February 28, 2007

Orcish...

Charlene noticed the Dover Beachcomber quoting from the Lord of the Rings (appendix) and relating it oh-too-well to modern life..

But Orcs and Trolls spoke as they would, without love of words or things; and their language was actually more degraded and filthy than I have shown it. I do not suppose that any will wish for a closer rendering. Much of the same sort of talk can still be heard among the orc-minded; dreary and repetitive with hatred and contempt, too long removed from good to retain even verbal vigor, save in the ears of those to whom only the squalid sounds strong.

I thought of this one because, as my wife and I were stopped in traffic in Santa Rosa yesterday while driving home from a great couple of days on the Mendocino coast, I suddenly became aware of the driver in the PG&E truck next to me talking plenty loud enough to hear across the space between our vehicles. She was a perfectly normal looking young woman, having a friendly gab with her co-worker. All I caught was: "F***, really? Nah, you're s***in' me! If that mother-f***er thinks I'm gonna put with that s***... ". Then traffic started moving again.

Here I should join in heaping deserved moral censure on the decadence of our wretched era...but actually it reminds me of one the funniest things I ever heard. It was way back when I owned my bookstore. One day, ker-bang, there was a fender-bender right outside. These two black guys jump out of their cars and start yelling at each other:

F*** You, mother-f***er!
Yeah, F*** You, mother-f***er!
You mother-f***er, F*** You!
You the mother-f***er, F*** You!

Now up to this point it was just squalid. BUT, it went on...

and on....

and on...

With no more variation in vocabulary or matter than what I've written! After ten or fifteen iterations we were all ready to roll on the floor laughing.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:11 PM

The end is nigh...you need to memorize this stuff...

I got this from David Schütz ...

OK, you know that 666 is the Number of the Beast, but did you know that:

660 ....Approximate number of the Beast
DCLXVI ...Roman numeral of the Beast
666.0000 ...Number of the High Precision Beast
0.666 ....Number of the Millibeast
/666 ...Beast Common Denominator
1010011010 ....Binary of the Beast
1-666+ ....Area code of the Beast
00666 ....Postcode of the Beast
1800-666-666 ....Live Beasts! One-on-one pacts! Call Now! Only $6.66/minute. Over 18 only please.
$665.95 ....Retail price of the Beast
$732.66 .... Price of the Beast plus GST
$799.95 ....Price of the Beast with all accessories and replacement soul
$656.66 ....Kmart price of the Beast
Route 666 ...Way of the Beast (I can't Ozzi-fy this one!)
666 deg C ....Oven temperature for roast Beast
666mg .... Recommended Minimum Daily Requirement of Beast
Netscape 6.66 ....BetaBrowser of the Beast
i66686 ....CPU of the Beast
666I ....BMW of the Beast
668 ....Next-door neighbour of the Beast

Schütz is an Catholic Australian blogger. I just realized that I've been following his adventures with great interest for a while now, without having any occasion to quote him or leave a comment. It's like a sort of weird one-sided friendship; if I met him on the street I could start talking to him about his life and family like a pal, but he doesn't know I exist. Sometimes I get comments or e-mails from people who write, "I've been reading you for years, but never commented before..."

Posted by John Weidner at 9:35 AM

Please bomb us...

John at PowerLine writes, concerning the suicide bomber in Afghanistan (who of course never had the slightest chance of getting near the Vice President):

....Suicide bombing is a tactic favored by the weak. It was developed initially by the Palestinians--the ultimate in weakness--and then implemented by Iraqi insurgents, who have little ability to engage coalition forces in combat. The Taliban's adoption of the tactic is perhaps also born of weakness, but no doubt the perceived success of the Iraqi insurgents has also inspired the Taliban to imitate them.

The Taliban must be heartened by the reaction of many Americans to the ongoing violence in Iraq. The group's leadership may have inferred that it can drive the U.S. and its allies from Afghanistan, not only by killing American soldiers, but through the much easier expedient of using suicide bombers to murder Afghan civilians. If that's what the Taliban has in mind, the fact that the bomber got nowhere near Vice-President Cheney doesn't mean that he failed. On the contrary, the massive publicity being given to the attempt, and to the resulting deaths of a number of innocent Afghans, most likely means that the bombing achieved its objective.
[My emphasis]

We are teaching the Taliban, and all the other crazies of the world, to do this. We tell them over and over again that this is a tactic that works. The purpose of suicide bombing is not military victory, but the creation of a climate of discouragement in the West. And, surprise, this is exactly the goal of our press, democrats, fake-pacifists and the whole nihilist Left.

The way to teach terrorists to be suicide bombers is to respond with publicity and public pronouncements of discouragement. We do thise every time.

The way to teach terrorists not to use suicide bombers is to respond with public defiance, and by doing just the opposite of what they want. Anyone who even suggests this is called a "warmonger," and "un-Christian."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:43 AM

February 27, 2007

But life is short, and things do matter....

It's one of those days—weeks—when the third cuppa joe does not steam any bloggable fumes up from the depths of the tired brain. And anyway, I saw this quote from a piece by Mark Helprin at Peter Burnet's blog, and and it's too good to even add a comment to....

...One seldom encounters pure nihilism, for just as anarchists are usually very well-organized, most of what passes for nihilism is a compromise with advocacy. Present literary forms may spurn the individual, emotion, beauty, sacrifice, love, and truth, but they energetically embrace the collective, coldness of feeling, ugliness, self-assertion, contempt, and disbelief. And why? Simply because the acolytes of modernism are terribly and justly afraid. They fear that if they do not display their cynicism they will be taken for fools. They fear that if they commit to and uphold something outside the puppet channels of orthodoxy they will be mocked, that if they are open they will be attacked, that if they appreciate that which is simple and good they will foolishly have overlooked its occult corruptions, that if they stand they will be struck down, that if they love they will lose, and that if they live they will die.

As surely they will. And others of their fears are legitimate as well, so they withdraw from engagement and risk into what they believe is the safety of cynicism and mockery. The sum of their engagement is to show that they are disengaged, and they have built an elaborate edifice, which now casts a shadow over every facet of civilization, for the purpose of representing their cowardice as wisdom. Mainly to protect themselves, they write coldly, cruelly, and as if nothing matters.

But life is short, and things do matter, often more than the human heart can bear. This is an elemental truth that neither temporarily victorious nihilism, nor fashion, nor cowardice can long suppress, which is why the literary tenor of the times cannot and will not last. And which is one reason among many why one must not accept its dictates or write according to its conventions. These must and will fall, for they are subject to constant pressure as generation after generation rises in unprompted affirmation of human nature. And though perhaps none living may see the change, it is an honor to predict and await it.
Posted by John Weidner at 7:35 AM

February 26, 2007

SF trivia...

When I put up the new banner picture, Charlene and I realized we had no idea what the large building is you see below the bridge.

We drove over to the Presidio on Sunday. We discovered from a friendly security guard that it was originally the SF Marine Hospital, built in 1875, which served merchant seaman. The Marine Hospital Service which built it is actually the forerunner of the Public Health Service.

The building is now being restored as housing. The two ugly modern wings (you see one of them on the right) are going to be torn down, as they deserve.

Marine Hospital, San Francisco

Posted by John Weidner at 5:55 PM

February 25, 2007

Sunday punch...

From a piece by Father Raymond J. de Souza, on demographics, the growing churches of the Global South, and the Anglicans...(Thanks to Wretchard.)

....Or more to the point of the Anglican travails: Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola is more central to the future of Anglicanism than Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In less than 20 years, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, the world’s 2.6 billion Christians will be comprised of 623 million Latin Americans, 595 million Africans, 513 million Europeans and 498 million Asians. The growth of Africa has been astonishing, from 10 million Christians in 1900 representing about 10% of the population, to some 360 million in 2000, representing about 50% of the population. In such a world, the concerns and cultural mores of the Upper West Side of Manhattan are marginal at best.

The impact of this shift will shape Christianity in the 21st century, and it will be a muscular Christianity in which the biblical drama of sin, chastisement, repentance, mercy, healing, salvation and liberation will reassert itself. The this-worldly social projects of deracinated northern Christians will be cast aside. The old-time religion will emerge from the newest churches.

An oft-quoted Christian poet from Ghana, Afua Kuma, has a contemporary hymn that would no doubt drain the remaining colour from the pallid faces in a typical northern Anglican choir:
If Satan troubles us/ Jesus Christ/ You who are the lion of the grasslands/ You whose claws are sharp/ Will tear out his entrails/ And leave them on the ground/ For the flies to eat.
Most Anglicans in the north likely tend toward polyphony at evensong rather than torn entrails, and so the cultural expression of southern Christianity may seem alien at first. Yet if the contest is between torn-entrails spiritual-warfare Christianity and pat-on-the-back, spiritually-compromising Christianity, where the greatest offence is giving offense, it seems clear that the lion of the grasslands is going to be the one with the growing band of disciples. And the roar you hear disturbing the tranquility of the Anglican Communion might just be the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in
African cadences.

Change. Plenty of it happening. Well, that's what RJ is about.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:25 AM

February 24, 2007

Recycling...

Orrin writes, concerning Tom Vilsack's withdrawing from the race...

It's at least notable that while Mr. Vilsack's bid was always dubious there's only one thing that changed this week: he participated in the first debate and there proposed a rational reform measure for Social Security and the Left declared him beyond the Pale of their party's ideology. There is no Third Way any longer for the Democrats. It's back to the 70s.

This is very interesting if you view all this through the lens of the 70-Year Cycle. In the 1940 election, the equivalent point in the cycle to 2008, the Republicans nominated Wendell Wilkie, who had until recently been a Democrat, and a New Deal supporter! There's certainly no sign of Democrats doing something like that.

On the other hand, Wilkie was also widely (and incorrectly) perceived to be an isolationist, which matched the mood of many Republicans at that time, and many Democrats today. That fits. Wilkie was also something of a Rorschach candidate, like Obama. People could see him as whatever they were hoping for.

Wilkie and Roosevelt split over the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was one of the most fascinating projects of the US in that period. But that's a whole other topic.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 AM

February 23, 2007

Time for a new banner...

* UPDATE: I've now put in the banner without the fog effect. Any thoughts, anyone? Preferences?

The new banner picture is one I snapped from Golden Gate Heights. Near the top of these steps. I was driving my daughter to karate class, and we were admiring a beautiful sunset. I drove near the top, said, "I'll be right back," sprinted up the hill and snapped some pictures almost at random. One of which I actually liked.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:36 AM

February 22, 2007

Too silly to answer, but...

FOXNews.com:

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday phoned President Bush to air her complaints over Vice President Dick Cheney's comments that the Congressional Democrats' plan for Iraq would "validate the Al Qaeda strategy." [well, it does.]
Pelosi, who said she could not reach the president, said Cheney's comments wrongly questioned critics' patriotism [As usual, he never mentioned patriotism. But if the shoe fits...] and ignored Bush's call for openness on Iraq strategy. [he's just being open.]
"You cannot say as the president of the United States, 'I welcome disagreement in a time of war,' and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country," the speaker said. [why the hell not?]

The quarrel began in Tokyo, where Cheney used an interview to criticize Pelosi and Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., over their plan to place restrictions on Bush's request for an additional $93 billion for the Iraq war to make it difficult or impossible to send 21,500 extra troops to Iraq. [And that plan is different from what al Qaeda wanted....how? Any of you chomskies want to fill me in?]

"I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we will do is validate the Al Qaeda strategy," the vice president told ABC News. "The Al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people ... try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit." [that's what al Qaeda wants. That's what the Dems want. They are allies. Naughty naughty Dick Cheney, telling the truth so bluntly..]

Dick Cheney on a Segway

Posted by John Weidner at 10:50 AM

Life in the big city...

I recommend, for the stimulating of clear thought, this TechCentral piece, By Lee Harris, So, Did America Overreact to 9/11?:

...The inmates of any jailhouse know that even mildest acts of aggression must be instantly and firmly challenged. If you are a newcomer and another inmate demands that you give him your candy bar, the worst thing you could possibly do would be to try to put the incident into perspective. You cannot say, "Well, it's only a candy bar, after all. No big deal," because, in this context, your candy bar is a big deal. It means everything. If you hand it over on demand, then you have also handled over your dignity. You have thereby informed not only the inmate making the demand, but all the other inmates watching you give into his demand that they too can all walk on you at any time. They too can take from you anything you have. They too can make you their flunkey or slave.

Of course, in defending your candy-bar, you may have to risk your life. But it is absurd to say that you are risking your life "only" for a candy bar when you are in fact risking it to maintain your autonomy and independence. The danger in such a situation is not overreaction, but, paradoxically, the failure to overreact.

The same principle applies to groups, tribes, and nations. If any group wishes to preserve its dignity and autonomy, there will be times when it is forced to act like the inmate defending his candy bar. In terms of a cost analysis, this kind of "overreaction" will seem utterly irrational. Is the candy bar really worth risking your life over? But to you, the refusal to take this risk involves a loss that cannot be measured by statistics—namely, the loss of your status as an independent moral agent that others will be careful not to push around or walk over...(Thanks to SeeDubya)

The blunt fact is, the Planet Earth is currently a rough neighborhood. So, simply because of the way things are, we have to act like people in a bad neighborhood do, just to keep trouble to a minimum. The rule is, if you let yourself be bullied or pushed around, you will bring on yourself much more trouble. If you do not allow small slights to pass unchallenged, then you will be respected and left alone.

(It's a normal fact of life in the big city, that you don't want to brush against people on the street as if you don't see them. That's how to get in a fight fast. Because that's how people test others in the rough parts of town. A friend of mine once got in a fight because his newspaper touched another guy's head on a crowded bus. And I once almost had a fight when I paused on the sidewalk in someone's path.)

We in the developed West have caused the War on Terror, by consistently doing the wrong things. By allowing ourselves to be bullied without responding strongly. We have taught the terrorists that terror tactics work. We have taught them that we are weak and indecisive. We have taught them that they will be rewarded if they hurt us—that we will give them things they want.

So, am I saying that Christian Charity does not work in the real world? No, not at all. What I am saying is that giving the other inmate the candy bar is NOT Charity...because in fact you are teaching him that extortion works, and teaching him to despise you. It would be far better to fight—beat him up if you can—and then reach out to him and try to make him a friend.

And, by the way, this is in general what America stands for. We were at our best and smartest when we flattened our enemies in WWII, and then helped them to rebuild and form free democratic polities. Germany, Japan, Italy...anybody been attacked by those guys lately? (And also applicable here is that France and Britain had iniated the war by giving up various candy bars to Hitler—that "pacifism" killed 50 million or so people.)

And that is exactly what we are attempting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is exactly analogous, on the political plane, to Christian love.

And the fascinating thing to me, the question of questions, is why this has aroused so much hatred. Such instant opposition. Particularly on the left.

It is really interesting to remember that, in early 2002, Bush was already getting hostile probing questions from the press (who are almost all on the Left) about Iraq. Before anyone in the administration had even brought the subject up. I'm thinking that, unconsciously, they knew that this was the rotting log that was going to be turned over. And they were very worried, because they were the bugs that were going to be suddenly scurrying to get out of the bright light!

Iraq was (and is) the big test. Bush was going to say, "OK wise guys, you claim to be anti-fascist. Help us remove the worst fascist tyrant of our times. You claim to be humanitarian; here's one of the most brutalized countries of the earth needing our help. You claim you are not anti-Semitic; stand with us against against a monster who was paying bounties to Jew-killers. You claim to care about a certain group that's been denied a homeland; here in the Kurds we have a far bigger group denied a homeland..." (I could go on for a long while with these. You get the picture.)

And the fact that Iraq has been more difficult then anticipated does not in the slightest bit mitigate or excuse the fact that our leftists and fake-pacifists have failed their big test.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:10 AM

February 20, 2007

Neat. And you wouldn't know about it without the Internet...

A State Department official gives the Germans some straight talk about Carbon emissions. I love it. Davids Medienkritik: How Unpolite: State Official Claims Superiority of U.S. Climate Policy:

....Now let's be honest--even a 2.4 percent increase for the EU-15 is a very modest increase. But given the way this issue gets talked about publicly in Europe, I would venture to say that few people in Europe know that from 2000 to 2004, EU-15 emissions grew at nearly double the U.S. rate, and that Europe, at least during this period, has been moving away from—not towards—its Kyoto target of an 8 percent cut. (...)

Now notice something else. This time period of 2000 to 2004 was a period of rapid economic growth in the United States. Between 2000 and 2004 we grew our economy by almost 1.9 trillion dollars (or nearly 1.46 trillion Euros). That's about the equivalent of adding Italy to the U.S. economy. And we increased our population by 11.3 million people--adding more than the population of Greece. And yet our emissions grew only 1.3 percent--that tells you a lot about how the U.S. economy is already changing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It is of course very hard if not impossible to see an actual decrease in emissions when both your economy and population are growing, though we came close. So how do we get a better measure of what is really happening? We do that by measuring the greenhouse gas intensity of an economy--that is, greenhouse emissions per unit of GDP. As our economy soared, our emissions rose only slightly; from 2000 to 2004, we reduced the greenhouse gas intensity of the U.S. economy by 7.5 percent. That is a good result....(Thanks to Penraker)
Posted by John Weidner at 4:58 PM

Strange coincidence...

Dafydd has an interesting post on how most major papers phrased the recent activities in the Senate as "Republicans closing off debate on the war." In fact the Democrats were trying to end debate—that's what "cloture" means—and force a vote. (That's one lie, but also the papers have covered up the fact that there is opportunity to debate the war with every bill that comes up, and in fact war debate has been preempting almost all the other business of the Senate!)

...But if that is the case -- where did this amazing coincidence of terminology come from? The only other explanation that occurs to me is that editors at the other newspapers simply copied what the New York Times wrote, that the Republicans had "rejected an effort to force debate" on the Iraq war. I suspect they originally wrote their articles straight; but when they saw that artful bit of misdiction in "America's newspaper of record," the lower-tier editorial boards gushed, "What a great way to put it! Let's us do that as well."

I can't think of any other way that such a contorted and misleading phrasing, never before used, could appear on the same day in a half dozen major newspapers and probably dozens of minor ones....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 AM

February 19, 2007

"to be an enemy of a man's creed but a friend to the man himself"

I was noodling around looking for a Chesterton quote, and came upon this great little essay by Paul Cella, from 2003: What Threatens Us. I think I read it back when, and it's worth re-reading. It's partly about how modern secularist society just can't "see" faith, and can't therefore get any feel for the threat posed by Islam. And that we need to consult men who did understand, such as GK Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc. Both of whom were astonishingly prescient, both of them predicting the future rise of Islam at a time when Moslem lands were impoverished backwaters, and seemed to "rational" types to be of no account whatsoever.

I liked this part in particular, since last Sunday's lesson was on the old "loving your enemy" thing. Ouch. Hard, if you take this stuff seriously, especially if your enemy is a jihadi who would torture and kill you just for the heck of it. (Or, far worse, if your enemy is a leftizoid nihilist whose non-creed is eating like acid at the roots of our beloved civilization.)

...In this, "ChesterBelloc" again reveal narrowness of the modern world's bluster about tolerance and pluralism: having repudiated in a glib and small-minded way the power of faith on the minds of men, the modern mind makes itself ignorant as mud, and walks about the world in a kind of daze. The hardest thing for the Modern Age to do is actually see a thing other than itself.

Chesterton and Belloc saw in Islam precisely the sort of spiritual energy which was proving evanescent in the West even in their time. Belloc, for example (and probably Chesterton too, although I myself do not recall reading it) emphatically declared Islam a heresy -- a heresy which derived its strength from the affirmation of some true doctrines of Christianity while denigrating fatally other true doctrines. A heresy is not necessarily evil; it is simply wrong; staggeringly, definitively, but plausibly wrong. This sort of judgment is very nearly impossible today: it provokes the charge of crankishness, or even bigotry. But therein lies our suffocating narrowness. We have resolutely undertaken to amputate some of our mental faculties; like the faculty of distinguishing a creed from its adherents. The rigid secularist cannot see the creed, only its followers. But it is, I think, a solid fact, no matter what modern insularity avows, that a man may be an implacable enemy of Islam and still a friend of Muslims.

Modern multiculturalism denies this fact. And I will grant it this small concession; that it is no easy mental task to be an enemy of a man's creed but a friend to the man himself. Not easy, but possible -- and indeed necessary. In this sense secularism, along with its accomplice multiculturalism, is a capitulation or abdication of responsibility; it is the surrender of clever poltroons. In the face the challenge of charity, the challenge propounded by the awesome equality of the Christian creed: "love your neighbor as yourself," the modern world resigns itself to dull platitudes....

Mr Cella blogs here. Some recent interesting posts concern his A Reactionary’s Shorter Catechism, which is thought-provoking, to say the least...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:43 PM

We haven't changed. YOU left us...

From Jewish World Review. (Thanks to O. Judd)

Sometimes, the most daring thing a scholar or an organization can do is to mention the obvious. That is a lesson that Indiana University's Professor Alvin H. Rosenfeld and the American Jewish Committee have recently learned to their sorrow.

Rosenfeld is the author of a 30-page study titled " 'Progressive' Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism," which was published in December by AJCommittee. In it Rosenfeld, briefly surveys the international rise of anti-Semitism and then goes on to touch on the various excesses of intellectual anti-Zionists with an emphasis on those leftist Jews who are important elements in the massive contemporary assault on Israel.

Rosenfeld's conclusion is that those Jewish writers and thinkers who have aided the assault on Israel's legitimacy and its right to exist cannot pretend that their stand is unrelated to the wave of violent Jew-hatred, which is itself largely focused on the delegitimization of Israel and Jewish self-defense. He rightly asserts that anti-Zionist Jewish authors such as British historian Jacqueline Rose, New York University's Tony Judt and Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner have been carrying the intellectual water for a weird coalition of the far-left, the far-right, and the Arab and Islamic propagandists...

....For this, Rosenfeld and his sponsors at AJCommittee have been treated to the sort of public tar and feathering that is usually reserved only for the troglodyte denizens of the far-right....

Really, there's nothing much to say here that I haven't already said. Except that the battle-lines are, I think, becoming more well-defined. It will become harder and harder to occupy that amorphous left-of-center position where you can be both pro-Israel and still sneer at the "troglodyte denizens of the far-right."

...If we want to know where we are headed, we need only look to Britain, where in intellectual and artistic circles it has gotten to the point where it may no longer be possible to identify as a Jew without also disavowing any support for Israel.

A group of British Jewish celebrities, including actor Stephen Fry and playwright Harold Pinter recently signed a joint statement titled lambasting official British Jewish institutions for continuing to support Israel. Since they agree with the slander that Israel is an oppressor, incredibly, they see support for it as justifying anti-Semitism....

This is one of those situations where people will say, "Oh isn't it depressing that WE have become so partisan, so divided!" NO, that's a lie. WE have not become anything! What has happened is that Leftists have dragged their side into opposition to the things we ALL once agreed upon. Things like patriotism and traditional morality and willingness to fight for our freedoms have become "partisan issues" only because the nihilist Left has abandoned them.

People of the "Right" ("right" and "left" are, as always, sketchy terms. But you know what I mean) have not changed. MY positions are similar to what my father held 50 years ago. And he hardly thought of them as "positions," they were just what everybody in town believed, Democrat or Republican. If in America it is now controversial to fly our flag, to have faith in our military, or to support Israel, this is 100% the fault of Leftists, who swerved into twisted nihilist dreams in the 1960's, and continue to "work-out" the implications of their world-view.

And yes, I am perfectly aware that it is not considered politically or polemically correct to say that the other side is 100% at fault. And it's surely hyperbole. So if you don't like this, I'm happy to DEBATE. Bring on your opposing arguments and facts. Perhaps I'm wrong.

Of course I write this with the confidence of not having been able to bring forth a strong general debate from any left-leaning type since I started blogging in November 2001. Never once. Sneers and complaints by the bushel-basketfull, yes, but never once an argument that rocked me back on my heels. (And instant "gotchas!" if I make a factual error--I know you fakes are out there reading this stuff.) They can't. Not only logically can't, but also because it is against the post-modernist creed. To seriously debate is to admit that there may exist Truth, with a capital "T." (And the implications of that alone are huge and shocking. Truth will make demands on us. Not least it will demand that aging Baby-Boomers grow up!)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:23 AM

Swatting flies. Since 2001

I seem to be encountering a lot of, well, let's be tactful and call it "unchecked data," about Iraq and the War of Terror lately. Today I heard "the war" associated with 600,000 deaths (of exactly who or where was not specified). Hey, what's an Order of Magnitude between friends...

And even the Washington Post felt moved to criticize the falsehoods of Congressman Murtha!

...Mr. Murtha's cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq "would be more stable with us out of there," in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce "massive civilian casualties." He says he wants to force the administration to "bulldoze" the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to "get our troops out of the Green Zone" because "they are living in Saddam Hussein's palace"; could he be unaware that the zone's primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?

It would be nice to believe that Mr. Murtha does not represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party or the thinking of its leadership. Yet when asked about Mr. Murtha's remarks Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered her support...

I doubt if I will get around to doing much more swatting of flies than I already have been for the last five years. But it's on my mind. But as a small bit of fighting back, I'm going to re-post this quote, which I originally posted here, almost a year ago. As far as I know, it NEVER was reported as news; I found it in a book. From The Faith of the American Soldier by Stephen Mansfield, page 156:

....It worked. Both through the reforms that the military enacted to correct the scandals, and through the proactive ministries of the new chaplains, Abu Ghraib has been transformed. Chaplain Taylor explained that there have been no further abuses and that, in fact, the prison has become a model success story. Attendence at chapel services reaches into the hundreds. Now, many of the soldiers stationed at Abu Ghraib with the 391st [Military Police Battalion, from Columbus, Ohio] carry medallions in their pockets that express their pride in the opportunity to live down the negative stigma of the prison. The slogan on the coin defines their newfound sense of mission. It says simply, "Restoring America's Honor."....

America's honor, and the Christian decency of our soldiers, are, of course, not newsworthy... Leftists continue to claim that abu Ghraib is the real face of America at war. They are right; you see the true America in the above quote.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:08 AM

Now this REALLY surprises me....

AP--YahooNews) Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs lambasted teacher unions today, claiming no amount of technology in the classroom would improve public schools until principals could fire bad teachers.

Jobs compared schools to businesses with principals serving as CEOs.

"What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good?" he asked to loud applause during an education reform conference.

"Not really great ones because if you're really smart you go, 'I can't win.'"

In a rare joint appearance, Jobs shared the stage with competitor Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Inc. Both spoke to the gathering about the potential for bringing technological advances to classrooms.

"I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said.

"This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."
[Here's a link to more.]

"off-the-charts crazy." Wow. Not what I was expecting. The blunt truth. And from a company that sells a LOT of machines to schools!

Steve Jobs is, as far as I know, a typical Silicon Valley Democrat type. Pals with Al Gore, etc. On the other hand, he's a cutting-edge kinda guy, a leader in new trends. And broken government schools are the big civil rights issue of our time.

Democrats keep trying desperately to pretend that we are still in "The Era," when civil rights was about Great White Liberals and big fat white government protecting poor darkies from the KKK and NASCAR fans. They've created a sort of "institutionalized revolution," complete with relentless propaganda, especially in the schools, about the glory days of Viva La Revolution, even while the surviving comrades have turned into bloated corrupt old parasites. BUT, those days are long gone, as is the time when government could do much to help minorities. Now government is much of the problem.

And a great many Democrats must know that the corrupt bargain they have struck with the teacher's unions—boodle in exchange for blocking reform—is destroying or blighting the lives of countless inner-city children. But children are expendable when what's at stake is political power.

The problem, actually, is not just that bad teachers can't be fired. The big problem is that schools put their efforts into pleasing the "customer," but the customer is bureaucrats and politicians. NOT the people with the real interest in educational results, parents.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:43 AM

February 18, 2007

"girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms..."

Something for Sunday....
...The wood was so still that it was not difficult to decide where the sound was coming from. It grew clearer every moment and, sooner than she expected, she came to an open glade and saw the stream, bright as glass, running across the turf a stone's throw away from her. But although the sight of the water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn't rush forward and drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason: just on this side of the stream lay the Lion.
It lay with its head raised and its two fore-paws out in front of it, like the lions in Trafalgar Square. She knew at once that it had seen her, for its eyes looked straight into hers for a moment and then turned away—as if it knew her quite well and didn't think much of her.
"If I run away, it'll be after me in a moment," thought Jill. "And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth." Anyway, she couldn't have moved if she had tried, and she couldn't take her eyes off it. How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the Lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.
"If you're thirsty, you may drink."
They were the first words she had heard since Scrubb had spoken to her on the edge of the cliff. For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again, "If you are thirsty, come and drink," and of course she remembered what Scrubb had said about animals talking in that other world, and realised that it was the Lion speaking. Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man's. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger, a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way.
"Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.
"I'm dying of thirst," said Jill.
"Then drink," said the Lion.
"May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realised that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic. "Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if do come?" said Jill.
"I make no promise," said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
"Do you eat girls?" she said.
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
"I daren't come and drink," said Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
"Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream," said the Lion...

From The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis

Just for the record, I've never been able to get into CS Lewis' Narnia books. But this passage knocks my socks off...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:58 AM

February 17, 2007

slaves and knaves...

Yesterday Charlene and our son Will had the, ummm, interesting experience of passing through Los Angeles International Airport on Friday afternoon before a 3-day weekend. (And flying Southwest, to add to the charm.)

She was just now mentioning the dense masses of people pouring through—no possibility of even sitting down—and how vulnerable it all was to any sort of terrorist attack. Almost indefensible. Shuffling masses of sheep.

Which makes me very angry, to think of the utter stupidity of people to not realize that this is why we are hunting terrorists in the far corners of the globe. Not to mention the cluelessness of many Americans, who don't even know that we are hunting terrorists in the far corners of the globe!

STUPID STUPID STUPID! Montebanks, nihilists, piecrusts! Pigeon-livered lean-witted peasant slaves, as Shakespeare might have put it...

Whew, there...I feel better now...

There's no way we can wall-off America from danger. The world has become very small. Millions board planes for distant places every day. There's no possibility of keeping them all under observation. I could plot a crime in Frisco today, and execute it in Tokyo or Moscow or Calcutta tomorrow.

Brave Americans and our allies are, right now, at painful cost, whacking wasp's nests in places most people don't know exist, such as the Horn of Africa, or the Philippine archipelago, or Waziristan. We should be supporting them with unstinting encouragement and gratitude. But most Americans are too stupid to care. Shuffling sheep, so stupid they actually believe that what's on the TV news is reality.. And Leftists and pacifists and journalists and "academics" are worse than stupid—they are on the other side.

Folly heaped upon folly..

Canadian soldiers in Panjwai district of Kandahar, Afghanistan

Canadian soldiers of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stand guard in Panjwai district of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Jan.10.
Allauddin Khan / The Associated Pres
s (Army Times, Frontline Photos 1/23/07)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 AM

Compass lost..

There's another good one from Nick Cohen, Liberals are now the appeasers of hate:

....Five years ago, if you could have asked journalists, diplomats, academics and the victims of oppression themselves who they would have trusted above all others to stay sober in a crisis, my guess is that they would have nominated Amnesty International. Peter Benenson, one of the great Englishmen of the 20th century, set it up as a rigorously, almost ascetically, impartial body.

At first, Amnesty dealt only with prisoners of conscience who espoused non-violence. It didn't matter which side they were on in the Cold War, or any other war, because Amnesty didn't concern itself with politics.

Its reputation couldn't survive the aftermath of 9/11. The first sign that it was losing its compass came when Blair cited Amnesty International's reports on Iraq in a dossier on his reasons for going to war. In September 2002, he urged MPs to "read about the routine butchering of political opponents; the prison 'cleansing' regimes in which thousands die; the torture chambers and hideous penalties supervised by him and his family and detailed by Amnesty International. Read it all again and again. I defy anyone to say that this cruel and sadistic dictator should be allowed any possibility of getting his hands on more chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons."

Faced with the prospect of Blair removing the regime it had denounced for 34 of its 41 years, Amnesty cracked.
Blair's description of the terror in Iraq was "opportunistic and selective", it snapped. Strictly speaking, Amnesty should have kept its mouth shut. All that should have mattered to its leaders was whether Blair was quoting their reports accurately - which he was: Blair was "selective" only in that he underplayed the scale of the terror. Amnesty couldn't admit that because the crisis was pushing it away from the necessary impartiality of any human rights worker or judge into a sly political posturing with echoes of the '30s. If it took sides in the war, Amnesty's history would have forced it to come out for a democratic Iraq.

But support for Bush, however limited, would have appalled its members. Equally, it couldn't support the Saddamists and Islamists. So in true Virginia Woolf style, Amnesty, along with a large segment of liberal opinion, pretended that both sides were equally bad and the US and Britain were moral equivalents of totalitarian movements and states.

Human Rights Watch, which had made its name as a rival to Amnesty with its investigations into Saddam's Iraq, tied its tongue in knots as it tried to find a way to oppose the war to overthrow him. Kenneth Roth, its director, came up with a canting formula that there was no humanitarian purpose to the war because, although there had been mass slaughter, ethnic cleansing and environmental destruction over 35 years, "no such slaughter was then ongoing or imminent" at the precise moment in 2003 when the war began. His lawyerly point was that although the Baathists were still killing, they were killing at a slower rate than in the past; the numbers of rapes and the intensity of the persecution of ethnic minorities were not up to their previous speed and nothing could be done until Saddam pulled his socks up and improved the strike rate....
(Thanks to Orrin Judd) I previously mentioned Cohen's great piece about being raised "on the Left."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:39 AM

February 16, 2007

Job done...

I just finished installing these wardrobes, for a choir rehearsal room. I think they turned out well, but this project beat me up in a bunch of ways. A lot of them just because the two units are big! 7 1/2 feet high, and 5 feet wide. That complicates everything. For instance, there's no 1/4" plywood available wide enough to form the backs— I had to stitch two pieces together for each one. And once the cases were assembled, it's not like I could pick them up and move them about...

Wardrobes for choir room, St Dominic's Parish
However, it was for our own dear parish, St Dominic's, of San Francisco, and for its world-class choir, so it was a labor of love...

Choir wardrobes, St Dominic's Parish

* For any woodworkers who might be interested, those sliding doors are not really frame-and-panel construction (which would be pretty scary at that size). They are pieces of 1/2" Birch plywood (I was lucky to get some good-looking C-2 at a good price) with strips of 1/4" thick Birch glued on. It worked out well, but there were a lot of pieces to put together. They are lightly dyed to match some other wood in the room..

They are hanging on Hettich System 72222 tracks and wheels--very cool. But the little bottom guides sold with the system were useless--I threw them out and made some long guides of my own.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:41 PM

Good thought, for architecture, or art...

..."Really there is no antagonism. The trouble is simply that art, which in its great days was scientific, has today ceased to be so, and one of the requirements for its recovery is that it should become scientific again and thereby be in harmony with the best spirit of the age. The man who sets to work to design an aeroplane or a motorcar has no self-conscious strivings to express himself or his age, like the pathetic architects and artists of today. His one business is to make it go and, if possible, to go one better, and he would not be so mad as to think he could do this without knowing the tradition of all that went before. Moreover, if he fails, there is no question of his failure; he cannot hide it by fine words and theories. Let us apply this to architecture and have an end to humbug. After all, deep in the human heart is the sense of beauty and when a man sees it he will respond unless his eye is hypnotized by words...

"And do we want originality? I quote Dr. Inge: 'What we call originality is generally the power to see old things in a new light - it is the reading of some open secret...' And the correspondent whom I have quoted before sums up: 'What passes for originality today is at its best no more difficult to accomplish and is less original than what a man does who not only has studied the past, but bears the past within him when he is at work on some quite modern need.' "

    ~Sir J. Ninian Comper,
from Of the Atmosphere of a Church, 1947

I found the above morsel quoted at Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

"What we call originality is generally the power to see old things in a new light - it is the reading of some open secret..." I like it.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 AM

Update...

In my previous post I expressed skepticism about the way leftish people divert attention from their own scandals by claiming to have received threatening or abusive e-mails, and I mentioned Amanda Marcott.

My blogging friend Andrew Cory knows Amanda, and tells me he has seen some of the e-mails she has received, and that they look real and abusive. So, my skepticism was at least partially wrong. My apologies.

I didn't blog about the big Marcott affair itself; it was not interesting to me. But I'd have to say that Andrew, when he blogs about it here, doesn't quite express what the flap was about.

...None of this has anything to do with how she has handled her responsibilities with the Edwards Campaign. You may agree with her opinions. You may not. Agreement or disagreement has nothing to do with her ability to do her job. That job is to say the sorts of things about John Edwards that John Edwards thinks will get John Edwards elected President...

Is she capable of doing that? There is probably no one better capable of doing it. Should she be fired from her current job for things she has said before taking that job? Not if John Edwards believes in Free Speech. Free, in this case, meaning—yes—consequence free...

An American Presidential campaign is about the voters trying to get to know the weaknesses of the candidates, and the candidates trying like mad to prevent this. (Of course we also want to discover their strengths, but that's not really a battle—no one's trying to hide those.)

It's sort of like trench warfare, with everyone under cover. There's not much to shoot at. So if someone sticks his finger up above the edge of the trench, a thousand dollars worth of bullets fly through the air. The pundit-attacks on Marcott were 99% about Edwards. He says he can run the country, so the issue of how well he can run a campaign is very relevant, especially since he's never run anything else in his life, not even a popcorn stand at the County Fair. The controversy is about his judgement, in selecting people for his campaign, although it is expressed in the form of outrage over Ms Marcott's opinions. (Which is why I didn't blog about it; there's too much phoniness about the outrage expressed during such campaign scandals. But that's also why I'll never be a popular blogger—writing about issues and ideas does not attract those delicious thousands of hits.)

Andrew in raising the issue of free speech is simply wrong. Her freedom to speak is unimpaired. Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom from criticism, or freedom from suffering (lawful) consequences due to what you say. When I blog my conservative opinions, I must accept the possible consequences. No Left/Liberal organization would want me for their spokesman. I have no right to complain about that.

I feel somewhat sorry for Ms Marcott; she got hit by bullets that were really aimed at Mr Edwards. But that's what presidential campaigns are like, and have been for 200 years. And Marcott's job was to help conceal from voters things about Edwards they wish to know. She voluntarily went to fight in the trenches, and got caught in a trench raid. (And if McCain or Clinton had made a similar embarrassing hire, she would have been shooting bullets of phony outrage with the best of them!)

An issue that does interest me is how the lines are being drawn more clearly in the war between The Church and the Secularist religion. Ms Marcott's virulently anti-Catholic remarks are, I suspect, an indicator of things to come. I predict that that war is going to keep heating up, and that mushy compromise positions will become harder to hold. To the nihilist, belief is an affront. And it will be more so as it becomes more evident that faith is not a primitive phase that human beings are destined to outgrow. And as it becomes ever more clear that leftist policies have failed to produce the expected felicity.

I predict; we can get together in 20 years and see if I'm right....

Posted by John Weidner at 7:05 AM

February 15, 2007

"ersatz martyrdom"

Dafydd points out something I've also noticed. The way left-leaning public figures, when pressed about something, always claim to have received e-mail death threats...

...Lefties and liberals make almost a religious fetish out of claiming to have received death threats. They use the claim as a truncheon to attack anyone who disputes any portion of what they argue: 'here's some of the mail I recieved from the Rethuglican hate machine -- now whose side are you on?' The idea, dim as it is, is to contrast the bile the Left spews out with the even more wretched and revolting vile supposedly spewed out by their enemies on the Right, a sort of tu quoque. (That's a fancy French term for "you too!" as in, "you're just the same, only worse.")

The important point is that only the logical argument made against them is known to be real; the threats are never proven -- and could easily be made up. Thus, they shift attention away from a real argument, which they cannot answer, to a fanciful threat, to which they can wax indignant, show brave defiance, and can use to wrench public opinion onto their side....

I've never seen any example of these "threats" being authenticated. Or even revealed in toto. I remember when Dr. Michael Bellesiles was caught faking historic evidence, he used "threats" as an excuse not to answer questions.

If I were receiving e-mail threats, I'd publish them on the blog, with the addresses of the senders. Anybody would! The fact that people like Amanda Marcott—the latest one to use the tactic—never do so tells me that they are liars. They are faking-up what Dafydd calls "ersatz martyrdom."

Posted by John Weidner at 1:30 PM

Things we should remember...

Most revisionist history is simply a matter of ignoring the past, not of inventing a new past. In America, leftists mostly control the schools and medias, so certain things get dropped down the Memory Hole. Especially, certain horrific slaughters, if they get noticed at all, just happened. There's no mention of why they happened.

One of those big facts that's been excised from memory, is the subject of a piece by Jeff Jacoby: American Leftists Were Pol Pot's Cheerleaders. Remember. Be Aware. The same creatures who want to bring us "peace" in Iraq helped to bestow the same sort of "peace" on Cambodia.

....But nowhere in the Times story was there a reminder that the Khmer Rouge was able to seize power only after the US Congress in 1975 cut off all aid to the embattled pro-American government of Lon Nol -- and that it did so despite frantic warnings of the bloodbath that would ensue. President Ford warned of "horror and tragedy'' if Cambodia was abandoned to the Khmer Rouge and pleaded with Congress to supply Lon Nol's army with the tools it needed to defend itself.

To no avail. US troops had come home two years earlier, but American antiwar activists were still intent on effecting the "liberation'' of Southeast Asia. Radicals like Jane Fonda, David Dellinger, and Tom Hayden stormed the country, denouncing anyone who opposed communist victory in Cambodia and Vietnam. On the campuses, in the media, and in Congress, it was taken on faith that a Khmer Rouge victory would bring peace and enlightened leadership to Cambodia.

"The growing hysteria of the administration's posture on Cambodia,"declared Senator George McGovern, "seems to me to reflect a determined refusal to consider what the fall of the existing government in Phnom Penh would actually mean. . . . We should be able to see that the kind of government which would succeed Lon Nol's forces would most likely be a government . . . run by some of the best-educated, most able intellectuals in Cambodia.''

Stanley Karnow, hailed nowadays as an authoritative Indochina historian, was quite sure that "the 'loss' of Cambodia would . . . be the salvation of the Cambodians. "There was no point helping the noncommunist government survive, he wrote, "since the rebels are unlikely to kill more innocent civilians than are being slaughtered by the rockets promiscuously hitting Phnom Penh."

The New Republic told its readers that the ouster of Lon Nol should be of no concern, since "the Cambodian people will finally be rescued from the horrors of a war that never really had any meaning.''

In Washington, then-Representative Christopher Dodd of Connecticut averred: "The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is peace, not guns. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now."...
[Emphasis added. Thanks to Orrin]

There's more, of course. Notice the bit about how the war "never really had any meaning." Just think about it. Does it sound familiar?

* I should add that the Khmer Rouge habit of inflicting torture and death was known. It was no secret. The advice given to those who worked in Cambodia was, "Don't be taken alive."

In the same way, the tendency to murder and torture of the terrorists and Ba'athist is known. We have heard the tales of the Taliban inflicting horrific deaths for sins like flying kites or owning a songbird. We found the torture-chambers when we re-took Falluja.

So when leftists and fake pacifists prate endlessly about abu Ghraib (a relatively minor evil that was soon corrected and punished) they are not just indulging in anti-Americanism. They are actively promoting things a thousand times worse, by directing the world's attention away from them.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:22 AM

February 14, 2007

"thou thing of no bowels, thou!"

House Democrats' New Strategy: Force Slow End to War. By John Bresnahan

Top House Democrats, working in concert with anti-war groups, have decided against using congressional power to force a quick end to U.S. involvement in Iraq, and instead will pursue a slow-bleed strategy designed to gradually limit the administration's options. ["Slow bleed." Words cannot express the contempt I feel for these animals. One could have a morsel of respect if they bravely stood up and voted for what they claim to believe. But this is just despicable.]

Led by Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., and supported by several well-funded anti-war groups, the coalition's goal is to limit or sharply reduce the number of U.S. troops available for the Iraq conflict, rather than to openly cut off funding for the war itself.

The legislative strategy will be supplemented by a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign designed to pressure vulnerable GOP incumbents into breaking with President Bush and forcing the administration to admit that the war is politically unsustainable. [Correction. They are deliberately trying to MAKE the war "politically unsustainable," because they put their hunger for political power above the needs of the nation. The short description for this is treason.]

As described by participants, the goal is crafted to circumvent the biggest political vulnerability of the anti-war movement -- the accusation that it is willing to abandon troops in the field. [Which it is.] That fear is why many Democrats have remained timid in challenging Bush, even as public support for the president and his Iraq policies have plunged. [They want America to lose the War on Terror, but Bush to get all the blame. They were traitors in 1974, and they have now "morally advanced" to the status of "cowardly traitors."]

And notice that nowhere do we hear of any POSITIVE or constructive Democrat plans or proposals for dealing with Islamic terrorism and the other problems we face. Or rather, notice how one hardly notices it at all! We are used to it. No one expects anything positive from the Dems.

They are hoping America loses in the same way Vietnam was lost---with the millions and millions of people they caused to be murdered or imprisoned conveniently offstage, not noticed by a low-attention-span population. They are animals.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:47 PM

February 13, 2007

Kick can down road, repeat....

Harold Sutton writes:

John-
North Korea to Close Reactor in Exchange for Raft of Aid - New York Times:

Does this kind of trade off have even a slight chance to produce the desired effect? Or are we being snookered again -- a la we give up something, they give up nothing? What are your thoughts?
Perhaps equally important, the United States and Japan agreed to discuss normalizing relations with Pyongyang. The United States will begin the process of removing North Korea from its designation as a terror-sponsoring state and also on ending U.S. trade and financial sanctions.

…. [[and at the bottom of the article, as you might expect it]]

Some experts doubt that the North will ever agree to turn over its weapons, which it considers its main bargaining chip with the West, and Kim's only insurance policy against being toppled.

My answer to him: I'd guess the chances of it working are slim to nim. It's another sham to paper things over. And that the real failure here, as ever in the War on Terror, is the failure of the resolve of the West.

If we are in a war on terror (and the whole or most of the West IS in such a war; among other things, we have an alliance called NATO that says an attack on one is an attack on all) then any terror-supporting country can legitimately be attacked, or forced into regime-change. And I'd add, any of them also making nuclear weapons MUST be attacked.

We have the right to take care of NK in the same way that we had the right to attack French Morocco or Rumania, in WWII. Or to occupy neutral Iceland, for that matter. And we also have a humanitarian obligation. NK is a genocidal death-camp nightmare on a scale with Nazi Germany. Remember "never again?" What a joke that turned out to be!

The West has a Christian obligation to act. NK is the lunatic wandering the streets attacking people and screaming threats. WE are the cop on the beat. WE are the law-abiding citizens. Sorry, but the job falls to us. ("WE" meaning Western Christendom--there's the real lack, I guess. As far as Christian in any meaningful sense goes, it's "America Alone," these days.)

(I think I'll make this e-mail a blog post, since I've gone on so long here. "What oft was said, but ne're so tediously repeated.")

Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of the peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for as our Lord says: 'Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.'
--Saint Augustine

Standing idle while lunatics build nuclear weapons is the opposite of "peace," although our fake-pacifists would so define it.

Also, International Law, as expressed in the Bush Doctrine, says that sovereignty is dependent on democratic legitimacy. Attacking NK would not be attacking a sovereign nation. And in fact would not really be a war at all; just cleaning up a mess, a sort of infestation of bandits. (Yes, I know that "International Law" includes no such thing. But if The Bishop of Bormenia can claim that "international law" supports whatever position of appeasement he happens to prefer at the moment, I can do the same thing.)

* Actually, The whole War on Terror is not a war, in many senses of the word. It's a new thing, more like a campaign against bandits expanded to global scale. That's the source of much of our confusion and hesitancy. We need a new word for this thing.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:24 AM

February 12, 2007

Amazingly uninformative...

Dafydd has an interesting post on the many defeats suffered by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the reluctance of our news media to report losses when it's their own side that's losing...

I read this New York Times story a few days ago, and something struck me as odd: we were told that 4,000 people died... but the Times was amazingly uninformative about who they were:
President Hamid Karzai offered peace talks with a resurgent Taliban after the bloodiest year since they were driven from power in 2001. More than 4,000 people, including about 170 foreign soldiers, died in fighting in 2006. Suicide bombings also rose sharply.
The phrase “4000 people” caught my eye. Did “people” include bad guys as well as innocent civilians? If so, how many?

What if a majority of those deaths were of Taliban terrorists? If so, then far from signalling a Taliban resurgence threatening Afghanistan's security (thus our own), it would mean their "surge" was as complete a failure as the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War...

Lots there worth reading...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:04 PM

The question remains...

"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?"
-- William J. Bennett, In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy 11/24/1997

I'm too tired and busy to really blog, so I went looking in my digital ragbag for a quote, and found the one above.

Then I followed the link that was saved with it, and came to a cool essay, which you've probably encountered before. The one about sheep, wolves and sheepdogs, by LTC (RET) Dave Grossman. It was good to read it again.

...."Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf." If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:42 PM

Maybe someone out there in the "Audient Void" knows the answer...

....To a minor dilemma I have. It's a little thing, but is starting to really bug me...

In my work as a cabinetmaker I frequently use a timer. For instance, I'll glue and clamp a piece, and then use a timer to make sure it stays clamped just long enough before the next step.

But I have been unable to find the sort of timer I really want. It needs to clip to my belt, be small, be simple to use, and be sturdy enough to take some knocks.

I've tried the two shown below. The first one hangs from a string, but the plastic loop that the string goes through soon broke. The second one is great, but the belt clip soon failed. (And worse, the clip is attached to the sliding battery cover. So a slight bump slides the timer right off, leaving only the cover on my belt!)

I may try this one next...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:33 AM

February 11, 2007

For when you understand what you see, you will no longer be children...

Conservative thinker Ralph de Toledano died recently, and NRO republished a great piece by him, Ralph de Toledano remembers Whittaker Chambers. Why should one care about Whittaker Chambers today? His Witness is a favorite book, but I for a long time thought of it as a sort of period piece. A mere bit of history. But I think that less and less. "The conflict had to be fought in grime and terror, leaving their taint on those who fought it." The bad old days? How familiar it sounds. (Actually, the Hiss trial, the "Great Case," revealed a world so much like today it's downright scary. Elitist leftists, "liberals," journalists, academics, pacifists...all lined up with the Reds, and heaped scorn on the decent but unfashionable Americans who were fighting the menace of Stalinism.)

....I had known several men who had come out of the dark world of the Communist underground, but what I learned from them was little more than names, dates, and places. What Whittaker Chambers imparted was a sense of meaning and dimension — a sense not of Good-and-Evil, but of Good-in-Evil. He gave the names, dates, and places, but he invested his account with their tragic reality. I understood, as he talked, what was at stake in the Hiss case — not only for him but for me as well. It is impossible to express why I was so moved and so involved. I was hearing of conspiracies and activities about which I knew, but they were set in the context of history and personal travail.

For Whittaker Chambers, history was a living tapestry in which past and present were interwoven with a lurking future. He would speak of the French Revolution, of the marching Kronstadt sailors, of Lenin and Stalin and the cellars of the Lubyanka, of the Cromwellian mobs and the shattering blow to Western civilization in the First World War, of Soviet spymasters and the Nazi-Soviet pact all in one voice — as if it were all happening now, an unwinding newsreel. He measured the conflict as one between men like himself and like the Communist who declared with equal determination, “Embrace the Butcher but change the world” — Bertolt Brecht’s searing line. And he separated both from those who dawdled with reason and escaped from commitment. He also accepted the terrible and humbling fact that the conflict had to be fought in grime and terror, leaving their taint on those who fought it.

“Is dirt nice? Is death nice? Above all is dying nice?” he wrote me much later. “And, in the end, we must ask, is God nice? I doubt it.” And again, “A man’s special truth is in the end all there is in him. And with that he must be content though life give him no more, though man give him nothing.” For he was convinced in his last years that his witness was “all for nothing, that nothing has been gained except the misery of others, that it was the tale of the end and not of the beginning. . . . You cannot save what cannot save itself.” He stood, in those days, like Jeremiah in the solitary city, his feet treading the scrolls. And yet to the very end, when he wrote and burned and burned and wrote again the pages of a book that was not to be finished, he never dismissed the imperatives of history that demanded the defeat of the pundits and the paleographers. It is an imperative of the heart, and his great heart knew it.
(Thanks to Orrin)

And why would I post something about Chambers as one of my Sunday Thoughts? Why? Because there is only one struggle. Only one story. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be... The story, the battle, just takes different forms from one century to the next. And we are in the same battle, but with the difference that the Communists back then were a couple of generations closer to their Christian past, and still considered it natural to believe there is some great Truth, and a prophet and a holy book--and to sign on to a secular crusade that was very much like a religion. Today's leftists take their nihilism straight, without the Marxist cackle. But they are just as evil and destructive.

Now and then I think of Chambers' introduction to his book, which he called a "letter to his children." Especially that haunting moment when he contemplates suicide. Few writings better catch the opposition of simple goodness and decency set against nihilism and terror...

....If all this sounds unduly solemn, you know that our lives were not; that all of us suffer from an incurable itch to puncture false solemnity. In our daily lives, we were fun-loving and gay. For those who have solemnity in their souls generally have enough of it there, and do not need to force it into their faces. Then, on August 3, 1948, you learned for the first time that your father had once been a Communist, that he had worked in something called "the underground," that it was shameful, and that for some reason he was in Washington telling the world about it. While he was in the underground, he testified, he had worked with a number of other Communists. One of them was a man with the odd name of Alger Hiss. Later, Alger Hiss denied the allegation. Thus the Great Case began, and with it our lives were changed forever.

Dear children, one autumn twilight, when you were much smaller, I slipped away from you in play and stood for a moment alone in the apple orchard near the barn. Then I heard your two voices, piping together anxiously, calling to me: "Papa! Papa!" from the harvested cornfield. In the years when I was away five days a week in New York, working to pay for the farm, I used to think of you both before I fell asleep at night. And that is how you almost always came to me—voices of beloved children, calling to me from the gathered fields at dusk.

You called to me once again at night in the same orchard. That was a good many years later. A shadow deeper and more chilling than the autumn evening had closed upon us—I mean the Hiss Case. It was the first year of the Case. We had been doing the evening milking together. For us, one of the few happy results of the Case was that at last I could be home with you most of the time (in life these good things usually come too little or too late). I was washing and disinfecting the cows, and putting on and taking off the milkers. You were stripping after me. In the quiet, there suddenly swept over my mind a clear realization of our true position—obscure, all but friendless people (some of my great friends had already taken refuge in aloofness; the others I had withdrawn from so as not to involve them in my affairs).

Against me was an almost solid line-up of the most powerful groups and men in the country, the bitterly hostile reaction of much of the press, the smiling skepticism of much of the public, the venomous calumnies of the Hiss forces, the all but universal failure to understand the real meaning of the Case or my real purpose. A sense of the enormous futility of my effort, and my own inadequacy, drowned me. I felt a physical cold creep through me, settle around my heart and freeze any pulse of hope. The sight of you children, guiltless and defenseless, was more than I could bear. I was alone against the world; my longing was to be left completely alone, or not to be at all. It was that death of the will which Communism, with great cunning, always tries to induce in its victims.

I waited until the last cow was stripped and the last can lifted into the cooler. Then I stole into the upper barn and out into the apple orchard. It was a very dark night. The stars were large and cold. This cold was one with the coldness in myself. The lights of the barn, the house and the neighbors' houses were warm in the windows and on the ground; they were not for me. Then I heard Ellen call me in the barn and John called: "Papal" Still calling, Ellen went down to the house to see if I were there. I heard John opening gates as he went to the calf barn, and he called me there. With all the longing of my love for you, I wanted to answer. But if I answered, I must come back to the living world. I could not do that.

John began to call me in the cow stable, in the milk house. He went into the dark side of the barn (I heard him slide the door back), into the upper barn, where at night he used to be afraid. He stepped outside in the dark, calling: "Papa! Papa!"-then, frantically, on the verge of tears: "Papa!" I walked over to him. I felt that I was making the most terrible surrender I should have to make on earth. "Papa," he cried and threw his arms around me, "don't ever go away." "No," I said, "no, I won't ever go away." Both of us knew that the words "go away" stood for something else, and that I had given him my promise not to kill myself. Later on, as you will see, I was tempted, in my wretchedness, to break that promise.

My children, when you were little, we used sometimes to go for walks in our pine woods. In the open fields, you would run along by yourselves. But you used instinctively to give me your hands as we entered those woods, where it was darker, lonelier, and in the stillness our voices sounded loud and frightening. In this book I am again giving you my hands. I am leading you, not through cool pine woods, but up and up a narrow defile between bare and steep rocks from which in shadow things uncoil and slither away. It will be dark. But, in the end, if I have led you aright, you will make out three crosses, from two of which hang thieves. I will have brought you to Golgotha-the place of skulls. This is the meaning of the journey. Before you understand, I may not be there, my hands may have slipped from yours. It will not matter. For when you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth, you will be wise.

Your Father

Posted by John Weidner at 5:02 AM

February 10, 2007

Quota babe...

Heather Mac Donald on the new President of Harvard...

....[Drew Gilpin] Faust runs one of the most powerful incubators of feminist complaint and nonsensical academic theory in the country. You can count on the Radcliffe Institute’s fellows and invited lecturers to proclaim the “constructed” nature of knowledge, gender, and race, and to decry endemic American sexism and racism. Typical guest speakers include left-wing journalists Susan Faludi and Barbara Ehrenreich. At Radcliffe, Faludi argued that 9/11 had triggered yet another “backlash against feminism,” while Ehrenreich lectured on “Weird Science: Challenging Sexist Ideology Since the 1970s.” It is received truth among Radcliffe Institute lecturers that obstacles throughout American society block women’s progress. Radcliffe speaker Rebecca Walker, for example, has created the “I Spy Sexism” initiative, which asks young women between the ages of 15 and 30 to keep logs of the “sexism, racism, and homophobia” that they see as they walk down the street or go to a movie.

With typical feminist hypocrisy, Faust has managed to wield massive power even as she rues female powerlessness. She headed the Task Force on Women Faculty, created after the firestorm over Summers’s recklessly honest speculations about women in science, that strengthened the feminist hold on faculty hiring and promotions. The Task Force won a $50 million commitment to increase faculty “diversity efforts” at Harvard, notwithstanding that for decades the university has tied itself in knots trying to increase female and black faculty representation. Faust’s Task Force also muscled into existence a remarkable new bureaucratic sinecure: the Senior Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development. This new official sits with the president, the provost, and the deans of faculties, in order to push “diversity” quotas in every corner of the university’s academic operations...

This stuff is not just a bad idea, it is evil. (I won't tell you why; if you have to ask you probably just can't "get" it.)

"...Walker, for example, has created the “I Spy Sexism” initiative, which asks young women between the ages of 15 and 30 to keep logs of the “sexism, racism, and homophobia” that they see as they walk down the street or go to a movie."

I propose, for young women, the "I Spy Nihilism" initiative. I encourage them to keep logs of Postmodernism, Socialism, and the Culture of Death that they might see as they walk down the street or go to church.

I'd guess that the only hope for our universities is for this stuff gets so bad that it sparks a true revolution. So possibly this catastrophic appointment is a positive sign...

* Also, that stuff about bureaucratic sinecures and 50-million buck "task forces should remind us that "feminism" is very much about political pork and patronage. Every battle has the same outcome: Women's lives are not much improved, but there are new jobs and perks for the "professional feminists." It's the same for racism and all the other isms. I remember Peter Drucker writing about his university (this was maybe in the 80's?). He said the number of programs to help minority students had grown from one to 50, yet somehow the number of minority students and their grades had stayed about the same...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:06 AM

February 9, 2007

What sort of music would make YOU confess?

Charlene and I enjoyed reading the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview of a guy from the "Society for Ethnomusicology", Philip Bohlman, representing the guys and dear God don't call them gals at the Society for Ethnomusicology on the use of music as torture

As Hugh draws this fellow out, we see that "torture" is something that's only done by Americans, and that any form of interrogation is torture, and that in fact there aren't any bad guys....except, of course, Americans. The usual lefty/pacifist BS.

And Hugh also has transcripts of his chats on this, umm, fascinating subject with Steyn and Lileks...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 AM

February 8, 2007

Quote, for the question: "Why blog?"

You have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you.
   --Flannery O'Connor
Posted by John Weidner at 9:41 PM

I already know most of this stuff, but still it's shocking...

I don't have the hour or so necessary to express my thoughts on this piece, by Heather Mac Donald, but I recommend it to you. It's about the unbelievable efforts of the University of California to avoid obeying the law passed as Prop 209: Elites to Anti-Affirmative-Action Voters: Drop Dead:

...Yet for the preference lobby, a failing diversity student is better than no diversity student—because the game is not about the students but about the self-image of the institution that so beneficently extends its largesse to them. Thus, when “underrepresented minorities” accepted at Berkeley dropped by half in 1998, the first year that Prop. 209 went into effect, and by nearly that much at UCLA, the university sprang into crisis mode. Never mind that the drops at other campuses were much smaller.

Berkeley’s then-chancellor, Robert Berdahl, came to Berkeley’s Boalt Law School, recalls a law professor, and demanded that the faculty increase its shrunken minority admissions. When another professor asked how Boalt was supposed to do that consistent with 209, Berdahl responded testily that he didn’t care how they did it, but do it they must. UCLA law professor Richard Sander was on a committee to discuss what could be done after 209. “The tone among many of the faculty and administrators present was not ‘How do we comply with the law in good faith?’ but ‘What is the likelihood of getting caught if we do not comply?’ ” he says. “Some faculty observed that admissions decisions in many graduate departments rested on so many subjective criteria that it would be easy to make the continued consideration of race invisible to outsiders.”...

This by the way is exactly the attitude of the elites running the mainline churches when they ram through gay divorced bishops, etc. The laws, and the wishes of ordinary people are just obstacles to be steamrollered...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 AM

February 7, 2007

compassion for the poor.

You guys probably already know this, but I will post it just to feel smug while thinking about the millions of economic illiterates who claimed (and some still do) that the Bush deficits were going to sink us nose-deep in quicksand. Yeah, right. Just like the Reagan deficits did.

From OpinionJournal, Fiscal Revelation, The federal budget deficit just keeps shrinking...

...The news Mr. Conrad won't broadcast is that over the past three years the federal deficit has shrunk by 58%. The Congressional Budget Office--not the White House--is estimating that the current year's deficit (for fiscal 2007) will fall to $172 billion....

....We don't put much stock in future budget forecasts because they depend on so many variables. But even CBO predicts the deficit should remain near or below 1% of GDP for the rest of the Bush Presidency. That's well below the 40-year average of 2.4% of GDP.

This also means that the federal debt burden will continue to fall. Alarmists point to the $1.4 trillion rise in total federal debt from 2003-2006, but that amount is dwarfed by the $14 trillion in new household wealth created over the same period. And for all the international scolding of an allegedly profligate America, U.S. federal debt as a share of GDP is falling again. At 37% in 2006 and heading south, the U.S. figure compares to 52% in Germany, 43% in France, and 79% in Japan. Once again rising total "debt" is a scare word used to justify higher taxes....

As I've explained before, adding debt is good, if you are investing in something that will increase your wealth. Primarily by cutting taxes, which puts money in the hands of those best motivated to make the economy grow---us ordinary Americans. And keeps it out of the hands of those who want to squander it unproductively---politicians. This helps the poor, by creating jobs. The number of jobs has been growing strongly for several years now, although the press does not mention it.

The really painful fact is that the best thing we can do for the poor is give tax cuts to the rich. George W Bush has consistently shown compassion for the poor. The Democrat frauds who want to raise taxes hate the poor. (Or rather, they love them so much they want to keep them the way they are forever.)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:29 AM

February 6, 2007

Palestinian refugees...

Syria refuses to help refugees driven from Iraq
By Eric Silver in Jerusalem

More than 700 Palestinian refugees who have been driven out of Iraq are stranded in squalid tented camps on the Syrian border. Damascus is refusing to let them in, despite the wintry conditions and limited supplies of food, water, fuel and medicines.

"This is a human tragedy," Tayseer Nasrallah, head the of the refugee affairs committee in the West Bank city of Nablus, protested yesterday. Other Palestinians charged the Iraqis with ethnic cleansing. Officials in Ramallah said at least 180 Palestinians had been murdered in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Human Rights Watch reported last week that only 15,000 of the 34,000 Palestinian refugees living in Baghdad before 2003 were still there. "They are harassed by the Iraqi government and are targeted by Shia militias because of the benefits they used to receive from Saddam Hussein's government and their perceived support for the insurgency in Iraq," said the New York-based organisation...(Thanks to Orrin)

Remember this when leftists go on and on about the "human rights violations" by Jews against Palestinians. Arabs have done a thousand times worse to them without us hearing any fakery about human rights. Jordan killed 10,000 of them in 3 days, and the sort of Western leftoids who sport kaffiyas had no problem with that at all. Kuwait booted 30,000 of them out of the country in 1992, and nobody shed any fake tears for the poor Palestinian refugees...

Also, if you are tempted to feel like the Palestinians are innocent victims here, remember that Saddam was paying a bounty on Jews of $15,000 a head---and none of these "Palestinians" seem to have any qualms about accepting the loot. (Nor did any of our fake-pacifists protest about it.)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:18 AM

February 5, 2007

"Free speech should belong mainly to the powerless..."

I Highly recommend John Leo's article in City Journal, Free Inquiry? Not on Campus

I'm sure blog readers are already aware of campus speech codes. But they are worse than you think, and they are increasing. If you have suspected that they are anti-conservative and anti-Christian, you are right. And the intention is to have them extend far beyond just the academy. In Canada and Europe whole countries are becoming like our campuses...

....Much campus censorship rests on philosophical underpinnings that go back to social theorist Herbert Marcuse, a hero to sixties radicals. Marcuse argued that traditional tolerance is repressive—it wards off reform by making the status quo . . . well, tolerable. Marcuse favored intolerance of established and conservative views, with tolerance offered only to the opinions of the oppressed, radicals, subversives, and other outsiders. Indoctrination of students and “deeply pervasive” censorship of others would be necessary, starting on the campuses and fanning out from there.

By the late 1980s, many of the double standards that Marcuse called for were in place in academe. Marcuse’s candor was missing, but everyone knew that speakers, student newspapers, and professors on the right could (make that should) receive different treatment from those on the left. The officially oppressed—designated race and gender groups—knew that they weren’t subject to the standards and rules set for other students.

Marcuse’s thinking has influenced a generation of influential radical scholars. They included Mari Matsuda, who followed Marcuse by arguing that complete free speech should belong mainly to the powerless; and Catharine MacKinnon, a pioneer of modern sexual harassment and “hostile environment” doctrine. In MacKinnon’s hands, sexual harassment became a form of gender-based class discrimination and inegalitarian speech a kind of harmful action....

Whenever you hear leftizoids claiming they care about "Freedom of Speech," they don't mean what you and I mean.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:46 AM

February 4, 2007

San Francisco Stairways #7

The top of these stairs is at Broadway and Lyon. In fact the stairs are Lyon Sreet itself, for two steep blocks. There isn't anywhere to stand and take a picture of the whole thing. The picture is taken from the top, looking down the hill. You see most of the first block.

The formality of the stairs and gardens is very pleasing. You could call this another piece of "pre-nihilist architecture." As is that dome in the background seen against the Bay. That's the Palace of Fine Arts, the last remaining building from a world's fair, the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition. It has a bit of special meaning to me, because my grandfather, Simon Peterson, was a new and poor immigrant from Sweden in that year. He was living in Visalia, California, and wanted to see the great fair, and managed to do so. He had left Germany, where he had been living, in 1914, on the last ship he could have got out on before being caught up in WWI...

(Other stairway posts here.)
Stairway walk at Broadway and Lyon

This Google satellite view has the top of the stairs at the very top of the picture...

Stairway walk at Broadway and Lyon, Google map

Posted by John Weidner at 4:00 PM

February 3, 2007

Mt Darien Scenic Viewpoint, Exit One Mile...

Here's this Sunday's oddment, Houselander on the Sacrifice of the Mass...

...It's all you've got, and he gave it to you. We are like children whose father has given them a sixpence to buy a birthday present for him. The father knows the child can't bring him a present costing a pound: he can only give back what he has been given and whatever little scruffy object he produces; the father loves it, for it is his child's offering of all he can offer—and that is only his own gift back again, but back again made more lovable to him by an exchange of their love.
--
Caryll Houselander

One of the unexpected and totally cool things about becoming a Catholic has been the discovery, like stout Cortez (was he really so fat? And should we keep teasing him, poor fellow?) of a whole new ocean, of thought and books. And especially there is all this history I hardly knew about (and which may be the actually important stuff) which is just jam to an aficionado like me. I'm going back now and learning much old history all over again from a new slant. Especially English history. It's sort of like reading those alternate-history SF things, where the South won the Civil War, or some such. More and Laud and Ken and Newman and Wiseman move forward into the lighted front of the stage, and the Tudors and Cromwell and Huxley and Gladstone step back a bit...

Houselander, quoted above, was one of the oddest and most impressive Englishwomen of the 20th Century...and I'd never heard of her before last year! I found the quoted bit in Masie Ward's biography, Carryll Houselander: That Divine Eccentric. The Houselander book to read is Rocking Horse Catholic)

And, speaking of history, the name Ward is a sea in itself. WG Ward was perhaps the most brilliant of the followers of Newman in the Oxford Movement, (and perhaps the biggest pain-in-the-ass to that great man after they both entered The Church). WG's son was Wilfrid Ward, a very important English Catholic writer and thinker, who was especially important in recognizing the transition; the realization that Protestantism was exhausted, and it was time for the Church to end its siege mentality, come out of the bunker and be bold and confident once more.

And Wilfrid Ward's daughter was Maisie Ward, who, teamed with her husband Frank Sheed, founded the publishing firm Sheed and Ward, and wrote many a good Catholic book. Plus did a lot of other fascinating stuff. And their son was Wilfrid Sheed, the literary critic I used to read in the NYT Book Review. So far now I've read biographies by Wilfrid Sheed about his parents, by Masie about her parents, and by Wilfrid Ward about his father. (Who did not, as far as I know, write about his father, who was a famous cricketer, and founded Lord's.) Four generations covered. There's just something about the English; I can't think of any comparable American family...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:06 PM

Maybe we're all gonna die, but life sure is funny....

Peter Burnet , on reports the US may deal with global warming by deploying giant mirrors in space or by reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere....

....This is just tooo...delicious. Imagine you are a greying environmentalist who has spent decades musing about biological Armageddon with the sandals and fruit juice crowd. From youthful rebel you have matured into learned sage and now are perhaps a mightily-respected academic or consultant. You have read hundreds of turgid tomes on the looming destruction unrestrained growth will wreck, and written a few yourself. You have spent thousands of hours in seminars and conferences with the like-minded, debating how you, the intellectually anointed, can save Mother Earth by convincing everybody to “fundamentally change their way of thinking”.

Your initial pragmatic concern over specific ecological threats has long ago morphed into a comprehensive secular version of The Fall that leads you to lash out indiscriminately against cows, cars, perfumes, plastics, airplanes, prepared food, smokestacks and just about everything else people want in order to squeeze a little enjoyment and comfort out of life. But you know comfort and enjoyment must go, along with freedom, because otherwise we’ll all soon fry/freeze. You have mastered using a veneer of brow-furrowed concern to hide your delight in each item of worrisome news and your growing excitement about the day the dark forces of American capitalism will be overthrown and you will be called by the powers that be to help them outlaw, plan, regulate, restrict and undo us all back to the 18th century.

You’re almost there. The battle against the Bush-led forces of reaction and selfish madness has been tough in recent years, but the tide has turned and the smell of victory is in the air. The IPCC and the UN (the only sane voices on climate, as on everything else) are about to release the definitive work on climate change. (How could so many volumes be wrong?) It will take all doubt and all questions off the table. Even big business is wavering. The enemy is squirming and circling his wagons, while you sharpen your arrows for the final kill that will vindicate your entire life’s work and earn you a well-deserved prominent place in the progressive Pantheon.

And then the U.S. Government throws some brilliant nerdy crew-cut from Texas into the spotlight to tell everybody there is no problem--all we have to do is put lots of his special balloons and droplets into space and the problem is solved. “Can do!”

Aaarrgghhh!

You'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh thinking of their agony if we did that simultaneously with winning the Iraq Campaign...Let's see if we can get the timing just right...

* Update: And even richer, suppose the US actually started to launch space-mirrors, or to seed the seas with nutrients. Think of all those AlGores instantly flipping and declaring that the science behind Climate Change isn't what it's cracked up to be!

Posted by John Weidner at 4:37 PM

Big tent, but not infinitely extensible...

I agree with this, by Hugh Hewitt. It's from a great post, Republican Senators and The Choice Before Them: Get It Right Or Get Out...

....I have always been willing to support moderate and even liberal Republican incumbents over conservative challengers because of the benefits of being a majority party in Congress. I wrote at length about this in Painting the Map Red, and it still is a bedrock principle of mine: We need majorities in order to pass legislation and, crucially, confirm judges.

But my tolerance and even encouragement of "big tent" differences ends at the war and the Supreme Court. Abandoning the party on either issue isn't at all like rejecting drilling in ANWR, indifference to abolition of the death tax, or contrarian votes on trade policy. Getting the war wrong means the death of thousands and thousands of civilians, just as getting the Supreme Court wrong means the carving up up the bedrock understandings of how the country should function....

I wish I had a ton of money, because then I could NOT give it to the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Our goal is peace. If we run from the terrorists another time, run from difficulties another time, the result will be future wars much worse than this one. Pacifism kills.

This is also good:

...Kristol mentions the need for new Republican candidates committed to victory in the war. Not only is he right, but he points up another failing of the current GOP leadership. It has been three months since the GOP last both houses, and not a single candidate has been recruited in either the House or Senate who brings with them experience in the war. There are thousands of men and women who have actually fought this enemy, and who ought to be standing for the House and Senate as able and experienced representatives of Americans committed to victory, not retreat. Neither the NRSC or the NRCC has brought forward even one such candidate yet, and instead we see the reappearance of GOP losers from 2006, suggesting that they want a rematch....

Goooood point. If the appeasers can manage to dredge up nihilist soldiers to run for office, how much easier it would be for us to find soldier-candidates who believe in the mission! Especially since almost all of them do believe in it.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:49 AM

February 2, 2007

A "don't miss"

An awesome little tale, The Hands of God, by Michael Yon. One that will stick in my mind for a long time. (Much like a certain unforgettable picture snapped by the same guy.)

...The closer a counterfeit comes to the genuine article, the more obvious the deceit. As the murderer dressed in women’s clothes walked purposefully toward his target, there was a village man ahead. But under the guise of a simple villager was a true Martyr, and he, too, had his target in sight. The Martyr had seen through the disguise, but he had no gun. No bomb. No rocket. No stone. No time.

The Martyr walked up to the murderer and lunged into a bear hug, on the spot where we were now standing.

The blast ripped the Martyr to pieces which fell along with pieces of the enemy. Ball-bearings shot through the alley and wounded two children, but the people in the mosque were saved. The man lay in pieces on the ground, his own children having seen how his last embrace saved the people of the village...

These are the human beings that our "pacifists" want to flush down the toilet.

(Thanks to Dean Barnett)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:53 PM

More shibbuwichee?

Bill Kristol has a good piece, How the Democrats Have Lost Their Cool...

...When last seen before election day 2006, the Democratic Party seemed the very soul of moderation....

...But in the past few weeks, the Democrats have gone wild. The mushy domestic agenda is quickly disappearing beneath a tide of antiwar agitation in Congress. Joe Biden is leading the way, seeking to have as one of the first acts of the new Democratic Senate a nonbinding resolution condemning a troop increase in Iraq. Others want action, not just words. On the presidential side of the party, Hillary Clinton has gone at breakneck speed from being a mild critic of the war to calling for a legislated troop cap and threatening to cut off funds for the Iraqi army. Obama and John Edwards are cheerfully one-upping her by demanding a firm schedule for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. What happened?

In part, an accelerated presidential race, with its own dynamic. In part, the fact of congressional majority status, which has its own dynamic too. But in largest part, Bush. He crossed up the Democrats. They expected him to stay the Rumsfeld-Abizaid-Casey course in Iraq. Or, they thought, he might accede to the Iraq Study Group, admit errors and lead us to gradual defeat. Neither would have required Democrats to do anything much except lament the lamentable situation into which Bush had got us. Instead, Bush replaced Rumsfeld, rejected the Iraq Study Group's slow-motion-withdrawal option and chose to try a new strategy for victory, backed by a troop surge. The Democrats were genuinely shocked that Bush wouldn't behave as if the war was lost....

"Genuinely shocked." Ha ha. They are acting pretty asinine. Makes me feel good about 2008. I'm guessing treason won't have all that long a shelf-life.

I wonder if Karl did this deliberately? It leads me to think of Stalky: "...Did you ever read a book about Japanese wrestlers? ... These wrestler-chaps have got some sort of trick that lets the other chap do all the work. Then they give a little wriggle, and he upsets himself. It’s called shibbuwichee or tokonoma, or somethin’."

Posted by John Weidner at 8:39 PM

Square reality-peg squashed once again into round hole...

This post isn't about President Bush's proposed tightening of Federal MPG regulations [No position. Sorry, can't opine about everything, feel free to comment] but rather the increasingly weird disconnect between reality and the collective unconscious on the Rive Gauche. The unacceptable-to-certain-people fact is that Bush is very "green," and has been all along. But the leftish narrative says that Republicans are environmental plunderers, so that's what must be true.

Of course we all adjust our pictures of the world to fit a story, but what's going on now is a huge distortion. You might want to scan this piece, by Gregg Easterbrook: Give Bush credit for his energy proposal:

...Last week Bush proposed something environmentalists, energy analysts, greenhouse-effect researchers, and national-security experts have spent 20 years pleading for: a major strengthening of federal mileage standards for cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks. The No. 1 failing of U.S. energy policy is that vehicle mile-per-gallon standards have not been made stricter in two decades....

....This should have been Page One headline material—PRESIDENT CALLS FOR DRAMATIC MPG REGULATIONS. Instead, most news organizations pretended Bush's mpg proposal did not exist, or buried the story inside the paper, or made only cryptic references to it....

....What's going on? First, mainstream news organizations and pundits are bought and sold on a narrative of Bush as an environmental villain and simply refuse to acknowledge any evidence that contradicts the thesis. During his term the president has significantly strengthened the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution caused by diesel fuel and diesel engines, to reduce emissions from Midwestern power plants, to reduce pollution from construction equipment and railroad locomotives, and to reduce emissions of methane, which is 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. You'd never know these reforms even happened from the front page of the New York Times, which for reasons of ideology either significantly downplays or fails to report them....

This is a denial-of-reality almost as big as the things needed to fit Iraq into the Vietnam template...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:05 AM

February 1, 2007

Changes and reforms, hardly noticed...

A Health-Care Bargain - WSJ.com, By DAVID GRATZER
January 31, 2007; Page A12
Three years ago this month, insurance companies began offering Americans a new type of medical coverage: health savings accounts, which marry low-cost, high-deductible health insurance policies with pre-tax accounts to pay for day-to-day health care. But the anniversary is muted. A slew of reports have been critical, dismissing consumer-driven health care as unpopular and harmful; and with the Democrats in control of Congress, Washington's enthusiasm for the concept has cooled. Nevertheless, the Republicans should take credit where due. The White House ought to build on the growing success of HSAs, which are integral to the president's vision of "affordable and available" health care.

An executive of an upstart airline recently described her company as having three 757s, more than 200 employees, and one big headache: rising health-care costs. Thus, they made the switch to HSAs in 2006, and premiums rose just 5%, compared with a national average of over 8%. Such successes aren't making the news, but overwhelmingly negative stories are. A much reported Commonwealth Fund survey, for example, concluded that enrollment in consumer-driven plans is stagnant, people are grossly dissatisfied, and care is delayed. But the report was flawed on its face: For one, it was unrepresentative, drawn from a pool of "Internet users who have agreed to participate in research surveys."

Here's the untold story: Despite recent entry into the market, these plans are gaining popularity. Drawing on information from major insurance carriers, William Boyles, publisher of the Consumer Driven Market Report, estimates that enrollment in HSA-type plans or HRAs (a forerunner to health savings accounts) more than doubled since January 2006, to 13.4 million Americans. The estimate is plausible, as last year twice as many employers offered this coverage than in 2005, and the number of financial institutions supporting HSAs tripled.

Early data suggest good results...

It's maddening both that the Republican congress does not deserve its do-nothing reputation, since a LOT of good things have happened under Republican leadership, and also maddening that it DOES deserve it, since it should have done a lot MORE. Including expanding and improving the HSA program while it had the chance.

It's similarly maddening (since I'm a mood to feel aggrieved) that the President's attempts to create private Social Security accounts were denounced by middle-class lefties who themselves almost certainly have 401-k's and IRA's---which are government-sponsored private retirement accounts.

And I remember trying to present some good points about Bush to a would-rather-die-than-think leftish person of my generation, and I mentioned that we had finally passed HSA's (After they were blocked for decades by Dems). And he immediately said "Oh yes, we got our HSA right away!" But, Bush was still bringing the dark night of fascism down upon us...

* Update: Hey, I got an idea. For all those liberal dimwitski's who claim Bush wants to "wreck Social Security" we will cap the returns on their 401-K's to 1% annually! We will guarantee it! They should be so happy to be getting the deal they want ordinary workers to have...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:42 AM