclaimer>Of course Iraq will hit many rough patches in the years to come, and might even fail </obligatory disclaimer> But I predict that Iraq will continue to justify our faith,and there will be more moments like this to look forward to.

And it is also easy to predict that our despicable America-hating news media will continue to underplay any American triumph, especially if it might help Republicans. If you think I'm exaggerating, just read the article. One sentence of good news, "balanced" by the entire rest of the article being filled with any bad news that they could scrape up, with almost no positive information about the new Government. They've done their duty for their bosses at the DNC.

Even the one picture that accompanies the article is not of the new Prime Minister, but of a funeral some some guy in the Al-Mahdi Army, killed by police (Good for them).

And even that one sentence is stupidly snarky and negative. "a political milestone U.S. leaders hope will allow a new government to begin solving the country's problems" What crap. the Iraqis have already made enormous strides in solving their problems. Read this, if you doubt me.

Oh well, the annoyance is a small matter compared to knowing that I'm on the winning side, and the terrorist/news-media/Democrat Alliance is losing.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:48 PM

"deeper and rarer than rational thought"

I recommend to you Roger Scruton's piece on John Stuart Mill in OpinionJournal...

...Mill famously referred to the Conservative Party as "the stupider party," he being, from 1865, a member of Parliament in the Liberal interest. And no doubt the average Tory MP was no match for the brain that had conceived the "System of Logic"--an enduring classic and Mill's greatest achievement. Yet Mill suffered from the same defect as his father. He never understood that wisdom is deeper and rarer than rational thought. He never understood that the intellect, which flies so easily to its conclusions, relies on something else for its premises. Those conservatives who upheld what Mill called "the despotism of custom" against the "experiments in living" advocated in "On Liberty" were not stupid simply because they recognized the limits of the human intellect. They were, on the contrary, aware that freedom and custom are mutually dependent, and that to free oneself from moral norms is to surrender to the state. For only the state can manage the ensuing disaster.
Posted by John Weidner at 9:07 AM

Immigration thoughts...

An interesting view from an Australian...

I have not so far posted a lot on the topic as I live in a country that has a settled immigration policy that I and most others of my fellow citizens agree with. Some years ago, Australia's conservative government firmly reasserted control over our borders and we now have virtually no illegal immigrants. And since Australia has many thousands of miles of unguarded and mostly deserted coastline, that was not intrinsically easy. And we have far more poor Asians living to our immediate North than the USA has poor Hispanics to its South. So it seems completely obvious to me that the USA should and could control its borders too...

I'd say he's right that we can and should control our borders, but not correct in comparing our difficulty with Australia's. He should imagine standing on an Australian beach and looking out and seeing thousands of little boats, just hovering offshore waiting for someone to let down their guard, or for night to fall. THAT would be comparable. Plus imagine many coastal areas having large Asian populations that those people could melt into, and local economies that have grown up by using Asian labor.

The family business I grew up in in Southern California was horticulture. The "greenhouse business." Growing foliage plants. it was and is very labor-intensive. And the routine work, then and now, was done by Hispanics. Mostly decent hard-working likable people, not much interested in the managerial or thinking end of things. But imagine you are, like various creative people in my family, interested in building a plant business, in building an exciting horticultural enterprise in California. Those people would be as vital to you as capital, or land, or electricity...or sunshine. You won't move off square one without them. You can't even imagine it.

You can see what the plant-growing Weidners are currently doing here. Weidners Gardens was the small business my Dad started after he "retired" and sold his big nursery. You can read the story here. And here's my Mom and my sister Mary . It's a pretty interesting story, and you have to imagine, underneath what you see, a good many brown skinned people doing things like standing at a potting bench all day potting up thousands of rooted cuttings, and then arraying those pots on greenhouse benches, and then rearranging them as the plants grow and need more room..and then re-potting them all in larger pots! And pinching-back, and packing for shipment, and placing thousands of drip-tubes for watering. Fussy labor that makes my head spin just remembering it all.

So I have a hard time seeing illegal aliens as the threatening miasma of crime that they are often portrayed as by people like Ms Malkin. I suspect President Bush is coming from the same place. If you own a ranch in Texas, you are going to think the same way.

I wish we were getting some more decisive leadership from the administration. It seems to me <armchair theoretician alert> that we need to put a number of pieces of the puzzle together all at the same time, and that only Bush could make the proposal. We should control the borders AND throw more resources into stopping criminals or terrorists AND we should consider the future of other countries in the hemisphere, using their need of us to prod them to make reforms AND we should work harder on assimilation and teaching English AND do better at not corrupting people with easy access to welfare [ahem, California]...

AND have a viable guest-worker program that actually works (hard to imagine in a government program) with extreme transparency so anyone could see what's happening from a web-site PLUS easy-to-use so anyone can hire with minimal paperwork and worry PLUS including encouragement for many of those workers to remain part of their home country, and return home home eventually, carrying our ideas with them. PLUS...well, I could go on, but that's enough for today.... </armchair theoretician alert>

Posted by John Weidner at 8:30 AM

May 19, 2006

What war are the talking about?

The X-Mathematician points out that there is no Iraq War...

....But in the intervening time between then and now,
Iraqi voters approved an interim government
they drafted a constitution
Iraqi voters ratified the constitution
Iraqi voters elected a parliament
and, a government of Iraq has been formed.
Meanwhile, the US has maintained a troop presence in Iraq at the request of Iraq's government, to help ensure its security and survival against ongoing attacks from minority fascists and foreign infiltrators. That's what's going on now: we have a troop presence in Iraq,
at the request of their democratic government.

For some reason, this activity on our part (whether it's right or wrong) is still called "The Iraq War" by virtually everyone....

Sounds good to me. It doesn't make sense to call this a war...

Of course, my position is that there never was an Iraq War. Our invasion of Iraq was but one campaign within the Global War on Terror. Being at war, we have a perfect right to invade any enemy country, which in this case is any country that supports terrorists who have attacked American citizens, or citizens of allied nations. Saddam was guilty on both counts (and, most repulsively, was actually paying bounties for dead Jews.) So President Bush had the clear right to order Iraq invaded without asking anyone's permission, just as FDR ordered the invasion of French Morocco and Tunisia. We are at war, he's the Commander-in-Chief.

Of course, as a practical matter, he was right to consult with Congress. If for no other reason than to pull slithery Democrats out from under their rocks and make them sweat under the hot lights.

Another bit from X:

...How a person can simultaneously believe that (1) there is a civil war in Iraq and (2) withdrawing US troop presence from Iraq is equivalent to "stopping the war", without his head exploding, is beyond me...

Oh come on. Leftists did exactly the same thing with Vietnam. The "war was over" when America pulled out. The fact that South Vietnam was still fighting for its life (successfully, until our commie-loving Democrat Congress suddenly cut off supplies) meant nothing to them. The "war was over," and the fact that they were betraying millions of human beings to conquest and murder and concentration camps "re-education" camps, and millions of human beings to desperate flight as refugees, meant nothing to foul devils like Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry and the other ice-hearted animals of the Left.

Because, you see, The "war was over." We had peace. Wasn't that wonderful?

Posted by John Weidner at 8:44 PM

Vee haf VAYS of teaching you to bicycle...

You must read--you've probably already read--Amir Taheri's assessment of Iraq. this is one interesting point (out of many)...

....Their critique can be summarized in the aphorism that democracy cannot be imposed by force. It is a view that can be found among the more sophisticated elements on the Left and, increasingly, among dissenters on the Right, from Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to the ex-neoconservative Francis Fukuyama. As Senator Hagel puts it, You cannot in my opinion just impose a democratic form of government on a country with no history and no culture and no tradition of democracy.

I would tend to agree. But is Iraq such a place? In point of fact, before the 1958 pro-Soviet military coup detat that established a leftist dictatorship, Iraq did have its modest but nevertheless significant share of democratic history, culture, and tradition. The country came into being through a popular referendum held in 1921. A constitutional monarchy modeled on the United Kingdom, it had a bicameral parliament, several political parties (including the Ba'ath and the Communists), and periodic elections that led to changes of policy and government. At the time, Iraq also enjoyed the freest press in the Arab world, plus the widest space for debate and dissent in the Muslim Middle East.

To be sure, Baghdad in those days was no Westminster, and, as the 1958 coup proved, Iraqi democracy was fragile. But every serious student of contemporary Iraq knows that substantial segments of the population, from all ethnic and religious communities, had more than a taste of the modern world's democratic aspirations. As evidence, one need only consult the immense literary and artistic production of Iraqis both before and after the 1958 coup. Under successor dictatorial regimes, it is true, the conviction took hold that democratic principles had no future in Iraq, a conviction that was responsible in large part for driving almost five million Iraqis, a quarter of the population, into exile between 1958 and 2003, just as the opposite conviction is attracting so many of them and their children back to Iraq today...

Actually, I think the argument "democracy cannot be imposed by force" is fallacious. It's an example of a "strawman argument." Nobody is, in fact, imposing democracy by force--it's always invitational. The voters can always stay home, or vote for the most anti-democratic party. But they never do.

Not only is this a strawman, but the truism is itself, I think, false. All humans "get" democracy; it's part of our natures. We can all do it. The argument is like saying "you can't impose bicycle-riding by force." In fact, you could, and if you did, almost all able-bodied people would learn to ride bicycles. What you can't do by force is keep people from falling down while learning.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:29 AM

Sweet good news...

Charlene, of course, caught this one:

FoxNews: A federal grand jury has indicted a top class-action law firm in a scheme that paid more than $11 million in illegal kickbacks to get people to take part in shareholder lawsuits.

The charges follow years of investigation into the way New York-based Milberg Weiss, Bershad & Schulman conducts shareholder lawsuits against major corporations.

Click here to view the indictment (FindLaw PDF).

Lawsuits by the firm, the lead plaintiff in more than half the federal shareholder suits settled from 1997 to 2004, generated hundreds of millions of dollars in attorneys' fees, the indictment said.

"The conduct alleged in the indictment is particularly troubling because it represents a pattern of deception that spans 2 1/2 decades," said U.S. Attorney Debra Wong Yang....

Take their cars and houses, and send 'em up the river....

Posted by John Weidner at 10:59 AM

"this Passion for Superiority"

Good questions by Peggy Noonan...

....I do not understand the thinking of a studio that would make, for the amusement of a nation 85% to 90% of whose people identify themselves as Christian, a major movie aimed at attacking the central tenets of that faith, and insulting as poor fools its gulled adherents. Why would Tom Hanks lend his prestige to such a film? Why would Ron Howard? They're both already rich and relevant. A desire to seem fresh and in the middle of a big national conversation? But they don't seem young, they seem immature and destructive. And ungracious. They've been given so much by their country and era, such rich rewards and adulation throughout their long careers. This was no way to say thanks.

I don't really understand why we live in an age in which we feel compelled to spoof the beliefs of the followers of the great religions. Why are we doing that? Why does Hollywood consider this progressive as opposed to primitive, like a pre-Columbian tribe attacking the tribe next door for worshiping the wrong spirits?....

They don't want the admiration or approval of 90% of America. Just the opposite. Their deepest desire and hunger is to feel they are part of an elite, that they are superior to 90% of human beings, that they understand what the swining masses do not...

A wise man saw this over 200 years ago...

I believe there is no one principle, which predominates in Human Nature so much in every stage of Life, from the Cradle to the grave, in Males and Females, old and young, black and white, rich and poor, high and low, as this Passion for Superiority . . . . Every human Being compares itself in its own Imagination, with every other round it, and will find some superiority over every other real or imaginary, or it will die of Grief and Vexation.
-- John Adams, in a letter to Abigail Adams, April 17, 1777

You can understand a lot of what we see arond us by just remembering what Adams wrote. That's why "artists" create "artworks" that make ordinary people want to vomit, or why the fashion industry uses models who look like depraved drug addicts. They desperately need to feel superior to ordinary people, who, of necessity, must reject their art, to show that only the "in-group" understands it.

That's why judges concoct decisions that let criminals go free on ludicrous pretexts--they get their kudos from the in-group of other judges and law professors.

that's a lot of why leftists hate free markets and want government to control things--they want experts to be in charge, as a general principle, even if the results are bad.

That's why Hollywood and leftists and the "Democrat" Party have no love of democracy. And why they are so anti-Christian. Christianity is about the most anti-elitist philosophy around. I always think of the John Bunyan, who related somewhere how he thought as a young man that he was a very superior Christian, until he happened to overhear some poor old biddies chatting in an alley, and was stunned to realize that they were, spiritually, way ahead of him...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:00 AM

May 18, 2006

Something we expect...

I recently read this oh-so-very-sympathetic account in the NYT of someone who is addicted to painkillers...

Representative Kennedy, scion of America's most loved and hated Democratic clan, has been a passionate advocate for ending the stigma of mental illness; he told voters years ago of his treatment for depression and cocaine abuse. But when he slipped off to the Mayo Clinic last December to get help for addiction to prescription painkillers, he had trouble overcoming that stigma himself.

When he crashed his Mustang convertible into a Capitol barricade in the middle of the night earlier this month, Mr. Kennedy, of Rhode Island, was thrust into a clash between personal privacy and political beliefs. Hours before he told the world he was checking himself back into the Mayo Clinic, he wrestled with going public...

And yet---gee, my memory isn't what it was--wasn't there some other public figure who had an addiction to painkillers? Someone else, in the political and public realm? In the last year or two? Hmmm? And don't I recall that somehow he didn't get treated with quite the same tenderness as Mr Kennedy? Wasn't there even some element of criminal prosecution? For a First Offense?

And, horrid thought, don't I remember that there were some people who---how shall I put this...baldly I guess---who expanded like roosters and crowed over this other person's misfortune?

Maybe Mr K's situation is different because in this case it was something, umm, expected:

But his cousin Mr. Shriver, who said he had watched "countless members of my family" overcome addiction, was optimistic. "Once he gets this current challenge under control, watch out," Mr. Shriver said. "He'll just knock the socks off of everybody."

"countless members?"

Posted by John Weidner at 1:49 PM

a profound forgetting

A quote from God's Choice, by George Weigel:

...Pope Benedict XVI diagnosed that malady that has sapped Europe's spiritual energies and human strength a long time ago. It is a sickness in the order of ideas and values, a sickness caused by a profound forgetting. One can call that forgetting relativism in regard to morals; one can call it skepticism, bordering on irrationalism, about the human capacity to know things; one can think of it as a more generalized nihilism, in which the very mystery of being has soured.

Whatever the nomenclature, however, the disease remains a matter of amnesia: a deliberate willful forgetting of the truth that the human person "does not himself
invent morality on the basis of calculations of expediency, but rather finds it already present in the essence of things." Today's European crisis, Joseph Ratzinger once wrote, is the result of this great forgetting....

"A great forgetting" seems about right to me.

And "finding" morality already present in the essence of things...How can that happen? How do you do it? Maybe it's analogous to pathfinding through a dense jungly wilderness, rarely seeing a clear way, but always keeping the general direction in mind. Our ancestors worked on it for a thousand generations, struggling, praying, moving forward. They learned painful lessons and slowly scraped together wisdom...and now we just forget.

"...the very mystery of being has soured." That's near the heart of it. That's something too subtle to analyze, and yet we see it all the time.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:13 AM

May 17, 2006

Starting point

Nathan Smith writes:

Like many of President Bush's speeches, his immigration address last night was awkward, yet quite moving. His core beliefs -- hope for the future, the dignity of every individual, a love of freedom -- shine through every time Bush speaks. They are profound and noble convictions, made all the more poignant by their contrast, both with Bush's personal demeanor -- his everyman drawl, never quite at home amidst the grandiloquence he is uttering -- and with the black legend that surrounds his name throughout the world.

Politically, though, there are just two critical questions here. Can Bush heal the growing rift within the GOP? And has Bush come up with a way to "fix" our "broken" immigration system? Answers: no, and no...

Those "core beliefs" are mine too. I'm not happy about the immigration situation, and I'm not wildly happy with Bush's response to it. BUT, "hope for the future, the dignity of every individual, a love of freedom"---these should be the underlying attitude of us all. And unfortunately they're not.

They should be the starting point for us. Wars, as Aquinas wrote, must be waged with "right intentions," and we are in a kind of war. We should start with the belief that this messy situation is filled with human promise, and presents us with a grave challenge (and an appealing opportunity) to make the world a better place. Which doesn't mean being pushovers and weaklings. The strength and faith needed to do right should also include the strength to fight what is wrong. To smash it flat if that's necessary.

If you know your history you know that most of America's immigrants were looked upon as plagues of locusts by at least some of the people already here. (Themselves probably descended from raggedy-assed ancestors who were just as undesirable when they got off the boat.) I was recently reading in David Hackett Fischer's superb Albion's Seed, (page 605) about the arrival of the first wave of Scotch-Irish in Philadelphia in 1717. They seemed like lean impoverished frightening savages to the solid Quaker citizens, who were very glad that they kept heading west and didn't stick around. "A swarm of people...strangers to our laws and customs, and even to our language," as one Philadelphian put it.

We should also be keeping in mind that it's the rule of law that makes freedom possible. We may not really be helping people by allowing them to flout our laws. And helping people should be our aim. We are the grown-ups in this hemisphere. We have much to teach. We are in loco parentis to a billion or so people who lack our advantages.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:16 PM

May 16, 2006

Too much...

Too strange...Lorie Byrd has been kicked off of the group-blog PoliPundit because she wouldn't follow PoliPundit's Party Line on immigration.

...The fact is that I believe this is the last time I will be blogging at Polipundit.

I received a lengthy email from Polipundit tonight alerting us to an editorial policy change that included the following: "From now on, every blogger at will either agree with me completely on the immigration issue, or not blog at" I would provide additional context, but Polipundit has asked that the contents of our emails not be disclosed publicly and I think that is a fair request. There has been plenty written in the posts over the past week alone to let readers figure out what happened. Polipundit ended a later email with this: "It's over. The group-blogging experiment was nice while it lasted, but we have different priorities now. It's time to go our own separate ways."...

Absurd. Nootzy. You can come blog at Random Jottings if you like, Lorie....

* Update: Thinking a little more, I have to feel a certain sympathy for PoliPundit. A blog is sort of an extension of one's self. suppose I added co-bloggers, and they started to espouse positions I really hated. It would probably spoil all the fun of blogging for me. I don't mind vigorous debate in the comments, but in the posts themselves? Nuh uh.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:48 PM

Goals met, bonuses paid...

I saw this in the NYT a few weeks ago:

Raytheon directors punished the chief executive, William H. Swanson, by taking away almost $1 million from his 2006 compensation yesterday because he failed to give credit for material that was in a management book he wrote...

OK, I guess you have to take firm steps to combat the evils of plagiarism. But I don't recall ever hearing of a board taking away part of a CEO's compensation because he failed to keep the business profitable and growing...Whereas (and this may be press bias) you often hear of bosses getting their bonuses even as the company is being downsized, divisions axed, workers laid-off, and the stock heads south...

Hmmm. And speaking of the New York Times....I wonder...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:14 AM

May 15, 2006

The question...

George Weigel has a very impressive article in Commentary on the decline of Europe: Europe’s Two Culture Wars:

....What Bruce Bawer rightly deplores as out-of-control political correctness in Europe is rooted in a deeper malady: a rejection of the belief that human beings, however inadequately or incompletely, can grasp the truth of things—a belief that has, for almost two millennia, underwritten the European civilization that grew out of the interaction of Athens, Jerusalem, and Rome.

Postmodern European high culture repudiates that belief. And because it can only conceive of “your truth” and “my truth” while determinedly rejecting any idea of “the truth,” it can only conceive of tolerance as indifference to differences—an indifference to be enforced by coercive state power, if necessary. The idea of tolerance as engaging differences within the bond of civility (as Richard John Neuhaus once put it) is itself regarded as, well, intolerant. Those who would defend the true tolerance of orderly public argument about contending truth claims (which include religious and moral convictions) risk being driven, and in many cases are driven, from the European public square by being branded as “bigots.”

But the problem goes deeper still. For one thing, however loudly European postmodernists may proclaim their devotion to the relativity of all truths, in practice this translates into something very different—namely, the deprecation of traditional Western truths, combined with a studied deference to non- or anti-Western ones. In the relativist mindset, it thus turns out, not all religious and moral conviction is bigotry that must be suppressed; only the Judeo-Christian variety is. In short, the moral relativism of Europe is often mere window-dressing, a mask for Western self-hatred.....

One item from the article: "...half the infant deaths in Flanders in 1999-2000 were from euthanasia." That's something to chew on.

If you write things, even just a humble weblog, you get a better idea of what it is you are really interested in. The stuff I was writing in 2001 is not too much different from what I write now. (Here's a sample.) But the question that underlies them is much more clear to me.

We are being flung into the future faster than we realize. And the world is wealthier and healthier than ever before. But we begin to see that we face dangers no one could have even imagined in the past. Who would have guessed that a continent that had conquered most of the globe, created most of modern science, culture, and knowledge, withstood hideous wars, famines, plagues.....would be utterly undone by prosperity? By democracy? By freedom greater than their ancestors could have dreamed of? By having almost everything go right!

Consider this:

...Then there is Italy, whose large extended families have long been a staple of the world’s imagination. The truth of the matter is far different: by 2050, on present trends, almost 60 percent of Italians will not know, from personal experience, what a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or cousin is....

I enjoy reading Glenn Reynolds, but more and more he provokes me to ask the question. Such a decent guy, and so happily infatuated with the bright future and all the nano-gadgets and transforming technologies that are going to make things better and better. But we are already in "the future," already equipped with technology and prosperity that would have been flabbergasting to people when I was born, in 1950. And we do not find ourselves in the sort of paradise that "futurists" expected.

And we seem to be learning that problems spiritual or psychological can be as deadly as nuclear bombs. That plagues of bad ideas can topple nations that previously bounced back from utter military defeat and bombings that left whole cities in rubble as far as the eye could see...

And part of the question is, what do nations and individuals need to survive the strange dangers looming before us?

I'm not, by the way, some sort of anti-technologist, or one who wants to arrest change. That isn't even an option. What I'm wondering is, what do we need to carry in our toolkits as we are stuffed into the time-machine like-it-or-not?

Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 PM

Lots of bills that were ignored by past presidents...have come due on Dubya’s watch.

Charlene happened to leave The Anchoress open at this post

...But as I put the subject away, I just have to ask all of you people - on every side - who have decided that immigration is one man’s burden, and that every good thing President Bush has done is to be negated because he hasn’t snapped his fingers and done what YOU think is the solution to the immigration problem…what did Clinton do about immigration, what did Bush 41 do? What did St. Reagan do? What did Carter do? What has any president, congressperson or senator done about immigration for the last 30 years, except kick the issue down the road for someone else to deal with?

Reagan, if you remember, was the amnesty president. Clinton was the “borders? What’s borders, everyone is our pal” president.

Lots of bills that were ignored by past presidents, particularly during our “vacation from history” have come due on Dubya’s watch. The whole world seems to be coming due on his watch, and damn him for not handling everything perfectly. What a loser, eh? And it’s easy to kick a guy when he’s down, isn’t it? AJ is getting weary of it, too.....

Too true. She's got a little list. And I can think of other things. My little list of cans-kicked-down-the-road...

New-modeling the Pentagon. The Cold War ended under Bush's father, and the only response from him and Clinton was to cut budgets. No new thinking, no reforms.

In fact, there was no new or clear thinking about the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nothing done about the failure of the "Westphalian System" in the age of terror-supporting rogue states. Bush has redefined sovereignty for the first time since the Thirty Years War.

Our willingness to stand and fight, even if it costs many casualties. Avoiding that by past Presidents, including St Reagan, has now cost us far more casualties. Bush has accepted the painful necessity, paid the overdue bill, and all our future moves will be more effective because of it.

Missile defense.


The issue of whether we would defend Taiwan--fudged since Nixon's time; Bush said clearly we would.

Fetal stem cell research.

The insane exclusion of the most effective organizations from providing social services, just because they were faith-based. Ended by Executive Order.

Reform of the UN (hopeless, but at least someone's trying.)

Education! Paralysis has reigned for decades, and now NCLB is shaking things up big-time. (Dishonest conservitive critics only mention the expense, nothing else.

Health care. Paralysis for decades--now we finally have HSA's. And conservatives don't like the Drug Bill, but they refuse to even take notice of the personal choice and competition included, which has already lowered the costs well below what many expected. (Still huge, I know. But that those things are ignored says to me that the President's conservative critics are not honest.)
this isn't all, but it's time for me to go to work...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:37 AM

May 14, 2006

Am I a lib?

Here is the Atrios/Drum "are you a liberal?" test. It's mildly interesting; here are my thoughts. But for me the elephant in this room is: What are the principles that underlie these positions? What's the "theory" on which they are based? What are the GOALS? That's what we are never going to hear from our "liberal" friends. They don't dare.

1) Repeal the estate tax repeal: The estate tax is an all-around bad idea. Liberals should be against it too, For instance, the #1 reason family businesses sell out to big corporations is...the estate tax. (An idea liberals should be thinking of is to switch to an inheritance tax, that kicks in above a certain amount, say $10m. A billionaire would have to give his money to 1000 people to avoid the tax. That would encourage the break-up of big fortunes into many small fortunes, which would benefit (I would think) society.)

2) Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI. No. The minimum wage does not help people escape from poverty, which would be its only justification.

3) Universal health care (obviously the devil is in the details on this one). The goal we should be aiming for is some sort of universal HSA's, so people are spending their own money on health care, thus applying the intelligence of the whole population to keeping costs down and results up. Perhaps with mandatory contributions by all, so that people would build up their HSA investments by the time they get old and really need them.

4) Increase CAFE standards. Some other environment-related regulation. I'm not interested in the question this morning. Some other time perhaps. anybody want to comment?

5) Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice: In other words, reflexively attack traditional morality, the "culture of life," and the teachings of the Church, so we too can enjoy the success and freedom and fertility of the EU.

6) Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code: The best thing would be a regressive tax. That won't happen, so a flat tax would be next-best. Low income brackets essentially pay no income tax now, which is a bad idea. Everyone who earns anything should pay at least a little tax, so they feel some inclination to vote for responsible government.

7) Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination: That's just another form of religious discrimination, in favor of the religion called secularism. We should be discriminating in favor of Judeo-Christian faiths, which are, I think, the underlying source of all our national strengths.

8) Reduce corporate giveaways: Too vague a question. The goal should be to support "creative destruction," the rise of new businesses to compete with older ones.

9) Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan: Madness. The big plus of the drug plan is how it gives people choice, and encourages competition. Which has already lowered costs well below what was expected. (Though the bill is still going to be very big.)

10) Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions: The assumptions that underly this are all wrong. They are holdovers from the "Industrial Age," expecting workers to spend a lifetime at one big corporation. They assume stability in an age of rapid change. Our goal should be to replace ALL "defined benefit" plans (including SS) with "defined contribution" plans.

11) Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs, though the details complicated there too: There's no good way out of the mess we are in with these issues, and I have no strong position. Will the "libertarian" way be more or less destructive than the drug war? I suspect more.

12) Paper ballots: No opinion, and it's not a liberal/conservative issue anyway. Whether to crack down on fraud by requiring ID's to vote would be a more interesting litmus.

13) Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. Obiously details matter: I bet those "details" are really: "How do we do this in a way that will help destroy religion and atomize people and make them dependent on government."

14) Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes. Sure... if we also privatize FICA so that people can control their own desinies without dependence on government.

15) Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens. Marriage is not a "right," it is an awesome responsibility and privilege. And it is one of the main foundations of the health of our society. Even gays should be supporting traditional families, if they care about the future (which most don't seem to do). Even an atheist government should, for purely practical reasons, buttress and support traditional marriage, including support for religious faith. We are seeing the result of taking the opposite path in Europe, and it's not pretty, folks.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:30 AM

May 13, 2006

This week's Cindy...

A lefty-loon has resigned his professorship because Rice is speaking at his campus. Thank you Condolezza--well done. He writes:

DEAR Father Leahy,

I am writing to resign my post as an adjunct professor of English at Boston College.

I am doing so -- after five years at BC, and with tremendous regret -- as a direct result of your decision to invite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the commencement speaker at this year's graduation.

Many members of the faculty and student body already have voiced their objection to the invitation, arguing that Rice's actions as secretary of state are inconsistent with the broader humanistic values of the university and the Catholic and Jesuit traditions from which those values derive. [I'll bet those claimed "values" include tolerance for diverse opinions...]

But I am not writing this letter simply because of an objection to the war against Iraq. My concern is more fundamental. Simply put, Rice is a liar.
She has lied to the American people knowingly, repeatedly, often extravagantly over the past five years, in an effort to justify a pathologically misguided foreign policy. [Too true. Liberating the oppressed, fighting terrorism, promoting democracy and economic freedom--can't get much more pathological than that. Why, she's actually helping the wogs VOTE. How un-Christian. Or at least, un-Jesuit.]

The public record of her deceits is extensive. During the ramp-up to the Iraq war, she made 29 false or misleading public statements concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda, according to a congressional investigation by the House Committee on Government Reform. [Guess what. We are now learning that Iraq/Al Qaeda ties were MORE extensive than we thought. And The Duelfer Report revealed that even Saddam's own generals and top aides thought Iraq had WMD's. Not to mention all the world's intelligence services. So, clearly, no lie.]

To cite one example:
In an effort to build the case for war, then-National Security Adviser Rice repeatedly asserted that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear weapon, and specifically seeking uranium in Africa. [And the 9/11 Commission Report revealed that Joe Wilson reported to the CIA that Iraq WAS trying to buy Uranium from Niger. Niger's in Africa. (He Wilson lied and said the opposite in his famous NYT op-ed.)]

I'll spare you more back-and-forth. But what really galls me about guys like this is that he doesn't actually believe that telling a lie is so dreadful. This is just posturing because it suits his purpose at the moment. If the subject was one of those lefty anti-war activists who had claimed that the invasion of Iraq would surely lead to deadly WMD attacks, millions of deaths, millions of refugees, chaos across a "destabilized " Middle East, etc, etc.---THOSE lies wouldn't bother him a bit. Nor, you can be sure, was he bothered when Kerry was forced to retract a massive lie during the 2004 campaign.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:01 PM

May 12, 2006

Good Start!

Bill Sammon, The Examiner:

WASHINGTON - New White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is starting off in a combative mode against the press by issuing detailed rebuttals to what he considers unfair coverage of Bush.

“The New York Times continues to ignore America’s economic progress,” blared the headline of an e-mail sent to reporters Wednesday by the White House press office.

Minutes earlier, another e-mail blasted CBS News, which has had an unusually rocky relationship with the White House since 2004, when CBS aired what turned out to be forged documents in a failed effort to question the president’s military service.

“CBS News misleadingly reports that only 8 million seniors have signed up for Medicare prescription drug coverage,” Wednesday’s missive said. “But 37 million seniors have coverage.” On Tuesday, the White House railed against “USA Today’s misleading Medicare story.”

“USA Today claims ‘poor, often minority’ Medicare beneficiaries are not enrolling in Medicare drug coverage,” the press office complained. “But by April, more than 70 percent of eligible African Americans, more than 70 percent of eligible Hispanics, and more than 75 percent of eligible Asian Americans are enrolled or have retiree drug coverage.”...

(Thanks to Betsy N)

Go Tony!

Bill Sammon is a good man. I just read his book on the Bush Administration, Strategery. A lot of it was anti-climaticic for me, because I'd already followed the issues closely. But his account of the Dan Rather forgeries was quite stunning. The mendacity of the press was a good deal greter than I realized at the time. For instance, I'd not realized that some of the journalists reporting the story as if it were credible had previously declared that Bill Burkett was an unreliable witness. In fact, that he was obviously a lying Bush-hating nutball---but that made him persona grata to the press if there was a chance of swinging the election.

In a larger sense, the sheer stupidity of trying to fight an election in 2004 over stuff that happened in the Vietnam era is a perfect example of how, for the Left, especially for the press, the world gelled around 1973. They desperately wish they could get back to the time when things "made sense" to them. [In fact Bush served honorably in a difficult and damn dangerous job link link link link)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:38 AM

May 11, 2006

No fair fighting back...

Howard Fineman, in Newsweek:

...The conventional notion here is that Democrats want to “nationalize” the 2006 elections — dwelling on broad themes (that is, the failures of the Bush Administration) [I would not, myself, call that a "broad theme."]— while the Republicans will try to “localize” them as individual contests that have nothing to do with, ahem, the goings on in the capital.

That was before the GOP situation got so desperate. The way I read the recent moves of Karl Rove & Co., they are preparing to wage war the only way open to them: not by touting George Bush, Lord knows, [You may get a nasty surprise on that one] but by waging a national campaign to paint a nightmarish picture of what a Democratic Congress would look like, and to portray that possibility, in turn, as prelude to the even more nightmarish scenario: the return of a Democrat (Hillary) to the White House. [So it's "nightmarish" to focus on the failures of Democrat leaders, as a response to your focusing on "the failures of the Bush Administration?" No fair fighting back?]

Rather than defend Bush, Rove will seek to rally the Republicans’ conservative grassroots by painting Democrats as the party of tax increases, gay marriage, secularism and military weakness. That’s where the national message money is going to be spent. [I can see why Mr Feinman might not want attention called to those self-evident truths. But how does he have the chutzpah to act if this is some sort of dirty trick?]

The numbers explain the strategy
The president has a job-approval rating of 31 percent in the latest comprehensive poll, by the New York Times and CBS. His “favorable” rating, a more general measure of attitudes, is only 29 percent — barely above the levels enjoyed, if that is the word, by Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. Bush can’t hope to raise that number significantly by this November — no matter how many seniors sign up for the Medicare prescription drug plan or how many Sunnis join the new Iraqi government. [WHY can't he hope to raise the number? Economy strong, war going well, no domestic terrorist attacks, a program of bold reforms and defense of American values. The only surprising thing is how low the number is. It's Dem leaders who probably can't raise their numbers]

So the White House will try to survive by driving down the ratings of the other side. Right now, an impressive 55 percent of voters say they have a favorable view of the Democrats, one of the party’s best ratings in years. But the “favorables” of leading national Democrats are weak: 34 percent for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton; 26 percent for Sen. John Kerry; 28 percent for former Vice President Al Gore. ["WEAK?" You just called 29 percent "barely above the levels of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter."] The bottom line: As long as the Democrats remain a generic, faceless alternative, they win; [Well, there's your winning plan! Stay faceless. All Democrat candidates should wear masks, and disguise their voices. In fact, that's what they are already doing.] Rove’s aim is to paint his version of their portrait.

You can see him busy with the brushes at his easel now, even as he waits to see whether Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is going to indict him for false testimony. [Even as we wait for the Libby trial to start putting reporters and editors under the microscope. Yum!]

Take the new GOP deal on taxes. It would, among other things, extend by two years the Bush-era’s reductions in taxes on capital gains and dividends. The claim is that doing so will sustain overall economic growth (which has been pretty impressive, even though Bush gets no credit for it.) [Why not, Howard? You would give him credit if the economy was bad.] But the real political target is somewhat narrower: the estimated 60 million Americans who own stock. [Foul bloodsucking rich bastards who have stolen their wealth from poor Democrats. Tax them hard!]

Bush and the GOP talk earnestly about their vision of an “ownership society.” And maybe it’s true that they want everybody to be part of it. [This is an example of a REAL "broad theme," Feinman. So what's yours?] In the meantime, however, they will focus on trying to secure the support, or at least the acquiescence, of voters with portfolios. They aren’t the stereotypical country club Republicans of old, by the way; they include tens of millions of middle-class Americans — ancestral Democrats — who nevertheless don’t want Congress to do anything that would depress the value of their 401 (k)s. [Just ignore them. Write the greedy capitalists off. You can afford to lose a few tens-of-millions.]

The idea is to get Democrats to vote against the tax-cut bill — ANY tax-cut bill. Let the op-ed pages rail about the deficit [Bad news--the booming economy has raised Federal revenues to the point where the deficit is running at the historical average for the post WWII years. But I'm sure you "journalists" can keep that under wraps.] and the debt; the White House survivalists won’t care if they can find a way to accuse the Democrats of “wanting to raise taxes.”....

....The issue of gay marriage will play a part. So far this year, at least seven states will have on their ballots measures to ban same-sex marriage: Alabama, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. There are citizen-led campaigns seeking to add the issue to ballots in Arizona, Colorado and Illinois. ["Citizens?" Who they? Any Democrats in there? Or "ancestral Democrats?"]

But GOP strategists eventually are going to want to “nationalize” this topic, too, by bringing up in Congress again the draft of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I know that Dick Cheney isn’t for it, and neither is his daughter, Mary, whose new book “Now It’s My Turn” was released this week....[Ooooh. How you "tolerant" Dems LOVE mentioning Mary Cheney. Because supposedly homo-phobic Republicans having gays in the family is a delicious paradox. The idea that people ("citizens" even) might oppose gay marriage because they actually think the integrity of the family is something government should be FOR never crosses your tiny mind. Which is a lot of why you will keep losing elections.]

...Strength and faith wins votes
Beyond that amendment is the more general GOP theme of faith in the public square. To highlight that issue, the White House will use judicial nominations. That’s one reason why Bush is now pushing the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh. Faith matters — namely, that he is a conservative Catholic. [When I was growing up, conservative Catholics were almost all Democrats.]

A Rove Reliable on the Senate Judiciary Committee made the strategy clear at the confirmation hearing: Kavanaugh, he said, is the type of judge who will oppose “hostility to all things religious in American life.” Read: Democrats. [Almost right. Except that Democrat activist types are not hostile to religion, it is Christianity they hate. They are Christo-phobic. It's banning crosses and prayers and Nativity scenes that energizes them.]

Finally, there is the war on terrorism and military strength — the only two areas in the New York Times/CBS poll where voters say they trust the GOP more than the Democrats. [So of course it would be a dirty trick to campaign on those subjects. But we Republicans are evil to the core.]

Bush and Rove are daring the Democrats to turn the nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden as head of the CIA into a fight over the president’s secret eavesdropping program. That’s a fight they think they can win politically, by turning a legitimate constitutional issue into another Us v. Them morality play. [There is NO constitutional issue, since the courts have repeatedly ruled that warrantless wiretapping is allowable for national security, and previous Democrat presidents have done so with much less restraint than Bush. The "morality play" is America-hating appeasers like you vs those who will vigorously fight for our way of life. Bring it on! Make my year.]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:54 AM

May 10, 2006

I can't help it, it's like an addiction...

Here's YET ANOTHER article about how the Democrats are just about to discover what they "stand for." And I can't stop myself from commenting on it. (There, I've admitted I have a problem! I'm a fisk-aholic! That's the first step. Only eleven more to go for a cure. But not today.)

Regular readers can ignore this, It's all stuff I've said before. From the NYT:

WASHINGTON, May 8 — With Democrats increasingly optimistic about this year's midterm elections and the landscape for 2008, intellectuals in the center and on the left are debating how to sharpen the party's identity and present a clear alternative to the conservatism that has dominated political thought for a generation.
I PREDICT that the midterm elections will not bring the Dems anywhere near to power. (I also predict that they will never "present a clear alternative to conservatism.")
Many of these analysts, both liberals and moderates, are convinced that the Democrats face a moment of historic opportunity. They say that the country is weary of war and division and ready — if given a compelling choice — to reject the Republicans and change the country's direction. They argue that the Democratic Party is showing signs of new health — intense party discipline on Capitol Hill, a host of policy proposals and an energized base...
None of these "signs of health" include agreeing on what their core principles are...

"What the Democrats still don't have is a philosophy, a big idea that unites their proposals and converts them from a hodgepodge of narrow and specific fixes into a vision for society," Michael Tomasky, editor of the liberal journal The American Prospect, wrote in a much-discussed essay in the May issue.
I think their "big idea" is "We should run the circus, because we know best."
A broader vision, many of these analysts say, will help the Democratic Party counter the charge, so often advanced by Republicans, that the Democrats are merely a collection of interest groups — labor, civil rights, abortion rights and the like — each consumed with their own agenda, rather than the nation's.
The charge is obviously true.
John Podesta, who heads a center-left research group, the Center for American Progress, says an appeal to the common good "gets away from what we've sort of gotten used to in the last couple cycles — a pollster-driven niche idea framing — toward a larger vision of where you want to take the country."
Sorry, Bush got there before you.
Democrats and progressive intellectuals have a history of debating philosophies and world views. Sometimes those debates result in a consensus and even a winning campaign, like Mr. Clinton's; sometimes the results are irrelevant in the rush of real-world campaigning.
Not in my lifetime they haven't. They just like to assume that everyone has already agreed that leftists are on the side of the angels, without going into specifics...
This discussion, still early, is bubbling up in journals like The American Prospect; research organizations like the Center for American Progress, The Third Way and the Democratic Leadership Council; a wave of new books; and — especially — among bloggers who are demanding that the party become more assertive in fighting for what it believes in.
Which is...uh, exactly, precisely, What?
The frustration with consultants — and their impact on Democratic politics — is widespread among the Internet pundits, and at the heart of several recent books, including "Crashing the Gate," co-written by Markos Moulitsas, founder of the blog the Daily Kos. In another, "Politics Lost," Joe Klein mourns the passing of a more authentic, preconsultant politics that he argues was embodied by Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 campaign.
If JFK or RFK came back today, these idiots would HATE them, and they would be no more popular in the Dem party than Joe Lieberman or Zell Miller are now.
This discussion of first principles and big goals marks a psychological shift for many in the party; a frequent theme is that Democrats must stop being afraid, stop worrying that their core beliefs are out of step with the times, stop ceding so much ground to the conservatives.
So what ARE the "core beliefs"???????????????????
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, said, "One of the most successful right-wing ploys was to demonize any concern about the distribution of income in America as, quote, class warfare."
Could you be a teensy bit more specific, Mr Frank? Having "concern" is not a core belief. Were you maybe, just maybe, hinting at REDISTRIBUTION? Hmmm? Time to stop worrying that your core beliefs are "out of step with the times," right? So spit it out.

Many of these analysts argue that Republicans have pushed the ideological limits of the American people so far — notably, with Mr. Bush's tax cuts for the affluent and his effort to partly privatize Social Security — that Americans are ready for something different.
Americans are ideologically opposed to tax cuts and privatization? What ideology, exactly, is this referring to? And does "something different" mean keeping SS unchanged + raising taxes? I'm probably too much of a stupid Republican to see how that's different...
Elaine Kamarck, a former top aide to former Vice President Al Gore, argues that the combination of the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina has driven home to Americans the need for strong and effective government, "and gets us back to our strengths — a government that can deliver."
And how, exactly, is this big government proposal going to be any more effective than all the other big gov projects we've suffered from?
William Kristol, a leading conservative thinker and editor of The Weekly Standard, counters that parties are ultimately defined not by big visions from intellectuals but by real positions on real issues.
Very true, although the positions flow from principles, stated or unstated. Here's what a Republican suggests, as a basis for us winning elections:

  • Win the war.
  • Confirm the judges.
  • Cut the taxes.
  • Control the spending.
  • Secure the border.

Pretty clear and simple, right? Democrats? Get it? Hmmm?

Posted by John Weidner at 10:49 AM

Darfur is "at peace"

Sense from the New Republic:

...The notion of force as a first resort defies the foundations of diplomacy and also of common sense: A willingness to use hard power abroad must not become a willingness to use it wildly. But if you are not willing to use force against genocide immediately, then you do not understand what genocide is.

Genocide is not a crisis that escalates into evil. It is evil from its inception. It may change in degree if it is allowed to proceed, but it does not change in kind. It begins with the worst. Nor is its gravity to be measured quantitatively: The intention to destroy an entire group is present in the destruction of even a small number of people from that group. It makes no sense, therefore, to speak of ending genocide later. If you end it later, you will not have ended it. If Hitler had been stopped after the murder of three million Jews, would he be said to have failed?...

The world has changed, and leftists and pacifists are in deep denial. The wars of our time are internal wars, within failed states. But the definition of "war" is still stuck in the days when nation-states fought each other with armies.

Darfur is "at peace." 400,000 have died, but thank heavens they've been spared the horrors of war! And if America and its allies sent troops to stop the killing, leftists would call it "war," and have anti-war marches, and shriek about the "civilian casualties" we've caused.

And if the slaughter stopped upon our arrival, as probably it would, then they would say. "Bush lied!"

Posted by John Weidner at 7:48 AM

May 9, 2006

San Francisco Stairways #4

This one's for Lyle...

These steps are on Mt Davidson, which is probably technically a park, but is really a steep hill covered with a near- jungle including lots of Eucalyptus and Western Sword Ferns and Blackberries. it's a fun place to hike.
Mt Davidson in San Francisco
Mt Davidson is also well-known because it's the hill with the giant cross on top...and you know how, in movies, vampires and evil creatures shrivel in consternation when a cross is brandished at them? Well....

I always get a sort of grim laugh when I see the signs the city has posted around the hill...
Mt Davidson sign about cross
That's a picture of the cross on the left.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:23 PM

Above all else, stop the Americans..

David Frum writes:

It's not easy to be an enlightened liberal internationalist these days.

An enlightened liberal internationalist wants to send troops to the Sudanese region of Darfur to protect a majority Muslim population against murderous Islamic extremist militias.

On the other hand, he or she must oppose keeping troops in Iraq to protect a majority Muslim population against murderous Islamic extremist militias.

The enlightened liberal internationalist wants to use U.S. airpower to stop Osama bin Laden's allies in Khartoum from committing terrorist atrocities.

On the other hand, he or she must condemn the use of U.S. airpower to stop Osama bin Laden's allies in Iraq from committing terrorist atrocities....

The whole "liberal internationalist" game was a fraud from the beginning. It was invented because WWI, and more decisively WWII, made it obvious that the future of the world was Pax Americana, and the likely triumph of our ideas of freedom and free enterprise. It was seized upon by socialists, because their own ideas have failed every time they have been tried, and the "internationalist" hoax was another way to impose them on people who would never vote for them, or, if they did, would repent of it bitterly.

400,000 people have died while the world looked for "negotiations" or international institutions to save them. The genocide should have been stopped quickly by the United States of America, backed up by a coalition of the willing. But that was impossible, because Bush had already expended all of his political capital saving Iraq and Afghanistan. When leftists and fake pacifists threw all their strength into hindering Bush, they were not only trying to feed Iraqis and Afghans into the shredders of cruel tyrannies, they were also killing hundreds-of-thousands of human beings in Sudan and Darfur.

Oh well, it's the job of pacifists to kill people and cause wars.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:35 AM

May 7, 2006

San Francisco Stairways #3

Well, actually this stair is not in San Francisco. It's on Angel Island, in San Francisco Bay, which is where the Weidners spent the weekend, travelling over on the ferry and hiking in to one of the small number of campsites...

Stair on Angel Island trail

We got our favorite spot again, campsite #3. (You have to reserve them way in advance.)

Angel Island campsite

Posted by John Weidner at 4:09 PM

May 4, 2006

I'm away for a couple of days...

Enjoy your weekend...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:02 PM

I give up...

This morning our faithful old Maytag washer failed. It would wash, but not go into the spin cycle and drain.

Whenever I have a broke machine, I always at least poke around and see if there are any loose wires. But there never are, so this time I didn't bother. (I did check that the belt wasn't broken, or the pump seized up.)

I called a repairman. He investigated, and seemed mystified. Suddenly it started to spin. He said, "That's funny. I just touched that wire, and it started. Must have been loose."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:51 PM

some good news...

There's stuff worth reading in OpinionJournal on successful Tort Reform in Texas...

...So what has happened since September of 2003, when the new law went into effect? After years of losing doctors, Texas has added nearly 4,000 since passage of Proposition 12, including 127 orthopedic surgeons, almost 300 anesthesiologists, over 200 emergency room physicians, 146 new obstetricians, 58 neurologists and 24 neurosurgeons. The Texas Medical Board is anticipating some 4,000 applicants for new physician licenses this year alone--double last year's numbers, and 30% more than the greatest growth year ever.

The threat of lawsuits has been a particular barrier to attracting and retaining pediatric specialists. Since 2003, Texas has gained 20 pediatric cardiologists, 14 pediatric oncologists, almost 50 new perinatologists (obstetricians specializing in high-risk pregnancies), 10 pediatric surgeons and 8 new pediatric endocrinologists.

Medically underserved counties in Texas are benefiting as well. Jefferson, Webb and Victoria Counties, as well as the counties of Cameron and Hidalgo in the Rio Grande Valley, have all experienced an influx of physicians....

The "Plaintiff's Bar" has become like a massive parasitic infection in our nation. Everything America does is dragged down and weakened by the constant need to worry about lawsuits, and to pay high insurance premiums. (And it's a tax that is largely invisible. When you buy anything, the price includes a premium created by unjust lawsuits. But also, the company that made that gadget paid a premium on everything they bought, and so on in limitless regression. And they all have to pay workers more, to cover the higher costs of everything the workers buy.)

And the costs fall most heavily on the poor, as the Texas example above shows.

It has long been almost impossible to enact any meaningful tort reform, because the "Democrat" Party is dependent on massive donations from the trial lawyers, and has vetoed or obstructed any change This is an axis of evil. Yet another reason why voting Democrat is voting for evil, and is voting to hurt the least fortunate and weakest members of our society.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:03 AM

May 3, 2006

Good stuff on "white guilt"

There's lots of buzz about Shelby Steele's piece, White Guilt and the Western Past. I think it's a great article, well worth reading...

....I call this white guilt not because it is a guilt of conscience but because people stigmatized with moral crimes--here racism and imperialism--lack moral authority and so act guiltily whether they feel guilt or not.

They struggle, above all else, to dissociate themselves from the past sins they are stigmatized with. When they behave in ways that invoke the memory of those sins, they must labor to prove that they have not relapsed into their group's former sinfulness. So when America--the greatest embodiment of Western power--goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. Thus, in Iraq we are in two wars, one against an insurgency and another against the past--two fronts, two victories to win, one military, the other a victory of dissociation.

The collapse of white supremacy--and the resulting white guilt--introduced a new mechanism of power into the world: stigmatization with the evil of the Western past. And this stigmatization is power because it affects the terms of legitimacy for Western nations and for their actions in the world. In Iraq, America is fighting as much for the legitimacy of its war effort as for victory in war....

He's dead on about our paralysis in immigration policy. Our attitude should be that our way of government and freedom is superior, that we have a mission to be a "light unto the nations," and to spread our wisdom to new immigrants and to their homelands. And being an immigrant is a big privilege that carries big responsibilities.

The thing that I would add to his article is that our policies in the Third World and the War on Terror would probably be much the same even without any "white guilt." The logic of our situation is inescapable. The only way "out" of the problems in "The Gap" is for those countries to grow up, and join the grown-up world. (And in fact many already have--there are a lot of countries that we formerly thought of as impoverished and hopeless that now are democratic and increasingly prosperous. Think about the way that India is now starting to give foreign aid to other lands, and how many of the "Asian Tigers" are outsourcing jobs to places with lower labor costs.)

Like it or not, we are in loco parentis. The fact that we could squash any Third World country like a bug--or 1st World country for that matter--is irrelevant. We need for them to grow up, and therefore our fighting with "managerial minimalism" is necessary. Your kids won't grow up if you step in and solve every problem for them (and probably also won't if you just ignore them). They may have to struggle for years on paths that lead nowhere, until they find out themselves what works for them. You need to nudge and nag them in what you hope is the right direction, but you have to let them make mistakes...

The other thing that stands out when I read this is how utterly stuck in the past leftists and "white guilt-trippers" are. For them The White Man is forever putting on his solar topee, whacking his boot with a riding crop, and striding to the club for sundowners, leaving (as the old colonial urban legend has it) his glass eye on the porch to keep the black boys hard at their labors. And Bull Connor is forever using dogs and fire hoses to flatten hip and youthful Civil Rights marchers, while they forever sing We Shall Overcome...

That fact that they gained great power and success from stigmatizing the "white" world has turned into a terrible trap. They are like the school football stars or prom queens who can never move past their moment of glory, and keep their yearbooks on the coffee table while never achieving anything new...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:46 AM

May 2, 2006

Help! Police! Protect the protesters....

This is funny:

....Animal activists bit off more than they could chew this morning when they chained themselves to the killing area of an abattoir at Ipswich in south-east Queensland.

The 12 protesters got a fright when meatworkers took matters into their own hands and used angle grinders to cut the chains off the activists so they could get back to work.

The group had hoped their actions would disrupt the World Meat Congress, which is under way in Brisbane.

Protester Angie Stephenson says it was terrifying. "The workers, they were standing around cheering and whooping and yelling and making lewd comments so we had to call the police and tell them to get out here straight away," she said...

World Meat Congress???

(Thanks to Orbital)

Posted by John Weidner at 4:54 PM

I should have posted this yesterday...

Get up! get up for shame! the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
    See how Aurora throws her fair
    Fresh-quilted colors through the air:
    Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
    The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept and bowed toward the east
Above an hour since, yet you not dressed;
    Nay, not so much as out of bed?
    When all the birds have matins said,
    And sung their thankful hymns, 'tis sin,
    Nay, profanation to keep in,
Whenas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May...

     --Robert Herrick
Posted by John Weidner at 11:28 AM


I happened to catch Rush Limbaugh first thing yesterday, when he was able to announce that his case had been settled...It was very good to hear.

It was NOT good to hear of the phony "Rush Limbaugh arrested" headlines. That was the reason the deal included filing one charge, which is not going to be prosecuted. Technically he's been "arrested for drugs," though effectively the case has been dropped. (And this was not a "plea bargain," by the way. Rush plead not guilty.)

Andrew C. McCarthy & Mark R. Levin write:

....Unlike most of us, who get to keep our private struggles private, Rush’s celebrity ensured that his would be played out publicly. With characteristic candor and humility, he admitted he had a problem. And he did it in a way that is rare today, although one that came as no surprise to those of us privileged to know Rush. He took real responsibility.

He didn’t pretend to be a victim. He didn’t blame anyone or anything—not even the pain. Instead, he forthrightly acknowledged what he regarded as a personal failing, although most of us would aptly see it as a common trap for those with painful medical conditions. Equally important, he didn’t just talk about his problem. He dealt with it, continues dealing with it, and is overcoming it.

From day one he has maintained he is innocent of any crimes. That assertion has stood the test of time, and it stands today as this shameful investigation ends.

We are former federal government attorneys. We’ve collectively spent decades in law enforcement and believe passionately in its professional, non-political, non-partisan mission. Thus, it’s with outrage that we note that, rather than quietly dropping this embarrassment of an investigation, the state attorney, Barry Krischer—a politically active liberal Democrat—has insisted on filing a charge which he well knows will never be tried. Insisting, that is, on further media churning of an allegation of doctor-shopping that he’ll never prove.

Rush is entering a plea of not guilty. The case will be dismissed in 18 months, when Rush completes the treatment he undertook on his own. There is no reason to file a charge that is without foundation and will never result in a judgment of conviction. But, under Florida procedures, this means a person is “processed.” That is, by this petty maneuver, Krischer has arranged for a mug shot of Rush Limbaugh.

Krischer ought to be ashamed of himself, and the people of Palm Beach County ought to be frightened by what passes for law enforcement in their neck of the woods....

The whole thing has been a travesty. Leftists can't debate Rush on a level of facts and logic and principle, so instead we get a political prosecution, and lots of sneers and innuendo.

Think about how many celebs you have heard of having drug problems (often from recreational drugs, not medicines taken for real pain). Are any of them hounded by prosecutors for years over a first offense? Even after they have voluntarily entered rehab? Or think of ordinary law-abing citizens in the same trouble--it happens all the time. Nobody's first offense is prosecuted like Rush's was.

If there were any honest leftists remaining, which there obviously are not, they would have been ashamed to be connected with this dirty work.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:03 AM

May 1, 2006

First, do no harm. For good, you'll have to wait a while....

Anyone who still believes in governments providing free health care (or who believes that leftists are trying to help people) should read this post, plus the comments by Canadians discussing their, er, experiences...(Thanks to Amy Ridenour.)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:28 PM

Good day

Yesterday, after weeks and months of wet and dreary weather, we had a day of surpassing clarity and sweetness. So there isn't much to say, except that we enjoyed it thoroughly. As did all the neighbors.

This is a (poor) picture of a Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum "Shin Deshojo") that has brilliant red new leaves in Spring...In a few weeks the leaves will turn green. And in front of it some Maidenhair ferns that also have reddish new growth.

Re maple, red ferns in our garden
I did say one funny thing. Due to stupidity. On the way to church we drive past another church, and I said. "It's sad how that church never looks like it has much going on."

Charlene replied, "It's Seventh Day Adventist!"


Posted by John Weidner at 3:55 PM

Defer. Defer. To The Lord High Executioner...

Deborah Orin, NY Post: ....It's the ultimate in radical Stalinist chic - the Harvard Alumni Association's $636-a-night totalitarian luxury tour of a rogue nation where thousands are deliberately starved to death.

"Demonstrations of respect for the country's late leader, Kim Il Sung, and for the current leader, Kim Jong Il, are important," instructs the Harvard Alumni Association's tour memo.

"You will be expected to bow as a gesture of respect at the statue of Kim Il Sung and at his mausoleum."

Harvard even tries to pretend that bowing down to thugs is perfectly normal - explaining that it's because "North Korea, like every country, has its own unique protocols."...

Well, of course! In Rome you just gotta do as the Romans do. And back in Blue-State America they will do as Blue-State Americans do. Probably say things like: "I just can't BEAR to LIVE in a disgusting country like this, where murderers are executed after only 20 years of appeals."

....North Korea's "protocols" feature massive human-rights abuses, deliberate famine, concentration camps, religious persecution, gas chambers, likely genocide and trafficking in women and children....

But we shouldn't criticize them, because all cultures are equally valid. Not to mention having their "own unique protocols." That's very important.

.....Plus sending body snatchers to Japan and South Korea to kidnap children and force them to train North Korean spies. Satie Yokota, the mother of a Japanese girl kidnapped in 1977 at age 13 while clutching her racket on the way home from school badminton practice, calls North Korea "enemies of humanity." Now 70, she fears she'll die before she ever sees her daughter again....

But if we decided to liberate the victims of this monstrous evil, the fake-pacifists and fake-leftists would do their utmost to keep Kim in power, just like they tried to keep Saddam in power. And probably tell us with fake-piety that it is "wrong" and "futile" to use force to solve problems, while they themselves act as non-stop ENABLERS of brutally coercive regimes. (But that kind of force is OK, because it's anti-American.)

...Then there's the Stalinist personality cult - when the Harvard alums bow down, they'll be joining the national worship that requires every North Korean to wear a Kim Il Sung lapel pin or else.

Not surprisingly, the Harvard alums are also instructed to carefully censor their reading matter because "certain types of literature may not be allowed into North Korea."....

Gee, do ya think? But they will take a "principled stand" if anyone here suggests that pornography ought to be censored, or that CIA officials should not leak classified material.

I think this tour is a great idea, but it needs a bit of "adventure travel" added on. Say a month or two in a North Korean concentration camp, so these Harvard frauds could really live multi-culturalism, and really feel what their leftist affectations lead to when put into practice.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:15 AM