November 30, 2006

There's only one war....

Charlene and I caught on the radio a little of author John O'Sullivan discussing the events he writes about in his new book, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World.

It sounds like a great book! Three oddballs who no one expected would be put in charge of anything, especially not the crusade to defeat the evil of Soviet Communism. In fact, most "experts" didn't think there was, or even should be, a crusade.


Then, just afterwards, I found this very interesting piece, on just what the present Pope is up to. One doesn't have to be religious to suspect that we have an ally in the Vatican, just as we did during the 80's. I suspect Pope and President would both be saying that we are not at war with Islam (Yeah, yeah, I read Michelle Malkin too, and sometimes I doubts it myself) but rather we are tacitly allied with the majority of Muslims (though they may not have figured it out yet; they don't seem to be too big on thinking things through), who don't really wish to be clamped inside some Taliban death regime, OR to have their faith dissolved by corrosive secularism. And if that's true, then probably only the Pope has the standing to convey the message to them.

...Thus Benedict's true purpose in Turkey is that of uniting all the monotheistic faiths against a militant and self-consciously destructive secular culture. To that end he will seek a new political communion with Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople — the symbolic leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians. Even the Russian Orthodox patriarch, Alexei II, who rejected overtures by the late Pope John Paul II, has indicated that he would now welcome talks with Rome.

Nor are the pope's attempts to produce a concerted monotheistic alliance restricted to Christians. On the first day of his visit, Benedict quoted an 11th century pope, Gregory VII, who talked about the duties that Christians and Muslims owe each other "because we believe in one God."

Far from being anti-Muslim, the pope views Islam as a key cultural ally against the enlightenment liberalism that for him corrodes the moral core of Western society.

It is important to realize, however, that Benedict recognizes a mutual problem in this explicit project of religious realignment around shared critiques and common discernment. Secular conceptions of race, state and nation have corrupted all the faiths, too often turning them into a vehicle for nationalism or racism...(Thanks to Amy)

It's worth reading the whole thing. I'll paste in a bit more below...

...But the papal visit is not primarily an attempt to pacify relations between Christianity and Islam. Instead, Benedict is there to engage with Islam and Eastern Orthodoxy in the hope of persuading both to join his project of overcoming secularism.

The Pope, far from being sectarian, wants to inaugurate a new religious renaissance in Europe that opposes both secular and religious fundamentalism. This apostolic journey is of a piece with the logic of the Regensburg address, rather than a belated act of repentance for it.

Benedict opposes secularism because it is both absolute and arbitrary. In the name of being neutral with regard to values, secular ideology eliminates all rival world views from the public sphere. By denying the existence of objective moral truths, it elevates self- assertion as the measure of all things. Social life is reduced to the arbitration of conflicting self-interest — a process in which the most powerful always win.

Ultimately, this arbitrary absolutism produces a society ruled by an unholy alliance of utilitarian ethics and the proxy politics of the managerial class. This collusion destroys the very idea of common action and a binding collective discernment. Thus does the pope attribute the failure of Europe's common political project to the growing secularization of European culture.

Benedict's religious alternative is not some form of theocratic absolutism. On the contrary, the Pope is a staunch defender of secularity — the separation of church and state. Benedict wants to disentangle the church from the state, but without divorcing religion from politics, because only a religion freed from subservience to the state can save modern culture from itself...

One has to suspect that the Regensburg speech was the equivalent of the old joke about hitting the mule with the 2 x 4. "You don't have to beat this mule. You just have to get his attention first."

Posted by John Weidner at 9:34 AM

November 29, 2006

"it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin..."

A friend who is a loan-broker sent this to us (I'd guess somebody just made this up, but it's funny)...

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the lawyer three months to track down.

After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply.

(Actual letter): "Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows (actual letter):

"Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S., from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application.

For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Isabella. The good queen, Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus' expedition. Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana.

God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back, to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it AND the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory.

Now, may we have our damn loan?"
Posted by John Weidner at 9:43 AM

"It was not naive idealism"

If you haven't already read it, this Fouad Ajami column is worth reading...

...It was not naive idealism, it should be recalled, that gave birth to Bush's diplomacy of freedom. That diplomacy issued out of a reading of the Arab-Muslim political condition and of America's vulnerability to the disorder of Arab politics. The ruling regimes in the region had displaced their troubles onto America; their stability had come at America's expense, as the scapegoating and the anti-Americanism had poisoned Arab political life. Iraq and the struggle for a decent polity in it had been America's way of trying to extirpate these Arab troubles. The American project in Iraq has been unimaginably difficult, its heartbreak a grim daily affair. But the impulse that gave rise to the war was shrewd and justified....

That's what I've argued all along. Democracy is a weapon. (And the terrorists seem to agree.) Also, no one has another plan. The "realist" and appeasement nostrums being currently floated have all been tried and found wanting. In fact, they got us into this war. And they are not plans—not plans on how to conduct the War on Terror in general. They pretend that Iraq is the whole war, or a separate war from the greater war on Islamic fascism.

Also, it should always be kept in mind that the opposition to the Iraq Campaign by leftists and fake-pacifists has never been due to disillusionment. They've hated and opposed all American military action from the beginning. They gave only the most grudging support to even our campaign against the Taliban, and were calling it a quagmire within days. And even the happiest moments of the Iraq campaign, with millions of Iraqis risking their lives to vote, pleased them not in the slightest. They don't give a damn about Iraqis, and they don't care if American soldiers die. It's America they hate.

And especially, they hate the idea of Americans fighting, risking their lives, in defense of our freedom and our land. This strikes right at the heart of their nihilist hearts, for they have nothing in themselves they believe in enough to fight for,

Posted by John Weidner at 6:32 AM

November 27, 2006

Important info---pass it on

That big story about the people being burned alive in Iraq, while Iraqi troops stood by?

IT'S A TOTAL FABRICATION!

IT'S A LIE!

It's a clear and blatant lie fabricated by our country's enemies, and propagated by our internal enemies and traitors in the news media.

LINK (if you have trouble with that link, as I did, go to FloppingAces' main blog page and scroll down to 11-25, at 8:54)

Thanks to Lorie Byrd

Posted by John Weidner at 9:41 AM

" and the U.S. government was on 'autopilot'..."

Those who think the appointment of Robert Gates as SecDef means a sellout to the "realists," might want to read this column by Michael Barone. (Thanks to Dafydd.) He took the trouble to actually read Gates' book, and found a lot to think about, and a lot that doesn't jibe with all the speculation..

...Yet Gates also discusses times in which policy had to change course sharply in response to rapid changes in the world, notably during the collapse of communism in the early 1990s. Interestingly, this career government bureaucrat did not find the government bureaucracies of much use in coming up with new ideas. Instead, his impulse was to create small committees of political appointees. In July 1989, he sent Bush a memo citing developments in the Soviet Union and concluding that "we should not be confident of Gorbachev remaining in power."

As Gates recounts in his book: "Bush agreed to the contingency planning I had first considered in the spring, and in September 1989, I asked Condi Rice to gather a group of people and in very great secrecy begin this work. When I met with her to explain the task, I told her that I thought the planning was very important because the situation in the Soviet Union could go bad in a hurry, and the U.S. government was on 'autopilot' when it came to thinking about such dramatic developments. Her group included Dennis Ross at State; Fritz Ermarth and Bob Blackwell from CIA; and Paul Wolfowitz and Eric Edelman from Defense. This group commissioned a number of studies by CIA and used them in reviewing and planning U.S. options. While no such effort can prescribe in detail policies based on specific future events, this work served us to great advantage in dealing with events over the next two years, and especially as the Soviet Union imploded in 1991."...

There's a lot more in the column. It makes me want to read the book, though I kind of doubt I will find the time. Too many books, too few years...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:45 AM

November 26, 2006

From heroes to bums in not much more than a generation...

[Rambling Sunday thoughts] I've been thinking about how in the comments at this post of mine, Andrea Harris and I got onto a discussion of the decline of Europe (and perhaps the USA), and it's possible cause in the enormously high levels of welfare common in European countries.

I for various reasons have Germany much in mind these days, and I wrote:

....West Germany in say 1960, was to outward appearances, hard-working, economically vibrant, Christian, confident, with a rapidly growing population and lots of young people. Experts were saying that we Americans had better pull up our socks or be totally out-classedI

And that's all gone! All of it. The corpse is still walking but nobody's fooled except those who want to be fooled. We're not talking slow decline-of-the-Roman-Empire here, these guys went from heroes to bums in not much more than a generation. If that's happened before in history I really missed something....

I'd say the proximate cause is welfare, which I know increased hugely in Germany in the 1970's. (By the way, the post-war German economic miracle was made possible by low taxes and reduced regulation. It's not like Germany is unacquainted with what makes for success.) Welfare meaning not just checks for the poor or unemployed, but all sorts of cozy security blankets for the whole population.

And I'd say the ante-proximate cause, the cause right behind the cause, is socialism. Socialism promotes the welfare state because it wants to destroy souls, and to make men dependent on the state. It has given up on the Revolution, and the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat," but the goal is still the same.

But frankly, these things are so obvious they've become boring. There is no intellectual battle to be waged against socialism or the welfare state. There is ceaseless war to be waged against the things themselves, of course. But no open intellectual fight. Any leftist reading this will curl his lip in disdain, but not one of them will have the guts to make a case for what he believes. "Fell-lurking curs," as Shakespeare put it.

So, what interests me is, what is the root cause? Welfare is destructive, but why wasn't there resistance, in Europe, to its terrible threat? In the US every increase in welfare and other socialistic innovations has generated vigorous criticism and political opposition. One result of which was the federal Welfare Reform law in the 1990's, which cut our welfare rolls in half!

Why was there—is there—little or nothing like this in Europe? I can think of several possibilities. One clue that smells right to me—can't prove anything here—comes from one of the smarter chaps living...

...Bonn in those years was the almost accidental capital of Adenauer’s Germany. In the divided land, whose eastern states were behind the Iron Curtain, economic and civilian rebirth was proceeding at a dizzying pace. In the 1957 elections, the Christian Democratic Party had won an absolute majority in Parliament. After the Nazi nightmare, the German Church, with deserved pride, offered an essential contribution to Germany’s new beginning.

In an atmosphere that could have encouraged triumphalism, the young professor-priest Ratzinger had just written an article in 1958 for the magazine Hochland some reflections arising from his brief but intense pastoral experience as a chaplain in the parish of the Most Precious Blood in Bogenhausen, an haute-bourgeois section of Munich.

In that article, he uses the term “statistical deception” for the cliché that described Europe as “a Continent that is almost totally Christian.” The Church in the postwar modern world appeared to him instead as “a Church of pagans – no longer, as in the past, a church of pagans who have become Christian, but a Church of pagans that still call themselves Christian but who have really become pagans.”

He tells of a new paganism “which is growing ceaselessly in the heart of the Church and threatens to demolish it from the inside.”....[link]

I'd sure love to know what tipped him off! He knew, all-right. He saw. But nobody else seemed to see it. What did he see?

<armchair theorizin'> One of the things you have to do, if you are going to grow in faith, is to fight against ones natural desire to avoid suffering. (Or just grow psychologically. It's not a specifically Christian insight. One of the Noble Truths the Buddha taught was "Life is suffering.") It seems wrong-headed; avoiding pain is just good sense, right? (Seems like that to me too, most of the time.) But it's a mistake. And if your goal is to avoid pain, your faith will shrink. (And you'll get the suffering anyway.)

And a priest is going to observe people's pain and suffering up close. This will tell him a lot, if he has eyes to see. I wouldn't be surprised if there was something like that that was clear to young Fr. Josef Ratzinger. It would not be surprising in a nation that had endured millions of deaths in two world wars...</armchair theorizin'>

Young Fr. Josef Ratzinger

Josef Ratzinger, priest and professor of dogmatic theology, Freising, 1959

Posted by John Weidner at 4:10 PM

"some truth that he has never seen before"

...Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will not startle you with any more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living, to know that Plato might break out with an original lecture to-morrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a single song. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare to-morrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before.

There is one only other parallel to this position; and that is the parallel of the life in which we all began. When your father told you, walking about the garden, that bees stung or that roses smelt sweet, you did not talk of taking the best out of his philosophy. When the bees stung you, you did not call it an entertaining coincidence. When the rose smelt sweet you did not say “My father is a rude, barbaric symbol, enshrining (perhaps unconsciously) the deep delicate truths that flowers smell.” No: you believed your father, because you had found him to be a living fountain of facts, a thing that really knew more than you; a thing that would tell you truth to-morrow, as well as to-day.

And if this was true of your father, it was even truer of your mother; at least it was true of mine, to whom this book is dedicated. Now, when society is in a rather futile fuss about the subjection of women, will no one say how much every man owes to the tyranny and privilege of women, to the fact that they alone rule education until education becomes futile: for a boy is only sent to be taught at school when it is too late to teach him anything. The real thing has been done already, and thank God it is nearly always done by women. Every man is womanised, merely by being born. They talk of the masculine woman; but every man is a feminised man. And if ever men walk to Westminster to protest against this female privilege, I shall not join their procession...[Link]
Chesterton portrait by Zach Brissett
(Sketch by Zach Brissett)
Posted by John Weidner at 8:10 AM

November 25, 2006

"Christmas is everybody!"

Christmas is back at Wal-Mart - not that it really ever left.

After testing out a generic, yet all-inclusive, "happy holidays" theme last year, the nation's largest retailer announced this month that Christmas will dominate its seasonal marketing in the U.S. "We've learned our lesson," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Marisa Bluestone. "This year, we're not afraid to say, 'Merry Christmas.'"

Neither are Walgreens, Target, Macy's, Kmart and Kohl's, among others. In interviews this week, spokesmen from those major retailers said that their stores acknowledge the Christmas holiday, hoping to avoid a repeat of last year's backlash led by conservative Christian groups.

Such groups often criticize the commercialization of Christmas. But in 2005, they instead railed about its dearth, taking Wal-Mart, Best Buy and others to task for not mentioning the day in their holiday advertising - dubbing it "anti-Christian and anti-Christmas bias."

Petitions were passed around, boycotts were threatened and the existence of a "secular progressive agenda" was suggested by Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly, who complained that the political correctness police had religion on the run...[link]

'cause I'm a nice guy, I'll give you "progressives" a tip. Of course you want to destroy Christianity, it's in your philosophical genes. But getting rid of "Merry Christmas" isn't the way to do it. That just emphasizes that something's been removed. Subversion works better. The best tactic is to appeal to our egos, our desire to be the center of the universe. I suggest your new theme should be, "Christmas is you and me!" Or perhaps, "Christmas is people being special!" (And Andrew Sullivan can chime in about how "Christianists" are hijacking a holiday whose theme has always been that "doubt is the noblest of virtues.")

And tolerance is always a good wedge to help destroy morality and religion. You might emphasize the idea that Christmas is also for Moslems, Jews, Buddhists and Hindoos. "Christmas is everybody!"

Posted by John Weidner at 9:27 AM

Wiretaps...

From the NYT:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 — When President Bush went on national television one Saturday morning last December to acknowledge the existence of a secret wiretapping program outside the courts, the fallout was fierce and immediate.

Mr. Bush’s opponents accused him of breaking the law, with a few even calling for his impeachment. His backers demanded that he be given express legal authority to do what he had done. Law professors talked, civil rights groups sued and a federal judge in Detroit declared the wiretapping program unconstitutional.

But as Democrats prepare to take over on Capitol Hill, not much has really changed. For all the sound and fury in the last year, the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program continues uninterrupted, with no definitive action by either Congress or the courts on what, if anything, to do about it, and little chance of a breakthrough in the lame-duck Congress...

This is moderately interesting. It's good to learn that the NSA wiretaps continue, since they are an obvious necessity of the war. And they are clearly legal. We've always tapped foreign communications in times of major war. Among the very first moves of FDR and Wilson in the World Wars were to order taps on all foreign wire and telephone traffic. And Lincoln routinely had telegraph wires tapped. All without warrants of any kind!

I think the President should have just said that this was not a matter that the courts have any right to enquire into. Period.

And the leakers and editors and reporters and publishers responsible for revealing classified information should all be enjoying long terms in a federal prison.

Alas, in these last decadent days of America these sensible things are not politically possible.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:29 AM

Carterism...

VDH:

Carterism is a new postmodern pathology in which smug piety, dressed up in evangelical new-age Christianity, pronounces from afar moral censure on the more righteous party—on the theory that acting well but not perfect is worse than acting badly. Carter reminds me of the timid parent who spanks hard the good son for the rare misdemeanor because he takes it with silence while giving a pass to the wayward son for the daily felony because he would throw a public fit if corrected...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:12 AM

The University...

Charlene just read me this quote, in the December First Things:

From a Catholic point of view, the contemporary secular university is not at fault because it is not Catholic. It is at fault because it is not a university.
--Alasdair MacIntyre

I'd guess a lot of the sort of people who read blogs would nod in agreement to that. "Something's missing, not sure what it is..."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:08 AM

November 24, 2006

People in the past were very very different...

Diogenes writes:

...Part of the syndrome of being a child of one's age is a lack of the historical imagination to recognize oneself in a different setting, endowed with a different array of sentimentalisms. In fact, such people are certain they'd be on the side of the angels in any situation. The personal advantages they have purchased by their social conformity are so enormous and comprehensive that they fail to see it as conformity at all. This was true in 1930s Germany, when the right wing was in the ascendant, and it's true in the West today, when the left wing is. Joseph Sobran once wrote:
[Liberals] want us to believe that their willingness to conform to today's fashions is proof that they would have had the courage to defy yesterday's fashions. Somehow I find it hard to believe that today's coward would have been yesterday's hero, if only he'd had the chance. More likely he would have been, like most people, a timid conformist in any circumstances...(Thanks to Michael L)

This subject is a particular peeve of mine (feel free to tune out). People in the past were very very different from us now. If you are interested in history, as I am, that's fact number one. To study the past you must enter imaginatively into a different world of thought. And most people won't do so, and usually don't even grasp the concept.

This bugs me in a whole bunch of ways. One of course is the lefty professor who condemns our country's founding fathers for not conforming to the rules we follow today. In matters like slavery, sexism and egalitarianism. (This is only done to America and her allies. Or to Christians. In all other cases we are supposed to respect cultural differences. Sudanese Arabs can enslave blacks right now without criticism.) But if that little dweeb had been born in, say, Charleston in 1770, he would have thought that slavery was perfectly OK, and that women ought to defer to his opinions. He would be a conformist then just like he is now. A conformist, and probably incapable of standing outside his preconceptions and examining them.

Another way this bugs me is that my favorite form of fiction should be the historical novel. But in fact I find 98% of them to be pure crap. They are about contemporary people dressed up in historical gear. Same with films, or those "historical detective novels" that proliferate so. Blehhh. Same, for that matter, with science fiction—a trip to the future should be as much of a cultural shock as a trip to the past, but rarely is.

In reading a real historical work, fact or fiction, you should frequently be brought up sharp by characters thinking or acting differently than you expect. Patrick O'Brian's books are pretty good that way. Steven Maturin, a physician, not only bleeds people who are sick, they feel better after he does so! Jack Aubrey never questions his right to be, by birth, a landed proprietor, an MP, a naval officer, and in general a person with the right to command, and to be obeyed. And so, as we read the stories, we are drawn into that world-view, and come to temporarily share it. Our mental horizons are expended. I just love that!


Posted by John Weidner at 3:47 PM

Sick...

This guy is sick. And I bet there will be no rush by his fellow chomskyoids to criticize him...

I give thanks O Lord for Dick Cheney's Heart, that brave organ which has done its darn-tootin' best on four separate occasions to do what we can only dream about.

O Lord, give Dick Cheney's Heart, Our Sacred Secret Weapon, the strength to try one more time! For greater love hath no heart than that it lay down its life to rid the planet of its Number One Human Tumor...(Link thanks to Dr Helen)

The Vice President is a great American and a great public servant, and is worth 10,000 of the nihilist ankle-biters who hate him so much! Long may he live.

Vice President Cheney with troops in Qatar, March 17, 2002

Troops at Al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar gather around
Vice President Dick Cheney for pictures and handshakes March 17, 2002.
White House photo by
David Bohrer
Posted by John Weidner at 8:11 AM

All autocracies must destroy their antitheses...

A piece you should read, by VDH...

No, no, no….

The problems in Iraq, in the radical Middle East at large—with democratization, with nuclearization, with Islamism—are not, repeat not, a lack of dialogue with Syria and Iran.

We know what both rogue states wish and it is our exit from the Middle East and thus a free hand to undermine the newly established democracies of Lebanon and Iraq—in the manner that all autocracies must destroy their antitheses.

They both sponsor and harbor terrorists for a reason—to undermine anything Western: a Western-leaning Lebanese democracy, a Western-style democracy in Iraq, a Westernized Israel, or soldiers of the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Syria, as we see once again with the killing of Pierre Gemayel, is practicing serial murdering in Lebanon. I was on the Hugh Hewitt show last night, and he was right to make the point that Syria is like the Nazi regime of the late 1930s that sent its agents into Eastern Europe and Austria to assassinate and undermine republican leaders, to pave the way for the ‘necessary’ and ‘welcome’ entrance of the order-bringing Wehrmacht into a ‘brother’ state....

The time for "dialoging" with murderous tyrants—if there is such a time—is not when we are having trouble, but when we have hurt them badly enough that they are looking for a way out of trouble. That should be obvious.

I hope that's what our government is thinking right now. Our passivity is not a good sign. It's going to cause a lot more trouble in the long run. Pacifism causes wars. It's as simple as that.

...And for all the conundrum, the war against the jihadists is still going well. Iran and Syria are striking out because they feel surrounded—democratic Turkey on one side, Israel on the other, with nearby democracies struggling to become established in Kurdistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is being dismantled, and a Europe galvanizing against Islamic fascism. Even the impotent UN is beginning to stir against Iran and Syria. If we can stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq, we can bring enormous pressure on both these two rogue nations. So why give up now—which is what talking to these amoral governments constitutes, given our previous rhetoric and vow to quit the appeasement?...

I think VDH is a bit over-optimistic about Europe and the UN, but this is still the simple truth. We have put ourselves in a strong position, and our job now is to exploit it. The only problem is that a lot of Americans don't want to accept the ugly fact that a war means fighting.

Pacifism causes wars. Voting Democrat causes wars. Future wars. Weakness now will mean a bigger price to pay in the future. I'm not being a warmonger here, I'm a peace-monger. Nancy Pelosi is the warmonger.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:59 AM

November 23, 2006

Be thankful for America, and believe in her!

My country, you are best hope of freedom for our world. Many hate you and revile you and hope that you will fail.

But even here in the nihilist darkness of Pelosiville, we give thanks for this great land.

And especially for the men and women of our armed forces. Billions of ingrates sleep safely because you police the sea-lanes and fight terrorist bandits in distant swamps and deserts. Thank you!
President Bush serving on chow line
From President Bush's address, during his surprise Thanksgiving trip to Iraq in 2003:

....I'm particularly proud to be with the 1st Armored Division, the 2nd ACR, the 82nd Airborne. I can't think of a finer group of folks to have Thanksgiving dinner with than you all. We're proud of you. Today, Americans are gathering with their loved ones to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. And this year we are especially thankful for the courage and the sacrifice of those who defend us, the men and women of the United States military.

I bring a message on behalf of America: We thank you for your service, we're proud of you, and America stands solidly behind you. Together, you and I have taken an oath to defend our country. You're honoring that oath. The United States military is doing a fantastic job. You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq, so that we don't have to face them in our own country. You're defeating Saddam's henchmen, so that the people of Iraq can live in peace and freedom.

By helping the Iraqi people become free, you're helping change a troubled and violent part of the world. By helping to build a peaceful and democratic country in the heart of the Middle East, you are defending the American people from danger and we are grateful.

You're engaged in a difficult mission. Those who attack our coalition forces and kill innocent Iraqis are testing our will. They hope we will run. We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost in casualties, defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins.

We will prevail. We will win because our cause is just. We will win because we will stay on the offensive. And we will win because you're part of the finest military ever assembled. And we will prevail because the Iraqis want their freedom...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:21 AM

November 22, 2006

Surprise, surprise...

violence declines after terrorist assistance to the Copperhead Party is no longer needed, and after appeasers have been elected as planned...

American Forces Press Service – As expected, violence in Iraq has dropped following the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a coalition spokesman said in Baghdad today.

Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said civilian and Iraqi security force casualties were at the lowest levels since the government was formed in May.

So far this month, the civilian casualty count is well below the casualty count in October and below the six-month average. The security force casualties reduced 21 percent over the past four weeks, and are at the lowest level in 25 weeks, he said.

“In Baghdad, there was a 22 percentage drop in casualties related to sectarian violence and executions,” Caldwell said during a televised news conference. “Coalition forces will continue to work closely with the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces to control the sectarian violence and terrorist attacks.”...(Thanks to
Greyhawk)

"As expected."

Posted by John Weidner at 3:12 PM

"hearers thoughtful, friends sincere..."

FIFTH DAY
11. THANKSGIVING.

0 Lord, my Lord,
for my being, life, reason,
for nurture, protection, guidance,
for education, civil rights, religion,
for Thy gifts of grace, nature, fortune,
for redemption, regeneration, instruction,
for my call, recall, yea, many calls besides;
for Thy forbearance, longsuffering,
long longsuffering
toward me,
many seasons, many years;
for all good things received, successes granted me,
good things done;
for the use of things present,
for Thy promise, and my hope
of the enjoyment of good things to come ;
for my parents honest and good,
teachers kind,
benefactors never to be forgotten,
fellow-ministers who are of one mind,
hearers thoughtful,
friends sincere,
domestics faithful;
for all who have advantaged me
by writings, sermons, converse,
prayers, examples, rebukes, injuries;
for all these, and all others
which I know, which I know not,
open, hidden,
remembered, forgotten,
done when I wished, when I wished not,
I confess to Thee and will confess,
I biess Thee and will bless,
I give thanks to Thee, and will give thanks,
all the days of my life.
Who am I, or what is my father's house,
that Thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog
as I am?
What shall I render unto the Lord
for all His benefits toward me?
for all things in which He hath spared
and borne with me until now?
Holy, holy, holy,
Thou art worthy,
O Lord and our God, the Holy One,
to receive glory, honour, and power:
for Thou hast created all things,
and for Thy pleasure they are
and were created.

From The Private Devotions of Lancelot Andrewes, ca. 1600. (Andrewes was one of the men who created the King James translation of the Bible.)

Posted by John Weidner at 12:21 PM

living in the wreckage...

Jeff Jacoby has a fine column on the SF School Board's decision to end our JROTC program...

...So what is the problem with JROTC? There isn't one. The problem is with the anti military bigotry of the school board majority and the "peace" activists who lobbied against the program on the grounds that San Francisco 's schools should not be sullied by an association with the US armed forces.

"We don't want the military ruining our civilian institutions," said Sandra Schwartz of the American Friends Service Committee, a far-left pacifist organization that routinely condemns American foreign policy and opposes JROTC nationwide . "In a healthy democracy . . . you contain the military." Board member Dan Kelly, who voted with the majority, called JROTC "basically a branding program or a recruiting program for the military." In fact, it is nothing of the kind: The great majority of cadets do not end up serving in the military.

But then, facts tend not to matter to smug ideologues like Schwartz and Kelly, who are free to parade their contempt for the military because they live in a nation that affords such freedom even to idiots and ingrates. It never seems to occur to them that the liberties and security they take for granted would vanish in a heartbeat if it weren't for the young men and women who do choose to wear the uniform, willingly risking life and limb in service to their country...

I just wrote a couple of snarling paragraphs, and then deleted them. You've already heard that stuff—fake pacifists are a peeve of mine. What occurs to me, beyond the stupid local issue, is that we are seeing is wreckage, similar, though less extreme, to the wreckage left by the former communist regimes. We in America and the West are living amidst the results of embracing socialism. Less here than other places—there is a gradation of destruction we can see in the world today, with the worst damage in Russia, and grievous damage in the rest of Europe, and less in the US. Wreckage? What do I mean? Well, I'll betcha dollars to donuts that that "Sandra Schwartz" is a member of my generation, and helped send a few million South Vietnamese off to death or the "re-education" gulag. And that she doesn't feel the least bit sorry.

And the wreckage seems to be something we are stuck with. One of the salient facts of our time, is that there isn't the bounce-back, the recovery that one expected, that we assumed to be normal. We don't learn from our mistakes, not nearly enough. For instance, I grew up thinking that Germany and Italy had recovered from their years of nationalistic socialism. That they were rejuvenated, made young again, and that their past was becoming like a bad dream. Turns out, not so. Have you read anything in recent decades about how Germany is youthful, innovative, exciting? A fun place? Happy? Nuh uh. It's always stories about how the mood is sour, about maternity hospitals that are eerily empty, about economic stagnation, demographic implosion and extreme over-regulation. About the decline of Christianity and burgeoning populations of unassimilated Muslims.

One of the strange, and, I think, portentous facts about our world, is that there was never a rejection of Communism the way there was of Naziism. It's something to think about. Stalin and Mao killed and imprisoned lots more people than Hitler did. Yet people still wear hammer and sickle T-shirts—I saw one just this week. The horrors of the Gulag are well known, yet no statesmen or religious leaders make pilgrimages to Soviet camps like they do to Auschwitz. Why? And remember how leftists drooled over the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger had (briefly and against his will) been a member of the Hitler Youth? Remember how that was a big deal? So, would it have also been a big deal if he'd been a member of Komsomol? Or any sort of supporter of Stalin? No. People would have called that "youthful idealism!" Just as they do now for those Americans who helped Ho Chi Minh wage aggressive war and mass-murder.

And the same people are now helping Islamo-fascist terrorists and thugs in every way they can. And calling it "peace activism." And getting away with it! For instance, the recent fighting in Lebanon and Gaza was started, deliberately and cold-bloodedly, by Hamas and Hezbollah. (And started after Israel had withdrawn form those places.) Yet no "peace-activists" condemned them for this, no "Quakers" held candle-light vigils, there were no giant puppets to protest this war. Insane. Yet, somehow, our society did not reject these people as the obvious frauds they had shown themselves to be! (Well, there's some rejection. The gray hairs and dated hippie style typical of "anti-war" protesters is a good sign. But if our society was healthy Jane Fonda or John Kerry would not dare to even show their faces in public. Their hands are dripping with human blood.)

That's what I mean by saying that we are living in the wreckage. The moral wreckage of socialism, which is itself a small part of what de Lubac called "atheistic humanism." And I think we don't learn much from our mistakes because we are still inside the big mistake, and when forced to, we just shed a layer of skin, like a reptile, and cast it aside and pretend that it's old history. That's what happened when the world "learned" from its mistake called Naziism or Fascism—the learning was mostly a matter of socialists turning upon one flavor of socialism, and pretending that it was the ultimate evil, and that they were some sort of counter-force to it. While the real evil remained, and the long march to nowhere continued.

Same with "learning" from the mistake of Communism. Most leftists, if pressed, will shed the Stalinist skin, and pretend that they are rejecting the real evil. Or shed the whole Soviet skin (or even, rarely, the Mao skin) but still give us ludicrous bullshit about how happy people are in Cuba! (And, by the way, they are now starting to claim that Saddam was a father-figure, who provided stability and made the trains run on time!)

Oh, and back to San Francisco. I've seen the kids in their JROTC uniforms. They always look sharp and clean-cut and confident. I bet our hippie-leftists would hate the program just for that reason alone. The very body-language of it is a rejection of nihilism.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:18 AM

November 20, 2006

This makes me feel much better...

Fred Barnes, in the Weekly Standard

RARELY HAS THE PRESS gotten a story so wrong. Robert Gates, President Bush's choice to replace Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, is not the point man for a boarding party of former national security officials from the elder President Bush's administration taking over defense and foreign policy in his son's administration. The media buzz about the realists of Bush 41, so cautious and practical, supplanting the idealists of Bush 43, whose grandiose, neoconservative thinking got us stuck in Iraq, is wrong.

President Bush--the current one--decided to hire Gates two days before the November 7 election. He didn't consult his father. He didn't talk to James Baker, his father's secretary of state and now co-head of the Iraq Study Group, whose official advice on Iraq is expected in December. Nor did he tell Rumsfeld that he was lining up someone to take his job.

Before hiring him, Bush had to make sure Gates didn't think America's intervention in Iraq was a mistake and wasn't deeply skeptical of Bush's decision to make democracy promotion a fundamental theme of American foreign policy. With Gates, it came down to this: "The fundamental question was, was he Brent Scowcroft or not?" a Bush aide says....

...Gates had at least one supporter inside Bush's circle, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She, too, had worked for Scowcroft in the senior Bush's administration. She told the president that whenever she had sought to wean Scowcroft from a narrow realist position--such as his dismissal of Russian democratic leader Boris Yeltsin as a rube and his unyielding support for Mikhail Gorbachev--she turned to Gates for help....

Too cool. The press got it wrong (if Barnes is right) and the dextrosphere too. I can't count the number of opinions I've read about how it's all over but for the helicopters landing on the embassy roof. And how the author knew all along that Bush wasn't a conservative, and would sell us all out and cut deals with new pal Nancy.

And the part about Secretary of State Rice is interesting too. How little those on the outside know of what's really going on! How eager I am to read the memoirs that will be coming out over the next decade or two...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:50 PM

November 19, 2006

Quotable, as always...

Peter Burnett, writing about two interesting articles about Africa:

...As the excellent post below explores, modern liberalism has descended from an empirical challenge to ossified tradition and orthodoxy in the name of individual freedom and tolerance to an angry fundamentalist creed that is further and further removed from fact and evidence--and proud of it. Just as American success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions counts for nothing in the face of the symbolism of it’s rejection of Kyoto, so the AIDS industry keeps going to extreme lengths to pretend U.S. policy is anti-condom and based on a sniffy notion that any death from AIDS is just desserts for the immoral.

The reason, of course, is that just as the climate change controversy is more about halting Western prosperity than anything to do with climate, so tranzi AIDS programmes battle any suggestion that individual sexual behaviour can and should be controlled. Preventing disease is secondary to de-linking sex and morality. Motivated partly by a collective nihilist self-hatred, partly by a deep and profound racism and partly by rote anti-Americanism, they seem to be approaching the point where they would have us believe that, even with unlimited free condoms, the AIDS virus can be transmitted mysteriously to the celibate and faithful as punishment for their dangerous religious thoughts...

"an angry fundamentalist creed." Yes. Why? My guess is that it's because leftists are in the truly perilous spiritual position of believing something they don't believe. The liberalism/socialism that is the basis of their system has failed in so many ways that they don't dare to examine their ideas, or enter them in the lists to be debated. Or even say what they are! Yet they have to keep fighting for their ideas, as if they were believers, lest the abyss open beneath their feet. They are sort of nihilists, yet are in a worse position than nihilists—if you simply believe nothing, you at least have the possibility of admitting that something is missing.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:09 PM

Good book about colleges...

This is a great book for students and parents thinking of colleges! Our daughter is starting to do so, so the subject is much on our minds. (Our middle son is applying to schools right now, but he's a singer, and is looking at conservatories and music programs.)

(As I've mentioned before, if you click-through one of these ads, and then buy the item, or something else, amazon.com tosses some crumbs to the Weidners, who thank you from the bottoms of their hearts.)

This is from one of the essays in the book, by Louise Cowan:

IN Kagemusha, the Japanese film director Akura Kurosawa portrays a beggar called upon to impersonate a powerful warlord. About to be put to death for thievery, this lowly figure is snatched from execution by royal officers who detect in him an uncanny physical resemblance to their chief. They hide him in the palace to understudy the great man and to master the ways of the court. On the death of the warlord, the officers pass this double off as the ruler himself, hoping by this deception to conceal from their enemies their vulnerability. The beggar learns to act the part of a noble and fearless leader and, as he grows in his understanding of his role, acquires its internal as well as external dignity. He successfully continues the impersonation until—after the monarch's death has been discovered and the ruse is no longer useful—he is driven away from the palace, a beggar once more.

But a strange thing has happened: this pretender has developed a genuine sense of responsibility that cannot so lightly be dismissed. The burden of leadership, with its peculiar blend ofselflessness and pride, has become his own. Despite his low station, he follows along after the troops in battle and stands at the last defending the banner of his defeated people, exposing himself to the enemy's onslaughts when all others have fallen. The film makes us question: Is this heroic gesture still part of the act? Where does it come from, this apparent greatness of soul thai finally requires in a counterfeit role an authentic death? Kurosawa implies that it issues from the depths of human nature itself. But if so, as the film makes clear, it hardly arises naturally. On the contrary, its realization has come about through schooling in a tradition. Such magnanimity, we are shown, requires mimesis—imitation. To remake oneself in the image of something that calls to greatness demands a heroic tradition displaying heroic models. Kagemusha is, in fact, despite its Japanese subject matter, in the line of the Western and Roman epics, an extension of the Greek heroic code. Like these classics, it uncovers the innate nobility of the soul as a driving force that issues in noble action. Kagemusha, a modern classic, speaks to us with a peculiar power in a time when all energies seem to be devoted to self-preservation and to bodily comfort...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:32 AM

I could probably stare at this for hours...

St Anthony, engraving by  Dürer
An engraving of St Anthony, by Albrecht Dürer.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:16 AM

November 18, 2006

Culture of victim-hood....

Steven den Beste:

2000, Democrats: "We wuz robbed!"
2002, Democrats: "We wuz robbed again!"
2004, Democrats: "We wuz robbed yet again!"
2006, Republicans: "Bummer. Oh, well, we'll do better next time."

Note that right-wing pundits and bloggers don't seem to be fixating on voter fraud, despite documented evidence that the Democrats have been doing that kind of thing? Note that Republican candidates who lost very narrowly gave in gracefully, without demanding recounts or resorting to the courts? Why the difference?

I think it's the basic Democrat culture of entitlement showing through. Democrats were angry in 2000, 2002, and 2004 because they felt that they deserved to win. Republicans don't feel that anyone deserves anything. They believe that all rewards have to be earned...

There's more, worth reading.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 PM

"Provocative"

I thought this was interesting; Bush may not be quite the beached whale Democrats hope he is...

Bush Choice for Family-Planning Post Criticized
By Christopher Lee Washington Post Staff Writer 11/17/06

The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as "demeaning to women."

Eric Keroack, medical director for A Woman’s Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass., will become deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the next two weeks, department spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday.

Keroack, an obstetrician-gynecologist, will advise Secretary Mike Leavitt on matters such as reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy. He will oversee $283 million in annual family-planning grants that, according to HHS, are "designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons."

The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, was the latest provocative personnel move by the White House since Democrats won control of Congress in this month’s midterm elections. President Bush last week pushed the Senate to confirm John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations and this week renominated six candidates for appellate court judgeships who have previously been blocked by lawmakers. Democrats said the moves belie Bush’s post-election promises of bipartisanship.

The Keroack appointment angered many family-planning advocates, who noted that A Woman’s Concern supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts...
[Ha ha. What fun to imagine all the little chomskyettes biting into THOSE lemons!]

It is important to note that there is a nasty bit of deception included here by our betters in the Old Media. While it's true that nominations must be resubmitted after a long recess, this rule can be over-ridden by the Senate. And in fact, as Matthew Hoy recently explained, it normally has been in the past, as a routine part of Senatorial courtesy. Bill Clinton never had to re-submit his nominations! It is the Dems who are making a provocative partisan move here. And they are filthy liars to imply otherwise.

And it's purely twisted for Dems and their media understrappers to imply that it is odd or wrong or "provocative" for a conservative President to nominate conservatives. (Or for the President of a Christian nation to nominate Christians.) Innuendo must serve when you don't dare argue the issues or the facts.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:06 PM

You go to war (against the welfare state) with the President you have...

AJ Strata has an interesting piece on "Bush Conservatives." I don't agree with every point, but he's really on my wavelength...

....Bush Conservatives not only believe in Reagan’s 11th commandment to not speak ill of fellow conservatives - we live it. From the Gang of 14, to Harriet Miers, to Dubai Ports World and to the immigration issue - there has been a brand of Republican which eschewed the 11th commandment. So let the Republicans be defined by that group - Bush Conservatives will be defined by their antithesis. Bush conservatives are not afraid of the word ‘compromise’. They despise the word ‘failure’. If there is a good idea, we do not care what party gets credit - we care that the good ideas get enacted. It is not Party uber America anymore.

Bush Conservatives, like Bush himself, are for lower taxes and focused government (someplace between liberals and libertarians is the proper role of government). They are not for destroying the public education system, they are for making it work. And they understand private school access is one option. They understand that a prescription drug benefit for Medicare/Medicaid will reduce overall costs and provide a respectable end of life for our seniors who came before us. Yes, it costs a lot to care for our elderly. But it doesn’t represent big government. It represents a big heart. I am not for throwing money away. The prescription drug benefit was a nice optimizing solution to a broken system. It was consumer driven (which is why the liberals should not be allowed to go in and insert bureacratic price controls) and it will save money that was being wasted in emergency room treatments for normal problems....(Thanks to The Anchoress.)

Look, I think big government is one of the worst things that can happen to a country. It inevitably tries to become bigger yet, to eat everything, and it inevitably tries to make smaller the only obstacle to it's cancer-like expansion—individuals and groups who would rather take care of themselves. The welfare state is not moral, it is profoundly immoral. And its end result is the destruction of human society, of human souls, which is just what we are seeing in Europe today.

BUT, we aren't going to get rid of it. To put it bluntly, giving women the vote meant that government was going to get into the business of making people secure. (And probably the same thing would have happened with only men voting, just a little bit more slowly.) There is no way that shrink-big-government politics is going to shrink big government. The votes just aren't there, and never will be. Our canoe is heading for the falls, the current moves faster and faster, and there is probably no escape possible.

The one conceivable escape from this trap is what President Bush called "The Ownership Society." That is, giving to individuals control of, and responsibility for, their portion of the government security blanket. The classic example would be putting people's Social Security tax into private accounts. This has the potential to transform the humblest burger-flipper or sales clerk into an investor, a person with assets. To, in fact, transform their picture of themselves, from hapless client to person in control of his or her destiny.

This is the reason I look at things differently than the sort of guys who write for NRO. They survey the scene and say, "Nothing's happening, except government is growing." I look and see that President Bush has swapped Federal dollars for a law that can provide accountability in public schools, and give parents the possibility of demanding transfers to different schools...I don't call that "nothing." I'd like more, that's for damn sure. But I don't see Republican failure at all.

And yes, I wish Bush would promote these ideas more eloquently and forcefully. But, well, that's dubya. You go to war (against the welfare state) with the President you have... (A few more of my posts on the Ownership Society here)

Posted by John Weidner at 1:36 PM

Our place...

Blogger Gerald Augustinus has posted pictures he took of our church, St Dominic's, in San Francisco. I think you might enjoy them...

(By the way, if you are in Southern California and need photography, he's trying to go full-time as a photographer. You can see his work often on his blog.)

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
Ne nos mente dividamur caveamus.
Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.
Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus
Posted by John Weidner at 8:17 AM

November 16, 2006

"The cock that crows, the smoke that curls..."

Composed in the Valley Near Dover, On the Day of Landing

Here, on our native soil, we breathe once more.
The cock that crows, the smoke that curls, that sound
Of bells—those boys who in yon meadow ground
In white-sleeved shirts are playing; and the roar
Of the waves breaking on the chalky shore—
All, all are English. Oft have I looked round
With joy in Kent's green vales; but never found
Myself so satisfied in heart before.
Europe is yet in bonds; but let that pass,
Thought for another moment. Thou art free,
My Country! and 'tis joy enough and pride
For one hour's perfect bliss, to tread the grass
Of England once again, and hear and see,
With such a dear Companion at my side.

-- William Wordsworth, August 30, 1802
Posted by John Weidner at 2:52 PM

The real Christians...

I haven't written about the SF School Board's decision to end the Junior ROTC Program in our high schools. It's just another example of our local left-wing bigotry, too depressing to want to think about. But this caught my eye, from the Chron:

...The board's decision was loudly applauded by opponents of the program.

Their position was summed up by a former teacher, Nancy Mancias, who said, "We need to teach a curriculum of peace.''...

No, it's NOT a "curriculum of peace." It's a curriculum of leftist anti-Americanism. A curriculum of appeasement.

When leftists use the word "peace," you can be 99% sure that a lie is coming. They don't care about peace at all, except as a useful club to bash America and her allies. Kim Jong Il can kill millions in death camps and by starvation without disturbing their oily equanimity. But if America even suggested it was going to liberate those poor wretches from Stalinism we would suddenly hear about how terrible war is, and how it never solves anything!

Related point: Another lie that infuriates me, is that any such military action would be referred to as "bombing." As in "Why are we bombing Iraq?" American forces routinely put our men at risk precisely to avoid the sort of thing that is meant when leftists say "bombing." Think of our guys fighting house to house in Falluja. We could have exterminated all life in that town without a single American casualty, if we had bombed it flat. We didn't even consider it. Same is true of the Israelis in Jenin. (And the bombing we do do is now astonishingly precise, and our bombs and shells grow ever smaller and less destructive. Some don't even contain explosives. Leftists never give us credit for that. They are living a lie.)

And our troops accept this, accept it as their duty. I've read many accounts of Americans at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and never have I heard of our own people suggesting that we should use mass bombing to save American lives. And, a considerable percentage of our soldiers are Christians, and accept these sacrifices as a Christian duty. They accept the possibility that they themselves may be killed or wounded to save the lives of strangers. I would call them the true Christians of our time. And the term for those who stand on the sidelines and sneer, and preen themselves on their ritual purity (from the defilements of violence, non-organic food, war, American-made cars, eating meat, and actually getting their hands dirty fighting evil)?...the term for them is Pharisees.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:16 AM

November 15, 2006

Do you want to know where future wars come from? It's right in front of you.

Mark Steyn, a must read, as so often...

...For the rest of the world, the Iraq war isn't about Iraq; it's about America, and American will...

...As it is, we're in a very dark place right now. It has been a long time since America unambiguously won a war, and to choose to lose Iraq would be an act of such parochial self-indulgence that the American moment would not endure, and would not deserve to. Europe is becoming semi-Muslim, Third World basket-case states are going nuclear, and, for all that 40 percent of planetary military spending, America can't muster the will to take on pipsqueak enemies. We think we can just call off the game early, and go back home and watch TV.

It doesn't work like that. Whatever it started out as, Iraq is a test of American seriousness. And, if the Great Satan can't win in Vietnam or Iraq, where can it win? That's how China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela and a whole lot of others look at it. "These Colors Don't Run" is a fine T-shirt slogan, but in reality these colors have spent 40 years running from the jungles of Southeast Asia, the helicopters in the Persian desert, the streets of Mogadishu. ... To add the sands of Mesopotamia to the list will be an act of weakness from which America will never recover...

It is just a perpetual bewilderment and grief to me the way pacifists and leftists are divorced from reality. Osama and al-Zarkawi and other enemies openly proclaim that they are attacking us because they know, from past experience, that we will run when things get tough. Our running causes wars, causes terror attacks. They don't even bother to hide it!

And yet, predictable as clockwork, when things get bad the advice is to run away. The peaceniks don't even believe that in their own lives; they don't tell their children that problems solve themselves if you run away from them. They don't tell anyone who finds themselves in some menacing slum neighborhood to look weak, so people won't bother you. But that's what they invariably want the US (and Israel) to do.

This stuff doesn't come from belief. There used to exist, I think, principled pacifism and leftism. But they don't exist any more. What we are seeing is nihilism.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:41 PM

Now they tell us...

Our friend Frank sent this NYT editorial, writing: "See 7th Paragraph. Amazing what a difference responsibility makes. They are covering their asses. ..."

The Democrats will not be able to savor their victory for long. Americans are waiting to hear if they have any good ideas for how to get out of Iraq without creating even wider chaos and terrorism. [NOW you let us know that you know that your party has no policy. AFTER you pull out all the stops to get them into office]

Criticizing President Bush’s gross mismanagement of the war was a winning electoral strategy. But criticism will not extricate the United States from this mess, nor will it persuade voters that the Democrats are ready to take back the White House.

Let us be clear. The responsibility for all that has gone wrong lies squarely with Mr. Bush. [Likewise with what's gone RIGHT---too bad there's a news black-out on that part] Even with control of the Congress, the Democrats’ role in changing things will be hortatory. And while we too are eager to hear the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group — better known as the (James) Baker commission — it should be the start, and not the end, of a bipartisan discussion on Iraq strategy. The Democrats need to be ready to play a full role. [Gee, maybe they should start a think-tank! I've only said about a thousand times that Dems have no policy. Nor principles, nor values. Nor morality, nor honesty.]

Under Republican control, Congress has exercised virtually no oversight of the administration’s misconduct of the war, and the new Democratic leadership is eager to hold extensive hearings. The public deserves a full accounting (backed by subpoenas, if necessary) of how prewar intelligence was cooked, why American troops were sent to war without adequate armor, and where billions of dollars in reconstruction aid disappeared to. [Who needs hearings, you've obviously convicted already.]

The Democrats will also need to look forward — and quickly. So far they have shared slogans, but no real policy. [So Random Jottings was right all along? Thanks, I appreciate you admitting it!] During the campaign, their most common call was for a “phased redeployment” — a euphemism for withdrawal — of American troops starting before the end of this year.

Threatening to pull out may be the only way to get cooperation from Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, who is thwarting even the most limited American efforts to disarm militias and set timetables for genuine political compromise on the most fundamental issues, like protecting minority rights and fairly apportioning the country’s oil wealth. [Threatening to pull out also tells the bad guys that their political/media strategy has worked and that they would be fools to compromise, or let to up on the killing.]

Unless America’s exit plans are coupled with a more serious effort to build up Iraq’s security forces and mediate its sectarian divisions, a phased withdrawal will only hasten Iraq’s descent into civil war — while placing American soldiers who remain behind in even greater danger. We also fear that Iraqis will have no interest in anything but retribution, until they see that security and rebuilding are possible. For that reason we have suggested one last push to stabilize Baghdad. That would require at least a temporary increase in American and Iraqi troops on Baghdad streets. [So, now that the election is over the NYT favors doing the sort of stuff the Bush Administration has been doing all along! But "more serious," of course, in some unspecified ways. Vile.]

We are skeptical of calls, by some Democrats, to divide the country into three ethnically based regions. Most Iraqis — except for the Kurds — show little enthusiasm for the idea. And while there has been horrific ethnic cleansing, it hasn’t yet got to the point that boundaries could be drawn without driving many more people from their homes. [Skeptical, eh. But not a word of your skepticism did we hear until your party got into power.]

Such ideas deserve a full discussion, something the United States has not had since its troops first rolled into Iraq. [Bullshit. We've been wrangling about Iraq since at least early 2002. But perhaps the NYT itself has not "discussed" Iraq? Perhaps they've been intimidate by people wrapped in flags, and have kept mum? I should look in their archives and find out.] We are not sure that any shift in strategy can contain the disaster. But we are sure that even a few weeks more of drift and confusion will guarantee more chaos and suffering once American troops leave. Voters gave the Democrats the floor — and are now waiting to hear what they have to say. [Insanity. The NYT sees nothing wrong with (Democrats) getting elected and THEN telling the voters what they stand for.]

Posted by John Weidner at 9:42 AM

November 13, 2006

War never solved anything...

Betsy Newmark posted these resolutions, from the 1864 Democrat Party platform...

Resolved, That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretense of a military necessity of war-power higher than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view of an ultimate convention of the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest practicable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States.

Sure sounds familiar. Blogger and history teacher is a great combo--I always read Betsy Newmark's blg. Then, as now, Dems were for "peace," which really meant surrender. They had General McClellan back then, to propose re-deploying the Army of the Potomac to Okinawa...

And there's this:

Resolved, That the shameful disregard of the Administration to its duty in respect to our fellow citizens who now are and long have been prisoners of war and in a suffering condition, deserves the severest reprobation on the score alike of public policy and common humanity.

Then as now, lies about prisoners. The prisoners held by the North were treated much better than those held by the South, whose captivity was simply barbarous. (Read about Andersonville if you doubt it.) The subject is complicated, but one of the main reasons that prisoner exchanges stopped was that the South refused to treat black soldiers as POW's. They'd hang them or enslave them. Much like today, when any American soldier who falls into the hands of jihadis can expect torture and death (with no protests from the fake peaceniks).

So little has changed. To Democrats and fake pacifists, America (and back then, The Union) is always at fault. They pretend to be for peace, but it's a sham.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:06 AM

Delightful...

BORAT star Sacha Baron Cohen was beaten up by a passer-by after he tried to play a prank as his alter ego.
He approached the man and said: “I like your clothings. Are nice! Please may I buying? I want have sex with it.”

But the bystander didn’t see the joke. He took one look at Cohen and punched him in the face.

The funnyman — known for his Borat catchphrase “Jagshemash!” — yelled for help but was slugged again and again... (Link. Thanks to Orrin)

San Francisco has certain obnoxious idiots who put on whiteface and harass and mock tourists and passers-by on the streets. This is, supposedly, some sort of entertainment. I think they are called "mimes." I would love to see one get thrashed for his impertinence.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:05 AM

November 12, 2006

"But light are the feet on the hills of the morning..."

....Ah, who had known who had not seen
How soft and sudden on the fame
Of my most noble English ships
The sunset light of Carthage came
And the thing I never had dreamed could be
In the house of my fathers came to me
Through the sea-wall cloven, the cloud and dark,
A voice divided, a doubtful sea.
      (The light is bright on the Tower of David,
      The evening glows with the morning star
      In the skies turned back and the days returning
      She walks so near who had wandered far
      And in the heart of the swords, the seven times wounded,
      Was never wearied as our hearts are.)

How swift as with a fall of snow
New things grow hoary with the light.
We watch the wrinkles crawl like snakes
On the new image in our sight.
The lines that sprang up taut and bold
Sag like primordial monsters old,
Sink in the bas-reliefs of fossil
And the slow earth swallows them, fold on fold,
But light are the feet on the hills of the morning
Of the lambs that leap up to the Bride of the Sun,
And swift are the birds as the butterflies flashing
And sudden as laughter the rivulets run
And sudden for ever as summer lightning
The light is bright on the world begun.

Thou wilt not break as we have broken
The towers we reared to rival Thee.
More true to England than the English
More just to freedom than the free.
O trumpet of the intolerant truth
Thou art more full of grace and ruth
For the hopes of the world than the world that made them,
The world that murdered the loves of our youth....

    --GK Chesterton

(A selection from the poem The Towers of Time. You can read the whole poem here.)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:27 AM

November 11, 2006

One more thing for Veteran's Day...

Thanks to Jay Tea, for bringing this to our attention...

IT IS THE SOLDIER

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Poem by Charles Michael Province, U.S. Army
Copyright Charles M. Province, 1970, 2005
All rights reserved.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:50 PM

Feeling better about the election...

I'm feeling better about the election. I wrote a long unpublished post of the going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket type, but, well, maybe that's not how I'm thinking.

Michael Barone wrote somewhere that both parties have moved to the right. Dems by adding moderates, and Republicans by shedding them. I don't expect those new Dems to have much influence on their party now. The Democrats are still controlled by the monsters who gladly helped shovel millions of South Vietnamese and Cambodians into Communist concentration camps, and condemned millions more to death or desperate flight. And who would do it again, without remorse. They will be setting the agenda. Which will fail, yet again, and thus clear the way for other ideas.

But those new people may well be the future of their party, their future Goldwaters and Reagans. If our country has a future (as seems likely to me on this lovely morning) then the Democrat Party has a future, and it will be groping towards better, more American ideas over the next generation or two.

I expect that we will pay a bloody price for the message we have now sent to the terrorists, the message that we will retreat when casualties rise. We are teaching them to kill people. (And when the bill comes due I will not forebear to point out that Pelosi and her gang are murderers and warmongers, and that their "pacifism" means getting Americans and innocent bystanders killed, while letting killers frolic.)

BUT, wars are about fighting. Sorry chomskys, but that's the way it is, and you won't be able to wriggle away from that reality. I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone of Trotsky's famous remark. When it happens, when things get ten times as ugly as they are now, we will have leaned a lesson. (Or if not, than I guess some future Osama will arrange for them to get a hundred times as bad.)

This is going to be a lonnng war, and sometimes losing a battle can be a blessing. The winner thinks he has the world figured out, and the loser is prodded to the hardest part of any activity, which is re-thinking his assumptions. Most people would rather die than question their underlying beliefs, but there are always a few who, confronted with the blood-splattered rubble, will go back to the philosophical drawing-board.

I just hope it's not San Francisco that that's the target. My guess it that softer (philosophically softer I mean--think European) targets will get hit. We have taught the terrorists one lesson that their Democrat allies will have a hard time erasing. That is that America can still be a very dangerous lion to prod. I firmly believe that 9/11 happened with the expectation that America would either lash out in instant fury, or cringe away towards appeasement. I don't think al Qaeda would ever have attacked us if they thought that our response would be to patiently and cold-bloodedly dismantle two Islamic countries, and rebuild them with democratic institutions.

That had to be a nasty surprise, and don't imagine they will risk it again soon....

Posted by John Weidner at 1:21 PM

Thank you...

...to all who have served on Freedom's Wall!

I saved this picture from a few years ago...I hope this guy came home OK....

David Castro holds his youngest daughter, Electra, 1, before leaving for Iraq
Eagle-Gazette / AP photo
David Castro holds his youngest daughter, Electra, 1, before leaving for Iraq with the 216th Engineer Battalion on Sunday. Castro has five children.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:54 AM

November 10, 2006

Put them to the test...

Many bloggers of the Dextrosphere are mentioning IraqPundit's post Speak Up, Democrats...

Al Qaeda and Iran are both gloating over the U.S. election results. AQ's chief in Iraq, Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir, actually mocked Bush while praising the Democrats' victory in the congressional mid-term contests. According to an audio tape message attributed to Al-Mujahir, Americans had "voted for something reasonable in the last elections."

Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that the Republican defeat at the polls "is actually an obvious victory for the Iranian nation."

The White House has declined to comment on these statements, but what about the Democrats? Doesn't it behoove the Democrats to correct the claim that their ascension to power is good news for the enemies of the U.S.? Don't they want to move quickly to disabuse Al Qaeda of the idea that Democrats represent something that these butchers deem "reasonable"?...

....Democrats don't have a party position on what to do in Iraq. But surely they have a party position on whether they want to be embraced by the likes of Al Qaeda and Iran. Don't they?....

An interesting test! What, indeed, will Democrats do now?

My bet is that they will fail the test. They are sick with all the lefty ailments. Which are too many and too depressing to list again.

And of course they were not too squeamish to accept terrorist help in getting into power. A trifling matter of hundreds of Iraqis slaughtered to provide the right headlines in the run-up to the election. But they're not important--not people you know, just sand-niggers. And a bunch of our servicemen were killed for Nancy too, but we already know how Dems feel about America's military.

Pelosi and company accepted this. Accepted having human beings killed to help put them in office.

So I'll bet they have a weak response or none at all. But I'd LOVE to be proved wrong!

Posted by John Weidner at 10:24 PM

I can just see the miasma lifting

Annoying Old Guy writes:

...many of the nation's problems, domestic and foreign, will be solved in the next few months as far as Old Media is concerned. The economy will blossom, foreigners will like the USA better, Congress will do more, better. The impeachment proceedings and investigations won’t be petty politics but a necessary clean up of the government. The general miasma that depressed the nation will lift. It will be a subtle but pervasive effect, lasting until at least Nov 2008...

And the rising real estate prices that hurt the middle class (along with the falling real estate prices that hurt the middle class) will turn around and become signs of cheer and cause for hope! Both of them. Probably simultaneously.

And, even better, the descent of the nation into fascism will be slowed or stopped! Children will sleep safely, knowing that Cheney's blackshirts won't break down the door and haul mommy and mommy off to the re-education camp....

Posted by John Weidner at 4:20 PM

data from the deep past...

Mike Plaiss sent a link, and wrote: "Here is what a "fair and balanced" article on climate change should look like - and from the NYT no less...."

...The discoveries have stirred a little-known dispute that, if resolved, could have major implications. At issue is whether the findings back or undermine the prevailing view on global warming. One side foresees a looming crisis of planetary heating; the other, temperature increases that would be more nuisance than catastrophe.

Perhaps surprisingly, both hail from the same camp: scientists who study the big picture of Earth’s past, including geologists and paleoclimatologists.

Most public discussions of global warming concentrate on evidence from the last few hundred or, at most, few thousand years. And some climate scientists remain unconvinced that data from the deep past are solid enough to be relevant to the debates.

But the experts who peer back millions of years, though they may debate what their work means, do agree on the relevance of their findings. They also agree that the eon known as the Phanerozoic, a lengthy span from the present to 550 million years ago, the dawn of complex life, typically bore concentrations of carbon dioxide that were up to 18 times the levels present in the short reign of Homo sapiens.

The carbon dioxide, the scientists agree, came from volcanoes and other natural sources, as on Mars and Venus. The levels have generally dropped over the ages, as the carbon became a building block of many rock formations and all living things.

Moreover, the opponents tend to agree on why the early Earth’s high carbon dioxide levels failed to roast the planet. First, the Sun was dimmer in its youth. Second, as the gas concentrations increase, its heat trapping capacity slows and reaches a plateau.

Where the specialists clash is on what the evidence means for the idea that industrial civilization and the burning of fossil fuels are the main culprits in climate change....
Posted by John Weidner at 4:02 PM

This beats all...

I'm skeptical about the science behind Global Warming, as you know. I strongly suspect there's a lot of suppressio veri, suggestio falsi going on. But I didn't expect the suppressio part to be quite so shocking as this.

It looks like UN documents that have been widely circulated and used to promote **ahem** certain policies, have been doctored to remove a major historical event, the medieval warm period (the global warming at the end of the First Millennium AD). This period of dramatic climate change has been magic-ed out of the record! Here's the article, scroll down to the part with the two graphs. Astonishing...

Two climate graphs, one without Medieval Warm Period

Now I may not know much about computer climate models (though I know enough to smell a rat when people get exactly the results they so obviously want) but I do know a lot of history. The medieval warm period is real, it shows up in the record over and over again, as does the cooling after 1500. The most famous example is the Norse farms in Greenland, where no one would farm today. But there are plenty of others.

As always, what interests me are the underlying questions. Why is this such an overwhelming issue to certain people? One reason is contained in the first paragraph of the article:

Last week, Gordon Brown and his chief economist both said global warming was the worst "market failure" ever. That loaded soundbite suggests that the "climate-change" scare is less about saving the planet than, in Jacques Chirac's chilling phrase, "creating world government"...

That's a lot of it, I think. But there is also the desire to distract attention away from the failures of Leftism, which are now so evident. This is an issue that people can be passionate about without actually arguing in a positive way the virtues of their own philosophy. A leftist can scream 'We've got to do something!" and just assume that momentum and habit will produce the desired results of bigger government, less freedom, and rule by "experts." (I, on the other hand, can proclaim my ideas on this topic openly, and let them be debated.)

And perhaps the most conspicuous failure that leftists want to distract attention from are the declining birthrates throughout the developed world, which track closely with the rise of leftish ideas and the decline of Christian and Jewish faith, and which have brought many European nations into irreversible demographic collapse. Leftists are pointing frenziedly at global Warming to distract us from the fact that they have been killing billions of people, by persuading people not to have children.

(thanks to Kathy Shaidle)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:17 AM

November 9, 2006

Improved my morning...

You gotta read this. Blogger Chris Lynch invents an interview with Secretary Rumsfeld. But I HOPE people in the White House are laughing and saying, "Heh heh. Truer than he dreams..."

...ALR: But Mr. Secretary are you saying your tenure as Secretary of Defense was ended simply to control news cycles?

Rummy: Goodness no. When all is said and done I will be the longest serving Secretary of Defense in history. All Secretaries of Defense step down. This just happened to be the right time for me and if the President was able to time the announcement to take the wind out the sails of some blowhards well then that's just gravy. The important thing to me is that our brave men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are honored and protected and I think this resignation helps with those ends.

ALR: Again Mr. Secretary I apologize but I don't follow your reasoning.

Rummy: Well Chris you understand the process involved here correct? It will be a few months before Bob Gates even gets his confirmation hearing. The administration will be able to use the confirmation hearings and my farewell tour to reinforce the case of what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

ALR: Mr. Secretary can you elaborate on that a little more?

Rummy: Sure Chris. You see between now and the confirmation hearings I will be going back to Iraq on several occasions. The media normally just covers bad news from Iraq but this time they will have no choice. They will have to get soldiers reaction to my resignation and how they feel about their mission in Iraq. A great percentage of the soldiers really believe in their mission and the American people will see that. Oh and the confirmation hearings are a trap for the Democrats. You'd think they would have learned from the Justice Roberts hearings but I guess not.

ALR: Can you share with us what you foresee happening at the confirmation hearings?

Rummy: Oh its going to be great theater. The back seat drivers will finally have to go on record for what they think is the best course instead of always complaining that we just missed a turn....

Leftists don't really care about Rumsfeld himself, though I'm sure his candor and confidence and wit are a huge irritation. But mostly he, and our campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, are symbols of the idea that there are things worth fighting and even dying for. That there are things bigger than their bulbous egos. To the nihilist, the thought of young men and women volunteering to go in harm's way because they believe in service and duty is just insanity, and a very disturbing and irritating sort of insanity.

My own suspicion is that it's disturbing to them because serving is what we were made to do, and little voices inside us whisper that this is so. And I'd say that serving one's country in a post of danger is analogous to serving God [Ed: sounds like you are saying that...No, I am not!] and serving God is what we are really long for. What did Satan say? Non Serviam, I think it was. I will not serve! Our letter-day mini-Satans hate America's military for just that reason. Watch them when they say those bullshitting things about "supporting the troops." They never say or imply that serving our country is in itself noble or admirable. ..

Posted by John Weidner at 11:43 AM

November 8, 2006

My one big concern...

As far as domestic politics goes, this Dem victory will probably be good for the country and the GOP in the long run. It will shine a light on "San Francisco values." If that doesn't wake people up, we are probably doomed no matter what we do.

BUT in one sense this may be a big disaster. Our enemies in Iraq ramped up their random killings over the last few months precisely to get appeasers elected in the US. They and all Islamic terrorists will take this as a victory, and an incentive to more slaughter. We are, as we have for decades, teaching them that killing people gets them what they want!

Once again, pacifism is going to kill people and cause wars. We will pay in blood for our folly.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:39 AM

November 7, 2006

Chins up...

Jim Geraghty writes:

...Every two years, the country has a choice. Sometimes the country's going to agree with you; sometimes they won't. Sometimes you'll be convinced you have fantastic arguments, and the other guy doesn't know what he's talking about. And yet sometimes they choose the other guy. Sometimes you lose. It stinks, but it happens.

What do you do? You mope. You drink. You swear a bit.

And then, after a little while, you get back up on the horse and try again.

Regarding this, I think the Democrats have inferior policies. But the country chose 'em; now they get to see how they work.

My congratulations to tonight's winners; chin up to the losers. Tomorrow is another day...

I'll drink to that. 'Course I'm not such a decent chap myself. I'll confess I feel a certain evil pleasure thinking of the Nihilist Party now having to come up with something positive they can pretend to believe in. My guess is they won't; their "program" will be to be anti-Bush. They are but shadows cast by real objects.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:34 PM

Win or lose, Michael Steele's a class act...

From the Weekly Standard:

...Steele's voting site in the heavily African-American county was unlikely to be a stronghold of support. He had some supporters in the crowd (a handful of people sought him out while he was standing in line) and outside the middle school, the vast majority of those in attendance appeared to be overtly hostile to the candidate.

"Anyone who's with Bush is not with me," proclaimed one black woman as she crossed paths with Steele in a hallway. There were other remarks in the same vein. While being interviewed in the polling place, another African-American voter stated that she couldn't support someone who still believed in "a false war based on lies."

...Standing in line to vote with his wife, the pair wearing matching blue Under Armour windbreakers, Steele was surrounded by folks who clearly had no desire to vote for him. They made snide comments behind his back. "They're just trying to trick us, but we know better," exclaimed one elderly woman. She went on to explain that Steele's great "trick" was not cutting to the front, but instead choosing to stand in line like everyone else.

For 45 minutes, Steele was waiting in line, listening to the jibes, biting his tongue, and smiling bravely. If not for his resolve, it would have been a depressing sight--the capacity some of us have to be rude to strangers is remarkable. Michael Steele deserved better...(thanks to
Dean B)

How low. What animals leftists are. And how classy the Steeles are to just smile and stick it out and vote. A real man, and a real woman.

And can you imagine John Kerry being in such a situation? No, because he'd push to the front of the line and say "Do you know who I am?"

Keep this in mind when you hear the usual bullshit claims that black voters are being harassed and intimidated at the polls. Here's a genuine case.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:22 PM

November 6, 2006

Natalie Solent understands us Yanks....

Tomorrow's headlines today.

If the Democrats win:

Bush pays the price for the Iraq War.

If the Democrats lose:

America has a long tradition of local issues dominating mid-term elections.
(link)
Posted by John Weidner at 9:22 PM

line on the graph will head down, I predict

Ethan sent me a link to this, from a London paper...

A doctors' group today called for a debate on the mercy killing of disabled babies.

The medical profession should examine the "active euthanasia" of desperately ill newborns, said the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology.

It wants an inquiry into whether the "deliberate intervention to cause the death of an infant" should be legalised...

As he wrote, step by step, inch by inch...

One thing that's curious and interesting to me, is that it is looking more and more like this kind of thinking doesn't even work by purely utilitarian standards. Any utilitarian types reading this? I bet you could graph openness to "active euthanasia" (or other Culture of Death indices) against the economic or demographic health of various nations or regions, and get something like a straight line. And I don't mean a line that's going up...

It doesn't work! In flat-out dollars-and-cents bottom-line practical terms, euthanasia doesn't work. The argument is, I'm sure, that the money saved by not trying to care for hopeless cases can be spent to help others in need. But I feel confident in predicting that adopting euthanasia as a policy will not result in better health care for everybody else, or better economic and social success for the societies involved.

Why? If I had time and more coffee I could give many suggestions. But they would all add up to a hunch bordering on a certainty that the model of the world, the interior "computer model" that is being used by many people is defective. They are inputting good data into a bad model, and the results don't match reality.

For those who believe in this model, here's another thought-experiment. What would happen if you graphed the popularity of the books of Richard Dawkins against the Darwinian reproductive success of various groups of people? (I'm not referring to Dawkins on Darwinian theories of evolution per se, but to the way Dawkins elaborates them into a model for understanding other things.)

I suspect that people who hug the books of Mr Dawkins to their chests with glad cries have long-term evolutionary prospects similar to the California Condor.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:13 AM

Interesting tid-bit

This was an aside in a post by Orrin Judd,

...Richard Rhodes was on NPR's Studio 360 just yesterday explaining how half of all the nuclear plants in the US are burning nuclear material from decommissioned Soviet warheads, making it one of the only government programs in history that pays for itself, not to mention that it disposes of an environmental threat and replaces burning coal and gasoline and whatever...

I had never heard that. But Rhodes ought to know about this stuff, having written this (excellent) book...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:31 AM

November 5, 2006

Let us live while we live...


John Henry Newman, ca. 1840
We were made for action, and for right action,—for thought, and for true thought. Let us live while we live; let us be alive and doing; let us act on what we have, since we have not what we wish. Let us believe what we do not see and know. Let us forestall knowledge by faith. Let us maintain before we have demonstrated. This seeming paradox is the secret of happiness. Why should we be unwilling to go by faith? We do all things in this world by faith in the word of others. By faith only we know our position in the world, our circumstances, our rights and privileges, our fortunes, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our age, our mortality. Why should religion be an exception? Why should we be unwilling to use for heavenly objects what we daily use for earthly? —Newman

Most of the problems that vex our world today would not have surprised John Henry Newman. He looked into the future back when Queen Victoria was still a princess, and described many of them (and solved some of them, if anybody wants to pay attention).

The quote above alludes to his writings about the difficulty of having faith in a skeptical world. There is an argument that goes, "One should not believe anything that can't be proved by logic, or proved by science." (Usually said of religion by the village atheist.) Newman explained that this is a false argument. Almost everything we know we accept by adding together probabilities, and arriving at a certainty. I believe I was born on a certain date because I add the unliklihood of an incorrect birth certificate to the unliklihood of my parents telling a lie (which itself is based on adding up probabilities) and come up with a certitude. Like 99.9% of the things I know, I have not tested it by formal logic or scientific experiment. It is by the same process that I have come to have faith in the existance of Neutrinos and viruses, neither of which I've ever seen or touched...

Newman called this process the "Illative Sense."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:00 AM

November 4, 2006

THE RAIN

(In honor of the end of the dry season here...)

THE RAIN

Rain, do not hurt my flowers, but quickly spread
Your honey drops: presse not to smell them here:
When they are ripe, their odour will ascend
And at your lodging with their thanks appear.

-- George Herbert
Posted by John Weidner at 12:42 PM

Like a virus mutating to overcome the immune system...

I didn't get around to blogging Bjorn Lomborg's article on the Stern Report—I didn't have anything witty to say. Alan Sullivan did:

I saw news stories about the release of the Stern report in Great Britain. I didn’t bother to link them. Another climate scare — yawn. But this is rather serious. Like a virus mutating to overcome the immune system of its host, the global warming meme has a newly-written line in its DNA. A government-commissioned panel has determined — surprise! — that more government is the answer to hypothetical climate woes. Since Kyoto critics killed off the treaty by insisting it would cost too much, the counterargument is to claim climate change would cost much, much more than any system of confiscation and regulation socialists could concoct...

Climate change is probably one of the things we should be worrying about. But it's almost impossible to deal with it rationally when so many people have seized on it as a fetish-object that will magically rid them of the dynamism and rapid change that they hate.

The Global Warming cultists never want to reveal the philosophy that underlies their thoughts, preferring to don the symbolic white lab coats of scientific objectivity. (Which is ridiculous when you know how politicized the academy is, and note the venom with which it pursues heretics from its climate "consensus.") They are afraid to expose their ideas to criticism.

But I can tell you what their philosophy is. They want to go back to the world I grew up in, where it was assumed, with almost no questioning, that experts could run things with much better results than the marketplace. (This was always mostly about government running things, but I remember when it was also thought that "scientific" business management was going to give giant entities like GM and IBM and AT&T and Pan Am(!) an unbeatable advantage, thus bringing order and stability to the messy economic sphere.)

[And yes, I'm aware that arguments that run, "Here's what you think and here's why it's wrong" are often illegitimate. But this is meant as an invitation to make counter-arguments. If I'm wrong, make a case! Show why I'm wrong. I double-dare you.]

And I can tell you what my philosophy is when I approach these questions---I'm not afraid to be open...

One basic element of my thinking is, you can't go backwards. The only way out is forward. Though the fire to the other side. In the question of Climate Change this is obvious to the point of triviality when you recognize that developing countries are now contributing half of carbon emissions, and their share is rising. One can at least imagine the US or Europe hobbling their economic growth, but China? India? Malaysia? Get serious. (It is a clear indicator of how fraudulent the Gore-ites are, that their bashing is always against Bush, never Deng.)

The corollary of this is that solutions will come through economic and scientific development. The world needs to get richer and smarter and more knowledgeable fast. The crucial resource is people, and we need to have more of the world's brains working on development of all sorts. (I suspect population growth itself is a positive development.) And the best way to do that is to spread American ideas of freedom and capitalism and individual initiative far and wide. And the best way to do that is Globalization—in fact that is precisely what Globalization is. I suggest that anyone who is serious about dealing with Climate Change is in favor of Globalization. (I'm NOT saying that Globalization or development are unalloyed good things. But I suggest that for this question they are.)

More specifically, the one technology we have available right now that could make a big difference in carbon emissions is nuclear power. So I further suggest that a test of whether a person is serious on this issue is that they are openly thinking nuclear. And to get more specific yet, a good test is whether they have the simple awareness that nuclear power technology has advanced greatly in safety, reliability and efficiency over the last few decades. People who are still talking Chernobyl or Three Mile Island are flakes. They don't know what's going on.

BY BJORN LOMBORG: The report on climate change by Nicholas Stern and the U.K. government has sparked publicity and scary headlines around the world. Much attention has been devoted to Mr. Stern's core argument that the price of inaction would be extraordinary and the cost of action modest.

Unfortunately, this claim falls apart when one actually reads the 700-page tome. Despite using many good references, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is selective and its conclusion flawed. Its fear-mongering arguments have been sensationalized, which is ultimately only likely to make the world worse off...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:29 AM

November 3, 2006

Prescient? I blog, you decide...

Ethan mentioned, in a comment to the previous post, that I was prescient. Well, I rarely am, but in this case he's right. I wrote in February of 2003 that there were going to be documents...millions of them. I was right. Here's the link.

And I knew that from reading Witness, by Whittaker Chambers. He knew how lefty totalitarians act (Here's the link)...He wrote:

...Vern Smith and one of the other signers took the petition to national headquarters on 125th Street. There was consternation. It was not entirely due to the breach of discipline. Another peculiarly Communist attitude entered in. Revolutionists have a respect, amounting to awe, for the signed document. They have broken, or are trying to break, the continuity of order in society. By that act, they repudiate tradition, and the chaos they thereby unloose also threatens them, for they can no longer count on the inertia or authority of tradition to act as a brake or a bond on chaos. Hence that fussy attention which revolutionists pay to mere legalistic forms that puzzles outsiders both in the case of the Nazis and the Communists—their meticulous regard for protocol and official papers. Hence the tiresome detail and massive fictions of their legal and constitutional procedures, and the formal pettifoggery, with all the i's dotted, of a secret police that works entirely beyond the law...

If you want to know how the world works, read what Random Jottings recommends. Do not read the crap that your Tranzi professor recommends.

By the way **ahem** oh my faithful readers, if you click on one of these Amazon links and buy the book I get a little cut. What you may not know is that if you click through and then buy something else from Amazon.com, the hungry needy Weidner family also gets a cut. So if you are thinking of buying something, just start here! (One suspects there's some catch, and diamond chokers aren't included. Maybe someone wants to test this?)

Posted by John Weidner at 12:13 PM

I already knew Bush didn't lie, but...

...It's nice to have it confirmed by the NYT (I'm sure you've already seen this stuff, but it's fun to post)

Dean Barnett:

....In its semi-annual November surprise, the New York Times “reveals” that the Bush administration put documents on the web that showed that Iraq was quite far along in its quest for nuclear weapons. Naturally, that’s not the focus of the story. The focus of the story is the cursed incompetence of the Bush administration, the Republican Party, and even right-wing media-types (like me!) who wanted the documents released.

But the takeaway from the story for normal people won’t be that conservatives both inside and outside the administration are all a bunch of blithering incompetents. Besides, Andrew Sullivan’s vote had already been pretty much sewed up. The “news” in the story is how far along Saddam was in his bid to acquire the ultimate WMD. While that’s an old story to many of us, it’s heartening to see the Times splash it all over this morning’s front page and in so doing refresh the nation’s memory regarding the most disputed causus belli of the current war....

And of course having the NYT, of all organizations, admit that leaking stuff might be harmful...delicious...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:02 AM

November 2, 2006

biases and preconceptions...

I find the biases and preconceptions in this Washington Times piece fascinating...

BAGHDAD -- In the face of relentless violence, political chaos, economic uncertainty and nightly curfews, Iraq's maternity wards are experiencing an unlikely baby boom.

Despite the obstacles, the birthrate in Iraq actually has increased since the U.S.-led invasion 43 months ago, according to the country's Health Ministry. The rate of births in the country has jumped from 29 births per 1,000 people in 2003 to 37 per 1,000 last year, according to government figures.

In neighboring Iran, the birthrate is half that -- 21 per 1,000 population, while the average birthrate in the Middle East is 25, according to the World Bank. The birthrate in the United States is about 14 births per 1,000 people, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention....

Some preconceptions...

  1. That people in Iraq see their situation the same way western MSM writers do.
  2. That a level of violent deaths roughly comparable to American urban slums is something that people can't "get used to," and just carry on their lives during.
  3. That Saddam's Iraq had economic certainty.
  4. That people respond to times of sporadic violence by postponing children.
  5. That the situation in Iraq constitutes "political chaos."

I'd say:

  1. They probably don't, as witness the fact that several million refugees have returned to Iraq. Plus all those new babies.
  2. There have been lots of cases in history where people became accustomed to levels of violence and uncertainty much greater than Iraq's. And would routinely slip out to buy groceries when the firing died down, or when mortar fire moved to the next block. I've read stuff like that about Beirut.
  3. Among other things, the Ba'athists played games with the value of the currency, and people would be stuck with devalued dinars, while insiders made a killing. More importantly, true economic security—this will be incomprehensible to statists—comes with the marketplace. Things of value have value because people will pay for them, and free markets maximize this salability.
  4. The normal human response to dangerous times is to have more children, so as not to have all one's eggs of happiness in one basket. I suspect the author is a "Blue-Stater" who assumes that people respond to anything by postponing children.
  5. Just silly. Wishful thinking. Or maybe just sloppy writing
Posted by John Weidner at 1:10 PM

Coupla things...

I wasn't going to mention the Kerry stuff, it's all too much like a little play where everyone is reading from a predictable script. But as we were both scanning blogs this morning, Charlene mentioned a couple of things she encountered...Michael Graham in the Boston Herald...

....John Kerry looks at these young people and sees losers. Charlie Rangel sees desperate dead-enders. If the Democrats win on Tuesday, our soldiers in Iraq will look up at CNN International and see these two men leering back at them, flush with victory.

I cannot cast that vote.

I’m going to vote for the suckers, the chumps, the kids from bottom of the barrel. As they patrol the streets of Baghdad and kick down doors in Kandahar, they’re going to know that, back home, at least one geeky guy in one lonely voter’s booth has their back.

America’s soldiers may be among the least impressive people John Kerry knows, but they’re doing the most important job in the world. It’s a job that Sen. Kerry’s pinot-drinking, Sartre-reading Euro-weenie pals aren’t willing to do...(Thanks to
TexasRainmaker)

One only wishes they were still manly enough to read Sartre. And there's this, from a column by Michael Medved:

...Despite their flamboyant efforts to masquerade as Church-going, duck-hunting, gun-loving, flag-waving, NASCAR fans, the leaders of the Democratic Party clearly feel more at home with the values of San Francisco or Nantucket than with the down-home mores of Biloxi or Boise. In June, an important Gallup Poll asked respondents to rate 15 institutions in terms of “public confidence.” The military came out on top, followed by police and then preachers...

Bad news for Dems...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:48 AM

November 1, 2006

Fantasy fails...

Reuters -- The provocative film "Death of a President," which imagines the assassination of George W. Bush, bombed at the North American box office with a meager $282,000 grossed from 143 theaters in its first weekend...

Ha ha. Serves them right. Their horrid little lefty wish-fulfillment fantasy isn't going over with the people.

Can you imagine how the chomskys would have howled if someone had filmed an imaginary assassination of Hillary? Or "President Gore?" How they would have denounced such an incitement to violence and terrorism?

The people who made this film should have been sent to Gitmo for a few decades of rest and Caribbean sun, but failing at the box office is a least some punishment...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:47 AM

Bush Revolution continues...

Card-Carrying-Conservative types expect "The Revolution" to be enacted in neat packages, sort of like LBJ's War on Poverty. Meanwhile, they can't even see the actual revolution...

Thomas Carroll, NY Sun...The teachers unions contribute substantial sums to incumbents on both sides of the political aisle in the state Legislature, but in contested statewide races, they are among the Democratic Party's staunchest allies. That's one reason that Hillary Clinton announced her initial candidacy for the Senate at the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers, New York City's teachers union. That's also why statewide Democratic candidates for office typically offer no ideas that run counter to those held by union bosses.

Given this history, one might reasonably suppose that the likely Democratic takeover of the governor's office might not be good news for those who favor school choice or major educational reforms. A few early signs, however, suggest that Eliot Spitzer, if elected, may break this partisan mold.

Over the past year, Mr. Spitzer has been speaking much more boldly about education reform than any other major figure in his party...

...The federal No Child Left Behind Act, by increasing the focus on test results and accountability, has made the disappointing performance of New York's urban schools more and more difficult to defend. No serious person any longer argues with the central premise that the current educational system in New York is broken.

With the worst test scores concentrated in the state's urban areas, political support for the status quo, especially among minority legislators, is evaporating....[My emphasis. Thanks to Orrin]

NCLB was designed for this. To change the terms of the debate. Change them from "Our schools need more money!" to "Is there something fundamentally wrong here?"

You can't get good answers until you start asking the right questions. I learned that long ago from reading Peter Drucker. NCLB is wickedly designed to keep asking the same questions, year after year, as test scores appear. "Why is this school failing?" "Why hasn't this school improved over last year?"

The standard schools must meet is not just doing well, but improving every year. All of them. It's crazy. That is, crazy within the the terms of the status quo. As a tool of revolutionary change, it's brilliantly designed. A bribe of a few billions to poor sozzled Teddy Kennedy to get it passed was peanuts.

All the NRO types could see was Bush supporting more big government, more spending. Same for Kennedy, though he was in favor of course. Neither saw a new lens for looking at the old situation. A new way of thinking about old messy problems.

It's perfectly understandable lefties are chewing the carpets therse days. It's not just their political strength that's being undermined, but also their world-view.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:04 AM