September 30, 2007
Anno Domini 155...
Justin Martyr was one of the early Christian writers. He was a Greek philosopher, and argued his Christian beliefs quite openly with the other philosophers, relying on their common code of being willing to consider all points of view to protect him from official persecution. (Eventually a jealous philosopher did betray him.) He is famous for having sent a letter, The Apology, to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, who was a Stoic philosopher and the father of Marcus Aurelius. Fr. Jay Toborowsky tells how he used Justin in the classroom... [Link.]
....The second was years later, after ordination (starting in 1998). My first parish assignment had a school, and occasionally the teachers would ask me to come and speak to their classes on particular topics. The times I'm thinking about now were when I was asked to speak to the students about the Mass. When I did that, I always told the students I was going to read them what someone had written about Mass. I then read them Paragraph 1345 of the Catechism (along with my comments), which is from St. Justin's Apologia."On the day we call the day of the sun (Sunday), all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place (say, a church). The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things (in an instruction called a 'homily'). Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves . . .and for all others (intercessions), wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation. When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss (a sign of peace). Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren (an offeratory). He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.' When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the 'eucharisted' bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent."When I finished, I asked them to guess when that was written. Because they recognized the order of the Mass they'd begin by saying it was written last month or a year ago. Then they'd get brave and say it was written 100 years ago or 500 years ago. Then I'd tell them that it was written in 155ad and we'd work some math into the lesson when I'd ask them to subtract 155 from the current year, and they'd find out it that we do the same things at Mass now that were done over 1800 years ago. Their faces would light up as it sank in, and that's what I remember...
September 29, 2007
Things are happening...under the radar
There's a lot of interesting info in this article from American Thinker: A Quiet Triumph May be Brewing:
(Thanks to Rand)
Let me summarize the fantastic work that the Internet Anthropologist has been doing. You may remember a couple of months ago a report that al Qaeda and its' affiliates had abandoned their training camps in Pakistan along the Afghan border. The initial report caused quite a blog storm but soon the mystery was forgotten. According to AI, which links to references for all of this, the US got fed up with not being able to reach al Qaeda inside Pakistan. Then a few months back the US government told the Pakistani government that we had the coordinates for twenty-nine terror training bases and in a week we will be destroying them (perhaps on Cheney's visit this summer). The intent was to drive the terrorists from those camps so we could get to them.
It worked. That's why those camps emptied out.
So the US left the terrorists an escape route into Tora Bora. Once they had detected a large group of al Qaeda at the fortress and the likelihood of High Value Targets as determined by large scale security detachments, the US dropped the curtain on the escape routes back into Pakistan. We have been pounding the hell out of them for weeks in near complete secrecy.
But an observer may wonder why, if al Qaeda had to vacate the camps, didn't they just go to other hideouts in Pakistan?.....
Lots more. Read it all. Another morsel:
...Cutting al Qaeda's support in Pakistan has been a massive coup, of which our media has no clue of right now. It is the exact sort of thing that the Democrats and their media accomplices always complain that we are not doing and then completely ignore when we do it....
Isn't that the truth! I bet if they were honest—ha ha—they would say, "When we said we should be fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan and not Iraq, we didn't mean we should be fighting in al Qaeda in Afghanistan."
And there's this:
....It bears mentioning that this cutting off of support might not have happened if Saddam had been left in power to flood the Pakistani jihad groups with cash through the Maulana and his associates. Cutting off this funding took the Maulana out of play as a major money raiser for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Without that cash, he became dispensable to al Qaeda, which may not have realized that this man wielded such power among the Taliban that he could turn them against al Qaeda....
The author, Ray Robison, has a book, Both In One Trench: Saddam's Secret Terror Documents which will be available on Amazon.com in a few weeks. It might just be very interesting. One of the lesser reasons I've listed for invading Iraq is that totalitarian regimes always keep good records, and we could expect to learn a lot about what's really going on in the world...
The awkward problem of our time..
Václav Havel: Struggling alone: The international community's failure to act means watching helplessly as victims of repression in Burma are consigned to their fate:
....On a daily basis, at a great many international and scholarly conferences all over the world, we can hear learned debates about human rights and emotional proclamations in their defense. So how is it possible that the international community remains incapable of responding effectively to dissuade Burma's military rulers from escalating the force that they have begun to unleash in Rangoon and its Buddhist temples?
For dozens of years, the international community has been arguing over how it should reform the United Nations so that it can better secure civic and human dignity in the face of conflicts such as those now taking place in Burma or Darfur, Sudan. It is not the innocent victims of repression who are losing their dignity, but rather the international community, whose failure to act means watching helplessly as the victims are consigned to their fate.
The world's dictators, of course, know exactly what to make of the international community's failure of will and inability to coordinate effective measures. How else can they explain it than as a complete confirmation of the status quo and of their own ability to act with impunity?
Sorry Václav, but you are asking for bread and will inevitably get a stone. Wise up. The "International Community" is a sham, and always has been. Its purpose has always been to prevent action. Its job is to diffuse and paralyze responsibility and decision-making, to prevent nations and individuals from being confronted with a "moment of truth," when morality demands painful action. Whenever a situation seems to be pressing a nation to take difficult steps, the nihilists get to say, "It's no longer acceptable to take unilateral action, like some crazy cowboy. We must work with the International Community." And that's the end of that.
Here's the awkward problem of our time, Mr Havel. War is extinct. At least in its traditional form. Nations no longer war on other nations. (And NO, the US did not go to war with the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The regimes we opposed melted away in a couple of weeks, and we were immediately put in the position of helping create legitimate elected governments and working with them against terrorist attacks.)
The "wars" the world has now are all internal wars; genocides and massacres and famines within failed states. Therefore the only way to stop wars in today's world is to wade into those malarial swamps and start cleaning up. And that's a huge problem facing everyone who claims to "work for peace." All the stuff they do is utterly worthless. The only way to really work for peace is to support those who are willing to go in and clean up failed states. And that means the United States of America, and a few of her English-speaking allies. No one else has both the will and the means.
And that means that if you want peace, you support George W Bush, and presidents like him, and help give them the political support to take action, including violent war-like action. There is no other way.
(And if anyone reading this doesn't like what I wrote, don't snivel, show me what's wrong with my logic. Refute me or accept the truth.)
September 28, 2007
Many big-name bloggers have already deconstructed Katie Couric's remarks at the National Press Club a few days ago...so I'm just doing the same for my own fun. It's my only way to "talk-back" to lefties...
“The whole culture of wearing flags on our lapel and saying ‘we’ when referring to the United States [if she were in a room with some flag-wearing gun-toting Americans, and terrorists were coming in through the windows, she'd discover the word "we" real fast] and, even the ‘shock and awe’ of the initial stages, [the term she means but won't use is "winning"] it was just too jubilant and just a little uncomfortable [uncomfortable for YOU, liberal girl] . And I remember feeling, when I was anchoring the ‘Today’ show, this inevitable march towards war and kind of feeling like, ‘Will anybody put the brakes on this?’ [the Iraq Campaign was debated for a whole year. You lost.] And is this really being properly challenged by the right people? [how dare those horrid Americans not agree with their betters!] And I think, at the time, anyone who questioned the administration was considered unpatriotic [no, we said you were wrong...it's true that you are unpatriotic, but that wasn't the argument made.] and it was a very difficult position to be in.” [THAT'S the part that REALLY interests me...see below.]
In some ways the fighting part of the War on Terror is a bit of a bore. If we can entice them into a real fight, we win. Every time. The really compelling question for me is all those Americans (and our putative allies within Western Civilization) who don't include themselves in the "we."
And especially, why has the Iraq Campaign aroused such lunatic excesses of opposition? (You regular readers have already heard this from me.) You would think that removing Saddam, one of the cruelest fascist tyrants ever, would have at least a partial appeal for people who call themselves "liberal?" (Or "progressive," or whatever this month's term is.) Fascist dictators are what they are against, right?
But the Katies of our world hated the idea from the start. They did NOT express themselves as "torn" between wanting to free Iraq and worrying that we might get into difficulties. And they still don't.
They hated it because it exposed them. Their liberalism is a fake. Not all liberals perhaps, but a lot of them. That's why I can never pin them down in arguments. There's no there there. There's nothing inside, no liberal philosophy or core values. Or any sort of philosophy. They are nihilists.
Same with "pacifists." The funny thing is that aggressive wars of conquest between nation-states are pretty much extinct. No Hitlers send their armies across neighboring borders. The only two exceptions in recent decades were both launched by....Saddam. The Iraq-Iran War, which may have killed a million people, and the invasion of Kuwait. So how come "pacifists" are not torn about the removal from power of this war-monger? Hmmm?
September 26, 2007
Hocine tibi habeas iocum?
My older son is starting Latin (and also Arabic) and sent me some Latin jokes...
Latin is a dead language,
As dead as it can be,
First it killed the Romans,
And now it's killing me.
And another one. For this one the word "ubi" means "where." This one is a play on English/Latin words:
So here's one for him, if he happens to read this post:
"What'll it be?" asked the bartender.
"A martinus," said the professor.
"Don't you mean martini?"
"If I wanted more than one I'd ask for more than one."
You should read this, on the things revealed by the 2006 annual report for George Soro's foundations. The reports reveal only a little—the bare legal minimum—since Soros is promoting an "open society" and all. But there are still some eye-openers..
...That's not the only case. Didn't the mainstream media report that 2006's vast immigration rallies across the country began as a spontaneous uprising of 2 million angry Mexican-flag waving illegal immigrants demanding U.S. citizenship in Los Angeles, egged on only by a local Spanish-language radio announcer?
Turns out that wasn't what happened, either. Soros' OSI had money-muscle there, too, through its $17 million Justice Fund. The fund lists 19 projects in 2006. One was vaguely described involvement in the immigration rallies. Another project funded illegal immigrant activist groups for subsequent court cases.
So what looked like a wildfire grassroots movement really was a manipulation from OSI's glassy Manhattan offices. The public had no way of knowing until the release of OSI's 2006 annual report....
I have little doubt that all those Mexican flags were no accident. They (quite properly) outraged conservatives, got people foaming at the mouth, and that was the point. To make us look like racists and haters, and keep the Hispanic vote Democrat.
(Thanks to Anchoress)
September 25, 2007
It's official, the surge is a success...
The UNITED NATIONS says so, and what could be more authoritative than that? They scooted once it got dangerous in Iraq, and now they want to come back. "To help," you know.
UNITED NATIONS -- Iraq's prime minister said his government would provide any necessary security for an expanded United Nations presence in his country...
That's good. We wouldn't want the UN to have to try to protect itself....with those, uh, "peacekeeping forces" I think they call them. I mean, those are very useful in the sex-trafficking and gold-smuggling line. And if you need a crew to extract sex from starving teenage refugee girls in exchange for food, well, the Blue Helmets have been doing that job happily for decades now.
But when it comes to using savage violence to kill terrorists and protect the innocent......well, you gotta understand which side those guys are on. They are "peacekeepers" like Quakers are peacekeepers.....that is, go ahead and kill anybody, as long as you don't help Republicans get elected.
September 24, 2007
Chasing things ever more subtle and elusive...
This piece from the NYT is a bit depressing. So much effort, with no clear results...
....In January 2001, the British epidemiologists George Davey Smith and Shah Ebrahim, co-editors of The International Journal of Epidemiology, discussed this issue in an editorial titled “Epidemiology — Is It Time to Call It a Day?” They noted that those few times that a randomized trial had been financed to test a hypothesis supported by results from these large observational studies, the hypothesis either failed the test or, at the very least, the test failed to confirm the hypothesis: antioxidants like vitamins E and C and beta carotene did not prevent heart disease, nor did eating copious fiber protect against colon cancer.
The Nurses’ Health Study is the most influential of these cohort studies, and in the six years since the Davey Smith and Ebrahim editorial, a series of new trials have chipped away at its credibility. The Women’s Health Initiative hormone-therapy trial failed to confirm the proposition that H.R.T. prevented heart disease; a W.H.I. diet trial with 49,000 women failed to confirm the notion that fruits and vegetables protected against heart disease; a 40,000-woman trial failed to confirm that a daily regimen of low-dose aspirin prevented colorectal cancer and heart attacks in women under 65. And this June, yet another clinical trial — this one of 1,000 men and women with a high risk of colon cancer — contradicted the inference from the Nurses’s study that folic acid supplements reduced the risk of colon cancer. Rather, if anything, they appear to increase risk.
The implication of this track record seems hard to avoid. “Even the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the biggest and best of these studies, cannot be used to reliably test small-to-moderate risks or benefits,” says Charles Hennekens, a principal investigator with the Nurses’ study from 1976 to 2001. “None of them can.”...
September 23, 2007
"The opportunity to lead a hidden religious life"
Charlene and I have been reading an entrancing book, German writer and novelist Martin Mosebach's Heresy of Formlessness: The Roman Liturgy and its Enemy.
I have no plans to blog here my opinions on various controversies within the Church. Or get involved in them at all—there are plenty of others who can handle that job better than I. But I did want to give you a little of the flavor of Mosebach's book, just in case there are any others reading this who find these sorts of things intriguing...
In 1812, in Carlsbad, Goethe encountered the young empress Maria Ludovica; when the empress heard what a profound impression she had made on Goethe, she communicated to him the "noble and definite sentiment" that she "did not want to be identified or surmised" in any of his works "under any pretext whatsoever". "For," she said, "women are like religion: the less they are spoken of, the more they gain." It is a fine maxim, and one that deserves to be taken to heart. However, I am about to ignore it by speaking to you about religion in its practical aspect, lived religion, that is, liturgy. Perhaps the greatest damage done by Pope Paul VI's reform of the Mass (and by the ongoing process that has outstripped it), the greatest spiritual deficit, is this: we are now positively obliged to talk about the liturgy....
...We have had to delve into questions of worship and liturgy—something that is utterly foreign to the religious man. We have let ourselves be led into a kind of scholastic and juridical way of considering the liturgy....And finally, we have started to evaluate liturgy—a monstrous act....
...what have we lost? The opportunity to lead a hidden religious life, days begun with a quiet Mass in a modest little neighborhood church; a life in which we learn, over decades, discretely guided by priests, to mingle our own sacrifice with Christ's sacrifice; a Holy Mass in which we ponder our own sins and the graces given to us—and nothing else: rarely is this possible any more for a Catholic aware of liturgical tradition, once the liturgy's unquestioned status has been destroyed...
Posted without comment...
Interesting small piece in the NYT on the trend back towards traditional church architecture...
...“Architects began to design churches that were meant to promote a sense of community gathered for celebration,” he added. “While older churches tried to set themselves apart from the world, these were buildings that were meant to blend into neighborhoods.”
These buildings were focused around casual, multipurpose spaces. Pastors asked architects for assembly halls that would allow members and clergy members to be able to see one another’s faces, so sanctuaries were often arranged in circles or semicircles. Pulpits were moved from the head of the church to the middle or done away with altogether. Statues were removed. Pitched roofs became flat. Steeples vanished.
Critics of the movement saw this trend toward plain, functional buildings as an insult to the divine. A flurry of books by influential architects and critics led the attack, including Michael S. Rose’s salvo, “Ugly as Sin: Why They Changed Our Churches From Sacred Spaces to Meeting Places and How We Can Change Them Back” (Sophia Institute Press, 2001), and Moyra Doorly’s “No Place for God: The Denial of Transcendence in Modern Church Architecture” (Ignatius Press, 2007).
Ms. Doorly, an architect and writer in Britain, has also started a campaign called Outcry Against Ugly Churches, or OUCH.
While many churches have taken up the call to return to traditional building styles, especially those that still worship with a formal liturgy and sacraments, Dr. Kieckhefer points out that modern “big box”-style churches are often simply more cost effective for congregations to build, and for that reason, he doesn’t see them disappearing from the landscape...
I myself will just just keep my mouth shut here. If I ever let fly with my feelings about modern church architecture and those who promote it, I might lose control altogether and damage Charlene's oriental carpets which she loves what with chewing on them.
September 22, 2007
THE ultimate strategic effect of the Iraq war has been to hasten the arrival of the Asian Century.
While the American government has been occupied in Mesopotamia, and our European allies continue to starve their defense programs, Asian militaries — in particular those of China, India, Japan and South Korea — have been quietly modernizing and in some cases enlarging. Asian dynamism is now military as well as economic.
The military trend that is hiding in plain sight is the loss of the Pacific Ocean as an American lake after 60 years of near-total dominance. A few years down the road, according to the security analysts at the private policy group Strategic Forecasting, Americans will not to the same extent be the prime deliverers of disaster relief in a place like the Indonesian archipelago, as we were in 2005. Our ships will share the waters (and the prestige) with new “big decks” from Australia, Japan and South Korea.
Then there is China, whose production and acquisition of submarines is now five times that of America’s. Many military analysts feel it is mounting a quantitative advantage in naval technology...
Yeah, well, the Soviets built a lot of ships and subs too, and how did that work? I'm not buying this stuff. I would change the headline to: The ultimate strategic effect of the Global War on Terror has been to hasten the arrival of the Axis of Good. I mean, how crazy is this? All the countries mentioned above except China are our friends and allies. Lefties have all been moaning about how Bush is a unilateralist cowboy, and yet here he is drawing Australia, India, Japan and South Korea into building up their navies and joining us in keeping the world free and the sea lanes open.....and are they happy? No, the NYT complains that we are no longer the only boat in the bathtub! Well, this isn't a problem.
The truth is brutally simple. To build big decks, you gotta have a LOT of shekels. To get them, you gotta swim to the top of the foaming torrent called globalization. To do that, you must become more like the United States of America. That's what globalization is. We are the pattern, we are the model, we are the best at it. There is no other way. Australia, India, Japan and South Korea are following that path, not that they have much choice.
And growth works in stages, and at any one of them countries can stall, unless they change. And the changes always consist of becoming more like nasty ol' USA. SO, the fact that China is growing fast right now does NOT mean that she has solved the problem of growth, or can continue being a commie country with partial economic freedom.
And anyway it does not matter how many subs China builds. They are useless, unless the Axis of Good loses its nerve. Why? Because China's wealth is totally dependent on trade, and we can stop her trade at will. She cannot go to war, because a handful of naval mines will close her ports.
The headline would be very different if their side had won...
This headline just struck me as coming from twisted thinking...
New York Times: Fighting Leads to Deaths in Southern Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 21 — About 40 Taliban fighters and at least four civilians have been killed in fierce clashes in southern Afghanistan, officials said today, while two NATO soldiers were killed in other attacks...(Thanks to Orrin)
So "fighting" does not normally lead to deaths? Is this analogous to "Teen Party Leads To Deaths"? Is it being implied that things have been bungled in some way? I suspect we are supposed to think: "Once those Americans invade a country, things go downhill and violence "appears."
And that word "fighters," what do they mean? Are these people combatants in a war? If so, they are committing war crimes, and have forfeited the right to certain niceties, like being taken prisoner rather than being shot out of hand. If they are NOT combatants, then they are terrorists. Which is it, NYT?
The headline ought to be: Taliban Attacks Thwarted; 40 Terrorists Killed by NATO Forces
September 21, 2007
Duane R. Patterson, at Hugh Hewitt's blog, on the Senate vote to support General Petraeus:
....Final score? 72-25, with three not voting. There are many interesting things about this vote, such as the fact that Jon Tester, the MoveOn.org candidate from Montana, voted against this bill before he voted for it, as did fellow Montanan, Max Baucus, who voted against it before he changed his vote and voted for it. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, presidential candidate, voted against supporting Petraeus and for MoveOn.org. Joe Biden, presidential candidate, didn't bother to vote.
If any of you have any inkling of what kind of presidential timber Illinois Senate Barack Obama possesses, all you have to do is look at this vote. The Cornyn vote was called, Obama came to the floor, and when he discovered what the vote was for, he left the floor and didn't cast a vote. He literally ran away from merely casting a vote to support our top military general in the field. But that's not even the most telling moment of the vote.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the next president of the United States, unless Republicans decide to run like Republicans again in 2008 and keep the White House in responsible hands, did cast a vote today, and voted against Petraeus, and for MoveOn.org, a watershed moment in her campaign. If she ever wanted her public image to be that of a moderate, it's gone now with this vote. Hillary is one of three or four people that will be the next president of the United States, and she just tipped her hand that she shows more respect to the radical fringe of her base than she does to the country's top general prosecuting a war that she originally supported...
It's so much fun to see them pinned this way. To be nominated by the Democrats today, you have to be anti-American. It's that simple. And then if you want to be elected you have to lie like crazy and fake being patriotic and vaguely Christian. What a delicious bind they are in.
September 20, 2007
Too bad they'll settle out of court...
Good post by Beldar on the Dan Rather suit..
...My glee is tempered by my realization that this case is almost certainly going to go away before it gets to any good stuff. But oh! it would be fun to watch CBS be forced to justify its putting of Rather out to pasture in a not-quite-firing by showing all of the grounds it had. Usually in a good juicy family court spat, you find yourself in sympathy with at least one litigant. But here's a case in which I can just cut loose and enjoy the misery and embarrassment of all concerned! (I continue to take pride in the high ranking of this post of mine from 2004 in search engine responses to the words "Dan Rather fired.")...
A scoundrel crew. How they deserve to be exposed! what a disgrace the whole episode was...I could go on at length if I had time.
The best of the jest right now is that Rather's lawyers are apparently part of the "reality-based community," and seem to be operating on the assumption that the forged documents were authentic! Hilarious.
These are the people Democrats want us to surrender to...
....Because, of course, if we horrid Americans leave Iraq, then there will be "peace."
...Upon being taken into custody, Medhi openly declared himself to be a member of al Qaeda, and freely admitted (and signed a written confession stating) that he had helped orchestrate and execute these attacks on Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces. Perhaps wishing to escape the punishing clutches of the NPs, and knowing full well -- as do all fighters in Iraq and elsewhere – how strict the rules are that Americans must abide by with regard to the humane treatment of prisoners and detainees, Medhi asked to be handed over to the coalition forces from Charlie Company 2-505 PIR (82nd Airborne) at Patrol Base Olson, in northwestern Samarra. In exchange for the transfer of custody, he had more information (and more confessions) that he was willing to provide.
What it was that he confessed to once in American custody shocked and outraged even his seasoned coalition captors, who had been facing ISI in this city for over a year.
Without a bit of pressure -- indeed, without the appearance of a care in the world -- Medhi, described in graphic detail the other half of his ISI cell’s operations: running an organized al Qaeda Rape ring in Samarra. With a modus operandi of breaking into various houses and either raping women on the spot or threatening the family with death while taking their daughter away to become a hostage and a sex slave, Medhi, a self-described homosexual who engaged in intercourse (via rape) with women “because other members of this group” did, confessed to his cell’s penchant for abducing girls and “holding them [hostage] just for their pleasure.” Most recently, he said, he had taken part in the rape, kidnapping, and/or killing of five women, three of whom were supposedly still alive....
"Support the Troops, Bring Them Home." That's the bumper sticker one sees around town. Because you see, Iraqis aren't human beings, and in fact nothing exists except when Americans (or Jews) are present. So if we leave there will be "peace."
It drives me nuts, the way leftists just assume that nothing goes on except what's done by the USA. And you can't argue with them, because they will never make their position explicit. It's taken for granted that Iraq was at peace before 2003 (despite hundreds of thousands disappearing into mass graves). And that we angry Americans decided to "solve problems using violence and war." Just out of the blue, you know, "bombing" where all was peaceful and happy before, and children were flying kites.
And it's just assumed that when we leave there will be peace. The war will be over. Just like Vietnam, where the "the war was over" when we pulled out, even though millions were yet to die.
Regular readers know that I believe that many of the ideas held by leftists and pacifists are evil and sick. But what actually makes me spitting angry is mostly that they are unwilling or unable to write or speak or argue clearly for their positions. Debate with them is always like punching a blob of Jello. And there's probably a liberal or two who is going to read this. And if he catch me in some factual error he will pounce on me instantly. But he will never even consider engaging me in principled argument, and probably don't even know what I mean. Hey! You there, visualize me grabbing your collar and slapping your face and demanding that you defend your ideas or change them!
September 19, 2007
I can't call those "principles"
I found this piece by David Gerlernter, Defeat at Any Price, thought-provoking, but I don't agree with him here...
....The issue isn't tactics--doesn't concern the draw-down that the administration has forecast and General Petraeus has now discussed, or how this draw-down should work, or how specific such talk ought to be. The issue is deeper. It's time for Americans to ask some big questions. Do leading Democrats want America to win this war? Have they ever?
Of course not--and not because they are traitors. To leading Democrats such as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Al Gore and John Edwards, America would be better off if she lost. And this has been true from the start.
To rephrase the question: Why did Harry Reid announce months ago that the war was lost when it wasn't, and everyone knew it wasn't? The wish is father to the deed. He was envisioning the world of his dreams. [I agree to this point.]
The Democrats' embrace of defeat is inspired by no base desire to see Americans killed or American resources wasted. But let's be honest about it, and invite the Democrats to be honest too.
Appeasement, pacifism, globalism: Those are the Big Three principles of the Democratic left. Each one has been defended by serious people; all are philosophically plausible, or at least arguable. But they are unpopular (especially the first two) with the U.S. public, and so the Democrats rarely make their views plain. We must infer their ideas from their (usually) guarded public statements.
Globalism and Euro-envy are explicit, sometimes, in Democratic pronouncements--about the sanctity of the United Nations, the importance of global conferences and "multilateralism" (except in cases like North Korea, where the president already is moving multilaterally), the superiority of the Canadian or German health care system, and so forth. The Democrats are not unpatriotic, but their patriotism is directed at a large abstract entity called The International Community or even (aping Bronze Age paganism) the Earth, not at America. [whatever term you may apply to such sentiments, this is NOT patriotism.] Benjamin Disraeli anticipated this worldview long ago when he called Liberals the "Philosophical" and Conservatives the "National" party. Liberals are loyal to philosophical abstractions--and seek harmony with the French and Germans. Conservatives are loyal to their own nation, and seek harmony with its Founders and heroes and guiding principles.
The Democrats don't conceal their globalist ideas, but their appeasement and pacifism are positions they can only hint at....
"Liberals are loyal to philosophical abstractions." I would say, NO. No doubt there are a few left who are like that, but I think the really significant fact now is that most "liberals" have been hollowed-out, and they no longer have any philosophy. They have no core principles. It is actually very obviously so, because if they did there would be at least a few examples of them acting according to principle even when it hurts them politically. But we don't ever see that. We have become so accustomed to current "liberal" behavior that we don't notice this obvious thing.
An example is Bush's dealings with North Korea. He has been adamantly multilateral, and in fact has obviously profited by the experiences of the Clinton Administration, whose unilateral initiatives failed. Where are the liberals who openly back up our president in this important work?
Gerlernter writes: "Appeasement, pacifism, globalism: Those are the Big Three principles of the Democratic left." So, my first question is, what happened to those other things we grew up thinking were liberal principles? Anti-fascism? Democracy? Humanitarian interventionism? Hmmm? If something is a principle, you can't just quietly drop it out of the boat when nobody's looking. Right?
And if pacifism and appeasement are principles, then where were the principled protests against military intervention in Bosnia? Or against the enforcement of the no-fly zone in Iraq?
If a group of people have core principles, then those will now and then poke out from the necessarily unprincipled muddle of practical politics. Sort of like sticks in a plastic bag full of trash. For instance, Conservatives like me don't have much of a problem with Bill Clinton stealing the credit for the successes of NAFTA and Welfare Reform. Those were conservative ideas, but if a Democrat wants to push them, then he should have our support. I would harshly criticize any Republican who voted against them just because they would help Democrats.
"But they are unpopular (especially the first two) with the U.S. public, and so the Democrats rarely make their views plain..." Well, there's a limit to how much you can conceal your views and still call them principles. How far can you stretch this? And even if political leaders must keep their views under their hats, where are the others making principled arguments? That is, arguments that start from the core principle and extend it to practical issues?
That's what's been really odd about the various on-line arguments I've been in since I started blogging in 2001. None of my leftish opponents has ever started by expressing and defending core principles. No one, for instance, has stated "I'm a pacifist, and here are my arguments for the pacifistic policy I'm defending." It never happens. Nor, for instance, does anyone defend big government in principle, even when they support every policy that would enlarge government.
I think a better explanation for what we see is that many "liberals," especially the activist types, are really nihilists. They have no ideas that are bigger than they are. And to the nihilist, belief is a reproach and an irritant. So they just hate belief when they see it. And also, they want desperately to avoid being exposed in their inner emptiness. So they wrap themselves in fake liberalism. And loath any situations or institutions that demand a higher allegiance. They just hate anything that says "This cause is worth dying for." Examples are, first of all, The Church and Christianity, then the USA and also Israel, then our military and the residual nationalist loyalties still found in other developed nations.
And most especially, they hate the Iraq Campaign, because it is just the sort of thing a liberal of the past would be for. So it totally puts their fake liberalism in the hot seat...
September 18, 2007
"not just pretending to be friendly "
Don't miss Michael Totten's latest. Even if you are becoming bored with good news from Iraq, this is just too cool. The pictures of the people...awesome. It's not just that al Anbar province as a whole is peaceful, it's this one special place. Ar Ramadi! Al Qaeda central!
....Ramadi has changed so drastically from the terrorist-infested pit that it was as recently as April 2007 that I could hardly believe what I saw was real. The sheer joy on the faces of these Iraqis was unmistakable. They weren’t sullen in the least, and it was pretty obvious that they were not just pretending to be friendly or going through the hospitality motions.
“It was nothing we did,” said Marine Lieutenant Colonel Drew Crane who was visiting for the day from Fallujah. “The people here just couldn’t take it anymore.”
What he said next surprised me even more than what I was seeing.
“You know what I like most about this place?” he said.
“What’s that?” I said.
“We don’t need to wear body armor or helmets,” he said.
I was poleaxed. Without even realizing it, I had taken off my body armor and helmet. I took my gear off as casually as I do when I take it off after returning to the safety of the base after patrolling. We were not in the safety of the base and the wire. We were safe because we were in Ramadi.
Only then did I notice that Lieutenant Colonel Crane was no longer wearing his helmet. Neither were most of the others.
I saw no violence in Baghdad, but I would never have taken off my body armor and helmet outside the wire. I certainly wouldn’t have done it casually without noticing it. If I had I would have been sternly upbraided for reckless behavior by every Soldier anywhere near me.....
You know, nobody's saying that all of Iraq is like Ramadi, or necessarily will be like Ramadi, or that Iraq's ten-thousand problems are solved. But I read things like this, and I remember the times I've written about the tremendous potential Iraq has...and all I can say is, Ha! I was right.
.....I asked Captain McGee the same question. I have no plans to do this. [live in Ramadi] The question is purely theoretical.
“You would probably be okay downtown,” he said, “but you would definitely be fine just north of town. If you tried that in February you would not have lasted four hours.”
“You trust the locals that much?” I said.
“I do,” he said.
“The only people I trust with my life in this country are the Kurds,” I said.
“I trust these people almost as much,” he said. “Are they petty? Yes. Are they tribal? Yes. Are they Arabs?” He rolled his eyes. “Yes. Do they believe in conspiracy theories? Yes. But they have their act together now.”....
Another scoundrel Democrat down...
My wife the lawyer was cackling with glee this morning when she read about William Lerach pleading guilty to hiring fake "plaintiffs" for his vile stockholder class action suits, with which he has sucked billions out of the productive economy (and potentially damaged our economy by orders-of-magnitude more than that, by giving huge donations to crypto-socialist politicians with names like Clinton and Edwards.)
It's caterpillars like him that give the legal profession its bad name. He is on the Dark Side, and Charlene does battle against such horrid bloodsuckers every day.
September 17, 2007
England is dying, but the Anglosphere is now "England"
It has taken decades of struggle, but more than half a century after the British departed from India, standard English has finally followed.
Young and educated Indians regard the desire to speak English as it is spoken in England as a silly hang-up from a bygone era. Homegrown idiosyncrasies have worked their way into the mainstream to such an extent that only fanatical purists question their usage.
Now Penguin, the quintessentially British publishing house, has put the nearest thing to an official imprimatur on the result by producing a collection of some of the most colourful phrases in use - in effect a dictionary of what might be called "Indlish".
Its title, Entry From Backside Only, refers to a phrase commonly used on signposts to indicate the rear entrance of a building. Binoo John, the author, said young Indians had embraced the variant of the language as a charming offspring of the mingling of English and Hindi, rather than an embarrassing mongrel.
"Economic prosperity has changed attitudes towards Indian English," said Mr John. "Having jobs and incomes, and being noticed by the rest of the world, have made Indians confident - and the same confidence has attached itself to their English."...
Well, for sure. [I've had people hear me say "for sure" and say, "you must come from Southern California!"] Or maybe speaking English changes the brain and leads to attitudes of moderation and good sense, leading thence to prosperity.
"The fertility crisis in the West is a moral problem"
This to this piece me is fascinating, because: 1.It's an example of how "things of the spirit" are more real than the tangibles produced by technology and economics.
2.Looks like the old-timers knew something—in this case, that it's us men who need to be corralled into marriage.
3.Plenty of conservatives speak similarly, but who has un-compromised moral authority here? Only B-16 and the Church. Not Protestants, that's for sure (try bringing a family with 6 kids to various churches and you will find out, as this guy did!). And how can a "secular conservative" speak with moral authority about the contraceptive culture? Not possible.
4.I think the "Culture of Death" is much more than just a matter of abortion and euthanasia. It's everywhere, it's nihilism.
5.I started to put this in my "Sunday Thoughts" category, then took it out, then put it back in. There's no dividing line...
Angela Shanahan: Sex Revolution Robbed us of Fertility:
OVER 13 years as a columnist for The Australian and other publications I have received many letters. But I have never received one like this. It was written in response to a column I wrote a few weeks ago on sexual imagery in advertising.
But coincidentally it arrived just after the Pope's remarks this month about the seemingly obvious link between selfishness and our inability to produce children.
The thirty something writer cut through the demographic babble about the fertility crisis and heartbreakingly encapsulated something that is staring us in the face. Despite the media's discomfort, the fertility crisis in the West is a moral problem and, of course, only moral leaders such as Pope Benedict XVI have the guts and authority to enunciate it.
The truth about declining fertility is not all that complicated. It is the inevitable result of a so-called sexual revolution that broke the nexus between sex and having children, and has skewed our relationships, particularly marriage, forever. What the media coyly refer to as private morality -- also known as sexual morality -- is having all too public social consequences. On average, women in Europe will now only bear 1.5 children each, and in some places it is down to 1.2. The enlightened West can't produce enough children to fuel its economy or maintain its culture.
In western Europe nothing will change this short of some great and terrible upheaval, such as another war. No amount of economic fiddling with family tax rates, no amount of child care or incentives for women to work, not even the threat of cultural extinction as a result of mass migration from Africa and the Middle East, will change it....
...And in sociologist-speak, culture is code for things such as religion and our sexual mores, including our marriage patterns, or what the aridly secular West will timidly go as far as calling our values. So what are these values that are a prerequisite for stable societies that can at least reproduce themselves? The most important factor in fertility is marriage. Late marriage and failure to marry is the biggest single factor affecting fertility in the West....
....It is a terrible catch22. But as my correspondent also rightly bemoans, so far almost all the discussion about fertility and marriage has been about women, as if their desires and motivations were the only factor.
However, studies done in the late 1990s in Scandinavia, where almost 60per cent of births are ex-nuptial, discovered a much stronger connection between the attitude of the man in a cohabiting relationship, as to whether a formal marriage eventuated, than the attitude of the woman....
....Cohabiting men were found to be far more hesitant than women to formalise the relationship. Furthermore, this pattern holds true even in relationships that have already produced children.
Among the childless, men seem to fear that marriage will push them into more of a provider role. They harbour strong doubts about the ultimate value of a relationship -- whether it will be lifelong -- and are less likely than women to yield to normative pressure from parents. What exactly was the word the Pope used: selfish?....[Thanks to Orrin]
Update: I'm not a moralist by nature, but I would emphasize that morality has brutally practical consequences that should be of concern even to secularists who scoff or libertarians who imagine that the market will sort all. If you doubt it just think of the astonishing courage and selflessness of our soldiers serving in bleak corners of the globe, and then try to imagine those co-habiting secular Swedes mentioned above producing men and women like ours! Of course they are not willing to fight for their freedom and their land.
9/11 was a wake up call for me, but not in the way I first thought. The need to fight Islamo-fascist terror groups, and the strategy to employ is in fact so blindingly obvious that I feel embarassed to keep harping on it. A thousand times more significant is the question of how the West came to be so paralyzed that a ridiculous rabble of bomb-throwers were not slapped down decades ago. and it's not a separate issue from "private morality."
September 15, 2007
Expanding ice caps...
You've no doubt read about the shrinking ice cap at the North Pole, and the plight of the polar bears there. It's less likely that you've heard that in the meantime, the ice cap at the South Pole has been expanding, and just recently reached its largest extent since measurements began in 1979.
I compared Google News searches for "ice cap 'north pole'" and "ice cap 'south pole.'" The North Pole stories were all about the shrinking ice cap there as evidence of global warming. I couldn't find a single news story about the expanding ice cap at the South Pole. This strikes me as a pretty good illustration of how the conventional story line about Earth's climate drives news reporting...
Neither North nor South Poles are definitive evidence in themselves. Climate change would not be linear. But this is sure powerful evidence of what a bunch of frauds our news-media are.
The whole globo-warming debate is warped because a LOT of things are not being mentioned. Things that would cause the little people—you and me— to possibly fail to reach the conclusions deemed appropriate by our elite would-be masters. For instance, 99% of the Greenhouse Effect on Earth is caused by water vapor. And lucky we are that it is; we'd be pretty cold without it. We'd all be living in the "Antarctic."
Sounds like life at Random Jottings...
This is SO like my experiences for the last few years—gee how many years has it been? Since 11-01— trying and always failing to engage our phony liberals in debate....
From a good piece by Fred Kagan and Bill Kristol, Men at Work, Children at Play...
....The congressional critics provided quite a contrast with Petraeus and Crocker. If the general and the ambassador were men at work, the congressmen and senators were--with a few notable exceptions--children at play. They spoke almost entirely in generalizations--often months, sometimes years, out of date. They used selective quotations and cherry-picked facts to play "gotcha." They offered no meaningful proposals of their own. Petraeus and Crocker live and breathe Iraq, dealing with life-and-death problems seven days a week. Congress bloviates Tuesday through Thursday. That's one of the reasons to listen to the general and the ambassador rather than the congressional pontificators.
The contrast between those who know something about Iraq and those who don't continued with the president's speech on September 13. Bush described America's objectives in Iraq clearly, explained the strategy he is pursuing, outlined the progress that it has made in detail and in specific areas of Iraq, explained why he intends to continue that strategy with minor adjustments, and announced a conditions-based reduction of forces, which General Petraeus had recommended. In response, Senator Jack Reed spoke in the vaguest terms....
Gee Andrew, you may be wiser than I thought. I think you have a real future in Democrat Party politics. Your instincts were true...
September 14, 2007
Tells you all you need to know...
I caught a moment of Rush Limbaugh while running around this morning, and he made one really good point.
In all the news we've seen about the reception of Gen. Petraeus' testimony, not one Democrat, not one liberal has said, "What can we do to help you? What can we do to help the troops?"
Best book on the subject...
I finally got a perk for being a blogger. Free Press sent me a copy of a new book, House to House by Staff Sergeant David Bellavia.
It centers on the the bloody craziness of the second battle of Falluja, where Bellavia's army unit was one of the first to penetrate deep into the town... I'm a bookworm, and I've read lots of books on war. This is the best account of combat I've ever encountered.
I'm not going to even try to quote the wild stuff, you won't believe it unless you read the whole build-up. In fact you gotta just read the book. (All I'll say editorially is that anyone who thinks we should walk away and leave the jihadis to tyrannize over Iraq, or any other place, is insane. We have created monsters by decades of pacifism and appeasement and liberalism and nihilism, and now we must fight. There isn't a choice.)
....Inside the house, I start to move to the door. Before I can take a full step, I see a trip wire. It runs across the door and up along the doorjamb. Dangling from the wire is an orange-red pineapple grenade the size of a Nerf football. The pin is missing and the spoon is held on by the wire. If we open the door, the spoon will fly off and detonate the grenade in our faces.
"Knapp!" I shout.
He comes over and peers through the window.
"Check this shit out," I tell him.
He fingers the trip wire and sighs. "You know what? I've told my guys not to check for booby traps. This is high-intensity MOUT." Military Operations in Urban Terrain. "We're looking for bad guys. We don't have time for precision MOUT."
"No, you're right we don't. We could have dudes in the house ready to kill us. We've got to be ready for them, not heads-down searching for trip wires."
Knapp nods. We've got a serious tactical dilemma on our hands. If we're to treat each house as if it is booby trapped, we'll go in cautiously. In house-clearing, confidence and quickness are absolutely vital. If we hesitate, if we methodically search for booby traps, we hand the initiative to any insurgents who may be in the house. We'll get lit the fuck up. Moving swiftly and decisively from room to room is the only way to surprise the enemy and minimize our exposure to their fire.
So far, we haven't seen anyone inside these houses. Yet if we continue to move this quickly, we're likely to trip a booby trap. Right now, I can't see how we're going to get through this without anyone getting hurt. Either we move fast and hit a trip wire, or we move slowly and get shot at.
"Okay, Knapp, let's keep this to ourselves."
"Yeah, alright. We don't wanna fucking freak the guys out any more than they already are. I don't want them going into houses with this shit at the back of their heads."....
[There's a short video interview of Bellavia here.]
September 13, 2007
Penraker has some interesting quotes from Brookings Institute (no friend to Republicans) scholars on Iraq. This one is by Peter Rodman (I didn't find a link to the original)...
...I think it would have a stabilizing effect in Iraq, in the sense that the people of Iraq see staying power. One of the most destabilizing factors in Iraq - the whole Iraqi equation - the whole internal Iraqi equation - has been the fear of American withdrawal...it's very hard to counter this perception.
The election, the Baker-Hamiilton report, public opinion polls, there were plenty of reasons for Iraqis to believe that the Americans are someday going to leave. But this compounds the problems we have - it demoralizes moderates, it encourages people to resort to hedging strategies. I mean, if you think the Americans are heading for the exits, you're not going to take risks. You are not going to make concessions. You're going to husband your assets. You're going to hunker down and prepare for the great free-for all that's going to come.
And neighboring countries, by the same token are going to pick sides, and everything gets worse...
"One of the most destabilizing factors in Iraq....has been the fear of American withdrawal" Well, that's obvious. It's just like our everyday life--are people going to stand up to crooks if they are not sure that the cops are going to back them up? Are going to be there when called?
By not supporting their country, Leftists and pacifists and Democrats are actively (and probably knowingly) destabilizing Iraq, and many other parts of the world, and thereby causing the deaths of large numbers of people, including American soldiers.
Fred: "smoother, rounder yet bolder."
I've yet to experience the appeal of Fred Thompson. I'm open to the suggestion that he can appeal to the common man in a way Mit or Rudy can't. But that's far from making him Reaganesque, as some have suggested he is. Remember, Reagan had been working tirelessly, long before he became a political candidate, writing and speaking and broadcasting, to spread his faith in America and her true ideals. I've yet to hear of anything similar about Fred Thompson.
(Leftists, by the way, labored then and now to portray Reagan as an amiable dunce, but recent publications of his work long before he had speechwriters show this to be a horrid lie.)
This column by George Will is a powerful attack on ol' Fred...
...So he believes, as zealous regulators of political speech do, that political contributions are incipient bribes -- but that bribery begins with contributions larger than $2,300. Which brings us to the financial implausibility of his late-starting campaign.
Suppose he does something unprecedented -- gets 100 people a day, from now until Jan. 1, to contribute the permitted maximum of $2,300. After subtracting normal fundraising costs and campaign overhead, he would still enter 2008 vulnerable to being outspent at least three-to-one by his major rivals.
Is there, however, a huge cash value in the role for which he is auditioning -- darling of religious conservatives? Perhaps. But their aspiring darling recently said in South Carolina, "I attend church when I'm in Tennessee. I'm in McLean right now. I don't attend regularly when I'm up there."
"Right now"? He has been living "up there" in that upscale inside-the-Beltway Washington suburb, honing his "Aw, shucks, I'm just an ol' Washington outsider" act, for years. Long enough to have noticed that McLean is planted thick with churches. Going to church is, of course, optional -- unless you are aiming to fill some supposed piety void in the Republican field.
New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985, with the company's president piling on adjectives usually reserved for Lafite Rothschild -- "smoother, rounder yet bolder." Almost 80 days later, the public having sampled it, the company pulled the product from stores. Perhaps Thompson's candidacy will last longer than New Coke did.
September 12, 2007
Fact checking reveals no fact checking...
....PJM’s Bob Owens interviews Major John Cross, who led the U.S. Army’s investigation into Private Beauchamp’s shocking claims. Even more shocking is what Cross reveals below: Among other findings, there is no credible evidence that TNR [The New Republic] made any attempt at fact checking prior to publishing the articles. Furthermore, not one of the soldiers interviewed under oath in the investigation corroborated Beauchamp’s story....
Look, there's nothing too complicated here. The New Republic was, for many decades, the thoughtful responsible liberal mag. You could respect them even if you didn't agree with them. But that ecological niche doesn't exist any more. There just aren't many thoughtful responsible liberals these days. So TNR has to either die, or appeal to the moveon.org sickos. It's just business.
So the whole Oh-my-god-they've-been-caught-in-a-lie-they're-toast story line, seen in many conservative blogs, is absurd and anachronistic. They don't care that they've been caught in a lie, because they are not trying to appeal to people who give a damn about truth. The fact that they lied to smear the US military is a plus to the people they need as subscribers...
Jim Geraghty: So let me get this straight... to Hillary, Norman Hsu gets the benefit of the doubt, but not General David Petraeus?
It was in fact the only sensible option...
This is a question I've argued a number of times, so I was glad to see this piece by Paul Bremer, detailing why we dealt as we did with the Iraqi army... (Actually the people who claim we made a mistake never argue the point--they just assert it as if it were self-evident. Poltroons.)
IT has become conventional wisdom that the decision to disband Saddam Hussein’s army was a mistake, was contrary to American prewar planning and was a decision I made on my own. In fact the policy was carefully considered by top civilian and military members of the American government. And it was the right decision.
By the time Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003, the Iraqi Army had simply dissolved. On April 17 Gen. John Abizaid, the deputy commander of the Army’s Central Command, reported in a video briefing to officials in Washington that “there are no organized Iraqi military units left.” The disappearance of Saddam Hussein’s old army rendered irrelevant any prewar plans to use that army. So the question was whether the Coalition Provisional Authority should try to recall it or to build a new one open to both vetted members of the old army and new recruits. General Abizaid favored the second approach....
"The slaying of a beautiful deduction by an ugly fact..."
General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, testifying before the House and the Senate during the last two days, did what many people thought was impossible: They reset the Washington clock. These good men, by what they have achieved in Iraq and by the force and power of their testimonies, have recast the terms of the debate. They will now have until next summer to build on their successes, which in turn could eventually lead to a decent outcome in Iraq. To appreciate how extraordinary this is, it’s worth recalling how far we have come....
* * * *
...The effort to besmirch the good name of David Petraeus is politically insane. The claim by anti-war critics that they oppose the war but support the troops is a lot harder to make when those in their ranks maliciously attack the commander of the troops, who happens to be succeeding.
And for those of us who have watched much of the hearings on television, one could not help but be struck by this contrast: Petraeus and Crocker in command, unflappable, professional, radiating competence and confidence, respectful but never allowing themselves to be intimidated. Many Democrats, on the other hand, appeared angry, agitated, long-winded, and out of their depth. General David Petraeus is the military analogue of Justice John Roberts, and their critics looked equally foolish going after both men.
* * * *
“If ever (Herbert) Spencer wrote a tragedy, its plot would be the slaying of a beautiful deduction by an ugly fact,” Thomas Huxley wrote. It is an odd situation indeed to find members of America’s political class greeting demonstrable evidence of progress in Iraq as ugly and inconvenient facts. But fortunately we seem to be past the danger point, when Members of Congress can recklessly undo what General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, and the remarkable men and women of our armed forces have achieved. Now Members of the House and Senate are simply left to posture, rage against the wind, and passionately insist, against a growing body of evidence, that a war that might be won is hopelessly lost.
I can understand people opposing the Iraq Campaign because it seems to be going badly, but when certain people clearly hate the thought of getting good news, or hearing that it is going well....I say they are insane. Evil and insane.
(Opposing a military campaign because it seems to be going badly is not insane. It is however really STUPID. If you bother to read history you know that every war we have ever fought has had periods where things are going badly. And most wars and campaigns tend to look their ugliest and most brutal just before the end, just before one side collapses. This is reason #387 why liberals oppose the study of history.)
September 11, 2007
Photograph �2001 The Record (Bergen County, N.J.). Photo Credit: Thomas E. Franklin, Staff Photographer.
Charlene and I went to the 6:30 Mass this morning. We've been trying to do so once a week. Afterward she jumps on a bus for downtown, and I drive home.
As I was driving back I passed a fire station, and saw the firefighters lined up, raising our nation's flag. I felt rather awed. I wish I'd had a camera. I hurried home and put out our flag.
One of the many thoughts in my head is that America is not just a country, like other countries. It is an authoritative tradition, handed down to us from our forefathers and from God. America is an idea. (I wrote about that here.) "The rights of Englishmen are derived from God, not from king or Parliament, and would be secured by the study of history, law, and tradition." The rights of Englishmen are what we fought the Revolution for, and their origin is exceedingly ancient, and mysterious, and not something created merely by men.
And I think America makes demands on us, analogous (not the same, but analogous) to the claim made on us by God. And, analogously, we resist that claim in a thousand squirrely ways. We invent heresies, to put it bluntly. Certain people suddenly discover they are pacifists or internationalists. Someone this morning mentioned a prayer-intention for the victims of the disaster on 9/11. Nuh uh. It was not a disaster, it was a murderous terror attack on our nation and on innocent fellow-citizens.
And an attack on our land makes claims on us. It requires that we put our own concerns second and rally to the defense of our country, even at the risk of our lives, or the loss of elections. And, analogous to the other, greater sphere, many people answer non servum.
September 10, 2007
Something what's been keeping me busy...
I just finished installing this home office, in a very fine old apartment building here in the city. I'm pleased with how it came out, though there were times I wasn't sure I was going to make it. Especially just the problem of getting all the parts and tools into the apartment. There were many hassles with parking, elevators, cable car line, steep hills.... I love the city, but there are problems here no one in the suburbs even imagines.
Update: Two more pix added.
It was hard to get back far enough to get a picture. Plus, one of the problems was that the room was full of stuff. Makes it awkward. 'Course I once re-did a home office that remained in use during the installation! That was fun.
Best thing I've read this morning...
Hugh Hewitt (or Dean Barnett; it's not clear):
....There’s a local TV show that I appear on. Practically every time I’m on, the host, a good egg even though a pronounced lefty even by Boston standards, asks me how Republicans are supposed to stand by this war effort and still prevail in 2008. I always respond the same way: They aren’t. In all likelihood, 2008 will be a disaster for Republicans at the ballot box. But we, the rank and file of the Republican party, expect Republicans to risk their comfortable offices in order to see the war in Iraq through to a satisfactory conclusion and to continue the war against the forces of Jihad. Let the political chips fall where they may.
Whenever I repeat this sentiment, the host and the other two guests who are usually also liberal, look at me like I have two heads. They obviously suspect some ploy is afoot. But I mean it. And so do most other Republicans. A party that won’t see this thing through isn’t worth supporting, not in political defeat and even more so not in political victory.
September 9, 2007
What's happening Sept. 15?
From Der Spiegel:
....Three suspected Islamist militants who were planning to attack American targets in Germany had orders to act by Sept. 15 and knew police were hot on their trail before their arrest, a magazine said on Saturday.
The plan was foiled on Tuesday when police arrested two German converts to Islam and a Turk in the biggest German police investigation in the last 30 years.
According to surveillance details published in Der Spiegel magazine, the men had been given a two-week deadline for their planned strikes in a late August call from northern Pakistan that was monitored by German police....
September 15th? Gee, I wonder what could be the significance of that day? wasn't there some political party or other that was worried about that day? Trying to deflect attention from something? Crazy the ideas that pop into my head...
....According to Der Spiegel, two of the militants mentioned "a disco filled with American sluts" along with airports, nightclubs or a U.S. military base as targets during a July 20 conversation that was bugged by police...The arrests were the culmination of an investigation that began a year ago, when U.S. officials alerted German authorities to e-mails intercepted from Pakistan....
Why, they can't DO that! That's a violation of their civil rights! Call the ACLU! If militants can't receive e-mails from Pakistan in peace, the jackboot of Bush's Christianist fascism is about to descend upon us!
"out of touch with the body of Christ"
Peter Holmes writes:
Several friends have, of late, admitted they send their children to Protestant bible classes because "there is nothing Catholic" or "the Protestants are much better at this" and the old "at least they are getting something."
I surprised them by advising they remove their children immediately and take steps to remedy the damage done so far. "But isn't it better that they know Scripture? Isn't that what you've been saying all along?" they protest. My point wasn't about knowing Scripture. It was about knowing the truth, and where it all fits.
As an evangelical I learned 200-300 verses a year in Sunday School and had to recite them all at the end to get my 'prize', and yet never understood sin or grace. I understood a wickedly twisted version invented (in human terms) by a reformer hundreds of years ago, and seemingly supported by the selective choice of verses interpreted by my teachers.
As a Lutheran seminarian I read the Bible backwards, forwards in the original Hebrew and Hebrew, in later translations of Latin, German and various historic English translations. I learned critical method and medieval exegesis, read the fathers take on Scripture and STILL didn't understand grace and sin (I persist with these examples though there are many others) in the Catholic sense.
It's hard for a Catholic with a positive outlook to suspect a Protestant is undermining their belief when they use all the same words, even some of the same formulae, but only discover later that they mean different things. (The joint statements b/w Catholics and Protestants tend to be full of such language.)
If a Protestant encourages me to read the Scriptures, that is a great and noble thing. If they offer to TEACH me the Scriptures, I have to decline. They are lacking the context they were written from, and into. They are out of touch with the body of Christ that preserved them and interprets them authoritatively.
Specifically they justify their non-catholicity on the basis of Scripture. We should expect their interpretation to contradict the Church not only in some aspects, but in method, content, context and in spirit.
I am astounded when good Catholics, who would not let a religious sister or priest within a mile of their children's faith education, will entrust their education in the central aspect of the Catholic Tradition to people who reject Catholicism...
I'm just starting to understand the slight-of-hand involved in supporting Protestant theology sola scriptura. Fascinatin' subject. A book to begin with is Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, by David Currie. Charlene and I both give it our highest marks...
"to waste time for the sake of God..."
From Chapter 5. THE PLAYFULNESS OF THE LITURGY
GRAVE and earnest people, who make the knowledge of truth their whole aim, see moral problems in everything, and seek for a definite purpose everywhere, tend to experience a peculiar difficulty where the liturgy is concerned. They incline to regard it as being to a certain extent aimless, as superfluous pageantry of a needlessly complicated and artificial character. They are affronted by the scrupulously exact instructions which the liturgy gives on correct procedure, on the right direction in which to turn, on the pitch of the voice, and so on. What is the use of it all? The essential part of Holy Mass--the action of Sacrifice and the divine Banquet--could be so easily consummated. Why, then, the need for the solemn institution of the priestly office? The necessary consecration could be so simply accomplished in so few words, and the sacraments so straight-forwardly administered--what is the reason of all the prayers and ceremonies? The liturgy tends to strike people of this turn of mind as—to use the words which are really most appropriate—trifling and theatrical....
....But this has one thing in common with the play of the child and the life of art—it has no purpose, but it is full of profound meaning. It is not work, but play. To be at play, or to fashion a work of art in God's sight—not to create, but to exist—such is the essence of the liturgy. From this is derived its sublime mingling of profound earnestness and divine joyfulness. The fact that the liturgy gives a thousand strict and careful directions on the quality of the language, gestures, colors, garments and instruments which it employs, can only be understood by those who are able to take art and play seriously. Have you ever noticed how gravely children draw up the rules of their games, on the form of the melody, the position of the hands, the meaning of this stick and that tree? It is for the sake of the silly people who may not grasp their meaning and who will persist in seeing the justification of an action or object only in its obvious purpose. Have you ever read of or even experienced the deadly earnestness with which the artist-vassal labors for art, his lord? Of his sufferings on the score of language? Or of what an overweening mistress form is? And all this for something that has no aim or purpose! No, art does not bother about aims. Does anyone honestly believe that the artist would take upon himself the thousand anxieties and feverish perplexities incident to creation if he intended to do nothing with his work but to teach the spectator a lesson, which he could just as well express in a couple of facile phrases, or one or two historical examples, or a few well-taken photographs? The only answer to this can be an emphatic negative. Being an artist means wrestling with the expression of the hidden life of man, avowedly in order that it may be given existence; nothing more. It is the image of the Divine creation, of which it is said that it has made things "ut sint."....
[I posted a little more below the fold]
...The liturgy does the same thing. It too, with endless care, with all the seriousness of the child and the strict conscientiousness of the great artist, has toiled to express in a thousand forms the sacred, God-given life of the soul to no other purpose than that the soul may therein have its existence and live its life. The liturgy has laid down the serious rules of the sacred game which the soul plays before God. And, if we are desirous of touching bottom in this mystery, it is the Spirit of fire and of holy discipline "Who has knowledge of the world"—the Holy Ghost—Who has ordained the game which the Eternal Wisdom plays before the Heavenly Father in the Church, Its kingdom on earth. And "Its delight" is in this way "to be with the children of men."
Only those who are not scandalized by this understand what the liturgy means. From the very first every type of rationalism has turned against it. The practice of the liturgy means that by the help of grace, under the guidance of the Church, we grow into living works of art before God, with no other aim or purpose than that of living and existing in His sight; it means fulfilling God's Word and "becoming as little children"; it means foregoing maturity with all its purposefulness, and confining oneself to play, as David did when he danced before the Ark. It may, of course, happen that those extremely clever people, who merely from being grown-up have lost all spiritual youth and spontaneity, will misunderstand this and jibe at it. David probably had to face the derision of Michal. It is in this very aspect of the liturgy that its didactic aim is to be found, that of teaching the soul not to see purposes everywhere, not to be too conscious of the end it wishes to attain, not to be desirous of being over-clever and grown-up, but to understand simplicity in life. The soul must learn to abandon, at least in prayer, the restlessness of purposeful activity; it must learn to waste time for the sake of God, and to be prepared for the sacred game with sayings and thoughts and gestures, without always immediately asking "why?" and "wherefore?" It must learn not to be continually yearning to do something, to attack something, to accomplish something useful, but to play the divinely ordained game of the liturgy in liberty and beauty and holy joy before God. In the end, eternal life will be its fulfillment. Will the people who do not understand the liturgy be pleased to find that the heavenly consummation is an eternal song of praise? Will they not rather associate themselves with those other industrious people who consider that such an eternity will be both boring and unprofitable?....
September 8, 2007
The big loser...
From the Belmont Club...
Here's a link to the transcript of Osama Bin Laden's message to the American people. Two things stand out. The first is his claim to victory in a theater (Iraq) where by all accounts his forces have been worsted and the only insurgent force with a plausible claim to victory is not al-Qaeda's but Iran's.
Secondly, his talking points, with their references to the Global Warming, taxes, Noam Chomsky, etc. almost seem to suggest an inversion. It's almost as if Osama the Muslim, not the infidel, has converted. From the tone of his remarks, Osama no longer speaks to the American people as the potentate of an unstoppable international apocalyptic movement, but rather as someone, who if you were ignorant of his true identity, might just as well be a spokesman for the Muslim wing of a Western political party....
As I've often pointed out, we had a number of different reasons and goals for the Iraq Campaign. So it's possible to both win and lose there. (Something most people seem weirdly incapable of processing.) For instance, we hope that sponsoring freedom and democracy in Iraq will start to break the grip of despotism and cruelty that plagues the Middle East. BUT, planting democracy in the heart of the Caliphate is ALSO waving a red flag in front of al Qaeda! They hate the idea. We forced them to fight on ground of our choosing! (I suspect this was unconscious genius on the part of the administration.)
And if one is fighting an elusive enemy who uses guerilla tactics, then almost any fight is good news for us. (Another obvious thing most people can't process.) We want a fight. We DON'T want al Qaeda free to plot and strike at its leisure. So the bloodshed in Iraq is both bad, for goal number one, and really really good for goal number two!
And lordy, what is Osama saying now? He's admitting he's lost!!!!! He's whining that his representatives in the Democrat Party have failed to win his war for him! What a loser. I am just SO trembling with fear. And quoting Noam Chomsky! Ha. Ha. Ha. And Ha. Don't they deserve each other. And this is really an information war we are fighting. The perception of al Qaeda driven from Iraq is far more important than us killing a bunch of them.
Losers! The next thing to expect is that he'll be bragging about how he gives his people free health care! And angling for a slot as Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at San Francisco State. Give him tenure guys, he's worked hard for it!
"unable to process the fact"
I liked this look at "the big picture." By Orrin Judd, writing about the book The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics ...
...In 1980, after fifty years of liberalism regnant, America had been bequeathed a world where the USSR and communist allies controlled half the globe, where the economy was stagnating and prices were rising, and where there was such spiritual malaise that a president took to the airwaves to whine about it.
Ronald Reagan, in turn, called for a return to the values, principles and policies of earlier days and ushered in a period that has seen an unprecedented quarter century of uninterrupted economic growth, the obliteration of communism/socialism, and a resurgence of faith and faith-based policy in America. So dispositive is the victory of democracy/capitalism/protestantism that Francis Fukuyama coined the term End of History to describe it. Essentially, after two hundred years of miserable failure by a variety of isms, there simply is no challenger to the Anglo-American model any longer.
The Left is understandably upset about the abject failure of everything it believed in and a good portion of the movement has been unable to process the fact. While folks like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Rahm Emmanuel had sense enough to throw in the towel and move their parties to the Right, many activists and intellectuals have instead become nothing more than reactionaries. This leaves them in the obviously futile position of insisting that the past three decades are a mistake and that we should return to the recipe that brought us the godawful 1970s.
The "Argument" then boils down to this: should Democrats seek to vindicate their ideals and crash and burn in McGovern/Carter/Dukakis/Gore/Kerry fashion, or should they accept the Western consensus and run as a kind of chick-friendly version of conservatism, a la Bill Clinton and George W. Bush?
Such is the nature of ideology and the eternality of the tension between Security and Freedom that just because the latter obviously have the stronger case does not mean they will prevail. When they do, we'll get stuff like the current Congress, which is indistinguishable from the Republican-dominated one that preceded it. When the former prevail, we'll get actual Republicans. Either way, it's mostly win-win for the country...
My guess is that, no matter how many times it is discredited, Leftism will always send up new shoots (with new names of course). Democracy and free markets and conservative thinking (and even the poor libertarians) and Globalization all share a tacit recognition of Original Sin. They assume that ALL human beings are flawed, and that all human enterprises will be things of failure and frustration, and therefore need feed-back mechanisms to get them back on track when they inevitably go awry.
But this means that we will never solve our problems by putting them in the hands of experts and elites—by putting them in the hands of those who are wiser and better. And it is the hunger to feel superior that drives all Leftish thinking. Left-leaning people may busy-body endlessly in helping the unfortunate, but there is always the assumption that the helper is in a position of superiority, and the helped will continue to remain helpless.
In Christian and conservative thought it is assumed that helper and helped are of equal value in the eyes of God. (Of course we often fall short of this in practice.) The conservative hopes the poor will become strong and productive citizens, and no longer need help. And the Christian hopes they will be saved, and sees in them potential saints...
To both the conservative and the Christian, the sin to avoid when helping others is Pride.
Update: i received a quite-justified rebuke from a friend for using language such as: "And it is the hunger to feel superior that drives all Leftish thinking." That's way too categorical and definite, and probably wrong about a lot of people.
Well, if I were really careful about what I wrote, I'd probably not have time to write at all! But please feel free to criticize. In many ways I just write to clarify my own thoughts. (A process I recommend---you don't really know what you are thinking until you try to express it so others will understand.)
The Leftish thought I'm referring to is that which tends to aim for what Peter Drucker called "salvation by society." Socialism is the classic example. And it is particularly difficult to do battle with because, crazy as it sounds, most leftists aren't leftists any more. Not in the sense of having some philosophy like socialism that is "bigger" than they are. (When was the last time you met a Marxist plotting armed revolution?) So it's like wrestling with a jellyfish.
I do think I'm right that the hunger to feel superior to others underlies a lot of what goes on on the Rive Gauche. Perhaps I'm sensitive to it just because I'm quite capable of the same error. But at least I'm on guard against it...
September 7, 2007
by Dean Takahashi Mercury News [link]
I know that Shu Wong of San Jose hasn't received the $3.50 mail-in rebate for a Vastech computer networking USB hub purchased at a Fry's Electronics in May. Richard Louie of Austin, Olivia Sattaypiwat of Saratoga and Buu Duong of San Jose haven't received their rebates, either.
I know this because they told me so, and because I am staring at more than 1,300 rebate requests sent to Vastech on Bonaventura Drive in San Jose. The envelopes were tossed - unopened - into a garbage dumpster near Vastech. I have two boxes of envelopes that were thrown out without being processed. In all of my years of reporting, I have never encountered such outrageous behavior against consumers.
An employee of nearby Dominion Enterprises found the letters, along with hundreds of others addressed to Vastech, at his company's dumpster. He turned them over to his boss, Joel Schwartz, who gave them to me. All of the letters were addressed to UR-04 Rebate or some variation of the product name at the Vastech address...
(Thanks to Rand Simberg)
Of course the really big scam is that the manufacturers know that most rebates never get sent in at all. People process the low "after rebate" price, buy the product and think they got a good deal, and then lose the form or never find the time and energy to send it in.
September 6, 2007
Ignore the facts, just listen to us Dems...
From the Washington Times: Dems already dismissing Iraq war report:
What Dems in Congress are doing is utterly loathsome and disgusting, and against all American tradition....but, on the bright side, think about how they placed their big bet on America losing.....and now....they suffer and squirm and lie....It gives me a keen pleasure similar to that time icky Warren Buffet put his chips on the Euro, against the dollar, and lost a few billion bucks....
Congressional Democrats are trying to undermine U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus' credibility before he delivers a report on the Iraq war next week, saying the general is a mouthpiece for President Bush and his findings can't be trusted. [Remember, these dogs criticized Bush for not following the advice of his generals...]
"The Bush report?" Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin said when asked about the upcoming report from Gen. Petraeus, U.S. commander in Iraq.
"We know what is going to be in it. It's clear. I think the president's trip over to Iraq makes it very obvious," the Illinois Democrat said. "I expect the Bush report to say, 'The surge is working. Let's have more of the same.' " [Notice they present no evidence to the contrary. They can't, the surge is obviously working.]
The top Democrats — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California — also referred to the general's briefing as the "Bush report." [They think it's clever, calling Gen, Petraeus' report the "Bush Report." Like they call the Iraq Campaign—which they voted for—"Bush's War." But the WOT is America's war, and what they are saying is that they are NOT Americans.]
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Gen. Petraeus' report was potentially compromised by the White House's involvement in drafting it. [The President is also the Commander in Chief. That's his job.]
"If the same people who were so wrong about this war from the start are writing substantial portions of this report, that raises credibility questions," he said. [The bitter pill for the Dems is that it looks more and more like we were right about the Iraq Campaign. American success is their worst nightmare.]
Republicans bristled at the pre-emptive strike against the report.
"Are these leaders asking the American people to believe that the testimony of a commanding four-star general in the U.S. Army should be discarded before it's even delivered?" said Brian Kennedy, spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. [Of course they do. They are traitors and nihilists. The most important thing to notice is that they have given any indication that they would be GLAD to hear of American success in battle. None.]
Update: I keep being amazed by all this. I'm filled with wonder. Congress, including Dems, voted unanimously to confirm Gen. Petraeus, and the strategy and tactics he advocated. And there was to be a report in September.
SO, what the heck were they thinking? Did they imagine September would never come? Like schoolchildren thinking the summer vacation will never end?
Or did they believe their own propaganda about the US military, and our Iraqi allies? That we are incompetent brutes who are bound to fail? I myself am "embedded" in the liberal world, and I'd guess that's what happened. Leftists despise our military, and they only talk to each other, and read the same poison in the NYT. I could have told them a LOT about what's going on in Iraq, but never once has any leftist engaged in honest debate or an exchange of info with me...
September 4, 2007
For your Obama file...
From the WaPo...
....Sen. Barack Obama had hired Pete Rouse for just such a moment.
It was the fall of 2005, and the celebrated young senator -- still new to Capitol Hill but aware of his prospects for higher office -- was thinking about voting to confirm John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice. Talking with his aides, the Illinois Democrat expressed admiration for Roberts's intellect. Besides, Obama said, if he were president he wouldn't want his judicial nominees opposed simply on ideological grounds.
And then Rouse, his chief of staff, spoke up. This was no Harvard moot-court exercise, he said. If Obama voted for Roberts, Rouse told him, people would remind him of that every time the Supreme Court issued another conservative ruling, something that could cripple a future presidential run. Obama took it in. And when the roll was called, he voted no....
In case you're thinking of voting for a fresh idealistic new face, not part of the cynical of Washington establishment...
"a present for the start of the new school year"
Earlier today, Palestinians launched a Kassam rocket attack against the Israeli town of Sderot; a total of seven rockets landed in and around Sderot, one of them in the courtyard of a day care center. The Jerusalem Post reports here....
...Islamic Jihad said that the rocket attack was "a present for the start of the new school year," so it appears that the targeting of schools and day care centers was deliberate....
SO, and when are our pacifists going to protest? Where are the "Quakers?" Where are all the lefties who would scream bloody murder if Americans or Israelis targeted schoolchildren? When will we hear outrage from the press? Which radical priest will condemn this?
Won't happen. Never happens. They're just Jews, fair game as far as the Left is concerned.
(Yeah, I know, I'm repeating myself over and over again. So what, it's my blog.)
September 3, 2007
From the President's speech...
As you know, today is Labor Day back home so I thought I'd come by to thank you for all your hard work. Every day -- every day -- you show bravery under incredibly difficult circumstances. Every day you're doing work on the sands of Anbar that is making it safer in the streets of America. And every day the United States of America is grateful for what you're doing. I want you to tell your families the Commander-in-Chief stopped by to say hello, and he said, I'm incredibly proud to be the Commander-in-Chief of such a great group of men and women.
I'm keeping pretty good company, as you can see. I brought out the A Team so they could be with the folks who are making a significant difference in this war against these radicals and extremists. In Anbar you're seeing firsthand the dramatic differences that can come when the Iraqis are more secure. In other words, you're seeing success.
You see Sunnis who once fought side by side with al Qaeda against coalition troops now fighting side by side with coalition troops against al Qaeda. Anbar is a huge province. It was once written off as lost. It is now one of the safest places in Iraq. (Hooah.) Because of your hard work, because of your bravery and sacrifice, you are denying al Qaeda a safe haven from which to plot and plan and carry out attacks against the United States of America. What you're doing here is making this country safer, and I thank you for your hard work...
....ut I want to tell you this about the decision -- about my decision about troop levels. Those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground -- not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media. In other words, when we begin to draw down troops from Iraq, it will be from a position of strength and success, not from a position of fear and failure. To do otherwise would embolden our enemies and make it more likely that they would attack us at home. If we let our enemies back us out of Iraq, we will more likely face them in America. If we don't want to hear their footsteps back home, we have to keep them on their heels over here. And that's exactly what you're doing, and America is safer for it.....
Too too rich!
from the Daily Mail...
If he didn't believe in karma before, Piers Morgan must surely do now.
The ex-newspaper editor, now a columnist for The Mail on Sunday's Live magazine, took great delight in making fun of President Bush for falling off a Segway - the two-wheeled, motorised, gyroscopically balanced scooter that, its makers promise, will never fall over.
His paper, the Daily Mirror, ran the headline in 2003: "You'd have to be an idiot to fall off, wouldn't you Mr President." It added: "If anyone can make a pig's ear of riding a sophisticated, self-balancing machine like this, Dubya can." So, it seems, can Mr Morgan.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to watch our exclusive video of Piers's fall....
The metaphor of the "page"
I've never liked using Microsoft Word, so I was primed to enjoy this piece by writer Steven Poole, Goodbye, cruel Word:
....The second crucial thing was an answer to prayers I hadn’t even known I was praying. It was Full-Screen Mode, which I first discovered in WriteRoom. WriteRoom’s slogan is “distraction-free writing”, and it does just what it says on the tin. Your entire screen is blacked out, except for the text you are working on. I now use WriteRoom for all my journalism. When I’m working, the screen of my MacBook looks like this....
[picture of orange text on black screen]
.....Pretty old-skool, huh? It’s perfect: far less temptation to switch to a browser window, much better concentration on the text in front of you. WriteRoom has a “typewriter-scrolling mode”, so that the line you are typing is always centred in the screen, not forever threatening to drop off the bottom, and what you have already written scrolls rapidly up off the top of the screen, dissuading you from idly rereading it. It’s a bit like the endless roll of typewriter paper on which Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road.
So WriteRoom allows me to turn my whizzy modern computer into the nearest equivalent possible (allowing for modern conveniences like backup to the internet and so on) to my old Brother typewriter and its six-line LCD. The focus is on the words and nothing else. Except for that line you can just make out at the bottom left of the screen. That’s the Live Word Count.
Microsoft Word still uses the metaphor of the page, the computer screen that imitates a blank, bounded sheet of physical paper. For me, this is outdated and unimaginative. It has become a barrier rather than a window. And there is always the distraction of changing font and line-spacing, jumping ahead too quickly to imagining the text as a visual, physical product instead of a process, a fluid semantic interplay. Instead, turning my MacBook into a kind of replica 1980s IBM machine, with the words glowing and hovering in an interstellar void, is liberating: as though I am composing the Platonic ideal of a text that might eventually take many different forms....(Thanks to Gruber)
When I first encountered it the metaphor of the "page" seemed so utterly cool. WYSIWYG, and all that. And of course it still is, for many purposes. But it can also be so very irritating. I suppose I ought to take a look at the two programs he uses, WriteRoom and Scrivener. But I probably won't find the heart to do so. The truth is, I fell in love once, with the old WriteNow, and since my sweetheart perished along the cruel upgrade trail, I've never looked at another.
Poole's book Unspeak: How Words Become Weapons, How Weapons Become a Message, and How That Message Becomes Reality looks like it was a good idea—analyzing the loaded language of politician's sound-bite phrases—that was deformed by his leftist bias. From a reader's amazon review: "...Bush and Blair's 'war on terror' is asymmetric warfare: 'we' are fighting a war; 'you' are not, so you cannot be prisoners of war, only 'enemy combatants' and 'terrorist suspects', so 'we' can imprison you without trial and torture you..."
Uh, sorry to break this to you pal, but if the terrorists are fighting a war, then they are committing war crimes daily, and we could, and probably should, execute them on the battlefield. Under the Geneva Conventions POW status is a reward for following the rules of war. It is Rumsfeld & Co who are being asymmetricly humane and decent.
And I can bet he never once contrasts the terrorist's phrases with the simple fact that any Coalition soldiers captured by al Queda have received torture and death, and usually had their bodies booby-trapped to blow up others... That kinda stuff is OK with a lefty; only Bush and Blair are real, and merit criticism.
September 2, 2007
"We act in the courage of our uncertainties"
From a piece by Fr. Neuhaus, in First Things...
We are all uncertain about what God wants us to do. That is to say, we do not know for sure. Of course it seems silly, when you’re well past middle age and have spent your life doing what you believe you’ve been given to do, to get up in the morning or suddenly stop in the middle of the day’s work and ask, “Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?”
I mentioned this to a young man who is discerning whether he has a call to the priesthood, and he was shocked, perhaps scandalized. He said, in effect: “You mean after all these years of being a priest, of writing books, of editing and lecturing, of organizing so many projects, you still aren’t sure you’re doing what God called you to do? How am I ever to know that God is calling me to the priesthood?”
The answer is that we act in the courage of our uncertainties. I am fond of pointing out that the word decide comes from the Latin decidere, to cut off. You face choices—whether to be a priest, whether to go to this school or that, whether to marry a certain person, whether to pursue this line of work or another—and then you decide. And, in deciding, you have cut off the alternatives and pray you have decided rightly. But you do not know for sure. Alternatively, you are trapped in the tangled web of indecision.
In this connection, I have had frequent recourse, both homiletically and personally, to one of the most liberating passages from Saint Paul, 1 Corinthians 4. He has been trying to explain himself and his apostolate to the Christians in Corinth. He doesn’t know whether he has succeeded, and then he says this: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. . . . Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”.....
"I do not even judge myself." That's a good thought to keep in mind.
September 1, 2007
Desperation rules in the appeasement camp! From Weekly Standard:
The Washington Post, working hand-in-glove with Democrats in Congress, has gotten out front in preparing the domestic battlefield for September's fight over the war in Iraq. The Post led today's paper with an account of a leaked draft report from the Congressionally-controlled Government Accountability Office (the GAO's final report is due next Tuesday). The headline: "Report Finds Little Progress on Iraq Goals; GAO Draft at Odds with White House." Here's the good news: If this is the best war opponents have to offer, the administration is in amazingly good shape going into September.
The Post reporters--both strongly anti-Iraq war--characterize the GAO judgments as "strikingly negative." But there's nothing striking about them. The Democratic Congress ensured that the report would deliver negative "grades" for the Iraqi government by asking the GAO to evaluate whether or not the benchmarks have been met now--just two months after the major combat operations of the surge began. For the report from the White House, Congress asked the administration to detail if the Iraqis are making "sufficient progress." But Congress asked the GAO, by contrast, to report if the Iraqis had "completed" the benchmarks. This ridiculous standard was a Congressional trap that forced the GAO to waste time and taxpayer money to come out with a pre-ordained and meaningless judgment, since no one ever promised or expected that the Iraqis would have met the benchmarks by now. And the GAO report doesn't really shed light on the key question: Are the Iraqis making progress?....
This phony report will probably be made much of by the fake anti-war types.
Whether or not Iraq makes domestic political progress (my prediction is that over time it will do better then most expect) we are clearly on the verge of inflicting a huge defeat on AL QAEDA there. They have given Iraq their best shot, butchering thousands of innocent people for the benefit of CBS and the NYT. Their goal has been to (1) defeat the project of democracy and freedom in the heart of the Caliphate, (2) to drive the US to another humiliating withdrawal, giving them enormous prestige in the Muslim world, and (3) aiding the ongoing decline of Western Civilization, by throwing power in the US to nihilists and lefty anti-Americans...
And they are about to lose on all three goals! God speed our peerless troops, and the brave Iraqi Defense Forces.