August 31, 2006

Shoddy research. Shall we say, "fake but accurate?"

Dean Esmay, on the The Wegman committee's report on the 'Hockey Stick' analysis on recent global climate change...

....I was literally aghast at the Wegman group's report. It makes it clear that only a tiny handful of researchers are at the center of most research and most public policy recommendations on climate change, and that practically no one outside this tight little clique-ridden community is in charge of reviewing their work. They all simply review each other's work--and now literally dozens of papers in the field, along with general practices and procedures in the field, have been independently reviewed and found deeply flawed.

Worst of all, although the Wegman report does not say this openly, anyone who knows how taxpayer funding of science recognizes this (and it is all over the Wegman report by inference): Practically all the taxpayer funding for this climate research, much of it clearly shoddy, is controlled by this same Good Ol' Boy Network with practically no independent review, who simply "peer review" each other in a not particularly anonymous way while they dole out each other's grants and approve each other's papers....

- - - - - -

....At bare minimum, damning accusations have been levelled at Dr. Mann, and by extension, just about everyone associated with him--who turn out to be dozens of important people who've co-authored papers with him, or conducted peer review on his work.

This, again, from research that was a core part of the IPCC report telling everyone in the world--important politicians and the general public--that catastrophic global warming was real and probably human-caused and required extensive and very expensive public policy changes to address. All of it put together by the same tiny little social network of equally self-interested researchers, with two or three cliques pretty much at the center of everything (with "clique" being mathematically and precisely defined by the Wegman group, no less!)....

You don't have to be a scientist to smell a rat in the climate-change research. Academics frequently produce "research" that just happens to fit their world-views and their political allegiances. We see it all the time.

Hey, I've got research! Numbers and graphs! And guess what. The world is dooooomed unless I and my friends and my political allies are put in charge and given extraordinary powers to make changes and tell everybody what to do.

"Back off man, I'm a scientist"

Posted by John Weidner at 10:57 PM

August 29, 2006

San Francisco Stairways #6

This is just a little bitty stair and path at the very top of 3rd Ave, but Charlene and I used to live nearby, and have pleasant memories of this neighborhood...

stairs at top of 3rd Ave, SF

* Update: Map added. Includes area of yeterday's rampage by the crazy Afghan guy!

Here's the path at the top of the stairs, giving access to several houses.
Path at top of 3rd Ave, SF
I'm adding a map. Andrew, the whole area in and alongside the old Presidio is great for exploring. The circle next to the arrow in where Sen. Diane Feinstein lives, in the big half-timbered house.

This is also the area of yesterday's rampage. The Jewish Community Ctr is at California and Presidio. I was at California and Spruce yesterday evening, but had no idea that anything was going on...Bush and Pine Sreets end where it says "Western Addition."

3rd Ave Map.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:10 PM

My son e-mailed....

I've found this:

It's from a few months back, and it's about a "Mock War Crimes Trial" for President George W. Bush.

Now, (this did come to me just now) why aren't there any mock war crimes trials for the leaders of Hezbollah in America's schools??? Isn't it a war crime to:

1) Wear Civilian Clothing while in combat?
2) Intentionally target Israeli Civilians?
3) Among many other things that they've done, and have already been mentioned around the net before.

You'd think the case for them would be a lot more open and shut....

Well, it's open-and-shut all right. It's also a war crime to use "human shields," and to place military positions in civilian areas including schools ad hospitals. And they are also in defiance of the holy United Nations...

So I'm sure our intellectuals and "peace-activists" will be firing up the ol' mock trials any day now....

Posted by John Weidner at 5:12 PM

August 28, 2006

Political strategies...

Michael Barone writes, in A GOP Terror Bump, on how the London bombing plot arrests, and other news, is shifting public opinion towards the Republicans...

....As it happens, the London arrests came almost exactly 24 hours after antiwar candidate Ned Lamont, flanked by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, claimed victory over Sen. Joseph Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary. The Lamont victory -- and the rejection of the party's 2000 vice presidential nominee -- sharpened the contrast between the two major parties.

One, it seems, would withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible without regard for the consequences -- an initially popular position for those who consider our effort there either misbegotten or hopelessly bungled. The other, it seems, would stay the course until we achieve our goals -- one that may become more acceptable if people come to think that withdrawal would not make us safe. The London arrests seem to have accelerated this thought process.

Polls since the London arrests suggest what has been happening. Bush's job approval was up significantly in the Gallup Poll, usually the most volatile of national polls, and the Democratic margin in the generic question (Which party's candidate for the House would you vote for?) was sharply reduced. There was a similar trend in generic vote in the Rasmussen poll, which is ordinarily much less volatile than Gallup....

Democrat strategy is based on voters being stupid, and terrorists being smart (smart enough to lie low for a while so that the parties they are in symbiosis with can get elected). This strategy may be clever in the short term, but over a longer time-horizon, it will likely fail. [Hey, Andrew Cory, did they teach you this in your poli-sci classes? Or did they leave it to be picked up in the real world? i.e. R.J.]

Actually, to some extent, it's the sheer ignorance of the voters that derails the Democrat plan. Imagine Jane Q. Citizen arriving at airport security with a carry-on bag, and being told she has to toss her shampoo, toothpaste, conditioner and moisturizer (!) in that new trash bin! She should blame Bush, right? But, her expensive education just slid off her back, and she doesn't know that the Jews are pulling the strings, she doesn't know that the "Israel Lobby" and Cheney's "Big Oil" cronies are aligning us against the legitimate aspirations of the Wretched of the Earth.

Being female, she has a certain predisposition towards appeasement, but...that moisturizer...frightening...maybe we really are at war. Maybe she should vote for some real men.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:28 AM

August 27, 2006


Yahoo News:

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a TV interview aired Sunday that he would not have ordered the capture of two Israeli soldiers if he had known it would lead to such a war.

Guerrillas from the Islamic militant group killed three Israeli soldiers and seized two more in a cross-border raid July 12, which sparked 34 days of fighting that ended with a cease-fire on Aug. 14.

"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not," he said in an interview with Lebanon's New TV station...(Thanks to Captain Ed)

This is a very interesting thing. He doesn't sound like a death-or-glory guerilla leader at all. More like a politician doing some backpedalling.

People say that the attacks on Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah prove that the hope that pushing democracy as an antidote to terrorism in the ME has failed. Sounds to me like it is just starting to bite.

It's also interesting that this guy is admitting to starting a war with reckless folly. So why isn't he being inundated with criticism by our "peace-activists"and "pacifists?"


Posted by John Weidner at 5:31 PM

Just expressing their opinion...

Salt Lake Tribune:

Members of Utah's Jewish community are alarmed by a proposed demonstration that will call for "Death to Israel."

A man - whose name wasn't available Thursday - has applied for a free-speech permit from Salt Lake City to demonstrate on sidewalks near City Hall on Wednesday. The city is reviewing the application.

City officials cannot constitutionally deny it based on the content of the message...

...But the police department has given its OK to the protest. Spokesman Joe Cyr said the group sponsoring the rally—listed as Center to Prevent Corporate Media Lying—has held demonstrations before. On average, about nine people show, he said. The permit application anticipates between nine and about 130 demonstrators.

"It's not like they're threatening to kill people," Cyr said. "They're just [expressing] their opinion."...

Of course they're not threatening to kill people. Why, saying Death to Israel" is pretty much polite meaningless chit-chat in left-leaning circles these days. Sorta like saying "Hey, how's it going?" "Cool man. Death to Israel!"

Posted by John Weidner at 4:26 PM

How once these heavy stones swam in the sea....


God, you've so much to do,
To think of, watch, and listen to,
That I will let all else go by
And lending ear and eye
Help you to watch how in the combe
Winds sweep dead leaves without a broom;
And rooks in the spring-reddened trees
Restore their villages,
Nest by dark nest
Swaying at rest on the trees' frail unrest;
Or on this limestone wall,
Leaning at ease, with you recall
How once these heavy stones
Swam in the sea as shells and bones;
And hear that owl snore in a tree
Till it grows dark enough for him to see;
In fact, will learn to shirk
No idleness that I may share your work.

    --Andrew Young
Posted by John Weidner at 7:13 AM

feeling smug I am...

According to a book about to be published, the person who first leaked (with no malicious intent!) that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA was Richard Armitage. Armitage, as you probably know, was, and presumably still is, Colin Powell's friend and right-hand man. And Armitage told Powell and the State Department this. And he confessed to the Justice Dept, and to investigator Patrick Fitzgerald, four years ago.

What does this MEAN? (If true. It certainly fits with the conclusions formed by many who have been following the story.)

  • It means the whole investigate-the-Plame-leak circus was a fraud.
  • It means the whole endangering-our-heroic-secret-agents story was a pile of steaming dog excrement.
  • It means that Fitzgerald wasted millions of our dollars getting his 15 minutes.
  • It means that when deranged leftists were salivating over the possibility of indicting close associates of the president, a lot of insiders knew they were pursuing an injustice. And didn't care.
  • It means that Powell and Armitage are scoundrels, dishonorable men.
  • It means that, for the thousandth time, RJ was right, and lefty fatheads were wrong.
  • It means that a whole bunch of people are going to be apologizing to Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. (Ha ha. That's just my little joke.)
Posted by John Weidner at 7:11 AM

August 26, 2006

What links the crazy theories?

Ace has a good post on the insane leftist conspiracy theories claiming that the WTC was blown up by the CIA, the Jews, etc, etc.

What links all these conspiracy theories? The unshakable belief that there is no enemy except the US Government (except, perhaps, for the Mossad), and that heroism, patriotism, and a physical defense of one's country and one's very own life is a doomed venture hardly worth the candle.

Admitting there is an external, implacable, and deadly threat to us strongly implies we need to fight it.

But they've decided a priori that fighting is never the correct response...

I wasn't even aware that Flight 93 had been coming in for the same treatment! But it makes sense. Flight 93 is just as much a blow to left-think as the WTC. More, actually. Not only is there an "external, implacable, and deadly threat" to be denied, but even worse, the little people (probably WalMart shoppers) were not behaving like victims! They took matters into their own hands, and fought for their freedom. And, worst of all, the implication is, to anyone whose brain has not been numbed by leftist propaganda, that there are lots of other situations where people might spontaneously organize and take action without the consent of their betters.

No wonder Leftists are crazed and desperate...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:20 PM

August 24, 2006

Only path that makes sense...

Norman Podhoretz has a great essay in OpinionJournal, Is the Bush Doctrine Dead?

....Are we then to conclude that the latest reports of the death of the Bush Doctrine are not "greatly," if indeed at all, exaggerated, and that it has at long last really been put to rest?

So misrepresented has the Bush Doctrine been that the only way to begin answering that question is to remind ourselves of what it actually says (and does not say); and the best way to do that is by going back to the speech in which it was originally enunciated: the president's address to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001.

In analyzing that speech shortly after it was delivered, I found that the new doctrine was built on three pillars. The first was a categorical rejection of the kind of relativism ("One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter") that had previously prevailed in the discussion of terrorism, and a correlative insistence on using such unambiguously moral categories as right and wrong, good and evil, in describing the "great harm" we had suffered only nine days earlier. But, the president went on, out of that harm, and "in our grief and anger, we have found our mission and our moment."

In spelling out the nature of that mission and moment, [This is really the first pillar, as explained later in the essay] Mr. Bush gave the lie to those who would later claim that the idea of planting the seeds of democracy in Iraq was a hastily contrived ex post facto rationalization to cover for the failure to find weapons of mass destruction there. Indeed, the plain truth is that, far from being an afterthought, the idea of democratization was there from the very beginning and could even be said to represent the animating or foundational principle of the entire doctrine.... ...The second pillar on which the Bush Doctrine stood was a new conception of terrorism that would, along with the "mission" emerging out of the rubble of 9/11, serve as a further justification for going first into Afghanistan and then into Iraq. Under the old understanding, terrorists were lone individuals who could best be dealt with by the criminal-justice system. Mr. Bush, by dramatic contrast, now asserted that they should be regarded as the irregular troops of the nation-states that harbored and supported them...

One thing that's blatantly obvious to me is that no one on either the left or the right has been able to make a case against the Bush Doctrine, or propose a better one. They just snipe at it, or make pronouncements of its death. In fact it was and is the only logical path to take.

For instance, it's frequently claimed that, since democratic elections haven't fixed Lebanon, or the Palestinian Authority, the project has failed. But it's never been claimed to be a quick fix. Rather, we can see, unfolding right in front of us, over the last 50 years or so, the connection between democracy and ever increasing peace and prosperity. Pacifists and Leftists hate this, because it invalidates their elitist world view. But it's a fact. Large parts of the globe no longer fight wars, support terrorists, or indulge in genocide. And those parts are democratic, with increasingly free economies.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:16 AM

August 23, 2006

Zombie's got the goods...

Here's an amazing, world-class blog post, documenting a faked "Israeli attack" on a Lebanese ambulance.

A totally bogus story, which was reported by our vile Western "news" media as truth. Go take a look...

* Update: Zombie, by the way, might more be called a "web photo-journalist" than a blogger. Remember this? and this

Posted by John Weidner at 10:13 PM

August 22, 2006

This is so funny...

I blogged abut this back in January, about Karl Rove saying openly what the Republican plan was. And still the boobies are "caught flat-footed"...

WASHINGTON — Democrats caught flat-footed by the Bush administration tactic of linking the war in Iraq with the larger war against terrorism, and campaigning hard on both, have only themselves to blame. White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove gave the playbook away seven months ago.

Right on schedule, the White House stepped up its rhetoric last week, portraying President Bush and the Republican Party as the better choice for defending America against terrorism....

....Their apparent surprise, and the lack of their cogent response so far, is, at the least, perplexing. In January, Rove gave a speech in Washington to the Republican National Committee that explicitly previewed how the GOP planned to portray Democrats as a threat to national security — a strategy that helped win the 2004 presidential election for Bush.

"Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview, and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview," Rove said. "That doesn't make them unpatriotic, not at all. But it does make them wrong — deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong."....

They "have no cogent response." Well of course. Republicans are just telling the simple truth. Hard to fight that. And actually, Dems usually are unpatriotic, but it was sensible of Karl to be tactful on that point. (Me, I don't have to be tactful.)

Rove and Bush leaving helicopter

Posted by John Weidner at 8:06 PM

Is this the second coming of Walter Duranty?

From the Boston Globe, comes another item to which one can only say, "Wow."

TEHRAN -- The white-coated scientists at Tehran's Royan Institute labor beneath a framed portrait of the turbaned, bearded supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the head of a state that enforces strict religious rules governing everything from how women dress to what kinds of parties people throw.

But in the cutting-edge field of human embryonic stem-cell research, the scientists work with a freedom that US researchers can only dream of: broad government approval, including government funding, to work on the potent cells from early-stage embryos that researchers believe hold the promise to cure many diseases.

In 2002, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave his blessing to research on surplus embryos created for fertility treatments -- work sharply restricted in the United States under pressure from religious conservatives -- calling it a "lofty" effort that fit his goal of making Iran the scientific leader of the Muslim world.

The scientific ambitions that led Iran to embrace one of the world's most open policies on stem-cell research also help to explain why many Iranians support the nuclear research program that has thrust their country into a dangerous international confrontation....

So, let's suppose Israel does not allow embryonic stem-cell research. Would the Globe say that that justifies Iran's openly-expressed intentions to fry those horrid "religious conservatives?" Hmmm? I'd guess the Globe would tut tut about the question, and not want to be toooo judgmental. "Lofty effort," and all that.

But hey, here's a real quandary for those "progressive" Globians: Iran's leaders think gays should be killed. So, what if Iran decides to sacrifice gays for their stem cells? Wouldn't that put them in a pickle...

* Update: I just realized that I quickly scanned a post by Dean Barnett, Duranty Watch, absorbed his thoughts and posted them as if they were mine... It's easy to plagiarize when you are in a hurry...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:54 AM

Where do you find courage?...

This was a comment I made this morning, to some thoughts by Hale Adams on this post...


Good points, but I think you miss the essence.

Democracies always have great difficulty in making choices that involve sacrifice by a lot of voters. And what's needed now in Europe are huge sacrifices by most of the population. Just in the realm of economics, they need welfare cut drastically, regulations and taxes cut drastically, retirement ages raised, promised pensions lowered, unions broken, "creative destruction" involving job losses on a huge scale, free trade involving job losses on a huge scale...(And that's the easy part. Much harder is giving up ideas one has grown comfortable with.)

Imagine a European leader proposing that most of his population give up their comfort and security for the good of future generations. You are immediately up against the question of the "spiritual condition" of the people. The state of their souls. That's the only place from which people might dredge up the courage and vision to sacrifice their own economic welfare, and, most crucially, their security.

It's similar to asking people to volunteer in a desperate war to save their country, a war where many must die to (possibly) preserve future generations. Libertarian economic calculation has nothing to say in such a situation---only the heart. (You might say that one exception is people with children. They quite naturally may sacrifice their own good for the good of future generations...which is one of the big reasons, I strongly suspect, that Europeans and "Blue-State" types are not crazy about having children.)

"Where do you find courage?" That's the question to ask. It's too late for reason and prudence and calculation. (Too late for Europe--I hope not for us.) Too late for tinkering. John Paul II's constant refrain was, "Be not afraid." That's the most practical hard-headed piece of economic calculation that's been offered to Europe...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 AM

August 21, 2006

Second time since 1860...

JunkYardblog notes this, from Lefty Kevin Drum...

[Beinart:]…we need to engage more energetically with the war on terror and criticize illiberal regimes more harshly.

Maybe so. But this is something that’s nagged at me for some time. On the one hand, I think Beinart is exactly right. For example, should I be more vocal in denouncing Iran? Sure. It’s a repressive, misogynistic, theocratic, terrorist-sponsoring state that stands for everything I stand against. Of course I should speak out against them.

And yet, I know perfectly well that criticism of Iran is not just criticism of Iran. Whether I want it to or not, it also provides support for the Bush administration’s determined and deliberate effort to whip up enthusiasm for a military strike....

Good thing he's not an American...why, he might feel a duty to support his country and its leaders in time of war! Fortunately he can concentrate on the real war, against George W Bush, and those insane barbarians who dare to claim that it's not 1973 any more.

What sickos the "core" Democrats are. It makes my blood boil to think of the 20th century, when Democrats led this country through war after bloody war, presiding over the deaths of hundreds-of-thousands of Americans, plus millions of our enemies, an flattening whole cities filled with millions of civilians. And what did the Republicans do? Why, we supported our country and its leaders in time of war, of course. We are Americans. Wilson or FDR or Truman or Johnson never had to worry that Republicans would vote against war appropriations, or undercut our troops, or demand that war be fought without casualties, or fought to lunatic standards of perfection and niceness. Or that we would convey with broad hints that our enemies should not waver, because we might win the next election and capitulate forthwith.

And now, for the second time since 1860, we have a Republican leading during a serious war. And what do the Democrats do? Betray their country of course. For the second time. (Or you could call it the third time, since leadership during the Vietnam War passed from Dems to Republicans. They betrayed us then too, in the very war they had got us into, and betrayed millions of Vietnamese to death or concentration camps.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:09 PM

The real McCoy...

The Anchoress, on why she will not agree to suggestions she drop her support of Rudy Giuliani, although she disagrees with his positions on social issues like abortion...

....Giuliani showed me who he was ‘way back when he was refusing Yassar Arafat access to NYC, at a time when the whole world was lauding the monster and kissing his backside. He showed who he was when we were attacked and he managed to reassure the whole nation that capable, adult people were in charge. He showed me who he was when he attended scores of funerals, comforted hundreds of families, walked brides down the aisle because their slain fathers and brothers were lost in the WTC rubble. He showed me who he was when he returned a “relief check” for ten million dollars to a Saudi Prince, because the money came with a denunciation of Israel and of the Jews and US Policy. We need this unshakable and intrepid man, who is incapable of dithering, in these times.

We know this man, Giuliani, and he is a man-in-full. I would rather have one faulty, imperfect man-in-full in office, (one who is willing to be unpopular, if that’s what it takes) and dealing with our devils, than a dozen “more perfect and palatable” types who either can’t get elected or are too distracted by the demands of “the base” to do what needs doing.

And so, no…I won’t be withdrawing my support for Rudy Giuliani at this time. I’m not into throwing people away as “lost causes,” simply because they don’t “fall in line,” and who would want someone who does that, anyway?....

I agree. He's the only real man among those running, of either party. It looks like it's going to be a lonnng war, and the last thing we need is some weak sister in the White House. He's wrong on some issues, but has been superbly right on others...

Posted by John Weidner at 2:34 PM

Hopefully they are discarding the "peacekeeper" malarky...

...and going back to being soldiers: Canadians hammer Taliban

There have been some disappointments lately in the War, but there's good news too, and that tends not to get much attention...

Canadian soldiers scored a major victory against Taliban insurgents on the weekend, pounding their opponents just hours after they took charge of security in one of Afghanistan's most volatile regions.

A heavy barrage from Canada's precision-guided artillery, apparently aimed using remote-controlled aircraft, helped Afghan and Canadian forces kill as many as 72 insurgents and protect a key district near Kandahar.

As many as seven Afghan soldiers died in the battle, but no Canadians were injured and no civilian casualties were reported. The burned and shredded bodies sprawled in the dust after the battle were wearing traditional clothing and ammunition belts, suggesting they were Taliban fighters....(Thanks to Orrin).

Canada is back, or may be back, in their traditional role as an ally of the forces of good. One suspects the election of Harper has a lot to do with this. They have seemed to be sliding over the brink into the Euro-lefty hole..and maybe they still are...but it's good to have hope.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:36 PM

August 20, 2006


I stumbled on an artist, Zach Brissett, who has cool images of Catholic figures. I especially like his Belloc and Chesterton, and I'll now be able to add them (with his kind permission) to future quotes, and to the Belloc poem I posted a week ago...

Belloc portrait by Zach Brissett

Chesterton portrait by Zach Brissett
...But there are some people, nevertheless — and I am one of them — who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether, in the long run, anything else affects them.
--GK Chesterton

Posted by John Weidner at 8:24 PM

"So far down the death spiral you can’t pull out..."

This lecture by Mark Steyn is worth a read. I would desperately love to have someone give me some good reasons why he's wrong. But I've been scanning the horizon for the last few years, and I've seen nothing of the sort. The rare response from lefty Europhiles has been so pathetic and weak it makes me want to spit on them. This guy was so disgusting I want to kick him down and then spit on him. (Well, I'm exagerating; I wouldn't do such things. But my contempt for Lefty pusillanimity runs deep.)

....Much of western civilization does not have any future. That’s to say, we’re not just speaking philosophically, but literally. In a very short time, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries we regard as part of the western tradition will cease to exist in any meaningful sense. They don’t have a future because they’ve given up breeding. Spain’s population is halving with every generation: Two grown-ups have a total of one baby. So there are half as many children as parents. And a quarter as many grandchildren as grandparents. And an eighth as many great-grandchildren as great-grandparents. And, after that there’s no point extrapolating, because you’re over the falls and it’s too late to start paddling back. I received a flurry of letters from furious Spaniards when the government decided to replace the words “father” and “mother” on its birth certificates with the less orientationally offensive terms “Progenitor A” and “Progenitor B”. This was part of the bureaucratic spring-cleaning of traditional language that always accompanies the arrival in law of “gay marriage”. But, with historically low numbers of progeny, the designations of the respective progenitors seem of marginal concern. They’d be better off trying to encourage the average young Spaniard to wander into a Barcelona singles bar and see if anyone wants to come back to his pad to play Progenitor A and Progenitor B. (“Well, okay, but only if I can be Progenitor A…”)

Seventeen European nations are now at what demographers call “lowest-low” fertility – 1.3 births per woman, the point at which you’re so far down the death spiral you can’t pull out. In theory, those countries will find their population halving every 35 years or so. In practice, it will be quicker than that, as the savvier youngsters figure there’s no point sticking around a country that’s turned into an undertaker’s waiting room. So large parts of the western world are literally dying – and, in Europe, the successor population to those aging French and Dutch and Belgians is already in place....

John Paul II called it the "Culture of Death." We usually use the term to refer to abortion and euthanasia, but to me the most tragically fascinating part is the death of whole nations. And it's right there in front of us. (A technical note: Most European country's populations are not yet actually declining, because the age cohort that's dying off now, the "WWII Generation," is much smaller than the post WWII generations. But when the Euro equivalent of the "Baby Boomers" starts to die, things are going to get real ugly real fast.)

We can see the Culture of Death clearly in the reaction, or rather lack of a reaction, to these obvious facts. No European country is shifting into panic mode. None are drastically revising policies or attitudes. Nowhere do we see reformers from outside the political culture being elected with a mandate for change.

"So far down the death spiral you can’t pull out." I would agree with that estimation. For one thing, the only possible answers can come from human beings, from the human spirit. But for generations those Europeans who dream hopefully of better futures have been emigrating. Worse than a brain-drain, it is a spirit-drain.

America is in better shape, but not that much better. All the same suicidal trends are seen here, but we always have strong counter-movements. A very rough approximation is the "Red State/Blue State" divide. And, in my personal opinion, the best barometer is the health of Christianity and Judaism. I'd say they are wounded but alive here, wounded probably fatally there. (And my personal suspicion is that that's not just the barometer, it's the underlying cause. If any scientists want to put the Culture of Death under a microscope for study, just grab with yor tweezers anybody who is complaining [preposterously] that America is becoming a "theocracy.")

Posted by John Weidner at 7:59 PM

No man knows the way to it...

There are mines for silver
and places where men refine gold;
where iron is won from the earth
and copper smelted from the ore;
the end of the seam lies in darkness,
and it is followed to its farthest limit.
Strangers cut the galleries;
they are forgotten as they drive forward far from men.

While corn is springing from the earth above,
what lies beneath is raked over like a fire,
and out of its rocks comes lapis lazuli,
dusted with flecks of gold.
No bird of prey knows the way there,
and the falcon's keen eye cannot descry it;
proud beasts do not set foot on it,
and no serpent comes that way.

Man sets his hand to the granite rock
and lays bare the roots of the mountains;
he cuts galleries in the rocks;
and gems of every kind meet his eye;
he dams up the sources of the streams
and brings the hidden riches of the earth to light.
But where can wisdom be found?
And where is the source of understanding?
No man knows the way to it,
it is not found in the land of living men.
The depths of ocean say, 'It is not in us,'
and the sea says, 'It is not with me'
Red gold cannot buy it,
nor can its price be weighed out in silver;
it cannot be set in the scales against gold of Ophir,
against precious cornelian or lapis lazuli;
gold and crystal are not to be matched with it,
no work in fine gold can be bartered for it;
black coral and alabaster are not worth mention,
and a parcel of wisdom fetches more than red coral;
topaz from Ethiopia is not to be matched with it,
it cannot be set in the scales against pure gold.

Where then does wisdom come from,
and where is the source of understanding?
No creature on earth can see it,
and it is hidden from the birds of the air.
Destruction and death say,
'We know of it only by report.'

But God understands the way to it,
he alone knows its source;
for he can see to the ends of the earth
and he surveys everything under heaven.
When he made a counterpoise for the wind
and measured out the waters in proportion,
when he laid down a limit for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
even then he saw wisdom and took stock of it,
he considered it and fathomed its very depths.
And he said to man:
    The fear of the Lord is wisdom.
    and to turn from evil is understanding.

--- The Book of Job

(New English Bible. Quoted in A Book of Faith, by Elizabeth Goudge)
Posted by John Weidner at 5:17 AM

August 19, 2006

Shall we play "Connect the Many Many Dots?" – This week, a popular BBC radio announcer told the public that she had entered into a “suicide pact” with friends should she be incapacitated by illness.

Jenni Murray, the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, a feminist and euthanasia advocate, said that she does not want to be “trapped” into caring for her mother who is ill with Parkinson’s disease.

Murray, a member of the Order of the British Empire and a patron of the Family Planning Association, is airing her views tonight on a BBC television program called “Don’t Get Me Started.” Publicity material for the show says that Murray “plans to end her own life when she becomes a burden to those around her.” She discusses methods, including smothering with a pillow or injecting with drugs, with two friends,

The network said: "Jenni is angry that, having fought so hard to become liberated and independent, women are now being trapped into caring for dependent parents."

Murray complains that the law against assisted suicide is supported by a “religious minority” who hold to an outdated moral view that human life is inherently valuable and that children have a legitimate obligation to care for elderly parents.

The program highlights the growth, especially in Britain, of the idea of an “obligation to die.” Most leading thinkers in the bioethics field endorse euthanasia and assisted suicide and often argue that elderly and ill patients have the obligation to end their lives to relieve pressure on families and the health care system....(Thanks to
Gerald Augustinus.)

What's starting to obsess me is the way people like this refuse to think through where their ideas are leading. Let's just for a minute put aside all questions of what's truly right and wrong. Here is a person who has, obviously, discarded part of the Judeo-Christian morality that was held by past generations. Let's say she's tossed 10% of her inheritance overboard. And it would probably be safe to assume that her parents tossed out 10% of what they inherited, and that the grandparents probably did some tossing too--she's obviously diverged a long way from what someone in the year 1900 would have believed.

SO, my question: Has she given any thought to the likelihood that her children will toss overboard another 10%? And her grandchildren likewise? Any thought as to where this may be leading? Whether the process has an end?...

This is on my mind because of a recent conversation Charlene and I had with some liberal friends (Actually Charlene arguing with them, while I didn't even try to get a word in). In particular with one woman of our generation, who had obviously discarded her 10%, if not a lot more, and gone off to college and decided it was fine to sleep with lots of different boys. And now, her daughter has come home from college and declared that it's OK to sleep with lots of boys and girls. And how did this woman react? She's bewildered! She's hurt! She's confused! "How could this happen? I don't understand it. How could they let this happen?"

She's not a stupid person. She just. Won't. Think. I'm sure that, if pressed, she would say that her position is right, just because it's obvious. And her daughter's position is wrong, just because that's obvious. Where the "right and wrong" come from doesn't need to be pondered. Whether they might be "non-renewable resources" is a question that doesn't get asked.

My question here doesn't just apply to sexual morality. You could ignore sex and still have dozens of examples of my question. How about tossing out 10% of ones parent's willingness to fight for their country and their civilization? If each generation chucks another 10%, where does that lead????

Maybe there are some good liberal answers to these questions. I sure haven't seen them....

To be a liberal (or a libertarian) is to not think.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:48 AM

August 18, 2006

Reign of terror...

Hugh Hewitt:

Not a single Democrat of any stature or visibility has stepped forward to criticize much less reject the opinion from Judge Anna Diggs Taylor declaring NSA surveillance of our enemies contacting their operatives inside our country to be unconstitutional. Their collective silence has grown more and more revealing as the chorus of legal commentary mocking the absurd opinion has grown throughout the day...

Yep. Verrrry revealing.

The opinion IS absurd. Even I, not a lawyer, can see that. (And my RJ Staff Counsel just laughed with derision.) And so can Democrat politicians. ANY honest person, regardless of their position, should now disavow this travesty. But they don't dare to. The Copperhead crazies are in control, and any Dem who speaks up is going to get the Lieberman treatment.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:22 PM


Best of the Web points out that page 17 of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's ruling includes this morsel:

....Plaintiffs here contend that the TSP has interfered with their ability to carry out their professional responsibilities in a variety of ways, including that the TSP has had a significant impact on their ability to talk with sources, locate witnesses, conduct scholarship, engage in advocacy and communicate with persons who are outside of the United States, including in the Middle East and Asia.

Plaintiffs have submitted several declarations to that effect. For example, scholars and journalists such as plaintiffs Tara McKelvey, Larry Diamond, and Barnett Rubin indicate that they must conduct extensive research in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, and must communicate with individuals abroad whom the United States government believes to be terrorist suspects or to be associated with terrorist organizations.

In addition, attorneys Nancy Hollander, William Swor, Joshua Dratel, Mohammed Abdrabboh, and Nabih Ayad indicate that they must also communicate with individuals abroad whom the United States government believes to be terrorist suspects or to be associated with terrorist organizations, and must discuss confidential information over the phone and email with their international clients...

This just amazes me. You expect to find plaintiffs in cases like this complaining that they are innocent persons being harassed unfairly. These guys are complaining that they are being harassed because they are guilty! The duty of an American citizen who has contacts with possible enemy agents during wartime is to go to the FBI, and cooperate fully with whatever measures are needed in the way of intelligence gathering, surveillance or attempted capture. (Or in the case of terrorists, who are violators of the laws of war, assassination.)

Since these plaintiffs have not done any of this, they are, in my estimation, spies and traitors, and should be treated as such.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:32 PM

From Berlin, 1933...

From the essay Auto-da-Fé of the Mind, by Joseph Roth. From What I Saw: Reports from Berlin, 1920-1933...

Very few observers anywhere in the world seem to have understood what the Third Reich's burning of books, the expulsion of Jewish writers, and all its other crazy assaults on the intellect actually mean. The technical apotheosis of the barbarians, the terrible march of the mechanized orangutans, armed with hand grenades, poison gas, ammonia and nitroglycerine, with gas masks and airplanes, the return of the spiritual (if not the actual) descendants of the Cimbri and Teutoni—all this means far more than the threatened and terrorized world seems to realize: It must be understood. Let me say it loud and clear; The European mind is capitulating. It is capitulating out of weakness, out of sloth, out of apathy, out of lack of imagination (it will be the task of some future generation to establish the reasons for this disgraceful capitulation).

Now, as the smoke of our burned books rises into the sky, we German writers of Jewish descent must acknowledge above all that we have been defeated. Let us, who were fighting on the front line, under the banner of the European mind, let us fulfill the noblest duty of the defeated warrior: Let us concede defeat. Yes, we have been defeated....

(Thanks to our friend George B., who faxed this over...)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:37 AM

August 17, 2006

"exposing the real nature of the war"

Captain Ed, on the Lebanese general who has been jailed for appearing in a videotape with friendly Israelis...

...Daoud finds himself in jail not for fraternization, but for exposing the real nature of the war. Israel had no beef with the kind of military police force Daoud commanded. In fact, Israel wants to have precisely these kinds of forces across their northern border, rather than the Hezbollah terrorists that have held the territory for years. That is why Israeli soldiers treated Daoud so chivalrously.

The Siniora government cannot afford to have the Lebanese see the Israelis treating the LA well, however, at least not while Hassan Nasrallah is still in charge. It interferes with the preferred terrorist narrative that the Israelis committed a war of aggression on Lebanon instead of a war against the terrorists that committed a casus belli in the first place. If Israel treats Lebanese people in a friendly manner, then the Lebanese people will wonder why they need Hezbollah protecting them from the IDF....

It's just another example of how the meaning of the word "war" has changed. War between nation-states is still what we associate with the word. But war between nation-states is virtually extinct. Everything we now label war is actually internal violence within failed states, or interventions by Western powers (normally just the Anglosphere) to try to prevent such violence. Our war against the nation-state of Iraq lasted only a couple of weeks, and was, in fact, never seriously fought by the Iraqis. The huge Iraqi army, with mountains of fairly modern equipment, simply evaporated.

(But within days our troops started to see un-uniformed guys with AK-47's driving around in Toyota pickups. We didn't know at first what that meant, but within a few days we did, most painfully. Actually, most of the real fighting before we over-ran Iraq was against terrorists. Read this, for an example.)

Pacifists and leftists don't dare admit that war has changed. To do so would be to confront the fact that there are obvious good guys and bad guys. And that implies a moral demand to support the good.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:03 AM

August 16, 2006

“Throw them in the oven”

Jamie Glassman, a comic writer, at the Edinburg Festival...

...There have always been anti- Semitic jokes. But you know times are changing when you go along to a stand-up show at the Pleasance Courtyard at the Edinburgh Fringe and you hear audience members shouting “Throw them in the oven” when the comic suggests kids should stop playing Cowboys and Indians and replace it with Nazis and Jews.

Stand-up comedy is as good a prism as any through which to look at the changing attitudes in our society. If my past few days are anything to go by then it is becoming increasingly acceptable to hate the Jews. Again....

...But what is going on in Edinburgh now is no satire. For me, Hughes represents a growing trend among left-thinking people in this country and around the world to accept as dogma that those on the Left should hate Bush, Blair, American imperialism, Israel and, while we’re at it, the Jews. It is a cultural trend that I’ve found increasingly evident but never before has the Jew-hating element been so overt. This week has confirmed that my Jewish paranoia is not entirely unfounded. As the old saying goes: “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”.....

Wake up, fools.

Something I see in many realms of life is, one can only be a "decent Leftist" (or libertarian) by not extrapolating. By refusing to see trends. I have no doubt there are lots of good people on the Left who deplore this sort of thing. Well, that's fine. But I bet that almost all of them assume this is a situation that is static, that won't go any farther. If you prod them they always reply with "of course" lines. Of course no one will take this any farther. Of course there are no slippery-slopes. It's in bad taste, but of course it's not serious. Of course we are not on the side of the terrorists. Of course you can criticize Israel (obsessively) without being anti-Semitic...

Same thing with every other damn "slippery slope."

Wake up, fools.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:46 AM

August 15, 2006

I'm feeling a bit guilty...

Because it's the Feast of the Assumption, and poor Charlene is away visiting in the far hinterlands, where the liturgical fare is not promising. Whereas tonight St Dominic's laid on a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, ad Orientum, with parts from Schubert's Mass in G by our awesome choir plus strings, plus Ave by Josquin, plus Dominican chant...I'm still light-headed, and she will be soooo jealous.

Also, something I HATE---people who ride motorcycles or bicycles at night wearing dark clothes. I came Way too close to some motorcyclist, all in his cool black garb.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:53 PM

straight talk...

Michelle Malkin has a video of a great speech by Lt Col Randolp C. White, to a graduating class at Fort Benning.

If you are sick of the latté crowd shitting on America all day and then toddling home to sleep in safety while far better men and women watch through the night on Freedom's Wall.....well, you will enjoy this guy telling it like it is.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:31 PM

Same old...

Saul Singer in the JPost:

Here is my grand unified theory of the history of the universe:

democracies show weakness;
dictators are emboldened and attack;
democracies respond slowly, insufficiently, or appease;
dictators are further emboldened and attack harder;
democracies win;
start over again...

This is not original stuff. Alexis de Tocqueville knew it in 1835. Winston Churchill said as much in 1933....(Thanks to Betsy N)

Not much to add to that. Save that I've read that the appeasers of the 1930's were not just weak, but that many of them considered appeasement a virtue! Sounds familiar, doesn't it?, like today's pacifists, they were happy to toss the Jews out of the sleigh first. and were stupid enough to think that was making them more safe, rather than less....

Posted by John Weidner at 9:36 AM

August 14, 2006

Play the hand you are dealt, or fold and wait for a better one...

I recommend this post, by Dafydd. I won't try to summarize it, but it's the first thing I've read that really makes some sense out of the confusing and disappointing developments in Lebanon.

He makes an analogy to the first and second battles of Falluja, and his post is also the first thing I've read that makes sense of that...makes sense of our withdrawal after partial success during First Falluja. And I take comfort from it. The handwringers back in April 2004 were quick to declare that we had been defeated, lost our nerve, blown our last chance, etc etc. But we went back when the time was right, and crushed the terrorists.

It's going to be a long war. That's not surprising, what with sneaky guerilla/terrorist enemies, fifth-columnists within, and various "allies" in deep moral decline...BUT, we've been there before. Abe Lincoln fought a long messy war that makes this one look like a sunday-school picnic. And, notably, we got better at it as we went along! We learned. We learned cruel and ugly lessons, to be sure. But that's what war is like. And we didn't start this war, we didn't ask for it.

I read somewhere that many of the successful generals of the Civil War got their start in the pitiless guerilla fighting in Missouri. As a result, they didn't have any of the illusions of chivalry and gentlemanly conduct and restrained war common among our Victorian soldiers. (Any Civil War buffs out there know more about this?) And no, I'm NOT saying that what worked in the Civil War is what's needed now. I have for instance, argued many times that the countless acts of humanity and decency by our troops are weapons in this war. (And I'd say that the concealment of these deeds by our vile press, and by leftist bloggers and politicians, is a weapon used by the other side.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:28 PM

Deep moral confusion...

From an appalled feminist...

...The peace movement lost a foe in Reagan but has gone on to find new friends in today’s Stop the War movement. Women pushing their children in buggies bearing the familiar symbol of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament marched last weekend alongside banners proclaiming “We are all Hezbollah now” and Muslim extremists chanting “Oh Jew, the army of Muhammad will return.”

For Linda Grant, the novelist, who says that “feminism” is the one “ism” she has not given up on, it was a shocking sight: “What you’re seeing is an alliance of what used to be the far left with various Muslim groups and that poses real problems. Saturday’s march was not a peace march in the way that the Ban the Bomb marches were. Seeing young and old white women holding Hezbollah placards showed that it’s a very different anti-war movement to Greenham. Part of it feels the wrong side is winning.”...(Thanks to Rand)

That the left has turned sick and evil is rather too obvious to comment on. My question is, were they sick when they opposed Reagan for standing up to the Soviet Union? Or just confused?

Posted by John Weidner at 11:19 AM

On and on and on....

Apparently people are still claiming that the moon landings were faked. Rand Simberg links to this page, debunking their arguments with easily understandable physics and logic...

Bad: When the movies of the astronauts walking and driving the lunar rover are doubled in speed, they look just like they were filmed on Earth and slowed down. This is clearly how the movies were faked.

Good: This was the first new bit I have seen from the HBs, and it's funny. To me even when sped up, the images didn't look like they were filmed in Earth's gravity. The astronauts were sidling down a slope, and they looked weird to me, not at all like they would on Earth. I will admit that if wires were used, the astronauts' gait could be simulated.

However, not the rover! If you watch the clip, you will see dust thrown up by the wheels of the rover. The dust goes up in a perfect parabolic arc and falls back down to the surface. Again, the Moon isn't the Earth! If this were filmed on the Earth, which has air, the dust would have billowed up around the wheel and floated over the surface. This clearly does not happen in the video clips; the dust goes up and right back down. It's actually a beautiful demonstration of ballistic flight in a vacuum. Had NASA faked this shot, they would have had to have a whole set (which would have been very large) with all the air removed. We don't have this technology today!...

It's well worth reading just to review or learn some interesting physics. What's discouraging is that this stuff will not have the slightest effect on the other side...they will just go on making the same claims until the die off. It's like arguing with leftists. There's no argument, because they won't answer your points, or defend (or even clearly define) their own.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:09 AM

August 13, 2006

"into the lazy dog days..."

Great piece in the Washington Post, on the American side of the recent terrorist plot foiled...

It was the last week of July, heading into the lazy dog days of official Washington, but Michael Chertoff was suddenly busy.

The homeland security secretary discreetly asked subordinates about plans developed months or even years ago, focused on aviation safety, threat levels and other minutiae. In briefings, he quizzed staffers about responses to an aviation threat: What was the default plan for going to "orange alert"? What items can we ban from airplanes if we need to?

Those taking the questions -- including many of Chertoff's closest aides -- had no idea what was really going on, two senior counterterrorism officials said....

The secrecy involved was extraordinary. Read about it. Why secrecy? Only one reason folks, because we have traitors. People for whom the only "war" is the war against the Republicans and President Bush. Traitors who would gladly leak this information to the NYT, which would spill the beans in an instant. You think I'm crazy? Think back on Judith Miller calling that Islamic "charity" to tell them they were under investigation.

And the case involved massive amounts of all the things leftists and the ACLU want to stop or hinder. Wiretapping, Internet surveillance, surveillance of young Moslem males and their "social networks," and what the were shopping for, such as GPS devices,

...More than 200 FBI agents and scores of analysts and other personnel would be assigned to the operation in late July and early August, mounting dozens of clandestine surveillance and search operations on individuals with possible links to the London plotters, officials said. Among the individuals were people who had been called or e-mailed by suspects or their relatives and acquaintances, as the FBI combed through layers of the group's "social network" inside the United States...

That's what it takes. Abe Lincoln did exactly the same stuff, and much worse, for the same damn good reasons. Lafayette Baker was tapping telegraph wires instead of e-mails. And snatching suspects in the night and tossing them into Old Capitol Prison, to be squeezed for information much harder than the Bush Administration even dreams of. And Lincoln didn't even think about warrants. Ditto for Wilson and FDR.

And none of it did any damage to our civil liberties, which have been increasing steadily over the entire course of our history. The civil liberties concerns are just a foul lying excuse to attack the administration; leftists never minded the same stuff when Democrat Presidents, including Clinton did them. Sanctimonious frauds.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 AM

Help of the half-defeated, House of gold...

Ballade to Our Lady of Częstochowa

Lady and Queen and Mystery manifold
And very Regent of the untroubled sky,
Whom in a dream St. Hilda did behold
And heard a woodland music passing by:
You shall receive me when the clouds are high
With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

Steep are the seas and savaging and cold
In broken waters terrible to try;
And vast against the winter night the wold,
And harbourless for any sail to lie.
But you shall lead me to the lights, and I
Shall hymn you in a harbour story told.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

Help of the half-defeated, House of gold,
Shrine of the Sword, and Tower of Ivory;
Splendour apart, supreme and aureoled,
The Battler's vision and the World's reply.
You shall restore me, O my last Ally,
To vengence and the glories of the bold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.


Prince of the degradations, bought and sold,
These verses, written in your crumbling sty,
Proclaim the faith that I have held and hold
And publish that in which I mean to die.

    -- Hilaire Belloc

Belloc portrait by Zach Brissett
(Sketch by Zach Brissett)

Just for your information, Częstochowa is pronounced Chens-toe-HOE-vah... It is the premier pilgrimage site in Poland, the home of the monastery of Jasna Góra, and the shrine with the painting of the Black Madonna.

As poetry, this is just what I like, and just the sort that is, of course, is not written any more. And also, I encountered it by chance just after talking to a girl whose sister was on a pilgrimage to Częstochowa...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:17 AM

August 11, 2006

Off the cliff...

Mike Plaiss sent a link to a good Bloomberg editorial, If a Deficit Falls in the Forest, Do You Hear It?, by Amity Shales...

...This year, the new report says, the deficit will be $260 billion, or $111 billion less than the CBO estimated in March. For 2006, the government deficit will be 2 percent of gross domestic product, down from the old baseline prediction for 2006 of 2.6 percent. On Aug. 17, when the more extensive annual Update of the Budget and Economic Outlook appears, that 2 percent figure is likely to show up more definitively. But neither the budgeteers' news nor the prospect of a confirmation of it is generating much discussion.

This is surprising. The Economic Report of the President shows the federal deficit for 2004 was 3.6 percent. A narrowing of more than 1 1/2 percentage points in such a short time is itself a story.

The U.S. deficit is worth comparing, for starters, with the data for European nations. In the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, European leaders set a deficit goal of 3 percent of GDP. EU member countries have had trouble meeting that target since...

Indeed, they have had trouble, and will continue to do so. And the people who claim that Bush's deficits are sending us over a cliff will continue to ignore this. But more importantly, figures like deficits are only meaningful in the context of the economy as a whole. (It's insulting to explain this in baby-talk, but there may be liberals in the audience.) If my debts are increasing, but my assets are growing even more rapidly, I'm probably in good shape, as long as I can service the debt. (And if my assets are increasing because of the investments for which I incurred that debt, I'm probably making some smart moves!)

On the other hand, if my assets are not growing, if my income is not increasing, but my debts are increasing, I may be in bad shape!

Situation one is USA. Situation two is EU. Who goes off cliff?

Posted by John Weidner at 10:51 AM

August 10, 2006

Perfectly rational...

Dafydd, on John McCain and Rudy Giuliani...

...The primary "values and philosophies" demanded are not found in either man's position on the issues Bevan examines, but rather in both men's characters in a time so fraught with peril. Everything I know, I learned from Zorro, including this: "No man can govern others until he has first learned to govern himself." John McCain cannot even govern himself; I will not trust him with my country.

For those reasons, I find it perfectly rational to support Giuliani and oppose McCain, in despite of their very similar (and disappointing) positions on some critical issues, where both stand at odds with the center-right mainstream...
Posted by John Weidner at 6:07 PM

"Peace for our time"

John Podhoretz, writing in The Corner:

The quote that begins the article just cited by Michael Rubin is so astonishing it deserves its own separate blog entry. It's the Israeli novelist Amos Oz speaking in March 2000, just before Israel pulled out of its security zone in Lebanon: "The minute we leave south Lebanon we will have to erase the word Hizbullah from our vocabulary, because the whole idea of the State of Israel versus Hizbullah was sheer folly from the outset. It most certainly will no longer be relevant when Israel returns to her internationally recognized northern border."

Amos Oz is no crank. He's perhaps Israel's foremost intellectual, the grand old man of Israeli letters. This deserves to go down in the annals along with "peace for our time" and the notorious headline on a 1975 New York Times story: "Indochina Without Americans.: For Most, a Better Life."

I hadn't encountered the "Indochina Without Americans" quote, but it certainly encapsulates the sheer evil of our leftish "elites." They are on the other side. And from their twisted selfish point of view, they are perfectly correct to be on the other side. They are reflexively opposed to ordinary Amricans and their values, because they know, or sense, that the more the American people know about them, the more decisively they will be rejected, and sent to the ash-heap of history.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:06 PM

Wave bye-bye...

Charlene woke me up early, said I'd want to read the news. Wow. No kiddin'. Hey, do ya think we are in a war, or something?

Bad day for some folks. We move down the River of Time, and wave bye-bye to those frumpy people with their graying pony-tails and "No War blahblahblah" signs who are stuck on the mud-bank. They are gone, they are melting into the mist...

Of course they will actually still be with us, but more and more they will be like, say, people who are still counting sightings of flying saucers.

When I was a bookseller, I used to sell a children's book titled A Hole Is To Dig. (It had funny children's definitions, such as "toes are to wiggle" or "a hat is to wear on a train.") There's another one that keeps running through my brain: A war is to win.

That's the inescapable logic of war. Somebody wins, somebody loses. There is a modern variant, invented by our "peace" types, which goes: "Let's keep war going for decades and centuries, so nobody loses their Self Esteem." But, sorry, it doesn't work. All they have done is to nourish and nurture the terrorists to the point where more and more people are forced to say, "it's us or them."

Bad day for the Copperheads--they were wrong. Good day for George and Tony--they were right. Thank you! Thank God for leaders who understand that this is a war. And a war is to win. Faster, please.

* Thoughts added as they occur: If my logic is correct, and if we really are in a war, then a "warmonger" is someone who wants the war to end, who longs for peace. And a "pacifist" is someone who wants the war to continue. I'll just sit here and hold my breath waiting for this to be refuted with facts and logic by some pacifist...

* And what a nasty irony, that this should happen the day after the Copperheads repudiated just about the only leader they have who has given unequivocal support to AMERICA'S War on Terror. Thanks, pals, for making it sparkling clear who's on the other side.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:57 AM

August 9, 2006


My only comment on the Lieberman defeat is to think about how disgruntled I've sometimes felt at the way the President and the Republican Senate Campaign Committee give their support even to RINO's like Arlen Specter or Lincoln Chaffee.

That's not looking too bad right now...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:43 PM

Conceptual artist...

PowerLine had this good one today. They were unclear about whose work it is; I'll add credit later if possible...

Innocent Hezbollah cartoon

* Update: It's by Australian John Spooner. Thanks, Andrea.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 AM

Unintended consequences...

Vin Suprynowicz:

...Today, Hezbollah and Hamas have a problem. All their planning was based on the fact that the world and the United States have never allowed Israel to really win a war -- they always call a cease-fire after a maximum of 20 days.

Can anyone see the terrorists looking around now, wondering when they get their next three years off for rest, refit and resupply? "Hey, it's been the full three weeks. Guys? Anyone? Hello?"

We started out saying war is horrible and is to be avoided whenever possible. But there is a corollary doctrine. If you want a generation of peace, those who launch wars have to be shown this, good and hard....

We have taught Hamas and Hezbollah to make war. Taught them with "ceasefires," which have ingrained the lesson that they can start violent conflicts, and not have to finish them, not have to live with the consequences. We've done it over and over, and the result is war---over and over.

I have no doubt that the church leaders who are now calling for a ceasefire are sincerely seeking peace. But there never was a bigger example of the law of unintended consequences than this one...

Or actually there is. On the very same subject of "ceasefires." Because the biggest ceasefire of them all was the Armistice in November 1918. We know now that Germany was then on the brink of total economic and military collapse. But the war-weary Allies allowed them to sue for peace, and the Great War was ended in a way that left many Germans thinking that their armies had surrendered while they were still intact, and similar in strength to the allies. This was completely false, but it looked to many Germans like they had been "stabbed in the back," and that they could win on the next go-around. Including a fellow named Adolph Hitler...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:32 AM

August 8, 2006

Green up to the border...

Ralph Peters is with the IDF in Lebanon--good stuff...(Thanks to Alan for this link)

...We finished the day by falling back from the tanks and personnel carriers to climb to the top of Mount Adir.

The sweeping view made the difference between the warring civilizations as stark as could be: On the Israel side, the world was green. Then, abruptly, at the border, the landscape went brown - neglected for centuries, wasted, trashed by a suicidal value system. Standing on that mountain and looking at the hard work evident on one side and the lassitude on the other, it wasn't hard to figure out who would triumph in the end.

As we stood on that mountaintop watching the Israeli fields ignited by errant Katyushas and the IDF artillery rounds smacking down in Hezbollah-world, I told Manny the secret of how to watch other people's wars: "No need to be afraid until the guys with the guns look afraid."

The one thing I never saw in the faces of the IDF was fear.

Why do they hate us (Israel or the US--plug in either one)? The gnawing poison-spitting flubber-worms (terrorists or leftists--plug in either one, same crew) hate us because it's green on our side. That's about all you need to know. Green because the elites, the "better sort," are not in control.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:05 PM

Come away with me, Lucille, In my merry Oldsmobile...

Our friend Dave sent this...

"Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is still in the hospital with a serious medical condition. Castro said that a half century of Communist rule seemed like a good idea right up until the point he was rushed to the hospital in a '55 Oldsmobile."
   ---Conan O'Brien
Posted by John Weidner at 5:18 PM

August 7, 2006

Strangely chilly...

There's some good sense in Government Shrinkage Goal, By Grover Norquist. And yet it's painful to see what a small-minded man he is, only seeing the dollars-and-cents aspect, and not the deeper spiritual and cultural implications of what he advocates...(Thanks to Orrin)

Norquist writes:

....The solution to the spending problem is to replace politically suicidal, or at best difficult, efforts to "cut" spending with politically profitable "reforms" of programs that will reduce their long-term costs. [Somebody--maybe Orrin-- recently wrote that having the government provide a lot of security was to "cost" of giving women the vote. I think that's true, and that that's a lot of the reason why it's politically suicidal to cut spending. Bush's "Ownership Society," which is what Norquist is writing about here, is an attempt to end-run this problem.]

The best example of this is "privatizing" or "personalizing" Social Security, moving the system from the pay-as-you-go, unfunded, Ponzi scheme to a fully funded, independently held personal savings account system. When fully phased in every American will be required to save, say, 10 percent of their income and accumulate real resources to buy an annuity at retirement that will keep one out of poverty and allow one to keep all savings beyond that minimum to be spent as one wishes. Social Security can be reformed to cost not its present 20 percent of the federal budget but rather remove it from the budget. [Right on. But what's really important about this is not just getting unfunded liabilities out of the budget, but in making people self-reliant, rather than being dependent on big government. Which is why leftists HATE the whole idea, and claim Bush wants to "destroy" SS, even while they have their own retirement nest-eggs invested in the market. Vile hypocrites.]

Medicare can be similarly financed through allowing Americans to save their Medicare tax payments. Health savings accounts can give Medicare and Medicaid programs real competitive pressures to reduce costs without voting for any "cuts." [Ching! Yes. But again, the real benefit is spiritual or psychological. People should be making their own decisions about their and their family's health. Anything that prods them into taking responsibility is good. And your HSA is your money--that tends to concentrate people's attention.]

On education, the only reform worth enacting is real parental school choice. With private schools costing half of what government schools cost, public schools over time will have to become as cost-efficient and effective as private schools. [Yes, correct. But to me it's passing strange to write in this bloodless way, and never mention the dreadful human cost of failing inner-city schools. Or even the dollars-and-cents cost, in increased crime and welfare. Weird.]

Pipe dream? No. We are on track to make all three key reforms a reality in the next decade. The case for Social Security reform is politically strengthened as more and more Americans own shares of stock directly through mutual funds, individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s. When Ronald Reagan was elected, only 17 percent of adults owned stock directly. Today more than 50 percent of households and 2 out of 3 voters in the 2004 election do so. That number grows as all new companies use defined contribution retirement systems rather than defined benefit plans....

Doom for the Left. Ha ha ha. And oh so richly deserved...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:23 AM

"Peace movements," their track record...

Thomas Sowell, from a good piece on "peace"...

....One of the many failings of our educational system is that it sends out into the world people who cannot tell rhetoric from reality. They have learned no systematic way to analyze ideas, derive their implications and test those implications against hard facts.

"Peace" movements are among those who take advantage of this widespread inability to see beyond rhetoric to realities. Few people even seem interested in the actual track record of so-called "peace" movements -- that is, whether such movements actually produce peace or war....(Thanks to PowerLines.)

It is in fact easy to see that peace movements produce more war, and Sowell lays it out. My own suspicion is that it is not just a lack of thinking ability that keeps "peace" movements afloat, but mostly a lack of caring. They exist only to make western leftists feel good, and if some brown-skinned people in distant lands die as a result, nobody in San Francisco is counting.

But the lack of a "systematic way to analyze ideas" is confirmed by my experience. This November I will have been blogging for five years. And I have never once, on political or social issues, had a counter-argument from a leftist that was difficult to answer. Not once.


Posted by John Weidner at 6:46 AM

August 6, 2006

Home again...

....From a pleasant weekend at Sunset State Beach, near Santa Cruz. It's not a great place to take pictures; like much of coastal California it's rather desert-like and colorless. But the poppies were going crazy...

Poppies at Sunst State Beach

You can see our blue van, and blue and gray tent in the middle background...
Sunset State Beach campground, with poppies

Posted by John Weidner at 5:35 PM

August 4, 2006

Away for le weekend...

Back Sunday...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:11 AM


A friend writes, about Tom Friedman,

Tom threw in the towel today on Iraq. Since he is almost always wrong (zigs when he should zag), this must be a bottom.

Sounds right to me. My question is, has Johnny Apple of the NYT declared Lebanon to be a "quagmire?" I shall be very worried about our friends, until that portent of victory appears...

And also, I've been meaning to link to this post by Rand, which calls Israel....

Israel flag.


Posted by John Weidner at 9:03 AM

Can't "make a case"...

Dean Barnett writes:

...Here’s the personal irony for me: As Soxblog readers know, Andrew Sullivan is one of the reasons I got into blogging. He was an inspiration. He used to turn out vast quantities of tightly reasoned, well written material. It amazed me he did all this for free.

Now, it’s literally tragic what he has become. The post [link] where he attacks Hugh [Here's HH's essay; judge for yourselves.] is the epitome of all that is wrong with the blogosphere. Sullivan eschews making an argument and opts solely for a personal attack. He makes this attack with no supporting evidence, and a surfeit of clichéd name-calling.

More tragic is the fact that we know Sullivan can do better. That’s perhaps why Sullivan’s latest incarnation so disappoints former colleagues like Mickey Kaus. Unlike Markos Moulitsas, who has shown no indications of possessing outsized talents either as a thinker or a writer, Sullivan in the past has....

For me, Sullivan's incoherence is not surprising. Previously, he was writing from a coherant philosophy. That's easy to do. Heck, even I, in a much humbler way, do it all the time. I can make a case: Here's what I think we should do, and why. Here are examples of where X has worked. Here are examples of where the alternative has been tried, and has failed. Facts + logic, blah blah blah.

When the gay "marriage" issue came up, Sullivan "flipped" to supporting the Democrats. BUT, he gained no leftish philosophy to underpin his new position. The philosophy that underlies Democrat thinking is socialism. And only the looniest of leftists can now openly avow it.

So all that's left for Sullivan is to attack the other side. Attack without any alternative plan. It's pathetic, and it's really the dilemma of the entire "left."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:05 AM

August 3, 2006

Which is the "real" person?

Here's a piece I liked on Mel Gibson, Braveheart's Tequila Sunset, by Clinton W. Taylor...

....Yet let's assume that Mel Gibson really does, on some level, think some of the things he said. There's a larger question underneath this controversy: let's assume there does exist an "inhibited" version of us, and also a chemically uninhibited version. Which one is the "real" person, and which is the artifice? Most of us are proud of our victories over our inner childishness; if I am in my heart a glutton with a lust for fried okra, but I manage to curb that impulse, enjoy okra in moderation, and drop ten pounds, that might give me a small sense of accomplishment. But whose was the victory? Am I the glutton, or am I the rational person who saw and acted upon the need to control my gluttony?

As both a Christian and a conservative, I believe all men are fallen and flawed. The institutions of civilization -- Church, family, the law, civil society -- help us steer away from our hearts' jagged shoals. Each of us struggle with our own foibles, and our much more sinister demons -- the impulses or attitudes we know to be wrong but cannot exorcise. But out of self-interested careerism, out of love for our families, out of religious obligation, or simply out of a fear of looking at ourselves in the mirror if we fail, we learn, most of the time, to work around the baser angels of our nature.

Then there is the alternative view of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, perhaps the ultimate progenitor of modern leftism....

(Thanks to Dawn)

Do read it. And the bit I quoted raises an important question. One that cuts deep into our world. If what you think, secretly, occasionally, deep down, is what you really are, than it makes sense to march you off to the re-education camp for a bit of a brain-scrub. Or to the current equivalent, "sensitivity training." I despise utterly that sort of totalitarian leftist malarky.

It's also good to keep in mind that great art is often created by twisted tormented halfway-to-sociopathic wretches. Who probably would stop creating if they were "well-adjusted." It's as common as can be to read the biography of some writer or musician you love and discover that he or she was a jerk in private life. I read a very interesting biography of Norman Rockwell, and was rather appalled to learn that, while he was in no sense a "bad" person, he was so consumed with his art that he was only peripherally aware of his family and friends. His sons commented that about the only time he played with them was when he was posing for some photographer, acting the part of a "regular all-American small-town dad."

Posted by John Weidner at 1:58 PM

Same story once again...

Dean Barnett, on the media, Same Old Story...

In the last three wars involving the Free World vs. the Terrorists, the media have described each war with the exact same pathetically off-base narrative. It goes something like this:

PART I: Panic. We’re stuck in a quagmire! The obstacles are insurmountable! Victory is unachievable....

PART II: Ignorant second guessing of military strategy. And I mean “ignorant” here in a strictly non-pejorative sense. The people who were saying America’s plan to eliminate the Taliban was hopeless didn’t have the vaguest familiarity with either military history or modern tactics....

PART III: Self flagellation. This is the ugliest part of the narrative. Here, the focus shifts entirely away from the depravities of the enemy, both those achieved and those intended, and moves exclusively on to the damage done by the forces of freedom. A war photographer begins every day at a Gaza morgue to record the death poses of slain Palestinians....

PART IV: Whoops! Afghanistan was supposed to be the burial ground of empires. Whoops! Saddam could not be toppled without fierce block-by-block street fighting, the kind that American forces couldn’t do well at. Whoops!

And now the narrative is that Israel is doing poorly with Hezbollah.....[I've condensed all this; he's got lots more details.]

I actually think that these are not "three wars," but rather three campaigns in the same war. We've made a mistake in allowing leftists to define our terms here. We've allowed them to say that we are in a "war with Iraq," as if this were something with no connection to 9/11 or the general WoT. Even that Iraq is a "distraction" from the War (though al Qaeda obviously doesn't think so).

Anyway, it is fascinating to watch the media treating Israel the same way they treat America. And entirely appropriate. Israel is us. They are the one other country that built itself, out of the raw material of refugees from European religious and economic and political oppression.

Leftists hate Israel for precisely the same reasons that they hate America. Both are symbols of Judeo-Christian and capitalist values cut loose from the control of traditional elites, and showing by their success and alive-ness just how utterly false those elite ideologies are.

And leftists instinctively side with Arabs, even the most vile and brutal terrorists, because they are symbolically (and of course in reality) trying to preserve old dead tyrannies against the vigor of Israel and America. and, to a lesser extant, the Anglosphere in general.

It was absolutely predictable that the same people who think America has reacted too strongly to 9/11 also say that Israel has reacted "disproportionately" to unprovoked attacks and thousands of rockets raining down on civilian areas.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:56 AM

August 2, 2006

I'm sure i don't know what to think about this...

Telegraph: Pregnant train passengers are to be issued with badges by Japanese rail firms so that other travellers know they should give up their seat.

The scheme is designed to solve the problem of men hesitating as they judge whether a woman is pregnant or merely overweight...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:29 PM

Melting down...

People are talking about this WaPo article, on the current Democrat meltdown...

Top Democrats are increasingly concerned that they lack an effective plan to turn out voters this fall, creating tension among party leaders and prompting House Democrats to launch a fundraising effort aimed exclusively at mobilizing Democratic partisans.

At a meeting last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) criticized Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean for not spending enough party resources on get-out-the-vote efforts in the most competitive House and Senate races, according to congressional aides who were briefed on the exchange. Pelosi -- echoing a complaint common among Democratic lawmakers and operatives -- has warned privately that Democrats are at risk of going into the November midterm elections with a voter-mobilization plan that is underfunded and inferior to the proven turnout machine run by national Republicans....

If you believe in the 70-Year Cycle in American politics, this sort of thing is only to be expected right now. But the cycle itself is an example of one of the most important human characteristics: We cling to ideas or schemes that have been successful in the past with extreme tenacity.

The Dems are failing over and over, but they can't re-think. Partly this happens in any failing organization because those who can re-think tend to leave. (Or are driven to the margins, like Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman.) So the views of the remainder become ever more concentrated and distilled.

Liberals are stuck in 1973, when everything they did appeared to work well. (Actually everything they did was propelling Ronald Reagan towards the White House, but they don't dare admit it to themselves.) Every campaign in the WoT is declared to be another Vietnamish quagmire. Every minor political scandal is sure to be the new Watergate, that will drive Republicans from the temple. Liberals portray Republicans in the same silly cartoonish way that they did Barry Goldwater. (Or even more outdated, weak, shabby and stupid, portray them as fascists and Nazis.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:38 AM

August 1, 2006


From Hugh Hewitt, who writes, "Clarity is a very, very good thing. Democratic majorities in either the House or the Senate will compel the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq whether or not the country's young government can survive such a withdrawal..." Clarity indeed. It's good that they are openly in favor of losing a critical campaign in the War. We know where they stand. (We always did, but simple folk have often been fooled by their twistyness.)

WaPo: After months of struggling to forge a unified stance on the Iraq war, top congressional Democrats joined voices yesterday to call on President Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. troops by the end of the year and to "transition to a more limited mission" in the war-torn nation.

With the midterm elections three months away, and Democrats seeing public discontent over Iraq as their best chance for retaking the House or Senate, a dozen key lawmakers told Bush in a letter: "In the interests of American national security, our troops and our taxpayers, the open-ended commitment in Iraq that you have embraced cannot and should not be sustained. . . . We need to take a new direction."...

Notice that that, other than cut-and-run, there is no "new direction." No plan, no vision, no philosophy, nothing proposed as a way to deal with Islamo-fascist terrorism. Not even the ghost of a clear statement of how they view the problem.

They never will come up with a plan or a vision. They can't. They are nihilists. They are empty of any compelling vision of something bigger than themselves; they only wish to feed their own ravenous little egos. To be a leftist is to be a nihilist. To be a "core Democrat" is to be a nihilist.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:54 AM

Another amazin' story you don't hear much about...

From a great article in City Journal (Thanks to Pepys)

New York City has shattered criminology’s central myth, but criminologists remain in denial. Policing, they still insist, can do little to lower crime. Economic inequality, demographic trends, changing drug-use patterns—these determine crime levels, they say, not police tactics. Nevertheless, since 1994, New York City has enjoyed a crime drop unmatched in the rest of the country—indeed, unparalleled in history—and only Gotham’s revolutionary style of policing can explain it. Yet rather than flooding the city to study this paradigm-breaking phenomenon, most criminologists are busy looking the other way.

The dimensions of New York’s crime rout are breathtaking. From 1990 to 2000, four of the seven major felonies—homicide, robbery, burglary, and auto theft—dropped over 70 percent. Crime fell across the country during this period, but in New York it plummeted at twice the national average. By 2000, New York’s crime profile looked more like that of a small suburb than a big city, notes University of California sociologist Frank Zimring, whose forthcoming The Great American Crime Decline is the only major study so far that acknowledges the significance of the city’s crime turnaround. Gotham’s homicide rate in 2000 was half that of the big-city average; its robbery rate, which started out 50 percent higher than that of other big cities in 1990, was 10 percent below the average.

The national crime decline flattened out as the new century began...Not New York. From 2000 to 2005, the city’s crime rate fell another 30 percent....

This is a long article, but every morsel is fascinating. I urge it upon you.

Oh, and also, there was a curious item in the first paragraph I quoted above. "...most criminologists are busy looking the other way." Why? Why do "experts" in gov. and academia not want to know? Read on to find what I think is the answer...[emphasis added.]

...The conclusion is unavoidable: policing is the most powerful tool that society possesses against crime. Since the 1960s, New York has spent billions on redistributionist social programs designed to eradicate both poverty and the dysfunctional behavior of the underclass. Yet by the 1990s, packs of feral youths roamed subways and parks, maiming and murdering. Thugs armed with military weaponry ruled whole neighborhoods. Today, thanks to the NYPD, those neighborhoods thrive with commerce and family life. Urban government does not possess the power to transform character or to uplift residents beyond what they’re willing to do for themselves, but it can provide the most important basis of civil society: security. And in so doing, New York policing has helped the poor more than decades of welfare programs ever did.

Should I explain this in words even a simpleton or a liberal can understand? Nahhh. If you have eyes, you will see. if not, not.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:41 AM