August 29, 2007

to as few as nine...

From Protein Wisdom:

....I cannot speak for everyone who supports the mission in Iraq, but I would submit that Beauchamp’s apparent fables and embellishments are not a “weak link” to be attacked, but simply an egregious example of the establishment media’s flawed coverage of the conflict. Accordingly, what follows is an over view of the establishment media coverage of the conflict in Iraq.

Though public opinion polls consistently show that Americans consider Iraq to be the most important issue facing the country, establishment media has slashed the resources and time devoted to Iraq. The number of embedded reporters plunged from somewhere between 570 and 750 when the invasion began in March 2003 to as few as nine by October 2006. The result was the rise of what journalists themselves call “hotel journalism” and “journalism by remote control.” Janet Reitman, reporting for Rolling Stone, described the state of the media in early 2004:
When I arrive in Baghdad in April, most American journalists are holed up in their rooms, reporting the war by remote: scanning the wires, working their cell phones, watching broadcasts of Al Jazeera. In many cases, they’ve been reduced to relying on sources available to anyone with an Internet connection… While Arabic and European media such as The Guardian and Le Monde manage to cover the war on the ground, American reporters seldom interview actual Iraqis. Instead, they talk to U.S. officials who are every bit as isolated as they are, or rely on local stringers and fixers, several of whom have been killed while working for Americans. “We live in a bubble,” grumbles one AP reporter. “If we know one percent of what’s going on in Iraq, we’re lucky.”
There are exceptions of course, though the number of establishment embeds shows they are literally exceptions. I do not discount the very real danger to Western journos in Iraq, though independent bloggers like Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, Bill Ardolino, and Michael J. Totten seem to have been able to embed outside Baghdad with nothing like the institutional support available to journalists from the establishment media… and that the number of such bloggers is growing. Moreover, I cannot ignore the consequences of “journalism by remote control.”

Noah D. Oppenheim, who visited Baghdad for MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” noted that “The consequence of this system is that, on television, the story in Iraq is no more than the sum of basic facts, like casualties, crashes, and official pronouncements.” The data back Oppenheim. The television airtime devoted to coverage of Iraq has plunged dramatically. Television networks devoted 4,162 minutes to Iraq in 2003, 3,053 minutes in 2004, 1,534 minutes in 2005 and 1,122 minutes in 2006. The amount of time and space devoted to Iraq coverage has continued to decline through the first half of 2007...

Bad news stories, especially the daily death tolls, consumed an ever-larger share of this dwindling coverage. In 2003, it consumed 38% of the networks’ Iraq newshole. In 2004 and 2005, it consumed 44%. In 2006, it rose to 56%....

One of the ironies of the situation is that the really interesting story is not the terrorist violence, which is repetitive, but the story of a democraic nation struggling to be born amidst frightful difficulties. Reading Michael Yon or the other independent bloggers in Iraq is especially fascinating because they put us in contact with ordinary Iraqis, good and bad.

If anyone who still believes that their TV is giving them the real Iraq is reading this post, read This as an example, one of many...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:09 PM

decline and undecline...

I liked this piece, The Decline and Fall of Declinism... I've been hearing all my adult life about how America is soon to be outstripped by this or that more organized and efficient (ie: more socialist) alternative. Remember MITI? Remember�this will date me�"We will bury you"? Ha ha.

..Under the heading “The end of a U.S.-centric world?” the PostGlobal section of The Washington Post website recently declared that “U.S. influence is in steep decline.” It was just the latest verse in a growing chorus of declinist doom-saying at home and abroad.

In 2004, Pat Buchanan lamented “the decline and fall of the greatest industrial republic the world had ever seen.” In 2005, The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee concluded that Hurricane Katrina exposed “a hollow superpower.” In 2007, Pierre Hassner of the Paris-based National Foundation for Political Science declared, “It will not be the New American Century.”

And the dirge goes on....

...But the declinists were wrong yesterday. And if their record—and America’s—are any indication, they are just as wrong today.

Any discussion of U.S. power has to begin with its enormous economy. At $13.13 trillion, the U.S. economy represents 20 percent of global output. It’s growing faster than Britain’s, Australia’s, Germany’s, Japan’s, Canada’s, even faster than the vaunted European Union.

In fact, even when Europe cobbles together its 25 economies under the EU banner, it still falls short of U.S. GDP—and will fall further behind as the century wears on. Gerard Baker of the Times of London notes that the U.S. economy will be twice the size of Europe’s by 2021.

On the other side of the world, some see China’s booming economy as a threat to U.S. economic primacy. However, as Baker observes, the U.S. is adding “twice as much in absolute terms to global output” as China. The immense gap in per capita income—$44,244 in the U.S. versus $2,069 in China—adds further perspective to the picture....

All you have to realize about those China-is-the-next-superpower screeds is that these things are not linear. The techniques that will get you from per capita $500 to $2,000 are not the same as those needed to get from $10,000 to $20,000, etc. To keep growing a country must learn a new game at every stage, and each one is harder....and....less amenable to centralized control or stimulation.

There's another thing that we all should be aware of, and that leftists don't want to know about...

...While the declinists routinely remind us that the U.S. spends more on defense than the next 15 countries combined, they seldom note that the current defense budget accounts for barely four percent of GDP—a smaller percentage than the U.S. spent on defense at any time during the Cold War. In fact, defense outlays consumed as much as 10 percent of GDP in the 1950s, and 6 percent in the 1980s.

The diplomats who roam the corridors of the UN and the corporate chiefs who run the EU’s sprawling public-private conglomerates dare not say it aloud, but the American military does the dirty work to keep the global economy going—and growing. “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist,” as Thomas Friedman observed in 1999...

Despite the crap you hear to the contrary, America provides by far the biggest and most important slice of the world's "foreign aid." Our 12 Carrier Strike Groups, and all the rest of our peerless military, are what make growth and prosperity possible for China and everybody else.

The world's economy runs on trade, to an extent far beyond that of any other time in history. In the past, foreign trade was, for most countries, just frosting on the cake. 5% or 10%. Not any more. If someone mined China's ports now, their whole economy would go "poof!" and vanish.

We donate the cost of world peace. And world peace is exactly what we have, by the standards of those past time when nations went to war with each other. That doesn't happen any more; the "wars" we have now are internal conflicts and genocides within failed states. And the involvement of the US and her Anglosphere allies is in the nature of cops breaking up gang wars. The "War on Terror" has claimed less than 4,000 American lives. [Insert boiler-plate statement yes-every-death-is-a-tragedy blah blah blah.] In a REAL WAR you can lose that many in a single DAY.

And when (rarely now) nations actually do threaten war, as India and Pakistan were doing a few years ago, we lean on them. In fact, we don't allow them to go to war. We are the grown-ups, they are the teen-agers, and we are teaching them how we expect them to behave.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:51 AM

August 27, 2007

It must be the gypsy in her soul...

Our Internet friend Andrea is thinking of moving---perhaps some of you may have suggestions or advice...

Fleeing Florida: Opinions Needed

As some of you may know, I am planning to leave Florida at some point (tentative date -- May 2008, when my lease at the current apartment ends). So far I am considering the following areas for my new lair:

-- The Dallas/Ft. Worth Area
-- Oklahoma City
-- St. Louis

What I am looking for: cheap rent in decent neighborhoods (ie, a low homeboy/crackhead/hooker to normal working person ratio); a job market that isn't all retail/resort/hospital focused (like Florida's); a halfway decent public transportation system (though I plan to have a car by then, I'd still like to be able to count on alternatives); a few nice parks/walking areas. An area of cute shops and nice (cheap) cafés would be a plus, though I don't need it (and my finances certainly don't).

What I don't care about: nightlife -- my clubbing days are over; "activities" -- which usually mean theme parks and golf; weather -- the climate of most of the continental US sucks most of the year, I am resigned to that -- all the places with really nice weather are too expensive to live in; "diversity" -- I live in Diversity Central, so I know what that's really like. Most urban centers are by their nature "diverse" anyway.

Anyway, I'm soliciting opinions of the above three destinations. Oh -- if the urban center in question is undergoing a crime "upsurge" I might become less interested. I'm from Miami, so the idea of crime doesn't faze me much, but the sort of thing that is currently going on in Orlando is annoying.
Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 PM

More bugs from under rocks...

Zombie is back, and this one is great! He's covering the Al-Haramain Surveillance Hearing at San Francisco's own, infamous, 9th Circuit court of Appeals.

....Al-Haramain's lawyers brought in more anti-government lawyers, who recognized a golden opportunity: since this Top Secret document proved that surveillance of specific individuals had taken place, they now had "standing" (the legal right) to challenge the entire underlying lawfulness of government surveillance in principle. And so the case went into overdrive, and suddenly took on much greater significance than just an individual organization fighting for its reputation: legal activists saw a chance to use the courts to stop the Bush administration from surveilling anybody. If they could get the courts to rule that Al-Haramain had been surveilled illegally, then it would set a precedent and prevent any similar surveillance in the future, and also would render unusable any evidence gathered by surveillance in the past. In other words: a very big deal.

The government's legal team sought to forestall this by recalling the document, insisting that its Top Secret status made it unusable in court because revealing its contents would endanger national security.

From here onward, things became bizarre, a dizzying tug-of-war over surrealistic legal technicalities. Both sides were put into completely impossible positions: The government had to suppress a document which revealed Top Secret surveillance without actually admitting that it had conducted any surveillance; whereas Al-Haramain sought to revoke its designation as a terrorist organization by citing the very evidence (the information gathered during the surveillance) that suggested it was a terrorist organization....

In a word: farcical...

Do read. Do enjoy his pictures of the animals of our "news-media" crowding to interview the liberal lawyers who are helping terrorist scum plot against our country, while our government's lawyers walk by, ignored by the press...

Now if I ran the circus, a whole buncha people would be getting some lonnnng stress-free vacations down where the balmy breezes blow under the warm Caribbean sun....

Posted by John Weidner at 6:39 PM

If your read the NYT or WaPo or LAT...

...you are drinking from poisoned wells. From Captain Ed:

Let's say we're at war, and we're waiting for some specific action to take place to show us that our efforts are succeeding. Add in that the war itself would be rather controversial and that our political class is split as to whether we will ever see that specific action take place. Imagine that Congress and the White House have scheduled a showdown in the next couple of weeks to determine how much longer we will wait for that development.

Now imagine that the specific action for which we've waited actually occurs. Where would you think that story appear in Washington's biggest newspaper? The front page, one might assume. Would you believe ... page 9?...

Unbelievable. And apparently the news was not even in the NYT or LAT!

The news of course, is the announcement of wide political agreement within Iraq's government for changes in the de-Baathification law. For our major "news"papers to ignore the story is a sign of desperation within the al Qaeda/Democrat alliance, and a really indicator of progress for the forces of freedom...

* Update: And this certainly gives the lie to the claims of Leftists that they hate the Iraq Campaign BECAUSE it is not militarily winnable, or now, BECAUSE the Iraqi government can't make any political progress. Those are all lies.

They hate this campaign for the reason I explained here

Posted by John Weidner at 6:48 AM

August 26, 2007

Book recommendation...

I've been reading an excellent book, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World, by John O'Sullivan. It's about Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Karol Wojtyla, the future John Paul II, and how they cooperated in bringing about the downfall of the Soviet Progressive Empire...

...All three [in the early 1970's] were plainly at or near the peak of their careers. And those peaks were tantalizingly short of the very top.

It was not hard for any intelligent observer to explain why these three, with such high abilities, had obtained only limited success. All three were handicapped by being too sharp, clear, and definite in an age of increasingly fluid identities and sophisticated doubts. Put simply, Wojtyla was too Catholic, Thatcher too conservative, and Reagan too American.

These qualities might not have been disadvantages in times of greater confidence in Western civilization—or in moments of grave crisis such as 1940 in Britain, or 1941 in America, or in sixteenth-century Rome—when people prefer their leaders to be lions rather than foxes. But 1970 was two years after the revolutionary annus mirabilis of 1968. It was a time when historical currents seemed to be smoothly bearing mankind, including the Catholic Church, Britain, and America, in an undeniably liberal and even progressive direction....

Wojtyla, by the way is pronounced voy-TEE-wah, Krak�w is KRA-koov. I always find it maddening when a book includes foreign words without giving one the pronunciation. Fortunately I have George Weigel's splendid book on John Paul II, Witness to Hope, which has a nice guide to pronouncing Polish.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:27 AM

August 24, 2007

If the results of a policy are the opposite of what you want---ramp it up...

Britain's rising levels of gun crime - Telegraph :

The number of young people prosecuted for firearms offences has soared by 20 per cent in the past five years, it was revealed earlier this month.

In 2001, 1,193 youngsters under age 21 went to magistrates courts on gun related charges. By 2005, that had risen to 1,444. The statistics come after a recent wave of gun crime in Britain’s inner cities, with many victims not even out of their teens.

Shadow home affairs minister James Brokenshire said: “The rise in gun crime demonstrated by these figures is alarming.”

In April Bernard Hogan-Howe, the chief constable of Merseyside Police, insisted new laws to make reporting information on shootings and possession of guns a 'duty’’ were essential because people were too scared to come forward....

To me, the important metric is not whether a country or group makes mistakes. Those will happen all the time. What's important to watch is how it recovers when the mistake becomes clear. Does a counter-movement arise? Do people rebel, and say, "Enough is enough?" The soul-destroying sickness of our time is Leftism, and in this country its rise has generated a huge conservative reaction which is attempting to reverse the slide towards evil and eventual death.

So where's the reaction in Britain? There isn't one big enough to notice.

A few minutes ago I read this by Andrea, and wondered briefly if she was being too harsh. Just briefly...

Natalie Solent recounts the story of a woman left alone to give birth (when she had been told it was dangerous to do so) all by herself in a toilet in a hospital, while nurses refused to help. In Britain. She wonders: "How do we get our nerve back?"

The answer is you don't; nerves don't grow back. They're dead, Jim.

My youthful Anglophilia is just about gone and events like these are helping speed it on its way to oblivion. I'm glad I got to go to England when I was just out of high school, before the zombies took over....

My own speculation (it's just armchair theorizin'--there's no clear way to separate cause and effect) is that Newman saw this stuff earlier and more clearly and wisely than anyone else. Just a guess, but he looked into the future (and this was back in the early 1800's!) and saw apostasy, and predicted eventual calamity...

...In a sermon entitled "The Infidelity of the Future," preached in 1873, Newman remarked that: I think that the trials which lie before us are such as would appall and make dizzy even such courageous hearts as St. Athanasius, St. Gregory I or St. Gregory VII. And they would confess that, dark as the prospect of their own day was to them severally, ours has a darkness different in kind from any that has been before it . . . Christianity has never yet had experience of a world simply irreligious. The ancient world of Greece and Rome was full of superstition but not of infidelity, for they believed in the moral governance of the world and their first principles were the same as ours . . . But we are now coming to a time when the world does not acknowledge our first principles...

...In 1877, Newman wrote to a friend of his as follows concerning the future of the Church: As to the prospects of the Church, as to which you ask my opinion . . . my apprehensions are not new but above 50 years standing. I have all that time thought that a time of widespread infidelity was coming, and through all those years the waters have in fact been rising as a deluge. I look for the time, after my life, when only the tops of the mountains will be seen like islands in the waste of waters. I speak principally of the Protestant world—but great actions and successes must be achieved by the Catholic leaders, great wisdom as well as courage must be given them from on high, if Holy Church is to be kept safe from this awful calamity, and, though any trial which came upon her would but be temporary, it may be fierce in the extreme while its lasts... [link]
-- John Henry, Cardinal Newman

"I look for the time, after my life, when only the tops of the mountains will be seen like islands in the waste of waters..."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:54 AM

August 23, 2007

Everyone else is out of step...

Brian Tiemann speaks up for English measurements, against metric. I tend to agree. Now that the English are pretty much extinct, and we Americans have assumed the job of being what England was, I think we should hold firmly to our traditional measurements.

.....What people love to point out about the metric system is that its measures are based on fundamental units taken from the natural world; but really, that's hardly an argument at all. What good is it that the meter is supposed to be the circular length from the pole of the Earth to the equator with the decimal point moved over a bunch of times? Some French guy thought that the dimensions of the Earth should for some reason be the basis for all length measures, and by doing a bunch of number-juggling he found that he could get it down to an almost usable length, something we'd been calling a "yard" forever, but which was formerly made up of three of a much handier unit: the foot, which describes something you can hold in your hands and divide up with your fingers, not something you have to measure with a stick that you have to keep in your closet or behind your desk. What, in the real world, does that have to do with how far it is from the North Pole to the equator on this lumpy, imperfect sphere of rock we live on, anyway? Why do we have to work with wonky units like "decimeters" if we want something that kindasorta resembles a hand-holdable length unit?

And for that matter, who cares if a cubic decimeter of water is a kilogram? Is that really any easier to remember than any other arbitrary conversion, or any easier to calculate? I remember having to refer to the table of decimal conversions in the back of my science books to figure out just how many places to move the point left, and then right, in order to arrive at the answer—and trying oh-so-hard to convince myself that the very act of trundling up and down that chain of powers of ten somehow proved how much easier the metric system was to grasp in the human brain. I wish I'd realized at the time just how far from that "ideal" the reality really was: that I could have saved plenty of time and space in my brain by jettisoning those useless "shortcut" decimal conversion factors and simply doing the appropriate multiplication or division operation. Or, better yet, using one of those newfangled calculator dealies we were all taking to carrying around. Funny how we never made decimal-place errors when we were multiplying things by 5280 instead of trying to remember whether we were supposed to move the dot up 8 or 9 places....

I dare-say in my own work I'd make fewer mistakes using the metric system. But it would not be worth it. Compromises with ugliness—especially if it's French—can be bad for the soul...

..."Then on her quarter, with the patched inner jib, that's the Hope: or maybe she's the Ocean -- they're much of a muchness, out of the same yard and off of the same draught. But any gait, all of 'em you see in this weather line, is what we call twelve-hundred-tonners; though to be sure some gauges thirteen and even fifteen hundred ton, Thames measurement. Wexford, there, with her brass fo'c'sle eight-pounder winking in the sun, she does: but we call her a twelve hundred ton ship."

"Sir, might it not be simpler to call her a fifteen hundred ton ship?"

"Simpler, maybe: but it would never do. You don't want to be upsetting the old ways. Oh dear me, no. God's my life, if the Captain was to hear you carrying on in that reckless Jacobin, democratical line, why, I dare say he would turn you adrift on a three-inch plank, with both your ears nailed down to it, to learn you bashfulness. The way he served three young gentlemen in the Med. No, no: you don't want to go arsing around with the old ways: the French did so, and look at the scrape it got them into....
-- Patrick O'Brian,
HMS Surprise

Posted by John Weidner at 10:09 PM

August 22, 2007

Clue Train waiting on platform 10...

I found this piece intriguing, but I've been madly busy, and shan't blog much...

[Article summary] The writer Andrew Anthony was a committed member of the liberal left - until the attacks of 11 September, 2001. A veteran of CND and Nicaraguan solidarity campaigns, he was astonished at the liberal left's anti-American reaction. And so he began to question other basic assumptions about race, crime and terror - a political journey he charts here, in these exclusive extracts from his compelling new book...

OK, well, I found something missing in the article, and it's nettled me. But the piece is just an extract from the book. So maybe the missing something is really there, but wasn't included...

...Evidence both statistical and anecdotal suggests that in a 'community of communities' there is not enough social glue to create a sense of shared responsibility. Studies show that bystanders are less likely to come to the aid of someone of a different ethnicity from their own. The girl I saw stabbed was of Asian appearance. Her attackers were Afro-Caribbean. And nearly all the onlookers were, for want of a better phrase, white. Difference is all very well but it is with sameness, a common humanity, that we most pressingly need to reconnect. A 16-year-old girl is a 16-year-old girl in any culture and she deserves the protection of adults from all cultures. What was meant to be an embracing live-and-let-live acceptance of difference has hardened, over years of soft thinking, into a live-and-let-die indifference...

"over years of soft thinking..." The thing is, there's not much evidence of hard thinking by the author. Lots of questioning of leftist assumptions, and that's good, but what's he replacing them with? It's not there.

Maybe he needs more time. Maybe he's saving something for the next book. I think he ought to be reading Random Jottings. That would give him a whack with the clue-bat, but I suppose it would be more than he could deal with...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:27 PM

August 21, 2007

Don't miss this one...

The Peace Racket, by Bruce Bawer
An anti-Western movement touts dictators, advocates appeasement—and gains momentum.

If you want peace, prepare for war.” Thus counseled Roman general Flavius Vegetius Renatus over 1,600 years ago. Nine centuries before that, Sun Tzu offered essentially the same advice, and it’s to him that Vegetius’s line is attributed at the beginning of a film that I saw recently at Oslo’s Nobel Peace Center. Yet the film cites this ancient wisdom only to reject it. After serving up a perverse potted history of the cold war, the thrust of which is that the peace movement brought down the Berlin Wall, the movie ends with words that turn Vegetius’s insight on its head: “If you want peace, prepare for peace.”..

....We need to make two points about this movement at the outset. First, it’s opposed to every value that the West stands for—liberty, free markets, individualism—and it despises America, the supreme symbol and defender of those values. Second, we’re talking not about a bunch of naive Quakers but about a movement of savvy, ambitious professionals that is already comfortably ensconced at the United Nations, in the European Union, and in many nongovernmental organizations. It is also waging an aggressive, under-the-media-radar campaign for a cabinet-level Peace Department in the United States. Sponsored by Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich (along with more than 60 cosponsors), House Resolution 808 would authorize a Secretary of Peace to “establish a Peace Academy,” “develop a peace education curriculum” for elementary and secondary schools, and provide “grants for peace studies departments” at campuses around the country. If passed, the measure would catapult the peace studies movement into a position of extraordinary national, even international, influence.

The Peace Racket’s boundaries aren’t easy to define. It embraces scores of “peace institutes” and “peace centers” in the U.S. and Europe, plus several hundred university peace studies programs. As Ian Harris, Larry Fisk, and Carol Rank point out in a sympathetic overview of these programs, it’s hard to say exactly how many exist—partly because they often go by other labels, such as “security studies” and “human rights education”; partly because many “professors who infuse peace material into courses do not offer special courses with the title peace in them”; and finally because “several small liberal arts colleges offer an introductory course requirement to all incoming students which infuses peace and justice themes.”....

"Peace studies" is just another scam to infiltrate socialism without a vote. It's bullshit, it's batshit, it's pure shit. A scam.

In the world, as in the city, you get peace and prosperity if the cops enforce the rule of law. If not, the crooks take over. If the cops went on strike in San Francisco, a thousand pony-tailed professors or "peace-activist" clergy gassing about negotiations would not stop the criminals. (And every one of those hippie-quaker frauds would be howling for the National Guard to show up with machine guns and protect them!)

On Planet Earth the cops are the United States Army and Navy, with some help from our Anglosphere allies. We are IT, we are peace. The only peace you will get from the "peace studies" commies will be "boiler suits and a long march to nowhere." (A great line from John le Carré.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:36 AM

August 19, 2007

Today's morsel...

The Anchoress, on BDS:

...Perils of Global Warming and How We’re All Going to Die Because Bush Killed Kyoto Even Though Clinton, In 1997, Did Not Even Submit The Treaty To Congress (Which Made A Point Of Unanimously Rejecting It Anyway) Because It Was Smart of Clinton To Reject It But Stoopit of Moron Bush To Kill It And Al Gore Deserves An Oscar And America Is Suffering And Disappearing Because of Evil Bush Who Is Bad And Evil And Who Makes Wars Against Peaceful People And There Is No Threat Of Islamofascism, There Is Only A Threat Of Christofascism And Other Conservative Sorts Of Fascists Things....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:54 PM

"The open obvious democratic thing..."

...Some how or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them.The open obvious democratic thing is to believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a miracle, just as you believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a murder...
-- GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Everyone has a faith. Everyone has a religion, in the sense that they have beliefs about the universe and human existence that they cannot "prove" using any thought-system such as natural science, or formal logic, or "common sense." And it really nettles me that most people won't acknowledge this.

The person who says, "I believe only things that can be scientifically proven" is expressing faith in a proposition that science cannot validate. But try to tell him that, and you will often find a person more dogmatic and blinkered than any superstitious peasant. And usually more fearful than the peasant of ideas that might threaten his security.

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Posted by John Weidner at 6:03 AM

August 18, 2007

Cry for help...

Mark Morford (see previous post) also has a piece brimming with outrage because some of those insufferable Christians have actually set up a YouTube-type site of their own...

....to, quite simply, restrict understanding. Limit knowledge. Prevent exploration. Discourage the egalitarian global community aspect of the Net itself in favor of, well, the same old dogma that got us into so much trouble in the first place, a sadly myopic ideology that's crippled school textbooks and smashed scientific study and drained the juice from the human sexual impulse and essentially elected the worst and most debilitating, morally dangerous president in modern American history...(Thanks to Penraker).

A Christian YouTube will "drain the juice from the human sexual impulse." Well, now! Are you, uh, worried about something, Mr Morford? Getting a bit nervous, hmmm?

The funny thing is that if you pay any attention to the people who follow traditional Christian, and especially Catholic, sexual morality, the one thing they never complain about is losing interest in sex! It's the libertines who have that problem, though they won't admit it. They just keep looking for a bigger kick, or skimpier outfits, or some such. And then complain that Christians are spoiling their sex lives, although how this could actually be done in practice is more than I can guess. I mean, I would love to "drain the juice" from Mr Morford's sex life, just as a practical joke. But I'm a Christian, and there's nothing in the manual explaining how to do that.

It's elementary that what the Morfords of the world really need, to regain the excitement of sex, is to have it forbidden or to make it risky, or more rare. So perhaps maybe all those Leftist complaints about how Christians are spoiling sex are really a kind of cry for help. "Please impose some inhibitions on me before I die of boredom!" .

Posted by John Weidner at 4:24 PM

Do you think this guy could be serious?

There are certainly plenty of brittle liberals who are this loopy. But it reads like a parody or a jape...Or what's that contest where you try to write the worst possible?...oh yeah, the Bulwer-Lytton Contest.

From Mark Morford in the SF Chronicle....

...Because now perhaps you are reading up on the rise and fall and much-desirable end of this one particular man, this dank, sweaty, adipose embodiment of a sad political caricature, this shockingly powerful force of darkness and cruelty and pure, unfiltered iniquity known to the world as Karl Rove.

And somehow, looking at him, seeing the glistening, pallid face of true contempt as he finally, blessedly exits the main political stage, you feel better. Much, much better. In fact, somehow you feel like falling to your knees and offering sincere thanks, hot heaps of glorious gratitude to the gods of fate and time and love that you are not Karl Rove.

It is, in its way, a simple acknowledgment, a supremely fundamental idea. But trust me when I say, it holds tremendous power.

You are not Karl Rove. You are not, so far as you know, the master orchestrator of what is increasingly recognized as the most disastrous, divisive, scandal-ridden, secretive, abusive, warmongering, hate-inspiring, homophobic, morally debilitating neoconservative administration in modern American history.

This is not you. This is not your life. You did not put into power the most embarrassing, bumbling, ethically dangerous leader the modern free world has ever known, and that includes Dick Nixon and Warren Harding and that guy from the 1800s who beat his kids and drank paint thinner and died after two weeks in office....

— — — — —

...But in this case, let us just say, no. Because this is the here and now. This is the moment we are in and this is the one that matters and it is just too delightful to repeat: You are not Karl Rove and I am not Karl Rove and therefore we can join hands right now, you and I, we can connect across this vast media chasm and via these very wires and we can, together, find a deeper understanding, a shared universal truth, a more profound coming together over the fact that, no matter how bad things might get, we will never have to be Karl Rove.

Hey, what's more karmically delightful than that?

I've often dreamed of writing parodies like this, but I'm just not talented enough. Karl Rove, a "force of darkness and cruelty and pure, unfiltered iniquity."

Posted by John Weidner at 1:27 PM

August 17, 2007

Quotes encountered recently...

The prudent see only the difficulties, the bold only the advantages, of a great enterprise; the hero sees both; diminishes the former and makes the latter preponderate, and so conquers.
--
Johann Kaspar Lavater

The world is at no time safe for freedom, which needs vigilant and unremitting guardianship
--
John Buchan

Nobody goes to the library for the book "Great Moderates in American History."
--
Rush Limbaugh
Posted by John Weidner at 4:15 PM

August 16, 2007

Sleeping Hippo....

I've been a teensy bit busy. But seeing this guy only a pane of glass away was a treat to share..

Hippo, San Diego Zoo
Hippopotamus, at the San Diego Zoo...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:13 PM

August 15, 2007

Where are all the lefties in kaffiyas?

This was almost a month ago now: Army crushes Palestinian refugee camp.

...The army has pushed slowly into the camp, fighting close-quarter battles with Fatah al-Islam militants after bombarding its positions with artillery and tank fire to try to force the group to surrender.

Witnesses said the army concentrated its latest artillery shelling on pockets still held by Fatah al-Islam near the camp's main road and the northeastern area.

The camp, home to 40,000 refugees before the hostilities, has been completely destroyed and it was expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild. Its residents have sought shelter in other Palestinian refugee camps.

So, as Orbital asks, where's the "world wide condemnations and UN investigatory committees?" Where are the liberal churchmen who always bemoan harm to Palestinians (by Israel)? Where are the protesters, where the giant puppets, where are the candle-light vigils? Why no demands for "divestiture" by Ivy League colleges or Mainline Protestant denominations? Where are the Quakers?

The homes of 40,000 Palestinians destroyed—crushed, flattened, pulverized—by tanks and artillery—and not a single protest? Gee, I wonder why. What could be different in this story?

How I despise lefty Jew-haters. Frauds and shams, all of them.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:43 PM

How stupid can you be?

THE AUTONOMIST:

A caption to an AFP picture:

" An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her
house
[emphasis added] following an early coalition forces raid in the
predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City."

The bullets in the picture have obviously not been fired!

What fascinates me is, should we add to the known fact that Political correctness lowers your effective IQ, the possibility that being a journalist lowers your effective IQ?

Of course if you are a "journalist" you hate America and want to show how horrid we are. But surely anyone who deals in news photos must have seen pictures of those little empty brass cylinders being ejected from firearms? Can even the most drugged-up of hippie pacifist morons imagine that the whole cartridge flies through the air? And can hit a house and remain shiny and un-dented?

Posted by John Weidner at 7:54 AM

August 14, 2007

You've done well, Mr Rove...

I don't really have anything to say about Karl Rove's departure from the White House, except that I feel confident that history will call him a great man. My guess is that his job and passion is winning elections, and the White House is not where it's going to be happening this cycle. He'll be up to tricks somewhere, just wait. What a great time this is to be alive.

I wonder if his dubious line about "wanting to spend more time with his family" is a bit of Rovian deception. The press will smell the scandal they've been drooling for uselessly for the last six years, and the horrid little creatures will waste man-years of time speculating and chasing their tails, leaving them that much less time for other mischief...

Karl Rove

Posted by John Weidner at 11:21 AM

August 13, 2007

Thank you, President Bush!

AP, WASHINGTON - The federal deficit this budget year is running sharply lower, driven by record revenues pouring into government coffers.

The Treasury Department reported yesterday that the government produced a deficit of $157.3 billion for the budget year that began Oct. 1. That's a substantial improvement from the red ink of $239.6 billion produced for the corresponding 10-month period last year.

The lower year-to-date deficit was the result of a record $2.12 trillion in revenues. Spending, however, was higher - $2.27 trillion, which also marked an all-time high.

The White House predicts that the deficit this year will drop to $205 billion.

But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that the government will produce even less red ink this year. It recently said the deficit will be "toward the lower end" of a range of $150 billion to $200 billion...

Who did this? The American people, who will always work wonders if only they are allowed to. And the big moment of the current chapter was in the year 2001, when George W Bush was first elected. A contested election, with Democrats controlling the Senate, with the economy heading south in the ruins of the Clinton dot.com bubble...well...I certainly didn't expect much of anything to happen!

And what happened? George Bush said, "I'm the President. And we need tax cuts. Congress, get busy and pass them." Right then, like the first week he was in office. And they did! The poor booby Dems were so unused to someone who believed in something that they just did what they were told. Truly I tell you, that was the peak (politically speaking) moment of my life. And there were more tax cuts to come. And they worked! And now we have one of the best economies in history. with years of steady growth , low unemployment, almost nonexistent inflation....So good that the slime-animals of our press have to stay up late thinking of ways to talk down our prosperity. "The Dow hit new highs today, but some analysts expressed concern that weak demand for pillow feathers means a housing slow-down is on the horizon."

Posted by John Weidner at 5:59 AM

August 12, 2007

"And I shall hymn you in a harbour story told..."

Ballade to Our Lady of Częstochowa

I
Lady and Queen and Mystery manifold
And very Regent of the untroubled sky,
Whom in a dream St. Hilda did behold
And heard a woodland music passing by:
You shall receive me when the clouds are high
With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

II
Steep are the seas and savaging and cold
In broken waters terrible to try;
And vast against the winter night the wold,
And harbourless for any sail to lie.
But you shall lead me to the lights, and I
Shall hymn you in a harbour story told.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

III
Help of the half-defeated, House of gold,
Shrine of the Sword, and Tower of Ivory;
Splendour apart, supreme and aureoled,
The Battler's vision and the World's reply.
You shall restore me, O my last Ally,
To vengence and the glories of the bold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

Envoi
Prince of the degradations, bought and sold,
These verses, written in your crumbling sty,
Proclaim the faith that I have held and hold
And publish that in which I mean to die.

    -- Hilaire Belloc

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250
The 15th of August, as I'm sure you know, is the Feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa (pronounced Chens-toe-HOE-vah), whose icon at the monastery of Jasna Góra is the great goal of pilgrimage in Poland.

"Steep are the seas and savaging and cold, In broken waters terrible to try, And vast against the winter night the wold, And harbourless for any sail to lie..." Sorry to break it to you, but that's where you (and I) are at. We won't find harbor on our own. No way, no hope, no leastest shred of hope.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:51 PM

August 11, 2007

"a final storm before breaking the enemy"

Victor Davis Hansen, from An NRO Symposium on Iraq :

...In a wider sense, the war is as most wars: an evolution from blunders to wisdom, the side that makes the fewest and learns from them the most eventually winning. Al Qaeda and the insurgents in 2004-6 developed the means, both tactical and strategic, to thwart the reconstruction, but we, not they, have since learned the more and evolved.

As in the Civil War, WWI, and WWII, the present American military — which has committed far less mistakes than past American forces — has shifted tactics, redefined strategy, and found the right field commanders. We forget that the U.S. Army and Marines, far from being broken, now have the most experienced and wizened officers in the world. Like Summer 1864, Summer 1918, and in the Pacific 1944-5, the key is the support of a weary public for an ever improving military that must nevertheless endure a final storm before breaking the enemy.

The irony is that should President Bush endure the hysteria and furor and prove able to give the gifted Gen. Petraeus the necessary time — and I think he will — his presidency could still turn out to be Trumanesque, once we digest the changes in Europe, the progress on North Korea, the end of both the Taliban and Saddam, and the prevention of another 9/11 attack. How odd that all the insider advice to triangulate — big spending, new programs, uninspired appointments, liberal immigration reform — have nearly wrecked the administration, and what were once considered its liabilities — foreign policy, the war on terror and Iraq — may still save it....

I actually have a much more positive view of the Administration's domestic accomplishments, but I think Bush will indeed be considered "Trumanesqe" by history because he got the big one right on the field of battle. The Korean War was a bloody shambles, with 40,000 dead merely to preserve the status quo ante bellum. It seemed pointless to many. Lots of people at the time thought Truman was a failure. But history says otherwise, because the simple fact is, he saw that we had to fight the Cold War, and he fought it (in both its hot and cold aspects). The mistakes made were beyond counting, but it was ever thus...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:36 PM

August 10, 2007

"Men ask the way to Cold Mountain ..."

From Cold Mountain Poems, by Han-shan. Translated by Gary Snyder.

4
I spur my horse through the wrecked town,
The wrecked town sinks my spirit.
High, low, old parapet walls
Big, small, the aging tombs.
I waggle my shadow, all alone;
Not even the crack of a shrinking coffin is heard.
I pity all those ordinary bones,
In the books of the Immortals they are nameless.

5
I wanted a good place to settle:
Cold Mountain would be safe.
Light wind in a hidden pine -
Listen close - the sound gets better.
Under it a gray haired man
Mumbles along reading Huang and Lao.
For ten years I haven't gone back home
I've even forgotten the way by which I came.

6
Men ask the way to Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain: there's no through trail.
In summer, ice doesn't melt
The rising sun blurs in swirling fog.
How did I make it?
My heart's not the same as yours.
If your heart was like mine
You'd get it and be right here...

"Han-shan" means "Cold Mountain," and part of the delight of these 8th-Century poems is that Cold Mountain is the narrator, the place, and the state of enlightenment that he is trying to tease us into "getting."

Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 AM

August 9, 2007

Same lies over and over...

Michelle Malkin has a great round-up of "the toxic American disease known as Winter Soldier Syndrome."

The tale of Army Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, the discredited “Baghdad Diarist” for the discredited New Republic magazine, is an old tale:

Self-aggrandizing soldier recounts war atrocities. Media outlets disseminate soldier’s tales uncritically. Military folks smell a rat and poke holes in tales too good (or rather, bad) to be true. Soldier’s ideological sponsors blame the messengers for exposing anti-war fraud.

Beauchamp belongs in the same ward as John F. Kerry, the original infectious agent of the toxic American disease known as Winter Soldier Syndrome. The ward is filling up....

Michelle has various others, with YouTube videos. There have been a lot of them. It's revealing to see them all listed together...

...Think Jimmy Massey, the unhinged Marine who falsely accused his unit of engaging in mass genocide against Iraqis...

...Think Jesse MacBeth and Micah Wright, anti-war Army Rangers who weren’t Army Rangers....

...Think Josh Lansdale, the anti-war Army medic who attacked former GOP Sen. Jim Talent by spinning a bogus health care tale swallowed whole by Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill, Gen. Wesley Clark and the far Left VoteVets.org crew....

..Think Amorita Randall, the NYTimes-championed former naval construction worker who told the Times magazine that she served in Iraq, was in a Humvee that blew up, and was raped twice while serving in the Navy–but, in fact, had never served in Iraq....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:40 AM

August 8, 2007

It's just the way America is...

Some interesting poll results...

Altruism, the Global Interest, and the National Interest...

....A large majority of Americans feel that US foreign policy should at times serve altruistic purposes independent of US national interests. Americans also feel that US foreign policy should be oriented to the global interest not just the national interest and are highly responsive to arguments that serving the global interest ultimately serves the national interest. Americans show substantial concern for global conditions in a wide range of areas.

It is often assumed that most Americans feel US foreign policy should be tied closely to the national interest, narrowly defined, and are opposed to the idea of making sacrifices based on altruistic purposes. Polling data reveal quite a different picture. In numerous cases Americans show support for altruism in US foreign policy independent of any impact it might have on US interests.

In January 2000 Beldon and Russonello asked respondents to rate a list of reasons "for the US to be active in world affairs" on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 meaning "it is not at all an important reason" and 10 meaning "it is an extremely important reason to you personally." Altruistic reasons scored quite well.[1]....(Thanks to Orrin).

This is pleasant to me, because I despise utterly the "realist" school. I am, in Walter Russell Mead's indispensable classification, partly a Wilsonian. However, the trouble with an idealistic approach to foreign policy is that it tends towards soft-mindedness. Towards the sort of thinking that assumes that "soft power" and negotiations will solve all problems. (Which makes the name very appropriate, since few human beings have exemplified the debacles that result from mushy idealism like Woodrow Wilson.)

Unmodified Wilsonianism is catastrophic folly, and the sort of thing that got us into the present war. What's required, for the good of the world, is a combination of Wilsonian and Jacksonian foreign policy. What's needed, if we want peace, is to be willing to BOTH crush the forces of evil with stunning force, AND reach out to the needy (including the defeated enemy) with idealism and generosity.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:44 AM

August 7, 2007

Beauchamp, Again...

Shakey Pete:

Okay, now TNR is offering as proof of Beauchamp's truthiness that his story of how his horrible treatment of a woman wounded in an IED accident happened in Kuwait. Yes, the war is so horrible that it robbed him of his decency before he even set foot in the country.

We have a new problem, PTSD to watch out for. Yes, friends, Pre Traumatic Stress Disorder. Please write your Congresscritter, we'll need to spend a few billion studying this disease. Since it affected Beauchamp before he ever set foot in Iraq I volunteer to take a few million to study this new form of PTSD, I'm qualified because I haven't been to Iraq, either.

That's pretty good. I myself was just thinking idly today about joining up and going to Iraq, and now I find myself dreaming of tossing babies up to impale on my bayonet. And running over dogs, of course, I can't wait to do that.

I wonder if TNR will pay ME to expose the brute savagery of war, and the way it turns innocent lads into sociopathic killers. I can do it, and I don't even need to go to Kuwait!

Actually, what poor Beauchamp was doing was getting a start on writing this generation's All Quiet on the Western Front. That's the model for all literary and journalistic views of war, and I'm sure Random House has a stack of hundred-dollar bills waiting for whoever can provide the product for this go-round. Just fill in the blanks for your particular conflict.

Great book by the way, unforgettable. Impressed the heck out of me when I was about 15. Of course, since I'm not a brain-dead lefty, I am aware that its applicability to the Fourth-Generation Warfare we are engaged in today is about zero.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:52 PM

The leftists "were like putty in our hands"

Mike Plaiss mentioned this WSJ piece to me. It's very good...


Propaganda Redux:
Take it from this old KGB hand: The left is abetting America's enemies with its intemperate attacks on President Bush.

....Sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president was one of the main tasks of the Soviet-bloc intelligence community during the years I worked at its top levels. This same strategy is at work today, but it is regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels. For communists, only the leader counted, no matter the country, friend or foe. At home, they deified their own ruler--as to a certain extent still holds true in Russia. Abroad, they asserted that a fish starts smelling from the head, and they did everything in their power to make the head of the Free World stink.

The communist effort to generate hatred for the American president began soon after President Truman set up NATO and propelled the three Western occupation forces to unite their zones to form a new West German nation. We were tasked to take advantage of the reawakened patriotic feelings stirring in the European countries that had been subjugated by the Nazis, in order to shift their hatred for Hitler over into hatred for Truman--the leader of the new "occupation power." Western Europe was still grateful to the U.S. for having restored its freedom, but it had strong leftist movements that we secretly financed. They were like putty in our hands.

The European leftists, like any totalitarians, needed a tangible enemy, and we gave them one. In no time they began beating their drums decrying President Truman as the "butcher of Hiroshima." We went on to spend many years and many billions of dollars disparaging subsequent presidents: Eisenhower as a war-mongering "shark" run by the military-industrial complex, Johnson as a mafia boss who had bumped off his predecessor, Nixon as a petty tyrant, Ford as a dimwitted football player and Jimmy Carter as a bumbling peanut farmer. In 1978, when I left Romania for good, the bloc intelligence community had already collected 700 million signatures on a "Yankees-Go-Home" petition, at the same time launching the slogan "Europe for the Europeans."....

What's really sick is that our leftists have a little KGB man inside them, and keep on following orders from Comrade Yuri long after Communism has fallen and been discredited.

When I was young we were taught to respect the President, even if we disagreed with him politically. It's an American tradition, and traditions often have very good reasons behind them, as the above shows. One of the many important things that George W Bush did, upon becoming President, was to restore the dignity of the White House and the office of President that had been degraded by the Clintons. The Bush White House is not a place where staffers wear jeans and send out for pizza! This is done for the good of all of us.

And of course both Bush's follow American tradition in not criticizing other presidents [link, link].

Also, America's tradition is to support the president in war. America goes to war, not the president or his party. The current usage by leftists in calling the Iraq Campaign (voted by our Congress) "Bush's War" is a dirty thing. Evil and despicable. They are what the poet called "children of dirt."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:19 AM

August 6, 2007

Yearly-Kos guys...

I found this fascinating. (Because it swells my ego by seeming to confirm my arm-chair theorizing.) Washington Post: "At the Yearly Kos Bloggers' Convention, a Sea of Middle-Aged White Males"

...It's hard to think of another movement that has affected politics in such a short period of time, and the blogging culture is an informal, friendly community that has no one leader or single issue -- except, perhaps, strong opposition to the war in Iraq. Last year's Blogads Reader Survey found that the median political blog reader is a 43-year-old male who has an annual family income of $80,000, and judging by the number of middle-aged men who attended one panel after the next here, it's hard to argue with that... [I'm SO not surprised. Why male? Because women are less logical ooops sorry, are more skilled at holding mutually-contradictory ideas in dynamic tension. (NOTE: Charlene deprecates this comment. Her response is: "Pshaw!" She is, by the way, a very logical person, not given to fuzzy thought.) ]

My theory is that most of the "liberals" of my generation are not liberal in any sense of the word. They've been "hollowed out." They are nihilists, they have no deep principles or system of ideas. They "absorbed" the leftist thought that was in the air in the 60's and 70's, but this was only a habit, with nothing underneath. They are energized now by their anger, anger at how the world is changing in ways they can't cope with or even understand.

...Cooper is worried about generating more "inclusion," using the word no less than six times in 15 minutes.

"I hate using the word 'diversity.' I don't know what we use there. But what we definitely need are voices from different communities," she says. And the problem, she adds, stretches beyond ethnic and gender inclusion. There's a socioeconomic gap, too....
[Getting tripped-up on your words, eh? Not surprising. A common conservative slogan is: "Words mean something." You are trying to slide past the problem, but not quite making it]

As I wrote here, the Iraq Campaign is the flash point. The fake-leftists HATE IT, because it exposes them as the frauds they are. The liberation of Iraq is in fact exactly what a liberal should be FOR. Removing amini-Hitler who has waged aggressive wars using WMD's, stopping genocide and providing humanitarian relief, pushing democracy, pushing tolerance among antagonistic sects, ending a nuclear weapons program....

Lefties at Yearly Kos
The Kos types have been "wearing" liberal ideas as a way of concealing the emptiness inside them. They are in fact All-Clothes-No-Emperor.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:37 AM

"The martyrs of history were not fools"

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing is worth dying for, when did this begin...? ...Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots of Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain!
      -- Ronald Reagan
Posted by John Weidner at 6:52 AM

August 5, 2007

"The old man is bound up in a thousand folds"

From The Private Devotions of Lancelot Andrewes, written in the early 1600's...

        MEDITATIONS BEFORE EVENING PRAYER
In war there is the note of charge, fitted for the onset; of recall, whereby stragglers are recalled.

And the mind of man, as it must be stirred up in the morning, so in the evening, as by a note of recall, is it to be called back to itself and to its Leader by a scrutiny and inquisition of self, by prayers and thanksgivings.

A good man would rather know his infirmity, than the foundations of the earth, or the heights of the heavens.

But that knowledge of our own infirmity is not attained save by diligent inquisition, without which the mind is for the most part blind, and sees nothing of that which pertains to it.

there are many hiding places and recesses in the mind.

You must come to the knowledge of, before you can amend, yourself.

An ulcer unknown grows worse and worse, and is deprived of cure.

    The heart is deceitful above all things.
    The old man is bound up in a thousand folds
    therefore take heed to thyself....

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Andrewes was among the most important of the translators who produced the King James Bible, an Anglican bishop, a friend of Casaubon, and one of the greatest scholars of his time. His book of Private Devotions is one of the more astonishing productions of the age of Shakespeare and Donne, and can still be used with great profit. He spent a lifetime collecting passages from scripture and the prayer book, and from the saints and fathers, and modified them and wove them together marvelously into his book of devotions. He has the odd distinction of being an undistinguished writer who produced a great work of literature and devotion...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:25 AM

"Watchmen on the walls of world freedom"

From the story of a Catholic chaplain in Iraq...

We rolled into Forward Operating Base, Rivera, the center of operations for 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in the town of Saqlawiyah. The Civil Affairs Group and the 2/7 chaplain were transporting me so that I could make Catholic Sacramental and Pastoral visits to all their Battle Positions.

There is no separate space to set apart for Mass or a religious service, so I set up in the area where they eat and recreate which is also used as the triage area for the wounded. Foot patrols were returning after an eight hour shift through the night and others were departing on their shift. Marines and Corpsmen were rushing about trying to get a bite to eat and get ready to sleep for a few hours. Despite the intense operational tempo and grueling schedule, a group of Marines led by their Company Commanding Officer gathered in the corner for the Mass. Mass in these settings emerges from a kit smaller than a shoe box that I carry on my back. I am set up in minutes — drab olive colored Altar Linen are set down and a crucifix, chalice and paten made of brushed steel are assembled from their small compact parts and easily set in place. A copy of The Word Among Us is passed between them and me for the prayers and readings. The Altar is a wooden bench — the best piece of furniture in the room.

There is no singing, no stained glass, no pews or kneelers — just intense fervor reflected in their eyes and the bare floor beneath their knees. No one ever leaves anyone else out of the Sign of Peace. From the senior officer to the lowest enlisted Marine, embraces are exchanged and sincere wishes of peace are authentic and heart-felt! Holy Communion! I have never experienced communion like that among men who know that this could be their last! The Mass is brief but its effects are enduring...

—  —  —  —  —  —  —  —

....The next part of their story however, was quite tragic and very painful for them to relate. They had grown close to the Iraqi family that had lived in the house. The family would often cook them a hot meal and share their table with them. Their five year old son had grown very fond of the Marines and they of him. He would stop by every day to see them. That day he was arriving outside just as the bomb detonated. With tears in their eyes they described how they tried to save him, using all their combat medical skills but there was nothing that they could do. Their grief is palpable and their sadness deep. We gathered for Mass in the small yard where they once listened to the laughter of a little boy. We celebrated Holy Communion with God, with each other and, in our hearts, with a young Muslim boy — may he rest in peace!... (Thanks to Argent)

I suspect there's a special deep circle of Hell for the scoundrel dogs who are heaping lies and abuse on our troops, and those of our allies. And a extra sub-basement for those who pretend that their scurrility has anything to do with Christian hopes for peace.

Stories of the decency and great-heartedness of our soldiers and Marines, and the ways they risk their own lives to save and protect people in distant lands are extremely common, if one bothers to look. These are the true Christians of our time. They are not passing on the other side of the road. They are not eager to abandon the wretched of the earth to the savagery of terrorists and tyrants. I just wish I could be with them.

“We in this country, in this generation, are, by destiny rather than choice, the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, goodwill toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’”
John F. Kennedy
Undelivered luncheon speech
Dallas, Texas
Nov. 22, 1963

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Posted by John Weidner at 6:43 AM

August 4, 2007

" They all want to come to America"

Good, from Rudy:

....Just as important as details is Giuliani's frank language: "Americans believe in free-market solutions to the challenges we face, and I believe we can reduce costs, expand access to, and improve the quality of health care by increasing competition. America's health care system is being dragged down by decades of government-imposed mandates and wasteful, unaccountable bureaucracy."

For too long, Democrats and their friends in the media have dominated the health care debate, casting it as simply a question of how wretched our health care system is, how much better people in other countries have it, and how the only solution is more government. And for too long, Republicans have played along, buying into the Democrats' premise while offering dime-store alternatives.

They need to listen and learn from Giuliani: "I don't care what Michael Moore says in his movie," he said. "I've never had anybody ask me for help to get into a Cuban hospital or a Canadian hospital or an English hospital. They all want to come to America. So let's take what's right about our system and let's improve it."...

How I wish I could take Moore, and Noam Chomsky, plus all the other lefty frauds and, when next they have a medical problem, shove 'em on to a plane to Havana, and let them have a taste of what they want to give everyone else. And I don't mean send them to the special hospitals reserved for the ruling class. Let them find out what ordinary Cubans suffer, cockroaches and all...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:12 PM

Questions about Fred...

I myself know nothing about Fred Thompson's new campaign manager, Spencer Abraham, but Debbie Schlussel has a long post on the guy, and she's not happy. It sounds like maybe ol' Fred is not quite on the same page as the rest of us... She has lots of info; it's a long post. (From last week; I'm running way behind)

He hasn't entered the Presidential race yet, but Fred Thompson, yesterday, showed us why he's the scariest Republican Presidential candidate. And maybe the scariest of both parties.

Don't believe Thompson's claim that he understands the Islamist jihadist threat to America. His announcement, yesterday, of his choice of Spencer Abraham as campaign manager, told us everything we need to know. Although Abraham, of Lebanese descent, is a Christian, he is a career water carrier for Islamists of the most extremist stripe and made that the cornerstone of his failed, one-term Senate career and equally lousy tenure as Energy Secretary...

Even if Abraham's not a "career water carrier for Islamists of the most extremist stripe," this sort of thing makes me think Fred has the flavor of a certain sort of Republican I don't much care for. Old complacent realist-type insiders who know all the other old insiders and pick each other for appointments regardless of talent.

And I still don't have any good answer to my big question about Fred Thompson. What, exactly, has he been doing to aid the war effort over the last 5 years? He talks a good line now, when he's running for office. But before that?

The real frontline of the war is here. Our military can handle anything the terrorists can throw at them. But the terrorists have allies in the "Democratic" Party and the "Progressive" gang who are working day and night here to sabotage our country and bring about our defeat. Right here is the real fight, and it sure looks to me like Fred has been AWOL...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:01 PM

August 3, 2007

To see the enemies-of-all-that-is-good in squalid panic...

What could be sweeter? (No time to comment, but here's the quote...)

--Ezra Klein
AN ODD CLOSE. As the Military and Progressives panel [at Yearly Kos] came to an end, a young man in uniform stood up to argue that the surge was working, and cutting down on Iraqi casualties. The moderator largely freaked out. When other members of the panel tried to answer his question, he demanded they "stand down." He demanded the questioner give his name, the name of his commander, and the name of his unit. And then he closed the panel, no answer offered or allowed, and stalked off the stage,

Wes Clark took the mic and tried to explain what had just occurred: The argument appears to be that you're not allowed to participate in politics while wearing a uniform, or at least that you shouldn't, and that the questioner was engaging in a sort of moral blackmail, not to mention a violation of the rules, by doing so. Knowing fairly little about the army, I can't speak to any of that. But it was an uncomfortable few moments, and seemed fairly contrary to the spirit of the panel to roar down the member of the military who tried to speak with a contrary voice.
Posted by John Weidner at 11:08 AM

"like raindrops on a duck's back"

I'm too busy to blog, but this quote is my way of sticking out my tongue at all lefty losers...
....For thirty years we've been told that patriotism was shameful. We were told it was a demonstration of mental retardation or of ignorance about the world. People who were patriotic were heartless racists. For thirty years we've been pelted with the message that there was nothing about America that justified any pride.

And for thirty years the majority of Americans have ignored that message. It bounced off them like raindrops on a duck's back. Americans treasure their freedom of expression, and they treasure even more their freedom to ignore what other people say....

    --Stephen den Beste


Posted by John Weidner at 8:08 AM

August 2, 2007

"Senator, it’s not that tough"

Here's a good bit by Dean B:

...By DENNIS CONRAD Associated Press Writer, WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday he would not use nuclear weapons ''in any circumstance.''

''I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,'' Obama said, with a pause, ''involving civilians.'' Then he quickly added, ''Let me scratch that. There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table.''
Gosh, Senator, it’s not that tough. Try this: “As president of the United States, I would do whatever is necessary to defend the American people. We all pray that we’ll never need to use nuclear weapons. But I would do what is necessary in my role as Commander in Chief to protect this country.”

Obama’s lack of seriousness on global affairs is somewhat mystifying. He’s not a dumb guy. This isn’t Joe Biden who keeps saying stupid things. The only conceivable explanation for why Obama is so nave and out if his depth when discussing geo-political matters is that in his many years as a community organizer, he never gave them much thought. You don’t exactly need to be a keen observer of modern power to know America’s nuclear deterrent is somewhat important to our safety. What kind of serious politician would glibly and unilaterally yank that deterrent off the table?...

Stupid, of course. It's the deterrent that keeps the nukes from being used. Nobody wants to start trouble with us and our allies (except terrorist loons) because of the slight possibility that we might give them more trouble in return than they can possibly imagine. In fact it's that deterrent that has made wars between developed countries extinct. Germany will never invade Poland or Czechoslovakia again because either of these countries could cobble together nuclear bombs in a matter of weeks or months... If you believe in peace, you must be pro-nuke.

"...in his many years as a community organizer, he never gave them much thought." Well, they don't. Think, that is. SF has "community organizer" jackasses up to our ears, and none of them think. Why? Because political correctness lowers your effective IQ.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:50 PM