October 31, 2007

Don't roll over and die...

Thanks to Kathy Shaidle, a piece by J.J. Jackson on the Alinsky tactics of the Left...

...Saul Alinsky is the God Father of the liberal activism that we see in action every day as of late. His strategy is seek power, identify those that can stop you from getting power, find their strengths, convince people that their strengths are really your strengths, attack them by twisting what they have said and stand for, slam them, slam them again, get personal, slam them some more, shout louder if no one is listening and don't give up until you wear the opposition down enough that you win by default. The most recent example of this tactic in action was the left's attack on Rush Limbaugh's patriotism and support for our soldiers over a ginned up controversy using out of context remarks about "phony soldiers".

Now just another failed attempt by disciples of Alinsky, the whole episode proved one very important thing. That is that such a strategy based on falsehoods doesn't get you anywhere should the person you chose to attack decide not roll over and die....

"decides not roll over and die" That's important. It's happened that way way too many times. And trying to use reasoned discourse to fight a deliberate campaign of lies is a fool's game. We must always counter-attack with wit and verve and confidence. And of course it was Rush himself who, by pioneering conservative talk-radio provided the first really new way to route around the obstacles of the leftist news media and "intellectual" establishment. Blogging can be seen as a sort of mass-market imitation of what Rush started, with a million "hosts" using the news as lead-in's to getting their message out...

...But the problem was that the final stage, the point where your opposition simply is supposed to give up under withering pressure, never came to fruition. It never came to fruition because first, the claim was based on a lie. Second, because Limbaugh is a fairly obstinate S.o.B. And third, because Rush was able to turn the tables and counter attack effectively with the facts and did not relent.

He was able to get Mark Mays to give him the letter from the Alinsky 41 and placed it up for auction to benefit the children of the members of the Marines & law enforcement killed in the line of duty. The Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation was a charitable foundation that he has supported for years and the action solidified his bona fides as a supporter of our troops no matter what anyone else claimed.

It also showed something else however. It showed that government is not needed to take care of "the children" and provide for them as the left often claims. See the latest SCHIP scuffle for proof of this. The auction showed that private citizens are capable of great things without government involvement. That was just icing on the cake.

In the end, the counter attack put forth by Limbaugh was withering to the point where moments before the auction ended Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate to try and attach his name to the effort to raise money for the charity. In his best whipped puppy look and defeated voice Harry Reid pleaded with people to support the auction and bid on the letter....

Posted by John Weidner at 8:17 AM

October 30, 2007

Leftists will never admit what they are aiming for...

...But it is possible to find out, by giving them some enclave where they have untrammeled control...

FIRE - University of Delaware Requires Students to Undergo Ideological Reeducation:

....The university’s views are forced on students through a comprehensive manipulation of the residence hall environment, from mandatory training sessions to “sustainability” door decorations. Students living in the university’s eight housing complexes are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a “diversity facilitation training” session at which RAs were taught, among other things, that “[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.”

The university suggests that at one-on-one sessions with students, RAs should ask intrusive personal questions such as “When did you discover your sexual identity?” Students who express discomfort with this type of questioning often meet with disapproval from their RAs, who write reports on these one-on-one sessions and deliver these reports to their superiors. One student identified in a write-up as an RA’s “worst” one-on-one session was a young woman who stated that she was tired of having “diversity shoved down her throat.”

According to the program’s materials, the goal of the residence life education program is for students in the university’s residence halls to achieve certain “competencies” that the university has decreed its students must develop in order to achieve the overall educational goal of “citizenship.” These competencies include: “Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society,” “Students will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression,” and “Students will be able to utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality.”

At various points in the program, students are also pressured or even required to take actions that outwardly indicate their agreement with the university’s ideology, regardless of their personal beliefs. Such actions include displaying specific door decorations, committing to reduce their ecological footprint by at least 20%, taking action by advocating for an “oppressed” social group, and taking action by advocating for a “sustainable world.”

In the Office of Residence Life’s internal materials, these programs are described using the harrowing language of ideological reeducation. In documents relating to the assessment of student learning, for example, the residence hall lesson plans are referred to as “treatments.”...

A left-leaning friend recently told me that I was wrong to express contempt in my blog; that that was not the way to be persuasive. Well, to heck with it. Anyone who is not utterly repelled by this stuff is a brain-dead liberal, and there is no hope of persuading them of anything. So, what I feel and express for these tin-plate totalitarians is the utmost contempt. Knock them down kick their faces and spit on them contempt. I HATE their nihilism. They are my enemies, and the enemies of all free men. They are evil.

And what's particularly twisted and vile is that it will be the poor and minorities who are hurt most by this kind of thing. They will be the ones to learn the lesson that they ought to be spongers and grievance-mongers. Most middle-class white kids will tend to have a certain immunity to this, since the lesson is that they are born racist oppressors, and should spend their lives hanging their heads in shame.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:07 PM

"It's becoming almost bizarre..."

From Michael Yon's recent article in the NY Post, Inside The Surge:

....Today, I'm staying at a small outpost called JSS (Joint Security Station) “Black Lions" with the 1-18th Infantry battalion. Al Qaeda are so diminished in this area, according to the commander here, LTC Patrick Frank, that they are maybe 3 percent of the problem. But JAM (the Madhi Army created by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) is the big problem around JSS Black Lion.

A soldier was blown up and killed about 400 meters away on Thursday evening. LTC Frank told me the other day that his best weapon system is his cell phone. Calls come to him (through his interpreter) every day and into the night, with information from locals about the whereabouts of wanted JAM members. Many local people are clearly fed up with the violence. Some even send e-mails with Google Earth maps showing exactly where suspects are, and they are doing it in real time.

We'll be sitting there in the TOC (tactical operations center or HQ) and an e-mail comes in and it's literally a map (or a photo of one) with detailed descriptions of wanted men and/or caches. And the information is turning out to be true. I have never seen anything like this before.

It's becoming almost bizarre how specific the informants are becoming. Informants have called up saying they are with bad guys right now and giving their location. Our guys show up and arrest everyone. Hours later, the U.S. soldiers let the informants go. JAM and AQI are getting slammed in many areas because local people are sick of the violence and local people trust Americans to help them end it.

Where all this can end was suggested to me on Wednesday, when I was at a large Sunni-Shia reconciliation meeting where more than 80 local leaders attended and signed an agreement....
[Thanks to Dave Price]

Google maps...I love it.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:53 AM

October 29, 2007

See the world...

From Victor Davis Hansen's blog...

....I spent some time in Iraq accompanying Col. HR McMaster who was on an inspection tour of the forward operating bases. He is a UNC PhD, former Hoover Security fellow, and author of an acclaimed book, Dereliction of Duty, on (the lack of) military leadership during Vietnam, as well as one of Gen. Petraeus’s top counter-insurgency thinkers.

I could not imagine a tour (some 30-40 days I think he is on) that would pose more risks—humveeing and coptering into all sorts of places, regardless of the recent 24-hour conditions. Over the years, in Gulf War I, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, he has seen a number of close calls, and walks with a limp from an injured hip (probably will have to be replaced). Full body armor, pistol, and M-16 to lug around can’t help the pain.

I would watch him negotiate with Sunni governors, police chiefs, and generals, then be debriefed by Marine and Army officers, then go on tour in Humvees or foot patrols. This would start at 7 am and end at 8pm. Then after the long helicopter trip back to Camp Victory, HR would eat and join discussion with fellow Colonels until after 11 PM.

We often talk loosely of the idea of a renaissance man, but colonels like McMaster come closest—I would add another Colonel Chris Gibson—to the idea that I have ever come across.

Something is going on in Iraq entirely missed by media. It’s not just that things are turning around, but rather Gen. Petraeus has assembled perhaps the most gifted group of Army officers seen in a generation—who feel they are going to snatch victory from the jaws of political defeat. I think they will pull it off and the entire political landscape here at home will have to readjust to it by early next year. The smarter Democrats will take credit by claiming their anti-Bush efforts forced needed change, the denser ones will just continue to deny, like Sens. Reid and Schumer, that any good is occurring at all.....

Life has many frustrations, but there are also some sweet moments. The thought of what a bitter pill victory in Iraq is going to be to fraudulent liberals gives me a warm feeling in my tummy like a shot of whiskey!

Another charming thing is that there are so many things that are not what the received liberal wisdom says they are. I suspect that guys like Col. McMaster are not just gifted in relation to army officers of the past, but also in relation to certain people who imagine themselves as the highly-gifted elite....academics especially. The academic world is not looking very impressive these days, and I don't expect history to be kind to it. Same with the realms of journalism, the arts, and the whole bi-coastal arts-and-croissants crowd.

Related to this, one of the oddities of contemporary American life is that liberals preen themselves on being well-travelled because they've been trekking in Nepal or have gone on a photo-safari in Tanzania. But people who are really well-travelled, who know intimately some place you've never even heard of, are much more likely to be found in rural or small-town America! Those people join the military, or thye oil companies, or do missionary work, and they really "see the world."

Posted by John Weidner at 5:22 PM

October 28, 2007

The Enlightenment, a Christian heresy?

A few snippets from an interesting essay by Philip Trower: (Thanks to Argent)

... To begin with then, there are two facts about the Enlightenment which I believe it is essential to grasp if we are to understand its true historical significance. The first is that, regardless of how it began, the Enlightenment became far more than just another movement in the history of ideas like the Romantic movement. What happened in the drawing-rooms, libraries, and coffeehouses of 18th-century Europe resembled in at least one crucial respect what happened in the deserts of Arabia in the seventh century A.D. A new world religion was born...


Stepping back a minute then and surveying our new world religion as a whole, we can see it as made up of two components: what I will call the humanist or humanistic project, which within limits we can all bless, onto which has been grafted a missionary atheism bent on sidelining or completely eliminating religion.

By the humanist project I mean the idea of bettering human life in this world in every possible way and developing as many of natures' potentialities as possible. Rightly understood this is not incompatible with Christian and Catholic belief. Indeed it is part of it. What is in conflict with Christian belief, as well, I believe, as with reason and common sense, is the idea that all this can be achieved without God's help and that a state of perfection — which would involve the disappearance of sin — can be overcome this side of the last day.

The second of the two facts which I said it is necessary to grasp if we are to understand the full historical significance of the Enlightenment is, namely, that in its deepest roots and many of its practical objectives, this new "world religion" is — and I hope this won't startle you too much — a Christian heresy.

Taken individually its teachings either have their origins in Christianity, like the idea of raising up of the poor and lowly, or have always had a prominent place in the Christian scheme of things, like the notion of human brotherhood. Collectively, they are the product of 2,000 years of a Christian way of looking at the world. It is impossible to imagine them occurring in the form they do in any civilization or culture so far known to history other than a Judeo-Christian one. Nor have they in fact done so. They can be accurately described as "secularized Christianity."....


....This is what makes the whole Enlightenment "package" so singularly difficult for most of us to handle. It is not something totally alien as paganism was. As a result, we tend to assume that, except about God and Christ and the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, our liberal or secularist neighbors are on the same wavelength in regard to more or less everything else.

What we often fail to notice is that, when wrenched from their Christian context and raised to the status of absolutes, notions like liberty and equality no matter how good in themselves, can receive a quite different significance and even become appallingly destructive...

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

...Then with the First World War, and the Russian Revolution, classical 19th-century liberalism meets its Götterdämmerung. Its cultural influence and intellectual prestige pass to collectivist theories of government and social life and collectivist political parties, which for the best part of a century have been living a largely underground life, erupting from time to time in revolutionary outbursts that are quickly suppressed. After the Russian Revolution, however, they can live openly in the daylight with Marxism rapidly occupying first place.

From the late 1920s on, the reaction of many Western liberals to this new situation and this newly empowered rival is not unlike that of moths to a flame or rabbits to a cobra. Some are attracted, others repelled. But the common roots and underlying unity of purpose linking all the offshoots of the original Enlightenment corpus of ideas produces that curious notion "No enemy to the left" — the left is always right and the right is always wrong — and that even more curious phenomenon, people who call themselves "liberals" admiring or making excuses for perhaps the longest lasting and socially and psychologically most devastating tyranny known to history....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:24 AM

October 27, 2007

Second chances...

Michael Yon has a great piece on Private Beauchamp...

...The story of General Petraeus getting accidentally shot in the chest is a case in point. One of his own soldiers had pulled the trigger. Normally, something very bad would have happened to that soldier and his commander. Instead Petraeus sent that soldier to Ranger School, and his Captain (Fred Johnson) was promoted early. In June, I witnessed LTC Fred Johnson helping to restore security and rebuild Baqubah. Fred Johnson is a believer in second chances....


...It can be pretty tough over here. The soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit have seen a lot of combat. Often times soldiers are working in long stretches of urban guerrilla combat dogged by fatigue and sleep deprivation. This is likely one of the most stressful jobs in the world, especially when millions of people are screaming at you for failures that happened three years or more ago, and for decisions to invade Iraq that were made when you were still a teenager. Just as bad is the silence from the untold millions who have already written off your effort as hopeless. Add that to the fact that buddies are getting killed in front of you. (More than 70 killed in Beauchamp’s brigade.) I see what these young men and women go through, and the extraordinary professionalism they nearly always manage to exude awes me on a daily basis.

Lapses of judgment are bound to happen, and accountability is critical, but that’s not the same thing as pulling out the hanging rope every time a soldier makes a mistake.

Beauchamp is young; under pressure he made a dumb mistake. In fact, he has not always been an ideal soldier. But to his credit, the young soldier decided to stay, and he is serving tonight in a dangerous part of Baghdad. He might well be seriously injured or killed here, and he knows it. He could have quit, but he did not. He faced his peers. I can only imagine the cold shoulders, and worse, he must have gotten. He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right. Whatever price he has to pay, he is paying it....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 AM

October 25, 2007

Yer gonna miss him when he's gone...

I agree with this 100%. Jay Nordlinger on Impromptus on National Review Online:

....Conservatives are down on President Bush, often unreasonably, I believe. I also think they’re a little ungrateful — ungrateful, spoiled, and smug. They will miss him sorely when he’s gone, I feel sure. This is true whether a Republican or a Democrat succeeds him.

One thing they will miss, I predict, is his truth-telling. I don’t believe they realize how rare it is to have a man in the highest office who over and over again tells the truth — boldly and unapologetically. I thought of this, not for the first time, when reading the speech Bush gave about Cuba yesterday. I hope you will want to read it all (here). But let me offer a couple of snippets:
Cuba’s rulers promised individual liberty. Instead they denied their citizens basic rights that the free world takes for granted. In Cuba it is illegal to change jobs, to change houses, to travel abroad, and to read books or magazines without the express approval of the state. It is against the law for more than three Cubans to meet without permission. Neighborhood Watch programs do not look out for criminals. Instead, they monitor their fellow citizens — keeping track of neighbors’ comings and goings, who visits them, and what radio stations they listen to. The sense of community and the simple trust between human beings is gone.
Cubans have made this point to me over and over again. One woman told me — in words I’ll never forget — “It takes a martyr-level courage even to function as a decent human being in Cuban society”: not to steal, not to inform, not to sell sexual favors, not to buy them, not to lie.

In the president’s speech, I was also interested and pleased to see the following:
Cuba’s rulers promised freedom of the press. Instead they closed down private newspapers and radio and television stations. They’ve jailed and beaten journalists, raided their homes, and seized their paper, ink and fax machines. One Cuban journalist asked foreigners who visited him for one thing: a pen.
The president had in mind Raúl Rivero, the former political prisoner — a poet and journalist now in exile in Spain.

Finally, consider this stirring paragraph:
. . . The socialist paradise is a tropical gulag. The quest for justice that once inspired the Cuban people has now become a grab for power. And as with all totalitarian systems, Cuba’s regime no doubt has other horrors still unknown to the rest of the world. Once revealed, they will shock the conscience of humanity. And they will shame the regime’s defenders and all those democracies that have been silent. One former Cuban political prisoner, Armando Valladares, puts it this way: It will be a time when “mankind will feel the revulsion it felt when the crimes of Stalin were brought to light.” And that time is coming.
I hope that is true; I’m not sure it is. The Western Left — soft and hard — has invested a great deal in Castroism, for the last 50 years. It will be very, very hard for them to give it up — to admit what Communism has done to Cuba and Cubans. I’ve argued about this with Armando before. But, again, I hope he is right; I hope he and the president are right; and that my skepticism is ill-founded.

To say once more: The president has told the truth. He has said things about Cuba that you will never hear from the major university faculties, or the major newspapers, or the major movie studios. And I, for one, will not forget it.

Yes, he spent too much in his first term; yes, he had steel tariffs in place for about two seconds; yes, the prescription-drug benefit is sketchy; yes, there have been mistakes on the war; yes, Harriet Miers — etc., etc. But do you realize how rare this president is? If you don’t now — I have a feeling you will later...

The Left won't learn, because they (most of them at least) don't care. Never did. They didn't care about Hitler's victims either, except as a useful club to bash the right. (The Nazis were socialists of course, with a few nationalist and conservative knobs added. But they are falsely portrayed as conservatives.) Millions have toured Auschwitz and other Nazi sites; How many go to view the camps of the Gulag? And have you ever met a lefty former Vietnam protester who agonizes over Cambodia? Ha ha, it is to laugh.

(Here's another great example of straight talk and honesty from our President.)

Posted by John Weidner at 5:47 PM

October 24, 2007

Poor Iraqi's suffer in Bush's War...

UN ReliefWeb:

....Taxi driver Ahmed Khalil Baqir used to station himself outside Baghdad's main morgue, waiting for grieving families who went there to claim their relatives’ dead bodies.

"I was totally dependent on them for my living," Baqir, a 44-year-old father of four, said." I never thought about picking up people in the street as I was being hired five to eight times a day by these families. But now it is a waste of time to wait there and these days I wait only for about three hours in the morning and I continue my work picking up passengers in the street.” (Thanks to Belmont Club)

You'd think this stuff would be news, wouldn't you?

...."Violence-related deaths in September dropped remarkably to levels not seen in more than a year as the number [of violence-related deaths] stood at 290 while in September 2006 the number was about 1,400," Adel Muhsin, the health ministry's inspector-general, told IRIN in a phone interview.

According to the ministry’s statistics, between January and the end of September 2007, the number of violent deaths involving civilian, police and military in all of Iraq was about 7,100, against 27,000 in the same period of 2006.

According to Muhsin, the average number of dead bodies sent to Baghdad’s main morgue just over a year ago was between 100 and 150 a day. Now, it is no more than 10 bodies a day, and about 50 percent of them are dying in normal circumstances.

There have been days this year when no dead bodies were sent to the morgue and this gave the morgue employees a chance to refurbish it, something they couldn't do in the past....

In the old days of the Soviet Union, airplane crashes were not reported. People knew that an Aeroflot plane had gone down when they read in Pravda stories about air crashes in the United States! We have a remarkably similar situation with our news-media today. If there's no news about Iraq, you can guess that the news is good. (And if a Congressman is indicted for corruption, and there's no mention of party affiliation, you know he's a Democrat.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:11 AM

October 23, 2007

Death of a thousand cuts...

Thanks to Michelle:

GAO Forest-Thinning Study Sparks New Controversy
Written By: James M. Taylor
Published In: Environment News
Publication Date: July 1, 2003
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

Supporters of President George W. Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative have a new study to cite as proof reforms are needed in the federal government’s forest management effort. Opponents of the President’s plan disagree, saying the study proves current procedures are working.

The study, released by the General Accounting Office (GAO) on May 15, found most federal forest-thinning proposals subject to third-party comment were appealed by environmental activists.

The GAO examined 762 U.S. Forest Service (USFS) proposals to thin forests and prevent fires during the past two years. According to the study, slightly more than half the proposals were not subject to third-party appeal. Of those proposals subject to appeal, third parties challenged 59 percent.

Appeals were filed most often by anti-logging groups, including the Sierra Club, Alliance for Wild Rockies, and Forest Conservation Council. According to the GAO, 84 interest groups filed more than 400 appeals of Forest Service proposals. The appeals delayed efforts to treat 900,000 acres of forests and cost the federal government millions of dollars to address.

Forest Service officials estimate they spend nearly half their time, and $250 million each year, preparing for the appeals and procedural challenges launched by activists......
Posted by John Weidner at 3:13 PM

October 22, 2007

The real "war on children"

Mark Steyn, on the SCHIP expansion...

....Etc. So what is the best thing America could do "for the children"? Well, it could try not to make the same mistake as most of the rest of the Western world and avoid bequeathing the next generation a system of unsustainable entitlements that turns the entire nation into a giant Ponzi scheme. Most of us understand, for example, that Social Security needs to be "fixed" – or we'll have to raise taxes, or the retirement age, or cut benefits, etc. But, just to get the entitlements debate in perspective, projected public pensions liabilities in the United States are expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8 percent of our gross domestic product. In Greece, the equivalent figure is 25 percent – that's not a matter of raising taxes or tweaking retirement age; that's total societal collapse.

So what? shrug the voters. Not my problem. I paid my taxes, I want my benefits.....

....I'm in favor of tax credits for child health care, and Health Savings Accounts for adults, and any other reform that emphasizes the citizen's responsibility to himself and his dependants. But middle-class entitlement creep would be wrong even if was affordable, even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover it every month: it turns free-born citizens into enervated wards of the Nanny State. As Gerald Ford likes to say when trying to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." But there's an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn't big enough to get you to give any of it back. As I point out in my book, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow's enjoying the fruits of Euro-style entitlements, he couldn't give a hoot about the general societal interest; he's got his, and who cares if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence?

That's the real "war on children": in Europe, it's killing their future. Don't make the same mistake here.

What the Dems are trying to do is literally a "war on children." The results of the kinds of policies they advocate are plain to see in Europe, and yet they are still pushing them. One invariable outcome of "Euro-socialism" is that children stop being born. The birth-rate has dropped below replacement level in every European country. There are MANY reasons for this, but one of them is that those policies result in people having no stake in the future of their nation. No stake in any future at all.

If this country's Democrat leaders were SANE, they would be fleeing from everything "Euro" like it they were covered with plague germs. The Dems are literally peddling death.

If we were sane, ALL retirement systems would require that payoffs depend on the performance of investments. There should not be any class of people who can say, "I don't care what happens to the country or the world, I got mine!"

Posted by John Weidner at 6:50 AM

October 21, 2007

"What was I to myself, but a guide to my own destruction?..."

From an excellent essay by R. R. Reno, in First Things...

....We tend to see what we want to see in the books we read. Our culture is one of leave-taking and it champions the seeker as the hero of the spiritual life. We think that we must brave arid deserts and snowy mountain passes on our quest for God. Recall Kierkegaard’s leap of faith, William James’ will to believe, and Paul Tillich’s courage to be. Having read Sartre’s hot rhetoric of existential choice and Heidegger’s cooler image of the heroic modern man patiently walking the meadows of our disenchanted culture as a shepherd of Being, I came to believe that truth and holiness, like elves and unicorns, had been veiled and hidden in distant realms and secret forests. It was our vocation to energize our souls and get on with the search. Or so I imagined.

After many rereadings of the Confessions, I have been mortified to discover that St. Augustine does not commend the great preoccupation of modern Christianity, the quest for faith. For him, the journey of his young adulthood was a futile circular movement. Imagining himself to be a seeker after God, he was in fact ever returning to himself. What began as a projected heroic journey ended in exhausted despair. Ten years after Cicero had ignited in him a love of wisdom, St. Augustine reports, “I had lost all hope of discovering the truth.” What seemed like a journey was nothing more than the huffing and puffing of a presumptuous soul that thought it could storm the citadel of God with earnest longing and good intentions. The upshot was paralysis,...

....Still, our inability is not a condemnation to stasis. There is a journey of faith for Augustine, but the guidance comes from God, not us. Far from finding God, Augustine confesses, “You pierced my heart with the arrow of your love.” Indeed, the arrows had already been loosed many times, but in his agitated desire to control his own destiny, Augustine had dodged and deflected them. Only after Augustine has recognized the vanity of his own efforts does the arrow of divine love strike its mark. In the silence of the garden, God’s Word finally reaches his heart. “The examples given by your servants,” Augustine reports, “burnt away and destroyed my heavy sluggishness.” Then and only then does his journey begin: to baptism, back to Africa, and to Hippo.

The general principle of Augustine’s own self-analysis is clear, and its relevance to the temptation to embark on our own searches for God is direct—even, and perhaps especially, when that search takes us across the strange terrain of denominationalism. “The soul needs to be enlightened,” he writes, “by light from outside itself.”.....

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Posted by John Weidner at 6:10 AM

October 20, 2007

The other skinny kid...

Patrick Ruffini has a good piece on Bobby Jindal.

....Bobby Jindal is 36 years old. In another year, in another state, the election of a "skinny kid with a funny name" made national headlines. Like Jindal, this precocious young politician was a lock to win. And when he did so in the shadow of the most closely-watched Presidential election in a generation, he made national headlines. The day the papers carried the headlines "Bush defeats Kerry" the next headline was "Obama takes Illinois."

Obama was immediately a national media sensation, and it wasn't because of his track record as a Constitutional Law professor at the University of Chicago. Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants, will make no such headlines on Sunday, or four weeks from now when he finishes the job. But unlike Obama, he has actually accomplished some real things. And he actually has chance to become President someday.

The media may ignore Bobby Jindal because he's a Republican, but the story of his political rise is no less powerful. In 1996, the 24-year old Rhodes Scholar and Congressional staffer got noticed by incoming Governor Mike Foster, and was put in charge of Louisiana's health system with responsibility for 40% of the state's budget. He turned his department's $440 million deficit into a $200 million surplus. In 2001, not even 30 yet, he was made an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services in the incoming Bush Administration. His passion: health care. In his early twenties, he faced the choice between pursuing a joint legal-medical degree at Harvard or Yale, or the path that took him to Oxford and then to public service....

I suspect they like Obama precisely because he hasn't accomplished anything, or stood for anything. And hey, come to think, that could describe the other two Dem front-runners....Hmmm.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:47 AM

October 19, 2007

"It's called putting one's money where one's mouth is"

I think this is SO funny. You probably remember the utterly phony story about Rush Limbaugh "smearing" our troops (which was debunked within hours when Rush posted the video of that radio show on the web.) Democrat leaders paused in their work of undermining our war efforts to—from their position of high moral authority—write a letter of reproof!

Now the tables are turned...This is from Captain Ed:

Government Produces Something Worthwhile
Would you happen to have a couple of million dollars in loose change around the house? If you do, you could own the letter that Harry Reid sent to Rush Limbaugh, accusing the radio host of smearing American troops. Rush has the letter up for auction at e-Bay, and with less than six hours to go, the bid is now topping $2.1 million. Not only that, Rush has pledged the proceeds to the Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation -- and has pledged to match the final bid himself.

Once again, Reid's machinations backfired. He and the 40 Senate Democrats who signed the letter set themselves up as defenders of the military, including Dick Durbin, who once compared the troops to Nazis and Soviets. Now Rush has challenged the 41 to do as he will and match the figure to a foundation that offers scholarships to the children of Marines and police killed in the line of duty. It's called putting one's money where one's mouth is, and I suspect that Rush will be the only one who actually does it.

On the other hand, Rush has singlehandedly helped Reid produce the most valuable item in his life. In fact, it's the most valuable article entirely produced by government of its own accord in memory,

Wow. I tuned in briefly yesterday, and was impressed that bidding was up to 1.3k! Hey Democrat senators, step up to the plate. You can certainly afford to match the bid too!

And I like this, from the eBay page...

As winning bidder, you get:
- The original and infamous "Harry Reid Smear" letter, signed by 41 Democat senators
- The Halliburton briefcase in which this letter is secured 24 hours a day
- A personal letter of thanks from the Man Who Runs America, Rush Limbaugh
- A photograph of Rush displaying the letter on stage in Philadelphia on October 11th

I want a Halliburton briefcase!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:59 AM

October 18, 2007

Busy, but here's a quick quote...

Pajamas Media: My Dinner With Clarence Thomas:

....Five or six years after he arrived on the court, Thomas had lunch with C. Boyden Gray, Bush’s judge-picker, at the University Club. (Back in the 1990s, I would sometimes see him in the club’s well-appointed locker room, watching football or laughing at one of Judge David Sentelle’s hilarious animal-rights jokes.)

Thomas asked him if he (Thomas) was really the most qualified person for the opening at the Supreme Court. The idea that he might have been nominated because of his race gnawed at him. (Pause for a moment and listen to the pain in his question.)

“Yes,” said Gray.


“Well,” Gray explained. “No one asked what the criteria was.” The president wanted someone who would not bend in office to suit the sirens at the New York Times. Thomas had endured more than 30 hostile hearings when he was chairman of the EEOC and he never backed down. He did what he thought was right and let the chips fall where they may....
Posted by John Weidner at 11:29 AM

October 17, 2007

"technical proficiency."

Jay Cost of the HorseRaceBlog...

....For a while, I have had the suspicion that, while Romney understands the nuts and bolts of politics, he misses many of its subtleties. He reminds me of myself back when I used to play the piano. I'd study up on a piece by Mozart - and eventually I could play it with great technical proficiency. However, I never could play it beautifully. All of the notes hit in the right order - but for some strange reason, they never seemed to sound right. That is the impression I have had of Romney for a while. He's doing everything right, but it just is not sounding good to my ears....

That's sorta my impression too. Of the Republican front-runners I like him best in theory, but there haven't been any moments yet when I wanted to say, "Listen to this guy!"

Posted by John Weidner at 4:50 PM

October 16, 2007

Step right up, folks...

Mac OS-X version 10.5 is now available for pre-orders at amazon. shipping 10-26. You can just click right here, get a very good price, and a small percentage will be given to a person who is battling like a daily Laocoön to preserve Truth, Justice and the American Way of Life. (That's me)

Alas, if you are among the eager throngs lining up to buy Windows Vista, it does not seem to be available at amazon.com. Sorry, not my fault.

PS. It's not clear in those amazon contraptions, but the more expensive one is more expensive because it includes five licenses. But I don't think anyone checks up on you if you use one license for multiple machines.


Posted by John Weidner at 5:21 PM

"And then they fall in love—or they try to..."

Busy, busy, but here's a quote, from John Podhoretz:

...The point is that there never is a candidacy that breeds joyous enthusiasm. Politicians are flawed beings. The ones who speak well often seem false. The ones who are substantive bore. The ones who are tough enough for the job seem too mean. The ones who are likable enough seem too soft. Both parties and all ideological camps express the same reservations, regrets and anxieties. Always. And then they fall in love — or they try to, desperately, like a bride in an arranged marriage.

We've seen it before, we're seeing it now, and we will see it again and again until the end of days....
Posted by John Weidner at 11:20 AM

October 15, 2007

Call me Cassandra...

Best of the Web Today, commenting on the curious fact that Ms Hillary has apparently said that she would favor military action in Iran to protect oil supplies, but not apparetly for other possible reasons, like preventing Israel from being fried, or to topple a theocratic regime, or to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation...

...What if we told you one of the presidential candidates accepted the last rationale--blood for oil!--but rejected arguments for war based on concerns about human rights or nuclear proliferation? Based on the media stereotypes, you'd probably think Dick Cheney had thrown his hat in...

...Mrs. Clinton is in a difficult spot when it comes to Iran. On the one hand, she doesn't want to seem soft in front of the general electorate. On the other hand, she doesn't want to seem firm lest she alienate the Angry Left in her own party. The position she's put forward is clearly a compromise. Yet you'd think from the Angry Left's rhetoric that promising war for oil--the way they disparage every American military action in the Middle East--would be the least likely approach to appease them.

See now, if Mr Taranto read Random Jottings, he would not find this odd at all. (Like Cassandra, I keep telling people stuff, and nobody notices.) The Angry Left rants about oil because they have no desire to talk about the real reason they hate the Iraq Campaign, and would equally hate any attempt at regime-change in Iran...As I explained here:

...This is just one more scrap of evidence for my oft-argued thesis that most "liberals" are now nihilists. That the ideas that once underlay liberalism have leached away, and that they are wearing liberalism much like the Invisible Man wore clothes and bandages to cover up his nothingness... And that the Iraq Campaign has them foaming at the mouth precisely because it is a liberal project, and thus shines a spotlight on what leftists have become...
Fighting for oil, or other selfish reasons, wouldn't bother the Angry Left at all, though oil makes a useful club for bashing Dick Cheney. Fighting for idealistic reasons would enrage them, because it implies that there are things bigger than ourselves, things that we should believe in. Things that we should serve, and be willing to sacrifice for. To the nihilist, this is an affront and an irritation.
Posted by John Weidner at 2:28 PM

Question and answer...the new “Long Telegram”

Something I noticed at NRO's The Corner...

A Question for Norman Podhoretz [Peter Robinson]
In his magnificent new book, World War IV, Norman Podhoretz compares the beginning of the Cold War with our present-day struggle against Islamo-fascism, George W. Bush with Harry Truman. That got me to thinking.

At the beginning of the Cold War, State Department diplomat George Kennan laid out nearly all the essential elements of what became our fundamental strategy throughout the conflict—namely, containment—in the famous “Long Telegram” (so-called because it ran to some 5,000 words) on February 22, 1946.

Now just think about that date.

By the beginning of 1947—the date by which it had become clear to the West that Stalin was supporting a communist insurgency in Greece, and hence the date usually given as the beginning of the Cold War—Kennan had already framed the way we would think about the struggle for decades to come. And—a critical point—his thinking had very quickly found widespread acceptance throughout the senior levels of the government.

Yet here we are today, more than six years after 9/11. Does anyone believe a new “Long Telegram” has yet been written? And accepted throughout the senior levels of the government? Norman Podhoretz’s own book represents a darned close approach to the “Long Telegram,” providing an intellectual framework for the current struggle that’s rigorous, compelling, and accessible. But something tells me it’s not being passed approvingly around the State Department....

And Norman Podhoretz answers:

It isn't that we don't have a strategy. As I try to explain in my book, the Bush Doctrine is to World War IV what the Truman Doctrine was to World War III. Nor—as I also try to explain (pp. 206-7)—did the Truman Doctrine achieve a truly national consensus until Eisenhower tacitly accepted it when he became president in 1953. Up to that point, it had been attacked both from the Left (as too aggressive), from the Right (as not aggressive enough), and from the Center (as having sounded, in Walter Lippmann's words, "the tocsin of an ideological crusade").

The difference is that the State Department under Dean Acheson supported the Truman Doctrine, whereas the State Department under Colin Powell, and even under Condi Rice (having reverted to her roots as a "realist" since moving from the White House to Foggy Bottom) has done everything in its power to subvert the Bush Doctrine; and so has the CIA. We aren't, then, "fumbling for a strategy." We are, rather, involved in a war of ideas that is being fought both within the government and throughout the nation as a whole between those of us who believe in the Bush Doctrine and those who desperately wish to return to the pre-9/11 attitudes and policies that the Bush Doctrine repudiated. Unless and until the Democrats do unto the Bush Doctrine what the Republicans under Eisenhower did unto the Truman Doctrine, the war of ideas at home will rage furiously on....

I should by now have written more about Podhoretz's book, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism. It's very good; I recommend it.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:10 AM

October 14, 2007

"The experiment of life"

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, published two books in which he was interviewed by German journalist Peter Seewald. This bit is from God and the World: A Conversation With Peter Seewald

[Question] Jesus made us a great promise. He said, "What I teach I do not have from myself, but from the One who sent me. Whoever does the will of God will come to know whether this teaching is from God or whether I teach from what I know myself." And even the Pharisees cried out then, "Never has any man taught like this."

[Ratzinger] That corresponds exactly to what we have been reflecting on. The truth of Jesus' word cannot be tested in terms of theory. It is like a technical proposition: it is shown to be correct only by testing it. The truth of what God says here involves the whole person, the experiment of life. It can only become clear to me if I truly give myself up to the will of God, so far as He has made it known to me. This will of the Creator is not something foreign to me, something external, but is the basis of my own being. And in this experiment of life it does in fact become clear how life can be put right. It will not be comfortable, but it will be right. It will not be superficial or pleasant, but it will in a profound sense be filled with joy.

This is indeed the real meaning of the saints for us, that they are people who have ventured upon this experiment of the will of God. To a certain extant they are lights for mankind, signposts who show us what happens, how life can be put right. I believe that is fundamental for the whole question about the truth of Christianity....

You can test it, and find out if it is true. But you are the test tube...

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Posted by John Weidner at 5:19 AM

October 13, 2007

There's one subject that's never in "all the news that's fit to print"

Bruce Kesler:

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez’ speech and Q&A session at the Military Reporters & Editors convention has unleashed a whirl of major media coverage and commentary. (See Memeorandum, for examples.) All are focused on his criticism of the Bush administration for inadequate strategy and prosecution of the war.

However, neither the New York Times or Associated Press mention that over 40% of Sanchez’ speech severely took the major media to task. The Washington Post merely mentions it, and then underplays it at the end of its report, giving it 67 out of about 850 words in its coverage:....

What frauds...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:18 PM

"And those hours may be numbered as the sands of the desert..."

Does anyone still read Kahlil Gibran? When I was younger one seemed to see the same mournful tan cover of The Prophet on everyone's bookshelves. Which still does not mean anyone read him; it was, I think, the sort of book people liked to give as a gift, conferring an aura of profundity on the giver without any need for thinking, or commitment to any ideal.

Charlene noticed this at the First Things page, in a teaser of what will be in the November issue of the magazine, for those of us wise enough to subscribe...

“Expansive and yet vacuous is the prose of Kahlil Gibran,” writes Alan Jacobs in the new issue of First Things.

And weary grows the mind doomed to read it.
The hours of my penance lengthen,
The penance established for me by the editor of this magazine,
And those hours may be numbered as the sands of the desert.
And for each of them Kahlil Gibran has prepared
Another ornamental phrase,
Another faux-biblical cadence,
Another affirmation proverbial in its intent
But alas! lacking the moral substance,
The peasant shrewdness, of the true proverb.

O Book, O The Collected Works of Kahlil Gibran,
Published by Everyman’s Library on a dark day,
I lift you from the Earth to which I recently flung you
When my wrath grew too mighty for me,
I lift you from the Earth,
Noticing once more your annoying heft,
And thanking God—though such thanks are sinful—
That Kahlil Gibran died in New York in 1931
At the age of forty-eight,
So that he could write no more words,
So that this Book would not be yet larger than it is.

I don't suggest you buy Gibran! Your library has him, if you are curious. But any of my book links to amazon.com, if followed up with purchases various, will earn me a little percentage. Perhaps (if not a diamond necklace) a book by Mr Jacobs himself, or by the Editor in Chief of First Things...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:21 AM

October 12, 2007

This guy was worth a thousand pacifists...

Lt Murphy, awarded Medal of Honor
LA Times: CORONADO — A Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan will be awarded the Medal of Honor, the first such award for troops serving in Afghanistan and the first for a SEAL since the Vietnam War, the White House announced Thursday.

Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, who had SEAL training here and was assigned to a SEAL team in Hawaii, was killed in June 2005 during a mission in the Hindu Kush mountains to find a key Taliban leader.

Ambushed by insurgents, Murphy's four-man SEAL team engaged in a fierce firefight and was in danger of being overrun.

Although he was wounded, Murphy risked his life to save fellow SEALs and then maneuvered into an open position to send out an emergency call and to continue firing at the enemy. While making the call, he was hit again.

Only one of the SEALs on the team survived. Eight other SEALs and eight soldiers aboard a MH-47 Chinook helicopter sent to rescue Murphy's team also were killed when the craft was brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The incident was the worst single-day loss of life for Navy Special Warfare personnel since World War II...

Don't, uh, hold your breath waiting for Democrats and our "news" media to heap honor and respect on Lt Murphy. Or for our "schools" to hold him up as an example and inspiration to young Americans.....

(But congrats to the LAT for covering the story.)

Posted by John Weidner at 11:21 AM

A "lucky" coincidence..

The chart that accompanies this Wired article, NSA's Lucky Break: How the U.S. Became Switchboard to the World, is astonishing. Most of the planet's international phone traffic passes through the US...

A lucky coincidence of economics is responsible for routing much of the world's internet and telephone traffic through switching points in the United States, where, under legislation introduced this week, the U.S. National Security Agency will be free to continue tapping it.....

...Press leaks [how I hate those animals!] in recent months have revealed that the NSA began tapping the U.S. communications hubs for purely international traffic shortly after 9/11, at the same time that it began monitoring communications between U.S. citizens and foreigners as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

After the Democrats took over Congress in 2007, the administration put the NSA surveillance programs under the supervision of a secretive spying court, which ruled shortly thereafter that wiretapping U.S.-based facilities without a warrant was illegal, even for the purpose of harvesting foreign communications.

In August, Congress granted the NSA "emergency" temporary powers to continue the surveillance, which are set to expire in February. The RESTORE Act (the Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen Reviewed and Effective Act of 2007) is the Democrat's effort to extend that power indefinitely, while including some safeguards against abuse. It would legalize both the foreign-to-foreign intercepts, and the domestic-to-foreign surveillance associated with the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

The bill enjoys wide support in the House, but on Wednesday President Bush vowed to veto any surveillance legislation that doesn't extend retroactive legal immunity to telephone companies who cooperated in the NSA's domestic surveillance before it was legalized -- a provision absent from the RESTORE Act. AT&T, which is facing a class-action lawsuit for allegedly wiretapping the internet on behalf of the NSA, is reportedly among the companies lobbying hard for immunity....

OF course they should have immunity! What lunacy, to even hesitate on that. And the scum behind the "class action" (the class I presume being bloodsucking lawyers and hate-America leftists) should be sent off for a nice Caribbean holiday. How crazy is this, that companies can be sued for helping our nation fight global terrorism? Sick.

And, just as a historical note, we have always tapped international communications in war time. When we entered the World Wars, presidents Wilson and Roosevelt immediately ordered surveillance of cable traffic entering or leaving the US. And there was no crap about warrants, either, and since the Democrats had not yet become traitors, no one thought anything of it. Lincoln tapped telegraph lines repeatedly, also without warrants.

And guess what, none of these measures resulted in America turning into a police state! In fact we have become far more tender about such things than ever before. The whole trend of our history has been in exactly the opposite direction. This nation has REPEATEDLY taken rough ruthless measures against suspected enemies in wartime, and REPEATEDLY bounced back afterwards towards greater respect for civil liberties..

Why do we get heavy-handed in war time? Because it's a WAR, stupid, and the thing you do with wars is, you WIN them. And, if you are America, leave the world a better place afterwards, and a more peaceful place. Anybody worried about aggression by Germany, Japan, Italy, South Korea? Was anybody worried that the South would start another Civil War? No, because we beat our enemies up so hard that even to think about it would have been considered a sign of insanity. After the War of 1812 (which considering the huge disparity of forces can be considered a signal victory) were we in any real danger of British attacks? Not at all. The region north of Mexico had been repeatedly torn by international war, but we put a definitive stop to that. By winning. The gruesome slaughter of the Battle of New Orleans brought peace and prosperity to a large portion of the globe.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:49 AM

October 11, 2007

Those dastardly conservatives...oughta be expelled...

Jay Tea reports on an amusing contretemps...

There's a fun little scuffle going on at George Washington University. Conservatives on campus are planning an "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" soon, and -- naturally -- this has a lot of people in a tizzy. (It's the equivalent of heresy to comment on the remarkable correlation between terrorists, dictatorships, and Islam. The race might not always go to the swift, the battle to the strong, and not all terrorists are Muslims, but that's the way to bet.)

First up, the regular suspects all denounced the event. Then, a bunch of posters showed up around campus. They announced the event, proclaiming "HATE MUSLIMS? SO DO WE!" and featured a bunch of anti-Muslim sentiments.

This drove the regular suspects into absolute hysteria. Howls of outrage shook the campus, and several college officials talked openly of expelling the students responsible for it. The Young America's Foundation -- the sponsors of the Week -- found themselves under heavy attack.

Then a rather inconvenient truth emerged: the posters were not the work of the YAF, or any of their supporters, but a "satire" cooked up by seven students who are staunch opponents of the YAF and their event....

Ooops. How embarrassing. Of course they will probably punish the perps in some way similar to how SF State punished (when forced into it by bad publicity) some Palestinian students who were caught in the perfectly harmless and Progressive activity of beating up Jews. The University,
uncompromising in its defense of morality and the rule of law, decreed the establishment of an "Islamic studies department."

Posted by John Weidner at 5:30 PM

October 10, 2007

Unh huh, right, yeah....

Clinton to propose universal 401K plan - First Read - msnbc.com:

From NBC’s Athena Jones
Clinton will lay out a proposal to provide a universal 401K plan for everyone, at a speech today in Webster City, Iowa. Her staff is calling it the second-biggest policy rollout of the campaign in terms of cost and the number of people it would cover.

Under the plan, everyone would have access to a 401K and would be able to get matching funds from the government. It is part of Clinton's effort to increase retirement security by promoting savings and investment. Clinton's policy advisors will explain the plan in detail after the speech...

SO, the ordinary worker is going to put money in 401-K's. To his or her great advantage, obviously. How, may I ask, is this different from what Bush wanted to have them do with some of their Social Security money? Hmm? I'll just sit here and wait while all the 100%-fake liberals who bombarded me with 100%-fake outrage over how Bush was trying to "destroy Social Security" explain the discrepancy...

But this is a good chance to explain the difference between principled and unprincipled politics. Principled = If Hillary were elected president, and were to propose this, and if seemed like a good plan to me (I don't have any opinion yet) I would say that Republicans should support it. Or if she were to revive Bush's Social Security plan, and call it her own, I would be just as much a supporter of the plan as I was in 2005. (In the same way, Congressional Republicans supported Bill Clinton on NAFTA and Welfare Reform.)

Unprincipled = all those prosperous liberals who have their own retirement funds in IRA's or 401-K's, but who, out of pure partisan venom, did everything they could to block a Republican plan that would give that very same advantage to ordinary Americans. To the workers they claim—filthy liars that they are—to care about so much more than greedy capitalist Republicans.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:35 PM

"No one will ever believe you..."

I liked very much this comment that Mike Plaiss made to this post about our having, from time to time, an idealistic foreign policy...

For anyone interested in a long-winded anecdote that is relevant to this discussion, here it is:

I used to teach English as a Second Language (ESL), and had the very good fortune to have many smart and intellectually minded students. We had countless conversations about world events, the countries they came from, etc. I did most of the learning in that class. I would even go as far as to say that most of what I think I know about the world outside the US came from those conversations. (I have dozens of stories a lot like this one.)

This was all right in the middle of the war in Bosnia (but before we got involved). In fact, I had several students from there, several from Eastern Europe, and a few from the Middle East. Debate had already begun in the US as whether we should get involved. All of my students, including the ones from Bosnia, were sure that the US would NOT get involved. One student from Syria, one of the teacher’s assistants, was pretty adamant about it – “Why would you? You have nothing to gain.”

I had developed a lot of credibility with this group because I actually knew where their countries were, and even a little bit about their histories. (Yes, it is sad to say that they were truly shocked that an American knew where Odessa was, as an example.) So it got their attention when I told them to not be so sure – the US may well get involved.

“Why?”, they asked. “To stop the killing”, I answered. The Syrian scoffed (loudly), and everyone was shaking their heads in disbelief, and a few were laughing. But, like I said, I had developed a lot of credibility with them by this point and they were all fascinated and wanted to know more about my thoughts. Keep in mind that all of these people had only been in the US for a few weeks or months, and I had language barriers to deal with, but I did my best to explain to them that this is the way Americans are. If we believed that genocide was, in fact, occurring in Europe (did my best to explain why that mattered), and that there was something we could do about, that we may well go to war to stop it.

Apparently I did a pretty good job because even the Syrian seemed convinced that this may be so. I could see the wheels turning in their heads as they re-evaluated their thoughts. Then the Syrian, who by the way was an extremely smart young man (he was in college and intended to go to med school), said something that I will never forget.

He said, “Well, then you have a bigger problem on your hands.” I had no idea what that meant, so I asked, “What do you mean?” “No one will ever believe it. No one will ever believe you would go to war for such a reason. So if you do it (go to war), they’re going to come up with their own reasons as to why you really did it. This would be terrible for the United States.”

So yes, going to war, even for truly altruistic reasons, can do great damage to the reputation of the US.

Ah well. As Mencken, or maybe not him, said, War is God's way of teaching Americans geography...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:54 AM

October 9, 2007

We take cream in our coffee here...

There's a really interesting piece in the New York Times, Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus. It covers the findings in a new book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes, who debunks the notion that fatty foods shorten your life...

....With skeptical scientists ostracized, the public debate and research agenda became dominated by the fat-is-bad school. Later the National Institutes of Health would hold a “consensus conference” that concluded there was “no doubt” that low-fat diets “will afford significant protection against coronary heart disease” for every American over the age of 2. The American Cancer Society and the surgeon general recommended a low-fat diet to prevent cancer.

But when the theories were tested in clinical trials, the evidence kept turning up negative. As Mr. Taubes notes, the most rigorous meta-analysis of the clinical trials of low-fat diets, published in 2001 by the Cochrane Collaboration, concluded that they had no significant effect on mortality.

Mr. Taubes argues that the low-fat recommendations, besides being unjustified, may well have harmed Americans by encouraging them to switch to carbohydrates, which he believes cause obesity and disease. He acknowledges that that hypothesis is unproved, and that the low-carb diet fad could turn out to be another mistaken cascade. The problem, he says, is that the low-carb hypothesis hasn’t been seriously studied because it couldn’t be reconciled with the low-fat dogma....

This is of course cool for Charlene and I, both of us being low-carbers, and longtime skeptics about low-fat. The reason "the low-carb hypothesis hasn’t been seriously studied" is because, to put it more bluntly, it has not been politically correct to do so. If you follow the subject you soon see that diets line up with politics in the most fascinating way. The big bureaucracies are low-fat and so the left tends to go that way. Low carb diets, like the Atkins Diet, have always been "counter-cultural, and tainted with capitalism—Dr Atkins products are sold for profit.

And doesn't this quote remind you of a certain other "scientific consensus" we've been hearing a lot about lately?...

....It may seem bizarre that a surgeon general could go so wrong. After all, wasn’t it his job to express the scientific consensus? But that was the problem. Dr. Koop was expressing the consensus. He, like the architects of the federal “food pyramid” telling Americans what to eat, went wrong by listening to everyone else. He was caught in what social scientists call a cascade.

We like to think that people improve their judgment by putting their minds together, and sometimes they do. The studio audience at “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” usually votes for the right answer. But suppose, instead of the audience members voting silently in unison, they voted out loud one after another. And suppose the first person gets it wrong.

If the second person isn’t sure of the answer, he’s liable to go along with the first person’s guess. By then, even if the third person suspects another answer is right, she’s more liable to go along just because she assumes the first two together know more than she does. Thus begins an “informational cascade” as one person after another assumes that the rest can’t all be wrong.

Because of this effect, groups are surprisingly prone to reach mistaken conclusions even when most of the people started out knowing better, according to the economists Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer and Ivo Welch. If, say, 60 percent of a group’s members have been given information pointing them to the right answer (while the rest have information pointing to the wrong answer), there is still about a one-in-three chance that the group will cascade to a mistaken consensus....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:40 AM

At least they are honest about their dishonesty...

From NewsBusters.org, ‘Journalists’ Tell Howard Kurtz Why Good News from Iraq Shouldn’t Get Reported:

....KURTZ: Joining us now to put this into perspective, Robin Wright, who covers national security for The Washington Post. And CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Robin Wright, should that decline in Iraq casualties have gotten more media attention?

ROBIN WRIGHT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Not necessarily. The fact is we're at the beginning of a trend -- and it's not even sure that it is a trend yet. There is also an enormous dispute over how to count the numbers. There are different kinds of deaths in Iraq.

There are combat deaths. There are sectarian deaths. And there are the deaths of criminal -- from criminal acts. There are also a lot of numbers that the U.S. frankly is not counting. For example, in southern Iraq, there is Shiite upon Shiite violence, which is not sectarian in the Shiite versus Sunni. And the U.S. also doesn't have much of a capability in the south.

So the numbers themselves are tricky. Long-term, General Odierno, who was in town this week, said he is looking for irreversible momentum, and that, after two months, has not yet been reached.

KURTZ: Barbara Starr, CNN did mostly quick reads by anchors of these numbers. There was a taped report on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." Do you think this story deserved more attention? We don't know whether it is a trend or not but those are intriguing numbers.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: But that's the problem, we don't know whether it is a trend about specifically the decline in the number of U.S. troops being killed in Iraq. This is not enduring progress. This is a very positive step on that potential road to progress.

KURTZ: But let's say that the figures had shown that casualties were going up for U.S. soldiers and going up for Iraqi civilians. I think that would have made some front pages.

STARR: Oh, I think inevitably it would have. I mean, that's certainly -- that, by any definition, is news. Look, nobody more than a Pentagon correspondent would like to stop reporting the number of deaths, interviewing grieving families, talking to soldiers who have lost their arms and their legs in the war. But, is this really enduring progress?

We've had five years of the Pentagon telling us there is progress, there is progress. Forgive me for being skeptical, I need to see a little bit more than one month before I get too excited about all of this....

It would be hopeless to try to argue with such people. We can only be thankful that the Internet routes around them...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:37 AM

October 8, 2007

Ongoing epidemic: Sudden Jihad Syndrome...

I recommend this post: Sudden Jihad Syndrome in Vienna, by Srdja Trifkovic

Austrian authorities announced on October 2 that they arrested a second Bosnian-Muslim suspect in the plot to attack the American Embassy in Vienna. Mehmed D. (34) was apprehended following the arrest of Asim C. (42) last Monday, after the latter tried to enter the Embassy carrying a backpack packed with grenades, plastic explosives, nails, screws and other metal fragments. This was a classic case of Sudden Jihad Syndrome; and the Austrian authorities’ reaction to it is depressingly familiar to those of us who have been following the ongoing SJS epidemic here in America.

That reaction has four key elements:

1. Denial that the attack is motivated by Islam;
2. Strong hint that the attacker is insane;
3. Assurance that the attacker(s) acted alone, and that there is no al-Qaeda link;
4. Prominent publicity to the Muslim “community’s” expressions of shock & horror.....

...The SJS pattern, both in America and in Europe, is boringly predictable: a Muslim commits an act of violence, or is caught plotting to commit one. The authorities are either quick to deny the suspect’s links with Islamic terrorism, or, if such a link is nevertheless suspected, adamant that he is acting alone. The local Muslim community responds with a mix of indignation and denial. Non-Muslim civic leaders then respond by reassuring the Muslim community that it is loved and appreciated. The media report heart rendering stories of the Muslim sense of sadness, rejection, alienation, or else dwell on the perpetrator’s history of woe—in a “Bosnian” case by evoking alleged wartime traumas and blaming the Serbs.

Over the past couple of years there have been several SJS incidents directed against Americans. It is remarkable that even when the perpetrator explicitly linked his motives to jihad, the authorities refused to accept his word....

More than "several;" he has a lonnng list of American attacks. Invariably with the authorities downplaying any connection with islamic terrorism, and usually blaming insanity. We've all noticed the pattern, but when all the incidents are lined up together the effect is powerful.

...The list will continue for many years to come, and the victims’ blood is on the hands of the Western elite class, in Vienna, Denver, London, and any other place that is blessed and enriched with the presence of a Muslim “community.” The ongoing refusal of the elite class to protect the people they rule from Islamic terrorism is the biggest betrayal in history. It is rooted in the mindset that breeds the claim that “force is not an answer” to terrorism, that profiling is bad and open borders are good, that Islam is peaceful and the West is wicked. The upholders of such claims belong to the culture that has lost its bond with nature, history, and the supporting community. In the meantime, thanks to them, the quiet onslaught continues unabated, across the Mediterranean and through every major airport in Western Europe and North America...

Read that paragraph again. And we are not just talking left/liberal elites here. Republican leaders do it as well. I suspect they all know, perhaps unconsciously, that there is no centralized elite-controlled remedy, that the only way to fight such sporadic attacks is to empower ordinary people to arm themselves and watch and fight back. And to communicate horizontally, rather than up and down a hierarchy.

And the critical lack in many of our leaders is the belief that our civilization is worth fighting for. Or anything is worth fighting for. They may concede that that we should fight terrorists in far-off Afghanistan, where they don't have to see it. But what's also needed is to get really hard-assed right here in our own towns. There are groups right here who include or shelter our deadly enemies, and they should be getting slammed around hard. For the sake of peace.

And a lot of our paralysis is due to political correctness. For instance anyone in school now is bombarded with the message that America did a loathsome thing by interning Japanese-Americans in WWII. Well, OK, but it is never mentioned that IF that community had really included the spies and saboteurs that were feared, and IF there had been no other way to stop them, then internment would have been the correct decision. I suspect that a lot of people preaching jihad should be interned right now. But if I were a leader I would not suggest it, because most people have been so brainwashed that they could not even consider or discuss the question. They literally could. Not. Think. (I recommend you read: Political correctness lowers your effective IQ.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:20 PM

"That's their money..."

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Control Your Own Health Care:

...Five years ago, the Whole Foods grocery chain switched to a high-deductible plan. If an employee has a sore throat or a sprained ankle, he pays. But if he gets cancer or heart disease, his insurance covers it.

Whole Foods puts around $1,500 a year into an account for each employee. It's not charity but part of the employee's compensation. It's money Whole Foods would have otherwise spent on more-expensive insurance. Here's the good part for employees: If they don't spend the money on medical care this year, they keep it, and the company adds more next year.

It's called a health savings account, or HSA.

CEO John Mackey told me that when he went to the new system, "Our costs went way down."

Yet today, some workers have $8,000 in their accounts.

"That's their money," Mackey said. "It builds up over time because the money is compounding for them."

It will cover all sorts of future out-of-pocket expenses.

Most important, since employees control the money, their behavior changed. Whole Foods workers started asking "how much things cost," Mackey said. "They may not want to go to the emergency room if they wake up with a hangnail in the middle of the night. They may schedule an appointment now."

There was no need to ask about costs before because the insurance company seemed to pick up the tab. But that drove up costs for everyone. Now, saving money makes sense to employees because the money belongs to them.

HSA critics ask whether individual accounts will encourage people to save money at the expense of their health.

Mackey has the right response. "The premise in those kinds of questions is that people are stupid. They're not smart enough to make these decisions for themselves. It's sort of an elitist attitude....

Some of my animus towards leftists is personal and practical. If, when I was young, I had been in the position of those Whole Foods workers, I would have built up by now a really big HSA. Because I don't think I ever once went to a doctor during my 20's and hardly ever during my 30's. So my contributions would have grown, tax-free, for decades!

But HSA's have been blocked by Democrats ever since they were proposed in, I think, the late 70's. They hate them because they allow individuals to make their own decisions, instead of bureaucrats both public and private.

SO, thank you, President Bush! All conservatives owe you many debts of gratitude for things like HSA's, though most of them won't admit it. It's too late for me to get the real benefits from my HSA, but the young workers of today will be much better off when they reach my age.

AND, I spit upon the "Democrat" Party with the utmost contempt. Your socialism is worthless and evil, and you cowardly dogs don't even have the guts to admit to it, or defend it in debate.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:03 AM

Only Americans commit atrocities...

From Gateway Pundit..

From The New York Times October 6, 2007
Last year, when accounts of the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha by a group of marines came to light, it seemed that the Iraq war had produced its defining atrocity, just as the conflict in Vietnam had spawned the My Lai massacre a generation ago.

But on Thursday, a senior military investigator recommended dropping murder charges against the ranking enlisted marine accused in the 2005 killings, just as he had done earlier in the cases of two other marines charged in the case. The recommendation may well have ended prosecutors’ chances of winning any murder convictions in the killings of the apparently unarmed men, women and children.
That's The New York Times special way of saying "I'm sorry" for condemning the Haditha Marines to hell for the "apparent" cold-blooded murder of innocents before their trial even started.

And, isn't it interesting how The New York Times is still searching for an atrocity to define the War in Iraq?

An Al-Qaeda atrocity like the Yazidi bombings, the murder of a brave young Sunni Sheik, torture chamber drawings, or dismembering and booby-trapping dead soldier's bodies just won't do.

It must be an American atrocity...

That's exactly right. An American war, especially when led by Republicans, must be "defined" by an atrocity. It cannot be "defined" by unimportant trifles, like, say, millions of people risking their lives to vote in free elections. That's worthless to the "Democrats" at the NYT. And worthless to (most at least) of the tens-of-thousands who subscribe to the NYT, or the many local papers and stations who let the NYT decide what's "news." And of those incidents like blowing up hundreds of people in a marketplace were not an atrocities at all...because they weren't done by Americans.

This is a very minor blog I have here, and so I really don't have to be tactful and pussy-foot around. I'll just say what I think: If you subscribe to the New York times, it's about 95% likely that you are anti-American. You hate this nation. Of course you won't admit it, but if I had you hooked up to some sort of emotion-detector, and I said: "I believe that this is the freest and best country ever, and when she is attacked YOU owe her a DUTY of generous warm-hearted loyalty and service, even at the risk of your life," the dial would go right over to "Oh Yecchhh!"

Hey, New York Times animals, how about a "defining moment" of courage or virtue or self-sacrifice? Hmmm? There have been thousands of candidates, though a person would never know it from reading the Paper Formerly Known As The Paper Of Record. Or how about thinking for a moment (That's not politically correct, but I won't tell anyone) about the implications of how you've been lusting after a "defining (American) atrocity" since March of 2003, and you haven't found one yet! What could that possibly mean?

Posted by John Weidner at 6:38 AM

October 7, 2007

"the average Catholic is so average"

by Mark Shea...

....What we need to remember is that the Catholic Church is and always has been the vessel of salvation for the world. That means that most of the people you meet are going to be ordinary — like you and me.

They are going to have the ordinary tastes, prejudices, mediocrities, failures and virtues of their time and place. There are, to be sure, great heroes and extraordinary people in the Catholic communion. But to expect that as the norm and then be outraged and disappointed when it is not is, I think, great folly and, in the end, great pride. Remember the hellish “wisdom” of C.S. Lewis’ Uncle Screwtape, who would keep far from our minds the thought, “If I, being what I am, can consider myself in some sense a Christian, then why can’t these people next to me in the pew”?

So, though I have been appalled by some of the sins that have been revealed in the ranks of the Church in the past few years, I’ve never been shocked. What did I expect? They’re just sinners like I am, and I know what I’m capable of.

“Well then,” it may be asked, “if the average Catholic is so average, why bother joining the Church?” To quote Walker Percy, “What else is there?” After all, it is not the Church that is mediocre, but only we, her members.

The Church is, curiously, something that exists before she has any members, because she is founded not by us, but by Christ. The Church is the spotless bride of Christ, made so by the Holy Spirit in the washing with water and the Word. We, her members, are generally nebbishes and schleps.

But she is glorious and beautiful, terrible as an army with banners. And in her all the fullness of the faith subsists. In that faith, by the grace of God, I hope one day to be made perfect in love of God and neighbor.....

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Posted by John Weidner at 5:43 AM

October 6, 2007

It fits...

Powerline has this quote, from a new book, Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender.

Some have called it the CIA's greatest covert operation of all time.
It involved deep penetration of a hostile regime by planting a network of agents at key crossroads of power, where they could steal secrets and steer policy by planting disinformation, cooking intelligence, provocation, and outright lies.

It involved sophisticated political sabotage operations, aimed at making regime leaders doubt their own judgment and question the support of their subordinates.

It involved the financing, training, and equipping of effective opposition forces, who could challenge the regime openly and through covert operations.

The scope was breathtaking, say insiders who had personal knowledge of the CIA effort. All the skills learned by the U.S. intelligence community during the fifty years of the Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union were in play, from active measures aimed at planting disinformation through cutouts and an eager media, to maskirovka--strategic deception.

It was war--but an intelligence war, played behind the scenes, aimed at confusing, misleading, and ultimately defeating the enemy. Its goal was nothing less than to topple the regime in power, by discrediting its rulers.

Many Americans believe this was the CIA's goal during the 1990s, when the Agency had "boots on the ground" in northern Iraq, working with Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein. Most patriotic Americans probably hope that the CIA today has such an operation to overthrow the mullahs in Tehran, or North Korean dictator Kim John Il.

But the target of this vast, sophisticated CIA operation was none of them.

It was America's 43rd President, George W. Bush....

I'd say it seems to fit the facts we've observed over the last 6 years. Remember this quote, by Michael Ledeen?

...ML: Before we get into the details, I've got a quickie for you. I was reading a recent interview with Charles McCarry, the ex-spook who writes terrific books, and he said something quite extraordinary.

JJA: To wit?

ML: He said: "I never met a stupid person in the agency. Or an assassin. Or a Republican... They were, at least in the operations side where I was...wall-to-wall knee-jerk liberals. And they were befuddled that the left outside the agency regarded them as some sort of right-wing threat. Because they were the absolute opposite, in their own politics."...

Fascinatin', that befuddlement! The left hates the CIA for the same reason that it hates the US military. Because their very existence presumes that we have a country worth fighting for. They do not hate the State Department, because it is presumed to share the view of nihilists that there is nothing worth fighting for, that there is no "good vs evil."

Posted by John Weidner at 9:21 AM

Actually it was bright all along...

BBC NEWS: US employment outlook brightens:

The US Labor Department said the economy added 110,000 new jobs in September, higher than the 100,000 figure predicted by economists.And rather than shedding 4,000 jobs in August as initially estimated, 89,000 new jobs were actually created...

It was just the statistics that lagged...

And haven't we heard this story a bunch of times over the last few years? And in the Reagan years? Republican President cuts taxes, bad economic stats are savored like fine wine by certain people, and then later the statistics are revised, with little fanfare? I forget the details, but there was some economist who predicted x amount of growth following Reagan's tax cuts. And he was just ridiculed. And the a couple of years later it turns out he was right on the money with his prediction, but somehow nobody noticed or nominated him for any prizes...(Thanks to Orrin)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:31 AM

October 5, 2007

Sweet Week

I love it every year. Fleet Week! At any odd moment you might hear a growl that slowly builds to a roar, and then an F/A 18 or two goes ker-WHAMM over your head. Awesome. The Blue Angels.

Cinnamon Stillwell has a blogpost that expresses just what the Weidners feel...

San Francisco Peaceniks in a Panic Over Fleet Week

It's that time of year again and Fleet Week has descended upon the city of San Francisco. For those who, like myself, appreciate the unabashed demonstration of military prowess, not to mention the spectacular air shows of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, it is a time to relish. And, of course, an occasion for gloating about the matter at one's blog.

It helps that self-proclaimed socialist supervisor Chris Daly's third attempt to ban the Blue Angels, due, he claims, to safety concerns (never mind that there's a higher chance of being hit by a car in San Francisco than an Angels pilot crashing), was soundly defeated by his more commerce-minded colleagues on the Board of Supervisors. Ah, the smell of victory in the morning.

Getting to watch the Blue Angels practice throughout the week is another perk for patriots living in the vicinity. There's nothing quite like the beauty of jets flying silently in formation, that sonic boom as they pass overhead, or the thrill of a jet zooming past one's very window.

But for local liberals unaccustomed to such icky displays of militarism and residents annoyed that their daily lives of leisure are interrupted by those who, in reality, make those daily lives of leisure possible, Fleet Week is a time of terror.

I know of one such fellow who was in a virtual panic last weekend to, as he put it, "get out of town before the Blue Angels arrived!"....

"Fleet Week is a time of terror." Ha ha ha. All our fake-pacists can just crunch on it with their Granola. Every one of those frauds knows perfectly well that they are protected by the world's strongest military, and by cops with pistols on their belts. And they want it just that way, so they can play their infantile games in perfect safety, and rely on the grown-ups to gun down the criminals, while they pretend to be "non-violent.". Parasites and freeloaders. Liars.

Here are some pix I took from Fleet Week 2005.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:51 AM

October 4, 2007

Can't "see" what's right in front of him...

I was thinking of fisking this piece, Delusion of Exceptionalism, by Paul Campos, October 2, 2007, Rocky Mountain News. (Thanks to Orrin.) It's full of slippery arguments and logic flaws I'd enjoy shining a spotlight on. But what's much more interesting to me is that he never lays a glove on the kinds of argument that he is criticizing, because, I suspect, he is incapable of even "seeing" them. He has a blind spot...

...But his view is shared by legions of liberal hawks, who five years ago lined up behind President Bush's proposed invasion like so many well-trained parrots, thus providing crucial political cover for the extraordinary decision to invade a nation that no rational person believed posed a real threat to the United States.

Consider the words of The Washington Post's Richard Cohen: "The Iraq war is not the product of oil avarice, or CIA evil, but of a surfeit of altruism, a naive compulsion to do good. That entire collection of neo- and retro-conservatives - George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and particularly Paul Wolfowitz - made war not for oil or for empire. This is why so many liberals, myself included, originally supported the war. It engaged us emotionally. It seemed . . . well, right - a just cause."

The irony is that Cohen is on one level correct. I have no doubt that both the neo-cons and their liberal hawk enablers believe that their devotion to neo-imperialism is based not on the crass considerations that have always driven international politics, i.e., power and money, but on a virtuous urge to use whatever means were necessary to bring what Mark Twain referred to as The Person Sitting in Darkness into the light of freedom, democracy, etc., etc.

That every imperial power since the dawn of time has claimed exactly the same thing has not the slightest effect on this touching faith in the purity of our own motives.

Similarly, it never gives the nationalist pause that he would burst into incredulous laughter if he were to hear a citizen of any other country make such claims.

The American nationalist believes that, in the words of Michael Cohen of the "liberal" blog Democracy Arsenal, America is "inherently good," and that therefore our imperialist adventures have nothing in common with those of other great powers....

When people say that America is "inherently good," they are usually making the very opposite of a nationalist claim. They are NOT saying, as a nationalist would, that America is valued as a piece of ground, or a race, or a volk, or for its military conquests. Rather, America is really a set of ideas, good ideas, and those ideas are transferable, including transferable to other nations. And those nations could become as "good" as us by adopting these ideas. That's the opposite of nationalism.

We actually see this "transferability" every day, in the way we assume that immigrants can come from everywhere and become Americans. If you "get" our ideas, then you are an American. Professor Campos would not consider it bizarre if someone who immigrated from Bormenia ten years ago were to proudly say that "We Americans are inherently good." (He would hate the sentiment, I assume. But he wouldn't think it was crazy for a newcomer to consider himself American.)

From the earliest days some Americans have argued that we should practice an idealistic foreign policy designed to transfer our ideas to other places. But this has traditionally been a liberal idea. We are all proud to have helped bring democracy and human rights to countries like Japan and Germany and Italy. But it was liberals like FDR and Truman who were behind this sort of policy, and conservatives who tended to say we should not meddle.

Now I assume that Profesor Campos is somewhere on the left/liberal/progressive side of politics. Yet he seems to find this great liberal idea incomprehensible. It's not just that he opposes it—some Americans have done that all through our history. It's that he can't even "see" the idea that is fascinating to me.

This is just one more scrap of evidence for my oft-argued thesis that most "liberals" are now nihilists. That the ideas that once underlay liberalism have leached away, and that they are wearing liberalism much like the Invisible Man wore clothes and bandages to cover up his nothingness... And that the Iraq Campaign has them foaming at the mouth precisely because it is a liberal project, and thus shines a spotlight on what leftists have become...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:42 AM

October 3, 2007

Game over...

I recommend an essay by Bartle Bull in Prospect Magazine: Mission accomplished:

....Since 2004 I have pointed out that al-Sadr, as leader of the country's largest popular movement, has more to win from a functioning electoral politics than from fighting the Americans who guaranteed the polls that liberated his people, or from fighting the Iraqi government of which he is himself the joint largest part.

As we have noted, the real al-Sadr ceasefire began three years ago. But by saying publicly, again, that his men are putting down their guns, al-Sadr is declaring in the most unequivocal way that the violence in Iraq is not in his name.

Iranian-made rockets will continue to kill British and American soldiers. Saudi Wahhabis will continue to blow up marketplaces, employment queues and Shia mosques when they can. Iraqi criminals will continue to bully their neighbourhoods into homogeneities that will give the strongest more leverage, although even this tide is turning in most places where Petraeus's surge has reached. Bodies will continue to pile up in the ditches of Doura and east Baghdad as the country goes through the final spasm of the reckoning that was always going to attend the end of 35 years of brutal Sunni rule.

But in terms of national politics, there is nothing left to fight for. The only Iraqis still fighting for more than local factional advantage and criminal dominance are the irrational actors: the Sunni fundamentalists, who number but a thousand or two men-at-arms, most of them not Iraqi. Like other Wahhabi attacks on Iraq in 1805 and 1925, the current one will end soon enough. As the maturing Iraqi state gets control of its borders, and as Iraq's Sunni neighbours recognise that a Shia Iraq must be dealt with, the flow of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into Iraq from Syria will start to dry up. Even today, for all the bloodshed it causes, the violence hardly affects the bigger picture: suicide bombs go off, dozens of innocents die, the Shias mostly hold back and Iraq's tough life goes on.

In early September, Nouri al-Maliki said, "We may differ with our American friends about tactics… But my message to them is one of appreciation and gratitude. To them I say, you have liberated a people, brought them into the modern world… We used to be decimated and killed like locusts in Saddam's endless wars, and we have now come into the light." Here is an eloquent answer to the question of when American troops will leave Iraq. They will leave Iraq when the Iraqis, through their elected leadership, tell them to. According to a September poll, 47 per cent of Iraqis would prefer the Americans to leave. The surprise is that it's not 100 per cent. Who, after all, would not want his country rid of foreign troops? But if Iraqis had wanted government by opinion poll, they would have written their constitution that way. Instead, they chose, as do most people when given the choice, representative government....

There's a lot in the piece to think about. One thing that should have been clear all along if people would bother to think, is that an insurrection that consists of bombings and small scale violence can only win if the other side is unwilling to accept the pain and keep fighting. In addition, in Iraq, once the Shia had control of the government they could at any time "win" by escalating the violence. As soon as they had tanks and artillery they could simply obliterate any Fallujas or Ramadis if necessary. That's not what anyone wanted, but it was always a possibility.

The insurgency was testing both the Iraqi government and the American government. Neither has flinched, and so the game is basically over. The weakest point was never the Iraqis, because they have not yet been corrupted by prosperity, and still think it normal to fight for what they believe is right.

The weak point has always been the US, and especially the truly insane level of childishness and nihilism that is today's Democrat Party.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:10 AM

October 2, 2007

More of "No news is good news"

This from Investor's Business Daily:

That the media are no longer much interested in Iraq is a sure sign things are going well there. Instead, they're talking about the presidential campaign, or Burma, or global warming, or . . . whatever.

Why? Simply put, the news from Iraq has been quite positive, as Petraeus related in his report to Congress. Consider:

• On Monday came news that U.S. military deaths in Iraq fell to 64 in September, the fourth straight drop since peaking at 121 in May and driving the toll to a 14-month low.
• Civilian deaths also have plunged, dropping by more than half from August to 884. Remember just six months ago all the talk of an Iraqi "civil war"? That seems to be fading.
• The just-ended holy month of Ramadan in Iraq was accompanied by a 40% drop in violence, even though al-Qaida had vowed to step up attacks.
• Speaking of al-Qaida, the terrorist group appears to be on the run, and possibly on the verge of collapse — despite making Iraq the center of its war for global hegemony and a new world order based on precepts of fundamentalist Islam.....

They are Traitors. They are on the other side. The news media that is. Well, one of the pleasures of our time is enjoying the decline of the "press." Every month brings stories of falling circulation and declining revenues. Well deserved.

It is especially pleasant when I think of the frauds who weren't content to just be "reporters." Oh no, We are a "profession," not a trade. We are....Journalists! We go to a University to get an advanced degree in journalism, and thereby obtain mastery of a science that ordinary people can hardly understand, and should not be allowed to practice!

And we have, as befits a professsssionnn, ethics classes and "ethicists." Who occasionally tiptoe around the fact that journalism is about 95% liberal Democrat (and 90% trendy urbanite) and who could not report the news even-handedly if they tried, because they are not even interested in most of what makes up America. But the ethicists and "ombudsmen" never, to my knowledge, touch on the question of the duty an employee owes to his employer.

If I work for a company, I have a duty to the stockholders or owners to try to make that company profitable. If I worked for your company and I drove away your customers because they were not Republicans and I personally did not care for them, I would be stealing from you! I would be indulging a personal pleasure at your expense, just as much as if I took money from the till to buy ice cream. That's exactly what most "journalists" do.

Here's a good piece on the decline of, as Rand Simberg likes to put it, the Paper Formerly Know As The Paper Of Record,: Black and White and in the Red All Over...

....So, if the problem isn’t the global environment, the local environment, the labor environment, technology, the subscription model or regional conditions, perhaps it’s the newspaper. Could the problem be that the New York Times has a liberal bias? Perhaps. Circulation declines tend to support that idea. If I were an investor, I’d wonder whether general readers are nearly as interested in endless hyper-detailed reporting about Abu Grahib or the alleged Valerie Plame ‘outing’ as the editors seem to be. One wonders whether obsessing over such stories is the best way to separate Mr. and Mrs. America from their dollar and 25 cents Monday through Friday. Or a gusher of gushing praise over "Brokeback Mountain" the way to get four dollars from them every Sunday...

...The New York Times built its reputation by being America’s newspaper of record. If something big happened, it was in the Times. But that’s the Old New York Times. The new New York Times routinely ignores UN corruption stories and Democratic scandals far longer than other publications...

I feel an extra amount of venom for the NYT, because I grew up with the idea that they were the very acme and pinnacle of whatever it was that they were the acme and pinnacle of. It was all kind of vague, but the NYT was definitely tops, and was supposed to be looked upon with a special sort of reverence. In jr high and high school there were a couple of teachers I liked because they were bookish and intellectual (what a concept, an intellectual teacher!) and they always spoke highly of the Times.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:59 AM

October 1, 2007

Just some dry statistics....

Rich Lowry writes on how a strong global economy means there are a shrinking number of poor people in the world. Yes, yes, I know there are still a lot of them, and their plight can be be dire. But it isn't aid programs that are going to help them. Capitalism is the only answer. (Capitalism is not without a drawback or two, but it sure beats starvation!)

GLOBAL capitalism has long lacked for a ringing slogan like "workers of the world unite." It's never too late to find one, and a good candidate - with apologies to the international charity of the same name - might be "save the children."

The United Nations Children's Fund just announced that deaths of young children worldwide hit an all-time low, falling beneath 10 million annually. Better practices to protect against disease and to enhance nutrition - more vaccinations and mosquito nets, more breast-feeding and vitamin A drops - played a role, but the most important factor in this global good-news story is economic growth.

Tt is no coincidence that as UNICEF was reporting the drop in child mortality, the World Bank was reporting global poverty rates had fallen as part of an extraordinary worldwide economic boom. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson calls it "far and away the strongest global economy I've seen in my business lifetime."

The global economy is growing at a 5 percent clip, higher than the 3 percent of the period from 1960 to 1980 and the 4.7 percent from 1960 to 1980. As U.S. News & World Report points out, "Gross global product is three times as big as it was in 1970 so the global economy is not only growing faster, but there's more to grow.

In a worldwide instance of trickle-down economics, the growth is diminishing the ranks of the poor. According to the World Bank, developing countries have averaged 3.9 percent growth since 2000, contributing "to rapidly falling poverty rates in all developing regions over the past few years." In 1990, 1.25 billion people lived on less than $1 a day. In 2004, less than a billion did, even though world population increased 20 percent in the interim...
Posted by John Weidner at 10:52 AM