July 31, 2006

Playing possum?

Varifrank thinks that Israel is playing possum. Looking ineffectual and weak in order to tempt Hezbollah to stay engaged, to stay in the fight, and stay in South Lebanon. And that we are going to see the real moves soon. I HOPE he's right. I worry a lot.

...Arab terrorists have started a war, and they have for once – gotten exactly that in return. And I have to say as revolting as war is, I find this fact to be downright refreshing. Finally, starting a war has consequences beyond who sits on what side of the negotiation table. Finally starting a war might mean that you will lose! What a concept! (It certainly takes all the fun out of it, doesn’t it? – which is precisely why I think the President is following that idea. Terrorism isn’t any fun if it doesn’t get you what you want, but instead costs you everything you have. The first step towards ending terrorism is to stop making it pay as a strategy for engaging the enemy.)...

We have, in truth, allowed terrorism against Israel to pay off, which is one of the main reasons we are in a war on terror ourselves. And the stakes keep getting higher. Iran is supplying missiles by the thousands to Hezbollah, and working on nuclear weapons. (Funny thing how blasé certain people are about that.) The terrorists, and Iran, have promised genocide for the Jews. (Curious also how blasé certain people we all know are about that. Including some purblind Jews.) Roger Simon had a good quote by Trotsky: "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."

Here's one delightful little chappie whose opinions should by more widely known:

..."We have to keep this sacred hatred of the enemies of Islam alive in our hearts until the time of revenge comes," General Yahya Rahim Safavi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

"I hope our nation can one day avenge the blood of innocent people in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan," he said, adding: "I ask God to arouse the dignity of Muslims and destroy America, Israel and their associates."

His comments came the day of an Israeli strike that killed 52 people -- more than half of them children -- in the village of Qana, the deadliest attack in its near three-week offensive against Lebanon.

"I ask God that the crimes and atrocities of Zionists hasten the annihilation of this regime. Hezbollah and Lebanese people are invincible and this cancerous tumor... should die," he added, calling on "clerical leaders in the Islamic world (to) clarify the duty of Muslims against Israel."...

All those addle-pates who are demanding that Israel be "proportional" in this war should be very glad that Israel isn't likely to be exactly that.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:59 PM

"the catechism of a ceasefire"

Good post by Dean Barnett, blogging at Hugh Hewitt's...

In his magnificent biography of Winston Churchill, “The Last Lion – Alone: 1932-1940,” William Manchester used the term “the catechism of appeasement” to describe the European powers’ irrational faith in their ability to appease Hitler. In spite of Hitler’s belligerence and plainly evil objectives, the wise men of Europe labored at convincing themselves that their program of appeasing Hitler would be successful.

Regarding the Middle East right now, we have something similar – call it the catechism of a ceasefire. There is nothing that suggests that Hezbollah or its state sponsors want any kind of lasting peace with either Israel or the United States. But the cries for a ceasefire continue. If only the bombs would stop falling, ceasefire proponents seem to argue, we could once again comfortably insert our heads into the sand and pretend all is well.

The fact that we would only defer the true day of reckoning to a later though likely bloodier date seems not to be a consideration....

This is particularly insane with regards to Israel, because we have already been through the "ceasefire" routine many times. The terrorists get to bomb Israeli civilians with near impunity. Then, when Israel decides to counter-attack, and starts killing terrorists, the world suddenly discovers that there is something terrrrrrrible happening, and there are tears shed for innocents, and diplomats flying about like wasps, and candle-light vigils, and...always...demands for a ceasefire. Pressure on Israel for a ceasefire.

Whereupon the terrorists get to feel victorious, and get to rebuild in safety for the inevitable next attack.

Someone once wrote that the purpose of "peacekeepers" is to extend the duration of a war for the longest possible time. The same could be said about Middle East ceasefires. We've gone down that road decade after decade, and the result is always more bloodshed. Not that pacifists and leftists and liberal clergy care about that in the slightest...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:03 PM

July 30, 2006

Emigrant Wilderness, some more pictures

Just in case there's someone else out there who likes granite as much as I do...

Rock wall in the Emigrant Wilderness

For a person like me who loves to walk, the cool thing about the high Sierra is that you can walk in almost any direction you choose. There are almost no thickets or tangles or bogs to impede you. And the rough crystalline surface of the rock gives such good traction that you can walk up some very steep slopes in perfect safety...

Rocky landscape, Emigrant Wilderness
These trees below made me think of those walking trees that the Ents herded in the (book) Lord of the Rings...
Trees in rocky canyon, Emigrant Wilderness

Posted by John Weidner at 9:51 PM

Book recommendation

Both Charlene and I highly recommend the book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, which is about the populations and civilizations of the Western Hemisphere before Europeans arrived. It pulls together a large amount of research that has been done in recent decades. In short, everything you thought you knew (or at least, that we thought we knew) about the indians is wrong.

There were many more indians (the author, by the way, makes it quite clear that "indians" is the preferred term, not PC constructions like "Native American") than historians had realized, the hemisphere was much more "civilized" and more modified by human action than anyone had guessed.

And the diseases that explorers brought were much more lethal than historians had thought. (Why more lethal? Probably mostly because the indian populations were much less genetically diverse, having grown from rather small populations that migrated from Asia. Also because they did not live in proximity to domestic animals, which have been a source of many of our disease organisms.) Epidemics spread in waves ahead of Europeans, and only the very earliest explorers saw intact populations. And their reports were often dismissed as lies by those who came a few years later, and found a very different situation.

For instance, the vile Hernando de Soto wandered through our Southeastern states and reported them thickly populated with towns, often three others being visible from any one. A century later, de la Salle passed through some of the same places without seeing a village for hundreds of miles! And the earliest Europeans did not find millions of Buffalo. That was a population explosion that resulted from the collapse of human populations.

I found the section on the Amazon Basin the most staggering. It too was thickly populated...

...[p. 284] Carvajal wrote little about the peoples who spent so much time trying to kill him. But the small amount he did write depicts a crowded and prosperous land. Approaching what is now the Peru-Brazil border, he noted that, "the farther we went, the more thickly populated and the better did we find the land." One 180-mile stretch was "all inhabited, for there was not from village to village a crossbow shot."

How did the people live? By planting trees. The Amazonian forest today is amazingly thick with fruit and nut-bearing trees, and many researchers now believe that these are in fact the remnants of old "orchards." Also, they found the means to enrich the soil--jungle soil is notoriously poor, but perhaps as much as 10% of the Amazon Basin has rich black soil that can grow crops for decades without fertilizers. People dig it up and sell it as potting soil. How did they do it? Hey, read the book! You will be so astonished.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:57 AM

July 29, 2006

Green Lantern?

I saw this quote on a friend's blog:

...The adventurist Right holds two simultaneous attitudes in uneasy conjunction. One is “The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics” - a boundless belief in the power of military might, will and “resolve” to remake the world. The other is a complete lack of faith in the durability of the social institutions and cultural capital of America and the West. The latter attitude leads to “How Democracies Perish” and stabs in the back and the general conviction that the West - still soft, still decadent - isn’t up to the task of outlasting its enemies...
--Jim Henley.

These are (in distorted form) things people on the Right believe, but there is nothing "uneasy" about the conjunction. We can SEE both things in the world around us, and it is perfectly reasonable that both can be true.

First, conservatives do NOT believe that military might can "remake" the world--this is a straw-man argument. What it can do is to remove certain obstacles, such as totalitarian regimes, or warlords, or terrorists, that keep parts of the world from remaking themselves. After that, people have to do it on their own. (And they may fail, as all human hopes may fail.) We can, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, make elections possible, but we can't force people to vote, or make them wise, or force elected governments to act wisely. Our use of military force is analogous to the way a shot of antibiotics does not kill all the germs. Rather, it kills enough so the body's natural defenses can accomplish the work of healing.

But, with that correction, you can SEE the effectiveness of Anglosphere military force staring you in the face whenever you look at a world map. All over the globe are places that English-speaking forces have liberated or protected from invasion, and, mysteriously, most of them seem to flourish afterwards. It's a kind of "green thumb." For instance we saved a backwater called South Korea from socialist conquest, and planted a few seeds of free enterprise at the same time. Who'd have expected that the result would be a democracy and an economic powerhouse? Similarly with Japan, Germany, Italy...plus of course those many countries which they had conquered, and we liberated. And the places we did not protect or liberate often ended up as socialist hell-holes.

The way lefties keep exclaiming, "You can't impose democracy by force" is SO pathetic and sniveling, like someone who can't keep Kudzu alive sneering at the guy with the green thumb.

But the second half of Mr Henley's statement is also true, and also something we can SEE all around us. Western Europe is the obvious example, though there are plenty of others, including various "Blue State" trends here. Europe suffers from economic stagnation, political sclerosis, and looming demographic collapse. And from the loss of belief in its own civilization, and unwillingness to defend it against enemies. And it is suffering from an obvious spiritual collapse, seen not just in the loss of religious faith, but in the blatant lack of new ideas, new hopes and dreams and schemes. And lack of joy.

Think! LOOK! It's right in front of you. Does anyone now learn German to keep up with the latest philosophy? Or French to be part of the avant-garde? Are any of you moving to Sweden to study their social organization? Are you worried about your job because of competition from fast-growing European companies? (It is to laugh.) These are not just right-wing fantasies, you can see this stuff all around you. The EU is roughly comparable in size and wealth to the US. SO, is anybody thinking that, if things get tough in the world, we can rely on European strength and resolve? In anything?

It is obvious that the "durability of the social institutions and cultural capital of America and the West" are NOT things we can take for granted. It is obvious that certain trends we can see may make us incapable of outlasting our enemies. ("complete lack of faith" is another straw-man. But anyone who isn't worried is a fool.)

Extra thoughts...

1. Henley's paragraph is not only logically deficient, it is also, I'd say, projection. It is the Left that has always believed in "re-making the world." Think: 5-Year-Plans, "Great Leap Forward," "Final Solution," "re-education" camps, "War on Poverty," and of course the current war on human nature, in the form of the differences between the sexes.

2. Also, while conservatives have great faith in the prowess of our military, it is incorrect to call that faith "boundless." Conservatives believe that ALL human institutions are flawed, including our own. The Christian term for this is "Original Sin." In secular or political form you can see the same idea in the Federalist Papers and The Constitution.

3. I suspect we see here reason #498 why leftists are hostile to the teaching of history. At any time before about WWII, it was common for Americans to travel to Europe to get a proper education or grounding in many fields. Art, music, science. philosophy, military science. You need to have a feel for that to appreciate how shockingly Europe has declined.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:20 PM

Finally, some kind of action...

NSA Whistleblower Gets Grand Jury Subpoena

WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) -- A former National Security Agency employee has been subpoenaed by a U.S. grand jury as part of an investigation into leaks of classified information.

The subpoena -- issued Wednesday by two FBI agents to whistleblower Russ Tice outside his Maryland home -- was drawn up by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia, and the letter accompanying it is signed by an attorney from Justice Department headquarters -- a sign that the investigation is being overseen in Washington.

The subpoena says only that the grand jury is "conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving the unauthorized disclosure of classified information." But it is believed to be the first public sign of the Bush administration's promised aggressive investigation into leaks about the National Security Agency's highly secret program of warrantless wiretapping of suspected terrorists....

Let's just hope it's not also the last public sign... Our supineness in the face of treason has been a disgusting thing.

....In a statement issued by the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, Tice said the subpoena was designed to stop others who had evidence of illegal conduct by U.S. intelligence agencies from coming forward. "This latest action by the government is designed only for one purpose: to ensure that people who witness criminal action being committed by the government are intimidated into remaining silent."...(Thanks to PowerLine)

National Security Whistleblowers Coalition? Issuing statements? They are NOT whistleblowers, because there is a law covering that, and you have to obey the law to have "whistleblower" status.

This is exactly analogous to the way captured terrorists are supposed to receive the protections the Geneva convention offers lawful combatants, but are free to torture and kill any of our guys they happen to capture. Or the way a criminal can cruelly murder innocent people, and then, once he's on Death Row, be transformed into a "victim," a lovable cuddly repentent victim, while the real victims are forgotten.

Underneath these is always Leftism, in one or another of its many disguises, trying to undermine law and justice, which are among the several things needed to keep men and nations free.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:35 AM

July 27, 2006

Are we in a war?

Hugh Hewitt has a good long post on the notion that the attacks on Israel will hurt the Republicans politically...

...As the November elections approach, the same debate has begun as surrounded the 2002 and 2004 contests: Are we in a war, and if so, which party is better equipped to lead it? Reporter Peter Baker anchors his "analysis" to the premise that "[f]or the president, the timing could not be much worse." I cannot imagine any single sentence that could be so very, very wrong. The war and all its deadly seriousness and enormous perils are back at the center of the political debate. Nothing benefits the president more politically than the necessity of serious debate about serious issues. The minimum wage debate and bogus arguments about the deadlines within the prescription drug program just disappear against the backdrop of the existential threat to Israel and the new revelations about the strength of a Hezbollah terror organization operating globally....

Leftists continually push the line that there really is no war, that it's mostly Bush scare-tactics. It's easy for ordinary voters to be fooled during a lull in the action (or, ironically, due to the splendid success of the Administration in protecting us from attacks). But if rockets are raining down on Israeli cities, it tends to concentrate people's minds. Especially because ordinary Americans are not anti-Semitic leftists, and tend to admire the pluck and enterprise of Israel, and sympathize with her fight against vile murdering savages...

Posted by John Weidner at 2:30 PM

Using innocents to provide cover...

Jay Tea, on the deaths of the UN observers...

...[quoting Canadian Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener] "Team Sierra is currently observing both IDF/IAF and Hezbollah military clashes from our vantage point which has a commanding view of the IDF positions on the Golan mountains to our east and the IDF positions along the Blue Line to our south, as well as, most of the Hezbollah static positions in and around our patrol Base."

In military speak, "static" means not moving, or permanent. Here the Major is saying that Hezbollah has set up regular positions IN and AROUND the UN's base. UNIFIL had allowed Hezbollah to literally move right in with them....

....Hezbollah has already been shown to use any form of innocents it can to provide cover. It stores its weapons in private homes. Israel captured a small arsenal inside a mosque. They set up their offices in apartment buildings. And now we see that they are using UN peacekeepers as unwilling human shields against Israel -- and those peacekeepers, trained soldiers all, are not only staying where they are ordered to, but speaking (as clearly as they can) that they are NOT blaming the Israelis who are dropping the bombs and firing the shells that are landing so close to them.

"...they are using UN peacekeepers as unwilling human shields..." So my question is, where are those people who believe in the UN? Where are those who believe in "international institutions?" Where are their protests?

Here's a good piece on how Hezbollah has made human shields the centerpiece of its tactics:

...Those who have visited any Hezbollah installation in Lebanon over the years always remark on the fact that there are families, women and children, in and around the place. "Secret" bases are usually hidden in plain site. Houses or apartment buildings become weapons storage or even operations centers.  An innocent shed or garage may contain a Toyota or a missile launcher.

Seldom, if ever, has a guerrilla movement been able to so openly and exquisitely weave itself into the fabric of a society as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon...

These are WAR CRIMES! Real war crimes. Committed in broad daylight, for all the world to see. So where are those people who are always complaining about alleged American or Israeli "war crimes?" Where are the protests?

What utter frauds "pacifists" are.
What utter frauds "anti-war" activists are.
What utter frauds "Progressives" are.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:45 AM

July 26, 2006

Our vacation...

The trip we've just come back from was another horse-packing adventure into the Emigrant Wilderness, with the help of the good folks at Aspen Meadow Pack Station. It was, like last year, awesome! Unbelievably beautiful. Especially if, like me, you like rocks! Weathered and rounded, sculpted and glacier-carved rocks--the whole place is rock, with a thin layer of soil and trees in crevices and hollows.

Small lake in the Emigrant Wilderness
I've got hundreds of pictures like this. I'll post some more soon...

Rocky hillside, Emigrant Wilderness

Posted by John Weidner at 7:10 AM

July 25, 2006

bitter reality...

I came back, and found myself getting all wound up about the "moral equivalence" crowd. But what's the use, they are morally brain dead, and can palter with any amount of evil, and snap it into their template. But this Israeli puts things well...

...Now, the bitter reality of which Israel’s right wing had warned about all along is beginning to settle in. It is not lost on virtually any Israelis that the two primary fronts on which this war is being conducted are precisely the two fronts from which we withdrew to internationally recognized borders.

We withdrew from Gaza, despite all the internal objections, hoping to move Palestinian statehood – and peace – one step closer. But all we got in return was the election of Hamas, and a barrage of more than 800 Qassams that they refused to end. And then they stole Gilad Shalit. Not from Gaza. Not from some contested no man’s land. From inside the internationally recognized borders of Israel. As if to make sure that we got the point – “There is no place that you’re safe. There is no place to which we won’t take this war. You can’t stay here.”

Because as much as we have wanted to believe otherwise, they have no interest in building their homeland. They only care about destroying ours...(Thanks to a good post by the Anchoress).
Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 AM

July 24, 2006

We's back...

I have returned. Great trip, but I'm too tired to blog it now. Lonnnnng day, that started by spending 3 hours sitting outside a Big-O Tires, in Sonora up in the Gold Country, due to a blow-out. Temp over 100. I didn't want to sit inside in the cool, because one is forced to watch television. Bleh. [I wish all the world well, except the television industry--they should die tomorrow.]

But I enjoyed talking to an old-timer, who told me tales about being a 17-year-old P-51 mechanic in North Africa, and then a Kern County Deputy Sheriff and dog handler...

And I've now removed about 200 comment-spams that accumulated while I was away.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:00 PM

July 18, 2006


I'll be not-blogging for a few days, so just observe the world's events and fill in my comments from your imaginations...

Oh, and don't let anything happen in the war 'till I get back!

Posted by John Weidner at 9:02 AM

If we lead, they will follow...

Orrin Judd writes, on Prime Minister Harper's statement of firm support of Israel...

....and we were talking last night about how pleasant it is to have Canada standing with the good guys instead of backstabbing and about how little traction Mr. Harper's critics have been able to gain, particularly the press, which he's made a point of being confrontational towards.

It's also amusing to cast your mind back a few years to when the Left and Realists were certain that George W. Bush's unilateralism was doing irreparable harm to our relations with former allies who would never see the world in our stark moral terms. Funny how those nations have instead been electing leaders who see the world the same way and even the Arabs generally support Israeli unilateralism at this point...

"If we lead, they will follow." Some neo-con said that, I don't remember who. Scorn and abuse followed, but it was the simple truth. It just takes time for peoples and nations to adjust, to adapt to a new world. (And, of course, the theo-cons Bush and Rice have been leading the neo-cons, and cons of all other flavors, reluctant though they may be. Which is just as it should be.)

I'd say that if you are investing in foreign stocks, the best long-term strategy might be to go for those countries that show adaptability, as evinced by the elections of men with the flavor of George W. Bush. Think Harper, Howard, Koizumi, Calderon...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:10 AM

July 17, 2006

Not two wars...only one.

Treppenwitz has some suggestions for things people can do to help Israel... This would be a good time to take a vacation in Israel. One might leave the Northern Galilee 'till next trip. (Or maybe not. There's nothing like a hint of danger to give life savor.) If I had some dough to spare, I'd do it.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:37 AM

There's only one war...

Ben Smith, in the NY Daily News, City's left is torn by Mideast crisis:

The broadening violence in the Middle East is endangering a political species with deep roots in New York: the liberal Israel hawk.
Although parts of the American left are more sympathetic to the Palestinian side of that conflict, "in New York the liberals are Zionists, because they're Jews," says Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn, Queens).

But the anti-war, anti-Bush, pro-Israel "progressive" political space occupied by the likes of the upper West Side's Rep. Jerrold Nadler and national Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is shrinking.

Israel's American allies are increasingly in the Republican Party, and leading journals of the American left have been skeptical of Israel's aggressive military response to the kidnapping of its soldiers.

Nadler said he sees "an increasing strain on the far left that is unreasonably anti-Israel, which I do not understand." An unwillingness to support Israel's right to defend itself, he said, could be tantamount for supporting the destruction of Israel. "If this kind of support for genocide of Jews continues to infect the left - that's not a left I want to be part of," Nadler said. The criticism of Israel's recent response as "disproportionate" has widened the gap between Democrats who back the Israeli government and their more critical allies.

"I think it's gong to end up pushing them farther apart," said Chris Owens, a Brooklyn congressional candidate who has called for negotiations between Israel and its neighbors...

I yield to no one in my admiration for American Jews--they can keep their heads in the sand with an obstinacy that is truly superhuman. Reality is a bitch, so the wise person just ignores it and keeps doing whatever worked for them when they were young.

You gotta sympathize. How grossly unfair it is when you don't get to chose what side you are going to be on in the big game! Pity the poor Jew, whose natural home is on the Jew-hating God-hating terrorist-supporting Left. Whatcha gonna do? It's hard to feel completely comfy sticking with the side that would happily toss you to the sharks, like Leon Klinghoffer... Yet how unfair it is that reality has allied you with George Bush, Condi Rice and Christian Red-State America! Not just unfair, it's too too tacky!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:08 AM

A few things forgotten...

If you like history, be sure to read Noemie Emery's piece, The Inconvenient Truth About Truman. Both parties happen to be claiming the mantle of Harry lately, but there are lots of inconvenient facts being forgotten. Especially by "liberal hawks" like Peter Beinart, who are peddling an airbrushed Truman...

...Humility was not a factor in these calculations, nor was the theory that American power was less than legitimate when used unilaterally. Dean Acheson, Truman's secretary of state, had little use for the United Nations, which had already been rendered impotent by the split in the Security Council, and Truman shared his opinion, being prepared to go into Korea without its consent. He did get its consent, only because the Soviet Union blundered by boycotting the Council. But as Max Boot reminds us, "Truman had already committed air and naval forces to combat before the vote," later writing to Acheson that without the U.N., "We would have had to go into Korea alone."

At the time, of course, the liberal hawks did not impress their observers as deferential to others. Truman was seen (rather like Bush) as being headstrong and cocky, Acheson as imperious and arrogant. Neither did Roosevelt or Kennedy strike people as being obsessed with his own or his country's shortcomings. Humility, deference, and multilateralism did not take pride of place in the Democratic lexicon until well after the party's mid-century triumphs, more or less at the same time it began losing elections....

Plus Korea makes Iraq look like a model of clarity, restraint, competence and low casualties. And there was never any hand-wringing and self-loathing over the use of nuclear bombs to end the War...(thanks to Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:08 AM

July 16, 2006

"Realist" fatuity

I think this NYT Op-Ed, An American Foreign Policy That Both Realists and Idealists Should Fall in Love With, is totally muddled...[NOTE: This is a long boring fisking you can skip if you like. The "new foreign policy" is an attempt to be effective without giving up leftist moral relativism, and admitting that we are the good guys. A flat-out impossibility.]

Robert Wright writes:

AS liberals try to articulate a post-Bush foreign policy, some are feeling a bit of cognitive dissonance.

They have always thought of themselves as idealistic, concerned with the welfare of humankind. [Turns out, not so.] Not for them the ruthlessly narrow focus on national self-interest of the “realist” foreign policy school. That school’s most famous practitioner, Henry Kissinger, is for many liberals a reminder of how easily the ostensible amorality of classic realism slides into immorality. [Nixon and Kissinger were liberals.]

Yet idealism has lost some of its luster. Neoconservatism, whose ascendancy has scared liberals into a new round of soul-searching, seems plenty idealistic, bent on spreading democracy and human rights. Indeed, a shared idealism is what led many liberals to join neocons in supporting the Iraq war, which hasn’t turned out ideally. [Are you saying that idealism is only OK if everything works perfectly? Some idealism.] In retrospect, realists who were skeptical of the invasion, like Brent Scowcroft and Samuel Huntington, are looking pretty wise.[Not to me.]

It’s an unappealing choice: chillingly clinical self-interest or dangerously naïve altruism? Fortunately, it’s a false choice. [It's false because there's a third possibility. But this article isn't it, just realism with some frosting on the cupcake.] During the post-cold-war era, the security landscape has changed a lot, in some ways for the worse; witness the role of “nonstate actors” last week in India, Israel and Iraq. But this changing environment has a rarely noted upside: It’s now possible to build a foreign policy paradigm that comes close to squaring the circle — reconciling the humanitarian aims of idealists with the powerful logic of realists. And adopting this paradigm could make the chaos of the last week less common in the future.

Every paradigm needs a name, and the best name for this one is progressive realism. The label has a nice ring (Who is against progress?) and it aptly suggests bipartisan appeal. [Since "progressive" is the latest sneaky pseudonym for leftist, this is really stupid] This is a realism that could attract many liberals and a progressivism that could attract some conservatives.

With such crossover potential, this paradigm might even help Democrats win a presidential election. But Democrats can embrace it only if they’re willing to annoy an interest group or two and also reject a premise common in Democratic policy circles lately: that the key to a winning foreign policy is to recalibrate the party’s manhood — just take boilerplate liberal foreign policy and add a testosterone patch. Even if that prescription did help win an election, it wouldn’t succeed in protecting America. [At least you admit that "boilerplate liberal foreign policy" is not about protecting America.]

Progressive realism begins with a cardinal doctrine of traditional realism: the purpose of American foreign policy is to serve American interests. [Which are what? Exactly?]

But these days serving American interests means abandoning another traditional belief of realists — that so long as foreign governments don’t endanger American interests on the geopolitical chess board, their domestic affairs don’t concern us. In an age when Americans are threatened by overseas bioweapons labs and outbreaks of flu, by Chinese pollution that enters lungs in Oregon, by imploding African states that could turn into terrorist havens, by authoritarian Arab governments that push young men toward radicalism, the classic realist indifference to the interiors of nations is untenable. [Yes. Clearly true.]

In that sense progressive realists look a lot like neoconservatives and traditional liberals: concerned about the well-being of foreigners, albeit out of strict national interest. But progressive realism has two core themes that make it clearly distinctive, and they’re reflected in two different meanings of the word “progressive.”

First, the word signifies a belief in, well, progress. Free markets are spreading across the world on the strength of their productivity, and economic liberty tends to foster political liberty. Yes, the Chinese government could probably reverse the growth in popular expression of the past two decades, but only by severely restricting information technologies that are prerequisites for prosperity. Meanwhile, notwithstanding dogged efforts at repression, political pluralism in China is growing.

Oddly, this progressive realist faith in markets seems to be stronger than the vaunted neoconservative faith in markets. After all, if you believe that history is on the side of political freedom — and that this technological era is giving freedom an especially strong push — your approach to fostering democracy isn’t to invade countries and impose it. And if you believe that the tentacles of capitalism help spread freedom, you don’t threaten to disrupt economic engagement with China for such small gains as the release of a few political prisoners. [In other words, "faith in progress" means you don't have to actually DO anything. Dems should love that.]

A strong Democratic emphasis on economic engagement always threatens to alienate liberal human rights activists, as well as union leaders concerned about cheap labor abroad. But the losses can be minimized, thanks to the second meaning of the word “progressive.” [Toss 'em some Tranzi bones, to shut them up.]


The American progressives of a century ago saw that as economic activity moved from a regional to a national level, some parts of governance needed to reside at the national level as well. Hence federal antitrust enforcement and the Pure Food and Drug Act. Analogously, problems that today accompany globalization call for institutionalized international responses.

In the economic realm, progressivism means continuing to support the World Trade Organization as a bulwark against protectionism — but also giving it the authority [What kind of authority, exactly? And do we get to VOTE on this stuff? Of course not.] to address labor issues, as union leaders have long advocated. Environmental issues, too, should be addressed at the W.T.O. and through other bodies of regional and global governance. [And if they fail? As they usually do? Or if they act against American interests...The "Progessive" does...what?]

Nowhere does this emphasis on international governance contrast more clearly with recent Republican ideology than in arms control. The default neoconservative approach to weapons of mass destruction seems to be that when you suspect a nation has them, you invade it. [Simply a LIE. This has never been the Republican OR neo-con position.] The Iraq experience suggests that repeated reliance on this policy could grow wearying. The president, to judge by his late-May overture toward Iran and his subdued tone toward North Korea, may be sensing as much. [Neither country has ever been a good candidate for invasion. And if we are planning invasions, they are not on the back burner because we are "weary," but because our will to prosecute the WOT has been deliberately sabotaged and undermined by traitor Democrats.]

Still, he is nowhere near embracing the necessary alternative: arms control accords that would impose highly intrusive inspections on all parties. [Because they ALWAYS FAIL against rogue regimes, and are unnecessary against all others. You write "impose." WHO imposes? By what amount of force? What army? The UN? The World government?" As soon as one asks the question, one sees that only the USA could "impose" anything of the kind.] Neoconservatives, along with the Buchananite nationalist right, see in this approach an unacceptable sacrifice of national sovereignty. [And YOUR position on national sovereignty is? Could you be specific here?]

But such “sacrifices” can strengthen America. One reason international weapons inspectors haven’t gotten a good fix on Iran’s nuclear program is that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty gives them access only to “declared” sites. Wouldn’t Americans be willing to change that and let inspectors examine America more broadly — we have nothing to hide, after all — if that made it harder for other nations to cheat on the treaty? [Is this stupid, or what? Why would the Iranians or other rogue nations become more cooperative just because inspectors inspect our weapons, which everyone already knows exist?]

There is a principle here that goes beyond arms control: the national interest can be served by constraints on America’s behavior when they constrain other nations as well. This logic covers the spectrum of international governance, from global warming (we’ll cut carbon dioxide emissions if you will) to war (we’ll refrain from it if you will). [And if they DON'T? You are left with...what? But even before that, the absurd thing about this kind of thinking is that "progressives" only get EXCITED about the "restraining America" part. We see this every day, in the WOT. They will ALWAYS go mushy when it comes to "constraining other nations."]

This doesn’t mean joining the deepest devotees of international law and vowing never to fight a war that lacks backing by the United Nations Security Council. But it does mean that, in the case of Iraq, ignoring the Security Council and international opinion had excessive costs: (1) eroding the norm against invasions not justified by self-defense or imminent threat; (2) throwing away a golden post-9/11 opportunity to strengthen the United Nations’ power as a weapons inspector. The last message we needed to send is the one President Bush sent: countries that succumb to pressure to admit weapons inspectors will be invaded anyway. Peacefully blunting the threats posed by nuclear technologies in North Korea and Iran would be tricky in any event, but this message has made it trickier. (Ever wonder why Iran wants “security guarantees”?) [It was only the threat of invasion that got the inspectors into Iraq, where they were blatantly hindered from doing anything. And Blix was put in charge, against our wishes, precisely because certain nations on the Security Council knew he could be trusted to "see no evil." And if WMD's had been found, it would still have been the USA and the Axis of Good that would have to force action. The same if inspectors found WMD's in Iran.]

The administration’s misjudgment in Iraq highlights the distinction — sometimes glossed over by neoconservatives — between transparency and regime change. Had we held off on invasion, demanding in return that United Nations inspections be expanded and extended, we could have rendered Iraq transparent, confirming that it posed no near-term threat. Regime change wasn’t essential. [This simply ignores the ever-more clear support of terrorism by Saddam, the massive humanitarian crises, the crumbling of the sanctions regime, and several other pressing reasons for invasion.]

To be sure, authoritarianism’s demise is a key long-term goal. Authoritarian states never have the natural transparency of free-market democracies, and the evolution of biotechnology will make an increasingly fine-grained transparency vital to security. But this degree of transparency will only slowly become a strict prerequisite for national security, because the bioweapons most plausibly available to terrorists in the near term aren’t effective weapons of truly mass destruction. (Anthrax isn’t contagious, for example, and there is a vaccine for smallpox.) For now we can be patient and nurture regime change through economic engagement and other forms of peaceful, above-board influence. [Oh right. Let us NURTURE! We've heard that stuff before. It always means "don't make waves."]

The result will be more indigenous, more culturally authentic paths to democracy than flow from invasion or American-backed coups d’état — and more conducive to America’s security than, say, the current situation in Iraq. Democrats can join President Bush in proclaiming that “freedom is on the march” without buying his formula for assisting it. [You there! Yes YOU, the 8 million Iraqis with purple fingers. Your democracy is not "culturally authentic." You risked your lives for nothing. The all-wise "Progressives" think your democracy should "evolve." Slowwwwly. Out of "authentic" sources, which presumably means the Ba'ath Party, which was surely going to "evolve" soon. But only If "nurtured."]

When expressing disdain for international governance, the Bush administration morphs from visionary neocon idealist into coolly rational realist. Foreign policy, we’re told, is not for naïve, “Kumbaya”-singing liberals who are seduced by illusions of international cooperation. [Everything I've read here so far says that Bush is right.]

Yet the president, in his aversion to multilateralism, flunks Realism 101. He has let America fall prey to what economists call the “free rider” problem. Even if we grant the mistaken premise that the Iraq war would make the whole world safer from terrorism, why should America pay so much blood and treasure? Why let the rest of civilization be a free rider? [Why? 1. Because we are the good guys, not selfish "realists." 2. Because things always only get fixed if the strong LEAD. 3. We BENEFIT the most, because we benefit the most from Globalization, which is really the spread of OUR system throughout the world. And the blood and treasure are trivial compared to past wars.]

The high cost of free riders matters all the more in light of how many problems beyond America’s borders threaten America’s interests. The slaughter in Darfur, though a humanitarian crisis, is also a security issue, given how hospitable collapsed states can be to terrorists. But if addressing the Darfur problem will indeed help thwart terrorism internationally, then the costs of the mission should be shared. [Nothing will happen unless America leads. That's the brutal fact that this article is trying to squirm away from. And because the President's political capital is limited, he must focus on only the most pressing issues. If the Democrats SUPPORTED America, we could fix Darfur tomorrow, and probably drag in some reluctant partners too. DEMOCRATS, LIBERALS are killing blacks in Darfur, right now, by hindering the President, instead of urging him to action. The blood is on your hands, lefty. Pacifism kills.]

President Bush’s belated diplomatic involvement in Darfur suggests growing enlightenment, but sluggish ad hoc multilateralism isn’t enough. We need multilateral structures capable of decisively forceful intervention and nation building — ideally under the auspices of the United Nations, which has more global legitimacy than other candidates. [Sudan is part of the UN! Plus China, which is hungry for oil from Sudan, and many countries who wish mostly to thwart our interests, or who think Moslems killing blacks is no bad thing. To expect ANYTHING good to come out of the UN slimehole is fatuous.] America should lead in building these structures and thereafter contribute its share, but only its share. To some extent, the nurturing of international institutions and solid international law is simple thrift.

And the accounting rules are subtle. As we’ve seen lately, the cost of military action can go not just beyond dollars and cents, but beyond the immediate toll of dead and wounded. In an age when cellphones can take pictures and videos of collateral damage and then e-mail them, and terrorists recruit via Web site imagery, intervention abroad can bring long-term blowback. [Uh, and if the UN were involved such things would not happen?]

Further, when you consider the various ways information technology helps terrorists — not just to recruit more fighters to the cause, but to orchestrate attacks and spread recipes for munitions — and you throw in advances in munitions technology, an alarming principle suggests itself: In coming years, grass-roots hatred and resentment of America may be converted into the death of Americans with growing efficiency. [But the UN NEVER stimulates hatred of the US...]

That domestic security depends increasingly on popular sentiment abroad makes it important for America to be seen as a good global citizen — respecting international laws and norms and sensing the needs of neighbors. One of President Bush’s most effective uses of power was the tsunami relief effort of 2004, which raised regard for Americans in the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia. Much of the war on terror isn’t military. [No duh! And WHO DID IT? Bush, and the incomparable US military, with some help from the Axis of Good. While the UN and Old Europe were utterly useless and selfish. So what is the lesson here, Mr Wright?]

Of course, some of it is, and we’ll need the capacity to project force anywhere, anytime. Still, a full accounting of the costs of intervention makes it clear that we can’t afford to be the world’s army... [Rubbish. Our current military spending is roughly comparable to the rest of the world's combined. Yet we are not straining our economy, and our spending as a % of GDP is well below Cold War highs.]

[I'll snip out a section where Wright says, correctly, that Globalization is causing a decline in world conflict, and then calls for--this will surprise you--yet MORE international institutions!]


And I'll nip out a section on "realism," and how it requires--surprise, surprise--more international institutions. Here's the crux:

....This sounds harsh, but it is only acknowledgment of something often left unsaid: a nation’s foreign policy will always favor the interests of its citizens and so fall short of moral perfection... [That is a failed idea. I think so, and George Bush and Condaleeza Rice think so. America is a profoundly moral nation, grounded in Christian and Jewish principles. "Realism" is an amoral policy that often serves to advance evil. ]

...Harnessing this benign dynamic isn’t the only redemptive feature of progressive realism. Morgenthau emphasized that sound strategy requires a “respectful understanding” of all players in the game. “The political actor,” he wrote, “must put himself into the other man’s shoes, look at the world and judge it as he does.” [Bullshit. One should chart a moral and world-uplifting course, and attempt to LEAD in that direction.]

This immersion in the perspective of the other is sometimes called “moral imagination,” and it is hard. Understanding why some people hate America, and why terrorists kill, is challenging not just intellectually but emotionally. [And somehow it always leads to the conclusion that we should do little or nothing.] Yet it is crucial and has been lacking in President Bush, who saves time by ascribing behavior that threatens America to the hatred of freedom or (and this is a real time saver) to evil. [Which somehow usually leads to vigorous moral action. (And, as in Kissinger's famous joke, it has the additional advantage of being true.)] As Morgenthau saw, exploring the root causes of bad behavior, far from being a sentimentalist weakness, informs the deft use of power. Realpolitik is reality-based. [No, it's a twisted fantasy. If "realists" had been in charge, much of the world would still be groaning under Communist tyranny. (And we'd still be supporting an army three times as big as now!) If "realists" had been in charge Iraqis would still be going feet-first into the shredders.]

Is progressive realism salable? The administration’s post-9/11 message may be more viscerally appealing: Rid the world of evil, and do so with bravado and intimidating strength. But this approach has gotten some negative feedback from the real world, [Negative feedback! Oh dear! We can't endure that!] and there is a growing desire for America to regain the respect President Bush has squandered. [That wasn't respect. Complicity in ignoring evil is more like it.] Maybe Americans are ready to meet reality on its own terms. [We are.]

You know what I really DESPISE about realists? (And pacifists and liberal Christians and leftists?) Whatever they do or say, it's always someone else who has to suffer for their ideas. They put on a big show of being "realistic" (or moral, or peaceful, or spiritual) but by some mysterious alchemy it's always some poor devil in another country, or another neighborhood, who has to pay the price.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:47 PM

July 15, 2006

More murk...

Charlene and I were both keenly disappointed in Cardinal Secretary of State Sodano's statement about the conflict between Israel and Hamas and Hezbollah. Particularly this:

..."In particular, the Holy See deplores the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation, and gives assurances of its closeness to those people who have suffered so much in the defense of their own independence...

Uh, Israel is also a "free and sovereign nation," and its civilian population is being showered by hundreds of Iranian-made rockets fired from...Lebanon. Fired by a group that has members in the Lebanese Parliament.

This is the usual rubbishing Euro "moral equivalence." Or maybe "un-equivalence," since the terrorists always get the best of these arguments. But it should be noted that Sodano retires in a month, and Bertone of Genoa is coming in. I have hope that shafts of light will soon start shining down into certain murky corners of St Peter's.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:59 AM

July 14, 2006

building permits include bomb shelters...

Yoni writes...

Last night 100 million Americans were ordered to spend the night in their bomb shelters.

If this was the news how would America respond to the threat that caused 1/3 of the total population to spend the night in their bomb shelters?

Last night 2 million Israelis, 1/3 of Israel's population, were order to spend the night in their bomb shelters. How many of you could live for 50 plus years in a situation where when you built a new house in order to get a building permit a bomb shelter had to be part of your new house?

Respond? How would we respond? Well I can tell you one thing, the moral equivalence/pacifism/appeasement crowd would be driven out of public life the very next day. And a great many Americans would shake off the foul drug of leftism overnight, and those who were too deranged to do so would start creeping very small, and hoping to avoid a richly deserved coat of tar 'n feathers. And I'd be buying the stock of Raytheon, 'cause we would need a lot of TLAM's.

Unfortunately the pattern of the last 50 years has been to force Israel to be proxy-victim for the people who would love to have their own countries abase themselves and crawl to tyrants and terrorists to beg forgiveness for Western Civilization.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:40 AM

July 13, 2006

Thy latent talons...

    TO A CAT

Cat! Who hast pass'd thy grand climacteric,
How many mice and rats hast in thy days
Destroy'd?—How many tit bits stolen? Gaze
With those bright languid segments green, and prick
Those velvet ears—but pr'ythee do not stick
Thy latent talons in me—and upraise
Thy gentle mew—and tell me all thy frays
Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick.
Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists—
For all the wheezy asthma—and for all
Thy tail's tip is nick'd off—and though the fists
Of many a maid have given thee many a maul,
Still is that fur as soft as when the lists
In youth thou enter'dst on glass-bottled wall.

    -- John Keats
Posted by John Weidner at 8:03 PM

fascinating symmetry...

Michael Barone, on the election in Mexico:

...There is also a fascinating symmetry in the recent election results in the three NAFTA nations: Mexico, Canada and the United States. All chose center-right governments by narrow margins, installed by minorities of the voters. Calderon's 35.9 percent of the vote in a three-party system is eerily similar to the 36.3 percent won by Stephen Harper's Conservative Party in Canada's four-party system. We all know about Bush's two elections.

All three leaders have been opposed vociferously, indeed often considered illegitimate, by the metropolitan elites of New York, Toronto and Mexico City. All three beat parties that claimed only they had national reach -- the Democrats here, the Liberals in Canada and PRI in Mexico -- but that were tarred with scandal when they were voted out of office.

All three won thanks to huge margins in economically vibrant hinterlands -- George W. Bush's Texas, Stephen Harper's Alberta, Vicente Fox's Guanajuato. Calderon carried the Mexican states north of metro Mexico City by 47 percent to 22 percent over Lopez Obrador. These are the states where you find giant new factories, glistening shopping malls, rising office buildings, new middle-class subdivisions, Wal-Marts and freshly paved highways. This is the Mexico that NAFTA has brought into being.

Just as Bush carried most of our fastest-growing states and Harper's Conservatives carried Canada's fastest-growing province, so Mexico's northern states, which produced more than half the nation's population growth from 2000 to 2005, voted PAN.

These center-right parties all stand for change -- change in the sense of allowing a vibrant private sector to grow and alter our ways of living and making a living. Their opponents tend to stand against change, for the vested interests of public-sector unions, for (in Canada and Mexico) the subsidy of anti-American metropolitan elites...

You may be tempted to say that all three governments won narrowly, and so their elections don't mean much--a few votes switched and they would be gone. But that overlooks the fact that all three are supporting change. And it is always easier for people to vote for "more of the same." Al Gore was an incumbent, in a time of peace and prosperity, in what has traditionally, since the 1930's, been the majority party. His losing meant more than the mere numbers showed.

And I'm thinking that Harper and Calderon will be like Bush, in accomplishing more than one would expect from the numbers. They all have programs, they know what they want to do. They are intellectually alive, they believe in what they say, in a way that their leftist opponents don't dare to. And all are tapping into something that renews itself: Liberty. (And into something else that becomes young again and again; I think they are all Christians.)

Leftism never becomes young again, it's more like a vampire that sucks countries dry, and then discards them. When I was younger I was told in a thousand different ways that "Euro-socialism" works! That it provides a better alternative to nasty unregulated (if only) capitalism. Well, no. It has failed, and we can see the failure plainly. The EU is roughly comparable in wealth and size to the US. So, "Where's the beef?" Who's learning French so they can keep up with the exciting new ideas? Who's learning German so they can be on the cutting edge of...anything? Who's moving to Sweden to enjoy that famous "high standard of living?"

Those countries have been destroyed, destroyed by the same ideas that are pushed by Al Gore and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Evil ideas, that have to keep shape-shifting and assuming new aliases and disguises.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:44 AM

Today's snippet...

Hugh Hewitt, in an excellent letter to Senator McCain:

...Senator, I have said this on the air and in print many times: You are a great American, a lousy senator, and a terrible Republican....

Just so.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:17 AM

July 12, 2006

Tool for detecting fuzzy thought...

There was a comment that struck me at this post. I had written: Peter Drucker always taught that the key to making decisions is figuring out what the question actually is.

Reader Mike replied: I learned this when I started working alongside of engineers for a few years. It's probably the single most important thing I learned during that time.

Here's another key: things are defined as much by what they are, as what they are not. For example, when somebody suggests a new product that does A, B, and C, we take pains to clearly specify that the product will not do X, Y, or Z. This additional step is crucial in defining the problem we are trying to solve. In engineering terms, it's the difference between a product specification, and a wish list.

In more abstract terms, it's a great tool for detecting fuzzy thought. For example, ask a 9/11 conspiracy buff what the conspiracy could
not have accomplished. What are its limits? If he says that anything was possible, then he's hoist in his own petard - "How do you know that Bill Clinton wasn't behind the whole thing?".

Well-formed thoughts have edges. Poorly-formed thoughts are like clouds that endlessly shift and fill the available space.

The "lack of limits" characterizes a lot of goofix thinking today. Whatever the criticism, people keep raising the bar, and can never be satisfied. A friend wrote to me, "I always point out that the people in the top 10% pay 66% of the taxes and then ask: How much do you think they should pay? What's the right number? I don't think I have ever gotten an answer."

They don't dare, those clot-brains who cry, "Bush is giving tax cuts to the rich!" And they never, ever, ever will give you a definition of "the rich." Probably because they mean you and me and at least half the people in the country, horrid bloodsuckers that we are, stealing from the poor...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:26 PM

Damascus KFC to open soon...

Hugh Hewitt writes

The news that Hezbollah has kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and that Israel has responded by invading Lebanon underscores the reality that Israel has no choice in the current situation.

Hamas wants a war with Israel. Hezbollah wants a war with Israel.

When that war comes in full force, the West should make a stand in the U.N. and everywhere else and be very clear about the fact that the war was one of choice for the Islamist militias, and that Israel was obliged to accept war, but did not chose it...

The terrorists want a war, Israel should give them what they want. But the real war-mongers are in Syria and Iran. Hopefully the Israelis will head for Damascus, and obliterate anybody who looks at them cross-eyed. Then we can step in and kick those nasty ol' Jews out...and since things will be fairly chaotic, why it will be our simple duty to help out, with the same sort of stuff we are doing in Iraq. (And, what a coincidence, we have a small army right next door, with less and less to do. We can give Congressman Murtha what he wants, and start "re-deploying" out of Iraq. Syria's halfway to Okinawa, you know.) Freedom, democracy, economic opportunity...how the lefties will howl.

Of course, to them, everything will be Israel's fault. But nothing Israel could do, short of suicide, would appease them, so their opinions should carry zero weight. (Not, mind you, that I'm saying that they are anti-Semitic. Any Jew who's dead or lying on the ground bleeding has their complete sympathy. Providing a Christian did it. If an Arab did it, then the Jew deserved what he got.)

The world's criticism will mostly be heaped on the Jews, not the terrorists. This reminds me of an Israeli joke I once heard: You know that the Romans used to have Christians eaten by lions in the Arena. What you may not know is that they did the same to Jews, but with a twist. The Jews were always buried up to their necks. One day when this was happening, a lion was stepping over one of the Jews, who stretched his head up and bit the lion on the tenderest part. The entire audience immediately rose up, and with one voice screamed, "Fight fair, Jew!"

Posted by John Weidner at 3:46 PM

July 10, 2006

"I use the expression as the highest measure of praise"

I can't forbear to quote a bit more from Witness. It's spooky how similar things are now to what they were then, in 1949....

...These were the forces—Thomas Murphy, Richard Nixon,** the men of the F.B.I.—who together with the two grand juries and Tom Donegan and the two trial juries, finally won the Hiss case for the nation. It is important to look hard at them for a moment, and this book would not be complete without such a glance. For the contrast between them and the glittering Hiss forces is about the same as between the glittering French chivalry and the somewhat tattered English bowmen who won at Agincourt. The inclusive fact about them is that, in contrast to the pro-Hiss rally, most of them, regardless of what they had made of themselves, came from the wrong side of the railroad tracks. I use the expression as the highest measure of praise, as Lincoln noted that God must love the common people; He made so many of them. For, in America, most of us begin on the wrong side of the railroad tracks. The meaning of America, what made it the wonder of history and the hope of mankind, was that we were free not to stay on the wrong side of the railroad tracks. If within us there was something that empowered us to grow, we were free to grow and go where we could. Only we were not free ever to forget, ever to despise our origins...[Emphasis added]

No feature of the Hiss Case is more obvious, or more troubling as history, than the jagged fissure, which it did not so much open as reveal, between the plain men and women of the nation, and those who affected to act, think and speak for them, It was, not invariably, but in general, the "best people" who were for Alger Hiss, and were prepared to go to almost any length to protect and defend him...

...It was the great body of the nation, which, not invariably, but in general, kept open its mind about the Hiss Case, waiting for the returns to come in. It was they who suspected what forces disastrous to the nation were at work....

Oh, by the way, the asterisk after the name Nixon is in the original. Here's the footnote it references. Yet a bit more stuff you won't find in your history book...

**Senator Nixon's role did not end with his dash back to the United States to rally the House Committee when the microfilm was in its hands. His testimony before the grand jury that indicted Alger Hiss is a significant part of the Hiss Case. Throughout the most trying phases of the Case, Nixon and his family, and sometimes his parents, were at our farm, encouraging me and comforting my family. My children have caught him lovingly in a nickname. To them he is always "Nixie," the kind and the good, about whom they will tolerate no nonsense. His somewhat martial Quakerism sometimes amused and always heartened me. I have a vivid picture of him, in the blackest hour of the Hiss Case, standing by the barn and saying in his quietly savage way (he is the kindest of men): "If the American people understood the real character of Alger Hiss, they would boil him in oil."
Posted by John Weidner at 3:03 PM

#199: NYC and Kugman

P. Krugman


For several months now Paul Krugman has been stuck in the equivalent of a computer “DO-loop” as he ricocheted back and forth between trashing the US economy because of George W. Bush and trashing US foreign policy because of George W. Bush. Today he broke out of his “loop” with The New York Paradox (07/10/06) but in a very strange way–he actually praised the direction currently under way in the economy of New York City. To us, the only thing that’s consistent about this is that George W. Bush is not the Mayor.

But what’s going on in NYC that has “sad sack” Krugman so optimistic? It’s a New York Times report to the effect that corporate headquarters are moving back to the City in spite of the high costs of locating and doing business there. As Krugman puts it;

“And the report on the headquarters boom suggests that New York may, paradoxically, be doing well precisely because technology has made it possible to move many jobs away from high-cost locations.”

So who’s moving away and who’s coming back? Why middle class folks are leaving, of course, and rich folks (read corporate bigwigs) are coming back.

“In the past…. in order to keep their top executives in Manhattan, companies also had to pay the rent on large office buildings and fill those buildings with thousands of lower-level employees, paying those employees wages high enough to compensate for New York’s high cost of living. Many companies decided that the benefits of a New York headquarters weren’t worth the cost.
Now, however, it’s possible for many of the people who would formerly have worked at corporate headquarters to work somewhere else instead, communicating with management electronically. And that makes it worthwhile to move top executives back to the center of things.”

Well, excuse us, but isn’t this exactly what Krugman has been bitching about for years with regard to the US economy, as a whole, compared with the rest of the world? Middle class jobs are being outsourced to India, low wage growth is happening at home as a result and the rich are getting richer? If it pertains to just New York City are we to believe it’s suddenly okay? Toward the end of the column Krugman seems to get an inkling of the corner he is painting himself into:

“The story of the New York economy isn’t entirely a happy one. The city has essentially lost all of its manufacturing, and it’s now in the process of outsourcing both routine office work and many middle-management functions to other parts of the country. What’s left is an urban economy that offers a mix of very highly paid financial jobs and low-wage service jobs, with relatively little in the middle.”

Well, no kidding! So why does NYC get a pass from Krugman? There’s no clue in this column. Maybe he will explain later why the thinks like an economist on NYC but like an ordinary liberal sap on the rest of the economy.

Our position is the same as always. We applaud what’s happening in both New York AND in the rest of the country (and in the world, for that matter). American labor will respond to globalization and lower cost international competition the way it always has: by taking advantage of unparalleled educational opportunities to retrain, upgrade skills and within a generation the whole economy will equilibrate to a much higher standard of living, both here and abroad. Indeed it’s happening as we write. Maybe when Bush is out of office, Krugman will get groove back.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 10:19 AM

The happiness of reading...

A nice quote, borrowed from another LibraryThing user...

"This nice and subtle happiness of reading, this joy not chilled by age, this polite and unpunished vice, this selfish, serene life-long intoxication."
   ~Logan Pearsall Smith
Posted by John Weidner at 10:14 AM

Still on the train...

I like this paragraph by Andrea, which could be a coda to many a discussion these days...

....It’s all rather like the attitudes that were on display during the Alger Hiss trial. On one side we had the witty, urbane, intellectual and pseudo-intellectual, well-dressed, powerful, liberal friends and fans of Hiss, not to mention Hiss himself, joking and laughing and deliberately treating the trial and the accusations against him as too, too beneath the concerns of important people. The sneers and the opprobriums against the ordinary, part-time farmer, badly-dressed (these days he’d be mocked as a “Walmart shopper”) Whittaker Chambers, whose intellect and cultural acumen hadn’t been handed to him on a silver platter but had actually been wrestled and hammered out of the Real Experience that liberals are always babbling about, are echoed in today’s putdowns of “those Christian fundamentalist rightwingers” who are threatening the fun party existence of the cool, clever people everywhere with their dumb insistence on taking life seriously. So sometimes they take life too seriously and miss the joke. Well, sometimes in the midst of joking we cool, clever, intellectual (and pseudo-intellectual) people miss the seriousness. It cuts both ways.

For someone historically minded, it's just a pleasure to see that the Hiss trial hasn't quite dropped into oblivion like the Dreyfus trial. But way more than that is the pleasure of vindication for the good guys. We know things now that we didn't know then. We know that Hiss was guilty, was in fact a Soviet secret agent, and was laughing like sinners laugh on The Hell-Bound Train. We know he was cynically using the "useful idiots" who passionately believed in his innocence. (And now we have the pain of watching the same idiots being cynically used by Islamic terrorists, who despise them, and they still think they are clever and sophisticated.)

We also know that Chambers was one of the best writers of his time. His book Witness is a stunning thing to read. I recommend it unreservedly. (And here's a Brothers Judd review of Ghosts on the Roof : Selected Journalism of Whittaker Chambers 1931-1959)

A sample of Chambers' writing...

"...I date my break from a very casual happening. I was sitting in our apartment on St. Paul Street in Baltimore. It was shortly before we moved to Alger Hiss's apartment in Washington. My daughter was in her high chair. I was watching her eat. She was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened in my life. I like to watch her even when she smeared porridge on her face or dropped it meditatively on the floor. My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear -- those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: 'No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design.' The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God. I did not know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead."
Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 AM

July 9, 2006

Decentralised traditions of the late Middle Ages...

I recommend this excellent essay by Paul Belien, Europe Must Find its Roots in America (thanks to Gates of Vienna)

....In the 17th and 18th centuries North America was colonised by freedom loving people who brought the political institutions and traditions from Europe to a new continent across the sea. Many of them had left Europe because they wanted the freedom to live according to their own conscience instead of the conscience of the centralist absolutist rulers of the new age that was sweeping across Europe from the 16th century onwards. Their traditions were rooted in the decentralized traditions of the late Middle Ages and the Aristotelian philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Europe’s Middle Ages had been characterized by an absence of central power, while man was bound to multiple legal systems: the legal order of his city, that of the land, that of his guild, that of the church. There was not one monopolistic ruler, as in China or in the Muslim world, but many, which guaranteed greater freedom for the individual...

...The philosophy of Aquinas, moreover, was centered on the individual. God had called man to be free from sin, but in order to be free from sin he had to be virtuous, and in order for virtue to have any value it had to be voluntary, implying that the virtuous man had to be free in every aspect of his life including, as Aquinas’ followers later pointed out, his economic activities.

Hence the paradox came about that the civil society developing in the new continent was in a sense older than the new Modern Age of the absolutist monarchs governing Europe....[emphasis added]

We all swim in a sea of "conventional wisdom," and a lot of it is not just wrong, but wrong in ways that make it hard to think clearly about things. One of the falsehood is the idea that the Middle Ages were a swamp of poverty and knuckle-dragging backwardness. And that the "Age of Enlightenment" came along and dragged us out of the muck.

Actually in some ways the opposite is true. Especially in the realm of freedom and democracy, which we built on the foundation of England's parliamentary government. We think of England as exceptional, but "parliaments" of all sorts were the norm in Medieval Europe. They were destroyed on the continent by the rise of the Absolute Monarchs, who also limited or co-opted various other institutions that had served to spread power widely.

The people who write the history books tend to be of the absolutist tradition (socialists, leftists) and have judged, say, the France of Louis XIV to be "successful," because it could raise large armies and crush opponents such as small independent states, or awkward medieval institutions, or religious groups such as Huguenots or Jansenists. It would be better to think of this as failure, failure to preserve things that have been very beneficial to us in the Anglosphere.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:56 PM

Sunday thought

Jul. 07 (CWNews.com) - The most prominent leader of the "underground" Catholic Church in China's Hebei province has been arrested for the 9th time in the past 3 years.

Bishop Jia Zhiguo of the Zheng Ding diocese was taken into custody on June 25, the Cardinal Kung Foundation reports. The bishop-- who was still recovering from a recent medical operation-- was taken from a hospital to an undisclosed location. Authorities said that the prelate was being sent for "education."

Bishop Jia had last been arrested late in 2005, and held for 5 months before his release in April. (He was allowed to return to his home-- although he remained under surveillance there-- just as Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in the US for a diplomatic visit.) The bishop has now spent more than 20 years in prison.

Chinese authorities have put heavy pressure on the clergy of the "underground" Church to accept the authority of the government-approved Catholic Patriotic Association. That pressure has been most pronounced in Hebei, a province outside Beijing, where the underground Church is particularly strong. Bishop Jia-- a beloved figure who cares for 100 handicapped children in his own home-- has frequently been the focus of government "re-education" efforts.

This is leftism in a fairly pure form. The diluted form we see all around us, with the "re-education" efforts always in the form of enforced tolerance. The current campaign is for gay rights (which no one should be so foolish as to imagine has anything at all with helping gays). A campaign that keeps ratcheting up, with new demands every year. Don't be surprised when some of our bishops get sent to the pokey for some re-education time for "bad thoughts."

The technique is to hijack some cause that's good in itself. Commies used to "help" workers, by organizing unions and strikes. But once they gained power, the freedom to organize unions was gone for good. Same thing with other "good causes." Rights for minorities, women, the handicapped...anyone who disagrees is labeled a bigot. Same with the environment. If you are not for every new regulation, then you are against "saving the Earth." And always the goal is to have criminal and social penalties, to punish those who disagree.

There's only one war. The front-lines are everywhere.

* Update: Charlene adds, that if you need a reason to look favorably on the Church, just notice who its enemies are...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:44 AM

A disproportionate share of income taxes...

PowerLine has a lot of fun with this NYT article, Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Is Curbing Deficit, which tries to diminish any foolish tendency people might have to think that that title might be good news.

One thing that caught my eye:

...One reason for the increased volatility may be that, contrary to a popular assumption, a disproportionate share of income taxes is paid by wealthy households, and their incomes are based much more on the swings of the stock market than on wages and salaries. About one-third of all income taxes are paid by households in the top 1 percent of income earners, who make more than about $300,000 a year. Because those households also earn the overwhelming share of taxable investment income and executive bonuses, both their incomes and their tax liabilities swing sharply in bull and bear markets...[My emphasis].

In simple terms: If you cut tax rates, the rich pay more of the taxes. You might define "liberal" as someone whose immune system rejects that fact like an alien infection. I remember trying to tell this to a squashy liberal after Reagan's tax cuts, more than 20 years ago. Without success. I bet the dear girl still thinks the rich are escaping their "fair share," and are paying less and less.

And statistics like this are something one often hears from Rush Limbaugh. To which liberals have no (logical) reply. When you hear that Rush is a "hatemonger," this kind of stuff is what they are really complaining about.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:52 AM

July 8, 2006

"like firecrackers and drunken yahoos on the Fourth of July"

Patrick Hynes of Anklebiting Pundits (referring to this Op-Ed) makes a useful distinction...

....I might quibble with Meacham in a couple of places, as when he says the Founders “struggled with religion’s role in politics.” They, of course, did no such thing. They fought, bitterly at times, about religion’s role in government, but religion and politics—in this Christian nation—have always gone together like firecrackers and drunken yahoos on the Fourth of July. Politics and religion are so intertwined that Thomas Jefferson, who was not an orthodox Christian actually pretended to be one by attending church regularly and contributing large sums of money various churches across Virginia in order to maintain his political viability. The insistence that we separate religion from politics is a relatively new obsession of the modern political Left....
Posted by John Weidner at 12:37 PM

July 7, 2006

"seethingly, dribblingly, incontinently, steamingly angry..."

Here's another one to read, by Simon Heffer on the endless lunatic bashing of Margaret Thatcher by British leftists...

...However, last week a light was shone in on my ignorance. A long-time servant of the BBC explained to me, in a moment of stunning insight, why the Leftists in that organisation, and the Leftist contributors to it, are so bilious and angry even 16 years after Lady Thatcher left office: it is because they lost. They were wrong. They were humiliated. They have become bores with nothing else to say...

...Consider how angry, how seethingly, dribblingly, incontinently, steamingly angry, you would be if you were a Leftist, as you reflected on the past 25 years or so. First, Lady Thatcher had policies that, after a period of bloody but necessary economic restructuring, improved not merely the growth rate and prosperity of the private sector in general, but also helped create wealth for millions of people who had hitherto owed everything to the state. People suddenly owned their homes, owned shares, and had the freedom to spend more of their disposable income.

Second, her example flashed around a world benighted by socialism, so much so that she remains a heroine in those nations liberated from it. Freedom, choice and prosperity have replaced oppression, uniformity and poverty. Do these people ever ask Poles, or Latvians, whether they wish the clock could be turned back to the age of socialism? How do they explain that things in such lands are so much better, and people so much happier, now?

Finally, why hasn't "their" party undone all the "damage" of Thatcherism? Why do trade union laws remain unrepealed, and industries privatised? Why has there been no uprooting of the property-owning democracy? It is because she was right, and they know she was right. They cannot, however, bear to admit it. All they can do instead is tell lies, call her names and spit with rage. Don't laugh at them. Pity them...(Thanks to Betsy Newmark)

Our own loons have had their own moment of clear humiliation delayed, because the Clinton years gave them a flimsy pretense that their ideas were still viable, though in fact Clinton's only successes were with conservative ideas such as Welfare Reform and NAFTA. Clinton might have saved the Dems like Blair saved his party, but only at the cost of repudiating socialist ideas. He took a different way, probably because his "New Democrat" notions would never have flown, without the far-greater failure of far more socialist policies that Britain had.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:12 AM

A few more senators, and we can put him on the Court..

How I admire John Yoo. A voice of sanity and clarity. Read this one:

...Long-standing U.S. practice recognizes that the president, as commander in chief, plays the leading role in wartime. Presidents have started wars without congressional authorization, and they have exercised complete control over military strategy and tactics. They can act with a speed, unity and secrecy that the other branches of government cannot match. By contrast, legislatures are large, diffuse and slow. Their collective design may make them better for deliberating over policy, but at the cost of delay and lack of resolve.

The Sept. 11 attacks succeeded in part because our government was mired in a terrorism-as-crime approach that worried less about preventing attacks than about hypothetical threats to civil liberties — hence the "wall" preventing our law enforcement and intelligence agencies from sharing information. Our laws considered war as conflict only between nations and failed to anticipate the rise of non-state terrorist organizations that could kill 3,000 Americans, destroy the World Trade Center and damage the Pentagon in a single day.

Bush invoked his constitutional authority to fight this shadowy enemy that does not wear uniforms, targets civilians and violates every rule of civilized warfare. Like George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Lincoln and FDR, Bush established military commissions to try enemy combatants for war crimes. If the commander in chief couldn't have taken wartime actions on his own, then the slaves would have remained Confederate property during the Civil War and Britain would not have fully benefited from American aid and military support before World War II....
(Thanks to Orrin)

I had kind of forgotten about what FDR did before the US entered WWII. But it was, in fact, a shocking "power grab," and some of it was probably grossly illegal for any non-emergency situation.

But FDR was right, and that's what Presidents do! That's what we have them for. To act. The writers of the Constitution certainly considered having everything run by the legislature. But they were as wise and experienced bunch of constitution-drafters as have ever assembled on the face of the earth. They had, many of them, helped write constitutions for their states, and they had fought through a long messy war whose contours were almost as shifty and treacherous as the one we are in now. They knew.

And we have a counter-example. Boy-oh-boy do we ever.

Jimmy Carter was warned by his national security advisors that Russia was likely to invade Afghanistan for a year before it happened. And he ignored them! And, like all of today's fake Christian-pacifist-lefty hand-wringers, he loved (and still does) dictators. And loved any rules that restrain the US, and put power into the hands of "International" organizations. And hated the very idea of America intervening in the world to support freedom.

So nothing was done. And millions died. And millions fled to hideous refugee camps.

(This is also the perfect counter example to those mired-in-the-past lefties who still bring up the overthrow of Mossadeqh, as if it were some horrible thing. But the result was that Iran did not fall into the Soviet orbit, millions did not die, millions did not end up in stinking hell-holes.)

* Update: I had made a bit of a vow to give up Carter-bashing, after I read about how he led an international effort that eradicated a particularly grotesque (don't look it up, you don't want to know) tropical disease. But the logic of this post was just too compelling. In penance, I will say ...*gulp*...that Jimmy Carter has his good points.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:20 AM

July 6, 2006

well, we are not the smallest...

Here's a nifty page, The Size Of Our World showing the relative sizes of the planets and stars...

thanks to Jimmy Akin...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:04 PM


Now here are some useful amazon.com reviews!

Thanks to Rob.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:17 PM

Awesome, awesome...

Finally we find out something about the mysterious Blue Origins..

The public space travel business is picking up suborbital speed thanks to a variety of private rocket groups and their dream machines.

Joining the mix is Blue Origin's New Shepard Reusable Launch System. It is financially fueled by an outflow of dollars from the deep pockets of billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com...

Having these proud-as-Lucifer dot-commers competing with each other to get into orbit is just too utterly cool. "Last guy into space is a girl!" But what really interested me about Blue Origin is this:

...Blue Origin's spaceship is patterned after Department of Defense/NASA work on the single-stage vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing Delta Clipper Experimental (DC-X) and Delta Clipper Experimental Advanced (DC-XA). It was repeatedly flown in 1993-1996 at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Among a list of distinctions, a 26-hour turnaround was achieved between the DC-XA's second and third flights - a first for any rocket. The flight program ended in July 1996 with the DC-XA suffering severe damage due to a landing strut – one of four—that failed to extend. The unbalanced vehicle tipped over on its landing pad and caught fire. Due to lack of follow-up money, the program was ended....

Delta Clipper was one of those might-have-beens that just breaks your heart. The wretched Shuttle sucks up millions of dollars a day even when, as usual, it's not flying at all. DC cost nothing in comparison, but died for lack of funds. And lack of interest on the part of the commissars.

And now Delta clipper rises again! Yay!

Delta Clipper experimental rocket
Delta Clipper. Image from space.com

Posted by John Weidner at 10:35 AM

A "new direction." I'm all agog...

This would be hilarious if one didn't reflect on how the emptiness of the Dem Party just mirrors the emptiness of a large part of the population. From The Hill (Thanks to Betsy N):

Three weeks have passed since congressional Democrats announced their “New Direction for America,” the domestic agenda they propose should they win control of the House or Senate, but some Democrats apparently still haven’t gotten the memo.

Asked Thursday to comment on their agenda, a half-dozen House Democrats remained fuzzy on the particulars.

“The new model, etc., etc?” faltered Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

“I haven’t even looked at it,” admitted Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). “I’m not very good at talking points.”

“I like mine better,” Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) declared while looking over a list of the Democrats’ six priorities as if it were the first time he’d seen it...

...Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said he was not sure what agenda had been unveiled weeks earlier and reprised an hour before.

“What was presented today?” he asked, brow furrowed, while noting that a “fish crisis” in his district had kept him from staying current.

It wasn’t until presented with a laminated talking-points card that he perked up. “Oh! Good stuff!” he exclaimed.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) started off slow — “Which slogan are you referring to? — but rallied gamely, expounding on the virtues of the “New Direction.”

“I think it is a potent phrase. Do you want more of the same, or do you want a new direction? I think it’s a very powerful message,” he intoned....

Of course, if you have a "fish crisis," that obviously comes first. If people go down to the end of town, well what can anyone do?

Posted by John Weidner at 6:29 AM

July 5, 2006

More on perverting the language...

I blogged recently about the latest sneaky trick of the news media to cover up the fact that their terrorist symbiotes are ...terrorists. Harold Sutton was good enough to do a bit of Googling and show us who is using "activists" to describe filthy murderers...

3 Palestinian Resistance Fighters, 3 Israeli Soldiers Killed in
...Al-Jazeerah.info, GA - Jun 25, 2006
... least 70 Palestinian anti-occupation activists were extra-judicially ... government to invite a Palestinian retaliation ... in a daring attack, three Palestinians were ...

FrontPage magazine.com, CA - Jun 21, 2006 ... arrested more than 500 Islamist activists since late ... days ago that killed seven Palestinian civilians...

Israeli attack follows Hamas rocket firings
International Herald Tribune, France - Jun 11, 2006
... Palestinians' Hamas party, after Hamas activists fired a ... Since last year's truce, Palestinian militants from ... in that strike, and three were wounded, Hamas's ...

Israeli Airstrike Kills 2 Hamas Militants
Forbes - Jun 11, 2006... The attack came after Hamas activists fired a ... were killed in that strike, and three were wounded, Hamas ... whether Hamas' takeover of the Palestinian Authority in ...

Israeli Airstrike Kills 2 Hamas Militants
WRAL.com, NC - Jun 11, 2006
... ruling Hamas party, after Hamas activists fired a ... killed in that strike, and three were wounded, Hamas ... whether Hamas' takeover of the Palestinian Authority in ...

Israel Fires Missiles at Militants in Gaza
ABC News - Jun 11, 2006... ruling Hamas party, after Hamas activists fired a ... Three other militants were wounded in the attack on a ... The Israeli army said Palestinian militants fired about ...
Fatah Militia Raises Tensions With Hamas
CBS News - Jun 3, 2006... Another 3,000 Fatah activists are training in Gaza in ... to 165,000 civil servants over the past three months. ... to accept the idea of a Palestinian state alongside ...        

Posted by John Weidner at 7:29 PM

We SHOULD be offending people...

Hitch, clarity as usual:

...If I was to interrupt this article every few sentences, asking you whether or not I was making a good impression on you, I hope and believe that you would think I was a servile jerk. Yet this is what our politicians are doing in every speech (most notably in the absurd recent debate on “flag-burning”) and this is apparently what we hire Karen Hughes to do in our public diplomacy.

Faced with a complete beast like the late Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, who has been trying to kill us for several years, millions of Americans appear to believe that he only appeared in Iraq because in some way we made him upset. Well, even if this was true — which it is not — it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. (What would you say to a policy that made him contented, instead?).

Thus, for a Fourth of July message, I would suggest less masochism, more confidence on the American street, and less nervous reliance on paper majorities discovered by paper organizations.

Happy Independence Day.

We SHOULD be pissing the al-Zarqawis off, to the point that they try to kill us. In a war against guerillas or terrorists, the main problem is getting the enemy to come out and fight. If al-Zarqawi is trying to kill us, that's good. If al-Zarqawi is hiding and plotting, that's bad. It will kill a lot more of us in the long run, and lead to future wars.

Appeasers and pacifists and all the fools who think we should be "sensitive" are trying to kill you (and your children and grandchildren). To minimize casualties and destruction, we should fight aggressively. In fact we should project the appearance of pugnacious craziness. The best strategic move of the war has been the Iraq Campaign, which has forced thousands of terrorist loonies into the fight. (And the schwerpunkt is the introduction of democracy into Iraq and the Arab world. That's what they really fear, them and their western leftist allies.)

I read that the Church of England is thinking of getting rid of St George as a patron, because he is too "warlike," and might offend Moslems. Servile jerks. Not only do they make it obvious that they are post-Christian, but that's the very worst thing to do if you are worried about trouble from Islamic crazies. It's like walking around with a sign on your back that says "kick me." And our own sensitive plants are on exactly the same wavelength. Murderers.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:36 PM

not servility but fidelity...

Tradition is like the conscience of a community or the principle of identity that links one generation with another; it enables them to remain...the same people as they go forward through history, which transforms all things...tradition is memory, and memory enriches experience. If we remembered nothing it would be impossible to advance; the same would be true if we were bound to a slavish imitation of the past. True tradition is not servility but fidelity.
    --Yves Congar, The Meaning of Tradition

I found this quote in another book, and I've ordered Congar's book mostly on the strength of it (plus he has a mighty reputation, and I've never read anything by him).

Peter Drucker always taught that the key to making decisions is figuring out what the question actually is. It more and more seems to me like I'm in a world that is constantly coming up with right answers to the wrong questions. One of our top questions should be: How do we deal with being carried along towards an unknown future like chips floating on a torrent of change? How do we stay "ourselves," how do we know who we are when every landmark is shifting?

Posted by John Weidner at 6:39 AM

July 4, 2006

the dewdrop of her life...

Our mad infatuation with LibraryThing has led to one happy result, the rediscovery of many fine books on our many many shelves. This is a piece from Tale of the Heike, which I haven't read these twenty or thirty years...

..."You are coldhearted. Even so I cannot stop loving you..." began the letter, [to lady-in-waiting Kozaishô, which princess Shôsaimon-In has picked up off the floor] and the princess read until she came to the following poem, which concluded it:
As a single log
Over a small mountain stream
Endures being trodden upon,
I feel like that log and weep,
Having no reply from you.
"This is a letter protesting that you never responded to him," said the princess, turning to Kozaishô. "If you remain too hard-hearted, you will be liable to ill-fortune.

"Long ago there lived a woman named Ono no Komachi, renowned for her beauty, and her talent at composing poems. Many men approached her and wooed her, but they were all rejected, and finally everyone began to despise her. Her heart of stone brought inevitable retribution to her. She was then obliged to live alone in a desolate hut, hardly protected from the wind and rain. Her eyes, dimmed with tears, reflected the light of the moon and stars filtering through the chinks of the hut. She managed to sustain the dewdrop of her life by eating young grass in the field and plucking watercress. This letter should be answered by all means.

So saying, she called for an ink stone and wrote as a reply in her own distinguished hand the following poem:

Simply trust the log,
Be it ever so slender,
As strong is the core.
Although trampled and splashed,
It will stay over the stream.
The poem kindled the fire of passion that had been smoldering in the depths of Kozaishô's heart. Now it rose like smoke from the crater of Mount Fuji. Her tears of joy rushed down her sleeves like the lapping waves at the Kiyomi Checkpoint. Thus her flower-like beauty brought her happiness and led her to be the wife of Lord Michimori of the third court rank. The affection between them was so profound that they journeyed together even among the clouds of the western sea and even to the dark path in the world beyond.

The Vice-Councillor by the Main Gate, Norimori, outlived his eldest son Michimori, and his youngest son Norimori. Only two of his sons—the governor of Noto Province, Noritsune, and the priest and vice-councilor, Chukai—survived the battle. He had eagerly wished to see Michimori's child, but this hope was carried away with his daughter-in-law Kozaishô to the regions beyond the grave. He now fell into deep sorrow...
Posted by John Weidner at 3:30 PM

"That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom"

Michael and Jana Novak have a nice piece in First Things, “Under God”—Mystic Chords...

...These two General Orders, [by General Washington, quoted in the article] for July 2, 1776, and July 9, 1776, echo like mystic chords in Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg. For Lincoln seemed to believe it would be very odd, indeed, if the first birth of freedom was achieved “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” and “under God,” while “a new birth of freedom,” wrested from “the last full measure of devotion” at Gettysburg, did not also begin “under God.” And so Lincoln, too, followed Washington in picking up the echo:
“. . . That this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
Lincoln reaffirmed this faith in God’s judgments as “true and righteous” in his magnificent Second Inaugural.

And Washington in his letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Savannah, after he became president, reminded the nation that “the same wonder-working Deity” whose name “is Jehovah” who had rescued the Israelites from Egypt was active in 1776 in “establishing these United States as an independent nation.”

To understand the public religion of America from its beginnings until now, it is essential to study the language, the conceptual structure, and the presuppositions about world order that quietly and “on deep background” formed the minds of Washington, Lincoln, and all successful leaders who have been able to touch most deeply the soul of the American people.

This same public religion, which is accessible to atheists and agnostics in their own fashion, should always echo in the minds of children, as in grown men and women, so that the spirit of liberty may thrive forever, beyond the power of any Caesar to add or to subtract...

"...and all successful leaders who have been able to touch most deeply the soul of the American people." I think that's exactly right. People keep coming up with all sorts of clever-Johnny arguments about how "separation of church and state" should mean public atheism and hostility to Christianity. But somehow Americans don't pay much attention.

And the real meaning of "separation of church and state" is obvious from Washington's words. He didn't endorse any particular church, not even a particular religion, such as Christianity, and was easily able to include Jews in his belief in Divine Providence. And, as the Novaks point out, even agnostics and atheists can participate in the belief that America is somehow singled out for great deeds. And many of them have in our history. The current deluge of anti-Christian propaganda is really leftist anti-Americanism at work...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:18 AM

July 3, 2006

But you're American if you think you're American...

The Fourth made this article by Jerry Bowyer in TechCentral seem very apposite...

If 200 years from now America will be filled with people who know and love the ideas of Jefferson and Madison -- but these people are overwhelmingly dark skinned -- will this be good or bad?

That's the question I asked Pat Buchanan when I debated with him about the content of his book, The Death of the West. He said it would be 'a disaster and a tragedy'. What do you say?

Your answer is a pretty good indicator of whether you're a we-hold-these-truths-to-be-self-evident conservative or a blood-and-soil conservative. Let's use a technology analogy: the first kind believe that the software of liberty runs equally well on all hard technology platforms. The latter think that some platforms (whether for genetic or cultural reasons) are not easily adaptable to the liberty program...

Well, I've blogged my thoughts on this before (Good post for the holiday, go read it). "Blood and soil" I am not. And I think Pat Buchanan is a prime idiot.

New citizens sworn in...
Service members are sworn in as U.S. citizens during a pre-game ceremony
at a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the
San Francisco Giants in San Diego, Calif., on Saturday
Chris Park / AP Photo, From ArmyTimes

In the post I mentioned above, I quoted Steven den Beste...

...You're French if you're born in France, of French parents. You're English if you're born to English parents (and Welsh if your parents were Welsh). But you're American if you think you're American, and are willing to give up what you used to be in order to be one of us. That's all it takes. But that's a lot, because "thinking you're American" requires you to comprehend that idea we all share. But even the French can do it, and a lot of them have.

That is a difference so profound as to render all similarities between Europe and the US unimportant by comparison. But it is a difference that most Europeans are blind to, and it is that difference which causes America's attitudes and actions to be mystifying to Europeans. It is not just that they don't understand that idea; most of them don't even realize it exists, because Europeans have no equivalent, and some who have an inkling of it dismiss it contemptuously...


Posted by John Weidner at 6:23 PM

We feel the public has a right to know...

Thanks to Frank for sending this...
NYT: One if by land, two if by sea

They are concerned, of course, about the dangerous erosion of civil liberties that may follow from such a lawless unilateral power-grab by intolerant jingo-istic nationalists who wrap themselves in the flag and stifle dissent...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:22 PM

July 2, 2006

forgot to mention...

What I forgot to mention before, is that LibraryThing is "social" in nature. Once you've entered some books, you can find out who has a similar library, and look at their collection. Currently this guy, oakesspalding, has the most books in common with us. He writes:

...Against my better judgment, I have started rating nonfiction books. My central criterion is to what degree the work accomplishes what it should, given the sort of book that it is. So, for example, Inside Hitler’s Bunker will presumably never be counted among the great works of Western Civilization, but in its way it is an almost perfect work of journalism and military history, hence the five star rating. Subsidiary criteria include 1) accuracy, 2) honesty--the thesis of a work may be false but honest in the sense that the author did the best he could given the evidence available to him, 3) rationality, 4) clarity, 5) information content--the more the better, 6) novelty, 7) good writing--yes, even in nonfiction, this counts, and finally 8) basic goodness, or the lack thereof--thus, Plato’s Republic, the Koran and The Communist Manifesto, for example, all receive only one star due to the wickedness of their respective theses, the bad intentions of their authors and the pernicious effect these works have had on mankind. However, an educated person should certainly read all three to better understand the nature of their harmful arguments and assumptions...

Gotta like somebody who still uses the word "wickedness." Amen, brother.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:38 AM

Master race...

My daughter recommends Hitler Cats! A blog dedicated to cats that look like Hitler..

Well, they do...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:00 AM

July 1, 2006

New on the blog...

I had left open on my computer a web page for a new web enterprise, LibraryThing, because I thought I might get around to investigating it someday. Charlene, always an early riser, got up this morning, saw it, and went BONKERS! (She's always dreamed of being a librarian.) By the time I woke up she had entered over 100 books...

It's one of the most the most addictive things we've encountered. I've put a blog-widget of our library on the sidebar, displaying random covers of books we own. Scroll down a bit, and you will see them. In fact, you can even see what shelf they are on. (I can just expect some future commenter to tell me I'm wrong and that I've obviously failed to read book X, which I have on LivingRoom 11!)

And if you click on a book, and then buy it from Amazon, we get a percentage, once our Amazon Associates membership activates...

* Update: LibraryThing is apparently having server problems due to rapid growth. So sometimes it just isn't there. (I knew I shouldn't have told anyone about it.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:50 AM

Always the same...

Just in case you thought my various comments on leftists and the UN were a tad harsh,

Jerusalem Post: The new UN Human Rights Council voted Friday to make a review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel a permanent feature of every council session.

The resolution, which was sponsored by Islamic countries, was passed by a vote of 29-12, with five abstentions. It effectively revives a practice of the UN's dissolved Human Rights Commission, which also reviewed alleged Israeli abuses every time it met...

...Besides Arab and other Muslim countries, "yes" votes were cast by African nations, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia and Sri Lanka. Canada and European Union members on the council voted against it.

The United States is not a member of the council and, like Israel, was unable to vote... [Emphasis added. Thanks to Powerline]

And if America was not strong, and was not footing most of the bill for this farce, then our "abuses" would also be the topic at every meeting. Leftists and tyrants (really the same thing) ALWAYS hate America and Israel. Why? Because we are the emblems, and the reality, of freedom. Freedom won by individuals, imbued with religious faith, fighting against savages, fleeing from corrupt states, and by their success making it all too clear how false and inferior various other systems and states are.

The abuse that Israel endures is almost unbelievable. Our fake leftists and fake pacifists routinely side with countries where gays can be executed, against a country that has "gay freedom" parades. Side with countries where women are not allowed to drive cars, against a country where women can aspire to the highest office in the land. Sides with Arab countries whose people have no vote, against a Jewish country that has Arab MP's who can heckle the Prime Minister.

I think we should make Israel an honorary 51st State of the Union, and declare that any attack on her is an attack on the US, and will meet our full military response.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 AM