September 30, 2006

The real Crusaders...

To get some of the actual flavor of the Crusades, one might ignore the snivelers and hand-wringers(see previous post) and read the memoirs of Usāmah ibn-Munqidh, a Syrian diplomat and soldier of the 12th century. It is full of curious lore and history, and many chivalrous passages of arms, such as one in which Usāmah and a companion charge against eight Franks, and drive them off, and then are mortified when a solitary archer, safe upon a pinnacle, forces them to retreat with a shower of arrows...

Here's a sample...

Newly arrived Franks are especially rough: One insists that Usamah should pray eastward. — Everyone who is a fresh emigrant from the Frankish lands is ruder in character than those who have become acclimatized and have held long association with the Moslems. Here is an illustration of their rude character.

Whenever I visited Jerusalem I always entered the Aqsa Mosque, beside which stood a small mosque which the Franks had converted into a church. When I used to enter the Aqsa Mosque which was occupied by the Templars [al-dāwiyyah] who were my friends, the Templars would evacuate the little adjoining mosque so that I might pray in it. One day I entered this mosque, repeated the first formula, "Allah is great," and stood up in the act of praying, upon which one of the Franks rushed on me, got hold of me and turned my face eastward saying, "This is the way thou shouldst pray!" A group of Templars hastened to him, seized him and repelled him from me, I resumed my prayer. The same man, while the others were otherwise busy, rushed once more on me and turned my face eastward, saying, "This is the way thou shouldst pray!" The Templars again came in to him and expelled him.

They apologized to me, saying, "This is a stranger who has only recently arrived from the land of the Franks and he has never before seen anyone praying except eastward." Thereupon I said to myself, "I have had enough prayer." So I went out and have ever been surprised at the conduct of this devil of a man, at the change in the color of his face, his trembling and his sentiment at the sight of one praying towards the qiblah.

Another wants to show to a Moslem God as a child. — I saw one of the Franks come to al-Amir Mu'in-al-Din (may Allah's mercy rest upon his soul!) when he was in the Dome of the Rock and say to him, "Dost thou want to see God as a child?" Mu'in-al- Din said, "Yes." The Frank walked ahead of us until he showed us the picture of Mary with Christ (may peace be upon him!) as an infant in her lap. He then said, "This is God as a child." But Allah is exalted far above what the infidels say about him!

Franks lack jealousy in sex affairs. — The Franks are void of all zeal and jealousy. One of them may be walking along with his wife. He meets another man who takes the wife by the hand and steps aside to converse with her while the husband is standing on one side waiting for his wife to conclude the conversation. If she lingers too long for him, he leaves her alone with the conversant and goes away...[several examples follow]

...Consider now this great contradiction. They have neither jealousy nor zeal, but they have great courage, although courage is nothing but the product of zeal and of ambition to be above ill repute...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:24 AM

About those crusades..

This is from Al-Zawahri's latest rant:

....Al-Zawahri also called a U.N. resolution to send peacekeepers into Sudan's war-torn Darfur region a "Crusader plan" and implored the Muslims of Darfur to defend themselves.

"There is a Crusader plan to send Crusaders forces to Darfur that is about to become a new field of the Crusades war. Oh, nation of Islam, rise up to defend your land from the Crusaders aggression who are coming wearing United Nations masks," he said. "No one will defend you (Darfur) but a popular holy war."...

Now I don't know the history of the use of the word "Crusade" in the Islamic world, but I'll put my money on it's not being a big deal before the 20th Century. That is, before self-hating Western intellectuals started dwelling obsessively on our supposed sins. I think the Jihadis learned to denounce "Crusaders" from us.

Of course the basic idea is silly. The implication is that the Crusades were a version of modern European Imperialism, which is nonsense. And that they were a case of the strong attacking the peaceful weak—the opposite is true. (The Christians were only successful, temporarily, because of Muslim disunity.)

We are also expected to believe that the Crusades were somehow especially evil and murderous. But all the wars back then were barbaric by our standards. (The Normans were only a few generations removed from being actual barbarian tribesmen, of a group we call the Vikings.) The Crusaders were just treating other people the same way they treated each other.

And it's implied that the Crusades were unprovoked, but actually they would never have happened if the Muslims had just allowed pilgrims peaceful access to the Holy Land. And, most important of all, the Muslim Conquests were themselves "crusades." (And what does Al-Zawahri call for in the quote above? "...A popular holy war!" ) What should happen is that if any Muslim complains about the Crusades, Westerners should just laugh! We have nothing to be ashamed of, and, for pity's sake, the thing was 900 years ago!

My question is, as always, what is wrong with the soul of the West? What's wrong in the souls of all our limp-wristed professors and journalists and fake-pacifists, who were, you will recall, all so unified in denouncing Islamic homophobia and sexism, unified in denouncing the statue-destroying Taliban. Until the instant the West started to actually do something about these problems, when they all flipped into "anti-Crusader" mode. What IS this sickness?

Posted by John Weidner at 8:00 AM

September 28, 2006

Churros de Göteborg

LA Times...

...I wasn't fully prepared for the Swedish taco craze. For one thing, there don't seem to be too many Mexicans here.
You see, here — as in other parts of Europe — Mexican food was not brought over by Mexicans at all. Rather, it was introduced by American TV shows and movies. That explains why there's a "Gringo Special" on the menu at the Taco Bar, a Swedish fast-food chain, and why nearly all the Mexican products in the grocery stores — "Taco Sauce," "Taco Spice Mix" and "Guacamole Dip" — are labeled in English....

My question is, remember those flakizoids who were steamed because KFC might be heading for Baghdad...what do they think about this?

For myself, I confess that, free-trader though I am, there's a little anti-globo inside of me saying, "Wait! Who's in charge here? Shouldn't something be done to stop this??"

Posted by John Weidner at 11:11 AM

"war on terror causes terrorists”...and Bushes, Blairs and Howards...

I like this morsel that Charlene spotted at Gates of Vienna....

…we should not be surprised when liberals take things out of context and distort reality to fit their perceptions. For them to say “the war on terror causes terrorists” is simply a cherished assumption dressed up as a conclusion. If you give it a moment’s thought, their whole world view is just so stupid. Would they ever report that terrorists are the cause of the American military that liberals so despise, and that if terrorists would only appease America, our military would stop trying to harm them? Or that Islamo-nazis have to stop their unwinnable war on the west, because it will only create more George Bushes and Tony Blairs and John Howards?

Or that they themselves must stop mindlessly attacking conservatives, because it will just make us stronger?

Personally, I hope they never figure out that last one...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:57 AM

Good way to start the day...

Here's a link to video of the joint press conference of President Bush and President Karzai. It's well worth watching how men deal with ankle-biting pygmies. (Charlene found it at the Anchoress, and we are listening to it right now.)

Karzai's dignity and eloquence are very very impressive. As is his politely-supressed amazement that he has to tell American journalists about the incredible heroism and decency of American soldiers!

I recommend it most highly.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:40 AM

Who would have dreamed...

A new poll of Iraqis shows that al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden are rejected by overwhelming majorities of Shias and Kurds and large majorities of Sunnis.

Shias have mildly positive views of Iran and its President, while Kurds and Sunnis have strongly negative views. Shias and Kurds have mostly negative views of Syria, while Sunnis are mildly positive. Shias have overwhelmingly positive views of Hezbollah, while Kurds and Sunnis have negative views.

The poll was conducted for WorldPublicOpinion.org by conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and was fielded by KA Research Ltd. / D3 Systems, Inc. Polling was conducted September 1-4 with a nationwide representative sample of 1,150 Iraqi adults.

It may be easy to assume that as the Iraqi people become more supportive of attacks on US-led forces (see LINK TO WPO ARTICLE 1), they may grow warmer toward al Qaeda—the probable source of a significant number of attacks on US forces. However, this does not appear to be the case. Al Qaeda is exceedingly unpopular among the Iraqi people.

Overall 94 percent have an unfavorable view of al Qaeda, with 82 percent expressing a very unfavorable view.....
(LINK. Thanks to Orrin)

Who would have thought, who would have dreamed five years ago that we would be scrying the tea-leaves of opinion polls taken right in the very heart of the Arab World! Taking them seriously!

This is a stupefying fact, and what is even more astonishing is that we live in an age where it can just be taken for granted. (Reason #1826 why Leftists discourage the study of history.) FDR led us in similar transformations of Japan and Germany and Italy, but at the hideous cost of hundreds of thousands of deaths—millions if you include the other side—and cities turned to ash and rubble as far as the eye could see.

George W Bush does the same thing at a trifling cost (Yeah, yeah, call me insensitive. But our Iraq combat death rate is not much higher than our usual non-combat death rate for our military as a whole. And minor compared to 40,000 Americans dying each year in automobile accident.)

And FDR left millions of hungry children picking through oceans of rubble for scraps, and forced tens of thousands of their mothers into prostitution to feed them, or themselves. And he's called a hero!

President Bush is excoriated because he didn't fix Iraq's sewers fast enough!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:29 AM

September 27, 2006

Thank you, President Karzai...

From the joint press conference of President Bush and President Karzai...

FoxNews....The president rejected claims that the U.S. presence in Iraq has increased terror threats, saying the United States wasn't in Iraq when America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001; or when the USS Cole was hit; or when the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed.

"If we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse because they have ambitions. They kill to achieve their objectives," Bush said. "The best way to protect America is to defeat these killers overseas so we don't have to face them at home."

Karzai, whose country is facing an increase in terror after the Taliban were defeated in late 2001, interjected to offer a similar plea.

"Terrorism was hurting us way before Iraq or September 11 ... These extremist forces were killing people in Afghanistan for years, closing schools, burning mosques, killing children, uprooting vineyards," Karzai said. "They came to America on September 11, but they were attacking you before September 11 in other parts of the world. We are a witness in Afghanistan.

"Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor or 70th floor when the planes hit them? Can you imagine what it will be for a man or woman to jump from that high?" Karzai asked recalling some of the more shocking scenes from the World Trade Center bombing. "How do we get rid of them? ... Should we wait for them to come and kill us again?"....

Of course they forget 9/11. They don't just forget, they have made a heroic effort to expunge it from their own memories, and everybody else's.

And anyway, the attitude that one should only do that which minimizes danger is suicidal in war, and is likely to increase our danger over the long run. Especially in anti-guerilla/terrorist warfare. That's not bravado, or jingoism, it's just what history teaches. In fact, it's that attitude that CAUSED this war.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:01 PM

Thank you, New York Times...

The criminal and treasonous publication by the NYT of classified information in the NIE has backfired on them in a delightful way. The report has been declassified. It was obviously cribbed from Random Jottings...

"If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives."

Remember that the next time somebody tells you we are in Irag "for no reason."

The "journalistic" goal of the NYT and rest of the Gasping Media is to promote appeasement, lefty nihilism, and the election of Democrats. (Yes, that's redundant.) So, don't expect them to make much of this:

Greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit. Over time, such progress, together with sustained, multifaceted programs targeting the vulnerabilities of the jihadist movement and continued pressure on al-Qa’ida, could erode support for the jihadists.

Like I was sayin'.

The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

Well, duh. I can just see those expense-account Johnnies meeting in fine restaurants with their laptops, and translating RJ into bureaucratese with the aid of Cognac and cigars. They could've at least invited me!

If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives. Nonetheless, attendant reforms and potentially destabilizing transitions will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit...

The above is my first quote, with its second sentence added. It should be digested by those conservatives of the PowerLine or NRO stripe who declare democracy a failed policy the instant it fails to produce instant gratification. Democracy is messy, and is a long-term answer, not a short-term remedy.

Other affiliated Sunni extremist organizations, such as Jemaah Islamiya, Ansar al- Sunnah, and several North African groups, unless countered, are likely to expand their reach and become more capable of multiple and/or mass-casualty attacks outside their traditional areas of operation...

That's for the fatheads who keep implying that we are only in a war against al Qaeda, and anything else we do is a "distraction."

CBRN capabilities will continue to be sought by jihadist groups...

But of course a pre-emptive attack would be wicked. Our Christian duty is to supinely wait until we are nuked. (Then go to the UN for permission to act.)

And there's something else, that's conspicuous here, by its absence. There is no Leftist plan (or Isolationist plan, or Realist plan) to be held up and contrasted with the Bush Administration's vision. They have no plan. They are empty men. Nihilism equals paralysis.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:29 AM

September 26, 2006

"not the harbinger of disaster that the Times and WaPo would have us believe..."

This is worth reading...

Yesterday, we noted that the MSM (along with their fellow travelers in the intel community), had apparently "cherry-picked" information from a recent National Intelligence Estimate, making their case that the Bush Administration's War on Terror had actually made the problem worse. In closing, we observed that if the NIE was that biased, it represented a grave disservice to both the community and the nation.

Thankfully, the actual NIE is not the harbinger of disaster that the Times and WaPo would have us believe. According to members of the intel community who have seen the document, the NIE is actually fair and balanced (to coin a phrase), noting both successes and failures in the War on Terror--and identifying potential points of failure for the jihadists. The quotes printed below--taken directly from the document and provided to this blogger--provide "the other side" of the estimate, and its more balanced assessment of where we stand in the War on Terror (comments in italics are mine)....
(Thanks to PowerLine)

Philosophically, by the way, I think that the fact that mistakes have been made is good. A good sign. This War on Terror is a new thing, and the only way to learn how to fight it is is to jump in and try, and make lots of "mistakes." And the only way to avoid making mistakes is inactivity. Clintonism.

Actually, I am oversimplifying. You need to "jump in and try things," but within the context of a correct basic understanding of what it is you are trying to do. You need to have a compass heading to follow, before you start thrashing through the sticker patch.

I support the Administration in the War not because I think they don't make mistakes, but because I agree with their compass heading. And the contempt I feel for President Bush's liberal opponents is huge, not because I think they would necessarily make more "mistakes" if they were in charge, but because they have no compass.

They have never made a philosophical case for a different Grand Strategy. Without that, to continually oppose and hinder our elected leadership means they are not a "loyal opposition." They are just treasonous ankle-biters.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:25 AM

September 25, 2006

Society for the Prevention of Annoyances to the Rich...

Debra Saunders: Limousine liberals, move over. You've been out-glammed by Lear Jet liberals who burn beaucoup fossil fuels in the sky as they soar across the globe fighting global warming.

Last week, they flew to their Mecca, the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York. For the left-leaning and loaded, this is the meet that has it all -- the mega-rich paying to be seen caring about poor people and the environment, while posing for photos with former President Clinton....

But you know, this stuff really isn't new. I've been reading a most charming book, Belloc's Path To Rome, about a pilgrimage he made somewhere around the year 1900, on foot, from France, over the Alps and down Italy to Rome. I noted this line with great pleasure...

...I went with him to the Society for the Prevention of Annoyances to the Rich, where a certain usurer's son was to read a paper on the cruelty of Spaniards to their mules... (p. 154)
Doesn't that just capture most of the lefty causes and Bike-Path Liberals that burden the world today?

Belloc portrait by Zach Brissett
(Sketch by Zach Brissett)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:01 AM

"Administer the empire by engaging in no activity...."

Roger Simon...

...Perhaps this has all been a conspiracy to once again elevate the reputation of Karl Rove. I was always something of a skeptic msyelf - I mean what's the big deal? It's only politics, not, as they say, rocket science. But I think the Rovester really does have a secret and that is just to do nothing - a kind of Zen meets Hippocrates approach to political game playing. ("First do no harm, Bodhidharma.") If you wait long enough, all your enemies will come crashing down around you from their own energy.

The Plame Affair was an interesting example. Rove just sat there with barely a response as his opponents (great truth-seeking journalistic Children of Watergate) filled nearly every issue of Newsweek with Talmudic analyses of this non-event, projecting the writers' own paranoid fantasies and agression on an object that clearly did not exist....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:20 AM

Pay back....

Associated Press.BAGHDAD, Iraq A leader of Ansar al-Sunnah, a group linked to al-Qaida in Iraq that responsible for kidnappings and beheadings, has been captured by Iraqi and U.S. forces, the prime minister's office said Saturday.

Muntasir Hamoud Ileiwi al-Jubouri and two of his aides were arrested in Muqdadiyah, 90 kilometers (56 miles) northeast of Baghdad late Friday, Brig. Qassim al-Mussawi, spokesman for the General Command of the Armed Forces, told The Associated Press....

...The Sunni militant group has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide attacks, the August 2004 execution of 12 Nepalese hostages and a December 2004 explosion at a U.S. military mess hall in Mosul that killed 22 people. Believed to have been an offshoot of another group, Ansar Al-Islam....(Thanks to Dean)

Good news of course. Lots of thoughts come to mind (all of which you've heard before.) One of the reasons for the Iraq Campaign was to make Iraq an ally in the War on Terror. Well, we can see that. My guess is that most people of the Islamic world are our allies, but just haven't realized it yet. They don't want to be ruled by Talibs, or by brutes like Saddam. But it will take them a while to realize it.

And we notice once again terrorists being called "militants" by their fawning pals in our vile press, may Allah the Merciful and Compassionate pull the beards from their cheeks.

And this by the way is revenge. This is vengeance against murderers and war criminals, and we can and should enjoy it. Celebrate it. Hey, you Democrats out there, let's hear how pleased and proud you are that you country and its ally have won a victory!
.
.
.
.
.
.
Well, maybe tomorrow we will hear from them.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:11 AM

September 24, 2006

the mirrors, still dizzy with you...

    BELOVED, LOST TO BEGIN WITH

Beloved,
lost to begin with, never greeted,
I do not know what tones most please you.
No more when the future's wave hangs poised is it you
I try to discern there. All the greatest
images in me, far-off experienced landscape,
towers and towns and bridges and unsuspected
turns of the way,
and the power of those lands once intertwined
with the life of the gods:
mount up within me to mean
you, who forever elude.

Oh, you are the gardens!
Oh, with such yearning
hope I watched them! An open window
in a country house, and you almost stepped out
thoughtfully to meet me. Streets I discovered,—
you had just walked down them,
and sometimes in dealers' shops the mirrors,
still dizzy with you, returned with a stare
my too-sudden image.— Who knows whether the
self-same bird didn't ring through each of us,
separately, yesterday evening?

    -- Rainer Maria Rilke
Posted by John Weidner at 6:11 AM

September 23, 2006

The most important story of the day...

Yesterday, sort of out of the blue, Charlene said, "After this election, I think we are going to go to war with Iran." (I agree, although the situation may well be resolved with lesser pressures; blockades or sanctions or some such.)

Then I encountered this post. by Rick Richman at Jewish Current Issues, about Bolton's speech (un-reported, of course, by our fake news media). He's got the speech, and it's worth reading, but especially interesting is Richman's conclusion...

...When the Head of State (directly or through his authorized representatives) says to another nation that its possession of nuclear weapons is “unacceptable,” the use of that word is (as I’ve noted here and here) significant in itself.

But more than that: you don’t say that word repeatedly; you don’t explain that its meaning is self-explanatory; you don’t present it without qualifiers or adjectives or modifiers; you don’t have it said officially (on the same day) by your Secretary of State, UN Ambassador and White House spokesperson; you don’t have it repeated later by your Vice President; and finally, you don’t re-emphasize it on the steps of the United Nations, to a crowd of tens of thousands, with the head of state of Iran in the building behind you -- you don’t do all that and then accept an Iranian nuclear weapon.

There may be various tactics in pursuit of your strategy, pursued in successive stages. But having said that word repeatedly, one thing you cannot possibly do -- not simply because of your regard for your reputation, or your place in history, or even simply because of your concern for the credibility of American diplomacy in the future, but rather because you know that, in fact, the problem is a threat to the whole world -- is leave office with it unhandled.

If it is unacceptable, you don’t go home and accept it. And one thing we have learned in the last six years is that George W. Bush means what he says.

The message Wednesday was undoubtedly meant not only for the crowd, but -- since it was delivered in a highly visible public forum by an important official of the United States -- for Iran. By choosing not to cover it, the MSM not only violated basic principles of journalism (and the NYT its own credo), but missed the most important story of the day.

George W Bush is not a Clinton, to kick this problem down the road, or hope it just goes away. He's a man, and he won't shirk the duty. I predict it. Unlike cowardly lefty-bloggers, I'm not afraid to make a prediction or take a position that I can be held to.

And I predict that the Democrats, and the "pacifists," the UN, the terrorists, the EU, China and Russia will all be working against us and trying to preserve the Mullahs in power. An Axis of Appeasers, with a mighty weapon: Ankle Biting! That's about even odds. Bring 'em on..

And I will note (and keep noting it to the point of tiresomeness, but hey, it's my blog) that this isn't going to be a "war" in any traditional meaning of the word. We have no quarrel with the nation or the people of Iran. In fact we are in tacit alliance with them, to remove the blood-sucking tyranny that battens upon them. Operations like this, or the Iraq Campaign, are really like campaigns against robber bands in olden times. There is no reason for "anti-war" activists to break out the giant puppets, except what is for them the most important reason, which is that they hate America, and the freedom and peace of which we are the symbol and the reality. If the Iranian government were murdering hundreds-of-thousands of its own people, like Saddam was, the "pacifists" would be supporting that internal war exactly the same way they supported Saddam's internal war.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:07 PM

Serious implications...

Ed Lasky has written a excellent and detailed piece on the rise of anti-Semitism in the Democrat Party. Worth a read. Worth two reads if you are Jewish and still vote Democrat.

...Developments in the Democratic Party bode ill for the Jewish people and for the state of Israel – home of up to 40% of the world’s remaining Jewish population. The rank and file of the Party has become increasingly anti-Semitic and support for Israel has noticeably fallen. Democratic Congressmen have reflected this trend in very visible ways: their votes and actions in Congress reveal that support for Israel has eroded in alarming ways. Furthermore, more than a few Democratic Congressman have openly made statements that are either clearly anti-Semitic or can be fairly construed to be at least, “anti-Semitic in effect, if not intent”.

These disconcerting trends can be observed by a bottom-up approach: looking at the grassroots base of the Democratic Party, how these views are expressed in Congress, and how the Democratic leadership has responded to these developments. Since the House of Representatives appears to be headed toward a Democratic majority and certain key Chairmanships will fall into the hands of Democrats with anti-Israel histories, these trends will have very serious implications for Jews and for the state of Israel....

Well, I don't think we are heading for any Democrat majorities. But still I think this news is bad.

Or maybe good. Jew-hatred is often found in old dying elites. And that certainly characterizes many of the anti-Semites around today, whether Democrat Party, Euro-Socialists, academics, journalists, or Muslim despots. (and it's no coincidence the way these groups are allied.) and if these groups are dying, it's good news for the rest of us.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:00 PM

and one from Polish Radio...

Pajamas Media:

Given the tsunami of news coming out of Iraq in the papers and on television, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the media organizations of the world must have a battalion or more of reporters assigned to cover the war. But if you guessed “one or two battalions,” you’d be far off the mark. If you guessed “several squads” you’d still be wrong....

....If you guessed 9 reporters, you guessed right.
Here’s the chart (CLICK HERE TO VIEW) showing who the nine embedded reporters were covering all of Iraq on 9/19/2006. You’ll see that of those 9 reporters, 3 were from the Armed Forces’ Stars & Stripes, 1 from AFN (Armed Force Network), 1 from the Charlotte Observer, 1 from the BBC, 1 from the AP, 1 from RAI, and 1 from Polish Radio. All the rest of the “coverage” of the Iraq war on that day came from reporters hunkered down in the hotels and other locations under the rubric “Baghdad News Bureaus.”...

Being embedded is VERY dangerous. Not especially physically dangerous, but something much worse--dangerous to the lefty world-views and hate-America Bobo prejudices of the reporters.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:00 AM

September 22, 2006

Keep this in mind..

Mohammed at Iraq The Model:

...Anyway, it looks like the reaction of Muslims were not as violent or as bloody as the leaders wished them to be and that's why they're now provoking and yelling at the "sleeping" masses and pushing them to show more fury.

They want to add another big scene to the countless previous ones—angry mobs burning flags and pledging to destroy the "infidels".

Actually their latest calls for MORE ANGER are becoming pretty much like begging. Iran thinks the Muslim people fell short of doing their duty and Qaradawi calls Muslims to have a "day of fury".

All these are theatrical acts directed by governments and corrupt clerics seeking controlled anger among the mobs to use in intimidating the west and discouraging it from applying more pressure on, or calling for changing, these tyrannical regimes....[emph. added]

Whatever the reality of Islam may be, it is stupid to think that what's publicly displayed by the news media is the reality. (That isn't even true here--35,000 people demonstrated against Iran in NY on Wednesday, and it was almost totally unreported by the "news" media.)

The tyrants and terrorists of the Islamic world are trying to paint a certain picture, because the thing they fear most is having Condalezza Rice come knockin' at the door, come to talk about elections and reforms.

And they are closely allied with our own corrupt would-be elites---Democrats, journalists, pacifists, liberals---who have their own empires of nihilism to protect. Arab despots and pony-tailed professors hate and fear George W Bush for exactly the same reason. Because he is both the symbol and the reality of the tides of change that are lapping at their sandcastles.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:20 AM

Because you are not golden enough...

Pedro wrote yesterday, in a comment here, "...but consider: Communism, the great killer of the 20th century, is dead. Once the Jihadists have been vanquished - a twenty year task, but we shall prevail - I think the main enemy of Man will be the militant humanity-hating greens. And once we're through with them, paradise. I'm very optimistic long term. The Golden Age is at hand...

My, response was:

Sorry Pedro, I'd love to agree, and I used to rather agree, but lately I just can't. I more and more find myself in agreement with Henri de Lubac, who said that the evils of the 20th Century: Communism, Socialism and fascist Socialism (and their new imitator, Jihadism) are ALL products of the project he labeled "Atheistic Humanism." Which is to say, trying to create paradise without the help of God.

We've repented of Hitlerism, and (very half-heartedly) of Communism, but the underlying error is still very much the "religion" of our times. So I expect that things are going to get worse. And that the "worse" may well be ever more subtle and disguised, and may look rather like a "golden age," unless you happen to be one of the victims who is expendable because you are not golden enough.

Solzenhitzyn wrote that the borderline between good and evil runs through every human heart. I think he nailed it...

As if to give me a bit of confirmation, this morning there's this (Thanks to Orrin)

BRITONS suffering from depression could soon be legally helped to die in Switzerland if a test case in the country’s Supreme Court is successful next month.

Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas, the Zurich-based organisation that has helped 54 Britons to die, revealed yesterday that his group was seeking to overturn the Swiss law that allows them to assist only people with a terminal illness.

In his first visit to the country since setting up Dignitas, the lawyer blamed religion for stigmatising suicide, attacking this “stupid ecclesiastical superstition” and said that he believed assisted suicide should be open to everyone.

“We should see in principle suicide as a marvellous possibility given to human beings because they have a conscience . . . If you accept the idea of personal autonomy, you can’t make conditions that only terminally ill people should have this right,” he told a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton.

“We should accept generally the right of a human being to say, ‘Right, I would like to end my life’, without any pre-condition, as long as this person has capacity of discernment.”....

I could fisk this in a dozen different ways, but if you can't see it yourself, you won't with my help....

* Update: By the way, I'd LOVE to be proved wrong in all this. Make my day; demolish my arguments!

Posted by John Weidner at 7:41 AM

September 20, 2006

"Near-despairing expedients to fill the aching void..."

Wretchard, referring to the speech of the Pope, plus statements by Cardinal Pell and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey. (And contrasting these with the ludicrous attempt by ABC News to "explain away" the Muslim term "Day of Rage.")...

...How has it happened that the most unlikely persons are speaking on what is apparently the most volatile of subjects? It is doubly surprising because there is a powerful reluctance within the organizational culture of Christian churches to voice any criticism of another religion. The statements by Pope Benedict XVI, Lord Carey and Cardinal Pell are really near-despairing expedients to fill the aching void left by Western cultural and political leaders -- a vacuum which has emboldened militant Islamic preachers to cross boundaries they would have respected until recently.

This erasure of cultural borders caused by the near total desertion of the frontier by the so-called opinion-leaders has invited the most reckless elements of Islam across and raised the risk of real clash of civilizations. As Lord Carey put it: "We are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times". It is a time made perilous not only by the absence of moderate voices within Islam but by the even more conspicuous absence of any leadership among Western politicians.

It is a failure which will sooner or later lead to what military historians call a "meeting engagement" in which two forces, each possessed of its own momentum, blunder into each other with catastrophic results. A false kind of tolerance has abolished the fence between the piggery and mosque, the adult video store and the cathedral, the flaming match and the stick of dynamite and called it progress. It is no such thing. It is called stupidity.

"...the near total desertion of the frontier by the so-called opinion-leaders." Exactly so. There are TWO problems facing us. One is Islamic radicalism, and the other is the vacuum in the soul of the nominally-Christian West. And I think number two is a bigger problem by orders of magnitude. "...a vacuum which has emboldened militant Islamic preachers to cross boundaries they would have respected until recently."

We are drawing them forth. We are
emboldening and empowering the worst elements of Islam, by rewarding their bad behavior. (Instead of doing what we should have done, which was to squash them a long time ago--that would have been the path of peace. But you can't act unless you believe, and the hollow men do not.)

There's
always going to be crazy evil in the world. If the entirety of Islam vanished tomorrow, there would soon be some new strain of bacterium emerging from some slime bog somewhere. And if, as I would expect, the forces of order and civilization cringe away from it, then there will be a new global threat.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:45 PM

clarity = beauty

BusinssWeek has a good piece on Apple VP for Industrial Design Jonathan Ive...

....Ive had his own ideas from the start. Born in a middle-class London neighborhood, he was consumed with the mystery of how things are made by his early teens. Upon enrolling in the design program at Newcastle Polytechnic in 1985, his talent and drive quickly became obvious. During an internship with design consultancy Roberts Weaver Group, he created a pen that had a ball and clip mechanism on top, for no purpose other than to give the owner something to fiddle with. "It immediately became the owner's prize possession, something you always wanted to play with," recalls Grinyer, a Roberts Weaver staffer at the time. "We began to call it 'having Jony-ness,' an extra something that would tap into the product's underlying emotion."

By the time he graduated, Ive was already something of a legend in British design circles. Grinyer visited him once in his flat in the very tough Gateshead section of Newcastle and was shocked to find it filled to the rafters with hundreds of foam models of Ive's final project, a microphone and hearing aid combo that teachers could use to communicate better with kids with hearing problems (not surprisingly, in white plastic). "I'd never seen anything like it: The sheer focus to get it perfect," recalls Grinyer....

One rarely hears about Ive, and I'd guess that's just how he wants it. He's a real artist, and it's not about him-- the work is its own reward.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:42 AM

It's just negative greed...

Drop in gasoline prices signals drop in greed?

Stop the presses. Alert the clergy. Tell charitable fund-raisers everywhere to get busy.

Altruism is breaking out all over. Greed is on the run!

This must be true, because why else would gasoline prices have dropped more than half a buck in the last month alone?

According to the latest surveys, pump prices in the Philadelphia region averaged $2.69 this week. That's down from $3.17 per gallon in early August.

How to explain such a reversal? For the millions of Americans who reject the idea of supply and demand, this is going to be a challenge....

No problem. Gravity brings prices down, greedy oil companies raise them...

(From Philadelphia Inquirer. Thanks to Orrin)

Posted by John Weidner at 5:52 AM

September 19, 2006

"Something important had happened..."

I don't have time, alas, to comment sensibly on the Pope's Regensberg lecture, or even read it with proper attention. Too much work (which is good!) Amy has some great round-ups of reactions. I recommend this article, by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J....

On September 12, on his visit to his native Bavaria, Benedict XVI gave a formal academic lecture at the University at which he formerly was a professor. It is a brilliant, stunning lecture, and it is a lecture, not a papal pronouncement. It brings into focus just why there is a papacy and why Catholicism is an intellectual religion. Indeed, it is a lecture on why reason is reason and what this means. The scope of this lecture is simply breathtaking, but also intelligible to the ordinary mind. In watching my computer and listening to various colleagues the day after this address was given, I felt a kind of hush in the air. Something important had happened, something more than the ordinary went on in Regensburg, something that was addressed to the heart of modernism but also to Islam, our current enigma....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:36 AM

September 18, 2006

Political, not judicial

Harold Sutton sent me a link to a piece in OpinionJournal. (And that was a ten days ago, and you've probably all already read and digested it and moved on.) It's on the lunacy of Hamdan, and why the founders did not intend for the judiciary to be involved in national defense...

...However patently central it is to a good society, the judicial function remains largely irrelevant to the international order. For all the blather about our "international community," it is an ersatz community, lying beyond our laws and democratic choices. Unlike dreamy modern internationalists, the Framers well understood that broad swaths of this "community"--enemies of the United States--would always pose threats, some existential, to the body politic.

Such threats are not legal problems. They do not principally involve Americans being deprived of their legal entitlements by their government--the cases and controversies judicial power was designed to resolve. They are clashes between the American national community and the outside world. They are the stuff of political power--diplomacy, force, and all the intermediate measures wielded by the political branches. The judicial power has no place because American courts are part and parcel of the American national community; they do not exist outside or above it....

The Hamdan decision is just another example of the sickness of our civilization. Hamdan rests on the supposition that there is something wrong with our defending ourselves. That if we are attacked by crazed killers, we should examine ourselves, and find ways to be more meek and humble. (And this has not the slightest connection to Christian humility. In fact it is profoundly anti-Christian.)

No. We are right, they are wrong. We are the good guys, and they are the bad guys. It is our duty to take off the gloves and fight as hard as we can. And win. And it is the duty of the Executive branch to do the job, and the duty of Congress to authorize, oversee and critique the work, and vote the funds.

The President is elected by ALL the people. If the people do not like the way he is running foreign policy, they can vote him out, as they have done many times in the past. Federal judges are not elected, and are almost impossible to remove. That privileged position rests on the assumption that they should confine themselves to a narrow role addressing specific cases, and not act as legislators or presidents. And alas, our history of the last half century is full of examples of them doing just that, mostly as a way to enact liberal legislation and social policies by fiat which would never be approved by the voters.

That's a sickness, and now the sickness has spread to enacting leftist foreign policy, a policy of appeasement, weakness and self-hatred. I think the President should have told the Court to take a hike, that Mr Hamdan's concerns are none of its business, and the decision was NULL because it infringes the Executive Branch's role as specified in our constitution. That was not a political possiblility, so we all need to vote Republican, and make sure sane judges are put on the bench in the future.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:17 AM

September 17, 2006

Some blog graphics...

I made a couple of sidebar gizmos, feel free to use them...

B-16, Faith and Reason are not antonyms

Faith and Reason2

"...But, as a matter of fact, another part of my trade, too, made me sure you were not a priest.'

'What?' asked the thief, almost gaping.

'You attacked reason,' said Father Brown. 'It's bad theology.'


From
The Blue Cross, in The Innocence of Father Brown, by GK Chesterton.
Posted by John Weidner at 7:57 PM

"There's really only one Christian power left in the world"

Ron Coleman, at Deans World, gets something exactly right...

...Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted the pope apologize to the Muslim world, saying he had spoken "not like a man of religion but like a usual politician."

...Erdogan has actually got it exactly backwards. What the Pope was said was consistent with his being the leader of the Roman Catholic church; what they want him to say is the usual political pap. Of course, Erdogan himself, a moderate chap, is looking over his own shoulder at the suicide belt crowd. He's got little choice; he was probably already in hot water with those cats over a papal visit to Turkey. Now his back is to the wall.

Pity Rome. There's really only one Christian power left in the world, though it isn't a Catholic one. And that one is already at war with these perpetually "raging" charmers, having gotten precious little support from the world's tiniest, and also its largest, state. It is hard to imagine the Pope staying the course on this one, but so far, he has...

The Vatican changes only verrrry slowly. And that's a good thing. And it can't take sides in a war of course. But things are obviously changing, and the Regensberg speech was, I think, calculated to a nicety to open a few minds that are still capable of opening, and also to change the position of some of the pieces on the board.

It's true that the Holy See hasn't given us much encouragement so far in the War on Terror. But if it just happens to be under attack by Islamic savages and the nihilist press and lefty appeasers everywhere, well....it may find itself on the side of the good guys de facto.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:19 PM

"A chance meeting, as we say in Middle Earth"

... When we talk of our development I fancy we mean little more than that we have changed with the changing world; and if we are writers or intellectuals, that our ideas have changed with the changing fashions of thought, and therefore not always for the better. I think that if any of us examines his life, he will find that most good has come to him from the few loyalties, and a few discoveries made many generations before he was born, which must always be made anew.

These too may sometimes appear to come by chance, but in the infinite web of things and events chance must be something different from what we think it to be. To comprehend that is not given to us, and to think of it is to recognize a mystery, and to acknowledge the necessity of faith. As I look back on the part of the mystery which is my own life, my own fable, what I am most aware of is that we receive more than we can ever give; we receive it from the past, on which we draw with every breath, but also—and this is a point of faith—from the Source of the mystery itself, by the means which religious people call Grace.

-- Edwin Muir
Posted by John Weidner at 7:10 AM

"...or the malice was intended"

David Warren writes an excellent piece on the press coverage of the Pope's Regensburg speech...

...This was not a crude anti-Islamic polemic; nor was it so at the end of the 14th century. It was a quest for peace and amity, then as now.

By turning the story back-to-front, so that what’s promised in the lead -- a crude attack on Islam -- is quietly withdrawn much later in the text, the BBC journalists were having a little mischief. The kind of mischief that is likely to end with Catholic priests and faithful butchered around the Muslim world. Either the writers were so jaw-droppingly ignorant, they did not realize this is what they were abetting (always a possibility with the postmodern journalist), or the malice was intended. There is no third possibility.

From the start, the BBC’s reports said the Pope would “face criticism from Muslim leaders” -- in the present tense. This is a form of dishonesty that has become common in journalism today. The flagrantly biased reporter, feigning objectivity, spices his story by just guessing what a man’s enemies will say, even before they have spoken.

While I don’t mean to pick especially on the BBC, when other mainstream media are often as culpable, they are worth singling out here to show the amount of sheer, murderous evil of which this taxpayer-funded network is capable...

"sheer, murderous evil..." Yes.

And it should be kept in mind that we of the West are teaching the Islamic fanatics to react the way they have. By our various apologies in the past for things like the Danish cartoons, we have rewarded angry mobs burning this or that. Even when we are in the wrong, we should never apologize in reaction to unreasoning violence.

In fact, the very first violent Islamic mob (within Western lands) should have had its leaders publicly hanged. [Well, OK, maybe pardon them after they've had a good scare.] That would have been the path of peace. Instead, the self-loathing appeasers and pacifists have been running things, and the result is murderous violence, and the destruction of civilized discourse, with lots more to come.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:00 AM

September 16, 2006

Left by the side of the road...

Orrin Judd, on this piece by Jonah Goldberg, and on other writings of the NRO gang:

...The neocons and libertarians have never quite gotten a grasp on how little their concerns matter to the conservative party, which nominated and elected George W. Bush, largely over their objections, to cut taxes, move the country to the Right on moral/social issues, and implement Third Way entitlement reforms that would maintain (indeed increase) the size of government but transfer responsibility for the money government collects from bureaucrats to citizens.

They're so bent on pie in the sky that they're unaware of the tectonic shifts beneath their feet, from public school vouchers to free trade to HSAs to civil service reform to the special relationship with India to retirement reform to the Faith-Based Initiative to stem cell research limits to the sunset commission to federal income tax revenues hitting their lowest level since 1950 and so on. Not all have required major congressional action and the entire agenda hasn't been enacted--SS privatization, for instance, requires more GOP senators, not fewer--but the revolution is much further along than anyone would have dreamt possible in January 2001...
.

I'd say that's about right. I am, in my sympathies, a small-government conservative myself, but it's folly to imagine that that idea is ever going anywhere. It never happens. Whereas there are Bush clones winning elections all over the globe. There's even one running neck-and-neck for Prime Minister of Sweden, for pity's sake!

We subscribe to National Review, but I hardly read it or NRO anymore. It's boring. Jonah and Co. are almost as much in the bypassed-by-history class as leftists are.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:47 AM

Important safety tip

It is possible for a light fixture to be "hot," even when its switch is off, and the lamp is not lit. This is because you can wire the fixture so that the switch turns the light off by interrupting the hot wire (correct) or by interrupting the grounded wire (bad thing, but not unknown, especially in older houses). The grounded wire is "downstream" from the light fixture.

This morning a bulb broke off, leaving its its base in one of our kitchen lights. I did the right thing, and tested it before poking my pliers in. Good move, John! You earned your pay today. It was hot.

When in doubt, just turn the circuit-breaker off...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:29 AM

Obscene

Tigerhawk, on the controversy around the Pope...

...Predictably, the greatest beneficiaries of the Western enlightenment blamed reason, the true victim of Muslim rage through the ages. The editors of The New York Times said this morning, to the eternal discredit of that once great paper, that
[t]he world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal.
This is obscene. Apart from its factual inaccuracy -- there is no evidence that any of the enraged Muslims "listened carefully" to the words of the pope -- this is like blaming a beaten wife for provoking the bastard who throttles her. It is the leaders of prayers in the mosques of the Muslim world who call on their faithful to riot in the streets. It is they who sow pain and incite violence, and anybody unburdened by a loathing of Western civilization knows it. Pope Benedict has nothing to apologize for...

This is a stunning example Western self-loathing. And if the NYT had themselves "listened carefully to the words of the Pope," they would have noticed that the churches of unreason he criticizes include the one that has its American "vatican" in the NYT Building...

...They are not children, however much the cultural relativists who absolve the rioters and their sympathizers infantalize them. I condemn these people for making bad choices; liberals, such as the editors of the New York Times, refuse to condemn them because they believe that Muslims are incapable of choices. I may deplore the choices of these rioting Muslims, but the New York Times holds them in contempt, regarding them as nothing more than wild animals. Just as we all blame humans who antagonize an animal into a violent response, the New York Times blames Westerners who "sow pain," as if Muslims have the free will of a cornered wolf...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:00 AM

"winning a big talent contest, but your parents weren’t there to see...."

Callimachus at Winds of Change has an excellent interview with a woman who spent several years working in Iraq, for a company that oversees the contractors who are working on the many reconstruction projects. It's fascinating stuff, and I recommend it.

She's bitter about how our press so-called covered the stories...

...The press missed something vital about Iraq, and as a result the American and world public never really understood. Nobody ever got it. Iraq wasn’t just another city in the US or in Europe.

And as a result US and European citizens can share no connection to and no pride whatsoever in what those of us in Iraq have accomplished. You can’t feel it, because you’ve never seen it. And those of us who have experienced it have few ways to convey it to you so you can relate to it and share it with us. There’s a pretty hollow feeling that comes with that. It’s like being a sixteen year old and winning a big talent contest, but your parents weren’t there to see....

And I'm bitter too. I've been following the scraps of these stories that surface, and knowing all along there's a lot more going on...

....Most of us took our risks because we had to to complete our jobs. Others did so because we sincerely believed in what we were doing. For many if not most, we ultimately did so for both reasons. So it is difficult for us to watch or read much of what is reported here in the States. It is even harder to watch that same media mention their own "bravery and dedication" on those rare occasions when reporters would actually leave the safety of their burrows and venture out in clean flak jackets to cover some well-secured scene.

This didn’t go completely unnoticed by others who mentioned it on returning to the States. The media’s excuse has been that they are prime targets for armed thugs that routinely look for westerners to kidnap or kill. These people do exist and they are truly deadly. But far more contractors or Iraqi and third-nation workers employed by them have been killed, wounded, kidnapped, or raped, than journalists.

More international aid workers have been killed, wounded, or kidnapped, than journalists. More Iraqi doctors, police, government workers, social aid workers, teachers, government leaders, lawyers, businessmen and religious leaders have been individually targeted, killed, wounded, raped, or kidnapped than journalists. So as it works out, journalists aren't as high up on the hit list as they claim to be. But that hasn't moved them to go out and actually do their jobs, nor has it stopped them from trumpeting their own bravery, dedication, and ... uhhh ... integrity. ...

The news producers are only interested in the reconstruction projects if there's a hint that Halliburton has screwed up, and then only so they can tell lies about the Vice-President. Same for lefty-bloggers and left-politicians. The toads are not worthy to clean the boots of the brave men and women who serve our country around the globe in the messy dangerous work that actually accomplishes things and helps people.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:36 AM

September 15, 2006

Black-hearts and back-stabbers...

It is NOT POSSIBLE to heap too much scorn and derision and mockery on the people who were "in the know" during the Plame investigation, and said nothing. But Victoria Toensing makes a start, in What a Load of Armitage!

...Mr. Armitage, who came forward after Mr. Libby was indicted, was told in February 2006, after two grand jury appearances, he would not be indicted. Mr. Rove, however, after five grand jury appearances, was not informed until July 2006 he would not be charged. Mr. Fitzgerald made the Rove decision appear strained, a close call. Yet of the two men's conduct, Mr. Armitage's deserved more scrutiny. And Mr. Fitzgerald knew it. Each had testified before the grand jury about a conversation with Mr. Novak. Each had forgotten about a conversation with an additional reporter: Mr. Armitage with Mr. Woodward, Mr. Rove with Time's Matt Cooper. However, Mr. Rove came forward pre-indictment, immediately, when reminded of the second conversation. When Mr. Woodward attempted to ask Mr. Armitage about the matter, on two separate occasions pre-indictment, Mr. Armitage refused to discuss it and abruptly cut him off. To be charitable, assume he did not independently recall his conversation with Mr. Woodward. Would not two phone calls requesting to talk about the matter refresh his recollection? Now we also know Messrs. Armitage and Novak have vastly different recollections of their conversation. Isn't that what Mr. Libby was indicted for?

What Mr. Fitzgerald chose not to know is even more troublesome than what he chose to ignore. When Mr. Armitage came forth in October 2003, why did Mr. Fitzgerald not request his appointment calendar from early May, the time the first story appeared in the national press about an unnamed former ambassador's trip to Niger? Mr. Fitzgerald demanded this type of information from White House personnel. Just think, if he had done so of Mr. Armitage, he would have learned prior to indictment about Mr. Woodward's appointment...

This pointless mendacious attack on our nation's leaders during time of war was a foul deed. And especially foul were Powell and Armitage, sitting there, fat and happy, while the vile Bush-hating mob howled for scalps, or licked their chops over the thought of (innocent, decent) men being sent to prison.

George W Bush lifted those two into offices that are among the highest in the land. He asked them to serve their country, he gave them his trust—we gave them our trust—and they stabbed us all in the back.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:58 PM

"A challenge - on the level of an intellectual query..."

Mike Plaiss sent me a link to the Pope's recent speech. You can easily see that it is not some sort of anti-Muslim rant. I like this take, by Amy Welborn:

...But what of his words on Islam? I have maintained that it wasn't an idle historical reference. It was a challenge - on the level of an intellectual query - to the assumptions driving much of contemporary Islam. Violence, jihad, hatred of non-Muslims, and a restriction of their rights to worship in Muslim countries are inarguably elements of contemporary Islam to varying extents, in various parts of the globe. Six hundred years ago, this came up in a dialogue - the answer pointed to a dilemma: the Muslim said that God was greater than any of his own precepts.

The question becomes then - what basis for "dialogue" can there be in this context?

Just as, the Pope proceeds to ask, what basis for dialogue can there be in the modern world when religious questions and sensibilities are deleted from the discussion even before we start?

Since there are, indeed, many ways of thinking under the umbrella of "Islam" and there is no central magisterium, we always issue caveats about proclaiming what Islam teaches or the way of Islam in the modern world. But I think it's safe to say that the drumbeat is getting terrifically tedious. It's the drumbeat of constant offense coupled with a Muslim world in which Christians and Jews and the West in general are vilified, in which, for the most part in Muslim states, there is either very little or no freedom of religion for non-Muslims or the threat of violence by Muslims against non-Muslims, in which the most destructive acts of terror are committed explictly in the name of Allah - they are offended?

The Pope held up an interesting question for us to contemplate: Who is God? How can we talk about God? What does God's existence and nature then imply about the way human beings are to live together on this planet? When true reason is abandoned as an attribute and expression of God, what hope is there for dialogue and peace?

The "Muslim" response to the Pope ironically and unwittingly answers his question, don't you think?...[emphasis added by JW]

* Update: The Vatican link is squirelly, at least for me. Here it is in plain text: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/s%0Aeptember/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-%0Aregensburg_en.html

Posted by John Weidner at 8:18 AM

September 14, 2006

Morons...

Dafydd quoted this bit...

...Mr. Powell, a former four-star Army general who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and had a leadership role in the Persian Gulf war of 1991, said in his letter to Mr. McCain that redefining Common Article 3 would only deepen worldwide doubts about America’s moral stature.

“Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk,” Mr. Powell said in his letter to Mr. McCain. Critics of the Bush administration approach have argued that, if the United States is seen to be mistreating captives, Americans who are taken prisoner could be subjected to cruelty...

"Subject to cruelty?" What could he mean? Quelle horreur, perhaps they may not be given Novacaine when their heads are sawed off. Sorry to break this to you, softhead, but when Americans are captured by the kind of enemies we have now, they are tortured and killed forthwith.

And how do you appeasers and pompous blowhards react to that? By attacking America for not being nice enough! For not having sufficient "moral stature."

Screw you, Colin Powell and John McCain. America and the Bush administration have the real moral stature, by virtue of being willing to roll up their sleeves and tackle some of the most bloody and difficult problems that bedevil our world. While you midget ankle-biters stand on the sidelines and sneer and carp, and demand that America be ever more prissy and limp-wristed, so as not to be an offensive odor to your little chemically-pure stuck-up noses.

Real Americans support the President, support the troops, support the war, and have the morsel of common sense needed to know that it's necessary to get rough when you are fighting with psychopathic murderers for whom war crimes are the order of the day...

And America's moral stature is so much higher than the common run of sniveling appeasing countries, higher than any other country at all, that anybody who expresses doubt about it is just labeling themselves a moron.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:10 PM

Word Note: Proof o' the pudding

Word Note logo I think I blogged this once before, but it bears repeating.

The verb "to prove" used to mean "to test." (Actually, it still does, but people have become confused.) Hence, the famous Aberdeen Proving Grounds," a weapons-testing facility opened in WWI. (Where Charlene spent her early years. Her surgeon father was an Army colonel, and the book M.A.S.H. is about just what he did, in both WWII and Korea.)

The phrase "The exception that proves the rule" doesn't make any sense if you don't know this! Nor do statements like "science has proved such and such."

* Update: On the question if finding Saddam's WMD's, it's interesting to note that thousands of chemical shells were buried at the Proving Grounds after WWI, and nobody's been able to find them since...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:52 AM

September 13, 2006

Music

Peter Burnett:

...Want to have some fun? The next time you and your fellow conservatives are gathered together and having a merry old time discussing the WOT, the decline of the family, welfare reform, etc, wait for a pause and then launch into a tirade against the execrable quality and corrupting influence of modern music. Before your very eyes you will see everyone start to squirm and strategize how to shut you up until after the next election. Their body language will scream: “Why can’t this wingnut just stick with The Rapture?” Alan Bloom succeeded in belling the cat and living to tell the tale, but almost everyone else who dares to say what we all know perfectly well is marked as a spent force who would be well and compassionately advised to just go on home quietly and die.

Nothing captures the sheer horror of the modern decline more than trying to introduce your iPod-addicted twelve year old to the classics, only to have him snap back that his taste is every bit as good as yours while his glaring mother stands by clasping the telephone number of the child protection authorities....

I'm very lucky to have children with some musical taste. (And far more musical abilities than their father. It comes from Charlene's side.) We drive them to school in the morning, and while they do not, at that time of the day, talk, they do like to listen to our local classical station.

Betsy recommends:

Posted by John Weidner at 10:06 AM

The biggest population spurt in our history...

CS Monitor: In a few weeks, the US population clock will tick past 300 million. It's a symbolic moment, and over the next five Tuesdays, the Monitor will explore the ways, both profound and mundane, that this number affects the economy, the environment, how we live, and what we hope to achieve. It reveals a present far different from the US at 200 million - and portends a future of equal or even greater change.

In the past 39 years, the United States has added 100 million people - the biggest population spurt in its history. At the same time, America has sustained greater economic growth than any civilization before it.

Is there a link?...

Of course.

(Thanks to Orrin)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 AM

September 12, 2006

I'm sure there must be some kind of lesson hidden in this somewhere...

Reborn
We have always been told there is no recovery from persistent vegetative state - doctors can only make a sufferer's last days as painless as possible. But is that really the truth? Across three continents, severely brain-damaged patients are awake and talking after taking ... a sleeping pill. And no one is more baffled than the GP who made the breakthrough. Steve Boggan witnesses these 'strange and wonderful' rebirths....

.. .For three years, Riaan Bolton has lain motionless, his eyes open but unseeing. After a devastating car crash doctors said he would never again see or speak or hear. Now his mother, Johanna, dissolves a pill in a little water on a teaspoon and forces it gently into his mouth. Within half an hour, as if a switch has been flicked in his brain, Riaan looks around his home in the South African town of Kimberley and says, "Hello." Shortly after his accident, Johanna had turned down the option of letting him die.

Three hundred miles away, Louis Viljoen, a young man who had once been cruelly described by a doctor as "a cabbage", greets me with a mischievous smile and a streetwise four-move handshake. Until he took the pill, he too was supposed to be in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state.....
Posted by John Weidner at 2:11 PM

And then, on a bright September morning, it became clear...

My work is keeping me very busy, and I expect to be a bit sporadic in blogging for a while....

But there are more important people to pay attention to than me. From the President's speech last night..

...Our nation is being tested in a way that we have not been since the start of the Cold War. We saw what a handful of our enemies can do with box-cutters and plane tickets. We hear their threats to launch even more terrible attacks on our people. And we know that if they were able to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, they would use them against us. We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over -- and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. We are in a war that will set the course for this new century -- and determine the destiny of millions across the world...

...We are now in the early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom. Amid the violence, some question whether the people of the Middle East want their freedom, and whether the forces of moderation can prevail. For 60 years, these doubts guided our policies in the Middle East. And then, on a bright September morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage. Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. So we changed our policies, and committed America's influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.

With our help, the people of the Middle East are now stepping forward to claim their freedom. From Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut, there are brave men and women risking their lives each day for the same freedoms that we enjoy. And they have one question for us: Do we have the confidence to do in the Middle East what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished in Europe and Asia? By standing with democratic leaders and reformers, by giving voice to the hopes of decent men and women, we're offering a path away from radicalism. And we are enlisting the most powerful force for peace and moderation in the Middle East: the desire of millions to be free....
Posted by John Weidner at 11:48 AM

September 11, 2006

Party's over...

The story about the journos who were forced to pretend to convert to Islam has been much in my mind. What does it mean? Somehow this doesn't seem like just another terrorist outrage.

Kathy Shaidel has some thoughts, (here and here). And she picked up and quoted this, that Andrea wrote in a comment thread:

The fact that makes so many educated, secular, “my religious beliefs are private” (not even God knows what they are?), fun-loving Westerners uncomfortable is the growing realization that the party may be over, and we may have to (ugh) actually stand up for what we believe in, and in doing so we may actually find that the things we thought we believed in were nothing but froth and fairy-dust....

Party's over. Yes. Lotsa people been playing make-believe. It wasn't just two men who adopted an inimical faith at gun-point, and renounced the underpinnings of their own civilization. They were proxies for hundreds of millions of other westerners who would do the same. Our hollowness is being exposed for all to see. ("Froth and fairy-dust." Yeah, I live here.)

(And even ignoring the religious aspect, we need to realize that our whole culture of "do what the person with the gun tells you to" may have been a huge mistake. It encourages, like all pacifism, more violence. You can bet those turkeys will be doing this again. Next time it may be a hundred people. Our weakness draws this kind of thing forth. And the next incident will be partly the responsibility of those journalists, who are encouraging this by their choice. One can hardly blame them, since no one in our culture is taught to think that yielding to threats is going to mean someone else gets threatened. Those two guys may be brave men who would dive into a torrent to save a drowning child, but it would not occur to them to defy a terrorist to save a future victim!)

Kathy at least is thinking clearly....

...Are there any Christians on this thread? Because like it or not, Christ told his followers again and again to be prepared to suffer for his sake. "He who saves his own life will lose it..." ...

....I pray for the grace not to renounce Christ for any reason, under any circumstances. And the power of grace is the only thing that can give you that courage. Those who rely
solely on will power or mental fortitude can't be expected to understand that....

....I'd add that a well brought up, commited Christian does in fact know what he or she should aspire to do in the face of martyrdom, or when faced with an incurable disease or the murder of a child, just as a well trained fireman knows he will run into, rather than away from, a burning building. Such a Christian, having practiced spiritual disciplines such as prayer and fasting, and therefore being more receptive to supernatural grace, may be surprised herself by the relative ease of "doing the right thing."....

There are plenty of people who call themselves Christians who think that martyrdom, like miracles, is something that belongs in picture books about long ago. We may have some wake-ups coming...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:43 AM

How many people worked in the Twin Towers?

I don't know the number, but it's probably something over 50,000. That's how many people our enemies were TRYING to kill.

They would snuff out that many lives without a qualm. So don't think for a moment that if—when—they get nuclear weapons they will hesitate to use them out of any moral scruples. (Or use them against their own people. The terrorists have killed far more Muslims than Christians.)
WTC tower falling
The war is REAL. The urgency is real. The necessity for all parties and factions to support our elected leaders is obvious.

Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember? (Mk 8:18
)
Posted by John Weidner at 5:22 AM

September 9, 2006

"the other explanation is more often true"

  PILGRIM'S PROBLEM

By now I should be entering on the supreme stage
Of the whole walk, reserved for the late afternoon.
The heat was to be over now; the anxious mountains,
The airless valleys and the sun-baked rocks, behind me.

Now, or soon now, if all is well, come the majestic
Rivers of foamless charity that glide beneath
Forests of contemplation. In the grassy clearings
Humility with liquid eyes and damp, cool nose
Should come, half-tame, to eat bread from my hermit hand.
If storms arose, then in my tower of fortitude—
It ought to have been in sight by this—I would take refuge;
But I expected rather a pale mackerel sky,
Feather-like, perhaps shaking from a lower cloud
Light drops of silver temperance, and clovery earth
Sending up mists of chastity, a country smell,
Till earnest stars blaze out in the established sky
Rigid with justice; the streams audible; my rest secure.
I can see nothing like all this. Was the map wrong?
Maps can be wrong. But the experienced walker knows
That the other explanation is more often true.

    --C.S.Lewis
Posted by John Weidner at 6:40 PM

September 8, 2006

I would hate to try to write satire in this age...

Diogenes found this. Apparently it is not a joke...

Gavin Young has a M.A. in Systematic & Historical Theology from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. A second M.A. in Pastoral Ministry from The Franciscan School of Theology, also in Berkeley. His undergraduate work was in German, with a minor in English. Gavin is a certified Life Coach through the Coach Training Alliance.

Mr. Young has worked at Christie's and Doyle New York in New York City as an appraiser and specialist in 19th & 20th Century Decorative Arts, and taught at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, CA, prior to earning his certification as a Life Coach. He has published several short stories and is currently working on a book about praying the Psalms.

Mr. Young's spiritual path has been rich and varied leading him from the Presbyterianism in which he was raised, through agnosticism, New Age spiritualities with Wiccan and Pagan influences, and back to Christianity through Roman Catholicism with strong Quaker leanings. He's identified most firmly as a progressive Christian humanist and ecumenist, who attempts to promote "critical thinking and intellectual honesty."

Gavin is a 29 degree Taurus with Cancer Rising and an Aries Moon. His Meyers-Briggs rating is either INFJ or ISFJ and he is a Two (The Helper) on the Enneagram. His soul and personality card in the Tarot deck is the Hierophant V.

He passed through Roman Catholicism (with strong Quaker leanings?) to Christianity??? Jeeze Louise, give me strength. My enneogram machine's goin' beep beep beep.

All I can say is, when terrorists are putting guns to peoples heads and demanding conversion to Islam, have I got a feller for them...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:49 PM

Dean E. could use a hand...

Dean and Rosemary Esmay could use some financial assistance. If any of you affluent urban trendsetters (the main RJ demographic, I'm sure) want a good cause to contribute to, a few sawbucks into the tip jar would be cool...

Besides being one of those people who is obviously a good chap, Dean a few years ago was of great assistance to me and many other bloggers, helping us migrate from Blogger and setting us up with MT blogs at VerveHosting. Without taking a penny for it...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:24 AM

September 7, 2006

The Allied Invasion Of Sicily--Was It A War Crime?

Did you know the BBC had a web site in 1943? You can see it here...

(Thanks to Rand)

Posted by John Weidner at 11:55 AM

Brazenly flouting the law...

From a piece in OpinionJournal, Four Million Children Left Behind:

LOS ANGELES--This city is the main front in the pitched battle over the No Child Left Behind Act. Like many large urban school districts across the nation--though more brazenly--the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is resisting the law's core command: that no child be forced to attend a failing school.

In LAUSD, there are over 300,000 children in schools the state has declared failing under NCLB's requirements for adequate yearly progress. Under the law, such children must be provided opportunities to transfer to better-performing schools within the district. To date, fewer than two out of every 1,000 eligible children have transferred--much lower even than the paltry 1% transfer figure nationwide. In neighboring Compton, whose schools are a disaster, the number of families transferring their children to better schools is a whopping zero.

The question is whether Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings--whose administration has made NCLB the centerpiece of its education agenda--will do anything about it. She has the power to withhold federal funds from districts that fail to comply with NCLB, and has threatened to do just that. Rhetoric, so far, has exceeded action.

In L.A., the district has squelched school choice for children in failing schools by evading deadlines for notifying families of their transfer options; burying information in bureaucratese; and encouraging families to accept after-school supplemental services (often provided by the same district employees who fail to get the job done during the regular school day) rather than transfers. Still, the district insists that the reason for the low transfer numbers is that parents don't want their kids to leave failing schools....

Please Ms Spellings, have a spine. Grow one. The real "Axis of Evil" around here is the incestuous relationship of the teacher's unions, education bureaucrats, and the Democrat Party. Evil. They are destroying children to preserve their power. Poor children---the affluent have choices.

NCLB was designed to smash this filthy monster, but someone has to take the heat and enforce the law.

(Thanks to Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:25 AM

September 6, 2006

"And then their faces would light up..."

Readers of RJ will not be surprised by this, but it's good to see it again. From a good article in the WaPo on a reporter's trip to Iran. (Buried in the Travel Section of course. It should be on the front page.)

...What took place over the next fortnight astonished me. Everywhere I went -- from the traffic-choked streets of Tehran in the north to the dusty desert town of Yazd in central Iran, to the elegant cultural centers of Isfahan and Shiraz -- I was overwhelmed by the warmth and, dare I say it, pro-Americanism of the people I met.

Ponder the irony of that last statement for a moment. While much of the rest of the world seems to be holding their collective noses at us Americans, in Iran people were literally crossing the road to shake an American's hand and say hello. Who knew?

Initially, when Iranians asked me where I was from, I'd suggest they guess. But this game quickly proved too time-consuming -- no one ever guessed correctly. So instead I would simply mumble "American." And then their faces would light up. For better or worse, Iranians are avid fans of America: its culture, films, food, music, its open, free-wheeling society...

I blogged this in 2003, about American wrestlers being welcomed in Iran. Wresting is a huge sport there.

Iran has an evil government, but is, geopolitically, a natural ally for us. When the day comes we send an ambassador, we should pick a wrestler. If Charlene and I had some extra dough, Iran would be high on our list of places to visit...

...What astonished me the most about Iran were its women. I met and spoke with scores of them from all parts of the country. And everywhere they were wonderful: vivid, bold, articulate in several languages, politically astute and audaciously outward-looking. While some men demurred, the women weren't afraid to voice opinions about anything under the sun.

In fact, women in Iran can work and drive and vote, own property or businesses, run for political office and seek a divorce. The majority of Iran's university graduates are women.

But socially, Iran's women still live under Islamic edicts: They must wear the hijab when leaving the house, and they cannot normally associate with any male who is not their father, brother or son, or shake hands with a man. Despite these restrictions, they manage to remain utterly feminine. They are keen on bright lipsticks, nail polish and eye shadow. And they have a passion for imported handbags and shoes.

It's the women who give me the most hope that this once noble nation will one day return to its tolerant roots. Most of the young people I spoke with insist that change is coming...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:30 AM

Thank you, Governor Romney...

Governor Mit Romney has ordered all Massachusets public agencies to refuse assistance to Khatami's visit if asked. From the press release:

  • ...During the period of time he was in office, from 1997 to 2005, Khatami presided over Iran’s secret nuclear program. Currently, the Iranian Government under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is snubbing the international community’s request to cease nuclear weapons production.
  • In the recent conflict along the Israel-Lebanon border, Khatami described the terrorist group Hezbollah as a “shining sun that illuminates and warms the hearts of all Muslims and supporters of freedom in the world.”
  • Khatami has endorsed Ahmadinejad’s call for the annihilation of Israel.
  • During Khatami’s presidency, Iran refused to hand over the Iranian intelligence officials who were responsible for the attack on the Khobar Towers that killed 19 U.S. military personnel.
  • In his own country, Khatami oversaw the torture and murder of Iranian students, journalists, and others who spoke out for freedom and democracy. Khatami relaxed freedom of speech laws giving democracy reformers a false sense of security only to engage in one of the largest crackdowns in the country’s history.
  • In Khatami’s Iran, there was no religious tolerance. According to the U.S. Office of International Religious Freedom, Iran was one of the worst offenders of religious persecutions. Minorities, such as Evangelicals, Jews, Catholics and others, have suffered..

Harvard, of course, is glad to welcome any human-rights abuser, including a person who killed and jailed and tortured student protesters, as long as he is anti-American.

(Thanks to Hugh Hewitt)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:07 AM

September 5, 2006

Dateline: Under my Desk...

Dean Barnett writes:

...Here’s the new left wing meme that I’ve seen bubbling up through the left wing blogosphere and even in the comments section on HughHewitt.com: Conservatives are chickens, not just chickenhawks. Those who advocate a muscular foreign policy do so because we’re hiding under our desks, cowering before the Islamist menace...

I've seen that one too. It's beyond stupid. I guess if you are a lefty-appeaser it seems like a clever two-fer. You have another jab to make instead of actually meeting the arguments of your opponents, AND you get another excuse to pretend there isn't really a war! What a deal.

And hey, you can claim that ignoring ugly realities means you are courageous!

Posted by John Weidner at 5:28 PM

Pacifists kill 10,000 a week...

Penraker on Darfur...

10,000 dead a week. That is the latest estimate of where the death toll in Darfur will be at the end of the year, if nothing is done...

...Do you understand the magnitude of cynicism this represents? For a month or so, we were treated to pictures of dead babies being held up in Lebanon. "People are DYING!" shouted Juan Williams at his fellow panel members on Fox News sunday, frustrated with the Bush administration for letting it go on. The media was filled with loud and passionate condemnations of the death toll. And this was when it was at 300 or so.

But infinitely more people were dying in Darfur. The same Arab Nations that were howling with compassion for the people of Lebanon have refused to let in a peacekeeping force that would stop the death in Darfur.

This is the most disgusting spectacle I have ever witnessed in my life...

There's only ONE WAY that the genocide in Darfur can be stopped. That is if the United States of America (probably enjoying the assistance of the few decent nations in the world, i.e. the Anglosphere) steps in and stops it with military force. There's no other way.

And at this time that solution is not possible, because the Administration has to use every penny of its political capital to keep the WoT going against the non-stop opposition and obstruction of leftist appeasers and "anti-war" Copperheads, and the UN, EU, Russia and China.

We could do this job with ease. A couple of battalions would be enough, if they are allowed to use deadly force without having their hands tied. "Oh no! That would be murrrrder! That would be un-Chrisssstian! That would be WARRRR, instead of the happy happy peace that we happily enjoy so happily now!"

Putting it that way just emphasizes once again how the word "war" means something very different than it used to. Wars are now to stop slaughters. Wars are now to protect the innocent. Wars are to bring peace. And the people who opposes them are the real "warmongers."

Posted by John Weidner at 8:02 AM

September 4, 2006

Labor Day...

Satiric Lenin poster for Labor Day

Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 AM

September 2, 2006

In tarrying do not tarry, nor hastening hasten...

Yet in this journey back
If I should reach the end, if end there was
Before the ever-running roads began
And race and track and runner all were there
Suddenly, always, the great revolving way
Deep in its trance;—if there was ever a place
Where one might say, 'Here is the starting-point,'
And yet not say it, or say it as in a dream,
In idle speculation, imagination,
Reclined at ease, dreaming a life, a way,
And then awaken in the hurtling track,
The great race in full swing far from the start,
No memory of beginning, sign of the end,
And I the dreamer there, a frenzied runner;—
If I should reach that place, how could I come
To where I am but by that deafening road,
Life-wide, world-wide, by which all come to all,
The strong with the weak, the swift with the stationary,
For mountain and man, hunter and quarry there
In tarrying do not tarry, nor hastening hasten,
But all with no division strongly come
For ever to their steady mark, the moment,
And the tumultuous world slips softly home
To its perpetual end and flawless bourne.
How could we be if all were not in all?
Borne hither on all and carried hence with all,
We and the world and that unending thought
Which has elsewhere its end and is for us
Begotten in a dream deep in this dream
Beyond the place of getting and spending.
There's no prize in this race; the prize is elsewhere,
Here only to be run for. There's no harvest,
Though all around the fields are white with harvest.
There is our journey's ground; we pass unseeing.
But we have watched against the evening sky,
Tranquil and bright, the golden harvester.

-- Edwin Muir
Posted by John Weidner at 8:12 PM

Boiling away...

Mike Plaiss sent a link to this article, about emigration from Germany...

..."People say things aren't getting better in Germany, and nothing's going to change any time soon,'' said historian Simone Eick, director of the German Emigration Center in the northern port city of Bremerhaven. Indeed, "some indicators suggest that this may be the start of mass emigration.''

That's reflected by the 630 postings recorded since Aug. 10 on an Internet forum on emigration hosted by Germany's Spiegel magazine. Germany doesn't have much of a future, a 40 year-old German teacher who moved to France said Aug. 26 in a typical posting. The teacher, writing under the alias "Kritischer Leser,'' meaning Critical Reader, said he's working fewer hours and making more money than his sister, a doctor in Germany...

...Other German expatriates cite what they say is the over-regimentation of the labor force. "Life in Germany is totally over-regulated,'' said Christian Kaestner, 38, an attorney who moved from Munich to Cape Town, South Africa, in 1997. "There are hardly any freedoms left, and you keep bumping into regulations and prohibitions.''...

I would agree that "Germany doesn't have much of a future..." Partly because the very people who are likely to demand change are the ones who leave. It's sort of like the way a pot of boiling water stays at 212°. Because every time a molecule gets hotter than that, it turns to gas and emigrates!

This is also a good example of what Tom Friedman pointed out a few years ago, in The Lexis and the Olive Tree, that with globalization countries are becoming like US states have long been. That is, they don't have much freedom to pursue bad economic policies, because it is too easy for money and capital to flee elsewhere, and because bond ratings react very quickly. You can still do it, but you can't insulate yourself from punishment as countries once did.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:43 AM

good debunking...

David R. Henderson takes apart two articles (WaPo, NYT) whose numbers were deliberately selected and crafted to give a false impression of the state of the US economy, to help liberals retain their hate-America worldview against the cold winds of reality. In other words, lying with statistics...

...The basic message Greenhouse and Leonhardt deliver is that "wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation's gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960's." That is literally correct, according to the federal government's measures. But it's also misleading, for two main reasons, in order of importance.

First, as marginal tax rates have increased for most people except the highest-income people, due mainly to rising Medicare and Social Security tax rates over the last 40 years, employers have paid a higher and higher percent of compensation in the form of untaxed benefits. So a more-relevant measure is not wages and salaries but total employee compensation. ...

- - - - - - - -

...The Washington Post's "Devaluing Labor" by Harold Meyerson, credulously quotes the New York Times piece to buttress his case. And what is Meyerson's case? He hearkens back an America from 1947 to 1973 when "More Americans bought homes and new cars and sent their kids to college than ever before" and writes, "That America is as dead as a dodo." He doesn't present data to make his case, which is understandable because the America of today is even in better economic shape than the America of his golden era. Let's take his own criteria -- home ownership, car ownership, and the percent of the population with college degrees. In focusing on these data, I'm assuming that Meyerson cares about whether Americans own homes, own cars, and have college degrees, not whether they bought houses, bought cars, and went to college last year..

Take home ownership. In the first quarter of 1965, the first date I could find quickly, 62.9 percent of American households owned their homes. That was during Meyerson's golden era. In the second quarter of this year, the "dead middle-class era," it was 68.7 percent, an all-time high. Cars? What's relevant, as with homeownership, is the percent of the population that owns cars. And this has boomed. In 1970, presumably near the peak of Meyerson's golden era, there were 108.4 million vehicles registered in the United States; by 2003, this had soared to 231.4 million, an increase of 113.5 percent, while the population had risen by only 42.4 percent.....(Thaks to Orrin)

It is to be hoped that lefties will believe the poppycock in the two articles, and base their election plans on it. How's this for a catchy slogan: "Worst economy since Herbert Hoover!"

Another item.

...So what did happen to corporate profits? They rose, from 7.8 percent of GDP to 12.1 percent of GDP. That is a large increase, and percentage-wise it's huge. So why didn't Greenhouse and Leonhardt report this number? I think it's because they didn't want their readers thinking that only 12 cents out of every GDP dollar went to profits...

There's a much-cherished illusion among leftists and the ignorant that big business rakes in huge profits while the workers get crumbs. If you know anything at all about business you know this is twaddle. For most businesses, employee compensation is by far the biggest cost.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:11 AM

September 1, 2006

Too cool...

Charlene found an awesome site, an online gallery of 15 splendid books at the British Library. You can literally turn the pages, and use a "magnifying glass" to look closely at details....

Our favorits are the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Jane Austin..

Posted by John Weidner at 10:08 PM