April 30, 2007

Good, by Hitch...

Christopher Hitchins on George Tenet's disgraceful new book...

...A highly irritating expression in Washington has it that "hindsight is always 20-20." Would that it were so. History is not a matter of hindsight and is not, in fact, always written by the victors. In this case, a bogus history is being offered by a real loser whose hindsight is cockeyed and who had no foresight at all.
Posted by John Weidner at 1:56 PM

Another lie...fight it as best you can.

What's truly maddening is that I had started this blog-post yesterday, when Kristol debunked Tenet's lie. And this morning, driving Charlene to BART, I heard the same lie on the radio news, repeated as if it were a simple truth.

Bookmark the piece, George Tenet's Imaginary Encounter. Because we are going to be hearing this vile lie for the rest of our lives...

...THE WEEKLY STANDARD has now learned of a second, more stunning error in Tenet's book (which is due to appear in bookstores tomorrow). According to Michiko Kakutani's review in Saturday's Times,
On the day after 9/11, he [Tenet] adds, he ran into Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative and the head of the Defense Policy Board, coming out of the White House. He says Mr. Perle turned to him and said: "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility."
Here's the problem: Richard Perle was in France on that day, unable to fly back after September 11. In fact Perle did not return to the United States until September 15.

Did Tenet perhaps merely get the date of this encounter wrong? Well, the quote Tenet ascribes to Perle hinges on the encounter taking place September 12: "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday." And Perle in any case categorically denies to THE WEEKLY STANDARD ever having said any such thing to Tenet, while coming out of the White House or anywhere else...

By the way, Dean Esmay is starting a wiki to hold facts about Iraq. It will be a resource to go to to fight the myriad lies that we are always struggling against. I recommend that those who value truth get involved with it.

* Update: On the other hand, we were laughing about what a perfect object lesson our overpass collapse is just as all the sludge-brained American-hating conspiracy theorists are saying "fire can't melt steel." But God must not have a sense of humor or it would have collapsed just as Rosie O'Donnell was driving over it...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:21 AM

April 29, 2007

Book recommendation...

Charlene got this book, Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (I mentioned her here) from the library on Friday, and hasn't put it down since. And intends to purchase it. I tried to get her to write a little wee something for the blog, but she's shy. But I've read part of it myself, and it's very good.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:11 PM

"The present is vitally important, as the instant that will never come again..."

Archbishop Chaput of Denver has a great essay in First Things, Religion and the Common Good...

....Two themes dominate these last essays by Bernanos. The first is man’s eagerness to abolish, forget, or rewrite his own history in favor of determinisms like liberal capitalism, which makes society nothing more than a market system, and Marxism. For Bernanos, the attack on human memory and history is a primary mark of the Antichrist.

As Bernanos explains it, big ideological systems “mechanize” history with high-sounding language like progress and dialectics. But in doing so, they wipe out the importance of both the past—which they describe as primitive, unenlightened, or counterrevolutionary—and the present, which is not yet the paradise of tomorrow. The future is where salvation is to be found for every ideology that tries to eliminate God, whether it’s explicitly atheistic or pays lip service to religious values. Of course, this future never arrives, because progress never stops and the dialectic never ends.

Christianity and Judaism see life very differently. For both of them, history is a place of human decision. At every moment of our lives, we’re asked to choose for good or for evil. Therefore, time has weight. It has meaning. The present is vitally important as the instant that will never come again; the moment where we are not determined by outside forces but self-determined by our free will. Our past actions make us who we are today. But each “today” also offers us another chance to change our developing history. The future is the fruit of our past and present choices, but it’s always unknown, because each successive moment presents us with a new possibility.

Time and freedom are the raw material of life because time is the realm of human choice. Bernanos reminds us that the Antichrist wants us to think that freedom really doesn’t exist, because when we fail to choose, when we slide through life, we in effect choose for him...

I may look like a know-it-all, but really I have more questions than answers. But that's OK, my first intellectual mentor was Peter Drucker, and he always taught that what is most important is discovering what question it is that you are actually asking. Or should be asking. (I rarely mention Drucker, but his way of looking at things I long ago absorbed. If you ever read him, by the way, don't read for facts. He sometimes just made them up, to illustrate his parables! He was really teaching how to look at problems.)

"...At every moment of our lives, we’re asked to choose for good or for evil. Therefore, time has weight. It has meaning. The present is vitally important..."

That's what it's like to be a Christian. (Which I really wasn't until recently—just nominally Christian, like so many people.) One nagging question (which underlies a lot of my other questions) is, why would anyone wish to live where time lacks "weight and meaning?" I've been there, I can understand how it happens. But I can't understand being content with it, as so many seem to be. Don't other people have the restlessness I had? Don't they want to be part of the Story? Part of the Great Game? Part of The Tale? It's kind of mysterious to me.

In fact it's hugely mysterious. I can understand not believing; our whole zeitgeist preaches unbelief. (Newman, clearest of all thinkers, might say, "It's not hard to believe such-and-such, it is hard to imagine it." That's often true.) It's the supine sleepiness that many people seem to have that bewilders me. I can just imagine certain people I know looking at me with puzzlement and saying "Why do you care about this?"

I've been guilty myself, by the way,of thinking that progress gives meaning to things, and that the past and present can be dis-valued in favor of the better future that's coming sooner or later. That has nothing to do with whether the progress is itself good or bad. But it's a kind of first cousin to totalitarian thinking, and it is definitely a way of trying to have meaning and purpose without God.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:27 AM

April 28, 2007


Apparently the al Queda honcho Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, who we have stashed at Gitmo...is the guy who, among many many nasty deeds, organized the London Tube bombing that killed 52 people.

So the Brits are happy, right? The info this guy has will may help them them to save innocent lives. That's good, right?

Ha ha ha, what a stupid notion. There's a hitch. Dafydd writes:

...Because Tony Blair's government has gone on record demanding that we shut down Camp X-Ray at Guantánamo Bay and end all interrogations there, it just doesn't seem, well, entirely cricket for agents of MI5 and MI6 to trundle off to the place they don't believe should exist, to interrogate people they don't believe should be at the place that oughtn't exist -- and possibly even use techniques that should never be used on the people who shouldn't be at the place that oughtn't exist in the first instance....

Of course there will be a work-around. The info will be extracted by the Yanks, while the Brits posture and preen in their moral superiority, and spit on us.

Jerks. Phonies. Frauds. If I was running things I'd publicly announce that al Iraqi had spilled LOTS of beans, including plots against Britain, but we are so impressed by the prodigious moral purity of Britain, as compared to us dirty horrid Americans, that of course we will honor their wishes and tell them none of it.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:34 PM

What's wrong with this picture...

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today released the following statement after the Senate approved the supplemental funding bill that sets a target date to remove U.S. combat troops from Iraq:

“We are one signature away from ending the Iraq War. President Bush must listen to the will of the American people and sign this bill so that our troops can come home.”...

"...ending the Iraq War" I hate to break it to you, Mr O-bam, but those funny brown-skinned people you see on the TV are not computer animations, they are real human beings. And if an early departure by us makes things get much more bloody and violent in Iraq, they are not going to look at each other and say, "Well, at least let's thank God the WAR is over!"

I once wrote ...For a lot of people here the world is like a vast darkened hall with small mechanical puppet-theaters scattered about. And the little puppet stages only turn on when an American comes near. Then the lights come on, the music plays, and the little puppets dance and sing...

We see this a lot. Of course the great example was Vietnam. The fake-pacifists were patting themselves on the back for "ending the war," even as 15 North Vietnamese divisions were smashing into South Vietnam, even as millions were being slaughtered in Cambodia, even as millions more were fleeing in any boat they could find.

They called that PEACE! Blessed are the peacemakers, baby!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:10 AM

April 27, 2007

If a future missile attack on the US is thwarted...

...thank a Republican.

The U.S. military destroyed a cruise missile and a short-range ballistic missile during a test Thursday over the Pacific, the first time two test targets were intercepted simultaneously, the Missile Defense Agency said.

The military fired the short-range missile from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. A Navy plane fired the cruise missile target used in the test. Sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie fired back.

"The test demonstrated the USS Lake Erie's ability to engage a ballistic missile threat and defend itself from attack at the same time," the agency said in a statement...
[Link. Thanks to Penraker.]

It's pretty strange when you stop to think about it, but a constant theme for most of my adult life has been Democrats desperately trying to prevent us developing any defense against incoming missiles of any sort. Really, their visceral hatred of the idea is WIERD! It seems to go way beyond their usual antipathy to national defense.

Dems are less likely than Republicans to vote to spend money on a carrier, or a new tank. But they do vote for such things, they do accept the necessity of them. But they always seem to oppose missile defense.

One wonders if their anti-Americanism runs deeper than we realize, and perhaps they think we should suffer lightning bolts from above?

Posted by John Weidner at 5:28 PM

Another good read...

Along with Yon's piece you might want to read one by Rocco DiPippo in American Thinker: Hypocrisy has a Human Price on the Streets of Baghdad:

....There were other stunning differences between that trip, and the one I'd taken in December.

On the December trip I had seen abandoned shops and frightened people. On the latest one I saw many shops opened and people going about their business in what appeared to be a relaxed manner. On the first trip I saw cars and trucks in gas lines that stretched for miles. On the latest trip, though gas lines existed, they were far shorter, and looked about as long as those experienced by Americans at the height of the 1970s oil crisis. On the first trip I saw nothing but ruin: houses and other buildings in derelict condition, most appearing unfit for human habitation. On the latest trip I still saw many houses in poor condition, but I also saw homes being built, and a good number of existing houses and storefronts being repaired

As the miles clicked by and I viewed the passing scenes and the people in them, I realized I was seeing widespread signs of something I hadn't seen much of four months ago: I was seeing Hope. I saw that Iraqis had not yet given up on their lives or their country. I saw widespread evidence they are rebuilding both.

A simple thing is kindling that hope, and it is a thing being affected by the new security plan: the just imposition of basic law and order...

Of course it's hard to get the big picture from tiny slices seen by a few writers. Iraq is a big confusing place. That's why the gross failure of our mainstream media to cover the War on Terror honestly is such a terrible evil. And why the rise of the new media is so desperately important. Without it the Old Media can tell any lie, and ordinary Americans have no way to check. (Personally, I think President Bush should be asking Americans to sacrifice for the war effort---by investing time in reading blogs!) The classic example of such a lie was Walter Cronkite and the press telling the American people that the Tet Offensive was a defeat. In simple fact it was a huge victory for American and South Vietnamese forces, and the Viet Cong were never a significant factor in the war afterwards.

But the lie created a political defeat that ended in millions of deaths, and tens-of-mmilions of people being sold into communist slavery. And that's exactly what the the Left, the Democrat Party, the media and the "pacifists' are trying to do again.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:41 AM

Latest from Yon

Don't miss the latest photo essay from Michael Yon, embedded in Iraq...

...Combat soldiers can sleep anywhere: leaning curled in hallway steps , with bricks as pillows. With practically nobody here to tell the stories of their hard work, sacrifice and heartening professionalism, we have left our soldiers behind in this war...

...When we came back into the library, a soldier was awake and up on a ladder. A company commander, maybe it was Captain Cook, asked something like, “What are you doing?”
“Looking for something to read, Sir.”
“Nope. This doesn’t belong to us. Get down from there and leave the books alone.”
“Yes Sir,” and the young soldier crawled down...

...Standing in the dark library, I wondered if the people of who studied and taught at this place had said a prayer before they left, beseeching God to protect their school, their books, their sanctuary.

On the roof one night, American artillery boomed through darkness and distance, and then after long pause, far in a different direction, an orange flash appeared, and finally a small rumble, and then more.

Car bombs that folks at home can see on the news, and read about in the papers —‘More than 50 killed in Baghdad attack today,’ ‘32 killed in Baghdad Car Bombing,’ ‘At least 40 Victims in Latest Iraq Bombing’—can be heard from the college.

Some soldiers wonder how many booms of death they hear over the course of a year—it’s next to impossible to keep an accurate count; explosions come from so many places here. Drifting into the smell of fine books in that library, there might have been a shudder from those shelves. Over the course of the war, the rumbles and crackles of thousands of human deaths must have coursed through these books. On the first night, after the raid, a chill from sweaty clothes caused me to shiver as I fell asleep hungry on the library floor....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:00 AM

April 26, 2007

Good answer...

Naomi Wolf says: "America is turning into a fascist society."

Kathy Shaidle: "Then why aren't you a lampshade?"

Posted by John Weidner at 11:53 AM

April 25, 2007

Poking the hornet's nest is a good thing...

Good, from Rudy...

..."If one of them gets elected, it sounds to me like we're going on the defense," he said. "We've got a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. We're going to wave the white flag there. We're going to try to cut back on the Patriot Act. We're going to cut back on electronic surveillance. We're going to cut back on interrogation. We're going to cut back, cut back, cut back, and we'll be back in our pre-September 11 mentality of being on defense."

Giuliani said he believes the United States ultimately will win the war on terrorism, regardless of whether the country is led by Republican or Democratic presidents, but added that Republicans will do a better job of keeping the country safe, with fewer losses.

"The question is going to be, how long does it take [to win that war] and how many losses will we have along the way. And I truly believe that, if we go back on defense for a period of time, we're going to ultimately have more losses and it's going to go on much longer," the former mayor said...
(Thanks to Captain Ed)

That's the simple truth. We tried "being on the defensive" for decades. The result was the rise of al Qaeda. It is vital to go on the offense, to pursue them, to not give them rest to plan new 9/11's.

But how do you go on the offense against shadowy guerillas who rarely come out for an open fight? That's my question for you Democrats. (Yes, I know, I'm wasting my electrons. Democrats don't use logic. Just mushy emotions and habits. Oh well, I try.)

How do you do it? You do something they can't tolerate, so they have to come out and attack you. That's GOOD. In any kind of guerilla warfare, if you are in a fight with your elusive enemy, that's a good thing. Any sensible Democrats out there, your leaders are deceiving you.

Essentially, what they are saying is, "We've made al Qaeda mad at us. That was bad, let's pull out." No, mad at us is GOOD. We want to do things that make them come out and fight. And the Iraq Campaign was, and is, a splendid strategic move in just that way. (Yes, I know it's messy and bloody and we've made mistakes. But sorry, this is war. Our other major wars have been much bloodier, and the mistakes were much bigger. Trust me, I'm big on history. I know this stuff. I can show you.)

The US in Iraq, which is part of the Arab heartland, was a move al Qaeda could not ignore. A democratic and prosperous Iraq is a nightmare to them. They have to fight. And fight on unfavorable terrain. Why unfavorable? Because their only option was to ally with the Sunni Arabs. So they were forced into conflict with 80% of the population! (And because Iraq is so divided, it's favorable ground for us. We are always going to have allies there, no matter how many mistakes we make.)

This strategic terrain remains the same as it was in 2003.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:02 AM

April 24, 2007

Cynical, indeed...

The Vice President's remarks today at Congress...

VPOTUS: I usually avoid press comment when i'm up here, but I felt so strongly about what senator Reid said in the last couple of days that I thought it was appropriate that I come out today and make a statement that I think needs to be made. I thought his speech yesterday was unfortunate, that his comments were uninformed and misleading. Senator Reid has taken many positions on iraq. He has threatened that if the president vetoes the current pending supplemental legislation that he will send up Senator Russ Feingold's bill to defund iraq operations altogether. Yet only last november, Senator Reid said there would be no cut-off of funds for the military in Iraq. So in less than six months time, Senator Reid has gone from pledging full funding for the military, then full funding with conditions, and then a cut-off of funding. Three positions in five months on the most important foreign policy question facing the nation and our troops.

Yesterday, Senator Reid said the troop surge was against the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. That is plainly false. The Iraq Study Group report was explicitly favorable toward a troop surge to secure Baghdad. Senator Reid said there should be a regional conference on Iraq. Apparently he didn't know that there is going to be one next week. Senator Reid said he doesn't have real substantive meetings with the president. Yet immediately following last week's meeting at the White House, he said it was a good exchange. Everyone voiced their considered opinion about the war in Iraq, end quote. What's most troubling about Senator Reid's comments yesterday is his defeatism. Indeed, last week he said the war is already lost. And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat. Maybe it's a political calculation. Some Democratic leaders seem to believe that blind opposition to the new strategy in Iraq is good politics. Senator Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election. It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage. Leaders should make decisions based on the security interest of our country, not on the interest of their political party. Thank you.

Good. Stick it to them, Mr Vice President, they richly deserve it.

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

Posted by John Weidner at 2:25 PM

Good good good....probably won't happen

This is not only a stunningly good idea, but a fascinating psychological test. I bet you could show this to 100 Bush-haters, and not one of them would say, "Hmmm, maybe I'm a bit off about this guy." And you could show it to a hundred NRO-type conservatives, and none would say, "Hmm. This is a profoundly conservative idea." When it comes to Bush, minds are closed!

[IHT]....It was here in Kansas City, at the 2005 food aid conference, that the Bush administration pushed for a fundamental change that would have diminished profits to domestic agribusiness and shipping companies. It proposed allowing a quarter of the Food for Peace budget to be used to buy food in poor countries near hunger crises, rather than buying only U.S.-grown food that had to be shipped across oceans.

And Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns spoke at the conference on Wednesday to make the administration's case for the same idea, contending that such a policy would speed delivery, improve efficiency and save many lives.

Congress in each of the past two years killed the proposal, which was opposed by agribusiness and shipping interests who stood to lose business, even as it won support from liberal Democrats like Representatives Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon....

Of course a "conservative idea" that appeals to Barney Frank sounds a wee bit paradoxical. That's because the traditional conservative position would be that we should not be giving charity to poor countries or people at all, because it will weaken them and make them dependent. Which is true, and it's likely that one of the reasons Africa needs so much food aid is because it gets so much. [Good read: For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid! by Kenyan economist James Shikwati.]

BUT, we are not going to stop giving food aid as long as there are horrible famines in the world. It ain't gonna happen. So the next best thing is to buy food in Uganda for the famine in Kenya. That makes agriculture in Uganda more profitable, keeps prices up, which leads to investments that make future famines less likely. It rewards productive farmers, rather than penalizing them by dumping cheap food on the market.

By the way, there is no place in the world that suffers famines because it is overpopulated. That is a lie spread by the Culture of Death. The world has enough arable land to feed far more than its present population. If I had more time it would be fun to find the average output of farmland in the US, and then find out the total acreage of farmland on the planet, and extrapolate how many people the world could feed, at present levels of farming technology. I bet it would be surprisingly large.

As for my own feelings about Bush, I just want to scream because he isn't doing more! Especially, asking the American people to realize that we are in an information war, and that they should be making sacrifices in wartime—not in this case material sacrifices, but the psychological sacrifice of swimming against the current of lefty defeatism, and against the torrent of falsehoods that the news media broadcast. BUT, on the other hand, there is hardly a month goes by that I don't see some story like this one, of transformative things being tried by this administration. Ideas that, if they take hold, will bear fruit over generations.

Which is the real reason that brain-dead lefties and Quakers hate Bush. The tectonic plates are shifting under their feet, and Bush is the symbol of change. They have no beliefs that will give them traction when the floor starts tilting, so they turn their angry bewilderment on a symbol...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:08 PM

Too true, very funny...

Don't miss this one. The Big White Lie, by Andrew Klavan...

The thing I like best about being a conservative is that I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to pretend that men and women are the same. I don’t have to declare that failed or oppressive cultures are as good as mine. I don’t have to say that everyone’s special or that the rich cause poverty or that all religions are a path to God. I don’t have to claim that a bad writer like Alice Walker is a good one or that a good writer like Toni Morrison is a great one. I don’t have to pretend that Islam means peace.

Of course, like everything, this candor has its price. A politics that depends on honesty will be, by nature, often impolite. Good manners and hypocrisy are intimately intertwined, and so conservatives, with their gimlet-eyed view of the world, are always susceptible to charges of incivility. It’s not really nice, you know, to describe things as they are.

This is leftism’s great strength: it’s all white lies. That’s its only advantage, as far as I can tell. None of its programs actually works, after all. From statism and income redistribution to liberalized criminal laws and multiculturalism, from its assault on religion to its redefinition of family, leftist policies have made the common life worse wherever they’re installed. But because it depends on—indeed is defined by—describing the human condition inaccurately, leftism is nothing if not polite. With its tortuous attempts to rename unpleasant facts out of existence—he’s not crippled, dear, he’s handicapped; it’s not a slum, it’s an inner city; it’s not surrender, it’s redeployment—leftism has outlived its own failure by hiding itself within the most labyrinthine construct of social delicacy since Victoria was queen.

This is no small thing. To rewrite the rules of courteous behavior is to wield enormous power...(thanks to Orrin)

It's all so true; it's the ground rules of my daily existence. Keep my mouth shut, don't tell the truth! How long could I circulate in San Francisco if I told people that the main reason Iraqis are being slaughtered by car bombs is to elect defeatist Democrats so the US will abandon Iraq and be crippled in the War on Terror? That my fellow citizens—soft-headed "liberals almost all of them—are teaching terrorists to put truck bombs in marketplaces? Rewarding them for every dead woman and child? Ensuring that this behavior will go on for long into the future?

Ha ha ha. Mum's the word.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:13 AM

April 23, 2007


There are times that present us with people and events that just beg for derision, and derisionist Scott Ott is on a roll right now...

Reid Supports the Troops Who Lost the War

by Scott Ott
(2007-04-20) — Attempting to clarify yesterday’s statement that the war in Iraq is “lost“, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that he “supports the troops who lost the war.”

In an audiotape recorded from an undisclosed location and released through Al-Jazeera TV, Sen. Reid said, “The troops who lost the war should hold their heads high, because not everyone can be a winner, and they gave it a good try.”

CIA analysis of the tape indicates the voice is “almost certainly” Sen. Reid’s and that references to recent events show that the Democrat leader may still be at large, in good health and “substantially in charge” of his network of Democrat senators.

On the tape, Sen. Reid also said, “It’s not the fault of our troops that they represent an evil regime, or that they wear the uniform of the nation viewed by many as ‘the Great Satan.’”

The Nevada Democrat said he looks forward to welcoming the troops home, so that many of them can “lay down their weapons and return to the world of decent and honorable work.”
Posted by John Weidner at 12:34 PM

Reluctance to engage with reality...

Mark Steyn, on you know what...

...The "gun-free zone" fraud isn't just about banning firearms or even a symptom of academia's distaste for an entire sensibility of which the Second Amendment is part and parcel but part of a deeper reluctance of critical segments of our culture to engage with reality. Michelle Malkin wrote a column a few days ago connecting the prohibition against physical self-defense with "the erosion of intellectual self-defense," and the retreat of college campuses into a smothering security blanket of speech codes and "safe spaces" that's the very opposite of the principles of honest enquiry and vigorous debate on which university life was founded. And so we "fear guns," and "verbal violence," and excessively realistic swashbuckling in the varsity production of ''The Three Musketeers.'' What kind of functioning society can emerge from such a cocoon?

The day after the Virginia Tech killings, I posted this, (about my earlier suggestions of "throwing things" as a response to killers) and in the comments Andrew chided me for my insensitivity, for saying "I told ya so" so soon. And I felt a bit abashed.

But thinking about it again, NO. The hell with being "sensitive." Andrew, that's the attitude that killed those people, and you are a part of it. "We must all be sensitive and caring and grieve together blah blah blah." The glorification of weakness and weepy-drippy sensitivity is exactly what led to the students of Virginia Tech being helpless sheep, instead of knowing how to defend themselves. They died because their teachers and parents and churches didn't prepare them for life's dangers, and didn't prepare them, psychologically and spiritually, for the way life can present you with life-or-death choices at any instant.

And some other people who are real experts have exactly the same advice as I gave. (I said it way back in two-thousand and blankety-blank ONE!It was even picked up by Glenn Reynolds. Nobody listened, of course.) AND, if you read the following, those guys are being intentionally ignored too. And so more students will die the next time, killed by "educators" and "Democrats" and hippie pacifists and all the drooling idiots who think bad things will go away if we think nice thoughts...

...But merely putting forth the notion of resistance to killers is now politically incorrect. A Fort Worth school district recently hired a security outfit called Response Options.

It was founded by retired SWAT cops appalled by the Columbine massacre. They decided to do something about it and came up with a program that taught teachers and children, if someone with a gun came into their classroom, to throw everything at him that came to hand, and swarm him to bring him down.

The rationale is the school shooter is beyond reason. He is there simply to kill. There is no reasoning with such animals. And by attacking, there is a better chance of survival for the largest number of potential victims.

As trainer Robert Browne of Response Options told the press at the time: "Getting under the desk and doing what the gunman tells you ... that's not a recipe for success."

But when news got out, the school district backed off from the program.

One wonders what might have been for the victims at Virginia Tech had anyone in the building been armed or if, at least been trained in defence against such monsters the way they were trained in fire drills as children.
Posted by John Weidner at 6:04 AM

April 22, 2007

Sunday pot-luck...

What gives your life focus and direction? Death.

Without faith, everything the natural man thinks, says and does is conditioned by the fact of death. In the face of our ultimate death we are, by default, either Epicureans or Stoics. The first face death and determine to gather from this life what little morsels of comfort and pleasure that can be had. In the face of death the second type of person creates whatever meaning for his little life he can muster, and does whatever noble acts he can manage before the lights go out.

Of course your ordinary Joe and Jane don't consciously decide that they are either an Epicurean or a Stoic, but whether they wear the badge or not, these are the only two choices. You see it played out in their lives. Are they living for pleasure and comfort (even if they do so in a tasteful and 'nice' way)? Then they are Epicureans. Are they quietly pessimistic, cynical or complacent and seemingly 'content with their lot'? They are Stoics.

Christians, on the other hand, have been captivated by the resurrection. This historical fact changes everything. It means their lodestar is not death, but life. Life everlasting becomes a possibility, so life here on earth takes on a totally new dimension of meaning. The truly Christian soul lives every moment with a different perspective. The new life charges everything with a new inner dynamism. For the Epicurean and Stoic nothing in this world really matters because it will all pass away when they breathe their last.

For the Christian everything matters because through the resurrection 'the world is charged with the glory of God.' Because everything lives, everything matters. Most of all, because every soul is eternal every person matters.

If I believe this is true, the only question that remains is, "What am I going to do about it?"

      --Fr. Dwight Longenecker


I don't think Fr. Longenecker is quite right about everybody except Christians being either Epicureans or Stoics. There are still lots of non-religious people around who seem to live their lives as if there were things greater than themselves, and causes worthy of great sacrifice. For whom things "really matter." Some of them read this blog. My constant worry—obsession even—is the question of whether this virtue may be a "wasting asset." Is it a human constant, or is it a "habit" inherited from previous generations who had more faith and lived with greater dangers? And thus something that will diminish in this soft self-indulgent age?

Posted by John Weidner at 6:06 AM

April 21, 2007

Rather cool cabinets...

...though it's I what says it. I installed these a few days ago. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to photograph them, because the space is too small to stand far enough back! (It's in a short hall branching off from another hall.) Also, they are lighted cabinets, but the electrician has not yet connected my wires to the line. I'll show you my sketch below the fold, so you can get the big picture...

Cabinet with glass doors and shelves

Cabinet sketch
(This is drawn with the formidable Google SketchUp Pro, without which I do not know how I ever lived. You can download a free version of Sketchup that does almost everything the pro version does, except it won't export as well.)

Posted by John Weidner at 5:03 PM

"Both have mutated in interaction, or perhaps have become that which they really were"

From an article by By Katherine Kersten, Minneapolis Star Tribune...

...Canada, our neighbor to the north, is farther down the "accommodations" road. A glance north can shed light on whether prayer spaces and ritual washing facilities are likely to satisfy activists for long.

Last month, the Canadian Federation of Students issued a report, titled "Final Report of the Task Force on Needs of Muslim Students," that calls for sweeping changes at the country's institutions of higher education. The federation represents more than 500,000 students across Canada, about half of the nation's total. While the report focuses on Ontario, its conclusions are applicable across the country and internationally, said Jesse Greener, the Federation's Ontario chairperson.

Some recommended changes could affect all students. For example, the report criticizes Canada's loan-based system of financing higher education and calls for outright grants to students. "Education related government loans should not accumulate interest," it says, since Islam "opposes usury and involvement with interest-bearing loans." Other changes would be more focused. The report endorses "women-only" time at athletic facilities, and urges colleges to "provide curtains or screens over the observation windows" when women are using the pool.

The report calls not just for Muslim-only prayer space but for "multiple prayer spaces" with "easy access" from all over campus. All new building plans should include prayer space and ritual washing facilities if necessary, it adds.

Food service workers must learn to prepare halal food, which is ritually slaughtered and otherwise permissible under Sharia law. After preparing non-halal food, staff must "change sanitary gloves and wash cutlery and surfaces" to avoid contaminating halal food.

What if a campus fails to make these changes, and others like them? It is guilty, says the report, of "Islamophobia" -- an "emerging form of racism,".....
[There's more of this in the article. (You knew that, didn't you?)]

The thoughts one might think about this are too many for a mere blogpost, and I'm too busy anyway. But here are a couple of mine...

On the surface level, this is just another Lefty group, robotically applying, as they have done a thousand times before, the template of the Civil Rights Movement to create a wedge issue, and increase their own power, and bully and silence ordinary people. The fact that they are working against thier own professed "progressive" values means nothing, since they don't really believe in those.

Deeper than that, I think I will just re-post this beautiful bit from Belmont Club:

...the observation that both the Left and Islamism react together to produce an extremely toxic combination which neither could have achieved alone. It takes some reflection to remember just how far both the notions of Islamism and Leftism have moved since September 11. The former was an unknown towards which the man in the street would have been indifferent while the latter was a kind of eccentricity, rough yet without danger. Neither will be again. Both have mutated in interaction or perhaps have become that which they really were.

Both are struggling for the space in which conservatism can never go and for the prize which no sane man ever covets: the dominion of souls. Without their mutual presence either could have occupied a kind of cultural sanctuary in which they would brood, proof against interference from people with simple day jobs. Together they guarantee that their places of safety, every media outlet, every school and every place of worship will be transformed into arenas of unparalleled ferocity -- to the possible benefit of the world. Is the Global War on Terror necessarily against the Left? We shall see. We shall see....
[link to the original essay]

[My belief is that we are now in the stage of early skirmishes in the real war. We are still peering through the dust and smoke of the first explosions, and it will be a while before lines are firmly pencilled onto the maps. "The prize which no sane man ever covets." Keep that one in mind.]

Posted by John Weidner at 1:21 PM

April 19, 2007

Sheer lunacy...

Hugh Hewitt, on NBC's decision to publish the pictures and video sent to them by the Virginia Tech killer...

....I would have published --instantly-- the text of the killer's statement's for the public to read, but I would have denied the killer the instant video glorification he so obviously desired, an immortalization which other deranged killers of the future will almost certainly seek to emulate. NBC decided differently...

...Two days ago I shared a stage with NBC News president Steve Capus. Earlier today I commented on what I considered to be his cluelessness about the contempt in which MSM is held as well as my amazement at Capus' pride in MSM's Katrina coverage. Tonight I am dumbfounded by his --and his colleagues'-- decision-making in this matter. Instantly their decision to air the video and publish the pictures revolted vast numbers of ordinary Americans of all political opinions. (My sister-in-law, a very, very liberal individual, just said to me that "I don't recall ever hearing of anything so irresponsible.") I heard an outraged clinical psychiatrist from NYU University denouncing the decision in the harshest terms on Los Angeles radio station KNX.

The airing of the pictures and video is obviously a hurtful and destructive act, one that will prime many killing pumps in the years ahead, and one obviously made on the fly by individuals of almost no experience with or curiosity about the deranged mind. Would it have killed Capus et al to ask around a bit about what to do? Of course not, but their decision could indeed kill others down the road. They acted as their own guides, because that is the way the business works. In their very, very closed world, it made sense. To the vast majority of Americans it was an appalling, horrific decision, far worse than what Don Imus had to say last week...

It's pretty obvious that how people "act out" insanity is partly learned behavior. An Indonesian will likely go "Mataglap" and suddenly run down the street slashing people with a Kris. In other places such a thing never happens. He's learned that from his culture.

Our news media are teaching people that the way to go crazy is to get a gun and shoot a lot of people. (And to send a video to NBC, to give you a moment of crazy glory!!)

I remember when the news of Columbine broke, and I was unfortunately stuck in a place where I had to listen to the radio. And so I spent a couple of miserable hours while news idiots talked to each other, saying over and over and over, "We don't know what happened, but apparently there's been a shooting." It was like some crazy experiment in hypnotic conditioning. If I ever go nuts it is more likely, because of that, that I might shoot something up. (You Lefties can relax, I never watch television, so I'm probably the least likely to ever do such a thing. If I go mad there will barrages of blog-posts.)

Actually, there should by law be a news blackout on coverage of these things. that's so obvious it will never happen..

Posted by John Weidner at 7:20 AM

April 18, 2007

Universities are for teaching. But for teaching what?

Dafydd has a great post you should read about Virginia Tech that covers things I was groping towards yesterday...

....But what about the other presumably adult men and women at that campus? Most were nowhere near the scene and therefore never had the opportunity to test their courage, their honor, and their worth. This is a minor tragedy in itself; it's the subject of one of the greatest poems ever written in English: "Elegy Written In a Country Churchyard," by Thomas Gray.

But there are others; there are also those who were there, who were close by. What did they do? How did they acquit themselves?

Did they gather those around them and hurry with them to safety? Did they save themselves? Each of these is a minor virtue, and I don't want to knock it. Sometimes, such minor virtues are all that a person can achieve, given the time, place, and opportunity.

But surely there must have come a time when a man or woman, hiding not far away, saw that the gunman had turned his back. What that person did in that moment is the true assay of character.

Maybe someone charged at the gunman -- but foul fate intervened, and the butcher heard, turned, and added another victim to his hellish toll. Anyone so killed is as heroic as Professor Librescu.

But -- and I hate the thought, even as it screams insistently -- it is virtually inevitable that there were others who were there, who saw an opportunity, but who were frozen to the spot with dread. Or else they talked themselves into believing that there was nothing they could do. Or worst of all... some must have done nothing because they had been carefully taught that "nothing" was what they were supposed to do. I cannot help thinking that for many students at Virginia Tech yesterday, just as for the fifteen British sailors and marines, "fighting back was not an option," because to them, it is never an option....

The world we live in teaches us, constantly, in a thousand different ways, that the only important thing is ME. And the most important thing is to keep ME safe and comfortable and alive. It didn't use to be this way, past societies always honored heroes,and those who made honorable choices at the risk of their lives.

The lesson the world teaches is nihilism. That nothing really matters, except keeping ME alive and happy. (And even the "alive" part is conditional, if I get old and suffer I should chose euthanasia!) The lesson is always disguised, because few people will admit to being nihilists. It's often disguised as Leftism: All that's important is rights, not responsibilities. Or pacifism and Quakerism: Gandhi and Jesus want us to be sheep. Or hippie-dippy spiritualism: I'm not interested, I've found peace.

What our teachers and leaders should be teaching us is that any moment we may have to make a life-or-death decision. And that there are worse things than dying. And that death may be preferable to dishonor. But very little in our culture teaches those things. It's not just because of hatred of Bush and hatred of America that there are no headlines when one of our troops is awarded a medal!

It's painful to think about how the concept of "honor" has almost disappeared. Though it was often a bit ridiculous, with swaggering D'Artagnan's fighting over trifles, it was also the secular equivalent of Christian self-sacrifice, and the valuing of things of the spirit above mere selfishness and survival. You can be sure the professors and administrators of Virginia Tech would reject honor with a sneer...

It's no accident that the same people hate The Church and hate honor. They are intimately connected. Honor is dependent on people believing�somehow, deep down�that there is more to life than just "me." It is a religious idea. Where faith dies honor will die too, by and by. That's what I'm suspecting, anyway. Recent example: the Royal Navy.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:47 AM

April 17, 2007

In the midst of the rivers...

Alaa, The Mesopotamian, is back. He's worth reading, and this post is especially interesting...

....Regarding the situation in Iraq, again, events are unfolding in a way that I fully anticipated before. Remember how I emphasized the importance of two things. The first was the Zarqawi document. I proclaimed it to be the single most important and prophetic document in this whole Third Gulf War affair. Remember how little confidence he had in the Sunnis, and his final prophetic derisive remark: "after all they are Iraqis, too". Yes the Sunnis are proving to be finally Iraqi above all, and the end of the Al Qaeda-Wahabi scourge is going to be at the hand of these very Sunnis on whom they counted to base their Taliban-like Caliphate. The second thing: my emphasis on the "Anbar Slavation Council", and the necessity to promote and support this movement. The Al-Qaeda terrorists are defeating themselves by their blind brutality against all who oppose them. Also their stifling ideology simply cannot be tolerated long by the Iraqis that I know from any sect and ethnicity. Well the snow-ball effect has started and it would be very stupid not to invest in this natural movement which has already proved its tremendous effectiveness, having almost already cleaned the Anbar, with very modest numbers of poorly armed tribesmen. But these tribesmen know exactly where to find the enemy. Besides, this is a very good antidote to sectarianism. Sectarian civil war is receding now, as most Shiaas and Sunnis have both a common enemy now.

As the Iraqis have surprised the World before during events such as elections and the like, I expect the World has a very big surprise in store in the not too distant future. The haters, doubters, defeatists, anti-Amrica psychopaths etc. are going to have some very nasty surprises. This apparently endless and unresovable conflict is going to be suddenly and incredibly concluded in an abrupt and rather anticlimatic manner, and that before the end of the Bush term, too. This is my prophesy, and also my fervent hope. Despite all the errors, sacrifices, bloodshed and suffering, Iraq, our beloved Mesopotamia is going to emerge more united than ever and Sunni, Shiaa , Kurd and all other ingredients of Iraqi society are going to live in a harmony unknown in all their long history. This is my prediction and my dream. Have I ever told you anything before that has not been vindicated by the unfolding events ?

Best regards to all my friends.

I for one would not be completely astonished...

(Thanks to Penraker)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:12 PM

We never learn..

The news about the mass murder at Virginia Tech is very sad, For me it's extra depressing, because it's a near certainty that if people had followed my advice, given back in 2001 and subsequently, most of those people would still be alive...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:06 AM

Must see...

Mike Plaiss sent me this link, to a video of a fascinating talk by a Swedish professor about world trends, especially whether the Third world really is as we imagine it.

It's worth seeing, if only for the cool computer graphics. But it will make you think, too.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:25 AM

April 16, 2007

Results of experiment are in...

Case Closed: Tax cuts mean growth. By Fred Thompson

...but there is reason to smile this tax season. The results of the experiment that began when Congress passed a series of tax-rate cuts in 2001 and 2003 are in. Supporters of those cuts said they would stimulate the economy. Opponents predicted ever-increasing budget deficits and national bankruptcy unless tax rates were increased, especially on the wealthy.

In fact, Treasury statistics show that tax revenues have soared and the budget deficit has been shrinking faster than even the optimists projected. Since the first tax cuts were passed, when I was in the Senate, the budget deficit has been cut in half.

Remarkably, this has happened despite the financial trauma of 9/11 and the cost of the War on Terror. The deficit, compared to the entire economy, is well below the average for the last 35 years and, at this rate, the budget will be in surplus by 2010.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this success story is where the increased revenues are coming from. Critics claimed that across-the-board tax cuts were some sort of gift to the rich but, on the contrary, the wealthy are paying a greater percentage of the national bill than ever before.

The richest 1% of Americans now pays 35% of all income taxes. The top 10% pay more taxes than the bottom 60%....

Tax cuts result in the rich paying a bigger share. And the maddening thing is that it's impossible to 'tell" this to most people. They just can't hear it. Their little brains reject the alien idea.

It was the same thing with the Reagan tax cuts. The percentage of taxes paid by those in the upper brackets increased. But my efforts to communicate this fact to others was hopeless...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:18 PM

April 14, 2007

Wright on Easter

....And whatever Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were doing in writing the final sections of their books, they were not telling the story of Jesus's resurrection as a happy ending. They were telling it as a startling new beginning. Easter morning isn't a slow, gentle waking up after the difficult operation. It's the electric shock that brings someone back to life in a whole new way.

That's why the Easter stories tumble out in bits and pieces, with breathless chasings to and fro and garbled reports - and then, stories like nothing else before or since. As the great New Testament scholar EP Sanders put it, the writers were trying to describe an experience that does not fit a known category. They knew all about ghosts and visions, and they knew it wasn't anything like that.

Equally, they knew the risen Jesus wasn't just a resuscitated corpse, still less someone who had almost died but managed to stagger on after all. They had the puzzled air of people saying, "I know this sounds wacky, but this is truly how it was." They were stumblingly describing the birth of new creation, starting with Jesus but intended for the whole world.

It sometimes seems that the church can hardly cope with this any more than the world can. Perhaps that's why, after 40 days of Lent, many churches celebrate Easter for a few hours and then return to normality. But nothing can be "normal" after Easter. New creation has begun, and we are summoned to get on board. We should at least have an eight-day party, or even a 40-day one.

And if Easter is all about the surprise of new creation, there is every reason to suppose that it will ripple out into the world in ways we would never imagine. Gangsters and drug-dealers get radically converted and set on fire with God's love, while pale churchmen drone their disbelief and warn against extremism.

Extremism? What can be more extreme than God raising Jesus from the dead after the world has done its worst to him? Supposing the power of that event were to be released into the world, into local communities, into ordinary lives, here and now? What might that look like?

      --NT Wright
[Link. Thanks to Amy]

Tom Wright, by the way, is one of my heroes. I spent decades assuming that delving into the history of Jesus and the early Church would surely debunk Christianity. (It was one of those things that was just "in the air" when I was younger—I never scrutinized the idea.) And that's tough, if you are into history the way I am! But a year or so ago, just at the time when I was thinking of joining the Church, a number of surprising things happened to me, and one of them was discovering Wright. I was bowled over! Here's as good a historian as any I've ever read, and with massive authority he shows that Jesus and the Apostles were pretty much just what they claimed to be. I'm still bowled over.....

Posted by John Weidner at 8:46 PM


One of the current lies is that the Iraqi Parliament Building is in the Green Zone. It's not. (Thanks to Michelle)

The purpose of the lie is, of course, to feed the story that our campaign in Iraq is a hopeless failure, and to thus cause it to become a failure. This is in itself a minor lie, but every one of them should be fought. Because they are all pieces of an overall strategy of causing American defeat, and electing Democrats.

(I don't mean that Left-leaning people are thinking this out clearly; they don't think. Rather, they are reenacting the lessons of their youth. especially the Big Lie that said that the Tet Offensive was an American defeat. (It was in fact a huge victory, from which the Viet Cong never recovered. All subsequent important fighting was against North Vietnamese regulars.)

But the lie caused America to lose heart and pull out of Vietnam, and so led to millions of deaths (which Leftists and pacifists cared not a whit about) and also led, along with Watergate, to huge Democrat gains in Congress (which is all Leftists and pacifists really care about: Political power.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:45 AM

Is there an unforgivable sin?"

Wretchard writes:

The AP reports that "a car bomb blasted through a busy bus station near one of Iraq's holiest shrines Saturday and killed at least 56 people, police and hospital officials said. The bus station bombing occurred about 200 yards from the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala, where the grandson of Islam's Prophet Muhammad is buried — one of the most important sites for Shiites."

Implicit in the enemy use of these tactics is the presumption that its political target has a moral sensibility -- that it somehow cares about the threat to kill innocents unless it bends to their evil will. Otherwise it would not be affected. Blackmail is useless against those who don't care for the victims because there can be no assault on the sensibility of the insensible. Pity and virtue are treated as weakness -- but only by evil -- by those who hate pity, and hate it from pride.

But still more evil than terrorists are those who help them in projecting a moral inversion. For terrorists are themselves fully cognizant of the difference between innocence and guilt. It is this fine sensibility that allows terrorists to design one outrage greater than the other; that teaches it to seek out the child that they might mutilate it. Lucifer would have been a poor devil had he not the memory of an angel. But their apologists have no sense of evil; and are in some way morally inferior to the terrorists themselves. They have no memory of Paradise Lost. Darkness and light are all the same to them; or rather darkness is light and night their shade of preference. For the apologists of terror, the victims themselves are "little Eichmanns" and those who try to defend the victims blamed instead of the murderers. And not only do they believe this but will try to persuade anyone who will listen of its truth. The phrase "lost soul" is not just a metaphor but a diagnosis.

How can anyone leave the field to such evil? Or think that we could, by giving it victory, escape it ourselves?

"...and are in some way morally inferior to the terrorists themselves." Exactly. It's a weird thing, and something I've been trying, awkwardly, to get at. The people who leap to give cover to terrorist monsters, while salivating over any chance to criticize those who defend the innocent—you know who I mean: peaceniks, Democrats, Quakers, Euros—are morally inferior to the killers themselves.

The sinner, no matter how wicked, can repent. But one cannot find The Answer unless somewhere inside you there still exists The Question. Or so I suspect. And the strange and maddening problem is that the terror-apologists don't have The Question. If I ever met Osama bin Laden I could argue with him, tell him that what he is doing is evil, and he would understand exactly what I was saying! (Presumably he would disagree.) But I can't argue with the "peacenik." It's like punching the Pillsbury Doughboy. Nothing happens.

I know; I've been trying to argue since November of 2001, and it's never happened. I'ver gotten sneers and complaints galore, but never a principled argument, with core beliefs laid out and defended. (Of course this is a minor blog, but I've been watching a great many more important Web loci, and I haven't seen it happen anywhere.) This seems to me much more significant than mere wars and battles and deaths�we are all doomed to die soon enough. We have "lost souls" who are more lost than mass-murderers. In the political and social sense, the question is, "Is there hope for us, when so many people have had their brains turned to mush?" In the religious sense, the question is, "Can the peacenik be saved?" (Similar to the question I remember from my youth, "Is there an unforgivable sin?")

A good man would rather know his infirmity, than the foundations of the earth, or the heights of the heavens.
      --Lancelot Andrewes
Posted by John Weidner at 8:06 AM

April 13, 2007

Somehow not thrilling...

James Lileks writes, about Mitt Romney:

...I should preface this by saying I’m not a Romney guy. It has nothing to do with his creed. I think his accomplishments are impressive, his public persona solid and direct. I think he is what he seems to be...

...I just never found him very fascinating on an immediate level. The difference between Rudy and Mitt’s personality, one suspects, is the difference between wandering around the Louvre with two glasses of red wine under your belt, or being handed a shoebox full of high-res Louvre gift-shop postcards, arranged by artist and date...

That's kinda how I feel. Logically, I think Romney is the best potential President. He's just a very smart and effective guy. But I can't warm to him.

I recently read Romney's memoir about how he took over the scandal-crippled Salt Lake City Olympics, and made it a great success. It's an impressive tale. But I happen to have also read another such memoir, businessman Peter Ueberroth's story of running the 1986 Los Angeles Olympic games. And so it's interesting to me that I remember a number of whimsical personal details and adventures from Ueberroth's book, and was left feeling like a knew him and liked him. But I got no such feeling from Romney's book...

Does anybody feel the same?

Posted by John Weidner at 5:11 PM

April 11, 2007


If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now on this still early day
Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

Blown bubble-film of blue, the sky wraps round
Weeds of warm light whose every root and rod
Splutters with soapy green, and all the world
Sweats with the bead of summer in its bud

If ever I heard blessing it is there
Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are
Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound
Break on my ears their crests of throbbing air.

Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans,

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is.

    -- Laurie Lee
Posted by John Weidner at 6:08 PM

Good news (won't be seen on your TV)

Here's some good news, via Rand...

...The restoration of southern Iraq's Mesopotamian marshes is now a giant ecosystem-level experiment. Uncontrolled release of water in many areas is resulting in the return of native plants and animals, including rare and endangered species of birds, mammals, and plants. The rate of restoration is remarkable, considering that reflooding occurred only about two years ago. Although recovery is not so pronounced in some areas because of elevated salinity and toxicity, many locations seem to be functioning at levels close to those of the natural Al-Hawizeh marsh, and even at historic levels in some areas....

You know, since I've told you already, that the Iraq Campaign does not really have a military purpose. We just did it to test leftists. To test whether "liberals are really liberal. Test 'em to destruction; show them up for the evil horrid frauds they are.

I wrote here:

...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.)...

Now I see there is another test. A test for the fake-environmentalists commonly known as "Greens." The deliberate destruction of the Iraqi Marshes was the biggest environmental crime of our time. Any real environmentalist would be thrilled by the possibility of bringing back to life this vast wetland, and succoring the simple people who lived in harmony with it for at least 5,000 years....

Real environmentalists would be eager to help out. So where are they?

Posted by John Weidner at 3:20 PM

In the dock...

John Byrnes notes a good cause, the defense fund for that American soldier who has been indicted by an Italian court for the crime of (quite properly and legally) shooting an Italian journalist whose car tried to run through a checkpoint in Iraq.

He won't actually be in any danger, unless he travels to Italy. But we should be squashing this sort of nonsense directly.

Of course we can't do much about the underlying problem here, which is that Italy is a dying country terminally afflicted with lefty nihilism. A condition that invariably leads to anti-Americanism. The Italian court isn't really interested in Specialist Mario Lozano, it's America they are putting in the dock.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:05 PM

Most original thing this week...

Author's web site...being created...before your eyes...on this dry-erase board....

Posted by John Weidner at 9:12 AM

This is murder, just as much as if you used a gun...

To block reform of the shockingly bad schools in many inner-city urban areas is to destroy children. Sometimes literally. And in the sense of destroyed lives, by the tens-of-thousands, at the least.

This is murder. Remember this, when Democrat politicians and fake-pacifists shed fake tears over our honorable war dead, and claim the loss of lives in defense of freedom is "unacceptable." The blood of our children is dripping from their hands...

....If the recent budget battle in Albany in which the teachers union and its allied lawmakers killed a proposed tax deduction for private or parochial school tuition and imposed mandatory unionization on charter schools that grow larger than 250 students in the first two years wasn't enough for you, consider California. There, the Los Angeles Times reports, the school board rejected an application by a charter school operator, Green Dot, to open eight new schools. The Times quoted a school board member who represents Watts, a poor Los Angeles neighborhood, Mike Lansing, as saying, "It's really disappointing that we keep talking about wanting to do what's best for children first, when without a doubt that vote was about a teachers union and three board members not having the backbone to stand up and do the right thing for kids over their ties to the union." The Times account of the school board meeting goes on to say, "Parents and students from the impoverished, gang-ridden community also implored the board to approve the charters, saying they were desperate for an alternative to the low-performing, often unsafe district middle and high schools in the area."

The blogger Mickey Kaus wrote, "If teachers' unions have lost the liberal LAT, they're in trouble, no?" Not in so much trouble that they lost the vote. Lance Izumi of the free-market Pacific Research Institute summed it up: "Despite Green Dot's promising results, the school board decided to side with the United Teachers of Los Angeles, a vociferous critic of charter schools…The union had contributed a total of $1 million to two anti-Green Dot board members in their recent re-election bids, virtually the entirety of their campaign war chests." The irony is that charter schools were championed by the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker, who saw them as a way to improve public education while avoiding private school vouchers. What would Shanker think of the AFT affiliates in New York and Los Angeles blocking the expansion of successful charter programs in both New York (with a cap on the number of new charters, notwithstanding that two of the charters were granted to the union itself ) and in the nation's second largest city, Los Angeles?....
[From the NY Sun. Thanks to Orrin. Emphasis mine.].

Every Democrat politician benefits from the enormous contributions of the corrupt "teachers" unions (which are in fact the unions of vast educational bureaucracies in which the concerns of teachers count for little). Every Democrat politician takes this blood money, and everyone who votes Democrat is complicit in murder.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:09 AM

April 10, 2007

Even MORE Un-blankety-blank-believable...


....a herd of Democratic bloggers are criticizing General Petraeus for allegedly having a partisan meeting for Republicans. One blogger even suggests General Petraeus should be “relieved of his command”. The general theme…
I think it is inappropriate for the commanding general in Iraq to meet privately with the Republican caucus to plot a legislative strategy…
Sounds pretty serious. The RS Insider checked with sources on the Hill and in the Defense Department and discovered there are only two problems with the story.

1) General Petraeus did give a Congressional briefing last month – a “video-conference at the Pentagon” – and it was open to Republicans and Democrats.

2) Democrats chose not to attend.

So General Petraeus gave a briefing to the Republican caucus….because Democrats couldn’t be bothered to show up...

And these useless people actually have the gall to claim that they deserve national office.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:12 PM

Johnny Hart

Michelle has a fine tribute to cartoonist Johnny Hart, who died on Sunday. It was too too appropriate; a great cartoonist and Christian dies on Easter Sunday—at the drawing board!

Hart's comics were part of my normal life for so long that it's hard to realize how original and good he was. Mine, and many peoples favorite:

Johnny Hart cartoon "Clams Got Legs"

Posted by John Weidner at 6:54 AM

April 9, 2007

Item for my list...

I have a lonnng list of reasons why I think George W. Bush will be considered one of the great presidents. (No, I don't agree with everything he does or says, nor do I think he doesn't make mistakes.) Here's a small but significant item to add to the list.

....President Bush has played an unsung role in combating worldwide anti-Semitism and in seeking to stem the surge of anger that has swept the world in the last decade.

The White House required East European nations that sought to join NATO to offer concrete proposals to combat anti-Semitism in their countries. "I have to give a lot of credit to the Bush administration," said Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international Jewish affairs at the American Jewish Committee. "A major decision in NATO enlargement has been dealing with Jewish issues. The U.S. has repeatedly raised these issues."...(Thanks to Orrin)

It's a Christian thing. Certain people tend to refer to Bush and Rice (and Rumsfeld and Cheney) as Neo-cons. They are not Neo-cons (and none of those people who fling the term around carelessly are able or willing to define it. Try them. And what's worse, they don't care, They don't care that they are telling lies.)

Bush and Rice are best termed "Theo-cons." As am I. And WE are running the circus. (Cue famous quote by Alexander Haig.) After 9/11, we used the Neo-cons, for obvious reasons I've pointed out before. The link, by the way, is to a quote from a very good pre-derangement piece by Andrew Sullivan. Worth reading; it stands up well after 4 years. In fact, I'll just quote a bit now---but read it all...

....When George W. Bush looked around him in the ashes of the World Trade Center for an analysis of what had gone wrong and a comprehensive strategy to put it right, the neoconservatives were the only credible advocates who had an actual plan. They weren't a cabal. And they weren't natural Bush allies. Men like the Pentagon's Richard Perle or Douglas Feith or Paul Wolfowitz or the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer and Bob Kagan, or the New Republic's Lawrence Kaplan or the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol: all these had been bitter foes of Bush's father, brutal critics of his foreign policy. The Washington Post and New Republic had endorsed Al Gore for president. The Weekly Standard had backed John McCain in the primaries. The reason they rallied behind Bush in the wake of 9/11 was simply because he was the president. And the reason Bush reached out to these theorists was because history had proved them right and disaster had proved them prescient....
Posted by John Weidner at 9:37 AM

April 8, 2007

In like Flynn...

Well, it's done. Tonight was the Easter Vigil, and I'm now a Catholic. What is it like? Awesome, quite indescribable, at least by me. Sort of like if you've been traveling for years, living in hotels....and then you get to go home.

Certainty, in its highest sense, is the reward of those who, by an act of will, and at the dictate of reason and prudence, embrace the truth, when nature, like a coward, shrinks [from it]. You must make a venture; faith is a venture before a man is a catholic; it is a gift after it. You approach the church in the way of reason, you enter it in the light of the spirit.
      -- John Henry Newman
Posted by John Weidner at 12:04 AM

April 7, 2007

Just keeping it for when I need it...

PowerLine had this post on how the "Bush Economy" is doing, and I'm quoting it here partly so I'll have the figures at hand when needed. To use in combat, in the un-ending and almost-hopeless fight against LIES.

The Department of Labor has just announced this month's job figures, and it's more good news. March saw the creation of 180,000 new jobs. This means that since August 2003, more than 7.8 million jobs have been created, with nearly 2 million jobs created over the last 12 months. The economy has now added jobs for 43 straight months, and the unemployment rate remains at 4.4 percent, which is low by historical standards.

The news is also good on the pay and productivity fronts. Specifically:

Real after-tax income per person has risen by 10 percent since President Bush took office.

Real wages rose 1.8 percent over the past 12 months through February, which is substantially faster than the average rate of the late 1990s economy.

The economy has now experienced more than five years of uninterrupted growth, averaging 3.0 Percent a year since 2001.

Since the first quarter of 2001, productivity growth has averaged 2.8 percent, which is well above average productivity growth in the 1990s, 1980s, and 1970s.

What seems to me important here is that this is not just about material prosperity, but about things of the spirit. For instance, Welfare Reform has resulted in millions of people escaping welfare-dependency, and becoming able to hold jobs and provide for themselves. Quite possibly many of them have not actually improved their material condition much, but their psychological situation is vastly different. And this will tend to help their children and grandchildren as well. I could not happen in France.

BUT, it wouldn't work if America didn't have a strong economy that can provide lots of jobs. Basically we have enjoyed strong growth since the Reagan tax cuts. With what seems like a much-needed booster shot from the Bush tax cuts.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:23 PM

April 6, 2007

Funny for the day...

big announcement! Danger, danger, a virus threatens your iPod!!!

Kaspersky [Laboratories] states that the virus will only work if Linux has been installed on an iPod. Also, the user has to load the virus onto the iPod...
Posted by John Weidner at 10:23 AM

We are "considering."

Good article in OpinionJournal, by Robert F. Turner, Illegal Diplomacy: Did Nancy Pelosi commit a felony when she went to Syria?

The Logan Act makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American, "without authority of the United States," to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government's behavior on any "disputes or controversies with the United States." Some background on this statute helps to understand why Ms. Pelosi may be in serious trouble...

Of course nothing will actually be done to Ms Pelosi, and probably nothing should be done. (Though one rather wishes the administration were really the neo-con cowboys they are portrayed as. Then we would have the fun of wondering!)

But the article is very interesting on the important debates that preceded the act, and the Supreme Court decisions after.

....Griswold and Parker were Federalists who believed in strong executive power. But consider this statement by Albert Gallatin, the future Secretary of the Treasury under President Thomas Jefferson, who was wary of centralized government: "it would be extremely improper for a member of this House to enter into any correspondence with the French Republic . . . As we are not at war with France, an offence of this kind would not be high treason, yet it would be as criminal an act, as if we were at war." [France and the US were in a "quasi-war," which included privateering and fights at sea.]

Indeed, the offense is greater when the usurpation of the president's constitutional authority is done by a member of the legislature--all the more so by a Speaker of the House--because it violates not just statutory law but constitutes a usurpation of the powers of a separate branch and a breach of the oath of office Ms. Pelosi took to support the Constitution....

Hmmm. "Quasi-war." Sounds kinda familiar. One wishes the Justice Department would merely announce that it is "considering" the possible applicability of the Logan Act. It might have an educative effect on certain people. Ordinary Americans I mean; I consider the Democratic leadership uneducable. Pelosi of course, because she's just not very bright (I had to laugh when I heard Rush describe her as, "A few french-fries short of a Happy Meal"). But in a more general sense, one can't educate core Democrats because they don't believe the things they currently believe.

There will never be a real debate, because Democrats lack any intellectual framework of beliefs and principles that one might criticize, or that they could base arguments on. Pelosi and company will never make a constitutional case for their actions, because they have never thought that way. They do not have beliefs, they have habits. Leftist and collectivist habits of thought inherited from past generations who actually believed in things like Marxism, and would argue from principle

Posted by John Weidner at 9:36 AM

April 5, 2007

Hand-wringers, girlie-men...


I've been meaning to say something about this upset blogger woman I read about who was (apparently) reduced to a house-bound wreck because some asshole spewed garbage about her on an internet forum. The reaction of the woman, and of her male fans, was so typical of the hothouse/protected-from-the-real-world upbringing of most liberalish under-thirties: observe how it's all about how "shocked" and "horrified" everyone is, as if no one had ever said a crude word in their presence before.

Another thing that struck me is that apparently not one of her male fans -- and I presume friends -- offered to hunt down and beat the guy up for her. Such quixotic expressions of support have been bred out of too many males -- you can't exactly call them men; they are more like girls with penises. In a sense I can't really blame her for not wanting to go to a public convention filled with so many empathizing nellies, who would have been totally useless (except for maybe being able to dial 911 on their cellphones) were anything to have happened....
[Michelle's post is good on this.]

Girlie-men was the best description. And what really bugs me about this sort of limp-wristed liberal is that they are TEACHING people to act badly. They are teaching that thuggish behavior brings rewards; in every place from Internet forums to Iranian kidnappers. And they like to claim they are being virtuous and are "practicing peace," when they are really enabling and promoting brutality and war.

(And what really irks me is when they go all faux-Christian, and quote the Beatitudes at you and claim Jesus wanted us to be nihilists and wimps, and let the thugs run the circus.)

Another thing is, I bet that woman considers herself a "feminist." And signs-on to all the platitudinous pap about women being just as tough as men, and ought to serve in combat etc. Well, she probably is as tough as her fellow cubical-workers. They've all struggled mightily......to develop low centers-of-gravity, in order to withstand whole days sitting in soft ergonomic chairs.

* Update: By the way, a good mental antidote and purgative to these kinds of Leftish Happy-Meals-of-the-mind, is to read Camille Paglia. Really, everyone should have read her. It's not that I necessarily agree with what she says, but she is an education in how to think and express yourself with brutal clarity. And also an education in how to think about matters of psychology and spirit and art, and how they matter in the world just as much, if not more, than tangible things like economics or politics. I'll insert a quote below the fold...

....I want a revamped feminism. Putting the vamp back means the lady must be a tramp. My generation of Sixties rebels wanted to smash the bourgeois codes that had become authoritarian totems of the Fifties. The "nice" girl, with her soft, sanitized speech and decorous manners, had to go. Thirty years later, we're still stuck with her—in the official spokesmen and anointed heiresses of the feminist establishment. White middle-class personae have barely changed. Getting women out of the kitchen and into the office, we have simply put them into another bourgeois prison...

.....Overprotected in the paternalistic past, women have a special obligation to liberate their personae. Male adventurism has always been a costly, painful privilege. When the office—by which I mean the whole complex of word-based, smoothly cooperative white-collar work, in business or academe—becomes the primary paradigm of new female achievement, women have cut themselves off from the risk-taking, rough-and-tumble experiences that have always toughened men. Women will never succeed at the level or in the numbers they deserve until they get over their genteel reluctance to take abuse in the attack and counterattack of territorial warfare. The recent trend in feminism, notably in sexual harassment policy, has been to overrely on regulation and legislation rather than to promote personal responsibility. Women must not become wards and suppliants of authority figures. Freedom means rejecting dependency...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:29 AM

Insanity is when you make the same mistake over and over and.....

Surprise, surprise. Yet another pension-fund-gonna-go-bust story. It's a bore; there are so many of them. States, countries, organizations, companies of all sorts and colors.

The INSANITY is that it just goes on and on. Decade after decade. Although many individual organizations have learned better, we don't learn as a a society.

This Jersey thing is a "defined benefit" plan. That is, you define how much the retirement benefits will be, and then try to keep putting enough money in to make that happen. (Sort of like making a New Years resolution about what your weight will be next Christmas, and promising to eat so as to make that happen.) The alternative is a "defined contribution" plan, which says "We will take X dollars each month and put it in your 401-K, and you will have whatever retirement benefits your investments yield."

In 2005, New Jersey put either $551 million, $56 million or nothing into its pension fund for teachers. All three figures appeared in various state documents — though the state now says that the actual amount was zero.

The phantom contribution is just one indication that New Jersey has been diverting billions of dollars from its pension fund for state and local workers into other government purposes over the last 15 years, using a variety of unorthodox transactions authorized by the Legislature and by governors from both political parties.

The state has long acknowledged that it has been putting less money into the pension fund than it should. But an analysis of its records by The New York Times shows that in many cases, New Jersey has overstated even what it has claimed to be contributing, sometimes by hundreds of millions of dollars.

The discrepancies raise questions about how much money is really in the New Jersey pension fund, which industry statistics show to be the ninth largest in the nation’s public sector, with reported assets of $79 billion.

State officials say the fund is in dire shape, with a serious deficit. It has enough to pay retirees for several years, but without big contributions, paid for by cuts elsewhere in the state’s programs, higher taxes or another source, the fund could soon be caught in a downward spiral that could devastate the state’s fiscal health. Under its Constitution, New Jersey cannot reduce earned pension benefits....
(Link. Thanks to Orrin)

Just read the story, and THINK a bit. (I'm talking to YOU, Mr Democrat loyalist.)

The big lesson of the 20th Century (besides that one about Revolutions that are going to help the Workers and Peasants) is that defined-benefit plans don't work. But the madness goes on and on. And the biggest insane-rip-off of all is called Social Security. And when President Bush proposed a mere small start at ending the insanity, every brain-dead lefty in the country opposed him, and conservatives gave him only tepid support. (And then they have the nerve to say that Bush is betraying conservatism! When the sums he was trying to get out of the hands of government, and into the control of ordinary people make all our recent budget deficits look like pocket change.)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:05 AM

April 4, 2007

Equivalent to murder.

From a really good piece, Democrats Playing With Fire By Thomas Sowell...

Congressman Tom Lantos, who is a member of the delegation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading to Syria, put the mission clearly when he said: "We have an alternative Democratic foreign policy."...

- - - - - - - - -

....[throughout our history] members of the opposition party, whichever party that might be at a given time, knew that their role was not to intervene abroad themselves to undermine this country's foreign policy, however much they might criticize it at home.

During the Second World War, the defeated Republican presidential candidate, Wendell Wilkie, even acted as President Roosevelt's personal envoy to British Prime Minister Churchill.

He understood that we were all in this together, however we might disagree among ourselves about the best course to follow.

Today, Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Democrats are stepping in to carry out their own foreign policy and even their own military policy on troop deployment -- all the while denying that they are intruding on the president's authority....

Most Americans are shockingly ignorant of history and "civics." They don't realize what a truly sick evil thing the Democrats are doing right now. Foreign policy is the responsibility of the Executive Branch. We have this thing called "The Constitution." It's a law. Our supreme law, in fact. Nancy Pelosi has no more business having an "alternative Democratic foreign policy" than Bush has issuing an "alternative budget" by executive order. Pelosi is violating the law.

More importantly, as said in the article, we have an unwritten law in this country that both parties must support our government and our troops in time of war. Or even when there is a threat of war, and diplomacy demands a united front. What the Dems are doing is a gross violation of our country's traditions.

And also, the war on Terror is not a "war of attrition," like, say WWII, where both sides are likely to keep fighting until one is exhausted. Rather, it is a war where perceptions often matter more than physical realities. In insurgencies and guerilla wars for instance, the perceptions of the local population are critical. Each side needs their support, and they will usually go with whoever they think is winning, or is there for the long haul. It is an absolute certainty that the Democrats are now undermining our soldiers in the field, by causing doubts about our commitment and unity.

It is therefore a certainty that American soldiers are going to die because of what Pelosi and her gang are doing. She is murdering Americans just as much as as if she put a gun to their heads and pulled the trigger.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:02 PM

April 3, 2007


SEATTLE P.I. -- Tacoma police say last month's 12-day anti-war protests cost the city an unbudgeted $500,000 to provide a large-scale law enforcement presence.

The rough estimate covers overtime, regular compensation, equipment and food for hundreds of workers from Tacoma police and other agencies, Assistant Chief Bob Sheehan said.

The city plans to ask the Port of Tacoma and the military to cover some of the costs...(Thanks to Michelle).

My question is, were these peaceful and lawful protests? If so, there was no need for extra law enforcement.

IF NOT, then the lawbreaking scum should have been ARRESTED. Promptly. And fined stiffly, at the very least, which would help defray the cost to the City.

And if that is the case, then it is the City of Tacoma that owes compensation to the Army, for allowing blatant criminal activities to potentially disrupt our national defense.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:18 PM

Frenzy to eliminate the road back...

A good quote from Diogenes:

...Revolutionaries, once they've put the ancien régime to the guillotine, realize at some level that the victims easiest to catch and behead were seldom those most guilty of the oppression the insurrection was meant to cure. This means that, with the old power toppled, the main threat to the new order are associates of more tender conscience who remember the injustices inflicted by, not upon, the revolutionaries -- injustices rationalized at the time as necessary for the success of the revolution. Hence the secondary (and usually protracted) frenzy to eliminate the road back. When the revolution is cultural rather than civil, almost any surviving custom or symbol or figure of speech can be a bearer of the kind of memory the innovators detest. They are not gradualists. It has to go now.

Which revolution is he referring to? It could be any one of them. French, Russian, Chinese...(In fact it's something much closer to home.)

Actually one sees it sometimes in our daily life. Imagine an old company is bought by a fast-growing young company, and the "new broom" management team comes in with layoffs and re-structurings. They should, by logic, be carefully seeking-out and preserving the good parts of the "old régime" and its culture, but do you think that's going to happen?

Posted by John Weidner at 7:21 AM

April 2, 2007

"A small ecological footprint"

A friend sent this.


House 1:
The four-bedroom home was planned so that "every room has a relationship with something in the landscape that's different from the room next door. Each of the rooms feels like a slightly different place." The resulting single-story house is a paragon of environmental planning. The passive-solar house is built of honey-colored native limestone and positioned to absorb winter sunlight, warming the interior walkways and walls of the 4,000-square-foot residence. Geothermal heat pumps circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet deep in the ground. These waters pass through a heat exchange system that keeps the home warm in winter and cool in summer. A 25,000-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof urns; wastewater from sinks, toilets, and showers cascades into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is then used to irrigate the landscaping around the four-bedroom home, (which) uses indigenous grasses, shrubs, and flowers to complete the exterior treatment of the home. In addition to its minimal environmental impact, the look and layout of the house reflect one of the paramount priorities: relaxation. A spacious 10-foot porch wraps completely around the residence and beckons the family outdoors. With few hallways to speak of, family and guests make their way from room to room either directly or by way of the porch. "The house doesn’t hold you in. Where the porch ends there is grass. There is no step-up at all." This house consumes 25% of the energy of an average American home.
    (Source: Cowboys and Indians Magazine, Oct. 2002 and Chicago Tribune April 2001.)

House 2:
This 20-room, 8-bathroom house consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year. The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, this house devoured nearly 221,000 kWh, more than 20 times the national average. Last August alone, the house burned through 22,619 kWh, guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of this energy consumption, the average monthly electric bill topped $1,359. Also, natural gas bills for this house and guesthouse averaged $1,080 per month last year. In total, this house had nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for 2006.
    (Source: just about anywhere in the news last month online and on talk radio, but barely on TV. An inconvenient truth.)

House 1 belongs to George and Laura Bush, and is in Crawford, Texas.

House 2 belongs to Al and Tipper Gore, and is in Nashville, Tennessee.

Of course no "Green" person is going to be bothered by this, because Green is a religion, and Algore's virtue lies in being a believer, not in actually caring about the environment. Actually, it's a pseudo-religion; a rather pathetic attempt to give meaning to lives lived in the void...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:02 AM

NOT a "civil war"

The blog Back Talk (thanks to Glenn Reynolds) has a lot of interesting graphs and figures on the "surge" and Iraq. Well worth looking at. Some conclusions:

...My latest analysis shows that there is good news and bad news from Iraq concerning the troop surge. The good news is that casualties in Baghdad have come down very substantially. The bad news is that casualties elsewhere in Iraq have increased substantially. And, no, it's not because the civil war spilled over to the rest of the country. It's because al Qaeda started targeting innocent Shiite civilians where it was easier to do so. And, no, such attackes do not represent "sectarian violence" between Shiites and Sunnis. Only Democratic Senators and Representatives and mainstream media reporters believe that nonsense. The violence expanded beyond Baghdad because Sunni al Qaeda jihadists are doing everything in their power to get Shiites to kill Sunnis. Civil war is al Qaeda's goal (because it suits their jihadist objectives), and that's how this differs from the civil war schema that Democrats and reporters simply cannot get out of their heads. ....

...It is not a civil war. Instead, it is al Qaeda fighting against the people of Iraq. Yes, the Sunni insurgents initially allied themselves with al Qaeda in their fight against the hated Americans, but even they are finally coming to realize that the civil war that al Qaeda is trying to provoke is not helpful to them in any way...

...I know how much liberals treasure the idea that this is just a civil war in Iraq, the very civil war they predicted would happen if George Bush launched his "misbegotten adventure" in Iraq. Because they predicted civil war, all information from Iraq is processed through that obsolete schema. That's why Democrats have adopted an eerie code of silence about al Qaeda in Iraq. In terms of their sacred schema, al Qaeda in Iraq does not compute, therefore it does not exist.

But it does exist, and it killed nearly 400 innocent Iraqis in the last two weeks alone....

Leftists, the press, Democrat politicians, are all in a conspiracy to present what's happening in Iraq as meaningless violence. In fact it is an orchestrated production. It's a show put on for American TV cameras, and to influence American elections and Congressional votes. and of course to cause freedom and democracy to fail in Iraq.

Another quote from the same post:

...Americans don't realize that we are in a fight with al Qaeda and their affiliated jihadists in Iraq. And they don't know because the media equates attacks by al Qaeda with the phrase "sectarian violence." Look at this MSNBC headline again:
Tal Afar bomb toll hits 152, deadliest of Iraq war
Tally arrives during week in which more than 500 died in sectarian violence
Wrong. More than 400 of those deaths were caused by al Qaeda, not because they are Sunnis who hate Shiites but because they want Shiites to start killing Sunnis. It is wrong to call that "sectarian violence," and doing so just reinforces the obsolete schema that governs the thinking of Democratic leaders and mainstream media reporters, all of whom are sure they see a civil war spontaneously erupting before their very eyes. What they are seeing instead is al Qaeda fighting against Iraq and, more to the point, against America. We either stay in Iraq and defeat them, or we leave on a timetable and lose to them. That's your choice, take your pick. There are no other choices.
Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 AM

April 1, 2007

"he did not have much company on the road now so well known..."

For Sunday, here's yet another quote from Meriol Trevor's Newman (vol. II, Light in Winter):

...True son of Philip Neri, he had no desire to repudiate the new techniques of knowledge or to oppose theories which seemed at first sight to contradict Christian tradition: patience would reveal the truth in time. But he wanted Christians so to exercise their minds as to assimilate and contribute to what was good in natural science and social improvement, without losing their grip on the supernatural reality which was the source of true happiness and real power. He wanted to help the young generations so to orientate themselves as to be able to explore the new worlds of knowledge and yet be firmly rooted — not in the old, but in the eternal.

It was here that Newman's vision went beyond the view of many who misunderstood him, of whatever Christian allegiance. It was the partial identification, in the nineteenth century, of the eternal with the old that led to the loss of so many from Christian belief. The nostalgia for an imaginary medievalism, imitation Gothic churches, effete naturalism or unreal sentimentality of religious statues and pictures — all this was the secondary effect of deep fears, an inability to shed the habitual in order that the eternal might work freely in a world that was changing. Of course there is danger in mere novelty, but it is rarely a pressing one in the Cathulic Church, which on the human side is ruled by a multitude of old men and the customs of hundreds of years.

Newman always puzzled his contemporaries by being at the same time so ancient and so modern. He was at home with the Martyrs and the Fathers — and with scientists and factory girls. He practised fasting and penance — and was an immediate and inveterate train traveller. He read St. Athanasius and Anthony Trollope. He was a venerable man, but he talked the slang of the moment. Puseyites were disconcerted by his modernity. Catholics by his antiquity — for most of them had forgotten what their spiritual ancestors were like. Protestants are apt to imagine that it is only they who renew themselves by a return to the beginnings, but there are Catholic renascences too. Since Newman was a pioneer in the return to the Fathers, and to a new understandins of the Scriptures, he did not have much company on the road now so well known. He was regarded with suspicion by those for whom the last hundred years was the standard measure, and who could not conceive that the next hundred would be very different. Psychologically the great difference between Newman and the Ultramontanes and Anglican conservatives was that they were ridden bv fears and he was not...

Vatican Council II is associated in our minds with "dangerous mere novelty," and certainly there has been a catastrophic lot of that! A great many Catholics used the council as an excuse to say, "Wheee, I'm freee.....time to party!" But that was never the intent, and not what is in the actual documents produced by the council. The true spirit of which is now reasserting itself in the Church in a myriad of ways. (Historically, councils have usually produced 50 years or so of turmoil in the Church. So I'm signing up at the right time.) The actual results of the council will probably have their effect over centuries. The world needs them.

And it is a commonplace to say that the Venerable John Henry Newman is the "father of the Council." More than anyone else, Vatican II was about his ideas. (Such as ecumenism, return to the teachings of the Fathers, Development of Doctrine, and the correct approach to the modern world.) He saw and understood our world more than anyone else.

That's certainly been my conclusion (in my own humble realm). 9/11 was a revelatory event, and my 5½ years of blogging has been a process of peeling the onion to try to see what it was that was revealed. And then I recently discovered Newman, and found that he had explained it all 150 years ago! So he's my hero, no doubt about it.

"...An inability to shed the habitual in order that the eternal might work freely in a world that was changing." "...without losing their grip on the supernatural reality which was the source of true happiness and real power."

If you are going to "shed the habitual," you have to have a firm grip on some things that are solid and unchanging. Not just religious truths, but authoritative traditions of other kinds, such as you might find reading the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. Which are themselves based on the authoritative and immemorial tradition called "the Rights of Englishmen." And, brothers and sisters, I have to tell you that you are going to have to discard the habitual whether you like it or not! Because we are all trapped in a science fiction story. We are being shoved into a time-machine and sent into the future at fearsome speed. Our world is changing drastically. Mere habits or prejudices won't be weighty enough to keep us in ballast.

That's what I'm talking about when I complain that left-leaning people are nihilists. In my generation and after, being "Left" is just a habit of thought, not the philosophical system (false though it was) that used to ballast many people's lives. (If you don't believe me, try to get a leftist in a real philosophical argument, one that goes down to first principles.) But mere habits won't cut it anymore; change is happening too fast and too scary. Which is why leftists are so brittle and angry of late. (And some rightists too—think of Paleocons like Pat Buchanan.)

Here's a link to the splendid St Phillip Neri.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:31 AM