October 31, 2008

Literati... Making my day...

The New York Observer:

It seems that the final days of the presidential campaign have made Erica Jong and her friends more than a little anxious.

A few days ago, Jong, the author and self-described feminist, gave an interview to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, the choicest bits of which were brought to my attention by the reliably sharp-eyed Christian Rocca, the U.S. correspondent of Il Foglio, who published excerpts on his Camillo blog. Basically, Jong says her fear that Obama might lose the election has developed into an 'obsession. A paralyzing terror. An anxious fever that keeps you awake at night.'

...My friends Ken Follett and Susan Cheever are extremely worried. Naomi Wolf calls me every day. Yesterday, Jane Fonda sent me an email to tell me that she cried all night and can't cure her ailing back for all the stress that has reduces her to a bundle of nerves....

Boy, talk about name-dropping! Worried about the "literary reputation," eh Erica?

...My back is also suffering from spasms, so much so that I had to see an acupuncturist and get prescriptions for Valium...

Ooooh. All the pwecious wittle witerati is having spasms! They cwy all night, wowied about wosing their weftist secuwty bwankets! Ha ha ha ha....

...Bush has transformed America into a police state, from torture to the imprisonment of reporters, to the Patriot Act...

So WHY, (as Orrin Judd has asked), are no Obama supporters talking about Obama ending the "police state?" Surely they are looking forward to those poor imprisoned reporters tottering out into the sunlight from their dungeons? And the wiretaps....why is no one celebrating Obama's executive-order-to-come, preserving your right to call madrassahs in Pakistan without interference by Cheney's Gestapo? Why? Whywhywhywhy?

Please win, Sarah! If only just to torture these self-inflated frauds! (I didn't mean literally torture them, but if you do I won't blame you. If I ask him nicely I bet Dick will be willing to stay on for a little extra waterboarding...)

Posted by John Weidner at 12:42 PM

October 30, 2008

And you want this animal to be President?

Times (of London; no US paper investigates the Messiah)
...But a few miles from where the Democratic presidential candidate studied at Harvard, his Kenyan aunt and uncle, immigrants living in modest circumstances in Boston, have a contrasting American story.

Zeituni Onyango, the aunt so affectionately described in Mr Obama's best-selling memoir Dreams from My Father, lives in a disabled-access flat on a rundown public housing estate in South Boston.

A second relative believed to be the long-lost "Uncle Omar" described in the book was beaten by armed robbers with a "sawed-off rifle" while working in a corner shop in the Dorchester area of the city. He was later evicted from his one-bedroom flat for failing to pay $2,324.20 arrears, according to the Boston Housing Court...

Unbelievable. Obama's touching tales of his Kenyan relatives helped to make him a millionaire, and yet some of those actual people are now living in squalor in Boston, and he's never visited them or loaned them a penny. (But sent campaign workers to tell them to keep their mouths shut 'till after the election!)

And there are other stories like this that have leaked out. He has brothers living in poverty in Kenya--he doesn't care. And he visited a school there that had been named after him, and promised to help it--but never did a thing.

This guy is an obvious scoundrel. A fraud and a sham. (In fact I'm starting to think he's a sociopath.) And brain-dead Democrats are going to vote for him, and then glow with smug self-satisfaction because they are on the side of "good," and aren't like those greedy heartless "Americans."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:47 AM

October 29, 2008

"Opposed to Western/Judeo-Christian civilization"

From Orrin, in a post with the splendid title (I envy him this sort of cleverness) Inherit the Windbags, about "conservatives" who support Obama...

....In fact, the only real difference [in Obama's policies compared to McCain] is precisely that he's the most extreme supporter of aggressive social experimentation to be nominated for president during this era. On matters of abortion, infanticide, gay "rights," infant stem cells, euthanasia, etc. he is consistently and radically Pro-Death and opposed to Western/Judeo-Christian civilization. Edmund Burke would have no trouble recognizing the Jacobin in at least this aspect of Mr. Obama's politics

When we consider then what sorts of Republicans are supporting Mr. Obama we would, as Mr. Powers says, expect to find the old Eastern Establishment, secular Darwinist Right. Contrary to Mr. Powers, these issues are pretty much the same and Rockefeller money funded the more openly eugenic experimentation of the early/mid 20th Century. That's not, of course, to say that every "conservative" backing Mr. Obama is doing so because he'd increase abortion and fund it for "the poor," but it is fair to say that they are at least unbothered by the prospect. In fact, even the ostensibly pro-life Doug Kmiec was willing to forgo Communion in order to back Barack Obama.

This is why so many of the converts cite the choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate. The choice drove home the reality that the GOP is and is going to stay the party of the religious. They were hoping for a Joe Lieberman, Colin Powell, Mitt Romney, or Tom Ridge who are indifferent to or supportive of abortion.

Over time this is likely to be a more permanent divide and is certain to impact the Democratic Party more heavily than the Republican. After all, Darwinism is a marginal belief in America while Christianity is central. Eventually one would expect to see the parties divide along more clearly secular vs religious lines and the Democratic hold on entire tribes loosen, a process that will be accelerated by the recognition that intellectual elites support the Democrats in no small part because of "population control."...

It just fascinates me the people who hate Sarah. It's so revealing. The "feminists" who fantasize about seeing her raped or murdered, for example. (Ladies, your guilt is showing.) Or the Colin Powell and Christopher Buckley types on the right.

And this is all extra interesting because traditionally the V-P is someone who can give red meat to the base, allowing the presidential candidate to act "presidential," and move to the center. This is normal in our politics. So why should Republican "centrists" and libertarians hate Sarah? Why?

The real battle is increasingly about who we are. What is America and who are Americans. This is because old habits have worn off. Habits of religion, yes, but also patriotic faith, and faith in those things, including morality, that ancestors and founders have handed down to us---faith that those traditions should be revered. And just---faith in America. When I was growing up, everybody was patriotic.

Sara Palin with ski plane I'd say that when Orrin writes: "...the GOP is and is going to stay the party of the religious," we should think of "the religious" in a broad-brush sort of way. It could include those who cherish the Great Books of Western Civ., and those who get a lump in their throats when they hear the Star Spangled Banner at the ball game. That is, those who think there are things bigger than the almighty self, things which demand an attitude of humility and willingness to sacrifice.

And the irreligious should include many people who still go to church, but recite their creed in the spirit of participating in a charming old folk-ritual. Or who call themselves people of the Right, but recoil from moral responsibility and personal humility.

The battle-lines are shifting, and as they do various people are going to find themselves suddenly stranded in no-man's-land, wondering which way to scurry. A few decades ago we had the neo-cons; Democrats who noticed that the Democrat Party had drawn away from them like the tide going out...and awkwardly found a new home on the right. Perhaps now we will have a bunch of neo-libs!

I'm thinking of Sager especially. The libertarian creep of the world. I should fisk this piece, The Rove Realignment, Have libertarians been driven out of the GOP? But what's the use? He'll never get it. Better he should just head over to the Party of Death where he belongs...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:45 PM

A "propaganda arm of the left" going down in flames. Ha ha.

Thanks to AOG. A fascinating piece at Winds of Change, by Tim Oren, on the decline of the newspaper industry, The Newspaper Crash of 2009... And How You Can Help...

There are three reasons the newspaper industry is going down. Perhaps more quickly than we hoped... (Besides the obvious reason that who wants a pile of inky paper when you can read blogs?)

1. The subscription-based economic model is very attractive, but only assuming that the subscriber base is stable or growing. If it is shrinking, and the cost of acquiring new subscribers is growing, you still have the expenses of putting out the paper every day. It's not like a factory you can close until times get better.

2. The newspapers have heaps of debt. Often including billions spent to "aquire" subscribers by buying other papers. Now is not a good time to be trying to refinance.

And #3, my favorite...

...One of the reasons that churn is up for the newspapers is the political bias. I'm with Orson Scott Card on this. The industry has abdicated its social function to support a well-informed electorate, and become a propaganda arm of the left. In so doing, they have sullied their brands and lost the trust of their readers. The economic consequences of this default of their value proposition are now becoming apparent. The Internet and an economic crisis together would be bad enough, but the industry has only itself to blame for the egregious behavior on display for the last few years, and at its worst right now.

This is a blog, and I make no vacuous claims to freedom from bias. You can check everything said above from public records, but I do have a dog in this fight. These people deserve to lose, and if the newspaper industry crashes as a byproduct of the economic crunch, then it's a silver lining for a dark cloud. They have done their level best to trash the political system of my country, and I will dance on their grave when they go.

Is that clear enough?...

Amen, brother.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 AM

It is morally wrong to say we have a "right" to health care...

Two reasons. One, which I heard Rush elucidate, is that we have a responsibility to maintain our own health, and we have a moral obligation to help those who can't help themselves.

Making health care a "right" destroys both responsibility and obligation, and damages us spiritually.

The other I just noticed, by Rand Simberg:

Does Barack Obama agree with Marcy Kaptur that we need a Second Bill of Rights?...

...Sure he does. He already said in a debate that we all have a "right" to health care. No, I don't think that I, or anyone, has a "right" to stuff that requires taking from others. This is Eurosocialism...

Of course I've always been in agreement with those points, but I hadn't ever expressed them clearly.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:01 AM

October 28, 2008

We are all so GOOD!!!

Ron comments on the previous post:

You know, I've been thinking about this Obama phenomenon for some time, and it just doesn't make any sense. Where did he come from and how in the world did he get such a following in such a short period of time? It's downright spooky. Could someone out there explain this all to me....

You came to the right place, Ron. Random Jottings knows all, tells all. I think this post, with its quote by Shannon Love, gets closest to explaining...

A bit of the quote:

...I think that politics on the Left has become a social process, i.e., a means of group identification and self-validation. Leftists care less about the triumph of ideas and far more about the triumph of a group of people with which they ego-identify. They need their ego-identity candidate to win so that they can feel good about themselves. The character and policies of the actual candidate does not matter....

When I was a wee lad, if a person wanted to be a "non-conformist," they became a Beatnik, or joined some similar artsy subculture. That is, they conformed to the ways of a group that was non-conformist! The idiocy of this sort of thing rarely seems to be noticed, then or now. (I remember it well. People daringly drank French wine and Italian coffee, and ate Moussaka. And looked down on the conformist rabble.)

It's similar now. If you want to be "good," you can't just, like, you know, be good. No way. You have to join a group that is perceived to be good. In popular imagination today that means liberal Democrat. (The fact that they are actually evil is of no consequence.) And then whenever the Democrat candidate wins, you get a sort of "validation." As if the world is giving you an accolade for being "good." Confirming your superiorty, as it were.

Now if the Dem candidate is the usual white middle-aged career pol, this validation is sort of muted. It lacks pizazz. But if the candidate is cool, and handsome, and youngish and well-dressed (all qualities one would like to have rub off on oneself)---wow, the payoff is bigger by an order of magnitude.

AND, if the ego-identity candidate is.....brace yourself for a thrill running down your leg....if he is.....yes......African-American....a magic negro....the coolest thing....the ego-validation is just stratospheric!

The Dems could probably run a cardboard cut-out of Mr Obama and have a good chance of winning....

* Update: As a historical note, I remember reading somewhere about bohemian non-conformist types in New York, around maybe 1910. They would head down to The Village, which was then Italian, and be really artsy and different by eating......Spaghetti! I laugh every time I think of that.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:17 PM

The McCain ad I would be running...

...If I ran the campaign circus... (Inspired by this great post by Bill Dyer)

Scene: A schoolyard. A father is picking up his daughter...

Child: Daddy, daddy, I got 98 points on my math test! That's an "A"

Teacher: Now Susie, you know that 27% of those points will have to be given to those who are less fortunate than you. Other children don't have the points you have. Your grade will be C+.

Child: But, but.....I worked HARD! And those other kids just goofed off!

Teacher: Remember how I told the class how Leader Obama has taught us about "redistributive change.." You are supposed to be happy to help the poor and those harmed by white racism...

Clip of Obama speaking: "... the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which to bring about redistributive change..."

Father: But, what about our Constitution?

Teacher: Leader Obama wishes to preserve our sacred Constitution from desecration and change. That's why he has had it revised and brought up to date...

Clip of Obama speaking: "...The Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution..."

Teacher: Susie, your mind is still filled with white ideas about personal property. Next week we will begin studying Education Leader Ayers' new book "Social Justice for the New Millenium," and you will start to understand about giving to people in accordance with their needs...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:22 AM

October 27, 2008

"Defending the culture IS a governing philosophy.."

Orrin Judd:
...Not that the GOP doesn't need some re-focusing, but what the Beltway types can never seem to grasp is that defending the culture is a governing philosophy, indeed the philosophy of the majority. And what the Left wants to do is destroy the culture in order to make people dependent on the State...

Exactly. And Sarah embodies this philosophy. That is, she doesn't expound it, she's just the thing itself. And "Palinmania" is a very rational response to her. A matter of having something just on the tip of the tongue for years, and seeing Sarah, and saying: "That's IT! That's what I've been trying to say, and never could quite find the words!" Of course you want to jump up and down and cheer.

Sara Palin with ski planeIt's frustrating, because the attacks on America's traditional culture are mostly in the form of millions of tiny cuts by millions of tiny shit-stupid ant workers. Few of which are big enough to make a fuss about. And if you were to do so, you would at most push them back a few feet, but then see them ooze around you once again.

I was just thinking about the way, when you or someone you know is in the hospital, you get a visit from a "social worker" whether you want it or not. On one hand is a trivial thing, and lots of people may benefit from it. On the other hand, it's a clear message that you are expected to rely on the bureaucracy, not on the support of family or church or such old-fashioned things. It's something that to me has a nasty smell, but if you complained you would just be thought to be a crank.

I don't know if anything can really be done. My guess is we are doomed. But I do know that the National Review types don't quite get it, and Sarah does quite get it. So she's my gal, and I'm sure a lot of other grass-roots Republicans feel the same...

And even if the struggle is hopeless, one should keep fighting anyway. One is either a man, or a horrid vile cowardly collectivist flubber-worm! I've added a quote to the top of the sidebar, to express my deep and bitter feeling on this. (Explanation here.)

Well, it's plenty late. I should be in bed. But I'll post this, pour another glass of Scotch, think of Scotland and Western Civilization on the skids... And I'll say yet another prayer to Our Lady to give Sarah strength and protect her from the hosts of Mordor. And resolve to go down fighting!

j j j
Posted by John Weidner at 10:32 PM

A good man passes...

One of my favorite bloggers and writers, Dean Barnett, died today. I've quoted him here many times. I feel like I've lost a friend, though I never met him.

You might want to read these tributes by Hugh Hewitt, and Dafydd....



        REVERSES,

    WHEN mirth is full and free,
    Some sudden gloom shall be;
    When haughty power mounts high,
    The Watcher's axe is nigh.
All growth has bound; when greatest found,
    It hastes to die.

    When the rich town, that long
    Has lain its huts among,
    Uprears its pageants vast,
    And vaunts � it shall not last!
Bright tints that shine, are but a sign
    Of summer past.

   And when thine eye surveys,
    With fond adoring gaze,
    And yearning heart, thy friend�
    Love to its grave doth tend.
All gifts below, save Truth, but grow
    Towards an end.

      -- John Henry Newman, Valletta, January 1833
Posted by John Weidner at 7:38 PM

"redistributive change"

Barack Obama, just a few years ago:
...But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties...

And one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, because the civil rights movement became so court-focused, I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which to bring about redistributive change...

He's a Commie, who wants to destroy our country and way of life. It's that simple.

Hey, my Lefty readers. Obama says: "[the Warren Court] didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution" in favor of "redistribution of wealth." That's obviously what Obama wants. Are you OK with this or not? Yes or no? Show some guts and honesty for once, scrubs, and take a clear stand

Posted by John Weidner at 3:21 PM

Be thoughtful--listen to Oprah...

Bookworm writes:

...I was sitting near two women and overheard part of their conversation. After a lengthy back and forth praising Oprah, this gem came out: "Sarah Palin is stupid but she communicates really well to Americans because most Americans are stupid."

I live among this sort of people; that's exactly how they think. In fact a lot of them (including I'm sure these two---this is Marin County) are Democrats because the Dem Party is somehow, in the popular mind, "associated" with intelligence. They would never dream of showing intelligence by actually thinking. Instead they will buy some books Oprah recommends, and put them on the coffee table, to show that they are thoughtful

My experience in seven years of blogging is that Democrats are in fact really stupid. Not one of them has been able to make a case for their vague slippery ideas.

And notice that, while the two women do not precisely say that they themselves are not Americans, they imply it. I hear that kind of thing here often. "Americans" treated in a vague way as some sort of foreign species. You won't ever be able pin them down, but the implication is always there. (But if there were an invasion of terrorists you can bet the sneering metrosexuals and "anti-war" types would be howling for "Americans" to come with guns and bombs to save them!)
Posted by John Weidner at 8:53 AM

October 26, 2008

"Almost the opposite of abstraction"

From Saint Thomas Aquinas, by GK Chesterton....

...First, it must be remembered that the Greek influence continued to flow from the Greek Empire; or at least from the centre of the Roman Empire which was in the Greek city of Byzantium, and no longer in Rome. That influence was Byzantine in every good and bad sense; like Byzantine art, it was severe and mathematical and a little terrible; like Byzantine etiquette, it was Oriental and faintly decadent. We owe to the learning of Mr. Christopher Dawson much enlightenment upon the way in which Byzantium slowly stiffened into a sort of Asiatic theocracy, more like that which served the Sacred Emperor in China. But even the unlearned can see the difference, in the way in which Eastern Christianity flattened everything, as it flattened the faces of the images into icons. It became a thing of patterns rather than pictures; and it made definite and destructive war upon statues.

Thus we see, strangely enough, that the East was the land of the Cross and the West was the land of the Crucifix. The Greeks were being dehumanised by a radiant symbol, while the Goths were being humanised by an instrument of torture. Only the West made realistic pictures of the greatest of all the tales out of the East. Hence the Greek element in Christian theology tended more and more to be a sort of dried up Platonism; a thing of diagrams and abstractions; to the last indeed noble abstractions, but not sufficiently touched by that great thing that is by definition almost the opposite of abstraction: Incarnation. Their Logos was the Word; but not the Word made Flesh. In a thousand very subtle ways, often escaping doctrinal definition, this spirit spread over the world of Christendom from the place where the Sacred Emperor sat under his golden mosaics; and the flat pavement of the Roman Empire was at last a sort of smooth pathway for Mahomet. For Islam was the ultimate fulfilment of the Iconoclasts....
Chesterton's book is very worth reading, by the way. If you want an introduction to Aquinas, you simply cannot do better, as many Aquinas scholars have agreed. It is highly readable and thought-provoking...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:32 PM

October 22, 2008

This is not a parody... I guess

Charlene notes a letter sent to Jerry Pournelle:

Orchestrated Objective Reality (Orch OR) is a theory of consciousness jointly developed (from independent underpinnings) by Sir Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist/neurologist Sturart Hameroff.

To summarize, the core theory states that consciousness arises from quantum mechanical effects in the transmission and operation of nervous tissue, probably in connection with quantum coherence in spin states of solvated electrons trapped within microtubules embedded in the connective proteins of nerve cells, which they argue following Penrose allows collapses of formative quantum events into a final objective quantum state associated with completion ("orchestration") of the thought process in the higher structures of nerve cells on the time scales which have been neurologically associated with consciousness.

In other words, the human mind is a biological quantum computer and as such is capable of leaping past inductive and deductive logic into what Penrose described as computable and non-computable insights.

Needless to say, the core theory is itself controversial (see the wiki above for details). The friend who introduced me makes the further claim (which does not appear in the wiki, but may appear in some of the ancillary references) that, due to entanglement, it is thus possible that thought processes affect, and are affected by, events in the broader spacetime in the vicinity (and NOT in the vicinity) of the person thinking. Thus, the further postulate he espoused is that "the power of positive thinking" thus has a quantum mechanical underpinning in terms of entanglement of certain thought processes with the external universe to directly effect events. This ranges from variations of "the placebo effect", self-healing, and faith healing up to the viability of the so-called "Jedi philosophy."

Pournelle responds: Chesterton famously said that when a man ceases to believe in God, he will believe in anything.

(And I respond: If I told this guy about Christianity he would say that I'm trying to snow him with mumbo-jumbo!)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:08 PM

October 21, 2008

She's my gal...

What was that famous advertising line? "They laughed when I sat down at the piano...But when I started to play!" (From 1925. Here's a link)

Sara Palin with ski planeFrom CBS News' Scott Conroy: It was less than two weeks ago when Sarah Palin astonished her traveling press corps by lifting the curtain (literally) and journeying to the back of her campaign plane to answer reporters' questions for the first time after 40 days on the campaign trail. But the candidate who has been criticized for having a bunker mentality when it came to the national media can now lay legitimate claim to being more accessible than either Joe Biden or Barack Obama.

In the past two days alone, Palin has answered questions from her national press corps on three separate occasions. On Saturday, she held another plane availability, and on Sunday, she offered an impromptu press conference on the tarmac upon landing in Colorado Springs. A few minutes later, she answered even more questions from reporters during an off-the-record stop at a local ice cream shop.

By contrast, Biden hasn't held a press conference in more than a month, and Obama hasn't taken questions from his full traveling press corps since the end of September. John McCain�who spent most of the primary season holding what seemed like one, never-ending media availability�hasn't done one since Sept. 23....

She won't get a lot of credit for this---it's the job of the press to be "useful idiots" and get the lefty candidate elected. But I'm smiling right now, thinking it was less than a month ago that people were sneering that Sarah couldn't handle the press. And now she's doing it, as Willie Brown said, "...like she was just BS-ing on the street with the meter maid." [Link].

And if you would read that piece by Brown, you will notice the last line: "As for Palin herself, she is going to be very, very effective on the campaign trail, especially if McCain's people can figure out how to gently keep her from getting into confrontations with the press." HA HA. Way past that, Willie Brown!

I put my chips on Sarah from day one, and vicariously endured the abuse and lies thrown at her. So, NOTICE THIS, lefty losers. Sarah's the real deal, Obama's the clever bullshitter. And you know it in your hearts. You knew it from the beginning; that's why you hated her.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:37 AM

October 20, 2008

I'm proud to be "stupid"

Orrin Judd, on the "stupid party":

[Quoting Joe Knippenberg]....But for me the more interesting reason is the one to which the late William F. Buckley, Jr. alluded. To the degree that intelligence is connected with proud self-assertion, a hubristic belief in one's own capacity to understand and remake the world, it tends not to be conservative or respectful of the lessons and burdens of the past. It looks forward to the change it can effect as it rationalizes and humanizes the world. It does not bow before anyone, least of all a creator God.

Nonetheless, there are some smart and learned people who don't take this view.
[Orrin:] While he objects to the term "stupid," Mr. Knippenberg points to the reason that it is correct to consider conservatism the Stupid Party. If Intellectualism can be said, as seems fair, to be the hubristic belief in remaking the world according to one's own rationalizations, then conservatism is profoundly anti-intellectual.

Conservatism, which accepts Creation as a gift from God and men as beholden to the lessons of the past, can even be said to be "stupid." This is particularly clear in the sphere of morality, where conservatism proceeds from the idea that, as Erik Maria Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn puts it in Leftism, Man is:
A person with an intransferable destiny, unique created in the image of God, responsible to God, endowed with an immortal soul.
or, as Jacques Maritain put it in The Person and the Common Good:
The human person is ordained directly to God as to its absolute ultimate end.
Every variation of Intellectualism, or Leftism as Mr. Kuehnelt-Leddihn would have had it, is just a form of rebellion against this "stupid" recognition that we are Created by and responsible to God, rather than self-created and responsible only to the self. This latter bit of foolishness reaches its apotheosis in Richard Dawkin's delusion of existence being the product of "selfish genes," Mr. Dawkins being, not coincidentally, one of the popularizers of the term "Brights."....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:24 AM

Crooked picture...unbearable...

Kathy Shaidle:

If you vote for Obama because he's black, you're a racist, a moron, or both

And that includes Colin Powell.

I agree

Actually, there is another possibility. Perhaps people are supporting Obama just as an artistic convention. If you look at advertising or television or movies, you will see that it is an unwritten law that any group pictured that has more than X number of people must have someone at least vaguely dark-skinned/black included.

Imagine you worked at an advertising agency, and you were mocking-up an ad that claimed that mathematicians preferred your client's brand of whisky. The fact that mathematicians are overwhelmingly white or asian, and male, would not matter in the slightest. The picture of happy carousers would still have its quota of blacks and women.

Perhaps people really support Obama just because it's a compulsion, like the way some people have to straighten a crooked picture on the wall.....

Posted by John Weidner at 6:28 AM

October 19, 2008

Ignore this stuff, it doesn't fit the template...

Matthew Hoy:

Last summer the global warming alarmists were predicting an ice-free arctic. One environmental activist vowed to kayak to the north pole to highlight the dangerous global warming.

Well, the arctic didn't become ice-free and that poor kayaker had to turn back.

Anthony Watts has been watching the numbers, and after a record-low sea ice coverage in 2007, this year has been cooler, with more ice than last. In the past few weeks, ice has been growing at a near-record rate....

Funny how we keep hearing such stuff. Read on for some fancy footwork from the National Snow and Ice Data Center....

Kayaking to the North Pole! Reminds me of a funny story from long ago here in the SF Bay Area. Some guy announced he was going to paddle a rubber boat across the Pacific Ocean, to visit his girlfriend in Vietnam. The morning news had him leaving Berkeley, crossing the bay, and showed him out in the Pacific, past the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then the tide turned (we have huge tides because the whole bay connects to the ocean through the narrow Golden Gate). The evening news revealed that the poor goop had been sucked back into the Bay, and deposited very close to his starting point...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:33 PM

Rambling answer to libertarian comment...

Hale Adams comments on the previous post, "The New Progressive Person"
I think you're wide of the mark, John.

The coercion in the case of gay marriage lies not in the marriage itself-- one is free to marry or not marry as one pleases. The coercion lies in teaching things to kids who aren't old enough to make sense of them.

So, the anecdote about the cute little Hispanic girl isn't an argument against gay marriage; it's an argument against government-run schools, which are often "captured" by people who really shouldn't be trusted with the power to ram things down the throats of unsuspecting children.

You've just pushed the underlying problem away, not confronted it. The message comes from a hundred directions, not just public schools. And private schools want to push the same message, at least here in SF. (Coming soon to a town near you!) Hollywood and Internet too.

In our world we have a LOT of people who want to change the world into something very different. And it's hard to discuss this because we are using different terminology. In your terms that goal is some sort of socialism. Something like the Euro-socialist welfare state. You see the growth of the state as the problem, and you are right--that's a large part of the plan. (Though notice that there no longer seems to be any worship of the state, as there was in fascist and communist regimes.No demands for sacrifice for the state.)

In my terms the goal is to free themselves of anything that the individual can feel as being bigger than the self. That's the nihilism I keep harping about. The goal is making oneself God. (I would say that gay marriage and socialism and "radical feminism" and the welfare state are exactly the same problem, in different dress. They all have the same underlying goal.)

We are allies in a vast struggle with people who are foes of libertarianism, conservatism, democracy, religion, and tradition. But their tactics are like the peddling of a dangerous and seductive addictive drug. One whose harms only show up slowly, and whose pleasures are immediate. Not like the old socialist revolutions---there's no Comintern anymore.

For want of common terms, I'll call the problem "the Drug."

Libertarianism doesn't have a good answer. Less government doesn't get rid of the problem. The front line is everywhere, not just government. Art, architecture, literature, journalism, entertainment; all are war zones. All are being churned and transformed like a WWI battlefield. The meanings of the very words we speak are being morphed, sometimes deliberately. (And recently we've seen capitalist bastions on Wall Street turn out to be Democrat strongholds!)

Actually the battleground is every person. Libertarianism says to let people choose, but the very essence of the people who do the choosing is what is being struggled over and changed. Changed by this Drug, that gives people the power "to be like gods." To be in control of themselves and others.

I'm sure most libertarians would agree that this drug should be resisted. BUT, the ideas that help fight against the drug did not come from libertarianism. You have inherited those ideas as part of the package of Western---especially Jewish and Christian---civilization.

Libertarianism piggy-backs on a great inheritance of Western ideas and virtues. And you are assuming that most people here have a good stock of those. And that therefore you can give people lots of free choice, and expect good things. But libertarianism has no answer to the problem of when those ideas themselves slip away or grow dim. I think that is happening.

To fight this insidious Drug, we can't just rely on a diminishing stock of inherited virtue. My evidence can be expressed in one word: Europe. We've been watching Europe ratchet down, down, down for the last century, at least. And to me, one of the most salient features of this decline is that, at any particular moment, people assume that ordinary European people will stay the same. They assume that the German will always be hard-working. That the Englishman's home will be his castle. That the Spaniard will be Catholic, and the Italian will have a big extended family with lots of pasta-munching bambinos. That the Frenchman will fight for La Patrie...

But all those assumptions have been WRONG. If you bet any chips on the character, the inherited ideas and culture, on the virtues, of Europeans, you've lost your bet. And this wasn't like a fight between good guys and bad guys. It was a matter of people being "hollowed out." Of virtue just draining away mysteriously.

A telling statistic: By the year 2050, 60% of Italians will not know what it is like to have a brother or a sister or an aunt or an uncle or a nephew or a niece. Italy is in demographic collapse now, and will soon be in population collapse. It is economically stagnant, and produces no exciting new ideas or inventions. But who is the "bad guy?" Who forced this upon the Italians? No one; they chose it.

What does libertarianism offer here? How does it explain this? I think you are carrying a knife to a shotgun fight. You are unarmed.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 AM

"The Church is on the firing line..."

...This new age will have the merit of discarding that hypocrisy by which the modern world evoked the forms, without the substance, of Christianity. In so doing, the post-Christian man will have to come to terms with the fact that to live without Christ is a hard choice with serious, even brutal, consequences.

The believer too will be faced with the increasingly inescapable realization the faith itself is a hard choice. On the one hand, this brave, new, post-Christian world will have little place in it for him. On the other hand, he will discover in all their fullness the demands his faith makes upon him, when he has to live it without the external affirmations afforded him within a Christian culture. He may indeed discover for the first time, as Guardini suggests, what it really means to be a Christian....


.....At the same time, it may well be that "the massive failure of Christendom itself", as Percy puts it, is already creating the only conditions, in the West at least, within which a genuine renewal of faith can take place. During a conversation I had with Walker Percy a few months before his death, he commented that, in his judgement, the Church is in a better position today than she has been in centuries. He thought the identification of culture and faith was disastrous for the Church in many ways.

He cited Kierkegaard's observation that it is almost impossible to become a Christian in Christendom. That is, people within a Christian culture are inclined to believe they automatically become Christians simply by virtue of having been born into that culture. Today people can see that no such identification exists and that a choice must therefore be made. He believed a new consciousness is emerging; and thus, the realization that the Church and the culture are at odds is a key, perhaps even the key, element of this new consciousness. As a result, the Church is on the firing line and that, as Percy saw it, is exactly where she properly belongs....
    -- From The Church and the Culture War, by Joyce A. Little, 1995
   
Posted by John Weidner at 5:49 AM

October 17, 2008

"The New Progressive Person"

This post at The Corner by Maggie Gallagher focused my previously-amorphous thoughts on one of the reasons I think libertarianism is profoundly unwise.

Any libertarian will understand that trying to force people to act contrary to the market is asking for trouble. If, say, his city government decided to issue "voluntary guidelines" on what were "fair wages" for various jobs, alarm bells would go off in his head! He would NOT say, "It's voluntary, so what do I care?" Because he knows darn well that coercion is the next step. And since enforcing such a thing would be like herding cats, there would have to be a LOT of cowboys, with a LOT of coercive power, to move the herd. (Just collecting the needed information would require massive government intrusion on people's lives.)

[Note: The libertarian could be a she, but I'm flouting the "voluntary guidelines" for non-sexist language.]

BUT, the same libertarian, on questions like Gay Marriage, seems to be incapable of understanding that trying to go against human nature is equally a task that requires coercion. Government coercion. It's like trying to force water to run uphill. To say that Gay Marriage---or any marriage---is just a private matter is a cowardly absurdity. The Soviet Union had this idea that their totalitarian state was going to create "The New Soviet Man." Who would be "naturally" socialist, so that further coercion would not be necessary. No libertarian thinks that will ever work! But the same libertarian seems blind to the fact that Gay Marriage inevitably entails people trying to create "The New Progressive Person."
The latest Protect Marriage Yes on 8 television ad in California shows an incredibly cute 8 year old Hispanic girl bringing the book King and King home to her mother saying "Guess what I learned in school today. . . I can marry a princess!"

The anti-Prop 8, pro gay marriage crowd is running ads charging this whole idea that public schools will teach gay marriage is just a "lie."

The latest press release from the Protect Marriage Yes on 8 campaign in California rather cleverly points out the same groups now charging it's a lie public schools will teach about gay marriage whether parents like it or not --- were just in court in Massachussetts filing amicus briefs arguing parents don't have any right to opt their children out of the pro-gay marriage curriculum...

Just read the rest of the post, with the Amicus briefs arguing that parents have no constitutional right to opt-out...

Or check out this...

Lego ad red lighted over shades of pink and blue: A Swedish advertising watchdog has slammed Danish toymaker Lego for a catalogue it claims promotes outdated gender roles.

Sweden's Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK) singled out images in a recent Lego catalog which featured a little girl playing in a pink room with ponies, a princess, and a palace accompanied by a caption reading, "Everything a princess could wish for..."

On the opposite side of the page, a little boy can be seen in a blue room playing with a fire station, fire trucks, a police station, and an airplane. The caption beneath reads, "Tons of blocks for slightly older boys." (Thanks to Orrin)

The implications of "human nature" are enormous, and most people don't want to think about them. Don't want to think through what is implied. They are afraid of inferences...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:22 AM

October 16, 2008

Milled....

If you are interested in tools, machining or manufacturing, you will want to watch this video about how the new Macbooks are made. The bodies of the laptops are individually milled, with exquisite detail and precision, out of solid blocks of aluminum!

Unbelievable. Future ages will NOT look back on us as barbarians devoid of art. They will just disregard the nihilist sludge that is seen in "modern art" museums, and focus on our technological poetry...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:39 PM

October 15, 2008

Darn good question...

Question for Obama [Jonah Goldberg]

"You speak constantly about helping the middle class, why did you belong to a church for so long that considered 'Disavowal of the Pursuit of 'Middleclassness' to be a religious obligation?"

Actually, the sick-making insanity is that there are 50 million or so middle class Americans who REALLY want to be seen as hip, cool, bohemian....and NOT middle class!!!

And 97% of them are buying the same trendy cool hip mass-produced consumer goods as all the others buy, to show that they are "special" and "different."

And they give their children this year's trendy names, to show that they are not anonymous and insipid. I had to laugh today, thinking of a certain pretentious family in one of our kid's schools (maybe 1995) who named their children "Paris" and "Somerset." Because I was in Kragen Autoparts, and the nice but not classy young black woman at the counter had a name tag that read...... "Paris."

And all those 50 million brain-dead middle-classians are now going to prove that they are hip and with-it and not middle-cass by voting for an amiable con-artist... Funny.

As Andy Warhol put it, "There is nothing so middle class as the "Disavowal of the Pursuit of 'Middleclassness."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:51 PM

October 14, 2008

Prepare for the Jew-haters...

..and the America-haters...

Jesse Jackson: PREPARE for a new America: That's the message that the Rev. Jesse Jackson conveyed to participants in the first World Policy Forum, held at this French lakeside resort last week.

He promised "fundamental changes" in US foreign policy - saying America must "heal wounds" it has caused to other nations, revive its alliances and apologize for the "arrogance of the Bush administration."

The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end.

Jackson believes that, although "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" remain strong, they'll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House....

Actually, although ugly anti-Semitism is still common on the Left, the really big motivator is hatred of developed Western countries that still believe in themselves enough to fight for themselves. Who could that be? Let's start a little list...America...Israel..... Ummm, anybody else? No.

And which countries do Leftists hate? Amazin' coincidence!

(Note: As far as leftists or pacifists care, the people of the undeveloped world can happily slaughter each other. They are not human beings. Unless they ally with the US--then they are evil human beings, and must be opposed by "liberation movements.".)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:08 AM

October 12, 2008

"I will be proud to have lost with Sarah Palin"

Mark, writing about how certain "conservative intellectuals" are jumping ship...

Sara Palin with ski plane....As for the "old" vs the "new" McCain, I've had little use for either, as NR subscribers who read my cover story on him from eight-and-a-half years ago might dimly recall. I support him faute de mieux, and that's it. Clearly, he's found it difficult (to put it mildly) to make the transition from running against his party to running for it. There's a lesson there: "Maverick" is an attitude, not a coherent worldview, which is why McCain has been unable to make maverickiness (maverectomy?) into a viable electoral platform. Of course, "hope" and "change" are attitudes, too, but so fluffy as to float free of the constraints of reality.

But, if the combination of gazillions of dollars in illegal foreign donations, Acorn's Dig-Up-The-Vote operation, a doting media that would embarrass Kim Jong-Il and the Republican nominee's inability even to speak up on issues where he was right all along (like Fannie Mae), if all that is now unstoppable, I will be proud to have lost with Sarah Palin, who (unlike Brooks and Buckley) runs a state bigger than most European Union nations, has fought an honorable campaign, and has been responsible for such energy and enthusiasm as the ticket can muster.

Given that neither of us are likely to be in the club-car caboose with Brooks et al come January, if she's ever in New Hampshire, I'll be happy to thank her and buy her dinner at the state's least worst restaurant. Which should set me back all of 12 bucks, but it's the thought that counts.

Amen, Brother Mark. Can I come too?

Look folks, things are bad. Everything is probably going to go by the board. I shall go down honorably, spitting my contemp for David Brooks and Christopher Buckley.

BUT, the birds still sing,, the sun still rises, and......there is, awesomely, Jewgrass Music! Enjoy.



Posted by John Weidner at 8:37 PM

We must be in the last decadent days of America...



...People apparently actually buy Onion Goggles to stave off tears whilst chopping onions!

Posted by John Weidner at 7:19 PM

"In the waste of waters...."

Charlene and I were at a social event yesterday, with a crowd of what might be described as greying long-hairs and hippie-types of our "Baby-Boomer" generation. (And, I hasten to add, as nice a group of folks as you might hope to meet. Pleasant to be around.) But it made me think about various things that are happening around us.

One is that there were no young people among the invitees. I thought of Mark Steyn: "The future belongs to those who show up for it." I also had to contrast this with our situation in our parish (Perhaps atypical, being Dominican.) Charlene and I are dealing with young people all the time. The place is crawling with them. Good-looking, thoughtful, challenging kids. Just talking with them makes us stretch, and they are not shy about teaching us things.

This is especially interesting in our R.C.I.A, which I help out with. (R.C.I.A is Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, which is how one becomes a Catholic. See note below.) The help I provide is very minor, but just hanging around is, to me, like hanging around the lab where some world-shaking series of experiments is being run. Utterly fascinating. We have young people and old, all races and backgrounds. And most of them seem, in one way or another, to be groping for a way out of the self-worshipping traps that my generation so conspicuously flooded the world with. [Charlene adds, "They are groping for Truth." Of course, we are the original firm.]

(I hasten to add that I think that the 60's were a sort of "perfect storm" of trends that have been developing for centuries, and that things would have worked out much the same even without the grotesqueries of my youth. I'm not the sort of conservative who blames it all on the 60's!)

Newman, 1877: :...my apprehensions are not new but above 50 years standing. I have all that time thought that a time of widespread infidelity was coming, and through all those years the waters have in fact been rising as a deluge. I look for the time, after my life, when only the tops of the mountains will be seen like islands in the waste of waters...."

Anyway, back to groping for Truth. My first intellectual "mentor" was Peter Drucker. And one of the things he always emphasized was the supreme importance of asking the right questions. Of figuring out what question it is that you are actually asking. Part of what intrigues me about our R.C.I.A. groups are the many people who, though they are by my standards muddled and shockingly ignorant, are groping towards exactly the right question. It fills me with awe. And fear. I think of the old saying, "God watches over drunken sailors and lost children."

Another thing that struck me about the crowd we were in yesterday was that it was pretty much all white. C and I are so used to a multi-racial multi-ethnic milieu that we feel odd and a bit out of place in that sort of monoculture. Yet it's a likely bet that they were all Obama supporters, and if he loses they will be calling Republicans like us racists!

It made me think of yesterday's post...

Shannon Love: ...I think that politics on the Left has become a social process, i.e., a means of group identification and self-validation. Leftists care less about the triumph of ideas and far more about the triumph of a group of people with which they ego-identify. They need their ego-identity candidate to win so that they can feel good about themselves. The character and policies of the actual candidate does not matter...

I suspect that yesterday we were among the original type about whom that was written. I can just imagine the bland assumption that "everyone" is voting for Obama, coupled with bland ignorance of and indifference to the queasy-making things in his actual record. Perhaps I'm wrong---hope so.

To me "searching for Truth" is not something like hiking up in the Himalayas to pose questions to a bearded swami. It's more like the California Gold Rush, which was (in reality, not the cartoon version) a matter of men doing gritty back-breaking endless work, in sun and rain, in pursuit of the tiny elusive flecks of pure gold. And this is particularly a Catholic approach. The Church is always busy writing documents in painstakingly parsed Latin, defining the truths of the faith more completely than before. (Latin is used partly because it is a dead language and so the meaning of words does not change.) The core truths of faith are mysteries---we can't possibly really understand God---that's silly. But we have been given by God some things anyone can understand, and those we Catholics like to bite on, like people used to bite gold coins.

And this gold-panning for truth is something I think we should be doing all the time, because you never know where in daily life gold may appear. That's what really infuriates me about the Obama supporters I know; their utter indifference to the gnarly tactile details of truth-seeking. (I almost wish they were the dedicated socialists some people claim they are---at least they would have a "truth" to be dedicated to.)

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EXPLANATORY NOTE: R.C.I.A., Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, appears externally as a series of once-a-week classes over six months. (Alas, in many parishes insipidly taught. There are only a limited number of Dominicans.) It starts about September, and ends at the Easter Vigil, when you may, if you chose, be Baptized (if you are not already) and Confirmed in the Catholic Church.) But it is really less about gaining knowledge (important as that is) than about conversion. Conversion means, literally, "turning around." Catholics believe in "continuous conversion," not the one-swoop "I'm saved" moment of the Evangelicals.

So R.C.I.A. is the start of the conversion process, which goes on life-long. We Christians are always noticing that we have somehow got going in the wrong direction yet again, oops, and turning ourselves around for the thousandth time. And conversion comes from hearing. Cor ad cor loquitor---"heart speaks to heart." As St Thomas put it: Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur, Sed audito solo tuto creditur... Which, poetically translated, is "Taste and touch and feeling, to discern Thee fail, Faith that comes from hearing, pierces through the veil." (Yes, it is not "scientific." We are in a different realm, with different rules. Be adventurous, try something peculiar.)

Posted by John Weidner at 4:25 PM

"But I will out amid the sleet, and view..."

PROGRESS OF UNBELIEF

NOW is the Autumn of the Tree of Life;
Its leaves are shed upon the unthankful earth,
Which lets them whirl, a prey to the winds' strife,
Heartless to store them for the months of dearth.
Men close the door, and dress the cheerful hearth,
Self-trusting still; and in his comely gear
Of precept and of rite, a household Baal rear.

But I will out amid the sleet, and view
Each shrivelling stalk and silent-falling leaf.
Truth after truth, of choicest scent and hue,
Fades, and in fading stirs the Angels' grief,
Unanswer'd here; for she, once pattern chief
Of faith, my Country, now gross-hearted grown,
Waits but to burn the stem before her idol's throne.

At Sea. June 23, 1833. John Henry Newman. From Lyra Apostolica

JH Newman portrait, engraving by R Woodman, after portrait by Sir WC Ross
John Henry Newman,
Engraving by R Woodman, after portrait by Sir WC Ross

Posted by John Weidner at 5:18 AM

October 11, 2008

"A drug lord or a stuffed duck"

I think this thought from Shannon Love is dead on about Obama....

EVEN TO HIS SUPPORTERS: Weeks Before the Election, Obama Remains an Enigma.
I think that is very true. I don't see a lot of Obama supporters who know much about his voting record or can address any of the questions raised about his radical and corrupt associations.

I've come to the conclusion they simply do not care one way or the other. Obama could be a drug lord or a stuffed duck and they would still support him.

I think that politics on the Left has become a social process, i.e., a means of group identification and self-validation. Leftists care less about the triumph of ideas and far more about the triumph of a group of people with which they ego-identify. They need their ego-identity candidate to win so that they can feel good about themselves. The character and policies of the actual candidate does not matter.

Obama serves merely as a symbol of a group aspirational identity. Only the symbol matters, not the actual individual human being. Because of this, leftists do not care if Obama the man has been through a vigorous vetting and testing that will expose any weaknesses before those weaknesses do damage to the leftist cause or the nation as a whole....

In other words, don't bother asking Obama supporters why they are voting for a man who has never accomplished anything. It doesn't even matter to them.

My prediction is that an Obama presidency will be an embarrassment to those who voted for him but are not radical Leftists. I also predict that it will NOT cause those people to start THINKING clearly. The besetting ailment of our time is people worshipping themselves, and holding no higher cause. And to those people, the outside world is not real. It is just a stage upon which the all-important self stands in the spotlight. Obama is just a prop, or a supporting character in the internal drama.

He will be discarded when no longer useful.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:39 AM

October 10, 2008

More stuff I've stumbled upon...

I present this without comment---I don't know enough to say more than that it sounds not unreasonable...

Fabius Maximus:

Summary: Here is a brief report with conclusions only. The situation is moving too rapidly and become too complex for explanations. This post describes the natural evolution of the trends I have written about for the past year, which are now reaching a climax. Not yet, but soon we will be able to see the shape of the new world ahead in the fog. As always, we lack the data or reliable economic theory to do more than speculate about these things. See the archive at the end for posts over the past year describing how we arrived at this difficult spot.

An economic downturn has 3 stages, each with a different goal.
1. First Aid � prevent the economy from sliding into a depression.

2. Treatment — mitigate suffering during the recession, achieve a global recovery in 2010.

3. Recovery � restructuring and reforms to prepare for the expansion after 2010, and the new world beyond that.
Yes, 2010 is the earliest reasonable date for a recovery IMO from the most severe global downturn since WWII. Policy errors could length the downturn, of course.

First Aid

This is a worldwide problem, due to two long-term factors.
1. Globalization has locked us together into the same business cycle, instead of some regions being strong while others are weak.

2. We all run our economies by the same body of economic theory, Keynesian economics. No commies (except fringe states like N. Korea), and few socialist ones.
The result is like a monoculture agricultural system, vast fields planted with a generically identical crop. It is uniformly vulnerable to the same diseases and pests. We have all contracted the same infection....

"..and the new world beyond that." So who is thinking ahead? Thinking about the new world we will be shaping, just by meddling with the world's economies? I wish I could say it was Republican leaders, but I don't see any signs of it.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:17 PM

Guilt by association

"Guilt by association" is bad only when it is a matter of some casual association being blown up out of proportion. (Think of the photo of Rumsfeld, on a diplomatic mission, shaking hands with Saddam, which was portrayed as indicating friendly complicity.... Plus as hypocrisy when we opposed him! That was a dirty lie by dirty liars.)

But guilt by association is a good thing, when a person really has chosen that association. Who we chose to associate with tells a lot about us. It is especially true with a chameleon like Obama...

Krauthammer puts it better than I can:

Convicted felon Tony Rezko. Unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. And the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It is hard to think of any presidential candidate before Barack Obama sporting associations with three more execrable characters. Yet let the McCain campaign raise the issue, and the mainstream media begin fulminating about dirty campaigning tinged with racism and McCarthyite guilt by association.

But associations are important. They provide a significant insight into character. They are particularly relevant in relation to a potential president as new, unknown, opaque and self-contained as Obama. With the economy overshadowing everything, it may be too late politically to be raising this issue. But that does not make it, as conventional wisdom holds, in any way illegitimate.

McCain has only himself to blame for the bad timing. He should months ago have begun challenging Obama's associations, before the economic meltdown allowed the Obama campaign (and the mainstream media, which is to say the same thing) to dismiss the charges as an act of desperation by the trailing candidate....
Actually, more important than the question of how well Obama knew Ayers, was the fact that Obama chose to spend most of his life in circles where Bill Ayers was considered "cool!" That's really sick.
Posted by John Weidner at 8:58 AM

October 9, 2008

I'm used to this cowardly idiocy...

I posted some of this piece by Bookworm before, but it's more apposite now than ever.
...When I vote against Obama on November 4, 2008:
  • It won't be because Obama thinks that a nuclear Iran is no threat to the Western World, it will be because I'm a racist.
  • It won't be because I think it's an incredibly stupid idea for the most powerful nation in the world to approach evil totalitarian dictators as a supplicant, it will be because I'm a racist.
  • It won't be because I hate the idea of a President who will subordinate America's interests to the UN (as he inevitably will), it will be because I'm a racist.
  • It won't be because Obama has the thinnest resume ever in the history of Presidential candidates, it will be because I'm a racist.
  • It won't be because I think Obama's Leftist connections (Ayres, Dohrn, Soros, Pfleger, Wright, etc.) show him to be either stupid about or complicit with an agenda antithetical to basic American values, it will be because I'm a racist.
  • It won't be because Obama consistently chooses as advisers people who have opted for the wrong side in the completely binary debate about Israel's right to exist, it will be because I'm a racist.
  • It won't be because Obama wants to socialize American medicine, which I believe will destroy the high quality of medical care available to most Americans, it will be because I'm a racist.
  • It won't be because Obama wants to gut the military and reduce us to a nation with a big target painted on our collective backside, it will be because I'm a racist.
  • It won't be because Obama wants to gut the Second Amendment and destroy Americans' Constitutional right to protect themselves from foreign and domestic enemies, it will be because I'm a racist.
  • It won't be because Obama has already announced loud and clear that he will support activist judges who place their “feelings” above the law, it will be because I'm a racist.....

Us Republicans are accustomed to being called "racists" and "homophobes" and "sexists" and all the usual Lefty crap that substitutes for actually debating the issues. I expect to hear a ton of it if Barack loses. Well, in anticipation, I spit with contempt on all cowardly Leftists.

I sometimes get those things on Facebook, like, "Jill Smith has sent you a marine mammal. Click here to accept." I wonder if there's a widget that goes: "John Weidner sends you a huge glob of contempt for your cowardice..."
Posted by John Weidner at 7:20 PM

Don't go there...

You know, if I became a Democrat, and (oxymoron alert) I continued to be able to think and reason clearly, I'd be voting against Barack Obama, because putting him at the center of the world's attention for four years is likely to destroy the Dem Party. There are lots of dead fish starting to float to the surface, but it takes time for hidden facts to be untangled and organized. And for their import to sink in...

Probably, alas, more time than we have before the election. But not more time than we have before 2012...or even 2010... Do you really want to spend the next four years waiting for the next shoe to drop? and the next? Does the name Rashid Khalidi ring a bell? Do you really want to find out?

Dr Sanity:

...Nothing disgusted me more about the last Presidential debate (and believe me, there was LOTS to be disgusted about) than Obama's casual remark that, "A lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11."

Yeah, I remember that day. And it wasn't a fucking tragedy--like some sort of natural disaster--it was an act of war in which 3000 Americans were killed in the blink of an eye by despicable people with ideologically distorted minds eerily similar to William Ayer's and his ilk. I am not the one who has forgotten that day and what it meant and still means.

Yeah, I remember 9/11; and I am also not likely to forget any terrorists who despise this country and what it stands for and want to destroy it--whether they hail from Al Qaeda, Mr. Obama's neighborhood, or any address on the extreme political left.

The simple fact is that Barack Obama is anti-American. He has spent his adult life swimming in Leftist schools of fish. I know these people. I went to college at Berkeley, and I live in San Francisco. They use code words in public discourse, but they savor any flaw that's noticed about this country. When abu Ghraib is mentioned their cheeks glow and their eyes sparkle.

And even the code words are giveaways to anyone who cares to think and notice. People who refer to 9/11 as a "tragedy" do NOT love this country. Imagine someone whose family-member was brutally murdered by an evil maniac. Would they call it a "tragedy?" As if it was just one of those random bad things that happen? No way! They'd call it murder, and do their best to see that the killer was locked-up forever, at the very least.

Real Americans love their country the way they love their family. (No, I'm not saying that precludes criticism.) I may criticize my relatives, even fight with them, but if one of them is attacked, it's like an attack on ME. I would not be standing at a distance, I would have no cool reserve. Likewise if this country is attacked.

When Leftists reacted to 9/11 with detachment, they were saying clearly that they do not love our country. Barack Obama is wholly a person of the Left. He does not love America. Democrats, if you elect this guy people are going to figure it out eventually.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:09 AM

October 8, 2008

Fell off the cliff a couple of years ago, now most of the way down...

The economics blog CalculatedRisk has some interesting thoughts. I'm not enough of an economist to say anything about this, but it's intriguing....

....I'm frequently asked if I'm more concerned today than I was in 2005. There are reasons for concern: the credit markets have seized up, many financial institutions are insolvent, consumer spending and investment in commercial real estate is starting to decline, export growth appears to be slowing, the unemployment rate is rising ... and the economy is clearly in a recession.

There are huge and scary downside risks today, but I'm actually more sanguine now than I was in 2005. If you think back to 2005, we were standing at the precipice, and there was no where to go but over the cliff.

Here is a look at some of the data. Where would you rather be?...

He has a number of charts showing things that have declined since 2005. Housing starts for instance are less than half of what they were in 2005/6. New home sales are down even more.

His point is that adjustment was badly needed from the overheated situation of a few years ago. But that we are already a fair ways toward the bottom. Let's hope so...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:56 PM

Oh Sarah. Go Sarah!

It may be too late, but it is sweet to finally finally see the Obama rock turned over, and some light shone on all the horrid crawly things as they go scurrying away to their crevices...

ABC News:

..."You know, what's next, claiming that he didn't know two of his biggest supporters were running Fannie Mae, the subprime mortgage giant? Palin said. "Maybe he thought they were just guys in the Washington neighborhood."

Palin continued the line of attack by questioning Obama's judgment in saying he would meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"And since he got called out on his plans to meet unconditionally with terror state leaders like Ahmadinejad, will he now claim he was unaware of his radical background?" Palin added, in mocking reference to Obama saying at a Democratic primary debate last year that he would meet leaders of rogue states without preconditions....

Heck, ol' Mahmoud is just one of those guys around the neighborhood. Or at least, he would fit in fine in Obama's Hyde Park neighborhood. He hates America, he hates Jews, has a violent revolutionary past, wears a suit now but is really still the old hostage-taker. He could help Obama be a "school reformer, no problemo... Or hey, Mahmoud could move to San Francisco. Get a Prius and an Obama sticker....He'd be popular...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:30 AM

October 7, 2008

Ain't that the truth...

Tim Blair quotes the WSJ:

Mrs. Palin may not know as much about the world as Mr. Biden does, but at least most of what she knows is true.
Posted by John Weidner at 7:16 AM

The opiate of the trendy liberal...

Peter Guttman has written a piece which argues that no one should be President who hasn't traveled. (He's a travel writer!) I think he's got it exactly backwards...

...Although historians will long debate how this country arrived at the global mess it's now in, it seems clear that much of it could have been prevented. In fact, I believe that a relatively simple amendment to the Constitution could prevent it from happening again. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, drafted in 1787, says that only natural-born Americans, at least 35 years of age, who have lived in the country for 14 years can serve as president or vice president. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has proposed (apparently with his friend, Arnold Schwarzenegger, firmly in mind) that this antiquated provision could best be corrected by opening the presidency to foreign-born U.S. citizens.

[It's hard to debate this guy, since the "global mess" is not defined--sloppy writing. War on Terror? Financial crisis? We're not popular in Belgium? Maybe it's the old "Europeans are so much more sophisticated and nuanced than us crude cowboy Americans" line. I'm guessing he is NOT thinking of Schwarzenegger as a solution to anything. For the record I don't think we are in a "global mess."]

But this adjustment misses the real point. Although a revision to this section is much needed, I believe that qualifications should not be loosened but rather tightened. I suggest the Constitution be amended to require that candidates for the presidency (and vice presidential selections as well) have visited a minimum of 20 countries. The amendment would require that each visit would have been made more than four years before the candidate's possible inauguration and that it would have lasted at least 48 hours. This serves as proof that a candidate is genuinely interested in, and possibly even knowledgeable about, the world around him or her.

[I would argue the opposite. The person who has travelled that much has likely lost the clarity of vision of what America is all about, and in fact probably never had it in the first place. I propose that to be eligible for the Presidency, a person should have lived at least twelve years in rural or heartland America, doing some real job. (Not government or foundation or academic or journalist).]

In the 21st century (unlike the period during which the Constitution was written), travel no longer means days of arduous journey by stagecoach or months aboard a steamship to reach an overseas destination. In a country that hopes to lead the world toward a more enlightened future, it is no longer acceptable to allow the reins of American leadership to reside in the hands of anyone lacking what is perhaps the most valuable credential of all -- the experience of foreign travel.
[If the Founding Fathers had imagined that people would be gadding about aimlessly as we do now, they would have considered it a bad thing. For most people travel is a substitute for deep thought and commitment to things bigger than the self. It's the opiate of the trendy liberal.]

Sadly, we ignored a red flag during our previous two presidential campaigns. Quite simply, a middle-aged man of considerable means and privilege who has freely chosen in his first fortysomething years on this planet to visit fewer than four countries (of the almost 200 United Nations' members) should not be permitted to captain our nation. It is plainly irresponsible to allow a blindfolded driver to navigate through the increasingly chaotic rush-hour traffic of global development, aided only by an off-key chorus of back-seat drivers...

[He misunderstands the Presidency. If the President is steering the car he is failing his duty. (Think Carter.) What the President is supposed to do is to SEE WHEREwe want to get to, and continually nudge the thousands of drivers of our government to move that way.]

...Our recent myopic, good-versus-evil attitude toward foreign policy has been one of the obvious results. Our current cartoon perspective on the world could have been sensibly altered with the experience-tempered subtlety and sophistication of leaders who have spent time outside the country.

[It's the "good-versus-evil attitude" that is reasonable. We face opponents who are evil. And we ARE the good guys. "experience-tempered subtlety and sophistication" are just code-words for moral relativism. and a decadence that will never fight against evil, even if it's throat is about to be sawed through by terrorists.]

I believe that President Bush has been gravely HARMED by the traveling he has done in office. He started out like the child who sees that the Emperor has no clothes, and isn't afraid to point it out. He broke silly taboos, for instance by saying openly that we would defend Taiwan. And demanding that the Palestinians abandon terrorism before getting any more concessions. But we haven't seen much of that refreshing candor lately---too much traveling, I'd guess.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:47 AM

October 6, 2008

Schwarzenegger...a bodybuilder? Why didn't anybody tell me?

John at PowerLine, on Obama's claim not to have known about the pasts of certain of his Chicago-politics pals:

....But it is inconceivable that Barack Obama knew Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn well enough to kick off his first political campaign in their living room, but didn't know that Ayers and Dohrn were Communists who led the Weatherman faction of SDS, urged young people to "kill your parents," carried out approximately 30 bombings, including New York City's police headquarters, the Capitol and the Pentagon, celebrated the Charles Manson murders, spent years living underground to avoid criminal prosecution, and continued to express their lifelong hatred for the United States in books, magazine articles, and public speeches.

This is rather like a person claiming that he had worked closely with Arnold Schwarzenegger for years, but had no idea that he was once a bodybuilder and movie actor. Ayers' and Dohrn's radical past is their only claim to fame...

You might want to recall this charmin' bit of Obama trivia...

....Consider Bernadine Dohrn, Ayers' wife and the co-host of Obama's career-launching fundraiser. When she was in the Weather Underground she was one of those members typically fascinated with Charles Manson (I discuss this briefly in my book). Speaking of Manson's famous murders she exclaimed, "Dig It! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!" In appreciation, her Weather Underground cell made a threefingered "fork" gesture its official salute...
Posted by John Weidner at 6:02 PM

October 5, 2008

"We are servants of the Word."

...For syncretism, those who are saved are the inward-looking souls, whatever the religion they profess. For Christianity, they are the believers, whatever level of inwardness they may have achieved. A little child, an overworked workman, if they believe, stand at a higher level than the greatest ascetics.

"We are not great religious personalities", Guardini once said; "we are servants of the Word." Christ himself had said that St. John the Baptist might well be "the greatest among the children of men", but that "the least among the sons of the kingdom is greater than he." It is possible for there to be great religious personalities in the world even outside of Christianity; it is indeed very possible for the greatest religious personalities to be found outside Christianity; but that means nothing; what counts is obedience to the Word of Christ...

      -- Fr. Jean Dani�lou
Posted by John Weidner at 5:03 AM

October 4, 2008

Caption contest... "Envision"

Our friend Scotty posted this picture on Facebook. I think it's pretty funny. Totally misguided, but funny.

Election comments at Grand Lake Theatre marquee

Me, I go for Bladerunner over Star Track any day. My idea of "dystopian" is a bunch of prissy bureaucrats in silly uniforms nosy-parkering around the Galaxy imposing political correctness and secularism and aesthetic banality. Ugh! Pour me another Scotch. I'll take Rick Dekard's urban nightmare, thank you. Way cooler. Vote McCain! Fight back against replicant jihadis!

Charlene says: VOTE SARAH, THINK "SERENITY" (Obama, perfect for Alliance President!)

Charlene also recommends Scotty watch this:

Posted by John Weidner at 10:30 PM

"We watch the wrinkles crawl like snakes, On the new image in our sight..."

The Anchoress: GOP: Get the lawyers ASSEMBLED

... I despise the insertion of lawyers and courts into election processes, but Al Gore did create the precedent, and after reading this, I'm thinking if the GOP has any brains left (and that is debatable) they'll start assembling an 'army of lawyers' for this election day.

And this is why I am fasting [and praying], because this election has been co-opted by something dark that has too many tentacles, and too many mindless ant-workers, in too many places. McCain can never beat it back because he -- like Bush, I'm sorry to say -- is still trying to hold on to what America has always been, instead of dealing with what it has become. And that,s not going to work, this election. If the GOP does not have an army of lawyers ready to challenge state after state, they may as well shut up their shop...

"this election has been co-opted by something dark that has too many tentacles" Well, I say that would describe the whole Western world. Regular readers will perhaps be annoyed by my returning to old themes, but I feel like the guy in some SF movie who's running around desperately, warning that alien shape-shifters are replacing people, and everyone just thinks he's crazy, or maybe stares at him with strange glowing green eyes...

I keep thinking about the curious fact that I've been blogging since 2001, and my blog has annoyed more than a few leftish people, and yet never once has one of them given me a well-reasoned or principled counter-argument. One that really challenged me to answer. And I've personally had, several times, the experience of knowing someone who seems reasonably intelligent -- maybe more intelligent than I -- and then watching them drift into the Leftish camp. And each time I am disappointed, but I think that at least I'll get some good debates going. BUT IT NEVER HAPPENS! And the things they subsequently write or say are, frankly, not very intelligent. It's like they've given themselves some sort of higher-brain-function lobotomy.

I think many people right now are intentionally making themselves stupid. Probably because if you think clearly about life, then you see that life demands that you grow up and discard childish things, and decide that certain things are True. And then act on those truths, to the extant of putting your own self second. (I often write that I think many people today, especially on the Left, are nihilists. The nihilist believes in nothing except himself, but that's just a different way of saying he doesn't want to grow up.) People are making themselves stupid because they want to remain children, without responsibilities.

And the Anchoress's "something dark that has too many tentacles" is just another way of describing this. Millions of people are working to make a world that is congenial to their decision to remain childish. And they are working like children do, not laying a deep plan or taking a broad view, but just scheming to get the next piece of candy. But all those petty little schemes of "mindless ant-workers" keep pushing our world, our country in certain direction, one that they can never clearly describe. Socialism and atheism are a large part of the goal, but there are few Socialists or Atheists anymore. Not in the old sense of those being causes that are bigger than the individual. It's just socialism in the sense of being taken care of from cradle to grave. (I was recently reading about how increasing numbers of Italian men are living with their parents permanently. Take that as a picture of what I have in mind.) And atheism in the sense of just not wanting to think about deep and demanding questions.

And I'm feeling very pessimistic, because it's a plague that is almost impossible to fight. You can't reason or argue little children into seeing things that are above their heads. And if a large portion of the population is basically reasoning at the level of a five-year old, then how do you get a grip in the problem? What can you do?

..Ah, who had known who had not seen
How soft and sudden on the fame
Of my most noble English ships
The sunset light of Carthage came
And the thing I never had dreamed could be
In the house of my fathers came to me
Through the sea-wall cloven, the cloud and dark,
A voice divided, a doubtful sea...

...How swift as with a fall of snow
New things grow hoary with the light.
We watch the wrinkles crawl like snakes
On the new image in our sight.
The lines that sprang up taut and bold
Sag like primordial monsters old,
Sink in the bas-reliers of fossil
And the slow earth swallows them, fold on fold...
      -- GK Chesterton, from The Towers of Time
Of course there is more to the long poem than that. Here are a few lines...
...(The light is bright on the Tower of David,
The evening glows with the morning star
In the skies turned back and the days returning
She walks so near who had wandered far
And in the heart of the swords, the seven times wounded,
Was never wearied as our hearts are.)...

...Thou wilt not break as we have broken
The towers we reared to rival Thee.
More true to England than the English
More just to freedom than the free.
O trumpet of the intolerant truth
Thou art more full of grace and ruth
For the hopes of the world than the world that made them,
The world that murdered the loves of our youth.
Thou art more kind to our dreams, Our Mother,
Than the wise that wove us the dreams for shade...
Posted by John Weidner at 10:32 AM

"The first rain of our lives, it seems..."

TURN OF THE MOON

Never forget who brings the rain
In swarthy goatskin bags from a far sea:
It is the Moon as she turns, repairing
Damages of long drought and sunstroke.
Never count upon rain, never foretell it,
For no power can bring rain
Except the Moon as she turns; and who can rule her?

She is prone to delay the necessary floods,
Lest such a gift become an obligation,
A month, or two, or three; then suddenly
Not relenting, but by way of whim
Will perhaps conjure from the cloudless west
A single rain-drop to surprise with hope
Each haggard upturned face.

Were the Moon a Sun, we could count upon her
To bring rain seasonably as she turned;
Yet no-one thinks to thank the regular Sun
For shining fierce in summer, mild in winter—
Why should the moon so drudge?

But if one night she brings us, as she turns,
Soft, steady, even, copious rain
That harms no leaf nor flower, but gently falls
Hour after hour, sinking to the tap roots,
And the sodden earth exhales at dawn
A long sigh scented with pure gratitude,
Such rain -- the first rain of our lives, it seems,
Neither foretold, cajoled, nor counted on --
Is woman giving as she loves.

--Robert Graves
Late last night I heard the pattering of our first rain since last April. It's an interesting thing to live in a Mediterranean climate, with a dry season. Very classical. Like the world of the Greeks and Romans and Israelites. Robert Graves himself lived in Majorca, so he has the very feel of it...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:11 AM

October 3, 2008

"The ensuing 218 years have gone pretty well..."

Jerry Bowyer, in Forbes... (Thanks to Orrin)
Ron Paul says that the Paulson plan is unconstitutional. So does Michele Malkin...

....I think they're wrong. Don't believe me? Then ask Alexander Hamilton.

You see, we've been here before. As George Washington was taking the oath of office, U.S. credit markets were in full meltdown. America faced a credit crisis in which debt obligations were being purchased by banking houses at 25 cents on the dollar. Paulson's predecessor was a guy named Hamilton, and Bush's predecessor was a guy named Washington. Hamilton wrote up a plan (called "Report on the Public Credit") in which he proposed that the Treasury department buy the troubled securities from the private sector, thus restoring the collapsing credit market.

Jefferson was opposed. He hated financial markets and manufacturing, which he thought were the industries of the past, associating them with Europe from which America had just broken away. He believed the future lay in small farming. Jefferson also believed that the Hamilton bailout plan was unconstitutional, and he talked Madison into fighting the plan in the House. Populists in the House said that since the debt was not created by the federal government, the federal government ought not to put itself on the hook.

Hamilton's case was simple. When any part of a nation participates in a massive repudiation of debt, the creditworthiness of the whole nation is damaged. Hamilton saw this as a national problem in need of a national solution. He argued that the whole nation would benefit from a return to a well-functioning credit market, with low interest rates fueling growth.

Hamilton believed that if the Constitution gave executive power to the president, then that included the authority to create specific institutions and programs necessary to exercise that power.

Jefferson's brand of suspicious populism held sway in the lower House and the bill was defeated. Credit markets reacted with panic.

Finally Hamilton and Jefferson sat down together and hashed out a compromise. Jefferson traded his support for the ultimate piece of political pork--the District of Columbia. The nation's capital was to be moved south, from New York to northern Virginia. The Washington administration agreed; Jefferson told Madison to support it. It passed; the Treasury bought up the paper, America's credit markets were restored quickly, and although we've had a few rough patches, the ensuing 218 years have gone pretty well so far....
Posted by John Weidner at 5:14 PM

October 2, 2008

I'll drink to her....

Palin family, Piper with tiaraThe more I think about the debate the more jazzed I get. (Or maybe it's the Laphroaig. They have it at Costco now. You just gotta drink it. Life's too short not to.) The attacks on our Sarah over the last few weeks have been the most insane thing I've ever seen in politics.

I was even reading somebody's screed about how her lip liner or lip gloss or some such was a fake! I mean, this was seriously discussed! With blown-up photographs. I kid you not. She is Kryptonite to Lefty losers, and they knew it from the first day McCain announced her. They went berserk, they've thrown everything they could at her...... And tonight she just made all that ankle-biting moot. She just went right past it onto new ground.

And think about when her e-mail was hacked. What was cool and really interesting was that they didn't find anything useful. There was really nothing there for anyone to be ashamed of. Her private life is exactly the same as her public life. Just imagine if people could eavesdrop on a private conversation by Obama and his radical leftist pals. Wow. If that went public he would be dead. Sarah: WYSIWYG

The situation for Republicans is not good, and Mr Creepy may well end up being our Jimmy-Carter-of-color. But that, bad as it will be for the country and the world, will just beg for a Reagan to follow on. And we may have found her....

Posted by John Weidner at 10:23 PM

My heart's with the grassroots....

Patrick Ruffini:
...But the fact still remains that if you are thrilled about Palin, you have a grassroots sensibility. If you are not, you have an elite/establishment sensibility. The delegates on the floor are the grassroots. Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan are the elite. The dividing lines have always been there, but Palin provides the ultimate litmus test....

...A major contributing factor to conservative despair these last two weeks is that the fear that the Palin choice would be defined as a warped historical error. Conservative and grassroots leverage over the party would be gone, at least for the foreseeable future. Sarah was our gal, and if she messed it up, it would be a long time before the conservative narrative about the future of the GOP would be trusted again. Meanwhile, conservatives were being asked to depart from principle in supporting the bailout. It was a wrenching and sobering couple of weeks.

Just as with her brilliant RNC speech, Palin did not let us down. And once again, she becomes the hope of the ticket and a standardbearer for the young guns who include Jindal, Portman, Cantor, McCarthy, Ryan, and many more.

Palin can no longer be defined as a liability in any meaningful political or analytical sense. Her claim to leadership in the next Right stands stronger than ever
Posted by John Weidner at 9:50 PM

Best comment...

Ramesh: "The big loser tonight was Tina Fey."

And Peggy Noonan: "she killed."

I have to admit I was worried. I know she has what it takes, but I hadn't been seeing it for the last few weeks. Thank you, Governor Palin!

Posted by John Weidner at 9:13 PM

Fred on Sarah...Good

Fred Thompson....
When John McCain selected Governor Sarah Palin, as his running mate, the Democrats and their far-left constituency let out a primal scream that could be heard from sea to shining sea. How dare he choose someone that they and their pals in the media had not had a chance to vet (i.e. libel, slander, and otherwise and otherwise eviscerate). Ah, but it was not too late. These seekers of "a new kind of politics" poured torrents of malicious abuse upon her and her family.

Sara Palin with ski plane Plane loads of scandal mongers, lawyers and other truth seekers became more numerous in Alaska than the polar bear, as they rallied local Democrats and disgruntled Republicans to their cause.

Here was a woman who chose to have children and a career. Aging Washington socialites weighed in with newly discovered sensitivity for mothers with careers outside the home. Here was a woman who became upset because her ex-brother-in-law had tasered her nephew and threatened her father. The Democrats and their friends had to save the country from a woman like this.

Governor Palin's every comment was scrutinized by the media and judged against what Jefferson or Lincoln might have said. Never mind that her counterpart, the 30-year-Washington-veteran Joe Biden, apparently is unaware that America relies upon coal for a lot of it's electricity or that he recently referred to a top level U.S. official's visit to Iran that never happened. That's just Joe being Joe -- protected by the sheer number of his gaffes and the fact that he is Barack Obama's running mate.

For a while there it seems the fact that so many uninformed yahoos (average people) love her was going to drive the main stream media nuts. They had a hard time grasping the fact that people like her because she is precisely the kind of politician that everyone has been saying they've wanted: Independent, not a captive of the Beltway including a Congress with a 9% approval rating, who will take on hacks of either party; who has the tenacity to win and the courage to fight for the long-term benefit of those she represents...

We like her 'cause she's Kryptonite to Lefty nihilists....


Posted by John Weidner at 2:23 PM

Some economic thoughts...

Mike Plaiss e-mails:

Thought you might like to see this in response to your fisking of the Spiegel article. What you are looking at is the US Dollar Index. It is an average of the exchange rate of the dollar and six major world currencies. The dollar is surging. The US economy is struggling but everything is relative. Europe is in just as big of a mess as we are, and investors worldwide are voting with their pocketbooks.

Capital is flowing into the United States, not out. And to buy US assets one needs US dollars. The Dow is down about 20% year to date, and the S&P a bit more (about 22%). Below is a list of major stock indexes from around the world over the same time period:

Dow Jones European Index -30.63%
United Kingdom -23.70%
France -28.34%
Germany -28.98%
Spain -26.13%
Italy - 33.90%
Holland -25.24%
Sweden -28.91%
Japan -27.13%
Hong Kong -34.52%
Australia -24.90%

Yes, a lot of this capital has flowed into US Treasuries as a safe haven, and that has something to do with the surge in the dollar, but a comparison of these stock indicies tells you there is a little more to the story.

And Richard Fernandez (Belmont Club) posts this, by a reader:

...In engineering there is a concept called "design margin" in which extra strength, power, capacity, capability is built into things to account for wear and tear as well as unknowns about the environment.

I think that the reason so many things seem to be "breaking" today is that over the last 20 years we have used up our "margin." Not pumping oil from our own known reserves ate into that margin. Cutting the military back by almost 50% - and then deploying it more than before - cut into that margin. Insisting on environmental, legal, racial, considerations in everything ate into that margin. Political correctness ate into that margin.

No one thought that a number of bad loans made to people who could not repay them would sink the economy - indeed it is not clear that it will even now - but eventually that “margin” in the financial system got eaten away. A single massive award in a lawsuit by a woman who spilled coffee in her lap ate into that margin in its own way, as did innumerable other lawsuits, silly or not.
Posted by John Weidner at 9:16 AM

October 1, 2008

Silly stuff, but I can't resist fisking...

America Loses Its Dominant Economic Role, By SPIEGEL Staff (Thanks to Bookworm)

The banking crisis is upending American dominance of the financial markets and world politics. The industrialized countries are sliding into recession, the era of turbo-capitalism is coming to an end and US military might is ebbing. [No, our military is growing in cunning and power. Because we fight. It's YOUR might that is ebbing rapidly.] Still, this is no time to gloat. [You are not just gloating, you are drooling with pleasure.]

There are days when all it takes is a single speech to illustrate the decline of a world power. [I'm old enough to have heard this before. And maybe we're gonna get a new black-face Jimmy Carter. But do you remember who followed him?] A face can speak volumes, as can the speaker's tone of voice, the speech itself or the audience's reaction. Kings and queens have clung to the past before and humiliated themselves in public, but this time it was merely a United States president.

Or what is left of him. [Enjoy it now, suckas. Wait'll you get a dose of President Palin...]

George W. Bush has grown old, erratic and rosy in the eight years of his presidency. Little remains of his combativeness or his enthusiasm for physical fitness. On this sunny Tuesday morning in New York, even his hair seemed messy and unkempt, his blue suit a little baggy around the shoulders, as Bush stepped onto the stage, for the eighth time, at the United Nations General Assembly. [He's grown old honorably, fighting the world's battles, while you've grown old in nihilism, attempting nothing.]

He talked about terrorism and terrorist regimes, and about governments that allegedly support terror. He failed to notice that the delegates sitting in front of and below him were shaking their heads, smiling and whispering, or if he did notice, he was no longer capable of reacting. The US president gave a speech similar to the ones he gave in 2004 and 2007, mentioning the word "terror" 32 times in 22 minutes. At the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations, George W. Bush was the only one still talking about terror and not about the topic that currently has the rest of the world's attention. [Until something goes Ka-Boom! THEN you will remember terrorism.]

"Absurd, absurd, absurd," said one German diplomat. A French woman called him "yesterday's man" over coffee on the East River. There is another way to put it, too: Bush was a laughing stock in the gray corridors of the UN. [It doesn't matter what the UN thinks. The UN is old, erratic, utterly corrupt, and totally irrelevant.]

The American president has always had enemies in these hallways and offices at the UN building on First Avenue in Manhattan. The Iranians and Syrians despise the eternal American-Israeli coalition, [We should f---ng CARE about the enmity of Iran and Syria? I'm proud of it.] while many others are tired of Bush's Americans telling the world about the blessings of deregulated markets [So, how's that EU economic dynamo workin' out?] and establishing rules "that only apply to others," says the diplomat from Berlin. [And your alternative plan, Herr Berlin? Your counter-offer? I'm waiting with abated breath to hear how you are going to step on stage and make the trains run on time.]

But the ridicule was a new thing. It marked the end of respect. [Oh yeah, all that euro respect we've been used to. You've been hating Americans since at least 1830. Big deal. Ho hum. Dirty little hooligan children always hate the grownups.]

....Is it only President George W. Bush, the lame duck president, whom the rest of the world is no longer taking seriously, or are the remaining 191 UN member states already setting their sights on the United States, the giant brought to its knees? UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon referred to a "new reality" and "new centers of power and leadership in Asia, Latin America and across the newly developed world." [So step up to the plate, wise-guys. Show us yer leadership.] Are they surprised, in these new centers, at the fall of America, of the system of the Western-style market economy?... [Well, we'll see how that goes. But here's the brute fact, Huns. If we go down, you go down too---that's what globalization is about. And when we come back up, you will come back up too. Eventually. Which means our relative positions won't change! You will still be behind, and your stagnant economies will continue to slip farther behind...]

Posted by John Weidner at 9:58 PM

Starting Wars for Dummies, 1st ed.

A lot of people have mentioned this article because of the possibility that the Iranian ship has radioactive materials aboard that are killing the pirates. To me the much much more interesting issue is that we see revealed a miniature, a little "Cliff Notes" version of the path that led to the Global War on Terror we are now in. Maybe I should write a book, "War Promotion for Dummies!"

A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.

Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill "within days" of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died....

...About 22000 ships a year pass through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aden, where regional instability and "no-questions-asked" ransom payments have led to a dramatic rise in attacks on vessels by heavily armed Somali raiders in speedboats.

The Iran Deyanat was sailing in those waters on August 21, past the Horn of Africa and about 80 nautical miles southeast of Yemen, when it was boarded by about 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They were alleged members of a crime syndicate said to be based at Eyl, a small fishing village in northern Somalia...
This is just insane. We, the Western, developed world, are tolerating piracy in the 21st Century? WHY?
  • Is there any question that piracy is totally wrong according to the generally accepted values of the civilized world?
  • Is there any question that the powers have both a right and duty to suppress it?
  • Is there any question that we have fought piracy in the past, to the great good of the planet. (And especially to the poor of the world, who would be hurt most by contractions in trade?)
  • Is there any question that the problem will get worse if not stopped now? That the profits of piracy will be invested in more powerful weapons and the recruitment of more pirates?
  • Is there any question that we have ample power to fight the problem? (Think satellite surveillance, Predator drones, Hellfire missiles into any speedboats approaching ships.)

The answer is that we are paralyzed because we have lost the core values of Western Civilization. America partly, Europe almost totally. The real problem is inside the souls of the people of the West. The problem is nihilism.

And that is precisely the case with the War on Terror. We had the right and duty to squelch terrorism when it first became a problem, many decades ago. And we didn't. And because we failed to slaughter hundreds of people back in, say, the 1960's, hundreds of thousands have to die now. Maybe millions. The short answer is that pacifism is murder, and those who call themselves pacifists or anti-war activists these days have blood of innocents dripping from their hands.

But the bigger problem is that there is almost no real pacifism today--it's just a smokescreen to hide empty souls who don't dare to take any decisive action, because that requires acknowledging higher duties.

Western civilization is, to its very core, a Christian civilization. Once the habits of Christian virtues (which can also be held by unbelievers) are lost, there is really nothing left.

...The moral approach to war in Aquinas and Calvin is refreshing for those familiar with modern Christian approaches to warfare--approaches which, more often than not, do little to help Christians understand why they should be prepared to participate in or support war of any kind. Aquinas and Calvin, in contrast, teach Christian soldiers why they need to participate in and support just wars. From the divine point of view, God desires to restrain evil among His creatures. And in using human beings to do so, God actually elevates the restrainers...

...The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches--contrary to today's prevailing views--that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God.
    -- Darrell Cole

The story or myth that expresses this is the story of the knight who protects the innocent. I don't think the like occurs in non-Christian cultures. There are no folk-tales or ballads of the Centurion or the Samurai who has a duty or calling to protect the little people. If you follow the stories of our troops (and sometimes the Brits) in Iraq and Afghanistan, you will see the old story told anew. (You won't get it from the foul devils of our "news-media," but us bloggers pass the tales on like Samizdat.)

Posted by John Weidner at 11:24 AM

"What kind of woman do you think I am?!"

Johah Goldberg, on the Republicans and the Democrats who voted against the "bailout" deal. ..

...Now, the interesting thing here is how different the motives are here, and how they run counter to the liberal conventional wisdom and the prevailing media narrative. The Mike Pence "ideologues" opposed this bill on principle even though we're always told by the Thomas Frank crowd that those laissez-faire Republicans are merely the willing pawns of America's financial ruling class. Their principles are mere window dressing for grasping, evil capitalists. But the financial ruling class supports this bill. They're begging for it in fact. These right-wing ideologues believe there must be a cheaper and better way to protect the American taxpayer that preserves economic liberty.

Now look at the ideologues of the Democratic party. This crowd voted against the bailout because the government simply didn't meet their price. If the bailout proposal came with a $100 million no-strings-attached earmark for every congressional district, does anyone doubt that Jesse Jackson Jr. would hail this "heroic" legislation? Does anyone doubt that Mike Pence would still have voted against it?

In short, we've already established what kind of party the Democrats are, now we're just haggling about their price...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:01 AM