December 31, 2007

One would need a heart of stone not to jeer and mock....

This morning I posted about the extraordinary turnaround in Iraq. This afternoon I was at the library, and saw a book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End.

Ahh, life is good. Think of all those America-hating lefty poison-worms suffering because Iraqis are not suffering. [Obligatory boilerplate: Yes, I know, Iraq could still go off the rails again.] Think of all the fake-pacifists gritting their teeth because peace is breaking out. Think of seeing that shit-stupid book on the bargain tables for 50 cents....Ha!

Best of all, think of millions of lefties clamping-off the nerve pathways to yet another section of their brains! They won't dare to think of the implications of what has happened. Of course they will seize hungrily on everything that goes wrong in Iraq (in a place like that there will always be problems) BUT STILL, they will have to NOT THINK about the "end of Iraq" that wasn't.

They made predictions of disaster, and they don't dare to re-think! What miserable creatures they are, living in fear.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:33 PM

Fighting crabgrass

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A "surge" of overused words and phrases formed a "perfect storm" of "post-9/11" cliches in 2007, according to a U.S. university's annual list of words and phrases that deserve to be banned.

Choosing from among 2,000 submissions, the public relations department at Michigan's Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie targeted 19 affronts to the English language in its well-known jab at the worlds of media, sports, advertising and politics.
The contributors gave first prize to the phrase "a perfect storm," saying it was numbingly applied to virtually any notable coincidence.

"Webinar" made the list as a tiresome non-word combining Web and seminar that a contributor said "belongs in the same school of non-thought that brought us e-anything and i-anything."

Similarly, the list-makers complained about the absurd comparisons commonly phrased "x is the new y," as in "(age) 70 is the new 50" or "chocolate is the new sex." "Fallacy is the new truth," commented one contributor.

Some words and phrases sagged under the weight of overuse, contributors said, citing the application of "organic" to everything from computer software to dog food.

In the same vein, decorators offering to add "pop" with a touch of color need new words, the list-makers said.

Such phrases as "post 9/11" and "surge" have also outlived their usefulness, they said. Surge emerged in reference to adding U.S. troops in Iraq but has come to explain the expansion of anything.

Other contributors took umbrage at the phrase to "give back" as applied to charitable gestures, usually by celebrities.

"The notion has arisen that as one's life progresses, one accumulates a sort of deficit balance with society which must be neutralized by charitable works or financial outlays," one said....

Any other suggestions?

Posted by John Weidner at 10:25 AM

Temper tantrum...

A friend sends a link to this NYT Editorial, Looking at America...

This amounts to a fists-pounding-on-the-floor temper tantrum. My favorite theory is that Pinch found himself alone in the editorial room last night and got this thing out before “cooler” heads (Andy Rosenthal??) arrived. This could only happen on a Monday before a major Tuesday holiday. They are probably hoping no one reads it.

Lordy, what a pile of crap. I'm tempted to refute all their points with facts and logic, but it would serve no purpose—it's been done a thousand times already, by far better writers than I, without any effect on the deranged....

Posted by John Weidner at 7:59 AM

Good news to wake up to...

Lovely morning! Bad news for lots of bad people. Good news for the good guys. From Gatewaypundit:

With 24 hours remaining...
The US military is on track to see the lowest number of monthly fatalities in Iraq since the war began in March, 2003.

In February 2004 the US lost 20 soldiers in the 29 day period.This month the US has lost 21 soldiers in the 31 day period.

The Bush Surge continues to show amazing results.

This follows the news yesterday that 75% of the Al-Qaeda network has been eliminated in Iraq.

I don't think most people understand what has happened here. In war you always try to choose to fight where the situation is advantageous for you. It's very hard to do—you enemy is trying his best to make just the opposite happen.

And in fighting against a guerilla enemy it's harder yet. In fact it's common to put ones forces in a bad position just so the enemy will be tempted to come out and fight!

And we've all been learning a little bit about Pakistan lately, right? (As the old saying goes, war is God's way of teaching Americans geography.) That would be the worst place to fight al Qaeda. We may have to do just that one of these days, but if we do we will wish we were still fighting in Iraq.

President Bush chose to fight in Iraq, and forced al Queda to come and attack us there. In a country where we automatically had some natural allies—if one group is against us, their old enemies would tend to be for us. And where the population was advanced enough to be immune to most of al Qaeda's blandishments. (For instance, creating alliances by forcing local daughters into marriage with al Queda bosses did not work at all with proud Sunni tribes.) There are many other reasons why Iraq was a smart move. (Here are a few.)

Obviously the administration did not anticipate what a scrap it was getting into. Perhaps that's good; it might have been paralyzed if it had. The historical comparison I keep thinking of is the Guadalcanal Campaign in WWII.

In mid 1942 we were NOT ready to fight Japan head on. Seizing the island of Guadalcanal was very rash, and we were several times close to being defeated there. But, this situation was tactically advantageous for us because we held the airfield, while Japanese air support had to fly hundreds of miles to support their troops. They had better planes and pilots, but we usually knew they were coming, and they arrived with almost no reserves of fuel. Even a little bit of damage or bad luck would mean that the Japs lost a plane and pilot, while our guys had their planes (and wounds) patched-up time and again. The attrition of skilled Japanese pilots over six months of fighting was devastating to their long-term hopes. Everything else—thousands of soldiers killed, dozens of ships sunk—was secondary to that fact.

It was very easy at the time (or later) to perceive the fighting in the Solomon Islands as a pointless stalemate, and as military incompetence. Blood was being shed copiously, but the lines on the map did not move at all! But the real battle was almost invisible. In the Pacific War, air power trumped everything else.

I think Iraq is something similar. The arhabi have poured men and resources into Iraq, and their defeat will be a devastating blow, especially for future recruiting. Bin Laden boasted that Americans would not fight, that we would run away like we did from Somalia. (And our lefty nihilists have done their damnedest to prove him right.) That boast is not going to work any more.

It was decades of weakness and appeasement—pacifism—that caused the global war we are in. And it is only toughness and lots of bloody fighting that will end it. The real pacifists, the real Christians of our time are serving in the United States military.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:43 AM

December 30, 2007

From the Letter to the Magnesians..

~by St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Magnesians

Since I have met the persons I have just mentioned and seeing and embracing them I have seen and embraced your whole congregation, I exhort you — be zealous to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and the presbyters in the place of the Council of the Apostles, and the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ, who was from eternity with the Father and was made manifest at the end of time.

Be all in conformity with God, and respect one another, and let no man judge his neighbour according to the flesh, but in everything love one another in Jesus Christ. Let there be nothing in you which can divide you, but be united with the bishop and with those who preside over you as an example and lesson of immortality...



Ignatius was born about AD 50, and probably died in AD 107. He was sent to Rome to be killed as an example that would discourage Christians. But the result was exactly the opposite. On the way he met with many Christians, and sent out a series of letters that can still be read with profit today.

As a historical note, Antioch in Syria was then the third largest city of the Empire, and Ignatius, who was its Christian bishop for about 40 years, would have been a high-value target. High value if one assumes, like the Roman authorities, that a cult would melt away if its leaders were killed.

One should also realize that the bureaucratic efficiency with which we deal with prisoners did not exist before the Industrial Age. Prisoners in the past were almost always accessible; a small payment to the guards would get your friends in to bring you comforts and have a nice visit. It is not at all surprising that John the Baptist, while in Herod's dungeon, could send his disciples to question Jesus.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:31 AM

Now I can start my Christmas....

I've been working busily over the holiday to get this ready, and I installed it yesterday. (It's not a good picture, sorry. It is actually very difficult to photograph such a dark piece.)

I'm in the conference room of a local corporation. There are recesses in each of the end walls, and they wanted shelves to match the ones on the other end of the room. Those white rectangles are cut-outs for electrical outlets--which should be inconspicuous once the shelves are filled with "product."

There are more details below the fold, if you are interested...

Here's the plan:

Construction details. I originally planned to make the top one 12' long piece, which would have been a bit risky and tricky. Fortunately the size of the elevators precluded this, and the join in the top turned out to be quite inconspicuous.


Posted by John Weidner at 7:39 AM

Good news is bad news for certain people....

Michelle Malkin writes in NRO...

There should be no question what the top story of the year was: America’s counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq, the Democrats’ hapless efforts to sabotage it, and the Western mainstream media’s stubborn refusal to own up to military progress.

What happened in January defined the rest of the year. We rang in 2007 with vehement liberal opposition to the “surge” of 21,000 added U.S. troops and tactical changes to secure Baghdad. In the ensuing 12 months, Democrats tried and failed repeatedly to undermine this military strategy and starve the war of funding. Their poisonously partisan allies at MoveOn.org attempted to smear surge architect and patriot Gen. David Petraeus as a traitor. The New York Times and Associated Press fought tooth and nail to obscure the successes of the surge with their relentless “grim milestone” drumbeat. But by year’s end, with Shiites and Sunnis marching and praying together for peace, even anti-war Democrats and adversarial media outlets alike were forced to acknowledge that undeniable military progress and security improvements had been made....


....There’s a reason the magazine and newspaper editors are naming everything but the surge as their top story of the year. (Putin? The Virginia Tech massacre? Come on.) Good news in the war on terror is bad news for those rooting for failure. Far easier to play up casualties and sectarian strife, sensationalize accusations of atrocities, and demonize the men and women in uniform to indulge Bush Derangement Syndrome, as Washington Post staffer and NBC military analyst William Arkin did on Jan. 30 when he lambasted troops for enjoying “obscene amenities” and serving as a “mercenary” force...

Nothing shows what frauds and worms our peaceniks are, than their utter indifference to the enormous drop in casualty rates in Iraq, both military and civilian. That kind of peace they don't like one little bit. You can bet that if America had blundered somehow in Iraq, that would be the "story of the year."

An abu Ghraib gets 10,000 headlines. But the countless acts of courage and decency that are the daily routine of our forces in Iraq, and their many successes--those the poisonous reptiles of our press are not interested in. We would know almost nothing of them if it were not for the Internet.

(Thanks to Ed)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:01 AM

December 28, 2007

Good book...

Charlene and I are reading Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action, by George Weigel. We recommend it highly for its clarity, and its challenge to Americans to think more clearly about what is going on.

...as Dean Acheson said at another moment when history's tectonic plates were shifting, the task that he and Harry Truman faced "only slowly revealed itself. As it did so it began to appear as just a little bit less formidable than that described in the first chapter of Genesis. that was to create a world out of chaos." Our task today is not dissimilar. In carrying it out we would do well to remember the counsel of the late public philosopher Charles Frankel: "The heart of the policy-making process...is not the finding of a national interest already perfectly known and understood. It is the determining of that interest: the reassessment of the nation's resources, needs, commitments, traditions, and political and cultural horizons—in short, its calendar of values.

Efforts to accelerate change in the Arab Islamic world by the administration of George W. Bush were shaped by a realistic assesment of the situation after 9/11. As Fouad Ajami notes, the "custodians of American power were under great pressure to force history's pace." To attempt to accelerate the transition to responsible and responsive government in the Middle East was neither an exercise in cowboy apocalypticism nor in Wilsonian romanticism. It was a realistic objective, given an unacceptable status quo that was inherently unstable; that was unstable because it was corrupt; and that was producing terrorists and jihadists determined to challenge those corruptions...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:59 PM

December 27, 2007

Trends...

Michael Yon has posted another part of his Ghosts of Anbar series: Part III of IV, A Model for Success...As always, he is worth reading (and supporting, if you happen to have any extra shekels)...

...Now I started to understand why the Army officers had been telling me the Marines are more advanced in counterinsurgency. Normal Marines have morphed into doing vintage Special Forces work. Many of our Army units are excellent at this work, but the Marines, at least these particular Marines, did seem to have an edge for it.They were even studying Arabic in their filthy little compound. Lightweight study, but they were showing the Iraqis they were making the effort. The Iraqis appreciated it. I have yet to see an Army unit undertake such a clear effort to learn Arabic...

...Iraqis in every province I have traveled all respond to strong leadership. It’s a cultural touchstone. A man like SSG Rakene Lee is not someone they would overlook. Physically, the man is amazingly strong. But what is most amazing is the strength of his moral fiber. Whatever the man talked, he walked. After all of al Qaeda’s false promises, the people here have learned a hard lesson about the true value of character...

...Over the next several days, I saw how much the Iraqis respected Rakene Lee and the other Marines who were all courageous, tactically competent, measured, and collectively and constantly telling even the Iraqis to go easy on the Iraqis. It’s people like Rakene Lee who are winning the moral high ground in Iraq. It is people like this who are devastating al Qaeda just by being themselves. Over those same several days, I would also see the Iraqi Lieutenant Hamid treat prisoners with respect and going out of his way to treat other Iraqis the way he saw Americans treating them. Lieutenant Hamid, in his young twenties, seemed to watch every move of the Marines and try to emulate them...

Naturally I'm thinking today about Pakistan, a nation of 160 million people, + nukes, that just may be sliding into Islamist madness. How little there is we can do, directly, to influence Pakistan. How clumsy our tools are.

It makes me think once again that the invasion of Iraq was the best move we have made in the War on Terror. Why? Because we are sowing the seeds of change in the very heart of the Muslim world. Change in the direction of freedom, democracy and economic growth. Of course it is a risky and difficult operation. Big ambitious moves always are. But with a bit of luck we are starting another trend in the Middle East, one that will compete with the trend towards jihadism.

All the world's nihilists and America-haters leapt at the chance to declare Iraq an failure and a catastrophe. But that was always a pretty stupid idea. The "insurgency" could probably have been stopped at any time if the Iraqi government decided to go in for some serious slaughter. In fact that is sort of what happened, since the brutality of the Shia militias probably had a lot to do with the Sunni getting realistic about their chances of success as rebels. And it was pretty clear early on that the mass of ordinary Iraqis were not keen on al Qaeda's terrorism, and were going to be even less keen after a couple of years of murder.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:52 PM

"Emotional and social vapor"

John Podhoretz: The End of the Primary’s Holiday From History

The past three months have seen an odd turn in the presidential primary process in both parties — a turn away from the key issues confronting the United States and toward emotional and social vapor. The success of the surge in Iraq, coupled with the bizarre “we’re safe” reading of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, drained some of the passion from the anti-war fervor in the Democratic primary electorate and from the hawkish fervor of the Republican primary electorate. In their place came the Christian identity-politics rise of Mike Huckabee on the Republican side and the “we need a nice new politics” rise of Barack Obama on the Democratic side. Republicans squabbled about sanctuary cities and sanctuary mansions. Democrats squabbled about how many uninsured there would be left if their various health-care plans were imposed on the country.

The horrifying assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan this morning comes only one week before the Iowa caucuses and 12 days before New Hampshire. It is a sobering and frightening reminder of the challenges and threats and dangers posed to the United States by radical Islam, the nature of the struggle being waged against the effort to extend democratic freedoms in the Muslim world, and the awful possibility of a nuclear Pakistan overrun by Islamofascists. This is what the next president will be compelled by circumstance to spend a plurality of his or her time on. This is what really matters, not the cross Mike Huckabee lit up behind his head in his Christmas ad.

American politics would dearly love to take a holiday from history, just as it did in the 1990s. But our enemies are not going to allow us to do so. The murder of Bhutto moves foreign policy, the war on terror, and the threat of Islamofascism back into the center of the 2008 campaign. How candidates respond to it, and issues like it that will come up in the next 10 months, will determine whether they are fit for the presidency.
Posted by John Weidner at 9:25 AM

December 26, 2007

Ha ha, ha, and ha...

I thought this was just too perfect.

WASHINGTON (CNN) Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Friday rejected lawmakers' demands for information as the Justice Department investigates the destruction of tapes showing CIA interrogations of two al Qaeda suspects.

In letters to the House and Senate Judiciary committees, Mukasey also said he would not appoint a special prosecutor to conduct the investigation, as some lawmakers had requested.

Mukasey said he would not turn over the material key congressional leaders are seeking because doing so might be seen as bowing to "political influence."

"At my confirmation hearing, I testified that I would act independently, resist political pressure and ensure that politics plays no role in cases brought by the Department of Justice," Mukasey said.

"Consistent with that testimony, the facts will be followed wherever they lead in this inquiry and the relevant law applied." (My emphasis. Thanks to Hoystory)

"How dare he call us political! We're Democrats!"

Posted by John Weidner at 7:35 AM

December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to you all, from the Weidners...

From last year's Christmas homily, by Benedict XVI ...

....God's sign is simplicity. God's sign is the baby. God's sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby � defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will � we learn to live with him and to practise with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him.

The Fathers of the Church, in their Greek translation of the Old Testament, found a passage from the prophet Isaiah that Paul also quotes in order to show how God's new ways had already been foretold in the Old Testament. There we read: "God made his Word short, he abbreviated it" (Is 10:23; Rom 9:28). The Fathers interpreted this in two ways. The Son himself is the Word, the Logos; the eternal Word became small � small enough to fit into a manger. He became a child, so that the Word could be grasped by us...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:39 PM

Curious facts. How odd we haven't heard more about this...


David Whitehouse, in the New Statesman, Has Global Warming Stopped?

Global warming Stopped? Surely not. What heresy is this? Haven't we been told that the science of global warming is settled beyond doubt and that all that's left to the so-called sceptics is the odd errant glacier that refuses to melt?

Aren't we told that if we don't act now rising temperatures will render most of the surface of the Earth uninhabitable within our lifetimes? But as we digest these apocalyptic comments, read the recent IPCC's Synthesis report that says climate change could become irreversible. Witness the drama at Bali as news emerges that something is not quite right in the global warming camp.

With only few days remaining in 2007, the indications are the global temperature for this year is the same as that for 2006 � there has been no warming over the 12 months.

But is this just a blip in the ever upward trend you may ask?

No.The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming � the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly..
Posted by John Weidner at 7:38 AM

December 23, 2007

"And never before or again"

    A CHILD OF THE SNOWS

There is heard a hymn when the panes are dim,
And never before or again,
When the nights are strong with a darkness long,
And the dark is alive with rain.

Never we know but in sleet and in snow,
The place where the great fires are,
That the midst of the earth is a raging mirth
And the heart of the earth a star.

And at night we win to the ancient inn
Where the child in the frost is furled,
We follow the feet where all souls meet
At the inn at the end of the world.

The gods lie dead where the leaves lie red,
For the flame of the sun is flown,
The gods lie cold where the leaves lie gold,
And a Child comes forth alone.

      -- Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Posted by John Weidner at 7:25 AM

December 22, 2007

Seasonal tip...

These things can be delivered by e-mail I think, so you can do your last-minute shopping as late as Christmas morning! And if you click on the link and buy one... or something....or anything from amazon.com, Random Jottings gets a little pourboire. So, be generous.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:42 PM

"I am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this"

Charlene saw this YouTube clip, posted by Dean Barnett at the Weekly Standard's blog. It's an excerpt from Ronald Reagan's famous speech, A Time for Choosing.

Dean writes:

.. What I find most remarkable about the speech beyond its extraordinary content is the simple, straight forward language and the appropriately spare delivery. There were no clumsy applause lines, no laundry lists of silly promises meant to purchase the votes of certain citizens. Instead, it was just one man talking sense, honestly and from the heart, clearly without the guidance of either pollsters or focus groups.

Current candidates, please take note - the audience loved it. And 43 years later, it's part of history. Even the most moving paen to ethanol won't be so recognized.

To me what is especially noteworthy is how similar the fake-pacifism Reagan was fighting against is to what we deal with now, or what Winston Churchill battled against in the 1930's. The same speeches could be given any time over almost a century.

The same stupid idea, that by being "pacifistic," by not resisting the thugs and tyrants of the world, we will obtain peace, is as alive now as it was in 1938. Pacifism kills.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:31 AM

December 21, 2007

We "considered ourselves a vanquished people"

From A Revolutionary Christmas Story, By Lynne Cheney, NYT, December 21, 2004

AS 1776 was drawing to a close, Elkanah Watson, a young man in Massachusetts, expressed what many Americans feared about their war for independence. "We looked upon the contest as near its close," he wrote, "and considered ourselves a vanquished people."

There was good reason for pessimism. The British had driven Gen. George Washington and his men out of New York and across New Jersey. In early December, with the British on their heels, the Americans had commandeered every boat they could find to escape across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. They were starving, sick and cold. The artist Charles Willson Peale, watching the landing from the Pennsylvania shore, described a soldier dressed "in an old dirty blanket jacket, his beard long and his face so full of sores that he could not clean it." So disfigured was the man, Peale wrote, that at first he did not recognize him as his brother James.

In these desperate circumstances, George Washington made a stunning decision: to go back across the Delaware and launch a surprise attack on the Hessian mercenaries occupying Trenton. On Christmas night, he led 2,400 men, many of them with their feet wrapped in rags because they had no shoes, to a crossing point nine miles upstream from Trenton. As freezing temperatures turned rain to sleet and snow, they began to cross the river.

The task was harder than any of them had imagined. Men had to break through ice to get into the boats and then fend off chunks of floating ice once they were in the river. Getting cannons across - each weighed nearly a ton - was especially difficult. Downstream, two other groups that Washington had ordered to cross the Delaware failed in their mission. But Washington and his men persevered, until finally, at 4 o'clock in the morning, they were across and ready to march to Trenton.

They had planned to approach Trenton before dawn, but the difficulty of the crossing had delayed them, and it was daylight when they encountered the first Hessians. Still, the surprise worked, and in two hours, with few losses of their own, they captured nearly 900 of the enemy. "This is a glorious day for our country," Washington declared... [There's more.]
Can one possibly imagine the elation that must have been felt by Elkanah Watson, when the news of the victory at Trenton arrived? The deep satisfaction we feel right now at the splendid turnaround in Iraq is nothing compared with how Americans must have felt then.

Thank you Lynne Cheney for this one! And we should be very grateful that, even in these last decadent days of America, we have public servants like the Cheney family...

Vice president Cheney and his wife and daughters     

Posted by John Weidner at 4:23 PM

December 20, 2007

You'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh...

Quote, from Media Research Center's The Best Notable Quotables of 2007...

“You know, I wanted to sit on a jury once and I was taken off the jury. And the judge said to me, ‘Can, you know, can you tell the truth and be fair?’ And I said, ‘That’s what journalists do.’ And everybody in the courtroom laughed. It was the most hurtful moment I think I’ve ever had.”
      — Co-host Diane Sawyer joking on ABC’s Good Morning America July 12, following a report on how some people try to avoid serving on a jury.

If only they'd had some rotten fruit to pelt her with....

Posted by John Weidner at 4:41 PM

A quote for today...

Would it kill... Time or Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or any on the left to say: "Well done, American soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine?" -- Hugh Hewitt

Ha ha, what a kidder that Hewitt guy is. Of course, actually, it would kill them. Politically at least. And probably psychologically as well. They are on the other side. They are, to put it simply and bluntly, anti-American.

For instance, the obvious person to be Time's "Man of the Year" was General David Petraeus. But who did Time pick? Vladimir Putin!!! Is that sick, or what?

Posted by John Weidner at 10:36 AM

Media start asking why?...No time soon

From Vin Suprynowic, How many more will die in 'gun-free' zones before the media start asking why? (Thanks to InstaPundit)

...The second question? Mr. Lott, author of "Freedomnomics" and a senior research scholar at the University of Maryland, put it very well in the Fox News column in question:

"A Google news search using the phrase 'Omaha Mall Shooting' finds an incredible 2,794 news stories worldwide" in the first 24 hours alone, Mr. Lott notes. "But ... none of the media coverage, at least by 10 a.m. (Dec. 6), mentioned this central fact: Yet another attack occurred in a gun-free zone.

"Surely, with all the reporters who appear at these crime scenes and seemingly interview virtually everyone there, why didn't one simply mention the signs that ban guns from the premises?" asks Mr. Lott, who posts the "No weapons allowed" sign from Salt Lake City's Trolley Square Mall (it's rule 10 at http://johnrlott.tripod.com/2007/02/proof-that-trolley-square-mall-in-utah.html )

"Oh come on, Vin," someone will protest at this point. "It wouldn't matter even if these places did allow people to carry guns. Hardly anyone goes armed, so how often would a plain old non-policeman with a gun really save lives?"

Pretty often, it turns out....

I bet that if your could examine the thought processes of the "journalists" who produced the 2,794 stories, not one of them would have consciously hidden an important fact. Rather, they have a certain mental picture of how the world works, and even if you had tapped them on the shoulder whilst they were writing the stories, and told them this important fact, they would not hear you. (Sort of like that Far Side cartoon, "What you say." "What your dog hears.")

And I would wager that not one of them could or would debate the issue. Even if you tied them to a chair and put a gun to their heads and said: "You've slanted a news story to fit your agenda. The penalty is death....unless you can support your position in debate using logic and facts." They couldn't do it to save their lives.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:13 AM

December 19, 2007

Will anyone say, "Thank you?"

AP: President Bush has approved "a significant reduction" in the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, cutting it to less than one-quarter its size at the end of the Cold War, the White House said Tuesday.

At the same time, the Energy Department announced plans to consolidate the nuclear weapons complex that maintains warheads and dismantle those no longer needed, saying the current facilities need to be made more efficient and more easily secured and that the larger complex is no longer needed.

"We are reducing our nuclear weapons stockpile to the lowest level consistent with America's national security and our commitments to friends and allies," White House press secretary Dana Perino said...(Thanks to Orrin)

ZO, my question is, will any of those people who think America's development and one-time use of nuclear weapons was a bad thing now express gratitude for this reduction in our stockpiles? Hmmm?

I myself would say that it was one of the best things that ever happened. It immediately put an end to world wars, regional wars, and wars between developed nations. And also to some rather less-developed ones, such as India and Pakistan. They used to fight wars with each other, remember? And Israel no longer fights with Egypt or Syria, either. Remember those wars? They stopped once Israel had the Bomb. (Of course the Arab animals started proxy wars using terrorist scum to blow up pizza parlors full of women and children....but the total bloodshed was still far less than would have happened in wars.)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:25 AM

December 18, 2007

Substitute targets

Eric at Classical Values...

...What intrigues me is why so many of those who are afraid to criticize Islam are nonetheless quite fearless when it comes to other religions.

It's easy to dismiss this as cowardly hypocrisy, as selective religious bigotry, or as anti-Western bias, which of course a lot of it is.

But I think another dimension is post-9/11 denial. This is not ordinary denial, as it's closely related to the fiercely anti-war people whose hatred toward Bush is often characterized as "Bush Derangement Syndrome." Before 9/11, there was plenty of hypocrisy, and religious bigotry, plenty of anti-Western bias, and plenty of cowards, but they generally did not hesitate to criticize Islam. Feminists in Berkeley used to demonstrate against the veil.

Yet the fact, is, this "fear" of criticizing Islam is comparatively recent, and closely related to 9/11. The tenets of Christianity -- even over-the-top fundamentalist zealotry -- has not changed since 9/11, nor has Mormonism. But Western religions are attacked as never before. I think they're substitute targets....

"Feminists in Berkeley used to demonstrate against the veil." Yes, and I remember when the Taliban were the number one bogeyman for leftists... Before 9/11. "Post-9/11 denial" is a good term. But why?

As I've written before, I don't think that the actions of liberals "make sense" in any obvious way unless you understand that they are not "liberals" anymore. (Most of them, not all.) Their liberal "faith" has seeped away, leaving nothing behind. And their deepest motivation is to hide this fact, especially from themselves.

I think fear of Islam is not the main reason for the change; they talk the same in small private gatherings where there is no possible danger. Rather, I imagine, before 9/11 they could denounce Burkas, or oppression of gays in Islam, because the target was so distant. There was no chance of being called on to actually DO something, or risk anything. And so they could pretend to be liberal.

I wish I could peer into the minds of some of those Lefties who used to bravely denounce things like the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas and see the post 9/11 moment when they realized they were going to be called on all their bombast, and on their "speaking truth to (safely distant) power." What did they think? What was the thought process that led to the almost-universal flip-over to denouncing Christians?

I'm pretty sure that they did not think at all. Someone came up with the new Party Line, and they all changed direction like a school of guppies...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:14 AM

December 17, 2007

Pacifism kills, #389

Oliver North, writing in Human Events...

....The Iraqi military and police that we have seen on this, our 9th trip to Iraq since 2003, are now remarkably well trained and equipped. Though many of the personnel in these units have been on “active duty” for less than a year, they are, according to what we have seen and documented, ready, willing and able to fight for their country. Their motives for “signing on” are also important. In the town of Maderiya, east of Bagdad toward the Iranian border, I asked Captain Fawaz Nazzir, why he joined the new Iraqi Army eleven months ago. His reply was a testament to American resolve in prosecuting this campaign: “I waited,” replied Captain Nazzir, “to see which side was going to win.”

To some Americans that may sound like a cynical response -- but not to those who have spent years campaigning in Mesopotamia. “What would you expect given how uncertain our commitment was at home?” commented one U.S. officer on his third tour of duty here. He continued: “Until ‘the surge’ nobody in Iraq knew whether we were going to finish this fight. AQI (Al Qaeda in Iraq) and the Shiite militias were all telling their followers that we were going to cut and run. ‘The surge’ proved that we weren't going to abandon them.”

Not only did we not abandon them -- we upped the ante...

We spent many decades TEACHING the world that terrorism works. We TAUGHT Osama bin Laden that we would retreat from the possibility of military casualties. He openly boasted that our pulling out of Somalia after 18 deaths proved that he could win. and the cost to us is now in the thousands (and of course tens-of-thousands of poor Iraqis, who none of our fake pacifists care about in the slightest.)

(And what is etra maddening and stupid about our unwillingness to incur casualties is that our military suffers about 800 deaths a year from non-combat causes. That's the price of having a military doing nothing.)

Terrorism violates all the rules of our civilization. If we had enforced those rules 4 or 5 or 6 decades ago, we could have nipped radical islamic terrorism in the bud. But Noooo, we were too "peaceful" and "civilized" to take violent action. And the result is the necessity for a hundred times as much violence. Appeasement kills. Pacifism kills. Quakerism is murder.

(And if any pacifists or "anti-war" activists or "Democrats" happen to be reading this, and you don't like what I say, don't sneer or whine. Refute my arguments, you gutless nihilists.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:58 AM

shibbuwichee...

Penraker:

.....Today's latest garbage seminar is being held in Indonesia, where the world's great reformers are gathering:

"If you cannot lead, leave it to the rest of us. Get out of the way," said Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea's ambassador for climate change.

Oh my. Papua New Guinea's "Ambassador" for climate change is dressing us down. My knees are going wobbly. It's not even the president or premier of Papua New Guinea. It's not even a minister in the government. It is some flake that they gave the honorific of "ambassador". No doubt, he is yet another climate change freak dressed out in UN garb to pose as someone of substance.

Bush is giving in to the hysteria, it seems. But he has played this whole faux-crisis brilliantly. Let us enter into a renegotiation of Kyoto. That ought to take about 4 or 5 years, during which he ( or his successor) can use the hysteria to get us into nuclear power in a big way. Oops! That's not what Gore and his buddies wanted! A delicious bit of ju-jitsu by Bush.
And the REAL research will come streaming in, telling us that hey, we are not having as big an effect on the climate as we thought. New data will show that the sun has been fluctuating, and that more warmth is actually good for us. More crops can be grown, less heating oil is used, etc, etc.

That two-foot sea level rise will shrink yet again, to a bare nickel's width per year - the same as has been going on for the last 10,000 years.....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:48 AM

December 16, 2007

"Why then was the inn crowded?"

By Thomas Merton...

...Why then was the inn crowded? Because of the census, the eschatological massing of the "whole world" in centers of registration, to be numbered, to be identified with the structure of imperial power. The purpose of the census: to discover those who were to be taxed. To find out those who were eligible for service in the armies of the empire.

The Bible had not been friendly to a census in the days when God was ruler of Israel (2 Samuel 24). The numbering of the people of God by an alien emperor and their full consent to it was itself an eschatological sign, preparing those who could understand it to meet judgment with repentance. After all, in the Apocalyptic literature of the Bible, this "summoning together" or convocation of the powers of the earth to do battle is the great sign of "the end."

It was therefore impossible that the Word should lose himself by being born into shapeless and passive mass. He had indeed emptied himself, taken the form of God's servant, man. But he did not empty himself to the point of becoming mass man, faceless man. It was therefore right that there should be no room for him in a crowd that had been called together as an eschatological sign. His being born outside that crowd is even more of a sign. That there is no room for him is a sign of the end.

Nor are the tidings of great joy announced in the crowded inn. In the massed crowd there are always new tidings of joy and disaster. Where each new announcement is the greatest of announcements, where every day's disaster is beyond compare, every day's danger demands the ultimate sacrifice, all news and all judgment is reduced to zero. News becomes merely a new noise in the mind, briefly replacing the noise that went before it and yielding to the noise that comes after it, so that eventually everything blends into the same monotonous and meaningless rumor. News? There is so much news that there is no room left for the true tidings, the "Good News," the Great Joy.

Hence the Great Joy is announced, after all, in silence, loneliness and darkness, to shepherds "living in the fields" or "living in the countryside" and apparently unmoved by the rumors or massed crowds. These are the remnant of the desert-dwellers, the nomads, the true Israel.

Even though "the whole world" is ordered to be inscribed, they do not seem to be affected. Doubtless they have registered, as Joseph and Mary will register, but they remain outside the agitation, and untouched by the vast movement, the massing of hundreds and thousands of people everywhere in the towns and cities.

They are therefore quite otherwise signed. They are designated, surrounded by a great light, they receive the message of the Great Joy, and they believe it with joy. They see the Shekinah over them, recognize themselves for what they are. They are the remnant, the people of no account, who are therefore chosen - the anawim. And they obey the light. Nor was anything else asked of them. (Thanks to Orrin)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:30 AM

December 15, 2007

A pleasing local kerfluffle...

Last week my younger son, who is a student at SF State, was annoyed because a performance he wanted to see was abruptly cancelled in favor of a Sean Penn political event supporting Dennis Kucinch. My son, a member of the college Republicans, told me the College Democrats were outraged that their name was put on the flyers for the event. I didn't understand what the fuss was about, until he forwarded to me a "GatorGOP" e-mail. Here are some excerpts...

...Why did the school need the dems to sponsor this event? Why weren't the Dems given more notice? And why did the school essentially force them to sponsor the speaking engagement?...

...According to the Creative Arts department, no one other than Director Mary Ford had any knowledge of this event prior to 11am on Friday morning, just two hours before the event. Typical events held in Knuth hall are on a calendar for all to see and planned months in advance. The audio techs that ran the sound were informed they would be needed for the event the day of the event. Knuth Hall is the second most difficult room to schedule for events, second only to the very large McKenna hall which is right next to Knuth Hall. It takes student groups MONTHS of advance planning to use the room. The only explanation for an event of this magnitude becoming feasible to accomplish on such short notice is to circumvent normal channels of preparation. The only way to do that is to be, or know someone, very high ranking in the campus administration that can schedule a room with no notice and schedule staff to work the event on such short notice. Conversations between Campus PD and Vice President of Student Affairs Penny Saffold at the event revealed that even Saffold was unaware of the event until the morning of.

The most startling revelation comes from the Campus Police department who asserted that they had no knowledge of the event until 11am on Friday. Having only hours to prepare for security at an event featuring a wildly popular celebrity....

...The "SO WHAT" of it all: Under Federal Election Commission laws, the school is barred from endorsing or sponsoring any candidate for Federal office UNLESS they make an equal offer to every candidate for that office. Meaning that if the school sponsored a Kucinich endorsement event at SFSU, they would have to allow every candidate, Republican, Democrat or otherwise to use the same room for the same amount of time during the election cycle. The only other way it would be legal for only Kucinich to use the room would be if the Kucinich campaign paid FULL PRICE to rent the room and for security which would undoubtedly total in the thousands of dollars. Enter the College Democrats. As a student group, they pay a significantly reduced room renal fee and are not charge for security for events they sponsor. They also are not regulated by the FEC so they can bring just Kucinich if they want to without being forced to make an offer to other candidates.

The school told the Dems to sponsor the event or else, because the knew they'd be in violation of the law if they didn't charge Kucinich full price for room rental and security at event not sponsored by a student group. SFSU would essentially be making a MASSIVE in-kind contribution to a Presidential campaign. And of course with the academic year being over in two weeks (meaning no students will be on campus to come to other events) and the first presidential primary just 3-4 weeks away, it would be impossible to make an equal offer to every candidate for president.

It is very likely that if the College Democrats argue that they were forced to sign paperwork under duresss, the school will face legal proceedings for making a rather sizeable in-kind donation to the Dennis Kucinich campaign. And since the donation was made from a public school funded by tax-payer dollars....ANY tax-payer would be able to file suit against San Francisco State University....

I hope we learn more about this in the future. Preferably in the context of the leftist university administration getting into hot water...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:08 AM

December 12, 2007

People are still buying homes

Mike Plaiss e-mails...

John,

Thought you may enjoy these two graphs relating to the second of the �two good stories� you posted.

The first shows the Mortgage Bankers Association "Purchase Index" for the past 18 months. (MBA is the same group referenced in the article.) The second shows the same association's "Refinance Index". The source for all of the data is Bloomberg.

As you can see, people are still buying homes, and at a pace indistinguishable from the recent, pre-mortgage-crisis, past. In my mind the Refi index is just as interesting. The first thing one needs to get a refi done is a bank willing to do the refi. In other words, the bank is getting a second look at the collateral, and the creditworthiness of the borrower. If one is worried about the consumer, then the surge in refi activity is very good news. People pretty much refi for one reason only � to lower their monthly mortgage payment. A successful refinancing truly increases their wealth and helps maintain their buying power.

It should be noted that the index shows applications for a refi, not closed deals. But consumers are not stupid, and would likely not go through the trouble of completing an application unless they had good reason to think they would be successful.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:13 PM

New bug. Be aware

Virus Starts Like a Cold But Can Turn Into a Killer - washingtonpost.com:

....Gilbert alerted state health officials, a decision that led investigators to realize that a new, apparently more virulent form of a virus that usually causes nothing worse than a nasty cold was circulating around the United States. At least 1,035 Americans in four states have been infected so far this year by the virus, known as an adenovirus. Dozens have been hospitalized, many requiring intensive care, and at least 10 have died.

Health officials say the virus does not seem to be causing life-threatening illness on a wide scale, and most people who develop colds or flulike symptoms are at little or no risk. Likewise, most people infected by the suspect adenovirus do not appear to become seriously ill. But the germ appears to be spreading, and investigators are unsure how much of a threat it poses.....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:57 AM

December 11, 2007

Two positive stories...

(Thanks to Orrin)

Triumphs for Democracy, By MICHAEL BARONE

The world looks safer, friendlier, more hopeful than it did as we approached Christmastime last year.

Then, we were on the defensive, perhaps on the verge of defeat, in Iraq. The Europeans' attempts to persuade Iran to renounce nuclear weapons seemed to have failed. Hugo Chavez was using his near-dictatorial powers and the oil wealth of Venezuela to secure the election of opponents of the American "empire" in Latin America.

Today, things look different. And they suggest, to me at least, that the policies of the Bush administration, pilloried as bankrupt by the Democrats after their victory in congressional elections in November, have served American interests better than most Americans then thought....
and from Donald Lambro, in the Washington Times...
It will probably come as a shock to most people, even to those who follow the economy, that mortgage applications rose last month as a result of declining interest rates.

In the midst of the hysterical media-fed notion that a tidal wave of subprime-loan foreclosures was going to plunge the country into a recession, the fact is that the economy is still growing and Americans are still buying homes.

The torrid pace of recent years has slackened, but homes are being sold, banks are lending money and most Americans — even those saddled with subprime mortgages — are paying their mortgages on time.

Not everybody realizes this, however. The Washington Post, in a story about the administration's mortgage-relief plan, reported last week that, "Lending, which had boomed for years, ground to a halt." That has been the myth reported ad nauseam on the nightly network news shows, and apparently it has been accepted as a God-given fact....

I kind of imagine the people at the Washington Times just relishing any chance to poke a pin in the fraudulent pomposity of the Washington Post. Thank you!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:30 AM

December 10, 2007

Guided by the Spirit...

These mass shootings are a recurrent bitter frustration to me, because I know (I'm not the only one of course) what to do. I know how people should respond, to save lives. If everyone at that church had instantly started throwing things--chairs, shoes, keys, potted plants, books, pictures off the wall--the gunman would almost certainly have been quickly overwhelmed.

And I post this idea every time, confident that no one will take notice. Just call me Cassandra.

Here's a fascinating story about the security guard who brought down the killer...

...At about that moment, [Jeanne] Assam, 42, turned a corner with a drawn handgun, walked toward the gunman and yelled "Surrender!"

Bourbonnais said.The gunman pointed a handgun at Assam and fired three shots, Bourbonnais said. She returned fire and just kept walking toward the gunman pressing off round after round.

After the gunman went down, Bourbonnais asked the Assam, a volunteer security guard with the church, how she remained so calm and focused.

Bourbonnais said she replied:

"I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide me the entire time."

* Update: There's more on Jeanne Assam here. she's not a hired security guard, but a member of the church and former police officer volunteering to provide security.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:43 PM

Insouciance...

RONALD BAILEY has an essay, Do We Need Death?, [Thanks to Glenn], that refutes various arguments against anti-aging research and the possibility of much longer lifespans. I haven't time to read the actual arguments con, so I'll just assume he's playing fair. His piece is worth reading and makes sense...

...Schaub isn’t “willing to say that agelessness is undesirable,” but she simultaneously “can’t shake the conviction that the achievement of a 1,000-year lifespan would produce a dystopia.” She then simply recapitulates the standard issue pro-mortalist rhetorical technique of asking allegedly “unnerving questions” and then allowing them to “fester in the mind.” Sadly, all too many bioethicists think they’ve done real philosophic work by posing “hard” questions, then sitting back with steepled hands and a grave look on their countenances.

So instead of just letting questions “fester,” let’s actually make a stab at preliminary responses to some of the questions posed by Schaub and other pro-mortalists.....

However, the arguments "against" are not the arguments that I would make. I think the big danger in this issue is spiritual. STOP! STOP! Before your eyes glaze over and you dismiss this as fuzzy moonshine, let me assure you that I am thinking about something that has practical real-world life-and-death implications. And I'm not just posing questions with "steepled hands," I think we can see around us several analogous situations that actually test Mr Bailey's assumptions, and ought to give one pause in this. Here's one of them.

We have actually experiment run an, on a planet-wide scale, that tests some of the assumptions that seem to underlie the thinking of those who enthuse about life-extension. The experiment used a planet (Earth, about the year 1945) where most people suffered poverty or tyranny or ignorance or war or the threat of war. (Or all five.) The hypothesis of the experiment was that these things are the enemy, and defeating them would be victory and would have almost un-alloyed good results. So we selected nations or even whole continents and give them prosperity, democracy, peace and universal education. And along with these, longer lives, and especially, much more leisure time.

The expected result of the experiment was that people would be happier, and would live better lives, and that we would see a continual upward trend in those things that usually indicate to us a successful civilization. What happened?

Petri dish #1 is called "Europe." (You might also think about Japan and Canada.) Are we happy with the results so far? Do we feel justified in keeping those assumptions, or are there some indications that it may be time to do some hard thinking?

I for one am not happy with what has developed. We see demographic collapse, with every European country reproducing at below replacement rates. (Demographic collapse happens now, population decline will come soon when Europe's baby-book generation starts to die off.) We see economic stagnation, with chronic unemployment often above 10%.

We see a lack of exciting developments in science, the arts, culture and design. (Especially considering that Europe led the world in these things until recently.) How often do you hear of someone planning to go to Europe because that's where the "cutting edge" work is being done in their field? And, we see, shockingly, that Europe is unwilling to defend itself, is unwilling to fight, either internally or externally, in the Global War on Terror.

This is a spiritual collapse. There are no physical limitations that keep Europe from continuing the leadership in all fields that marked it until recently. And, it is mass death. There are probably a hundred-million Europeans who have not been born, because something is lacking in the outlook of their countrymen. A statistic to chew on: By the year 2050, 60% of Italians will not know what it is like to have a brother or a sister or an uncle or an aunt or a nephew or a niece.

And we see similar signs everywhere on Earth that prosperity and democracy have been attained. NO, I am not arguing against prosperity or democracy. Or against longer lives. (If it is scientifically possible, it WILL happen.) But I'm arguing that there is a huge problem stalking the world, one that it is connected with prosperity and freedom. And that it is reasonable to suppose that it is not going to get better if we live longer, and may get much worse.

This is, I think, the question that we should be asking. I think there is a sickness in our world, and I think that people don't want to think about this elephant in our living room, because that would involve looking inside themselves. The anti-aging possibility is, in SF terms, like launching an Interstellar Ark with people who are carrying some deadly plague. You may still want to go ahead and launch it, but insouciance is not the most attractive attitude to exhibit.

And I am almost certainly wasting my electrons in this post, because this is an issue beloved of libertarian techno-optimist types, and I have never been able to prod such people to even go near a spiritual question...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:34 PM

So, what changed their minds?

A friend sent me a link to this, from today's WaPo. (You've probably already seen it, but indulge me in a bit of scorn...)

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said...

So, what changed their minds? did an angel come down from Heaven to give them a moral revelation? Nuh uh...

....Only after information about the practice began to leak in news accounts in 2005 -- by which time the CIA had already abandoned waterboarding -- did doubts about its legality among individual lawmakers evolve into more widespread dissent...

The liars never had doubts about its legality. They just saw a chance to bash the administration, and posture and preen as morally superior beings. The fact that they were betraying their country for partisan advantage didn't seem to bother them at all. As usual.

This is exactly like what happened with abu Ghraib. Congressional leaders were told about problem, and that it was being dealt with, months before it hit the news. And they raised no objections, made no outcry. They expressed no shock, outrage or dismay. It was only when those pictures surfaced, and those nasty little media-bots realized the potential for faux indignation that they suddenly started shedding crocodile tears for the sort of brown-skinned people they normally hold in contempt. Fakes, phonies, shams, frauds. Democrat leaders, I spit upon you.

Living here in Pelosiville, I feel extra contempt and loathing for Nancy Pelosi. Killing babies by the millions is just fine with Miss Culture of Death, but frightening terrorists (without inflicting any injury on them) is somehow morally repugnant to her. In 2007. But not in 2002.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:33 AM

December 9, 2007

Evangelizing the world...

Charlene and I just read a great book, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power, by David Aikman. There are amazing things going on in China, with Christianity growing and spreading ceaselessly, despite cruel persecution and harassment. But what really made my hair stand on end was that these people are not just content to survive, they are seriously dreaming of missionary work in other lands. Their central driving idea is that, over history, the main movement of Christianity has been westward, from the Near East across Europe, and to the New World, and across the Pacific to Asia.

And so, what's the next step for Christianity and its missionaries? To go from China westwards, along the Silk Road, through the Moslem world.....to Jerusalem! Here are a few snippets, to give you a bit of the flavor ...

...A few of the Americans present were familiar with this notion: 100,000 Chinese missionaries on a global evangelization expedition. [Dr Luis] Bush was dumbfounded. For a comparison, the total estimate for American Protestant and Catholic missionaries working overseas in any given year is 40,000 to 50,000. The U.S. annually sends more missionaries overseas than any other single country by far; the current effort is built on two centuries of experience, and the considerable wealth of ordinary Americans. Could 100,000 Chinese be prepared for missionary work and sent out by the year 2007? Almost certainly not. But the process could begin. In fact, even before the Beijing Forum of February 2002, it had already begun...

..."Back to Jerusalem." It was impossible not to hear this term from Chinese house church Christians of all ages in all parts of the country. The origins of the movement are as complex as they are dramatic.

The first time the notion that China's Christians had a role to play in evangelizing the world, and in connection to Jerusalem, seems to have been in the 1920's in Shandong Province. 1n 1921, Jing Dianying founded a small independent Christian group. It was called the Jesus Family, and was not dissimilar in format to the Little Flock, founded by China's most famous twentieth-century Christian, Watchman Nee... The five word slogan of the Jesus Family was "sacrifice, abandonment, poverty, suffering, death." This turned out to be the fate of the group's members who set off on foot spreading the Gospel in nearby towns and villages...

...It isn't clear what rekindled the Back to Jerusalem fervor among China's house church Christians from the mid-1990's onward. It could have been the influence of Zhao's story or simply the spontaneous reemergence of the same vision that animated the Northwest Bible Institute students and others back in the 1940's.Certainly the enormous confidence that the house church networks had acquired during the phenomenal expansion of the 1980's was part of the explanation...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:13 AM

December 8, 2007

Interesting stuff...

UK Telegraph: Republicans winning new citizens for 2008 vote By Toby Harnden in San Diego, California:

Minutes after taking the Pledge of Allegiance, new American citizens are urged to register as voters by Democratic activists who see them as natural party supporters who could hold the key to the 2008 election.

But with increasing illegal immigration threatening the economy and security of the United States, many legal immigrants anxious to uphold the laws of their adopted country are moving towards the more hard-line immigration stance of Republicans.

Even in California’s Democratic-controlled San Diego, sizeable numbers of America’s newly-minted potential voters said that illegal immigrants should be penalised rather than given an easy route to citizenship as most Democrats advocate.

“For a long time, immigration was OK,” said Sara Wright, 49, a seamstress from Mexico who arrived in the US legally in 1986.

“But now, no more. A lot of really bad people come from Mexico and commit crimes....

I'm not sure how much this means. But the simple fact is that all the good things that immigrants come here for only happened because we have the rule of law. That's the real problem with illegal immigration. That's the first question to ask about any proposed solutions... does it uphold the rule of law?

And it is NOT being compassionate in the long run to undermine the laws that all our freedoms depend on. (A concept, alas, beyond most Catholic leaders.)

Posted by John Weidner at 4:52 PM

December 4, 2007

Reason 898 why I hate "the press"

I hate them, and I laugh with bitter pleasure each time I read of declining circulation for the nation's newspapers....

From NCR:

NEW YORK — When the Associated Press set out to investigate an apparent problem with sexual assault of children in public schools, the organization spared no expense. A congressionally mandated study by Hofstra University had already found school-based sexual abuse to be a big problem.

“It was one of our priorities for the year,” said John Affleck, editor of the AP’s national reporting team.

The result was a three-part series, available to editors throughout the country beginning Oct. 20, that revealed widespread and routine sexual assault of public school students throughout the country. The first story summarized: “Students in America’s schools are groped. They’re raped. They’re pursued, seduced and think they’re in love.”

The series told of an entrenched resistance to stopping abusers on the part of teachers, administrators and the National Education Association, a teacher’s union.

So why apparently have only a handful of newspapers nationwide run the series — in stark contrast to the avalanche of press received by the Catholic Church since 2002? Paul Colford, corporate communications director for the AP, said he was inundated with complaints from people wondering why their newspapers were not carrying the series...

And, a few figures for contrast...

...“The Boston Globe began publishing on Jan. 6, 2002, a series of reports regarding sexual abuse of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston,” Nussbaum wrote “In a flash, newspapers around the country began reprinting the Globe’s reports and developing their own. They published 728 stories in January; 1,095 in February, and 2,961 in March. By April, these papers were publishing a new story every nine minutes, 160 every day, 4,791 for the month. By year-end, American papers provided their readers over 21,000 stories of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.”

Boston Globe editors contacted by the Register claimed only vague knowledge of the AP series, and could not answer as to whether part of it ran in their paper....
Posted by John Weidner at 5:57 AM

December 3, 2007

Biter bit...

Reading this, I have to smile, thinking about how Leftists and Democrats worked SO HARD to help their Communist allies, and to turn the people of South Vietnam over to slavery and torture and death, and what happens? NOW, when they are working hard to turn the people of Iraq and Afghanistan over to a similar cruel fate, here is a Vietnamese person (not the only one, by the way) who is filled with gratitude towards the Great Satan, and is helping others in their hour of need...

On the nights when no mortar shells fell, Anh Duong listened to the Saigon crickets. More often, though, the girl lay by her open window, her hair damp against her cheeks, and wondered, as the lights from flares flickered on the leaves of a plum tree, if the next Viet Cong rocket would smash into her house.

"Why would you want to randomly blow up civilians?" Duong remembers thinking.

Now, at age 47 and living in Maryland, Duong is still grappling with the question, trying to apply bedtime lessons from Vietnam to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Duong is known as "the bomb lady" around the Pentagon and as the engineer behind America's first thermobaric, bunker-busting explosive. A 5-foot-1-inch suburban mother of four, Duong has become, according to Thomas A. Betro, director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, "one of the most important weapons-developers of the modern era."

For Duong, who was honored recently as one of the federal government's top civil servants, producing tools for U.S. troops is a way of life. After years of pioneering explosives for the Navy, she now creates systems to help identify terrorists.
"I don't want My Lai in Iraq," Duong said at the Pentagon, where she works on anti-terrorism issues as a science adviser. "The biggest difficulty in the global war on terror -- just like in Vietnam -- is to know who the bad guys are. How do we make sure we don't kill innocents?"

Duong's most recent innovation, the Joint Expeditionary Forensics Facilities (JEFF) project or "lab in a box," analyzes biometrics. It will be delivered to Iraq at the beginning of 2008, the Navy said, to help distinguish insurgents from civilians.
"The best missile is worthless if you don't know who to shoot," Duong said.....
Posted by John Weidner at 11:43 AM

December 2, 2007

All human things can be Catholic things...

From A Christian Approach to Purity By Mark Shea

....It is the realization that we do indeed live under the New Covenant and that our primary mission as Catholics is to make the world holy, not to keep the world from defiling us. We have to learn that the Church ultimately has the upper hand against sin because we have the power of Christ.

Some Catholics really don�t get this. To illustrate, let me quote a Catholic who was participating in a recent online discussion concerning whether Harry Potter books were proper for a Catholic to read: �One drop of anything not authentically Catholic poisons the whole glass.�

Now, this is not a column about Harry Potter. So let�s restrain the urge to go there. This is a column about purity. And the fact is, it is false to say that �One drop of anything not authentically Catholic poisons the whole glass.�

Neither Christmas trees nor Maypoles nor Easter eggs nor iconography nor statuary nor prayer beads nor wedding rings were Catholic in the beginning. They were pagan (meaning �human�) things. The Church looked at them and said, �All authentically human things can be Catholic things too!�

And this has ever been the Church�s approach. Everything from Stagecoach to 2001: A Space Odyssey is championed by the Vatican as good films without the slightest sense that, because they are the products of decidedly non-saintly Catholics or unbelievers, they are therefore necessarily �poison.�

The basic principle we have from the New Testament is that the power of the Spirit can overcome the powers of sin, hell and death. It is what has ordered the Church�s missionary work since the beginning. That is the meaning of the strange Dominical saying preserved at the end of the Gospel of Mark:

�And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover� (Mark 16:17-18).

This language is particularly apt, particularly given the language we just saw above. The funny thing about the Gospel is how often, in the history of the Church, the Church has fulfilled Jesus� promise, �If they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them� (Mark 16:18).

The Church has drunk from all sorts of pagan wells, ranging from Plato and Aristotle to the various ways in which Norse, German, Druidic, Roman, Indian and other forms of pagan culture have been baptized and turned to the service of Christ.

The Pharisaic approach is to reject � as the Pharisees rejected Christ � the possibility that he really holds power over the devil.

It is a mentality that never considers the opposite possibility: namely, that Christ has power to conquer what defiled us under the old law and turn it to his glory....

Posted by John Weidner at 6:09 AM

December 1, 2007

Kindles at Fahrenheit 451

Here's a different view of the Kindle...

Kindle can light up your life November 29, 2007 BY ANDY IHNATKO

So here's what Amazon went and did. Metaphorically, the company invented a humanoid robot capable of autonomous action. Every day at 4 a.m., it gets in your car and drives all over the state, buying fruit, milk, butter, eggs and other staples straight from the farm. By the time you wake up and trudge into the kitchen, there's a steaming plate of waffles waiting for you, made from scratch, and topped with fresh-picked strawberries and whipped cream.

It's one of the most awesome consumer products ever. It might even be a landmark moment in technology. ... and Amazon is promoting it as a $399 waffle maker....

Sounds like it might be cooler than I imagined. Apparently the Kindle includes unlimited free web browsing over Verizon's EVDO network! (Odd. So what do the people who are paying Verizon for data access think about this?)

If, by the way you are thinking of buying one (Or anything else from amazon.com) do click one of my links, such as the link below...So Random Jottings will get a little baksheesh!

 

Posted by John Weidner at 8:49 AM