January 31, 2007


Anent a recent discussion here, I recommend a piece by Seth Gitell in the NY Sun, New Thesis on Vietnam Aimed at 2008 Election. He writes:

A new thesis about the end of the Vietnam war is making the rounds in the context of the debate over Iraq. It holds that President Nixon and Henry Kissinger — not the Democratic Congress and public opinion — were chiefly culpable in America's betrayal of South Vietnam...

I think the "new thesis" is hokum, as does Gitell. Here's a small something to mull on...

...A contrast of two military offensives conducted by the People's Army of North Vietnam highlights their error. In the first offensive, in March 1972, North Vietnam hurled 14 conventional divisions, including 1,200 tanks, into South Vietnam. Nixon authorized American B-52 Stratofortresses into action to help the South Vietnamese army, the primary ground force in Vietnam at the time, fend off the invasion. The enemy sustained more than 100,000 casualties. The offensive failed. In the second offensive, three years later, North Vietnam launched the Ho Chi Minh campaign. Columns of enemy armor, unimpeded by American airpower, sped south, ultimately taking Saigon. At the end of the war, enemy missiles were pulled by tractor-trailer trucks out of the jungle, just miles from Saigon. Messrs. Rose and Perlstein fail to account for how these two similar campaigns ended with tragically different results.

Between 1972 and 1975, America's Congress passed a series of pieces of legislation that strangled the Republic of South Vietnam of resources and blocked any hope of an American air campaign. While Mr. Rose himself acknowledges that "in June 1973, Congress ordered all American military operations in Indochina to cease by the end of the summer, and in November it passed the War Powers Act," he soft-peddles the ramifications of these moves — as well as neglecting other legislative restrictions on helping South Vietnam....

Actually, I think the appearance of this "new thesis" at this moment is evidence for my thesis, that a lot of the craziness on the Left right now derives from guilt, guilt at having flushed tens-of-millions of people down the communist toilet. And it is starting to surface now because they are proposing to do something similar to tens-of-millions of Moslems.

What particularly galls me is that the leftists don't think about the consequences. Do I know this for sure? Of course not, but still, I know some of these types, I'm "embedded" in Blue State America, and I have a hunch bordering on a certainty that this is so. I feel very confident that none of the "anti-war" protesters of the 60's worried about what would happen to the South Vietnamese. And I feel a similar confidence that none of the "anti-war" crowd today is worrying either. (If I'm wrong, show me the evidence!)

If you could be a fly on the wall at one of their meetings, I bet you would not hear anyone fretting about what might happen to the Kurds if the Ba'athists got their hands on them. (Nor would you hear the least bit of rejoicing that Iraqi Kurdistan is now enjoying peace and prosperity.) Or how many more Sh'ites would end up in mass graves if al Qaeda or the Sunnis were back in power. Nor would you hear them wanting the Iraqis to be able to continue to elect their leaders. In fact, what you would hear would be all about Bush, and Cheney, and how bad America is. Nothing would indicate that the ordinary Iraqi was human to them...

Also a bitter thing to me is that those North Vietnamese invasions of South Vietnam mentioned in the article—"14 conventional divisions, including 1,200 tanks..."—I don't recall that those massive attacks garnered any criticism from our "pacifists." That kind of war is just fine for the fake-pacifist, because it's anti-American, which is their real religion...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:23 AM

January 30, 2007

Good questions...

Orrin Johnson writes on a good question, Iraq vs. Darfur - Just What Is a Worthy Call to One's Conscience? (Thanks to Lorie Byrd)

...Why are the Christians in Darfur more worthy of being saved than the Kurds or Shi'ites were under Saddam's Iraq? Why is the sectarian violence (some could say civil war) in the Sudan worthy of sending American troops to battle al Qaeda, IEDs, and an "endless war" in a country without any real government, when at the same time, it is a moral imperative that we guarantee the same deadly results in Iraq by withdrawing immediately?...

...There are no answers to these questions, of course. Darfur is hip, Iraq is not. That's it. That's the real difference. And Darfur has the added bonus of "never going to happen" because of French, Chinese, and Russian interests there. Which means the high school idealists, college-know-it-all hippies, academics, and other assorted activists can feel good about "making a difference" without ever having to face the consequences which come with the best intentioned humanitarian interventions.

I would love to intervene in the Sudan. I wish we had the military to do it. Unfortunately, our military is too small to solve every world problem at once. So how about we finish solidifying our victories for freedom and human rights against murderous oppressors where we already are first? Don't think success in Iraq will be able to be ignored by the Sudanese thugs who know they're next on the radar...

[Referring to his picture of a church with "saveDarfur.org" and "Blessed Are The Peacemakers" banners] ...."Blessed are the Peacemakers" indeed. Too bad neither this church, nor the "anti-war" crowd, nor the defeatists in Congress can claim such a title...

Well, actually, the "save Darfur" crowd are NOT suggesting we send US troops, as far as I know. But the point is still valid, because that is in fact the only way that Darfur can be saved.

The current "save Darfur" agitation on the left is exactly equivalent to those moronic "Save Tibet" bumper stickers you see on aging Volvos everywhere. They are only there to make the owner feel good; they have nothing to do with actually doing anything.

Charlene and I recently had a brief, well, "clash" you might say, with a rather saint-like but leftish woman who had worked in Africa for many years, including in Sudan. It was interesting, because we tried to pin her down on the simple fact that the only way the killing will be stopped is if the US intervenes militarily. She tried to squirm away with vague protestations that "the world should get involved," and guff like that---but I think she knew too much to really have her heart in it! It was a polite social situation, and so we had to drop the topic. But I think about it now and then....

Posted by John Weidner at 9:58 AM

January 29, 2007

creeps, cranks and embittered losers...

I couldn't help heaping some scorn on this article, about "progressive" Jews discovering that the "progressive" movement is a hotbed of Jew-hatred, and responding with vigorous pouting...(Thanks to Orrin)

(JTA) — Three years ago, Jonathan Bernstein received an e-mail from a distraught political activist in the San Francisco Bay Area concerned about rising anti-Semitism among fellow political progressives. [She shoulda been reading Random Jottings, in order to be hit with the clue-bat.]

“The growing acceptance of anti-Semitic rhetoric is so commonplace it is not even recognized as anti-Semitism,” wrote the activist, who went on to list a number of anti-Semitic incidents in her community that had left her rattled.

Despite her opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the woman had not attended a recent anti-war rally due to her reluctance to support the group organizing the protest. [Just 'cuz they want the Jews driven into the sea? How touchy.]

“We’ve gotten calls for help like that almost weekly here for the last three years,” said Bernstein, director of the Anti-Defamation League office in San Francisco. “With each case we’ve helped put out fires by trying to get the right person to speak out about whatever the issue is.” [Not helping much, is it?]

On Jan. 28 the ADL will try to do more than just douse fires when it convenes Finding Our Voice, a daylong conference in San Francisco aimed at empowering Jewish progressives to respond to anti-Semitism on the left...[Jews have been among the biggest Bolshevik blabbermouths for a century. So how can they be "Finding Our Voice"???]

...Workshops will feature presentations by university professors, community activists, elected officials and religious leaders. Among the titles are “That’s Not Funny: Cartoons and Editorials — What’s Legitimate and What Isn’t”; Opposing the War While Opposing Anti-Semitism”; “Breaking Through the Myth of Jewish Whiteness”; and “Using Positive Messages to Challenge Hate: Advocacy on the Campus.”... [All are fatuous, but...the myth of Jewish whiteness???]

...While much attention has been paid to the so-called “new anti-Semitism,” in which antipathy toward Jews is masked [Masked?] as rabid criticism of Israel, the Finding Our Voice conference represents the first organized effort by liberal Jews to fight back...[Fighting back---with workshops! Yeah, that will terrify the Hezbolloids.]

...“Right now it seems that the best way to further progressive causes, and particularly a broader sense of how Jews can be active in peace causes, is to give progressive Jews the tools to constructively address anti-Semitism when it comes up in progressive circles,” said Rabbi Jane Litman, a Reform rabbi in Berkeley, Calif....[Dream on, progressive girl.]

...“The progressive movement is about tolerance and justice and peace,” Litman said. “It seems so strange that hatefulness can have a home there.” The left’s tolerance for anti-Jewish bigotry is considered strange by many progressive Jews in the Bay Area, who noticed a marked increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric following the U.S. invasion of Iraq.... [Let me explain this in terms so simple even a Reform rabbi-ette from Berkeley can understand. Anti-Semitism always appeals to losers. You in the "Progressive Movement" are a bunch of losers. Your underlying faith, socialism, is such a colossal dud and flop that you don't dare even mention it. (You killed a hundred-million people, and all you got was that crummy Che T-shirt.) And you are allied with Islamist terrorists who are also losers. SO, your cause is a natural home for anti-Semitism. There are NO "constructive tools" that will allow you to escape this dilemma.]

....Several anti-war protests in San Francisco organized by the ANSWER Coalition featured imagery and slogans some considered anti-Semitic, including the burning of the Israeli flag, chants of support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Nazi-like arm salutes. ["Considered" anti-Semetic? Let us not rush to judgement here. Maybe they were just joking.]

Conference participants say that while some of this activity reflects a sinister political agenda, much of it stems from ignorance of the complexity of the Middle East conflict... [Yeah, just like Eichmann was ignorant of the "complexities" of European conflict.]

(The idjixy goes on and on, but I've had enough. New motto for Progresso-Jews: "I'll fight to the death for my right to not get a clue.")

Posted by John Weidner at 6:36 AM

January 28, 2007

For Sunnandæg...

From a letter by CS Lewis...

...The contradiction 'we must have faith to believe and must believe to have faith' belongs to the same class as those by which the Eleatic philosophers proved that all motion was impossible. And there are many others. You can't swim unless you can support yourself in water & you can't support yourself in water unless you can swim....

....I do not think there is a
demonstrative proof (like Euclid) of Christianity, nor of the existence of matter, nor of the good will & honesty of my best & oldest friends. I think all three are (except perhaps the second) far more probable than the alternatives. The case for Xtianity in general is well given by Chesterton; and I tried to do something in my Broadcast Talks.

As to
why God doesn't make it demonstratively clear: are we sure that He is even interested in the kind of Theism which wd. be a compelled logical assent to a conclusive argument? Are we interested in it in personal matters? I demand from my friend a trust in my good faith which is certain without demonstrative proof. It wouldn't be confidence at all if he waited for rigorous proof. Hang it all, the very fairy-tales embody the truth. Othello believed in Desdemona's innocence when it was proved: but that was too late. Lear believed in Cordelia's love when it was proved: but that was too late. 'His praise is lost who stays till all commend.' The magnanimity, the generosity wh. will trust on a reasonable probability, is required of us.

But supposing one believed and was wrong after all ? Why, then you wd. have paid the universe a compliment it doesn't deserve. Your error wd. even so be more interesting & important than the reality. And yet how cd. that be? How cd. an idiotic universe have produced creatures whose mere dreams are so much stronger, better, subtler than itself?....
[paragraphing added]

found in A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken (good read, that)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:38 AM

January 27, 2007

Not perfect, therefore not good...

Victor Davis Hanson:

I spoke on campuses recently and listened to a number of students discuss issues of immigration, national identify, and the old race/class/gender conundrum. What struck me were two things: the unwillingness of young Americans in the audience to define, much less in thought or speech to defend their civilization. And I noted the paradoxical criticism of the United States by those who have just arrived on our shores.

Why would any wish to come to a country that they almost immediately fault—that takes more legal immigrants alone than all other countries combined? Is it that such contrariness earns acceptance from our own cynical and nihilistic elite? As I pointed out to these audiences, rarely do Americans in turn define newcomers here by the sins of their homeland.

Imagine, I went on, if Chinese students were reminded that the antecedents of their current government since 1945 murdered or starved to death 70 million of their own?

Should the Indian immigrant be reminded of suttee and the caste system?

The students seemed a little stunned, but had picked up the current American campus trait of thinking that if the United States can be shown not to be perfect, it is therefore not good—and that no one would dare to question the moral principles, or consistency, by which they press their own moralistic attack on the United States...

That last sentence is SO true. It's addlepated logic, and it is applied endlessly to the United States (and Israel.) Abu Ghraib shows that America is bad, and no amount of good can weigh against that, or is even allowed to be considered. Meanwhile hundreds of countries do far worse stuff routinely, with no criticism from the same people.

And one can't question the principles or standards on which the attacks are based, because they are never openly avowed. Leftists and fake-pacifists just assume the mantle of morality, and the right to criticize. (And to not be criticized in return—that would be "hate-mongering.")

And they keep raising the bar higher and higher.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:36 AM

January 26, 2007

clear message...

Charlene remarked, when I got up this morning, that nothing much encouraging is going on, but that it's good to read people like Hugh Hewitt. He writes today...

....Time and again the Republican caucus has gone wobbly, and yet it seems to wonder why the roof fell in.

Republicans like their elected men to act like Reagan and their elected women to act like Thatcher: Principled, firm, sunny and full of resolve. "We win. They lose," was Reagan's prescription for the Soviets, and it ought to be the GOP's prescription for Iraq and the far greater war beyond. That is the clear message of the rightroots, and it isn't hard to hear, even for senators wearing Beltway earmuffs.

Please print off some Pledge Cards and pass them around. if you are headed to the National Review summit, take a stack. Be sure to hand them to passing senators. Tell them the lefties are outraged --a very good sign....

We are the good guys. They are the bad guys. We win. They lose. Once you get that, then you can and should consider the nuances and shades of grey, and criticize our own side when we make, as flawed humans always do, mistakes.

We are chips tossed in a nihilist sea. Without that sort of basic moral clarity, we are simply lost. And no amount of "seeking" will ever find anything. (And the situation in the religious sphere is precisely analogous.)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:05 AM

January 24, 2007

Once you make your bones, you're in...

Hugh Hewitt writes, about the President's address....

...As I watched the Democrats last night I knew --again-- that the country will not "come together" over the necessity of victory.... All they can think of is wounding Bush, and attempting to discredit his legacy that they must realize is secure far beyond their maneuvers, which seems only to madden them more.

This deep derangement of a major political party is unique in American history --not even the southern Democrats of 1860 acted out of Lincoln-hatred when they split the Union, but out of a deeply misguided political theory and the desperation that economic and cultural attachment to slavery had bred.

This modern Democratic Party is almost all fury, a fury fueled by a collective though suppressed understanding that the holocaust of southeast Asia in the late '70s and the vulnerability of America on 9/11 are both burdens at their party's door. Watching their replay of the Vietnam-era tape means that there will be no "debate" on the war, simply the choosing of sides....

"A collective though suppressed understanding..." I think that's true, and important. There are a lot of reasons why today's activist core Democrats are unhinged, but I'd surmise that one of the biggest ones is just that they know—perhaps not consciously—that they were complicit in genocide. They know about the millions of Cambodians hideously slaughtered, the millions of South Vietnamese handed over to Communist murderers and jailers. Guilt does strange things to people. And one of the common results is to make people praise and support the very thing they feel guilty about! That's why you have to kill somebody when you join the Mafia. Once you've done that you tend to be loyal because you don't dare admit you murdered for an unworthy cause.

Now the Dems wish to make American retreat and abandonment of allies the norm. Psychologically, they have to---for us to stick with the people of Iraq, and stand by our promises would illuminate that ugly betrayal of 30 years ago. (And for anyone who's late to the party, I will remind us again that that event had nothing to do with being "anti-war" or pacifist. When a Democrat congress voted to cut off military aid to South Vietnam, American forces had long-since gone home, and the South Vietnamese were doing fine. It was a vote to aid a military conquest by North Vietnam. That's what "pacifism" always is these days--aid and comfort to any killers who hate America.)

Hugh also writes:

Republicans who side with the Democrats on this the most important issue of the day should lose the support of their party...

Amen, brother!

Posted by John Weidner at 9:51 PM

January 23, 2007

I want to distance myself from this one...

I agree with Dean Barnett, here, that the thesis of Dinesh D'Souza's new book is NOT what most conservatives think, and that we ought to be distancing ourselves from it because, sure as anything, lefty-bloggers and our vile news media will be pointing at it and saying "that's what conservatives think!" They will all be playing their little gotcha games, instead of debating the real issues...

Here are Dean's actual criticisms of the book. And here is some blurb material from the book:

  • Muslims are right: the West is waging a war against Islam.
  • What has really enraged the fundamentalists is not America's freedom, but our abuse of that freedom, specifically the sexual liberty we grant to women and the corruption of childhood innocence by our vulgar and licentious popular culture.
  • By attacking the depravity of the left, conservatives can win friends among Muslims and other traditional people around the world.

SO. to make myself clear. I DO partly blame the Left for 9/11, but this has NOTHING to do with our sexual depravity or "licentious popular culture," bad though those things are. D'Souza is full of baloney. We are in a war now because the West failed to slap the terrorists down hard when they surfaced a few decades ago. And that is due mainly to our loss of civilizational morale, and our Western guilt and self-loathing. And also to a loss of the Christian and Jewish moral strength and conviction that required us—then and now—to use deadly force to protect the weak and preserve the rule of law without which there can be no freedom.

(And I would emphasize that "the weak" in this context are mostly Muslims, and other groups living in Muslim countries. They are the main victims of the terrorists. For every westerner killed by Islamic terrorists, scores of Muslims die. It was a failure of Christian Charity for us to fail to decisively crush these monsters early on. Plus also a failure of simple good sense, since our irresolution has caused the death-toll to be far greater. Pacifism kills.)

And these failures can mostly be attributed to the realm of leftist thought. Or rather, lack of thought. But not all of them; there has been too much irresolution on the Right as well.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:12 AM

January 22, 2007

"How hard was it for opponents of the war to be against that?"

I highly recommend this piece by English journalist Nick Cohen, about being raised "on the Left,"...

In the early Seventies, my mother searched the supermarkets for politically reputable citrus fruit. She couldn't buy Seville oranges without indirectly subsidising General Francisco Franco, Spain's fascist dictator. Algarve oranges were no good either, because the slightly less gruesome but equally right-wing dictatorship of Antonio Salazar ruled Portugal. She boycotted the piles of Outspan from South Africa as a protest against apartheid, and although neither America nor Israel was a dictatorship, she wouldn't have Florida or Jaffa oranges in the house because she had no time for then President Richard Nixon or the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

My sisters and I did not know it, but when Franco fell ill in 1975, we were in a race to the death. Either he died of Parkinson's disease or we died of scurvy...

and being forced to re-think some things...

....Journalists wondered whether the Americans were puffing up Zarqawi's role in the violence - as a foreigner he was a convenient enemy - but they couldn't deny the ferocity of the terror. Like Stalin, Pol Pot and Slobodan Milosevic, they went for the professors and technicians who could make a democratic Iraq work. They murdered Sergio Vieira de Mello, one of the United Nations's bravest officials, and his colleagues; Red Cross workers, politicians, journalists and thousands upon thousands of Iraqis who happened to be in the wrong church or Shia mosque.

How hard was it for opponents of the war to be against that? Unbelievably hard, it turned out. The anti-war movement disgraced itself not because it was against the war in Iraq, but because it could not oppose the counter-revolution once the war was over. A principled left that still had life in it and a liberalism that meant what it said might have remained ferociously critical of the American and British governments while offering support to Iraqis who wanted the freedoms they enjoyed.

It is a generalisation to say that everyone refused to commit themselves. The best of the old left in the trade unions and parliamentary Labour party supported an anti-fascist struggle, regardless of whether they were for or against the war, and American Democrats went to fight in Iraq and returned to fight the Republicans. But again, no one who looked at the liberal left from the outside could pretend that such principled stands were commonplace. The British Liberal Democrats, the continental social democratic parties, the African National Congress and virtually every leftish newspaper and journal on the planet were unable to accept that the struggle of Arabs and Kurds had anything to do with them. Mainstream Muslim organisations were as indifferent to the murder of Muslims by other Muslims in Iraq as in Darfur. For the majority of world opinion, Blair's hopes of 'giving people oppressed, almost enslaved, the prospect of democracy and liberty' counted for nothing....

(Thanks to Orrin.) Cohen has a book coming out, which ought to be good! One more snippet...

In short, why is the world upside down? In the past conservatives made excuses for fascism because they mistakenly saw it as a continuation of their democratic rightwing ideas. Now, overwhelmingly and every where, liberals and leftists are far more likely than conservatives to excuse fascistic governments and movements, with the exception of their native far-right parties. As long as local racists are white, they have no difficulty in opposing them in a manner that would have been recognisable to the traditional left. But give them a foreign far-right movement that is anti-Western and they treat it as at best a distraction and at worst an ally.

A part of the answer is that it isn't at all clear what it means to be on the left at the moment. I doubt if anyone can tell you what a society significantly more left wing than ours would look like and how its economy and government would work (let alone whether a majority of their fellow citizens would want to live there). Socialism, which provided the definition of what it meant to be on the left from the 1880s to the 1980s, is gone. Disgraced by the communists' atrocities and floored by the success of market-based economies, it no longer exists as a coherent programme for government. Even the modest and humane social democratic systems of Europe are under strain and look dreadfully vulnerable.

It is not novel to say that socialism is dead. My argument is that its failure has brought a dark liberation to people who consider themselves to be on the liberal left. It has freed them to go along with any movement however far to the right it may be, as long as it is against the status quo in general and, specifically, America. I hate to repeat the overused quote that 'when a man stops believing in God he doesn't then believe in nothing, he believes anything', but there is no escaping it. Because it is very hard to imagine a radical leftwing alternative, or even mildly radical alternative, intellectuals in particular are ready to excuse the movements of the far right as long as they are anti-Western...
Posted by John Weidner at 6:39 AM

January 21, 2007

Sunday Thought--don't add cornstarch

John Henry Newman, ca. 1840.
True faith is what may be called colourless, like air or water; it is but the medium through which the soul sees Christ; and the soul as little really rests upon it and contemplates it, as the eye can see the air.

When, then, men are bent on holding it (as it were) in their hands, curiously inspecting, analyzing, and so aiming at it, they are obliged to colour and thicken it, that it may be seen and touched. That is, they substitute for it something or other, a feeling, notion, sentiment, conviction, or act of reason, which they may hang over, and doat upon. They rather aim at experiences (as they are called) within them, than at Him that is without them.

John Henry Newman

Posted by John Weidner at 6:30 AM

January 20, 2007

The word I need is an antonym for "nihilist"

Charlene went on the annual west coast Walk for Life today. As usual my thoughts were less on the issues of the moment than on the clash of underlying ideas. And so I was very taken by the contrast seen here between two pieces of architecture. The Vaillancourt Fountain is the perfect expression of the view that there is no meaning to life, no certainty, no hope, and that only a fool would have noble aspirations or dream of finding truth. (Or beauty! Blehhh.) It's nihilism embodied. And there behind it you see the tower of the Ferry Building, which has a very different story to tell.

Nihilist Vaillancourt Fountain and noble tower
The walk was a big success, as far as we could see. We hiked for many miles in the middle of the crowd, and never once were we able to see the beginning or the end of the procession. There had to be way over 10,000 people out on a beautiful day. And the counter-protesters we saw were just a hundred at most, maybe two, and none of them looked like anyone you would want to know. Trashy chomskys. It was a pathetic showing for the Culture of Death.

Walk For Life,2oo7

West Coast Walk For Life 2007

Walk For Life 2007

West Coast Walk For Life, 2007
If any of our St Dominic's friends are reading this, that's Anne Whitaker in front of me, in pink...Charlene was on the walk last year, and says the protesters were much less obnoxious this year, probably because there were fewer of them...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:30 PM

January 19, 2007

Here's a movie about a typeface...

It's called Helvetica, and it sounds interesting...

About the Film
Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.

Helvetica encompasses the worlds of design, advertising, psychology, and communication, and invites us to take a second look at the thousands of words we see every day....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 PM

January 18, 2007

Online politics...

Fascinatin' stuff from Micah L. Sifry...(Thanks to Glenn)

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is releasing another of its ongoing reports tracking Americans' use of the internet today (and someone leaked us an advance copy), and this report contains some really important news:

* More than 60 million people (31% of all Americans online) say they were online during the 2006 campaign to get information about candidates and/or exchange views via email. They call this growing group "campaign internet users." This group trends young (duh); wealthy; well-educated; and somewhat more white than of color (33% of white Americans vs 23% of blacks and Hispanics).

* People with broadband connections at home (now 45% of the overall adult population, compared to 3% in 2000) are far more likely to use the net for political news. In particular, people under 36 are twice as likely to cite the net as their main source of political news, compared to newspapers.

* By far the most interesting discovery from their survey: 23% of campaign internet users has either posted their own political commentary to the web via a blog, site or newsgroup (8%); forwarded or posted someone else's commentary (13%); created political audio or video (1%); forwarded someone else's audio or video (8%). "That translates into about 14 million people who were using the 'read-write Web' to contribute to political discussion and activity," the study's authors Lee Rainie and John Horrigan write.

*This group, which Pew labels "online political activists," is disproportionately liberal. "Some 15% of internet users who describe themselves as liberals are such online activists, compared with 9% of online conservatives," Rainie and Horrigan note....

Cool. What does it mean? Maybe when I've had another cuppa coffee, I'll think of the grand insight...(As usual, my customers put off finalizing plans until "after the holidays." Which is now, so I'm plenty busy...

The liberal slant doesn't surprise me too much. It's sort of like the way you find most of the bookstores in the liberal neighborhoods. Doesn't necessarily mean much, if what's selling is the equivalent, in in intellectual terms, of "empty calories." Think memoirs by someone like Barak Obama. It's better to have a few solid ideas, and cling to them stubbornly, even stupidly, than to enlist in the zeitgeist. “I had rather have a plain, russet-coated Captain, that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows, than that which you call a Gentle-man and is nothing else”

Posted by John Weidner at 8:29 AM

January 17, 2007

Surprise, surprise...

U.S. Forces Fighting Iranians In Iraq - CBS News:

As President Bush tries to sell his new Iraq policy, his administration is keeping an eye on another threat — Iran, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

U.S. officials tell CBS News that American forces have begun an aggressive and mostly secret ground campaign against networks of Iranians that had been operating with virtual impunity inside Iraq.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress on Friday that Iranians are now on the target list.

"Twice in the last two or three weeks, in pursuit of those networks, when we have gone and captured those cells, we've captured Iranians," said Gen. Peter Pace.

According to U.S. military figures, 198 American and British soldiers have been killed, and more than 600 wounded by advanced explosive devices manufactured in Iran and smuggled in through the southern marshes and along the Tigris River. Attempts to disrupt these networks, combined with the decision to send a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf as a warning to Iran, significantly raises the stakes, according to former Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk...(Thanks to Rand)

What's this? We are in conflict with Iran? Who'd a dreamed? Or rather, who would dream that an American government would ever admit it? Well, one can't expect them to be hasty. Iran has only been at war with us since 1979. We don't want to rush into anything...

I think the Bush Administration has been making a grievous mistake, and really, is mostly continuing to do so, in trying to sweep the iranian issue under the carpet. And it just doesn't make sense. I can understand a Democrat administration denying the existence of war or danger, dangers which would shine a spotlight on the deep-rooted anti-Americanism typical of the core of the party... But what the hell did Bush think he would gain by playing this game? Did he think Democrats would like him even one-percent more if he was mealy-mouthed about the dangers we face? Phooey. They would hate him even if he put on Gandhi-robes and led peace marches. Did the think the fake-pacifists would cut him the slightest bit of slack for being pacific? Pacifists don't give a flying blippity blip blip blip about war or peace. Their adgenda is something else...

And mainly, he is making a big mistake by not trusting the American people.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:59 AM

January 16, 2007

Leopard, spots, etc etc...

Grandma Nancy is—you will be so surprised—planning a drastic attack on our freedom of speech. Jay Sekulow writes...

Nancy Pelosi hasn’t been Speaker of the House for two weeks yet and there is already proposed legislation which would be the most significant encroachment ever into the affairs and ability of churches and other organizations to communicate. Under the guise of lobbying reform, Speaker Pelosi and others have proposed legislation greatly expanding the scope of lobbying regulation which would have a significant impact on churches, pastors, religious denominations, public interest organizations, civic organizations and other nonprofit groups. Even private individuals who voluntarily pay for media to distribute important messages to the general public on political matters would be impacted.

So draconian is the proposed Lobbying Reform Bill that it would actually impose registration and reporting requirements on churches and other nonprofit organizations. This is because the definition of “lobbyist” and “lobbying firms” includes specifically grassroots-organizing efforts. Under this broad-based regulatory scheme that Nancy Pelosi is advocating, many churches, especially larger churches with TV and radio ministries, would be subject to registration as a lobbying organization. Failure to comply with these lobbying requirements could result in fines and even criminal sanctions. Churches and their pastors who address the social issues of the day and encourage members and non-members alike to mobilize for action, including communications with Congress, would be required to make certain initial and quarterly disclosures to the United States Congress about their activities...(Thanks to Gerald).

It's useful to remember that certain groups won't be affected by this. If unions turn out their members for campaigning, that's okay because they are "not" spending money. If the news media bombard us with lefty propaganda, that's allowable because they are "not" spending money. If the Lancet declares right before each election that casualties in Iraq are ten times as high as anybody dreamed....that's "academic freedom." Hmmm. Unions, news-media, academy. Is there some pattern here I'm not quite smart enough to see?

But in a certain sense Pelosi can't be blamed. The underlying philosophy of the Dems is socialism, and that never happens without drastic restriction of individual freedom. They are just doing what comes natural. Much greater blame is due to the loathsome John McCain and his CFR. And to president Bush, who signed the thing, though he knew better.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:52 AM

January 15, 2007

but Republican children are creepy...

Mark Steyn is delightfully scathing about how the press is fawning over "Grandma Nancy," contrasted with how certain other public figures with children were treated...

...."Grandma With A Gavel'' was written by hard-headed reporter Ruth Marcus, scourge of Republican Justice Departments for many years, and this column reflected her notoriously sharp forensic skills:

''The images as California Democrat Nancy Pelosi took office last week were striking -- and stirring -- in their unfamiliarity. Pelosi, holding her infant grandson swaddled in a white receiving blanket, as she sat in the well of the House, awaiting her election. Pelosi, with the assurance of a mother experienced at dispensing cookies to impatient toddlers, giving each child his -- and her -- turn with the gavel. Pelosi raising her hand to take the oath as her grandson, at her side, fiddled with grandma's papers.''...

....But don't Republicans have families, too? Yes, but let's face it, they creep you out, don't they? If you have the misfortune to be nominated by the Bush administration, your kids get headlines like ''An Image A Little Too Carefully Coordinated.'' That was the Washington Post's Style Section on Chief Justice John Roberts' moppets: They didn't care for ''the 1950s-style tableaux vivant,'' or the ''freshly scrubbed and adorable'' look from ''a Currier & Ives landscape''; they sniffed at the ''seersucker suit with short pants'' of ''towheaded Jack'' and his sister's ''blond pageboy''; they didn't even like the name ''Jack.''....(Thanks to Betsy N)

I certainly remember the Roberts announcement. Steyn's phrase, "but let's face it, they creep you out, don't they?" captures the reaction of the press to those cute Republican children perfectly.

But the grotesque dishonesty of the Gasping Media is a good thing in many ways. It keeps us wily and tough. They are not really doing Granny a favor, because she, like everyone, is going to make mistakes. And if she believes the WaPo and the NYT and the network news, she will be cocooned like so many other Democrats. She won't be pulled up sharp on her missteps, until an election comes along with rude surprises.

And press bias is psychologically a good thing for us conservatives. We can't take our ideas for granted, like so many liberals do. And we don't get hot and bothered if someone wants to debate with us--we are mentally debating the world all the time...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:34 AM

January 14, 2007

"He will cease to reap benefits..."

Sunday thoughts...

As unbelievers deny Revelation more decisively, as they put their denial into more consistent practice, it will become the more evident what it really means to be a Christian. At the same time, the unbeliever will emerge from the fogs of secularism. He will cease to reap benefit from the values and forces developed by the very Revelation he denies. He must learn to exist honestly without Christ and without the God revealed through Him; he will have to leam to experience what this honestly means. Nietzsche had already warned us that the non-Christian of the modern world had no realization of what it truly meant to be without Christ. The last decades [the two world wars] have suggested what life without Christ really is. The last decades were only the beginning...
-- Romano Guardini, from
The End of the Modern World

Part of what Guardini is saying (I'm ignoring a lot here) is that people have been coasting. Running on the spiritual and moral capital stored up by our ancestors, and not refilling that tank. Stored up by our Christian and Jewish ancestors. There's gonna be wailing and gnashing aplenty when the time comes to get out and push. Which it already has, I think.

I tend to be out of sync with the rest of the world. One of the ways I'm odd is that I am fascinated (and horrified) by the speed at which we are being flung into a unknown future. And especially by the way we are not thinking and worrying about this. When I was younger there was a best-selling book called Future Shock, about how fast things were changing, and how our overloaded brains were just going to explode. But what shocks me is that we are NOT shocked by this, at least not most of us. (Or possibly we have already been shocked into a state of denial.) Each new technology that comes along changes our societies, often drastically. Yet people seem to assume that we will all remain the same, and merely get to have more fun using cool new toys.

To me this is just insane. The new toys are changing us before our eyes, yet people yawn when I bring this up.

And we don't know what effects the changes will have until it's too late to do much. European demographic collapse is, of course, my favorite example. Europe and the developed world sailed into uncharted territory after WWII. They achieved prosperity for most of their people. Plus unprecedented levels of welfare, and easy availability of contraception. Plus steep decline in Christian worship. Now we see that the result is the probable destruction of an ancient civilization. It's happening before our eyes, and yet one still can't get most people interested in the subject.

And even more important and scary, you can't get them interested in what's coming next!

For example, Libertarian and futurismo bloggers look forward eagerly to life extension. And they somehow seem to think that it won't change them. That they will merely have more time for doing the same old stuff. And they think that coming generations will be just like them. That they will think like them! Sorry, that's crazy. We don't know how we will think and believe when such changes have happened, but for sure we will be different. We will hardly recognize our descendants. To me our world is like living in a science fiction story in which we are all being shoved into time machines and sent forward...in time....to what? We don't know. It seems to me that filling our pockets with useful tools ought to be our top priority! And I mean philosophical tools of course. Things that will provide mental solidity and balance when we pop out into a strange world without familiar mental landmarks. but I seem to be alone here.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:06 AM

January 13, 2007


A reader wrote and asked me to mention this article, Fighting Back, by Martin Fletcher, on the struggle for Ramadi. Happy to oblige. I won't even try to comment on the confused situation there. But, as ever, we see that the al-Qaeda are monsters, and those who think we should give up fighting them and retreat to "safety" are utter fools.

....Sheikh Sittar is a wealthy man. He owns homes in Oman and Dubai and several luxury cars. He and the other tribal leaders unquestionably prospered under Saddam Hussein, as did Ramadi’s many Baathists. Few cities had more cause to lament the dictator’s downfall, US troops made matters worse with their insensitive early conduct and al-Qaeda skillfully exploited the people’s anger with its promise to expel the infidel.

As al-Qaeda’s fighters tightened their grip on Ramadi, they became increasingly repressive and challenged the tribal leaders’ power. Soon they were kidnapping and beheading innocent people as part of a campaign of extortion and intimidation.

Some sheikhs fled to Jordan and Syria. Sheikh Sittar’s father and three brothers were killed, his father during the holy month of Ramadan, and he says he has himself survived several kidnap attempts. This summer a fellow sheikh was ambushed and beheaded by al-Qaeda supporters, who piled insult on injury by keeping his body so it could not be buried immediately, as demanded by custom.

“We began to see what they were actually doing in Anbar province. They were not respecting us or honouring us in any way, said Sheikh Sittar, speaking through an interpreter.” Their tactics were not acceptable.”

During the late summer he began enlisting his fellow sheikhs in a movement called the Sahawat or Awakening, whose goal is to drive al-Qaeda from Anbar province.

The US military wooed the sheikhs over what one US officer described as “hundreds of cups of chai and thousands of cigarettes”. They agreed that their chosen instrument should be the police force, which was practically defunct thanks to al-Qaeda death threats against anyone who dared to sign up. In June there were only 35 recruits; in July Sheikh Sittar sent 300 members of his 30,000-strong Resha tribe for training....

Here's another good piece by Fletcher...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:36 PM

Religion of conquest...

From a Financial Times article, Youth and War, a Deadly Duo, By Christopher Caldwell (Thanks to Orrin)

.....But the killings also defy political common sense. Ariel Sharon's wall cuts terrorists off from Israeli targets and what happens? The violence - previously justified with the cause of a Palestinian homeland - continues as if nothing had changed, merely finding its outlet in a new set of targets. This makes it appear that Palestinian violence has never really been about a "cause" at all. The violence is, in a strange way, about itself.

Gunnar Heinsohn, a social scientist and genocide researcher at the University of Bremen, has an explanation for why this might be so. Since its publication in 2003, his eccentric and eye-opening
Sons and World Power (not available in English) has become something of a cult book. In Mr Heinsohn's view, when 15 to 29-year-olds make up more than 30 per cent of the population, violence tends to happen; when large percentages are under 15, violence is often imminent. The "causes" in the name of which that violence is committed can be immaterial. There are 67 countries in the world with such "youth bulges" now and 60 of them are undergoing some kind of civil war or mass killing.

Between 1988 and 2002, 900m sons were born to mothers in the developing world and a careful demographer could almost predict the trouble spots. In the decade leading up to 1993, on the eve of the Taliban takeover, the population of Afghanistan grew from 14m to 22m. By the end of this generation, Afghanistan will have as many people under 20 as France and Germany combined. Iraq had 5m people in 1950 but has 25m now, in spite of a quarter-century of wars. Since 1967, the population of the West Bank and Gaza has grown from 450,000 to 3.3m, 47 per cent of which is under 15.

If Mr Heinsohn is right, then Palestinian violence of recent months and years is not explained by Israeli occupation (which, after all, existed 30 years ago) or poverty (the most violent parts of the Muslim world are not the poorest) or humiliation. It is just violence.

Mr Heinsohn's point is not that the West is "outnumbered". Nor is it that a Malthusian battle for scarce resources is under way. In El Salvador, for instance, the explosion of political killing in the 1970s and 1980s was preceded by a 27 per cent rise in per capita income. The problem, rather, is that in a youth-bulge society there are not enough positions to provide all these young men with prestige and standing.

...If you follow this argument to its logical end point, then the religion of Islam, the focus of so much contemporary strategic discussion, is a great red herring...

I suspect that's right. If you read history with an eye to demographics, you know that this has happened before. There was a period where you could have argued that Anglicanism was a religion of violence and conquest, sending ruthless young men out to all corners of the globe to conquer countries and impose Christianity and English values on them. I'll bet it sure looked that way to Indians in the time of Clive. [I hasten to interject here that I think this was a good thing, which has obviously benefitted those places greatly. And that the spread of Islam is bad, and will be harmful to those places that adopt it.]

(This has turned into a historical digression. Read on if you are interested...)

If you read authors like Patrick O'Brian, you will have encountered the toast (which I believe is historical) "Here's to a bloody war. Many to go and few to come!" It's not as insane as it sounds if you realize that a surplus of young middle and upper-class young men were enlisting as midshipmen and lieutenants, and might be stuck in those very humble spots permanently unless combat or Yellow Fever cleared some spaces on the ladder of promotion. And promotion or plunder would perhaps open up their only chance at marriage and prosperity. (There was another traditional saying, in the British Army: Lieutenants may not marry, captains should not marry, majors may marry, Colonels must marry.) And it is not really surprising that parents would beg for one of those very dangerous midshipman's berths for their sons, if you realize that often they faced an intolerable dilemma in providing jobs for a large clutch of children, who might otherwise slip down into working-class poverty....

And the same function, of absorbing surplus males, can be seen in the civilian staffing of the British Empire. In the old days most of the fellows at Oxford and Cambridge colleges were young men hoping for livings as clergymen. And until they got one they could not marry. There were never enough livings to go around, and small parish in India would seem very attractive, despite the high possibility of death by disease. It was the same for young men joining the imperial civil service, or taking posts managing distant plantations.

I suspect that the end of the British Empire in the mid 20th Century had as much to do with Britons being no longer willing to fight for it, as it did to the various liberation movements. And even without the movements it might have ended just because more and more positions would have had to be filled by "natives." The developed world today is very strange compared to anywhere in the past, because we have lots of white-collar positions available, often more than can be filled. And shortages of good blue-collar jobs!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:34 AM

January 12, 2007

The party of the little guy...

From PowerLine:

...The conglomorate that owns Starkist, Delmonte, is headquartered in Speaker Pelosi's district in San Francisco. Starkist processes large amounts of tuna in American Samoa. Apparently, 75 percent of the island's workforce is employed by Starkist.

It happens that American Samoa is the one territory exempted from legislation passed by the the House that will raise the minimum wage over time from $5.15 hour to $7.25. The reach of that law extends even to the islands of the Northern Marinas, but not to American Samoa, where Nancy Pelosi's giant constituent will be able to keep paying its workers $5.15 an hour...

There are still some lackwits who think that the Republicans are the party of big business, and the Dems represent the "little guy." Actually, both parties do what they can to get elected, and that means juggling the wishes of both voters and interest-groups. Democrats happen to be snug with a lot of anti-business interest groups, and this make them virtuous in the eyes of those who dwell in the alternate universe where capitalism is evil (and even worse, not cool).

This is an interesting example of a policy that satisfies anti-business groups being modified to help a particular business. One of the big reasons for any government regulation is that somebody ends up giving campaign contributions to politicians to modify the regulation.

Also, I know nothing about the islands of the Northern Marinas, but I'd guess this law is being applied to them with not the slightest thought about whether it's good for the people of those distant shores. An example, I'd guess, of why the US should NOT have colonies. We are simply not going to give them the sustained individual attention they need.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:06 AM

January 11, 2007

2 bizzy 2 blog...

But here are several items I might comment on if I had time...


...The bureaucracy -- the CIA, the State Department, the Justice Department and others -- has waged an unrelenting war on Bush administration foreign policy specifically and on the Bush administration generally. They have waged this war in blatant disregard to their own legal obligations and to the rule of law. At every step of the way, they have waged this war in partnership with the New York Times and the Washington Post. The lack of interest in Gerstein's story among the mainsteam media is, like the unnamed dog that didn't bark in the classic Sherlock Holmes story "Silver Blaze," a clue to the identity of the wrongdoers...


Good long post on all the things various Dems were FOR (such as a "surge") until Bush was for them--now they're against them. The Democrat Party is the obvious home for nihilists, so I think its long-term prospects are fairly good. Nihilists seem to be a renewable resource...

Hugh Hewitt:

...TWO OF THE COUNTRY’S MOST prominent Republican governors have taken on the health care monster. One is current presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the other is the country’s funnest governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Their approaches could not be more different....
Posted by John Weidner at 9:57 AM

January 10, 2007

Good idea...

Charlene found this at Gates of Vienna. (It's also on many other blogs) A proposal to put pressure on our first Muslim congressman to speak out about the plight of women in Islamic countries.

To: Congressman Keith Ellison, Fifth District, Minnesota
From: Interested Americans
Re: Your great opportunity

You have been elected to serve the Fifth District of Minnesota in the United States House of Representatives. This is a crucially important opportunity, not only for all of your district’s constituents, but also for Muslims in America — even Muslims worldwide, who watch American politics with close attention.

You are in an unprecedented position: the political point man for Islam in this country. As our only elected Muslim in national office, you have the heavy burden and the unique responsibility to aid the cause of Islam in its endeavor to become the religion of conciliation.

There is no doubt that you, as our sole Muslim member of Congress, could bring to bear a high level of influence on Iran and other Muslim countries, in order to make the situation for women in these countries more humane.

If you were to use your bully pulpit to speak out about the plight of women under sharia law — especially in Iran and Pakistan — you would be a powerful influence for good....

There's more, with address and phone/fax/e-mail addresses.

Sounds like a good idea to me. From what I know of Ellison, he will wriggle and squirm away from this without giving the world much satisfaction. BUT, it is always a good practice to force the Left to acknowledge that their hatred of America and their coziness with Islam and Islamic terrorists is in blatant contradiction with their espousal of democracy, and of rights for women and gays. They want very much to fudge these issues. They should be forced to declare themselves.

The War on Terror is, above all, an information war. Something I wish our government were more openly aggressive about fighting. There are a lot of possible places where wedges can be inserted. ..

Posted by John Weidner at 6:55 AM

January 9, 2007


It's SO embarrassing to live in the same city as these drooling lack-wits. Thanks a ton Andrea, way to make my day...(And in the paper this morning: Local. Progressives Gaining Power. Worser and worser.)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:49 AM

January 8, 2007

We act like turtles...

Charlene's recommendation this morning is this article by Steve Sailer, Fragmented Future, Multiculturalism Doesn’t Make Vibrant Communities but Defensive Ones. (Thanks to ChicagoBoyz)

In the presence of [ethnic] diversity, we hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.
—Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam
It was one of the more irony-laden incidents in the history of celebrity social scientists. While in Sweden to receive a $50,000 academic prize as political science professor of the year, Harvard’s Robert D. Putnam, a former Carter administration official who made his reputation writing about the decline of social trust in America in his bestseller Bowling Alone, confessed to Financial Times columnist John Lloyd that his latest research discovery—that ethnic diversity decreases trust and co-operation in communities—was so explosive that for the last half decade he hadn’t dared announce it “until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it ‘would have been irresponsible to publish without that.’”...

"Irony laden," yeah. I wonder what those proposals were? And "irresponsible" presumably means "letting yahoos (you and me) have information that might undermine politically-correct thinking."

And I can vouch for this line by Sailor being true: "Putnam’s discovery is hardly shocking to anyone who has tried to organize a civic betterment project in a multi-ethnic neighborhood..." Another thought that us urbanites can appreciate:

...As an economics major and libertarian fellow-traveler in the late 1970s, I assumed that individualism made America great. But a couple of trips south of the border raised questions. Venturing onto a Buenos Aires freeway in 1978, I discovered a carnival of rugged individualists. Back home in Los Angeles, everybody drove between the lane-markers painted on the pavement, but only about one in three Argentineans followed that custom....

Read the whole thing, as the cliche goes. [BTW, I hate those little Internet acronyms, like RTWT. IMHO. I used to frequent a woodworking forum, where the little wife was always SWMBO. Plehhh.] But here's another morsel...

...Another untold story is the beneficial effect on race relations of the growth of Christian fundamentalism. Among soldiers and college football players, for instance, co-operation between the races is up due to an increased emphasis on a common transracial identity as Christians. According to military correspondent Robert D. Kaplan of The Atlantic, “The rise of Christian evangelicalism had helped stop the indiscipline of the Vietnam-era Army.” And that has helped build bridges among the races. Military sociologists Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler wrote in All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way, “Perhaps the most vivid example of the ‘blackening’ of enlisted culture is seen in religion. Black Pentecostal congregations have also begun to influence the style of worship in mainstream Protestant services in post chapels. Sunday worship in the Army finds both the congregation and the spirit of the service racially integrated.”...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:30 AM

January 7, 2007

What will be the cost of "Peace Now?"

There's a good little essay by Jules Crittenden, Crossroads. It's getting a lot of attention, and you've probably already seen it. We are at a decision point--Pelosi and the appeasers in Congress are demanding we cut and run from Iraq. Well, you already know how I think about those animals, and about the consequences of being unwilling to fight and win the War on Terror. Actually we should label them "Pelosi and the warmongers."

Which is why I liked this thought, on the essay, by Don Surber...

I will add this, the penalty for early withdrawal is cataclysmic. The Fall of Saigon led to 2 million deaths in Cambodia alone. [That's two million people killed by those who now LEAD the Democrat Party. 2 million killed by "antiwar" activists and fake-pacifists.] Stopping short of Baghdad 16 years ago cost a quarter-million lives directly, plus whatever number of deaths they tag on to the Oil for Food scandal. [That's a quarter-million human beings killed by "realists" and blue-blazer Republicans.]

Childish demands for "Peace Now" ignore history and reality and the welfare of the Iraqi people.

And our own soldiers. We could have had Iraq for free in 1991. What's it cost us to return? 3,000 lives? A half-trillion dollars? [And what will it cost us to return in 2013? A bucket of blood, you can bet, in exchange for "Peace Now."]
Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 AM

"brought from the springs of the Nile..."


This was a city once, that’s now a copse
Of lusty privet: she had twice five years
Of war and killing and the destroyer, fire.
She bore great chieftains once: hazelnuts now.
It bewilders her, crouching there with her doomed head low,
To see a wood has grown out of her: how the corn
Grows yellow about Priam’s judgement seat,
And cattle dung where Hecuba suckled kings.
Men lived in her houses once, that were sweet with Syrian nard,
They house the tiger now and the deadly snake...

Alas, what war can do! The delicate column
Lies broken, and in Jove’s shrine
Is bedded here a sheep, and yonder a kid.
The ground is shaggy with rushes and thistles and briars,
And stumps of trees and thorns and wild growing thyme.
And the heart turns sick to look on her squalor
That once rayed out like the sun with jewels and bronze,
Topaz, emerald, onyx, sard,
That Trojan victories brought from the springs of the Nile,
Now shabby in the dust...

O Troy, enough! When I remember thee,
Remember thy beginning and thy end,
I cannot hold my weeping,
Until in mercy comes the night for sleeping.

    -- Hugh Priams of Orleans (c1094 - 1160)
    translated by Helen Waddell
Posted by John Weidner at 6:40 AM

January 6, 2007

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag...

I forgot to mention that Andrea has made her annual move to a new blog. She's Here now.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:07 AM

"we’re not living in a hedgehog world anymore"

Hugh Hewitt is doing an interesting thing. Maybe unprecedented. On his radio program he is doing a series of interviews with Thomas PM Barnett, each covering a chapter (!) of The Pentagon's New Map. Barnett is that rare bird, a person with a detailed view of the world at a level of Grand Strategy. Even if you don't agree with him, you need to be aware of what he is saying if you want to think clearly about the global War on Terror. This is from a transcript of the first one:

HH:...but that the middle levels are willing to accept that the paradigm has shifted dramatically on them. Has that accelerated in the last three years?

TB: Absolutely. A good example, they were trying to invite me to go to the Army War College for years to give the brief. I finally did, Summer before last. When I got there, I said what’s been the hold up? You know, I’d briefed everywhere else. They said a lot of the people on the staff here thought you were crazy. I said well, why am I here now in the summer of 2005? They said the second tour in Iraq did it. That changed their mind. That gave them a sense that this was an inescapable sort of…you know, not a one off, not a blip, not a pause before we resume our brilliant pursuit of the near peer competitor China, but frankly, the long war, as John Abizaid likes to call it.

And when you get guys like Mattis coming back to the Marines, Jim Mattis, Dave Petraeus coming back to Leavenworth, the big schoolhouse for the Army, now going back to be the head of the MNF troops, our whole effort in Iraq, you’re starting to see a kind of experience....

....it’s the reason why I started a blog, quite frankly, when the book came out back, the first book, back in April of 2004, so I could get a dialogue with a wide array of people, because I know it’s not easy. I mean, we lived in kind of hedgehog times in the Cold War, you know, the hedgehog knows one big thing, the fox knows many things. Well, knowing one big thing in the Cold War was enough. You know, containment, mutual assured destruction, let the Soviets size our forces. We discovered on 9/11 we’re not living in a hedgehog world anymore. You’ve got to deal with multiple players, multiple types of players, multiple regions, you know, all sorts of dynamics involving economics and other things. It is a complex world. It requires complex explanations. But I believe it’s essential that we raise a generation of not only informed citizens, but frankly a generation in the national security community of real strategists, real grand strategists, people who think about war within the context of everything else, not just war within the context of war, but within everything else we call globalization, because we’ve outsourced the job of grand strategies to journalists, and op-ed columnists, and that’s just not doing the job....

Barnett's a liberal of some sort, but open-minded to a fascinating extent. This is from his blog, writing about the interviews...

...I know Hewitt's pretty conservative, but--quite frankly--it's been the right and the right-of-center that's given me the openings time and time again, so I'm grateful for the exposure and psyched for the exchange....

One waits, perhaps in vain, for the other shoe to drop. I searched his blog for the word "Steyn," and got no results...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:50 AM

C'mon Nancy, repeal those "Tax Cuts for the Rich"

Intl Herald Tribune: U.S. businesses added many more workers to their payrolls last month than economists expected, and workers' pay rose at a healthy clip — further evidence of strength in the job market despite a slowdown in the economy.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday that nonfarm employment grew by a seasonally adjusted 167,000 jobs in December, more than enough to absorb natural growth in the number of workers. The figures for October and November were revised upward as well. Wall Street had been expecting a gain of only 100,000 jobs in December.

The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.5 percent. Those who were unemployed in December were out of work for a shorter period of time, on average. And the percentage of the total U.S. population holding jobs rose to 63.4 percent, the highest level in more than five years....

....Tightness in the job market has been driving wages upward, economists say. With unemployment so low — the 4.4 percent reading in October was the lowest in five years — employers have found themselves having to increase pay a bit to fill vacancies

Compared with the December 2005, average hourly wages were up 4.2 percent, the government reported. The figure for November was revised up slightly to the same rate; they are the highest readings since February 2001....(Thanks to Orrin)

The poor are getting poorer, the rich are buying poor babies and sucking out their blood....there's no time to waste implementing the superior economic policies of the EU!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:24 AM

January 5, 2007

Hey Leftists...Your Abu Ghraib is STILL GOING ON...

Once again there are new reports of sexual abuse of refugees, often of girls as young as 12, by UN "peacekeepers." Captain Ed writes:

....A report by Refugees International at the time emphasized that the problem existed in every UN mission. The reason was because the UN lacked accountability, transparency, and discipline. The UN promised to start reforming itself immediately at the time.

Here we are, almost two years later, and we see that they have done nothing -- and they still have no accountability, transparency, and discipline.

At some point in time, we have to ask ourselves whether we want to remain complict in the UN's chronic atrocities. After all, our money funds these missions, and that gives us a measure of responsibility for these crimes. If the UN refuses to take any real and effective action to stop these abuses and to ensure that they do not occur again, we should pull our funding for the UN on that basis alone. Let the entire corrupt organization collapse of its own moral rot, and work towards replacing it with an organization that has accountability and discipline built into its operations.

Who's complicit? Well we as a nation are, certainly. But, much much more, the international Left is complicit. That's where the constant support for the vile corrupt institution comes from. Leftists and their traditional allies, the world's tyrants and corrupt ruling elites. Democrats. Blue-State Americans. Fake pacifists. Liberal churchmen. The Old Media.

Frauds and criminals all of them. They support abuses that make Abu Ghraib look like a children's tea party. Abuses that, unlike Abu Ghraib, NEVER get corrected. They support criminals that NEVER get punished.

The next time you see a group of young girls, laughing and giggling, imagine them starving, and selling their bodies for scraps of food provided by the "blue helmets." And remember that Nancy Pelosi is FOR this. The "Quakers" are FOR this. The New York Times is FOR this.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:07 AM

January 3, 2007

"Worse than Islam..."

Late last night I was reading in Rand Simberg's blog some comments on a post about Mark Steyn's book America Alone. I ended up staying up late answering a question. The answer seemed obvious to me, but also difficult to explain---paradoxical. I'll expand it into a blogpost, since I've already squandered so much time. The commenter wrote:

"The one flaw in Steyn's analysis is that it does not account for the possibility of radical life extension that is likely to be available by 2050. Such technologies include SENS (Strategically Engineered Negligible Senescence) and bio-nanotechnology (synthetic biology).

Mark Steyn hints at the coming transhumanist future with his comments about the future of Japan. However, for whatever reasons, he implies that transhumanism would be even worse than islam (why anyone would think this is completely incomprehensible to me). [My emphasis]

So, facing a problem like demographic implosion, why would something like "radical life extension" not be a good thing?

Mark Steyn is writing about TWO problems that are combining explosively. One is pressure from an expanding Islam. The other is a vacuum in the West, (especially Europe), a deep spiritual malaise, an emptiness that Islam is simply being pulled into. It is both a literal emptiness--the demographic collapse; and a crisis of civilizational morale that leaves many in the West unable to defend our civilization or faith or ideas. Or even to just fight back against killers.

He believes (and I am in complete agreement) that the second problem is by far the worse. If the West still had a tenth of the confidence and élan of centuries past, we would have slapped down Islamic terrorists decades ago, when they first began to surface, and they would not now be a big problem. The same with unruly Islamic immigrants. And without the civilizational malaise there would not have been the lack of children that is drawing in the problematic immigrants.

Islam is just an opportunistic infection. It is a serious problem only because we in the West have a compromised immune system...

The West has lost faith (America alone perhaps retaining it), and our other problems are but outward symptoms of this. (Steyn doesn't quite connect the last dot, but I would say that the West has lost its Christian faith.)

"Transhumanism" is just another symptom of the problem. Think of your typical Frenchman, who can't be bothered to have children, or to fight to correct the blatant problems facing his nation, or to dream of space colonization, or go to church, or fight back against terrorists or criminals, or just to hurry home from vacation because old people (including his grandma) are dying in a heat-wave. He is denying, he is evading, human nature. His own (his ancestors would have said "God-given") human nature. He is avoiding pain. The pain that comes with living life. And it is an iron law that you cannot have the deep joys that make life worth living if you won't accept the pain and risk that go along with them.

And corollaries of this law are that you can't have freedom unless people are willing to fight, politically or sometimes literally. And you can't have prosperity unless people are willing to take risks, to risk losing what they have.

Transhumanism is just another evasion. An evasion of human nature, and that iron law. You don't have to believe in God to "get" this, though it helps. To look at this from another angle, it is a bedrock part of conservatism that there are not going to be any man-made utopias, and that humans and human institutions are always flawed. Our constitution is based on this idea. Transhumanism is a utopian project, and any conservative should be reacting like we reacted to the philosophes before another little project called the French Revolution. Those guys were all decent chaps, who wouldn't hurt a fly. But they loosed upon the world an idea, a mere thought, about revolution being able to change and improve humans, without hindrance from what we would call human nature. We now use tens-of-millions as a convenient unit of measurement for the deaths that have resulted from this "transhuman" idea.

The problem Steyn is writing about is, in large part, that we have nothing we believe in enough to fight and suffer and die for. You are proposing a project based on extreme avoidance of death, and of the pain of living. I'd call that worse than Islam.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:02 AM

January 2, 2007

Dupes or criminals...

John at PowerLine writes:

...State lied about Cold River [link, link] because, had it acknowledged that Arafat was the unrepentant and cold-blooded murderer of an American ambassador, the American people would have demanded action. It would no longer have been possible to pretend that the PLO was anything other than a terrorist gang. It may no longer have been possible to pressure Israel to accept Arafat as a "partner in peace;" to invite Arafat to stay at the White House; to applaud his speeches at the U.N.; to hold hands with him at one futile "summit" after another.

The world has no shortage of longstanding ethnic and religious conflicts. Take just one example: the conflict between Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan over Kashmir. This dispute is almost exactly as old as that between the Israelis and Palestinians. I haven't done the research, but I would wager that more people have died in Kashmir and as a result of that dispute, than as a result of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Yet where are the front-page headlines to accompany every fatality in Kashmir? Where are the endless U.N. resolutions? Where is the international pressure on India to trade "land for peace"? Where is the endless procession of Sunday morning talking heads assuring us that resoluton of the Kashmir dilemma is the key to solving all of the problems of Central Asia?

The truth, as we have often said, is that Israel has little or nothing to do with the many pathologies that beset the Arab and Persian Middle East. A magical, overnight solution of the Palestinian problem would have zero impact on Iraq, on Iran, on Syria's domination of Lebanon, on the sinister threat posed by Hizbollah, etc.

Yet the State Department soldiers blindly on, committed to what must be the biggest lie in American foreign policy--the near-mystical belief that the Palestinian "peace process" holds the key to progress in the Middle East. So committed is State to this myth that it preferred to cover up the murder of its own personnel rather than confront the hollowness of its own policy....

The leftists and elitists of our State Department have to "soldier on" with their insane policies, because Israel, in many ways—symbolic, historical, cultural— is us. Israel, like the USA, slipped out from under the control of European elites, and bootstrapped a new country, free, democratic and capitalist. And bumptiously self-confident. And, bitterest pill of all, successful, while all around it lay the ugly failures of all that the Left cherishes. Israel's sin (besides being Jewish) is to have shown-up the traditional elites. and that's America's sin, too. Israel is out 51st state.

And therefore to admit that Israel is in the right is to admit that the United States of America may be in the right. And to admit that the "Palestinians" are in fact a cesspool of hatred and crime is to admit that the UN, under whose tutelage the Palestinians became what they are, is itself a cesspool. And that all the Leftists who have supported the UN (and the "peace process," and Plaestinian terrorists) so fanatically over the decades are either dupes or criminals.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 AM