June 30, 2007

Not reported...

I highly recommend a piece by Rod Dreher, The Godless Party: Media Bias & Blindness—And the Big Story They Missed

....Indeed, religion has become such a galvanizing issue for both parties that, say the authors, "the religious gap among white voters in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections was more important than other demographic and social cleavages in the electorate; it was much larger than the gender gap and more significant than any combination of differences in education, income, occupation, age, marital status and regional groupings." The media have thoroughly reported the key role religious conservatives play in Republican Party politics; what they’ve ignored is the equally important role militant secularists play in setting the agenda of the Democratic Party—as the late pro-life Governor Bob Casey, denied a decent podium at the 1992 Democratic convention, could have attested.

The divide has become so stark that the authors have discerned a new kind of voter: the "anti-fundamentalist." According to the 2000 ANES data, the hatred of religious conservatives long apparent among Democratic convention delegates has found a home among a disproportionate number of Democratic voters. Twenty-five percent of white respondents in the ANES survey expressed serious hostility towards religious conservatives, as opposed to only one percent who felt this strongly against Jews, and 2.5 percent who disliked blacks and Catholics to a strong degree. (Ironically, these are people who say they "‘strongly agree’ that one should be tolerant of persons whose moral standards are different from one’s own.") Eighty percent of these voters picked Bill Clinton in 1996, with 70 percent choosing Al Gore in 2000. Conclude the authors, "One has to reach back to pre-New Deal America, when political divisions between Catholics and Protestants encapsulated local ethno-cultural cleavages over Prohibition, immigration, public education, and blue laws, to find a period when voting behavior was influenced by this degree of antipathy toward a religious group." If Al Smith were to return and run for president today, his enemies wouldn’t be yesterday’s rustic anti-Catholic bigots of the Bible Belt, but today’s urbane anti-Christian bigots of liberal coastal cities dubbed (by the Wall Street Journal ) the Porn Belt...

....But their most striking finding was the near total lack of editorial and news coverage devoted to the increased importance of secularists to the Democratic Party versus the role of traditionalists in the GOP. The numbers are mind-boggling: 43 stories on secularist Democrats, 682 stories on traditionalist Republicans. In 1992, the Times alone published nearly twice the number of stories about Evangelicals in the GOP than both papers did about secularists among the Democrats for the entire decade. The bias is even worse among television journalists, who filled the airwaves with stories about the "Religious Right" and the Republican Party, but who didn’t file a single story—not one—about the Secular Left’s relationship to the Democrats. But their most striking finding was the near total lack of editorial and news coverage devoted to the increased importance of secularists to the Democratic Party versus the role of traditionalists in the GOP. The numbers are mind-boggling: 43 stories on secularist Democrats, 682 stories on traditionalist Republicans. In 1992, the Times alone published nearly twice the number of stories about Evangelicals in the GOP than both papers did about secularists among the Democrats for the entire decade. The bias is even worse among television journalists, who filled the airwaves with stories about the "Religious Right" and the Republican Party, but who didn’t file a single story—not one—about the Secular Left’s relationship to the Democrats....

The numbers would seem to indicate a cover-up, but my guess is that it's mostly a matter of people in the news media considering secularism so normal, that they don't even see it. Sort of like the way you don't hear your own accent, and think you are just speaking "normally."

But I think there is a huge psychological cover-up going on, as liberals try to pretend that they are still the modern mainstream, and anyone who disagrees is kooky or primitive. And that psychology is a subject that utterly fascinates me...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:56 AM

June 28, 2007

Save for future battles.

Here's something you might want to save, just in case you have an opportunity to counter-attack against the torrent of lies spread by those who hate this nation. And it's from the NYT, so it's not like anyone can say it's pro-administration propaganda... The Guantánamo I Know:

LINDSEY GRAHAM, a Republican senator from South Carolina, is right: “The image of Guantánamo Bay and the reality of Guantánamo Bay are completely different.” It is disappointing that so many embrace a contrived image. Reality for Guantánamo Bay is the daily professionalism of its staff, the humanity of its detention centers and the fair and transparent nature of the military commissions charged with trying war criminals. It is a reality that has been all but ignored or forgotten.

The makeshift detention center known as Camp X-Ray closed in early 2002 after just four months of use. Now it is overgrown with weeds and serves as home to iguanas. Yet last week ABC News published a photo online of Camp X-Ray as if it were in use, five years after its closing.

Today, most of the detainees are housed in new buildings modeled after civilian prisons in Indiana and Michigan. Detainees receive three culturally appropriate meals a day. Each has a copy of the Koran. Guards maintain respectful silence during Islam’s five daily prayer periods, and medical care is provided by the same practitioners who treat American service members. Detainees are offered at least two hours of outdoor recreation each day, double that allowed inmates, including convicted terrorists, at the “supermax” federal penitentiary in Florence, Colo.

Standards at Guantánamo rival or exceed those at similar institutions in the United States and abroad. After an inspection by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in March 2006, a Belgian police official said, “At the level of detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons.”

Critics liken Guantánamo Bay to Soviet gulags, but reality does not match their hyperbole. The supporters of David Hicks, the detainee popularly known as the “Australian Taliban,” asserted that Mr. Hicks was mistreated and wasting away. But at his March trial, where he pleaded guilty to providing material support to a terrorist organization, he and his defense team stipulated he was treated properly. Mr. Hicks even thanked service members, and as one Australian newspaper columnist noted, he appeared in court “looking fat, healthy and tanned, and cracking jokes.”...

It's an indicator of the level of deception going on, that I didn't know Camp X-Ray had been closed after only 4 months. I just assumed things were the same...

The deeper issue is, that if you are in a war, you need a place to put prisoners. And the Geneva conventions reserve the status of "prisoner of war" to those who fight by the rules. (The conventions are not about prisoners; the POW provisions are just "carrots" to encourage nations to fight by certain rules, mostly about keeping fighting away from civilians.) So, under International Law it would be illegal to call our prisoners POW's. In fact it would be perfectly legal to just shoot them. Since we are humane, we treat them in a way similar to how we would treat POW's. But this opens us up to a torrent of accusations and "legal" attacks by dishonest people who really want to undermine the war.

(I put the rest of the article below, in case the original is unavailable...)

...Some imply that if a defendant does not get a trial that looks like Martha Stewart’s and ends like O. J. Simpson’s, then military commissions are flawed. They are mistaken. The Constitution does not extend to alien unlawful enemy combatants. They are entitled to protections under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which ensures they are afforded “all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

Justice John Paul Stevens, in the Hamdan decision that rejected an earlier plan for military commissions, observed that Article 75 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions defines the judicial guarantees recognized as indispensable. A comparison of Article 75 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 shows military commissions provide the fundamental guarantees.

Each accused receives a copy of the charges in his native language; outside influence on witnesses and trial participants is prohibited; the accused may challenge members of the commission; an accused may represent himself or have assistance of counsel; he is presumed innocent until guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt; he is entitled to assistance to secure evidence on his behalf; he is not required to incriminate himself at trial and his silence is not held against him; he may not be tried a second time for the same offense; and he is entitled to the assistance of counsel through four stages of post-trial appellate review ending at the United States Supreme Court.

One myth is that the accused can be excluded from his trial and convicted on secret evidence. The administrative boards that determine if a detainee is an enemy combatant and whether he is a continuing threat may consider classified information in closed hearings outside the presence of the detainee. But military commissions may not. The act states, “The accused shall be permitted ... to examine and respond to evidence admitted against him on the issue of guilt or innocence and for sentencing.” Unless the accused chooses to skip his trial or is removed for disruptive behavior, he has the right to be present and to confront all of the evidence.

Morris D. Davis, a colonel in the Air Force, is the chief prosecutor in the Defense Department’s Office of Military Commissions.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:52 PM

Demographics is destiny, as Mark Steyn put it...

Fascinatin' stuff, by Robert M. Dunn in TCS...

....There has been a stunning decline in the fertility rate in Mexico, which means that, in a few years there will not be many teenagers in Mexico looking for work in the United States or anywhere else. If this trend in the fertility rate continues, Mexico will resemble Japan and Italy - rapidly aging populations with too few young workers to support the economy.

According to the World Bank's 2007 Annual Development Indicators, in 1990 Mexico had a fertility rate of 3.3 children per female, but by 2005, that number had fallen by 36 percent to 2.1, which is the Zero Population Growth rate. That is an enormous decline in the number of Mexican infants per female. The large number of women currently in their reproductive years means that there are still quite a few babies, but as this group ages, the number of infants will decline sharply. If this trend toward fewer children per female continues, there being no apparent reason for it to cease, the number of young people in the Mexican population will decline significantly just when the number of elderly is rising. As labor markets in Mexico tighten and wage rates rise, far fewer Mexican youngsters will be interested in coming to the United States. Since our baby boomers will be retiring at the same time, we could face a severe labor shortage.

There have been significant declines in fertility rates across Latin America, but Mexico's has been unusually sharp. In El Salvador, another country from which immigrants come, a 3.7 rate in 1990 became 2.5 by 2005. Guatemala is now at 4.3, but that is far lower than it was in 1990. Jamaica, another source of illegal U. S. immigrants, has fallen from 2.9 to 2.4 over the same period. Chile and Costa Rica, at 2.0, are actually slightly below a replacement rate. Trinidad and Tobago, at 1.6, is well below ZPG. For all of Latin American and the Caribbean, a rate of 3.2 in 1990 fell to 2.4 in 2005, a decline of 25 percent. This means less pressure on the United States from illegal immigrants from the entire area, not just from Mexico. A powerful demographic transition is well underway, and soon many of these countries may be worried about there being too few babies rather than too many. We may miss this labor, and wonder how we will replace it....

So who's going to pick the strawberries? Robotics might be a good long-term investment. It's a funny future we may be facing, with perhaps a "guest worker" program that pays people to come here, with competition for scarce resources from Mexico!

And if you wonder why "liberals" are so angry and defensive and brittle these days, you should realize that their world-view is still based ideas that no longer reflect reality. Including the idea that exploding populations are "destroying the earth," and that we should be having fewer children, and a smaller "ecological footprint," and similar anti-human rubbish....

Liberals (in the contemporary sense, not the classical) today are like people with a terminal illness who are in deep denial. But they feel these odd twinges and pains, which are getting harder and harder to ignore...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:49 AM

June 27, 2007

"We played the enemy’s game for too long..."

Not everyone realizes that "the Surge" is not primarily a matter of increased troop levels, but is mainly a change in tactics. This discussion by Dave Kilcullen in the Small Wars Journal blog (Thanks to InstaPundit) is very good.

....The "terrain" we are clearing is human terrain, not physical terrain. It is about marginalizing al Qa’ida, Shi’a extremist militias, and the other terrorist groups from the population they prey on. This is why claims that “80% of AQ leadership have fled” don’t overly disturb us: the aim is not to kill every last AQ leader, but rather to drive them off the population and keep them off, so that we can work with the community to prevent their return.

This is not some sort of kind-hearted, soft approach, as some fire-breathing polemicists have claimed (funnily enough, those who urge us to “just kill more bad guys” usually do so from a safe distance). It is not about being “nice” to the population and hoping they will somehow see us as the “good guys” and stop supporting insurgents. On the contrary, it is based on a hard-headed recognition of certain basic facts, to wit:

(a) The enemy needs the people to act in certain ways (sympathy, acquiescence, silence, reaction to provocation) in order to survive and further his strategy. Unless the population acts in these ways, both insurgents and terrorists will wither, and the cycle of provocation and backlash that drives the sectarian conflict in Iraq will fail.

(b) The enemy is fluid, but the population is fixed. (The enemy is fluid because he has no permanent installations he needs to defend, and can always run away to fight another day. But the population is fixed, because people are tied to their homes, businesses, farms, tribal areas, relatives etc). Therefore—and this is the major change in our strategy this year—protecting and controlling the population is do-able, but destroying the enemy is not. We can drive him off from the population, then introduce local security forces, population control, and economic and political development, and thereby "hard-wire" the enemy out of the environment, preventing his return. But chasing enemy cells around the countryside is not only a waste of time, it is precisely the sort of action he wants to provoke us into. That’s why AQ cells leaving an area are not the main game—they are a distraction. We played the enemy’s game for too long: not any more. Now it is time for him to play our game....

Things are getting very interesting. And this is actually a fascinating confirmation of the wisdom of the men who wrote our Constitution. The Democrat/News-Media/al Qaeda Alliance has to provide the illusion of defeat and hopelessness not just right now, but over several election cycles. In a parliamentary system we might already be sunk. But our Constitution delays and attenuates the effects of popular hysteria. The founders wanted a republic, but were rightly distrustful of democracy. So the House changes on a two-year cycle, the presidency every four years, the Senate every six...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:43 AM

June 25, 2007

Driving us apart...

I can't resist commenting on Mr Obama's latest, Obama Says Some Have `hijacked' Faith...

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right- wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division. [No other motive, I'm sure.]

"Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked," the Democratic presidential candidate said in remarks prepared for delivery before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ. [Faith is not supposed to "bring us together." Faith's loyalty is to Truth, not togetherness.]
"Part of it's because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us," the Illinois senator said.

"At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, [I'm in a city that's about 85% Democrat, and yes, you Democrats DO "disrespect" my values and my church.] while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design," according to an advance copy of his speech. [Religious Americans care about those and a LOT of other things. Those issues are in the news because our traditional beliefs there are under attack by nihilists like Obama, and so we fight back.]

"There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich," [That's simply a lie] Obama said. "I don't know what Bible they're reading, but it doesn't jibe with my version." [Tax cuts help the poor, as our current very low unemployment rates attest. The welfare state corrupts and destroys the poor, morally and spiritually and economically.]

Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a church of about 1.2 million members that is considered one the most liberal of the mainline Protestant groups. [Which have also been corrupted and destroyed by Leftist/Democrat thinking.]

In 1972, the church was the first to ordain an openly gay man. Two years ago, the church endorsed same-sex marriage, the largest Christian denomination to do so. [Oh. And those aren't things that tend to "drive us apart?"] Obama believes that states should decide whether to allow gay marriage, and he opposes a constitutional amendment against it. [Way to take a strong moral stand there, Barak. Real "Profiles In Courage" stuff.]

Conservative Christian bloggers have linked Obama to what they call the "unbiblical" teachings of his church. Theological conservatives believe gay relationships violate Scripture, while more liberal Christians emphasize the Bible's social justice teachings... [Notice the multiple slights-of-hand here by the unbiased reporter. Like the substituting the word "relationships" for "marriage." And the side-stepping into "social justice," without touching on whether liberals say gay marriageor ordinations ARE scriptural. And never a mention of 2,000 years of Christian traditions.]

[End of article. I put a few more thoghts below.]

I'm sorry, but Mr Obama's complaints are pure bullshit. It is a grave error for any Christian group to conflate its politics with its faith. But the Christian Right is in fact far less guilty of this than the "Christian Left." The Christian Right has been driven into politics by massive attacks on things that most Americans have always just believed in, and is always a reluctant partner in the Republican coalition. The Christian Left has been "hollowed out," and has simply jettisoned traditional Christianity for a mush of leftist ideas. Nobody forced them into the Culture of Death, or gay marriage, or being anti-American, or anti-Semitic. They just go along with whatever the current leftist positions are without a qualm. Without a thought. Without giving a damn whether they are "scriptural."

One of the most creepy things I ever read was some writer's account of sitting with a group of Anglican leaders as they discussed one of the "issues." I think it was female clergy, a few years ago. He was shocked, because there was no mention of morality or theology, or even, to put it bluntly, Christianity. Their talk was was pure brute politics: How do we ram this through, how do we smash or sideline the opposition.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:54 AM

A day to be proud of...

Chemical Ali will hang for his lead role in the death of 180,000 Kurds murdered during the "Anfal" campaign, mounted between February and September 1988 by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein...

GatewayPundit has the story, and some heartrending pictures...

That we have brought some of those monsters to justice is as good and noble and Christian a deed as trying the Nazis at Nuremberg. Better in several ways; this is not just conquerer's justice, but done by the elected leadership of the Iraqi people. And without the necessity of cooperating with the Soviets, who murdered even more people than the Germans did.

What really galls me is the utter ice-heartedness of our fake anti-war crowd. 180,000 civilians killed in one campaign, but they don't want to know. They don't want it talked about, because it might hurt them in elections. (Which is what they really care about, not "peace.") They claim to be against genocide...well, here's the real item. And if the fake peaceniks had their way, it would still be going on.

Mother and child dead in Halabja.Jpg

Posted by John Weidner at 5:49 AM

June 24, 2007

" The land of spices, something understood."

        PRAYER.

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
      Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
      The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth ;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner's towre,
      Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
      The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
      Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
      Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

      Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
      The land of spices, something understood.

          George Herbert-- 1593-1633

(When I Googled up a copy of this, I found some interesting thoughts on the meanings of the poem here.)

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Posted by John Weidner at 5:47 AM

June 23, 2007

"Political correctness lowers your effective IQ"

From a good piece by Steve Sailor (Thanks to Kathy Shaidle)

...The idea that it is diversity (the researchers used the census’s standard racial categories to define diversity) that drives social capital down has its critics. Among them is Steven Durlauf, an economist at the University of Wisconsin and a critic of Putnam’s past work, who said he thinks some other characteristic, as yet unidentified, explains the lowered trust and social withdrawal of people living in diverse areas. But without clear evidence to the contrary, Putnam says, he has to believe the conclusion is solid.
Many decades ago, I used to run into Steve Durlauf of Burbank H.S. all the time at high school speech and debate tournaments, where he would beat me like a drum. I wasn't terribly good at forensics because I'm not that orally fluent, but even at what I was good at, Durlauf was much better. I don't know if he was the most successful debater in Southern California of his era, but he's the one who most deserved to be. He's just a lot smarter than me. And he's a nice guy, too.

So, why does Prof. Durlauf come out sounding kind of dim on this topic compared to me? Because political correctness lowers your effective IQ. Truths are connected to other truths, so if you are willing to follow the truth wherever it goes, you'll make a lot more progress than if you put up big "Can't Go There" signs in your own head.

"Political correctness lowers your effective IQ." The funny thing is, we see this all the time. But we are so accustomed to the blurred thinking that we usually don't notice it. A good example is the use of the word "diversity" itself. After the Bakke Decision, the word "diversity" was adopted as a code word for racial quotas. That's what the word means in contemporary discourse. As a parent of three children, I see it all the time, in the various pronouncements we get from schools. If your school hires a "diversity coordinator," it means somebody who is going to find more blacks or Hispanics. That's ALL it means.

And everybody knows it, but I've yet to see the slightest evidence of anyone being conscious of the obvious duplicity of what they are saying. People seem to absorb the politically correct speech forms out of the air, without the slightest morsel of critical thought. And once you start on that path, it becomes more and more dangerous to start examining your ideas, because there is a whole structure of thought that might come crashing down. So you put the "Can't Go There" signs up.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:00 AM

June 22, 2007

"Clarion of freedom"

Sorry, I'm probably out of the mainstream here, but I think you all oughta appreciate George W Bush now, because you aren't going to see his like again in your lifetime. And in about 20 years, when he's regarded as bigger than Reagan, you will have to scurry over and pretend you gave him heartfelt support all along...

This happened weeks ago, but just came to light today...

By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, June 21, 2007; Washington Post:

On May 31, President Bush met for 35 minutes in the private living quarters of the White House with Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Hong Kong, in an event that was not announced and did not appear on his official schedule. Their meeting did not please the State Department, elements of the Catholic hierarchy and certainly not the Chinese government. But it signifies what George W. Bush is really about.

In Hong Kong, Zen enjoys more freedom to speak out than do his fellow bishops in China proper, and he has become known as the spiritual voice of China's beleaguered democracy movement. Since Hong Kong was handed over to Beijing by the British government in 1997, he has increasingly called for both religious freedom and democracy in China. Consequently, the China desk at the State Department in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing contended that, for the sake of Sino-American relations, it would be a bad idea for the president to invite the cardinal. So did some of Zen's fellow cardinals.

So, why did the president invite him? The fact that no news of the session leaked out for two weeks indicates that this was no political stunt to revive Bush's anemic poll ratings. The president got divided counsel from his advisers regarding the impact the meeting would have on China's rulers. As he nears the end of a troubled presidency, Bush as a man of faith places the plight of the religious in unfree countries at the top of his agenda...

Cardinal Zen! And the cowboy! Two titans. This must have hit State Department commies and certain Vatican Euro-weenies like being doused with pails of ice-water. Makes me cackle and grin. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Charlene says, "They have no clue what's going on." That's for sure.

...But more important to Bush than advice from a college chum is what he believes, as the difficult days of what has been an unpopular presidency dwindle. He met in Washington last year with dissident "House Christians" from China. Speaking in Prague, a week after his talk with Zen, Bush affirmed his position on the side of religious dissidents everywhere: "Freedom is the design of our Maker, and the longing of every soul."...

...Bush asked Zen whether he was the "bishop of all China." Replying that his diocese was just Hong Kong, Zen told Bush of the plight of Catholics in China, including five imprisoned bishops. The cardinal is reported by sources close to him to have left the White House energized and inspired. George W. Bush is at a low point among his fellow citizens, but he is still a major figure for Catholics in China who look to him as a clarion of freedom....

"but he is still a major figure for Catholics in China who look to him as a clarion of freedom..." Got news for you, kiddos. People all over this planet think the same thing. Just as prisoners in the Gulag used to pass scraps of paper with Reagan's words of freedom on them, people are passing the words and deeds of George W Bush right now. And Reagan came through for the hundreds of millions who were oppressed by communism, despite everything the Democrats and pacifists and realists doing everything they could to keep them enslaved.

And the same thing is happening now. As always, the process is messy and bloody and slow, but the Freedom Train is rolling, and the Democrats and sneering leftists and diplomats and Quakers won't be able to stop it.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:21 PM

England is dead. Long live the Anglosphere...

By Frank Gardner, BBC News:

...When Iranian Revolutionary Guards captured the British sailors and Royal Marines in March, it was not exactly their first attempt.

It turns out that Iranian forces made an earlier concerted attempt to seize a boarding party from the Royal Australian Navy.

The Australians, though, to quote one military source, "were having none of it".

The BBC has been told the Australians re-boarded the vessel they had just searched, aimed their machine guns at the approaching Iranians and warned them to back off, using what was said to be "highly colourful language".

The Iranians withdrew, and the Australians were reportedly lifted off the ship by one of their own helicopters...
Posted by John Weidner at 4:35 PM

Another abu Ghraib for the Left...

Speigel Online: A building formerly occupied by Fatah's intelligence service in Gaza was long notorious for torture and execution. Now Hamas is in control -- and is letting former inmates visit the chamber of horrors...

Well, we'll just sit here and wait for the frauds who shed fake-tears over abu Ghraib to denounce this.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:59 AM

June 21, 2007

...second time as farce. Third, fourth, fifth...We need a stronger term than "farce"

Hugh, on the possibility of a Nader run...

After he pardons Libby, President Bush should pardon every reporter sentenced to cover another Nader campaign. He was the worst combination of dull and conceited when I got into journalism in 1990, and has gotten steadily worse. Has anyone ever accomplished less with more air time? I don't care how many votes he drains from Hillary, the prospect of having to listen to him drone on for the next 18 months is too painful to consider. Can Bloomberg pay him a billion not to run?

The intellectual bankruptcy of the Left is nowhere better illustrated than in the possibility of them supporting that old fraud yet again. You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh at the limping peaceniks trying to pretend that they are doing something fresh and exciting!

And it all makes me feel so young. I mean, I'm in the same generation as the people who would surely be the core Nader supporters, and yet I feel like saying, "Granny, why do you still wear those funny clothes from the 70's?"

Posted by John Weidner at 7:53 AM

The civil rights battleground of our time...

One of the things that infuriates me about a lot of "conservatives" is the way they refer to NCLB (the No Child Left Behind Act) as a foolish liberal boondoggle, and an example of Bush's naivete in working with Teddy Kennedy. In fact the money involved was a sweetener (and a bribe) for a bill that gave the feds some extremely big sticks to force change on the nation's public schools. And public schools are the civil rights battleground of our time, where the poor and minorities suffer oppression to maintain the power base of the Democrat Party. (Hmmm. Funny thing how these things repeat. Slavery, defended by Democrats. Jim Crow....defended by Democrats.) I think Teddy was snookered by a much smarter guy.

But it has been frustrating for me because there is little reporting on the subject. The Big Stick won't work unless it is used, and bureaucrats tend to resist doing what the Bush Administration wants. And I don't know much about what's going on under the surface. This article, By Nancy Zuckerbrod, is rather interesting...

NEW YORK - The scarlet letter in education these days is an "R." It stands for restructuring — the purgatory that schools are pushed into if they fail to meet testing goals for six straight years under the No Child Left Behind law.

Nationwide, about 2,300 schools are either in restructuring or are a year away and planning for such drastic action as firing the principal and moving many of the teachers, according to a database provided to The Associated Press by the Education Department. Those schools are being warily eyed by educators elsewhere as the law's consequences begin to hit home.

Schools fall into this category after smaller changes, such as offering tutoring, fall short. The effort is supposed to amount to a major makeover, and it has created a sense of urgency that in some schools verges on desperation....(Thanks to Orrin)

See below for a bit more of the article. Including the sentence, "The administration also wants the federal law to override provisions in collective bargaining agreements." Jeez, for being "not conservative," Bush sure does some funny things...

....Other changes the administration is pushing include giving schools in restructuring more options. The Education Department has proposed letting them become charter schools, which are public but operate more freely than traditional schools, regardless of state limits on how many charter schools are allowed. The administration also wants the federal law to override provisions in collective bargaining agreements to ensure failing schools have complete control over who works there.

"These are schools where there are some significant problems," Briggs said. "Without more serious action, we're going to keep getting what we've gotten."

Regardless of whether No Child Left Behind is altered, the message is getting to schools that they must make real changes now, said Douglas Anthony, principal of Arrowhead Elementary in Upper Marlboro, Md., a suburb of Washington.

During a recent visit, first and fourth graders alike were busy with math and reading basics.

It was around 2 p.m, shortly before the school day was to end, and a time when elementary-age students might typically be playing tag, working on craft projects or just easing into the end of the academic day.

But at Arrowhead, a school in the restructuring planning stage, math worksheets were on the desks, kids were sounding out vowels and special-ed teachers were working with small groups of children.

Superintendent Deasy acknowledges the atmosphere at Arrowhead is more intense than at schools that aren't facing restructuring. He said lessons at schools missing testing goals have to be very targeted, and he says there often isn't time for electives and free play like at other schools.

Critics of the law complain about such constraints. But Deasy said Arrowhead's test scores are heading in the right direction, precisely because students are on task and teachers are talking about instruction rather than cafeteria menus or bus schedules.

Said Principal Anthony: "There's a new level of urgency about the work we have to do for students."
Posted by John Weidner at 7:14 AM

June 19, 2007

Read smart...

You have no doubt heard by now about our major offensive in Baquba, the capitol of Diyala Province, which is where al Qaida has set up shop after they stimulated the production of local "antibodies" in al Anbar. I won't presume to discuss the combat—Do NOT miss Michaels Yon's latest dispatch. But I do know the lie of the land locally, and can say that this is bad news for the al Qaeda/Democrat/News-Media Alliance, and we can expect a vicious counter-attack.

I liked this post, by Confederate Yankee...

....Read that again, "Baquba alone might be as intense as Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah in late 2004."

The "Mahogany Ridge" media is tied up in the latest suicide bombing in Baghdad (simply look at the title, lede, and focus of the CNN article cited above as an example), and even those who chose to feature the Baquba assault clearly don't understand the magnitude of the just-joined battle.

Once reality slowly dawns on the media that they are misunderestimating the scope and scale of the assault, steel yourself for a rush of inaccuracies as they seek to get something, anything published, much of it based upon rumor, some of it based upon outright propaganda and lies.

We saw the same during and after Fallujah, when the U.S. military was accused of using napalm on civilians. We don't even have napalm.

The ignorati claimed that white phosphorus was a "chemical weapon," of a "poison gas" and ascribed horrible wounds to it. These claims turned out to be completely untrue.

There may also once again be claims that using .50-caliber machine guns and the cannons of Bradley IFVs and helicopter gunships against terrorist personnel somehow violates the Geneva Conventions. It doesn't.


We'll be hearing and seeing much more from Diyala Province, Baquba proper, and other areas surrounding Baghdad as full-scale surge operations seek to envelop and destroy al Qaeda.

Read smart....
Question. Does anybody understand that reference to "Mahogany Ridge" media? I never heard that one.

Also, the phrase "We don't even have napalm" is disingenuous, since we do have similar incendiaries. But we didn't use any such in Falluja, and won't I'm sure in Baquba.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:08 AM

June 18, 2007

Nixon "got it" long ago...

Remember "the silent majority?" [ Huh? what's this old guy talking about? ]

From Ace of Spades HQ:

Ah, well. It's always been my contention that the most important function of blogs was to let people know that, despite the official pronouncements from the media and their supposed representatives, their views were actually, in many cases, the majority view, and so they should not act meekly as if they were a small minority doomed to lose but should rather fight like the mainstream representatives of the majority, destined to win, they really are.

That's how the media and political establishment conspire to push unpopular legislation on the public -- by convincing them their views are marginal and could not possibly win, and, in fact, are "extremist" and therefore things to be kept quiet about in secret shame.

What blogs, talk radio, and other non-establishment media are best at is fighting that dishonest meme and thereby letting people know that not only are they not alone, but in fact are part of the true, real mainstream majority opinion. And could, and should in most cases, prevail.

Without some method of national, rapid, widely disseminated messaging, how could millions of people be alerted to the fact that they were in fact the majority and not just a "small group" of "noisy" "extremists" who "don't want what's best for America," as the MSM and Republican leadership itself is telling them?

The most dramatic proof of this: A schoolteacher in France brought down the EU treaty by well-nigh singlehandedly rebutting the French media's and political class's one-sided, enthusiastic coverage of the treaty, offering no contrary opinion... and little hint there was a contrary opinion in France at all. Everyone's in favor of this treaty, they told everyone, so there is no reason whatsoever to even bother showing up to vote against it. Resistance is futile...(Thanks to Andrea).

Lefties think the history book has been chiseled in stone, as far as ol' Richard M. is concerned, and that the deaths of millions of Cambodians and Vietnamese and Laotians were trifles compared to Waaaaaaatergate. Mere eggs to make their omelets. But I don't think the history of our times has even begun to be written. And when it is, the frenzy and desperation of the elites as us little people are increasingly empowered by technology will be a major theme.

And one of the big moments will be Nixon's discovery that he could use television to bypass the press. (Teddy Kennedy and his foul "Democrat" crew will just be footnotes to the paragraph on Pol Pot.)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:51 AM

June 17, 2007

What are saints?

(Thoughts for Sunday)

I lifted this quote from Patem Peperium. Thanks.

...Shortly after publishing his novel Helena, in which he retold the story of the emperor Constantine's mother and her quest for the true cross, Evelyn Waugh received a congratulary note from a friend, the poet John Betjeman. Betjeman complimented Waugh on the book but wrote that "Helena doesn't seem like a saint." Waugh, who had tried for years to entice the devoutly Anglican Betjeman into the Catholic Church, replied with a brief catechesis on the Catholic understanding of saints:

Saints are simply souls in heaven. Some people have been so sensationally holy in life that we know they went straight to heaven and so put them in the [liturgical] calendar. We all have to become saints before we get to heaven....And each individual has his own peculiar form of sanctity which he must achieve or perish. It is no good saying, "I wish I were like Joan of Arc or St. John of the Cross." I can only be St. Evelyn Waugh - after God knows what experiences in purgatory.

I liked Helena's sanctity because it is in contrast to all that moderns think of as sanctity. She wasn't thrown to the lions, she wasn't a contemplative, she wasn't poor and hungry, she didn't look like an El Greco. She just discovered what it was God had chosen for her to do and did it...

      -- George Weigel, The Truth of Catholicism

Posted by John Weidner at 6:20 AM

June 16, 2007

Fun stuff with a scroll saw...

As a matter of general info, there are lots of woodworking things you can do without a shop or expensive tools. One neat machine is the scroll saw.

My son was tasked with buying a toy alligator to go on the going-away-party cake of someone in the choir who is moving to Florida. We were about to go driving around looking, but I hate shopping, and I said, "We could just make one." And so we did.

Scrollsaw toy alligator
My scroll saw is a plain-vanilla Powermatic, that cost me less that $150. (Of course if anyone's looking for gift suggestions in the four-figures neighborhood, these babies are what I dream of. But don't really need.)

My machine has undoubtedly paid for itself many times over, just in making small gifts. Back when my children needed presents to take to a birthday parties, I used to make keychains by cutting the person's name out of a scrap of Rosewood, which can be buffed to a nice gloss. I probably did at least 30 of them over the years, which is a LOT of trips to Toys 'r Us avoided!

If anyone is interested, I made the alligator out out two pieces of smooth 1/2"-thick Poplar. I taped them together and cut out everything except the legs. Those were cut on each piece separately. Then I glued the two together. The color is green wood dye. The actual cutting took less than 10 minutes. It's about 12" long.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:14 PM

The "struggle of memory" goes on today...

...because a lot of people still want you to forget what the logical end-point of all leftism is. From the President's speech, at the dedication of Victims of Communism Memorial, Washington, D.C...

...The sacrifices of these individuals haunt history -- and behind them are millions more who were killed in anonymity by Communism's brutal hand. They include innocent Ukrainians starved to death in Stalin's Great Famine; or Russians killed in Stalin's purges; Lithuanians and Latvians and Estonians loaded onto cattle cars and deported to Arctic death camps of Soviet Communism. They include Chinese killed in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution; Cambodians slain in Pol Pot's Killing Fields; East Germans shot attempting to scale the Berlin Wall in order to make it to freedom; Poles massacred in the Katyn Forest; and Ethiopians slaughtered in the "Red Terror"; Miskito Indians murdered by Nicaragua's Sandinista dictatorship; and Cuban balseros who drowned escaping tyranny. We'll never know the names of all who perished, but at this sacred place, Communism's unknown victims will be consecrated to history and remembered forever.

We dedicate this memorial because we have an obligation to those who died, to acknowledge their lives and honor their memory. The Czech writer Milan Kundera once described the struggle against Communism as "the struggle of memory against forgetting." Communist regimes did more than take their victims' lives; they sought to steal their humanity and erase their memory. With this memorial, we restore their humanity and we reclaim their memory. With this memorial, we say of Communism's innocent and anonymous victims, these men and women lived and they shall not be forgotten....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:47 AM

June 14, 2007

Flag Day

flag and parade
Jannette Elms holds a U.S. flag to show support for local service members during a Veterans Day parade in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Sunday.
From Army Times Frontline Photos, about 10-15-05
Dave Scherbenco / The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) / AP Photo

Posted by John Weidner at 10:30 AM

June 13, 2007

Clear thought...

Mike Plaiss e-mailed to tell me of a WSJ article, but only available to subscribers: "There is one today (not on-line) called My Only Son by Leon de Winter that could have simply been lifted off your blog. If you don't regularly get the WSJ make sure to pick one up today. You'll want to read this."

Well, as they say, "Information wants to be free." Several bloggers have reprinted the piece. You can find it here. I'll quote part of it...

Leon de Winter: My Only Son

During the past four years, 170,000 Americans have died in traffic accidents. For young people, traveling in a car is the leading cause of death. Over the same period, 3,500 Americans were killed in Iraq in a war against radical Islam. These statistics haven’t been properly contrasted.

Mobility is a must in Western society. It’s a prerequisite for affluence and it fosters a sense of freedom. No politician could ban cars or severely limit their use. Transportation is the nation’s lifeblood. Its inherent risks are inescapable for an open society.

So Americans manage to deal with the fact that tens of thousands of people will be killed each year on the roadways. But when it comes to the war against Islamic fascism, the nation may soon decide that 3,500 deaths over four years is too much. This for a great nation of 300 million inhabitants.

If that is the case, then the United States will have begun to undermine the moral foundations spelled out in its own Declaration of Independence. If America is unable to carry out a war of its own choosing in defense of liberty because the cost of 3,500 lives is unacceptable, then it will soon be unable to maintain its position and power in the world...
...How did we get to this point?

Western civilization’s pursuit of affluence, secularization and sexual revolution have all sapped its willingness to make sacrifices. Today’s parents often have no more than two children, some may have only one son. His life is so precious that it has come to seem unbearable for him to be killed in battle. In his study “Sons and World Power,” German genocide expert Gunnar Heinsohn investigates family size in various societies in relation to the frequency of violent conflict since 1500 A.D. His conclusion is disturbingly simple: The presence of large numbers of young men in nations that have experienced population explosions—all searching for respect, work, sex and meaning—tend to turn into violent countries and become involved in wars. He cites, as an example, the Palestinian territories, where many families have as many as four sons.

Most countries in which Islamofascism has taken root have experienced population explosions. Huge numbers of young men are searching in vain for a respectable future. They legitimize their frustration with a radical ideology that channels their dissatisfaction and finds roots in the ancient religious traditions of Islam.

Mr. Heinsohn’s explanation shows the extreme pacifism of today’s Europe to be more than a response to the horrific experiences of World War II. He sees Europe’s low birthrate as the basis for the remarkable period of peace Europe has nurtured since 1945. Europe’s sons have become too precious for war.

This same phenomenon is also happening in America. Large families are becoming scarce. As a result, the sacrifice of a second or third son to a violent death, a possibility since the dawn of civilization, is not possible because those sons simply aren’t there....

I'm not sure if de Winter is correct in his reason why we may be unwilling to endure the casualties of the War on Terror. But he's thinking clearly, which sure can't be said for most Americans. One of the ways people are muddled is that they don't even realize that, while we have averaged 620 combat deaths a year since 9/11, the normal number of non-combat deaths in our military is about 700 or 800 per year! (Accidents, disease, suicide, homicide, etc.) That's the price we pay just to have a peace-time military.

Almost everything our nation does costs lives in some way or another. something I've never seen mentioned by the people who shed fake-tears and claim that 3,500 deaths is "unendurable."

Posted by John Weidner at 5:20 PM

Antibodies...

From the Belmont Club...

...These [three] stories all illustrate how the Jihad is destroying every Muslim society in which it is raised. It has created far more havoc on those societies than any conceivable American military strike. Terrorism as a defense creates far more collateral damage than any conceivable "protection" it may offer. A case in point is Iraq. Far from being a brilliant strategy to defeat the America the "networked insurgency" has so far managed to smash Iraq's infrastructure, unleash murder gangs, cause the exile of hundreds of thousands of Sunnis to neighboring countries, cripple its oil production, dissolve every semblance of social order it can corrode and finally, unleash such a wave of revulsion that even thugs and smugglers are making common cause with the Coalition so that they can return to a life of peaceful crime. In Gaza, men on street are improbably longing for the return of the Israeli soldier, whose presence, however stern, now seems the very soul of gaiety in comparison to sadistic brutality of Hamas and Fatah. Even Pakistan's Northwest Frontier, the historical epitome of lawlessness, is watching all its grim records broken. "Now, Tank is becoming a virtual no-go zone, even for ethnic Pashtuns who make up the majority of its 150,000 people. Islamic fundamentalists have issued Taliban-style edicts and set up their own courts in the city and nearby districts. Extremists have warned barbers not to shave customers' beards and bombed shops selling Western music or films."

And the Jihadis have just gotten started. The terrible logic of terror means that it must continuously raise its level of grisliness to keep its victims, already brutalized and inured to routine shocks, spasming in fear...

I remain convinced that we are tacitly allied with most of the people of the Islamic world, even though they may not realize it, and may even hate and despise us.

And that the jihad is an insidious and very dangerous disease, but also one that creates antibodies, who will be our allies in the future. And of course we are seeing just that in Iraq, though the process has been slower and bloodier than we expected.

(And though it's not PC to say it aloud, the logic of our situation implies that the mistakes we have made in the Iraq Campaign, especially in not adopting counter-insurgency tactics a couple of years ago, are actually a good thing in the long run. Assuming we don't run away before we win. The blood had to be shed, to prevent far more carnage in the future.)

And the "logic of terror" works for us in the long run. The fake-pacifists and fake-Democrats are writhing and twisting in agony, trying to appease the un-appeasable, and trying to avoid the demand that they fight to preserve the civilization they no longer believe in. But it won't work. The terror-attacks will inevitably ratchet up. Coexistence is not possible.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:45 AM

Candid...

An excerpt from the Press conference after the President's speech in Prague.

...Q. Can I go back to your democracy speech?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Did you like it?

Q I loved it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Say that in your stories.

Q I'll say it anywhere. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: What did he say?

Q I'll say it anywhere.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good. How about in print? (Laughter.)

Q Oh, well --

THE PRESIDENT: That may be taking it too far. (Laughter.)...

And of course that was taking it too far, since the major media of course do not report anything that makes the President look good. Unless maybe when he's cooperating with Teddy Kennedy. And they didn't in this case; the speech got little attention. (And the self-styled conservatives aren't interested either—They cover their ears and say immigrationimmigrationimmigration.)

Me, I think that those conservatives (including myself) who find the immigration bill toxic should still be supporting the President on many other issues. But that's not binary enough for most people. a lot of conservatives right now seem to me to resemble poor Andrew Sullivan, who couldn't just disagree on his one big issue, but yet stay constant on the other ones. Once he linked up with Dems on the gay marriage issue, he had to cobble-up reasons why everything Republicans were doing was wrong. even though he contradicted all his previous views and just made himself look like an idiot.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:54 AM

Odd stuff...

Phillip Jenkins has a "counterintuitive" piece relevant to the question of the decline of Europe. I'm always interested in such counter-trends, though I have to say I'll have to see a lot more of them before I'm likely to change my opinions. I tend to suspect they are just chips tossed in a larger stream.

...For all we hear about Islam, Europe remains a stronger Christian fortress than people realize. What’s more, it is showing little sign of giving ground to Islam or any other faith for that matter.

To be fair, the trend is counterintuitive. Europe has long been a malarial swamp for any traditional or orthodox faith. Compared with the rest of the world, religious adherence in Europe is painfully weak. And it is easy to find evidence of the decay. Any traveler to the continent has seen Christianity’s abandoned and secularized churches, many now transformed into little more than museums. But this does not mean that European Christianity is nearing extinction. Rather, among the ruins of faith, European Christianity is adapting to a world in which its convinced adherents represent a small but vigorous minority.

In fact, the rapid decline in the continent’s church attendance over the past 40 years may have done Europe a favor. It has freed churches of trying to operate as national entities that attempt to serve all members of society. Today, no church stands a realistic chance of incorporating everyone. Smaller, more focused bodies, however, can be more passionate, enthusiastic, and rigorously committed to personal holiness...

....Similar trends are at work within the Protestant churches of Northern and Western Europe. The most active sections of the Church of England today are the evangelical and charismatic parishes that have, in effect, become megachurches in their own right. These parishes have been incredibly successful at reaching out to a secular society that no longer knows much of anything about the Christian faith. Holy Trinity Brompton, a megaparish in Knightsbridge, London, that is now one of Britain’s largest churches, is home to the amazingly popular “Alpha Course,” a means of recruiting potential converts through systems of informal networking aimed chiefly at young adults and professionals. As with the Catholic movements, the course works because it makes no assumptions about any prior knowledge: Everyone is assumed to be a new recruit in need of basic teaching. Nor does the recruitment technique assume that people live or work in traditional settings of family or employment. The Alpha Course is successfully geared for postmodern believers in a postindustrial economy....(Thanks to Orrin).

I read Jenkins' book The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South. Fascinating stuff, especially about the explosive growth of Christianity in Africa. Maybe this article portends a new book.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:45 AM

June 12, 2007

"The omnipresent fear of being accused of racism.”

A snippet from Stanley Kurtz's review of The Last Days of Europe, by Walter Laqueur...

...Laqueur returns several times to the failure of Europe’s authorities to consult with the public on immigration. Instead of putting the matter up for debate, government and corporations quietly and unilaterally set policy. Europe’s elite had a bad conscience, given memories of refugees from Nazi Germany who’d been turned away decades earlier. There was also the omnipresent “fear of being accused of racism.” This bizarre combination of multiculturalism and complete disregard for the significance of culture opened up a huge gulf between Europe’s elite and the public — a gulf that emerged openly when France and The Netherlands rejected the proposed EU constitution (in part over concerns about Muslim immigration and the accession of Turkey to the EU). There was, says Laqueur, “a backlash against the elites who wanted to impose their policies on a population who had not been consulted....Another important motive was the reluctance to hand over national sovereignty to central, remote and anonymous institutions over which people had no control.”...

The whole review is well worth reading...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:50 AM

June 11, 2007

I recommend...

Hugh Hewitt's A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney

My current estimate is that it is quite likely that Mitt Romney will be the Repubican nominee. And if this is even remotely interesting to you, then Hugh's book is the book to read. It is not too long, very well written, and covers a lot.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:34 PM

I don't pay much attention to automobiles...

...so I wasn't sure what to think yesterday when we saw a Prius with a spoiler. Is that not somewhat odd?

Posted by John Weidner at 9:30 AM

June 10, 2007

Do a Good Turn Daily...

Via the Anchoress, a nice piece in TimesOnline on the revival of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in Iraq.

Iraq actually has a long tradition of scouting, which was introduced by the Brits in the 1920's. It was corrupted and eventually destroyed by Saddam, but has sprung up again from the ashes.

I love to collect these stories. This won't get much attention from our news-media, you can be sure. It doesn't fit the anti-Bush Iraq-is-hopeless story line. And it won't be much noticed by those who think we are "at war with Islam." Nor, since the US military is helping out, by the fake-pacifists who claim we are "bombing Iraq."

Iraq is an odd and fascinating place, that never seems to quite fit the many stereotypes we try to impose on it. My belief continues to be that, notwithstanding the deep wells of evil and violence there, it is a place of great potential. And that it was and is the fracture-point where a blow to the sick realm of Arab despotism could be split open and changed...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:12 AM

Two messiahs...

(Thoughts for Sunday)

From Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI...

...The struggle for the freedom of the Church, the struggle to avoid identifying Jesus' Kingdom with any political structure, is one that has to be fought century after century. For the fusion of faith and political power always comes at a price: faith becomes the servant of power and must bend to its criteria.

The alternative that is at stake here appears in a dramatic form in the narrative of the Lord's Passion. At the culmination of Jesus' trial, Pilate presents the people with a choice between Jesus and Barabbas. One of the two will be released. But who was Barabbas? It is usually the words of John's Gospel that come to mind here: ''Barabbas was a robber" (Jn 18:40). But the Greek word for "robber" had acquired a specific meaning in the political situation that obtained at the time in Palestine. It had become a synonym for "resistance fighter." Barabbas had taken part in an uprising (cf. Mk 15:7), and furthermore—in that context—had been accused of murder (cf. Lk 25:19, 25). When Matthew remarks that Barabbas was "a notorious prisoner" (Mt 27:16)1, this is evidence that he was one of the prominent resistance fighters, in fact probably the actual leader of that particular uprising.

In other words, Barabbas was a messianic figure. The choice of Jesus versus Barabbas is not accidental; two messiah figures, two forms of messianic belief stand in opposition. This becomes even clearer when we consider that the name Bar-Abbas means "son of the father." This is a typically messianic appellation, the cultic name of a prominent leader of the messianic movement. The last great Jewish messianic war was fought in the year 132 by Bar-Kokhba, "son of the star." The form of the name is the same, and it stands for the same intention.

Origen, a Father of the Church, provides us with another interesting detail. Up until the third century, many manuscripts of the Gospels referred to the man in question here as "Jesus Barabbas"—"Jesus son of the father." Barabbas figures here as a sort of alter ego of Jesus, who makes the same claim but understands it in a completely different way. So the choice is between a Messiah who leads an armed struggle, promises freedom and a kingdom of one's own, and this mysterious Jesus who proclaims that losing oneself is the way to life. Is it any wonder that the crowds prefer Barabbas?....

Posted by John Weidner at 6:44 AM

June 9, 2007

Beneath the surface...

VDH:

...Lebanon is engaged in a deadly war against Palestinian al Qaeda-affiliates, and has resorted to massive and inherently indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian camp hideouts in Beirut—in a manner far more savage than the CNN-BBC monitored Israeli responses. The old dictum remains: Arabs killing Arabs is apparently a different category of reportage, where rules of Western censure don’t apply...

It's always this way. Google "Black September." Arab countries have wreaked far more devastation and death on the Palestinians than Israel ever has. And this gets no criticism from our Western "liberals" and "pacifists" because they do not and never have cared about the Palestinians. For them the only war is the war for the soul of the West.

And the Jews and the Americans are always the enemy, because, both in symbol and in fact, we personify:

  • Religious belief.
  • Belief in two nations that are embodied ideas.
  • Willingness to fight for those beliefs.
  • Capitalism empowering ordinary people.
  • Rejection of Old World elites.

In the real war, the war for the soul of the West, the good guys (no pussyfooting here) have a big disadvantage and a big advantage.

Our disadvantage is that we are hardly aware that we are at war. Most of us don't see news stories and immediately recognize them as the back-alley knife attacks they often are. Same with votes of the local school board, or tenure struggles at the State U., or the infiltration of ugly "art" into our churches and public spaces.

Our advantage is that the enemy is nihilism. It has nothing positive to offer. And it has to clothe its nakedness in scraps of belief, beliefs that it doesn't really believe in! So it is tangled in lies and contradictions. Especially, it clothes itself in the rags of Liberalism, and then is vulnerable as it flouts liberal ideals.

Which is why the Leftish crowd hates the Iraq Campaign, and in fact hated it before it even started. I suspect one of the most revealing moments of our time was in early 2002 when reporters were peppering the President with angry probing questions on Iraq, before the Administration had even raised the possibility! They knew! The Left has been calling every conservative a "fascist" for the last 70 or 80 years, and they knew that confronting a real fascist would expose them as frauds. Likewise with other liberal issues like humanitarianism, genocide, torture, oppression of minorities, anti-Semitism, and Human Rights. Saddam's Iraq was the real thing, and any real liberal would have to be in solidarity with George W Bush in fighting the monster. Exactly as much as if we were fighting against Hitler.

Perhaps history will place among the many accomplishments of President Bush a clarification. He has clarified that the great struggle is not between liberals and conservatives, but between nihilists and conservatives.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:44 AM

June 8, 2007

Ideal plans of government...

...The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board.

He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.
      --- Adam Smith
Posted by John Weidner at 3:08 PM

June 7, 2007

"Discovery"

Long-time RJ reader Frank sent a link to a WSJ article (which should work for us non-subscribers for 7 days) about how lawsuits can rebound on plaintiffs. In this case the Islamic Society of Boston sued for libel against critics of a suspiciously sweet land deal with the Boston Redevelopment Agency...

...The Islamic Society nonetheless sued, claiming both libel and civil-rights violations. Motions to dismiss the case were denied, and the litigants began to compel third parties to turn over documents bearing on the case. In short order, one after another of the allegations made by the Islamic Society collapsed.

Their complaint asserted that the defendants had falsely stated that monies had been sent to the Islamic Society from "Saudi/Middle Eastern sources," and that such statements and others had devastated its fund-raising efforts. But documents obtained in discovery demonstrated without ambiguity that fund-raising was (as one representative of the Islamic Society had put it) "robust," with at least $7.2 million having been wired to the Islamic Society from Middle Eastern sources, mostly from Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic Society claimed it had been libeled by a variety of expressions of concern by the defendants that it, the Society, had provided support for extremist organizations. But bank records obtained by the defendants showed that the Islamic Society had served as funder both of the Holy Land Foundation, a Hamas-controlled organization that the U.S. Treasury Department had said "exists to raise money in the United States to promote terror," and of the Benevolence International Foundation, which was identified by the 9/11 Commission as an al Qaeda fund-raising arm.

The complaint maintained that any reference to recent connections between the Islamic Society and the now-imprisoned Abdurahman Alamoudi was false since it "had had no connection with him for years." But an Islamic Society check written in November 2000, two months after Alamoudi publicly proclaimed his support for Hamas and Hezbollah, was uncovered in discovery which directed money to pay for Alamoudi's travel expenses.

To top it all off, documents obtained from the Boston Redevelopment Authority itself revealed serious, almost incomprehensible, conflicts of interest in the real-estate deal. It turned out that the city agency employee in charge of negotiating the deal with the Islamic Society was at the same time a member of that group and secretly advising it about how to obtain the land at the cheapest possible price.

So the case was dropped....

Personally, I think it is absurd and suicidal weakness and decadence on our part that such obvious scumbags are not being interned in a comfy camp someplace where Caribbean breezes waft across the sparkling sands.

But isn't "discovery" cool? Charlene sometimes does the same stuff, on a smaller scale. Winkles out the connections and secrets of dubious plaintiffs using interrogatories and "requests for production of documents." Plus some cool Internet search tools.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:49 AM

June 6, 2007

"As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts."

A D-Day Prayer, broadcast by President Franklin D Roosevelt...

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944

"For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home..."

So it was then, so it is now. Our soldiers are today's "Samaritans," who succor those in need, while elitists pass on the other side of the road. The difference is that then all Americans recognized the basic Christian goodness of our troops and the rightness of their mission. Now our country is divided, divided into Americans and poisonous nihilistic reptiles who miss no opportunity to slander our brave soldiers, and to suggest that their deeds are meaningless, or even evil.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:40 AM

June 5, 2007

Agenda...

The NY Post has a good editorial (thanks for the tip, Frank), Gray Lady, Grim Agenda, excoriating the NYT for trying its best to downplay the Queens terror plot...

...Let's be clear here: The "paper of record" isn't guilty of merely poor news judgment. It's got an agenda.

Numerous newspapers understood the gravity of a plot against New York by terrorist upstarts from a seemingly unlikely part of the world - the Caribbean, just a few hours from U.S. shores. The Washington Post, for example, put the story on its front page Sunday.

Nor is the Times' coverage of this story a quirk: The paper has downplayed several other terror cases because the plotters were "merely" in the "talking" stage. Last month, after the Fort Dix Six case came to light, the paper ran a piece called "Informer's Role Draws Praise and Questions" - casting doubt on "the legitimacy of the investigations" because of the role of an FBI informer.

None of that should matter.

The point is, an unknown number of ruthless actors around the world - some in our backyard - continue to emerge and threaten the nation. No doubt the 9/11 plot also once seemed like something no one could pull off....

The NYT does have an agenda, and is savaging the truth to promote it. And this is a particularly sick thing because most local papers and TV stations take their lead from the Times.

The agenda, in its larger sense, is to return to the days when the NYT was the "flagship" of the liberal establishment. And to return to the glory-days of their youth, when they helped the Communists conquer South Vietnam. (They probably imagine that American defeat in Iraq would be similar, with the mass-murders etc. conveniently hidden behind an "iron curtain," so that the ice-hearted bastards of the Left don't need to take any responsibility. Me, I think the world has grown too small for that.)

They want all the nascent terror plots hidden, because they don't want us "little people" to be aroused. We have no interest in NYT editors being part of a "ruling class."

Posted by John Weidner at 4:52 PM

June 4, 2007

On the Geneva Convention

Rand Simberg says something I've said before, and says it better. Of course all you regular readers already understand this stuff, but I like to blog good arguments to have them available in the future...

...There seems to be a single-minded focus on the Geneva Conventions as protectors of prisoners' rights, even for prisoners who behave in utter violation of those Conventions. To do so is to display a profound ignorance of the primary intent of the Conventions, which were an attempt to reduce the impact of war on innocent civilians, a concept that our enemy holds in utter contempt.

This subject has been discussed multiple times in the blogosphere over the last few years, but apparently many of the commenters either haven't read, or have read and forgotten, or lacked the reading comprehension to understand it.

The Conventions require that combatants fight in recognizable uniforms. Why? So that it makes it easier to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, and to reduce the incidents of collateral casualties.

The Conventions require that combatants not wage war from designated sanctuaries such as churches, mosques, hospitals, or ambulances. Why? I'd like to think that the answer is obvious.

The Conventions require that those waging war accept the Conventions. Why? Because if not, then there is no point in having them, since people who violate them would still be granted the benefit of them....
...Since 911, in the face of the most ruthless enemy imaginable, who would wipe us off the face of the earth with the flick of a finger had they our power, we have fought the most humane war in the history of humankind. We have spent untold billions of dollars to develop precision weaponry that can destroy a building while leaving another one right next to it intact, that can destroy a tank while leaving a car sitting next to it unscratched. We (and the Israelis) will send in troops and risk their lives to take out specific terrorists, when we could instead simply wipe out a neighborhood, safely from the air. Why? Simply to avoid civilian casualties. We have rules of engagement that put our troops at further risk, so that we don't accidentally hit a civilian.

But we have an enemy that not only hides in mosques and ambulances, and behind women's skirts, but one that rejoices in deliberately murdering civilians, even of their own religion.

When people unthinkingly demand that we grant the rights of standard POWs stipulated by the Conventions to illegal combatants, they are in effect demanding that we violate the Conventions, and they are in fact undermining the purpose of the Conventions. This isn't about having "moral authority" in the eyes of the world (a dubious premise, anyway, given how little moral authority most of the world has). That's like worrying about what gangsters think about our occasional speeding tickets. No, it's about trying to enforce the rules of war that were an (admittedly paradoxical) attempt to civilize it...

Actually, the absurd situation we are in, where it's demanded we apply a treaty to people who are not only not signatories but, not being nations, could not become signatories, reinforces my contention that what we are in is not a war, in any traditional sense of the word.

The Geneva Convention issue is, of course an entirely different issue from whether we should treat prisoners humanely. And the fact that it is almost impossible to discuss these things rationally with the "anti-war" crowd is evidence of profound self-induced brain damage among those who lean to the Left.

And the commonly held idea that terrorists should not be punished for gross violations of norms that are applied stringently to the US and her allies, is not only racist, but is a profound failure of morality and moral reasoning.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:48 AM

June 3, 2007

"Common sense Christians..."

(Thoughts for Sunday)

There are too many common sense Christians, afraid to spend themselves on anyone from whom they do not get visible results. They are ready with hard work for reform, they pour out good advice, they are proud to be realists who repudiate everything that seems to them to he impractical, including the poetry of Christ, but they have no use for those baffling human creatures who won't—or can't—play the game by their rules. These "realists" refuse to see that there are problems that can't be solved, griefs which cannot be healed, conditions which cannot be cured...
-- Caryll Houselander
Posted by John Weidner at 6:54 AM

June 2, 2007

We get what we deserve...

Just in case you didn't hear this story....

NEW YORK - Federal authorities announced Saturday they had broken up a suspected Muslim terrorist cell planning a "chilling" attack to destroy John F. Kennedy International Airport, kill thousands of people and trigger an economic catastrophe by blowing up a jet fuel artery that runs through populous residential neighborhoods.

Three men, one of them a former member of Guyana's parliament, were arrested and one was being sought in Trinidad as part of a plot that authorities said they had been tracked for more than a year and was foiled in the planning stages.

"The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable," U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf said at a news conference, calling it "one of the most chilling plots imaginable."

In an indictment charging the four men, one of them is quoted as saying the foiled plot would "cause greater destruction than in the Sept. 11 attacks," destroying the airport, killing several thousand people and destroying parts of New York's borough of Queens, where the line runs underground...
. . . . . . . . .

....The arrests mark the latest in a series of alleged homegrown terrorism plots targeting high-profile American landmarks.

A year ago, seven men were arrested in what officials called the early stages of a plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and destroy FBI offices and other buildings.

A month later, authorities broke up a plot to bomb underwater New York City train tunnels to flood lower Manhattan.

And six people were arrested a month ago in an alleged plot to unleash a bloody rampage on Fort Dix in New Jersey.

Well, we've spent decades teaching people that terrorism works. So it should be no surprise that they try stuff like this.

My suggestion is that this nation publicly commit, in the event of another 9/11-scale attack, to invading another Moslem country, and bringing it freedom, democracy and capitalism. It's obviously hard to deter attackers who are not afraid to die, but that's the one thing that might give them pause.

Of course we are actually doing pretty much the opposite, with a large part of the nation's leadership publicly advocating weakness and surrender. Announcing, in fact, that terror campaigns work! So we can expect lots more of this kind of thing. Pacifism kills. Voting Democrat is tantamount to national suicide.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:32 PM

June 1, 2007

Where do we go to surrender?

Leadership poster

The quality of leadership in Congress is certainly a cause for tears, but you might as well laugh.

This is from the Military Motivator, a blogger creating military motivation posters. Good stuff, take a look...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:27 PM