March 31, 2007
Michelle has an e-mail from someone at the SF Chronicle, which has mysteriously not yet reported on the scandal involving Senator Diane Feinstein, (SF resident, and former SF Mayor. And, most importantly, Democrat). The person said he "expects" that the Chron will be reporting on it.
Yeah, sure. I'll bet they report it like the big papers reported on the allegations of the Swift Boat Veterans. That is, they will ignore it as long as possible, and then report it as something that's "already been debunked."
So, do you think I should whip out the old stopwatch and time how fast all those people who made pompous denunciations of the Halliburton Corporation, will jump on what looks like REAL war-profiteering? Hmm? Hey, all you Halliburton bashers out there (I remember you, and you know who you are) here's your chance to show that you are honest....
Remember all the screaming about a couple of no-bid contracts given to a Haliburton subsidiary? Contracts which were, in fact, quite innocent, and were issued by career bureaucrats, not by the Bush Administration, and for perfectly respectable reasons? And similar to ones cut under the Clinton Administration? Well, now we seem to have a LOT of fishy-looking no-bid contracts, to DiFi's husband Richard C. Blum's corporations, while DiFi sat on the MILCON subcommittee that oversees the work.
So I'm expecting you lefties to show that you are honest, and give this the same treatment you gave Halliburton! (Ha ha, ain't I a comic!)
March 30, 2007
"rubble, smoke and chlorine gas, hard to see what was what..."
Awesome stuff! Here's part of a letter about the recent poison-gas and explosive attack on the Fallujah Government Center. By Lt. Col. Clayton Fisher...
...As for the IAs, they proved themselves. The jundi did a great job and pretty much stopped the initial attack as the insurgents were trying to shoot/ram their way inside. The IA and IP [Iraqi Police] figured it out and opened up on them, causing them to set off at the gates or just outside the buildings, vice inside where it would have been worse. Still too close than most would like, but it will do. After all "shook it off," we got most of us out of the rubble and the gas, did a head-count, realized there were still some back in. All rubble, smoke and chlorine gas, hard to see what was what, and of course you can't breathe. So of course, we ran back in it. Got to find those guys. It was not pretty but, we got them all out, to include a few guys you know. They are good now. We then got a US/IA triage and casualty system working. The chlorine thing is a whole other conversation.
And then those of us still standing, most wounded and gassed, ran back in again, slugged it out and fended off the counter attacks and any exploitation the insurgents were trying to get started. Many refused to be medevac'd during the fight. The USMC/Iraqi team was sluggin' it out side by side. Something to see. US Marines and Jundi still gasping for air, fighting side by side. Some jundi still in their sleeping sweats or shower sandals refusing to be evacuated, fighting back with their AKs and PKCs into enemy positions. Yes, some of these jundi got what it takes...
You maybe think heroes are something out of history books, at least if you get your news from the Gasping Media. Fortunately we have the Internet, so these bravos will not be totally ignored. These are the guys the Democrats are stabbing in the back. And those hostiles using poison gas on people—they are the ones Nancy Pelosi wants us to surrender to. In the interests of "peace," y'unnerstand.
Thanks to InstaPundit and Bill Ardolino.
The dirty little animals of our "news media" are all over the "chocolate Jesus" story. They just love it.
Michelle reminds us of how the same bunch reacted to the cartoons of Mohammed. Including this quote, from CNN...
"CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons in respect for Islam."
"CNN is not showing the negative caricatures of the likeness of Prophet Mohammed because the network believes its role is to cover the events surrounding the publication of the cartoons while not unnecessarily adding fuel to the controversy itself."
Weasels. Pie-crusts. Dhimmis. Nihilists. Democrats. I despise them all forever.
I saw yesterday on Best of the Web something that's really disgusting. Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel wrote a Washington Post op-ed in 2002, saying that "we need to disarm Saddam Hussein and set the stage for a stable Iraq..." and that Iraq would be a tough challenge that might last a decade!
Now, out of scoundrel political calculation, they are betraying our troops and our country and our elected leaders in the very time of difficulties they predicted, and that they said it would be necessary to prevail in. And, of course, in the military campaign they voted to commit our forces to.
...Although no one doubts our forces will prevail over Saddam Hussein's, key regional leaders confirm what the Foreign Relations Committee emphasized in its Iraq hearings last summer: The most challenging phase will likely be the day after -- or, more accurately, the decade after -- Saddam Hussein.
Once he is gone, expectations are high that coalition forces will remain in large numbers to stabilize Iraq and support a civilian administration. That presence will be necessary for several years, given the vacuum there, which a divided Iraqi opposition will have trouble filling and which some new Iraqi military strongman must not fill. Various experts have testified that as many as 75,000 troops may be necessary, at a cost of up to $ 20 billion a year. That does not include the cost of the war itself, or the effort to rebuild Iraq.
Americans are largely unprepared for such an undertaking. President Bush must make clear to the American people the scale of the commitment...
I agree with the last two sentences, although I would not quite generalize it to all Americans. My own thoughts chime a bit with this, by Alan:
Military historian William Hawkins provides a precis on why wars are won or lost. I think he’s too hard on Donald Rumsfeld, who surely knew these things, but who was trying to work within political and bureaucratic parameters that he could not alter. Otherwise, I agree with everything Hawkins has to say. The West is in jeopardy for want of will, without which weaponry means nothing. We are wasting vast sums of taxpayer money on military hardware that will never be used, if the nation’s ruling Boomers wet their Depends every time some Third World thug says “boo.” My generation will ruin the nation. It’s a sad thing to contemplate as my own life approaches a premature close.
March 29, 2007
Other people have already pointed out the tortured logic here, but I can't resist...
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday dismissed any comparison between the firing last fall of eight U.S. attorneys with the replacement of 93 U.S. attorneys when her husband became president in 1993.
"That's a traditional prerogative of an incoming president," Clinton said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Once U.S. attorneys are confirmed, they should be given broad latitude to enforce the law as they see fit, she said.
"I think one of the hallmarks of our democracy is we have a devotion to the rule of law," Clinton said.
She conceded that should she win the presidency in 2008, she likely would replace all of the U.S. attorneys appointed by President Bush. She said that's merely following traditions in which presidents appoint prosecutors of their own party.
Clinton argued that the Bush administration's firing of the eight federal prosecutors has caused an uproar because it is seen as a conservative push to shift the balance of power in favor of the executive branch....
When Bill fired 93 US Attorneys, that's "tradition." (He only did it because he loved tradition, because he did not want to look like a Jacobin, tearing down the work of ages.)
On the other hand, when Bush fires eight of his own appointees, that's an illicit power grab! And somehow—I guess I'm too stupid to grasp these subtleties—somehow the Executive Branch's replacing eight Executive Branch people with eight other people will "shift the balance of power in favor of the executive branch." Damn tricky, that man Bush.
Me, I wish Bush were firing people more often. We elected him to run the government, and you don't do that by being a jellyfish.
Of course the very fact that one has to point out these things, which should be obvious, is a kind of victory for the Dems. Republicans are somehow forced onto the defensive for doing what they are in fact supposed to do. That's the bad news. The good news is that, once again, we see that the Democrats have no positive agenda or ideals or program to present. Nothing but complaints. I still have left some shreds of faith that eventually it will dawn on the American people that they are being conned.
March 28, 2007
I'll just sit here with my stopwatch...
...With my little stopwatch, waiting to time the rush of activists and "Quakers" and leftists and "Democrats" and who are surely going to condemn these poison gas attacks, which are war-crimes that escalate the fighting to a new level of savagery...
Al Qaeda in Iraq is conducting a full fledged chemical war in Anbar province. Today, Al Qaeda conducted yet another chlorine gas suicide bombing, this time directed at the Fallujah government center, in the very heart of the city of Fallujah. The attack was coordinated; Multinational Forces West described it as “complex.” The two suicide truck bombs and small arms fire was preceded by mortar fire, which likely was designed to distract the guards at the gates...[link].
OK, I've clicked the button. The seconds are ticking by. Any time now.............
Any minute now. The TV news programs are going to be all over this—it's surely as newsworthy as, oh, say, abu Ghraib...
And the UN. Any hour now. And the Bishop of Bormenia, and other liberal churchmen. We will be hearing from them soon...
I'm probably not going to become poster of videos, it's not my style. But......But this one, which Charlene found, is just too too good. It's a talk by Evan Sayet, who is a conservative Hollywood comedian...
March 26, 2007
New technology, without the usual battery woes...
Having just taken a four-hour flight squeezed into a middle seat, I have to say "amen" to brother Scott:
Good, nay, great news on cell-phone talkers:
Update: FCC ready to continue cell phone ban on flights
Just the thought of sitting next to some ditzy teenager with a rap song for a ringtone, or a hausfrau catching up on the coffeeklatch goings-on, or Mr. Uber-Important, over a two-hour flight makes me feel bloody. And I’m a big fan of cellphones.
Now, if they want to turn data only on, that I’m cool with, though I suspect I’d get half as bloody with the little dings and chimes and bleeps of text messages. And, of course, if the operators get their most fervent wishes, we’ll have mobile entertainment to deal with…just imagine the dipstick next to you chortling his way through whatever garbage he would normally be sucking down at home. Here’s some mobile entertainment for you: it’s light, portable, unobtrusive, serially sharable, has very low power requirements, practically no RF emissions, and is rock-solid proven technology:
This is called a “book”
Here are a couple of "books" I enjoyed...
The first book is a must-read for language or history buffs. I mention the second one, because I learned in it that "books" are very fire-resistant, which is important in space travel. They "ablate," that is, the pages burn and flake off one at a time, rather than the whole thing burning like a log. Also, it's by far the best thing I ever read about the Apollo Program.
We''ll start negotiations by giving you what you want.
This was a recent interesting bit of news...
Exclusive to PJM by Richard Miniter, PJM Washington Editor
American forces in Iraq now hold some 300 prisoners tied to Iran’s intelligence agencies, Pajamas Media learned from both diplomatic and military sources.
This is believed, by both sources, to be a record number of prisoners tied to Iran. Virtually all were captured in the past two months...
Now I don't know to enough to comment on the Iran situation in general. But the following seems to cast light in a general way on WHY we are in a war on terror, and WHY we are likely to stay that way for a while...
...The Pentagon received “considerable pressure” from officials in the State department and CIA to release some or all of the Iran-linked prisoners to facilitate discussions between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian officials...
So, we are supposed to give the other guys something they want before we start negotiations! That's smart. And of course there's no suggestion that Iranians should do anything to facilitate anything. And no mention of the fact that the Iranians are sending terrorist murderers into Iraq to "facilitate" the slaughter of innocent people. Noooo. That would be impossible, because it would suggest that the US and her allies are in the right, that we are the good guys here. That we are trying to protect innocent people. That would not be "liberal." Not "progressive." Actually believing in America is not done at State or CIA.
But the good news is that our soldiers are not—at least the ones who actually fight—infected with lefty sickness...
...Apparently, Gen. Petraeus sharply disagreed, saying that he intends to hold the prisoners “until they run out of information or we run out of food,” according to our sources who heard these remarks through channels...
The captives are thugs sent by a brutal tyranny to kill Americans and to kill Iraqi civilians and foment civil war in Iraq. We have no reason to apologize for holding them, in fact it would be perfectly legal and just to simply put them in front of a firing squad. (No, I'm not saying we should do so.) They are clearly war criminals, and, though this never gets mentioned by our lefty press, the Geneva Conventions only apply only to those who respect the rules themselves.
March 25, 2007
A failure to engage in a just war is a failure of Charity
From the essay Good Wars, by Darrell Cole...
...The moral approach to war in Aquinas and Calvin is refreshing for those familiar with modern Christian approaches to warfare—approaches which, more often than not, do little to help Christians understand why they should be prepared to participate in or support war of any kind. Aquinas and Calvin, in contrast, teach Christian soldiers why they need to participate in and support just wars. From the divine point of view, God desires to restrain evil among His creatures. And in using human beings to do so, God actually elevates the restrainers...
...The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches—contrary to today’s prevailing views—that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God...
I blogged this quote once before, years ago. It bears repeating. Those "modern Christian approaches to warfare" he mentions are usually just mushy warmed-over lefty nihilism and anti-Americanism. Especially in senior churchmen, who tend to be of my generation, and are steeped in the rubbishing thought of the 60's.
This idea is not only consistent with Catholic doctrine, and Christian philosophy, it is, despite the blustering of the Kofi Annans and Jaque Chiracs, a perfectly just cause for war under International Law as well. International law today calls on its constitutent nations to enforce its tenets. While this law directly supports national sovereignty, it also outlaws crimes against humanity such as genocide. Outlaws them to the point that such crimes are undermining of legitimate sovereignty itself, and are grounds for intervention. The US action in Iraq was technically legal on that basis alone. Nevermind UN Resolutions 1330 et al. Your neighbors house is sacrosanct, even from police without a warrant, unless you can hear him mudering his children, then no warrant is required...
Most of today's "pacifism" is really "hearing the neighbor murdering his children," and saying, "Sorry kids, Jesus told us to turn the other cheek."
I should learn more about international law, but really, what would be the point. I've been blogging since just after 9/11, and have never yet succeeded in having any rational debate with anti-war lefties. For them "international law" means whatever will hinder the US and her allies at that particular moment, and no amount of counter-argument will make the slightest difference.
March 24, 2007
Quote for the day...
...But the reader's point that global warming provides an excuse for liberals to do what they've always wanted should make us very reluctant to take their proposed solutions at face value. That's why it's particularly maddening when Gore is so determined to shut off all debate.
It's funny, the same people who insist that dissent is the highest form of patriotism when it comes to the war, suddenly think you're a moronic bastard or environmental traitor if you want to debate global warming a bit more, even when the solutions being discussed could cost — in monetary terms — far more than the Iraq war....
March 23, 2007
"Pork and defeat"
House Democrats vote for pork and defeat, with the supplemental demanding defeat by March of 2008 passing on a vote of 218 to 212.
It won't get through the Senate. And even if it did, the president will veto it. The Democrats are denying timely funding to troops in the field, troops that in fact winning, and massaging the enemy that half the Congress wants to surrender.
Republican Leader Boehner has wisely decided not to allow any reconsideration motions or other procedural gimmicks that could give the 218 cover. They voted for retreat and defeat plus a mountain of pork. The McGovern-San Francisco Democrats are back....
I've avoided commenting on all this, because everybody else is, and because you all can guess what I think about it. But really, just thinking about Dems running for office on their criticism of Republican pork spending, and then using billions of dollars in pork projects to buy the votes to undermine their own country in time of war....I gotta vent a bit.
Democrats got America into ALL the bloody wars of the 20th Century, and in every one of them the Republicans loyally supported our troops and our war efforts no matter the political cost. And now the Democrats repay us with treason. (You think I'm putting this too strong? Yes, you. I'm talking to you, Mr. Lefty Q. Sap reading this and sneering. I'm happy to debate the issue. Show me I'm wrong.)
One thing that really burns me up is the endless ankle-biting about how the Bush Administration made mistakes in Iraq. Every war we've ever fought has been filled with mistakes!
Including ALL those 20th Century Democrat wars. They all involved calamitous Democrat mistakes that make Iraq look like a picnic for the poor orphan children. Belleau Wood, Peleliu, Anzio, LZ Bitch, Slapton Sands, Chosin. I could go on. Did you know that, right before North Korean Army smashed into South Korea and drove US and ROK forces almost into the sea, our Democrat overlords ordered hundreds of P-38's stored in S Korea to be destroyed? Because they might be "too provocative" in the hands of the ROK?
Sainted Democrat Franklin Roosevelt pissed away 25,000 American casualties to seize a rock called Iwo Jima. Which never yielded any strategic or tactical advantage. And now his pigmy descendants have the nerve to criticize Bush? What a bunch of useless hippie nihilists...
Korean War: 36,516 dead (33,686 combat, 2,830 non-combat), 103,000 wounded, 8,142 MIA. And what exactly was accomplished with these casualties? Hmmm?
"At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter"
Dean Barnett, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, has a thoughtful post on Elizabeth and John Edwards.
....Through the years, I’ve come to view serious and progressive illness as an ever constricting circle with oneself at the center. The interior of the circle represents the contents of one’s life. As the circle gets smaller, things that were inside get forced out. Some of these things are dearly missed; other items that were once thought precious get forced to the exterior and turn out to go surprisingly unlamented. At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter: Family, faith, love. These things stay with you until the day that you die. At the very end, because the circle has shrunk down to its center, they’re all you have left. But as we approach that end, we finally realize that all along they were what mattered most. As a consequence, life often remains beautiful and worthwhile right up until the end. The past several years for me have been a journey to what’s at the center of my life. One of the things I found there that I didn’t expect to was writing. (You lucky people.)
The Edwards have begun their own journey of that sort. Whether they still find presidential politics at the center of their lives a few months from now is an open question. Regardless, the journey is theirs, and one would have a heart of stone to wish them anything other than good luck and Godspeed.
I can't add much to that, except that the smaller crises in life have a similar effect. And life's opportunities too. Imagine being offered the job of your dreams, but in a distant place. Or requiring 60 hours a week. Then you would have to choose what's inside the circle.
And I can tell you that having children does the same thing. I keenly remember some friends of ours, years ago, who had kids about the same age as ours, saying, "We can't wait 'till things get back to normal." Ha. Wrong. Never happens. And that is, of course, a lot of why we have a "Culture of Death." People want to avoid certain painful moments of choosing in their lives.
March 21, 2007
The future....we're in it, and it's stranger than science fiction...
You may have noticed that there have been a bunch of pro-atheist books published lately. It's sick-o, but also pretty funny. The atheists are clearly in a sweaty panic. Things have not worked out as expected, and in particular, religion is not dying out.
They assumed it would, you know. They assumed that religion is something only for the uneducated, and as education and "progressive" thought spread, the old superstitions would be dropped along the road. I read lots of science fiction in my youth, and I think the only "future" where religion still had any part to play was in Frank Herbert's Dune. And even in that book it was assumed that the ruling elites were irreligious.
Well, the future is here. We're in it. And it sure isn't what was expected by SF writers. Actually, since I've digressed to the subject of of SF, I'll mention that I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of my favorite SF writers, people of my generation, have sort of "hit a wall." I used to wait six months, or a year, or maybe two, for their next book, which was usually better than the ones that went before. But lately, I wait in vain. John Crowley, Michael Swanwick, Greg Bear, Eleanor Arnason....I'm waiting, waiting to be amazed and delighted. (This is all subjective, of course. Just armchair theorizing.) I suspect, like so many people of my generation, they assumed things. They absorbed a certain world-view in their youth, and now they can't deal with the nasty fact that the future ain't what it sposed to be!
But actually none of that is what this post is about. It's really about how our local classical radio station, KDFC, has had some assumptions challenged. First, this from the SF Chronicle:
A 30-second radio ad for a book was taken off the air Wednesday by KDFC-FM, the San Francisco classical station, when it drew complaints from listeners after airing a few times.
The advertisement for "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America," by Chris Hedges, published in January by Free Press, was tailored to play only in the Bay Area, to promote local appearances by the author.
"We thought the demographic for the station would jibe perfectly with the readership for the book," said Suzanne Donahue, associate publisher of Free Press, a division of New York-based Simon & Schuster."We were surprised by the vociferous response," she said by phone Thursday. "It's San Francisco, and you think of it as being open-minded, very left-leaning and a very receptive audience for the ad for the book."
In the end, the audience had a problem not with the book but with the ad copy. Written by the publisher's promotion department, it included these lines:
"In his new bestseller, Chris Hedges challenges the Christian Right and its dark ideology. He challenges their religious legitimacy and makes a compelling case that these zealots have merely found a mask for fascism in patriotism and the pages of the Bible."
When read by one of the radio station's announcers -- a voice familiar to the local audience -- these words could be mistaken for the speaker's opinion...
I love Ms. Donohue's assumption, that "open-minded" equals anti-Christian. I guess San Francisco has allowed some close-minded people to creep in. Who knew? What could be going wrong? Maybe the Roe Effect? (I'm leaving aside here the fact that I happen to BE a member of the "Christian Right," and know perfectly well that the author's thesis is crapulous nonsense.)
The other challenge thing is that our family likes KDFC. Even our kids. Charlene, more musical than I, has been a faithful listener for decades. She recently was sent a survey for hard-core listeners, and was annoyed to see that it asked what other local stations one listened to, but all the options were left-leaning. There was no option to check KSFO, our local conservative talk-radio station. She fired off a stiff note, and today received another survey.....with KSFO!
Maybe the first survey was just a mistake, but I'd guess not. Not that KDFC, or Simon & Schuster intend to offend customers, but they just assumed... Sort of like Pauline Kael, who was famously reported to have said in 1972, about Nixon's victory: "How can that be? No one I know voted for Nixon!"
March 20, 2007
If....then thank a Liberal
From Eye on the UN:
Women's Rights at the UN: Israel as the Only Violator
Last Friday, March 9, 2007 the UN wrapped up its annual session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Guess where they found a violation of women's rights? Among the hundreds of thousands of women who are dead, dying, mutilated, displaced or raped in Sudan? Among the million female migrant workers cowering in the basements of Saudi Arabian villas from the taskmasters who stole their passports the minute they got off the plane? Among the women stoned and hanged for "adultery" in Iran? The millions of women forcibly aborted in China? The thousands murdered or forced to commit suicide for the crime of "dishonoring" their fathers and brothers across the Arab and Muslim world?
If you guessed "none of the above," then you'll enjoy coming on down to the UN. The UN's lead body charged with promoting and protecting women's rights identifies only one state as violating the rights of women in the world today – Israel.(Violating the rights of Palestinian women.) The vote was 40 for and 2 against (the United States and Canada)
Thanks to Pedro
Zombie has another great collection of pictures, from the recent "anti-war" protest in San Francisco. What can one say? A lot of people adrift in self-referential silliness. Living life as a permanent institutionalized Halloween sure is tiresome and tacky and old-hat. And it's all just a little more evidence that what underlies the nihilism we see all around us is an unwillingness to grow up.
You see in the pictures references to what looks, vaguely, like the Socialism of old. "International Bolshevik Tendency" is one. "International Republican Socialist Network." So, what do you think the chances are that anybody's gonna risk their lives for the Revolution? Hmmm? What are the chances that anyone's planning a revolution? Ha ha, it is to barf. It's all a sham; to actually believe in something enough to fight for it is what these idiots will never do. They just play Halloween.
There's tons of Jew-hatred on display, as usual. And I bet there are plenty of brain-damaged Jews in the protest, unwilling to face ugly realities. Unwilling to grow up...
March 19, 2007
Makes me proud...
And Michelle Malkin's broad coverage of the events contained this line:
Why did the Eagles come? One common refrain: Vietnam veterans, some fighting back tears, told us they came to show the kind of support for the troops that they did not receive when the surrender lobby marched on the Pentagon 40 years ago today...
We're battling the same bunch of foul devils then and now. They are not "anti-war," they are just anti-American. They are not "pacifists;" they sent millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians to their deaths 40 years ago, without a peep of protest, without a tear shed, without apologies, without any @#$%&* candle-light vigils, without any remorse in their frozen hearts.
And they are just as ready to sacrifice millions of lives today, to protect their nihilist fantasy world. ("Millions of lives" meaning, as always, millions of brown-skinned people in distant places. If the fake-pacifists themselves are threatened with violence, they hesitate about 1/100 of a second before dialing 911, to bring tough men with guns to protect them and their organic salad greens.)
March 18, 2007
Long day, on airplanes. It's good to be home with the rest of my family.
Here's a train yard in Grand Forks. We walked up an overpass, but I was too cold to compose the picture, just aimed in the general direction and shot...I love train yards; all those horizontal lines converging in the distance are just too bewitching. And in the snow, even better.
For Sunday..." the clever and charming sons of men"
From the book I am currently reading, Newman: vol. II, Light in Winter.
Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training<. It was Saint Monica's feast, and he took her, the mother of that convert intellectual, St Augustine, as a type of the Church, weeping and praying for the clever and charming sons of men, spiritually dead in spite of all their gifts, until they yielded their rebel wills to God. He gave a vivid account of how a young man may drift out of his faith if he never thinks about it; for him Newman made the excuse that he was an intellectual as well as a moral being, and must have teachers in whom intellectual training was equal with moral. 'I wish the intellect to range with the utmost freedom and religion to enjoy an equal freedom; but what I am stipulating for is, that they should be found in one and the same place, and exemplified in the same persons. I want to destroy that diversity of centres, which puts everything into confusion by creating a contrariety of influences. ...I want the same roof to contain both the intellectual and the moral discipline.
Devotion is not a sort of finish given to the sciences; nor is science a sort of feather in the cap...an ornament and set-off to devotion. I want the intellectual layman to be religious, and the devout ecclesiastic to be intellectual.'...
Of course you could just click on this link and read the actual sermon; it is worth ones time...
March 17, 2007
We've arrived in Grand Forks, but I'm too fizzled-out to write anything. Rob recommends this YouTube: Planets and Stars To Scale. Just to put things in perspective.
March 16, 2007
My camera's working again. Here's a shot looking back at the Rocky Mountains as we head out onto the plains. A poor picture, but it gives some idea of the amazing contrast, because of the way the Rockies rise very abruptly from the plains. The terrain in the foreground is what we drove through today for hundreds of miles. In the background is a wall of mountains.
Today's journey across the plains did not make for exciting pictures, because you just can't capture in a small rectangle the experience of being able to look around and see for hundreds of miles in any direction. But I think it moves my spirit more than do dramatic snowy peaks.
OH, and there's something else that never fails to thrill me...
We are stopped for the night at Medora, ND. (Where trains pass through frequently) A very strange experience. Medora is a tourist trap, a "wild west" town that is set up to cater to thousands of people. In the summer. Nobody's here now! Spooky. It's a kind of imitation-ghost-town ghost town. We got some chow in the only eatery open, a ramshackle cowboy saloon that is obviously ready to feed burgers and beer to large rollicking crowds. But Rob and I were the only customers. And the two fellows running it were glued to the TV over the bar, watching imitation hillbillies on the Dukes of Hazzard. Too funny. But the food was OK.
But I already "know" Medora, from reading biographies of Teddy Roosevelt. So it was interesting to poke around the ruins left by the Marquis de Mores, and ponder the changes that have occurred since the 1880's.
March 15, 2007
Pictures, not so hotso...
Today we drove a little farther across Nevada (I love it) and then headed up US 93 to Twin Falls in Idaho. Then across Southern Idaho (boring) and north, past the NW corner of Yellowstone (gorgeous country) to Bozeman, Montana. (Stunning place. But it's been "discovered.") My camera failed me, however. Battery won't hold a charge more than one day. Here's a pic from yesterday, and then some cell-phone pix.
That's me driving in Nevada, and the blur in the middle is a big dust-devil—we saw lots of them. (Not much of a picture, I know)
Here are some wagon-ruts that still exist from the early pioneers. They are from where they would climb a bluff up from the Humboldt River Valley. The Humboldt crosses most of Nevada, and it's so obviously the only way across the state for the old wagons. There's not much water anywhere else. The last part, after the Humboldt dies, must have been a grim trek.
We are not looking for history by the way, just driving. But there's a lot of it lying around. In Idaho we followed the course of the Snake River. You've heard of it.
I love rivers in the desert. Intensely. But they are hard to photograph. Even with the real camera the pictures just come out grayish and drab.
I really shouldn't post this, but it will remind me of the real scene, which was intense. I walked through a forest of tall white brush—crackly-dry, but just starting to bud out. The river (the Little Salmon) was fast and cold and green. There were still patches of snow on the ground, but the black cliff-faces were starting to bake in the early sun.
Here are some of the the cliffs...
March 14, 2007
Dusty roads... (and open thread of a sort)
I'm going to be on the road for a few days. If technology allows, I'll perhaps blog a few scenic wondas of the Wild West...
Update: Note comment by Ethan, soliciting comments. Which might be good; making one post on the road was very difficult. Why, I don't know; perhaps the ether is troubled. I bumped this post to the top...)
Top of the world, sort of...
Hi, It's me. blogging from Elko Nevada. My son Rob and I are driving to North Dakota.
This picture was taken this morning in a spot of some historical interest. It's at Donner Summit, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, near where the famous Donner Party came to grief.
And the horizontal line you see in the background consists of snow sheds that protect a train line from snow and avalanches. You may recall the history of the Transcontinental Railroad, and how the Central Pacific, with its gangs of Chinese laborers, worked so heroically to drive their part of the line through the Sierras, hardly stopping even in winter. You are looking at their work...
March 13, 2007
The font of "international law"
WASHINGTON — The United Nations Development Programme office in Pyongyang, North Korea, sits in a Soviet-style compound. Like clockwork, a North Korean official wearing a standard-issue dark windbreaker and slacks would come to the door each business day.
He would take a manila envelope stuffed with cash — a healthy portion of the U.N.'s disbursements for aid projects in the country — and leave without ever providing receipts.
According to sources at the U.N., this went on for years, resulting in the transfer of up to $150 million in hard foreign currency to the Kim Jong Il government at a time when the United States was trying to keep the North Korean government from receiving hard currency as part of its sanctions against the Kim regime...(Thanks to Orrin)
Envelopes stuffed with cash handed to the North Koreans? And this is the organization Democrats and Europeans think can confer legitimacy on the actions of the United States of America? Sick. Not just sick, EVIL.
And I'm sure that leftists would say that they are helping the peeeeople of NK. Advancing peace and understanding y'understand.
March 11, 2007
Don't blame me...
Peter Burnett, writing on new ideas in neuroscience that imply that we have no responsibility for what we do...
.....Professor Morse is correct that there is nothing particularly original here. Each new wave of determinist thinking tends to arrive with a splash and claim the idea that our behaviours are influenced by genes, brains, nature, nurture, the stars, the climate or whatever is brand new and a counterpoint to a supposed universal historical belief that humans are independent actors in full control of their lives and equally capable of choosing from an infinite number of possible actions. In fact, the opposite is the case. Almost nobody believes that or ever did. Free will, moral agency and individual responsibility are gifts of monotheism, which holds we have the capacity to rise above our largely determined natures, but not without struggle and not unaided. That belief is the historical exception to the rule and the grounding of the most prosperous, culturally rich and successful civilization in history.
Determinism is the default belief in human history. It defines paganism, which explains why aboriginal peoples and so many African communities cannot break out of endless cycles of poverty and pathology. It defined much of Asia until Asians consciously and expressly rejected their traditions to adopt Western ways. Since about fifty years after the Enlightenment, it has largely defined secularism. Not unlike medieval astrologers, Marx, Freud, Darwin and a host of minor others all argued man is in the grip of forces of which he is unaware and which absolved him of responsibility for his actions and fate. Their popularity was instant and widespread, demonstrating what every lawyer knows–that people will go to the most extreme lengths to find exculpatory explanations for their actions, no matter how heinous or injurious. It is the man who genuinely admits responsibility that is the rare exception....
Girl, sword, Brobdingnagian opponent...
On the very very slight chance that someone reading this is BOTH in the Bay Area, and is interested in the work of Alyssa Pitstick, she will be giving a Lenten reflection at our Parish, St Dominic's of San Francisco, on March 21, at 7:30.
Dr Pitstick is famous and controversial right now for challenging parts of the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. I had to laugh; I was Googling and found a partisan who had illustrated a blogpost on her with a picture of Eowyn taking a sword to the horrid whatchamacallit in Lord of the Rings!
(I myself have no settled opinion on the issues, but I plan to read (I skimmed it before) her debate with Edward T. Oakes, S.J., in First Things.)
Charlene was in New York City last weekend, and visited a beautiful Dominican parish, the Church of St Vincent Ferrer. (Interesting saint too.)Unfortunately most of her pictures didn't come out. It's hard to take pictures of church interiors. But here are a couple of them...
"critics by conviction and Christians by habit"
From Meriol Trevor's excellent biography of John Henry Newman, vol 1, Newman: The Pillar of the Cloud.
...Liberal Churchmen had no monopoly of the social conscience, though they were more concerned with politics than other parties in the Church. What really distinguished them was their approach to the doctrines and history of Christianity. In effect, if not always in theory, they gave the highest authority to Reason.
But Newman had just come to believe that Reason, improperly exercised to judge the data of a divine revelation, was the chief instrument of the World in the modern age — the World of which Satan was the ruler: nature, human and non-human, so far as it is in rebellion against God and in opposition to the kingdom of Christ. During 1829 and 1830 his sermons in St. Mary's expressed these ideas of the World and the Church, which were basic to his thought for the whole of his life. He published his last words on the subject when he was eighty-four and quoted some of these early sermons.
With his clear mind — Whately himself had said it was the clearest he knew — Newman foresaw the general development of the liberal idea in religion, as in fact it has come to pass. Wherever reason is made sole judge of religious truth, faith weakens and in logical minds is destroyed ; not because the Christian faith is irrational or false, but because it is something given to the human mind, not discovered by it. Reason is within the scheme, not superior to it. Perhaps Newman saw this so clearly because of his own early scepticism ; Christianity could never be to him merely an habitual frame of reference, within which the individual critical reason could be let loose without danger. But to most of the liberal Churchmen, this was just what it was ; they were critics by conviction and Christians by habit. Later generations shocked them by losing the habit. Newman was not shocked, though he was grieved, because he expected it. In fact, he began by expecting general scepticism to arrive sooner than it did.
Whately never understood the nature of Newman's opposition to Liberalism. He thought Newman abandoned the liberal cause for orthodoxy because orthodoxy was in power, that his motive was worldly ambition ; yet the truth was that Newman parted company with the liberals because he saw that their principles, though they did not realize it, would betray the Church to the World...
The Anglican (in America Episcopalian) Church has three main factions or flavors. Evangelical, Liberal, and Anglo-Catholic. A bit of history that I find quite stupefying is that two of these groups originated, in the 1830's, in the common room of Oriel College, Oxford! (The Evangelicals arose in the 18th Century. The most famous of them were John and Charles Wesley, who left to form the Methodists.)
Richard Whately, mentioned above, "...was a strong liberal, and bid fair to be the leader of the new party of progressive men in the Church...He did not look on the Church as a sacred society preserving divine doctrine, but as a kind of moral order within society..." He and other Oriel men, Hampton, Hawkins, and Arnold of Rugby, started the liberal movement in the Anglican Church that spread rapidly through Oxford and beyond. And Newman raised up an opposition, known to history as the Oxford Movement, or the Tractarian Movement. Whose most important members, Newman, Keble, Pusey, and Froud were also Oriel men. (Though some had taken "livings," that is, positions as rectors or vicars of parishes. But they remained members of their college. All Oxford and Cambridge Fellows were, in those days clergymen, usually young, who expected to take up livings as soon as possible. If for no other reason than that they could not marry as long as they remained in the university. There were no old fossil college teachers then.)
The Evangelicals are still a large part of the Anglicans. The liberals are still the liberals, culminating in a certain peculiar lady bishop now head of the Episcopalians. The Tractarian flavor became what is now known as "Anglo-Catholic," that is, those Anglicans who feel that their church is part of the "Church Catholic," though not Roman Catholic. Newman, and many since, came to the conclusion that that just wasn't true, and left to join.......The Church.
March 10, 2007
Then and Now
You have all seen, I'm sure, those lists of what Democrat leaders said then, about Iraq and Saddam, and what they say now, when they see political advantage in betraying their country and stabbing our troops in the back and undercutting a military campaign that they voted for..
But written documents lack a certain punch. A certain sort of impact.
Now there's a splendid YouTube, Democrat Hypocrisy on Iraq, with video clips collected of a LOT of famous Dems saying publicly...well, just take a look and see.
I won't say what I think about them, because I would be tempted to use language such as is not fit for publication.
Thanks To Rand Simberg
I recommend reading this interview with Dr S. Fred Singer, and the climate change debate. It's got lots of insights on how the science works. And the politics of science...
...Talk about the models. What is a computer model, and what isn't it? What is its purpose in science?
There are many kinds of computer models. But the ones that people mostly talk about these days are the giant models that try to model the whole global atmosphere in a three-dimensional way. These models calculate important parameters at different points around the globe--and these points are roughly 200 miles apart--and at different levels of the atmosphere. You can see that if you only calculate temperature, winds, and so on at intervals of 200 miles, then you cannot depict clouds, or even cloud systems, which are much smaller. So until the models have a good enough resolution to be capable of depicting clouds, it's very difficult to put much faith in them.
But, still, they're playing quite an important role in this debate. Take me through a history of what the models have predicted. You've alluded to this, and how some of their predictions have had to be scaled down. What can models do, and what can't they do?
You have to understand that these models are calibrated to produce the seasons. That is to say, the models are adjusted until they produce the present climate and the seasonal change.
So they're faked, you're saying?
They're tweaked. I think that's a polite way of putting it. They're adjusted, or tweaked, until they produce the present climate and the present short-term variation. You have to also understand there's something like two dozen climate models in the world. And one question to ask is: Do they agree? And the answer is: They do not. And these models are all produced by excellent meteorologists, fantastic computers. Why do they not agree? Why do some models predict a warming for a doubling of CO2, of, let's say, five degrees Centigrade--which is eight degrees Fahrenheit)--and why do other models predict something like one degree?
Well, there's a reason for this. These models differ in the way they depict clouds, primarily. In some models, clouds produce an additional warming. In some models, clouds produce a cooling. Which models are correct? There's no way of telling. Each modeler thinks that his model is the best. So I think we all have to wait until the dispersion in the model results shrinks a little bit--until they start to agree with each other.
What happens when you use these models to try and reproduce past climates, when other forcings are known, like ice ages and so forth? Can they succeed at that?
They fail spectacularly in explaining, for example, why an ice age starts, or why an ice age stops. The most recent result on this was published in early 1999. It's always been known that, for example, the deglaciation--that is, the transition from an ice age to the warm interglacial, which is spectacular--suddenly the ice age ends and the warming starts. And at the same time, you see an increase in carbon dioxide in the record. And these are records taken from ice cores--good measurements....
One trouble with computer models is that every one of them is good at something. If you spend years making a complex model, based on real data, it's going to predict something or other with great accuracy. So it's easy to hold up your model and say, "Look. Crushing irrefutable evidence! Those who dissent are like Holocaust Deniers."
March 8, 2007
Justice is done...
This is a piece by Stefan Sharkansky I saved back in 2004, and never got around to blogging. Such a junk box my computer is. Well, better late than nevva...
The Comedy of Left-wing Justice
The Beverly Hillbillies was a very funny sitcom and a wonderful example of the use of status in comedy. Stage comedy is essentially all about status. Every character has both social status and situational status. Social status is relatively fixed and derives from one's wealth, occupation, organizational rank, etc. Situational status is more dynamic and has to do with how the character performs his role -- bearing, body language, control of space, use of language, and also what happens in the scene -- is the character a victim or an aggressor, does he succeed or fail at the task at hand? Characters are generally described as high-status or low-status. Comedy happens when a character gets his status lowered, or when a low-status character raises his status at the expense of a high-status character. That helps explain why The Beverly Hillbillies was so funny. The low-status Clampetts had their status raised with their new found oil wealth, and they somehow always ended up lowering the status of the banker Mr. Drysdale and his high-status wife. Did Mrs. Drysdale ever get the better of Granny? Of course not, because that wouldn't have been funny.
Left-wing notions of justice are also about status. There is a whole ladder of characteristics where some people are assigned high status and others low status. Now I'm not making any value judgments in the following list, I'm simply reporting my understanding of progressive thinking: Men are higher status than women. Caucasians are higher status than Asians who are higher status than Hispanics who are higher than Africans. The rich have higher status than the poor. Management has higher status than labor. The able-bodied are higher than the disabled. Heterosexuals are higher than homosexuals. Christians and Jews have more status than Muslims and Hindus. Americans are above everybody else on the planet. You get the point.
Left-wing justice is very simple. As long as the outcome is one where a low-status person wins at the expense of a high-status person, justice is done. No need to be concerned with the circumstances or the particular individuals involved, all that matters is group-based status. Case closed.
Think of all the examples of public issues or controversies and how most lefties respond. They all fit into this framework. Every single one. How else would the Sept. 11 attacks get turned into a discussion of American oppression of Muslims? Why else would so many on the left identify with Saddam more than they do with Bush? Why did college lefties get their knickers in a twist over Apartheid, but couldn't care less about Zimbabwe or Sudan? Why do some people call Ariel Sharon a "war criminal" because of Sabra and Shatilla, but never even mention the Christian Arabs who carried out the massacre? Why do university administrators impose harsher discipline against those who dress up as the Jackson 5 than against those who commit violence in their protests against Israel? It's all about the dynamic of elevating the low-status (Arabs, Muslims, Black people) while lowering the high-status (America, Israel, white frat boys).
And that also helps explain why so many people find it so easy to ridicule the left. Because so much of what the left believes in is essentially, well, comedy.
Well, it sure doesn't look like much has changed in the last two years. Did you notice the reference to "white frat boys?" It's not the slightest bit odd the the Duke Lacrosse guys were betrayed by their own teachers.
March 7, 2007
Lead and Gold
From Randy Roberts and James S. Olson, A Line in the Sand: The Alamo in Blood and MemoryAfter lunch a bright red Lincoln Navigator pulled up to Crockett Street and out jumped a Hispanic mother with three girls, ranging in age from eight to twelve. Her husband parked the car in a nearby lot and returned bearing a video camera. The three daughters, dressed in matching white pullovers and Gap skirts, were striking. Their father, a CPA with a Wharton degree, posed his family in front of the limestone walls of the chapel and triggered the camera. They waved on cue but smiled spontaneously, obviously delighted to be where they were. He then told them briefly about the Alamo, delivering the Daughters' version of the battle, and he let his girls know that it stood for courage and integrity, virtues they needed to cultivate in their own lives.
At that point, the Anglo graduate student arrived at the chapel door. He asked, "Why are you even here today? Don't you know what this place stands for? It represents the rape and destruction of your people." Looking just the least bit annoyed, the Hispanic man politely replied, "We're not so bad off, you know." The Anglo student was persistent. "You don't understand, you just don't understand," he continued. "You shouldn't be teaching your kids this stuff." The CPA stopped short. "Escucheme, bolillo [Listen to me, white bread]," he said sharply. "If Santa Anna would have won the war, this whole city would be a shithole just like Reynosa. Soy tejano [I'm a Texan]. Mind your own goddamned business. It's my Alamo too."
There are some things that are just so insane that it's useless to even argue with them. Better to spend your time on something constructive, like counting snowflakes. One of them is the spectacle of leftydweebs observing the phenomenon of millions of people crawling over broken glass to get INTO this country (or OUT of whatever "workers paradise" is in fashion this year) and saying, "Look how rotten America is."
...Though I have nothing of any worth to offer specifically regarding the Libby trial, I can offer some generalized observations on prosecutors gleaned from first hand observations working among them.
Prosecutors exist to get people thrown in jail. That’s their job, and the good ones love it. The close cases, the tough ones, are the ones that quicken their pulses, not the slam dunks. The guilt or innocence of the defendant has less to do with the prosecutor’s zeal in an individual case than does his love of the game and the size of his quarry. That’s why so many prosecutors get so excited when they get a famous person in their crosshairs....
I've never been comfortable with the "adversary system of justice," but then neither am I aware of some other system that works a lot better in practice. Sort of like democracy. But this whole business started with a false premise, and has been a slow-motion train wreck ever since.
If lying is a crime the people who should be going to jail are named Plame and Wilson. Not to mention the legions who cynically used them to undermine our country in time of war.
March 6, 2007
The New-Age lobotomized...
Mark Steyn on his recent adventures going on Left-wing talk radio shows...
....I don’t mind the conspiracy guys and the all-about-oil obsessives. I’m cool with the fellows who say, well, America sold Saddam all his weapons anyway: it’s always fun to point out that, according to analysis by the International Peace Research Institute of Stockholm, for the years between 1973 and 2002 the American and British arm sales combined added up to under 2% of Iraq’s armaments – or less than Saddam got from the Brazilians.
That’s all good fun. But what befuddles me are the callers who aren’t foaming and partisan but speak in almost eerily calm voices, like patient kindergarten teachers, and say things like “I find it very offensive that your guest can use language that’s so hierarchical” - i.e., repressive Muslim dictatorships are worse than pluralist western democracies - and “We are confronting violence with violence, when what we need is non-violent conflict resolution that’s binding on all sides” – i.e. …well, i.e. whatever.
Half the time these assertions are such enervated soft-focus blurs of passivity, there’s nothing solid enough to latch on to and respond to. But, when, as they often do, they cite Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi, I point out that we’re not always as fortunate to find ourselves up against such relatively benign enemies as British imperial administrators or even American racist rednecks. King and Gandhi’s strategies would not have been effective against fellows who gun down classrooms of Russian schoolchildren, or self-detonate at Muslim weddings in Amman, or behead you live on camera and then release it as a snuff video, or assassinate politicians and as they’re dying fall to the ground and drink their blood off the marble. Come to that, King and Gandhi’s strategies would not have been effective against the prominent British Muslim who in a recent debate at Trinity College, Dublin announced that the Prophet Mohammed’s message to infidels was “I am here to slaughter you all.” Good luck with the binding non-violent conflict resolution there.
And at that point there’s usually a pause and the caller says something like “Well, that’s all the more reason why we need to be even more committed to non-violence.” Or as a lady called Kay put it: “We have a lot of work to do then so that some day a long way down the road they won’t want to slaughter us.”...
I've encountered them too. "eerily calm voices, like patient kindergarten teachers..." Yeah. I much prefer being called a Rethuglican fascist insect who ought to be spit on. The woo woo calm of the New-Age lobotomized is utterly creepy and depressing. I remember arguing with an acquaintance after 9/11, and saying, "This is deadly serious. We've got to fight! Your children are flying around on airplanes. Don't you care?" The answer was calm and unmoved, something like, "I've achieved peace through [insert swami or cult or Gandhi-malarky, I forget which] meditation."
The hard work is being done by the English-speakers...
This is a snippet from a radio interview of Mark Steyn (author of America Alone) by Hugh Hewitt.
Hugh Hewitt: I began this week with a three-hour conversation with British historian Andrew Roberts, about whom you devoted a column in the Sun Times, available at www.steynonline.com. He’s now been a guest at the White House. Vice President Cheney’s reading his book as he jets around the world avoiding assassination attempts. He’s been, as he told me, met with considerable derision in academic circles in Great Britain. Are you surprised?
Mark Steyn: No, I’m not, because I think the elites in both Britain and the United States are blind to what seems obvious, if you step back. Andrew’s great thesis is that in the fullness of time, we will look at the period of dominance of the British empire, and then the American republic, as one unbroken cord of human development, as we do with the Roman republic and the Roman empire, that it will not seem like two separate eras, but as one continuous evolution. And I think that’s true, and I think it’s true not just historically, but it’s true today. You know, we hear a lot about Afghanistan, which is the good war that the left and all the Europeans and everybody else support, and it’s always presented as a NATO mission in Afghanistan, NATO’s doing all the hard work in Afghanistan. When in fact, when you look at it, the only four countries who are doing any combat duties, i.e. going out and killing the enemy are the United States, The United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. And the continental, the European members of NATO, are there in basically support roles. Norway won’t fight, the other guys don’t like to go out in the snow, because it gets their boots dirty, so they’re back at barracks manning the photocopier, or whatever they do, but the hard work of killing the enemy is being done by the four English speaking nations...
Elites, "blind to what seems obvious." Don't that sound familiar? Lefty self-styled elites. They've got a lot to be blind to, and to blind us to. The vast slow-motion train wreck that is Europe is their project. Communism and Naziism were their projects. And the mysterious way that English-speaking people around the globe have a stubborn resistance to being destroyed by leftism is their possible downfall.
England itself is toast, I think. But the tenacious infection has simply migrated elsewhere. How that must madden "progressives!" Historically speaking, it is the very success of the English and the Scots that led to a population explosion in 18th/19th Centuries, and thus the emigration that helped fill distant lands with English-speakers, who carried "The Rights of Englishmen" with them. Also, the inventive genius of the English and Scots created the railroads that opened up the great "land empires" of the US and Russia, and brought their wheat and hogs onto the world market�carried on British bottoms mostly. Which led to the devastation of British agriculture, adding to the flood of emigrants. As it still does. (Railroads also eliminated what had long been one of Britain's great advantages, the fact that no point in the island is more than 70 miles from navigable water.)
I remember being in England with my family when I was young, and my Dad talking to an English or maybe Welsh farmer in a pub. The man was frustrated and spoke of emigrating to Canada. (My father was a horticulturist, a farmer and a world traveller, and knew this stuff. He strongly advised Australia, as a place of greater opportunity.) There are so many things one wants to measure, but can't. Perhaps future researchers will pinpoint genes linked to optimism and adventurousness and self-reliance, and find them lacking in Britain, but richly present in the descendants of those who left the British Isles...
Mark writes "Norway won’t fight." Here's the link to the story about the Norwegian command refusing to let their men in Afghanistan be put where they might have to fight. Remember how Norwegians were once known for hardiness and courage? Well actually most people don't remember, don't know. They just accept things as they are, and can't see how bizarre the world has become, and how extreme the changes are. Me, I was thrilled in my youth by a certain book, about a bunch of Norwegians crossing the Pacific Ocean on a balsa-wood raft. And some of those Norwegians had been among those who made the desperate attempts to destroy the Heavy Water plant in Norway that was being used in the German nuclear bomb program. The fact that Norwegian soldiers are currently deployed to a cold mountanous place for small-unit ops, and are NOT showing everybody else how the thing should be done is a HUGE elephant of a fact in the world's living-room. That nobody seems to see it makes me just want to scream. (Aaarrrgghhhhhhhhhhh! Whew. I feel better now.)
I'm eager to read Roberts' book. Sounds good. And the book below, Heavy Water and the Wartime Race for Nuclear Energy, also sounds good. I haven't read it, so I can't comment on the slightly curious title. It wasn't nuclear energy that was being sought, it was a matter of a totalitarian socialist government seeking nuclear bombs so they could fry millions of people and conquer the world. I can't help suspecting that somebody or other wants to gloss over that fact just a wee little bit.
Much as leftyish historians also want to slide past the awkward fact that Japan also had a nuclear bomb program. One which they stopped only because it was not feasible for them, not because they were better that us horrid Americans who are supposed to flagellate ourselves endlessly for the sin of Hiroshima. (The nuclear bombing of which almost certainly saved millions of lives. Billions perhaps, if you consider the curious fact that it marked the END of the sort of large-scale warfare we refer to as "world wars." Actually, to the end of war, period. What we have now is nothing like what used to be called "war." Dr Oppenheimer and General Groves should be considered the greatest pacifists of human history. Link. Link.)
All Legos belong to The People...
I mentioned here the business about a school using a Lego city to teach "Social Justice." But we had no links, just what was heard on the radio.
Charlene just noticed that The Anchoress has a post on the story, with a link to the original article.
March 5, 2007
San Francisco Stairways #8 (This one's in Berkeley)
I was visiting a customer in Berkeley, on Alvarado Road near the Claremont, and happened upon Willow Walk. It's much like scores of other Berkeley and Oakland stairs, connecting two levels of the streets which follow the contours of the hills. But what's interesting is its connection with Sunset Trail, a very long path that runs horizontally between Willow Walk and Eucalyptus Path, another stair a few hundred yards further north. It's like an alley running behind the houses, only it's a long shady path... [For other SF Stairway posts, click here.]
March 4, 2007
All clothing, no emperor....
...Nihilism is the one constant confronting us in the works of postmodern, post-Christian, deconstructionist and liberationist philosophers and theologians. This nihilism comes dressed up in a variety of styles and colors, but everywhere the message is the same. There are no absolute truths, no absolute values, no absolute judgments, because there is no objective reality in which such absolutes could be rooted. There are no texts, only conflicting interpretations: there are no compass points, only differing perspectives; there is no human nature, only changing human beings.
We are all familiar with that innocent little boy of yesteryear who recognized the emperor to be wearing no clothes. It would take a particularly astute little boy to recognize that there is no emperor beneath the layers upon layers of nihilistic clothing paraded before us today. All clothing, no emperor—it could not be otherwise. For nihilism robs us of the substance of things, leaving only an ever-changing pageant of empty forms...
---Joyce A Little, from The Church and the Culture War
March 3, 2007
"Social Justice:" A definition...
One hears the buzzwords "Social Justice" very frequently these days. But I've never heard the term defined. I suspect—Oh dear, how can I be so cynical—I suspect that this is intentional. That if we knew what was really meant....we would not be too happy.
Charlene heard something on the radio that I think may shed a bit of light. Someone she was listening to on KSFO quoted from a "progressive teacher" magazine. The subject was using Legos to build a town, as part of some sort of curriculum. For the very young, I would assume. And the comment in the magazine was, that this was a great tool for teaching "social justice." Because all the houses could be the same size, and they could all be communally owned!
What an exciting new idea...
March 2, 2007
List, revised, yet again...
I've posted before my List of Reasons to Invade Iraq. (Most recently here.) I stand by them, they still look good to me. And, as always, one of the purposes of posting them is to invite debate. I may be wrong. If so, show me. (I mean, show me with logic and facts. I'm not impressed with, "Wahhh, You can't SAY those horrible things. It's not allowed.")
But I think I need to add one more reason. One that is shaping up to be the most important of all. (My underlying thinking, if you are not a regular reader, is that the actual fight against Islamic terrorists is a secondary issue, mostly a by-product of the decay of our own civilization. Which is the BIG problem.)
I wrote here:
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!
That's just the way it has been. And we need that light shining on the strange evils of our day. So, I propose one more reason Iraq was the correct second move of the War on Terror (which I don't think is really a war�but that's another issue).
14. Test to destruction the idea that "Liberals" are liberal. Iraq was (and is) the big test. To propose regime-change in Iraq is really to say to the Left: , "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.)
The other 13 reasons are listed below, if you are interested...
1. Avoid fizzle-out. The big danger of a war against shadowy terror groups is that they can destroy our resolve to fight by pretending to negotiate or change their ways. By attacking the very heartland of the Arab world, we will avoid the cycle of truces and negotiations that have crippled Israel's war on its terrorists. The jihadis MUST fight for Iraq, the stakes will be too high. They won't be able to just lie low for a few years and then strike again. We will be forcing them to react to our moves, instead of us always reacting to theirs. (This could really be a reason by itself.)
2. Until the culture of despotism and backwardness of the Arab world is changed, new terrorist groups will continue to arise. Iraq is the best choice for starting the process of change, with a well-educated population that has suffered terribly from tyranny. Changing Iraq will change the dialog in the region. Deposing tyrants is a start, but there are good reasons to believe that democracy might take hold in Iraq—That would really change the region.
3.Terror-supporting nations. We can't make progress in changing them, until we take out ONE of them. Iraq is a good choice because we already have a good legal case, with many binding UN Resolutions, plus Iraq's failure to comply with peace-terms from the Gulf War. And also because Saddam is the most considerable of the terror-supporting dictators, so his fall will have the biggest effect on the others.
4. Iran: The most important instance of the above is Iran (which is the worst of the terror-supporting countries). The Mullahs can't close off their border with Iraq, because their Shi'ite Holy Places are there. Invasion of Iraq puts an army right on Iran's border. And Iraqi Shi'ism, impotent under Saddam, does not agree with theocratic Iranian Shi'ism. We need its ideas to flourish.
5. The humanitarian reasons are compelling. Tens-of-thousands of people are being tortured and murdered in Iraq each year. This is an internal war--to end it is to be on the side of peace. The UN sanctions regime has left children dying without food and medicine, while Saddam builds palaces and funds terror groups and corrupts Western governments with kickbacks. And we are INVOLVED in the sanctions perversion--we have a responsibility to end it. Saddam is waging an internal war against his people. Pacifists are enablers of Saddam's war and want it to go on forever—America should end it.
6. Similarly, we bear responsibility for encouraging the Shi'ite revolt against Saddam after the Gulf War. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were slaughtered because of our mistakes. We should have moved against Saddam years ago for that reason alone.
7. WMD's: a danger that must be eliminated. (Note from the perspective of 2006: While it's true we haven't found large stockpiles, we've found weapons programs that could have quickly rebuilt stockpiles. And more importantly, this is a war. A global war against islamic terrorism. Not a case at law. The mere appearance of plans to attack us or our allies is justification for an attack. In a war, it is our responsibility to attack an enemy nation if feasable. The burden is on those who oppose war-like attacks during war time to provide reasons why we should not.)
8. We have partly created the terrorists, by consistent weakness and vacillation over several decades. We have taught the terrorists to attack us! Withdrawing from Lebanon taught Hezbollah that suicide bombs work. Failure to respond in the Iran hostage crises taught a generation of terrorists that we are weak and vulnerable. Withdrawal from Somalia taught bin Laden that we can't take casualties. We have waited so long to respond, that only a long bloody struggle will teach them a new lesson. If Iraq becomes a quagmire, that's good. Assuming we stick it out and win.
9. Diplomacy. Obviously it is best to solve problems peacefully by diplomacy and negotiations. But our diplomacy has been crippled by lack of a credible threat of violence as an alternative. This dates from our betrayal of South Vietnam, and is exacerbated by the decline of most other Western powers into military impotence. Diplomacy works as the "good cop" alternative to a military "bad cop." Our failure in this has been so great that it could only be redeemed by some seriously crazy violence. Iraq--perfect! Now Colin Powell's "good cop" will be contrasted with a really scary "bad cop" named Donald Rumsfeld. Expect big diplomatic payoffs.
10. Consensus of elected leaders. President Bush has requested approval for the invasion of Iraq from Congress. The Senate debated the question and voted overwhelmingly in favor. Our nation made this decision. We made the decision. That's a powerful reason in favor. [Note from 2006: For various people, including some of the Senators who voted for this campaign, to now sit on the sidelines and whine, "I don't know anything about this and nobody told me anything and it has nothing to do with me" is despicable.]
11. To learn how to fight this new kind of war. There has never been a war like this before. We need to learn how to fight it, and keep learning as enemy tactics evolve. There's no other way to learn than just plunging in and fighting. Armchair strategists are not much help. And Iraq is big enough to blood the entire US Army and Marine Corps, without being very dangerous (by historical standards, that is. Think Shiloh, or the Meuse-Argonne Campaign).
12. Revenge. Saddam and al Qaeda have been responsible for the terror-killings of American citizens, including American diplomats. These murders have gone unpunished. It was wrong for us not to avenge them violently. (I'm using the term "revenge" provocatively, to irritate appeasers. But feel free to toss out the concept of vengeance. it is still wrong, both morally and logically, to allow criminals to flourish and prosper through their crimes, and to prey on the weak. It is a sin.)
13. Archives. Totalitarian regimes always keep good records. We are going to learn a lot about what's really been going on in the world once we get into the files. (Me, I'd scan everything and put it on the Web.)
This WaPo article, Speeding HIV's Deadly Spread is about how mainstream liberal prescriptions for stopping AIDs in Africa have had exacty the opposite effect. While the promotion of traditional morality does work.
On a hospital wall here, not far from the AIDS clinic that Khumalo visited with his friend, the painted image of a condom shimmers like a comic-book superhero. Giant, colorful block letters declare, "CONDOMISE AND STAY ALIVE!!"
In cramped black script below, it adds, "Abstain first."
Yet rarely seen among Botswana's AIDS prevention messages is one that has worked in other African countries: Multiple sex partners kill. Dubbed "Zero Grazing" by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, this approach dominated in East Africa, where several countries curbed HIV rates.
Fidelity campaigns never caught on in Botswana. Instead, the country focused on remedies favored by Western AIDS experts schooled in the epidemics of America's gay community or Thailand's brothels, where condom use became so routine it slowed the spread of HIV.
These experts brought not just ideas but money, and soon billboards in Botswana touted condoms. Schoolchildren sang about them. Cadres of young women demonstrated how to roll them on. The anti-AIDS partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and drugmaker Merck budgeted $13.5 million for condom promotion -- 25 times the amount dedicated to curbing dangerous sexual behavior.
But soaring rates of condom use have not brought down high HIV rates. Instead, they rose together, until both were among the highest in Africa...
"Multiple sex partners kill." That's been obvious from the beginning. But pointing out that obvious thing has been taboo to liberal do-gooders. Infantilizing themselves and the world—especially by promoting the unquestioning acceptance of sex-lives based on teenage fantasy—is much more important than saving lives. Not growing up is much more important than saving lives. Result: Millions die. You've heard about the "Culture of Death;" here it is.
[Thanks to Penraker]
Hirsi Ali—Another test for the Left....
This is from an article by WaPo columnist Anne Applebaum, The Gall To Speak Her Mind, about Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I wrote here recently about how an important utility of the Iraq Campaign is that it has been a test, that it has forced Leftists to put up or shut up about being "anti-fascist," or "pro-democracy," or humanitarian, and a bunch of other lies.
Here's another test. A poor Moslem woman comes to Europe, becomes educated, adopts the Enlightenment values of secular humanists with enthusiasm, becomes a leader, and....... are they happy?
....Yet even from that distance she continues to provoke Europeans, sometimes without saying anything at all. After a somewhat patronizing review of her first book -- in which British writer Timothy Garton Ash called her a "brave, outspoken, slightly simplistic Enlightenment fundamentalist" -- the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner came galloping to the defense of Hirsi Ali and the Enlightenment. Garton Ash counterattacked, and others joined what turned quickly into a wide-ranging debate (read the whole thing at http://www.signandsight.com) about reason, faith, multiculturalism and the integration of millions of Muslim immigrants into European culture.
Curiously, what seems to rankle Europeans most is the enthusiasm with which Hirsi Ali has adopted their own secularism and the fervor with which she has embraced their own Western values. Though this continent's intellectuals routinely disparage the pope as an irrelevant dinosaur, Hirsi Ali's rejection of religion in favor of reason, intellect and emancipation seems to make everyone nervous...[My emphasis.]
That a Euro-intellectual calls someone an "Enlightenment fundamentalist" really tells you all you need to know. And "nervous" is a total understatement. They are being exposed as hollow men, hollowed out by nihilism.
Afghanistan was a similar test. It's now been dropped down the Memory Hole, but before 9/11 it was frequent, it was routine, for leftists to denounce the Taliban and the oppression of women in Afghanistan. So, where are they? Where are the lefty-groups flocking to Afghanistan to help with the great liberation? Where are the feminists?
March 1, 2007
I'm not usually the type for demonstrations, but...
If I were near Washington DC on Martch 17, I'd want to be joining in the counter-protest. Michelle Malkin writes:
....Last time the left-wing, peace-loving fun bunch came to town, their minions gone wild threw rocks at a military recruitment office in D.C's Dupont Circle neighborhood and at a local Fox News van, broke through a Capitol Hill police security cordon, spray painted the Capitol Grounds with impunity, desecrated the Lone Sailor statue that stands watch at the U.S. Navy Memorial and reportedly spat at disabled Iraq war veteran Josh Sparling as he voiced his support for his fellow troops.
Tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators were at that event last month. How many showed up with Sparling to counter the far Left? Forty.
Now, imagine our troops getting word of that count. They're walking the talk, committed to the long, hard mission of counterinsurgency in Iraq and abroad, risking life and limb - and only 40 of their fellow Americans bothered to represent them in the nation's capital?
Don't get mad. Get moving.
These protests have nothing to do with being against war. They are only opposed to America and her allies. The real issue is nihilism vs belief. To the nihilist, belief is an affront, and patriotic Americans still believe that there are things we should fight for. So they hate us. If France still believed in fighting for freedom, democracy and human rights, then the fake-pacifists would be burning the Tricolor.
To show the flag in opposition to those poison-reptiles is to demonstrate for peace, and for liberty, and for life. (And for good taste.)