May 31, 2009

It's nice to have Obama agreeing that I was right all along....

Victor Davis Hanson, And Then There Was Only Guantánamo:

...I think we now have come to the end to the five-year left-wing attack theme of Bush "shredding the Constitution."

Except for the introduction of euphemisms and a few new ballyhooed but largely meaningless protocols, there is no longer a Bush-did-it argument. The Patriot Act, wiretaps, e-mail intercepts, military tribunals, Predator drone attacks, Iraq, Afghanistan — and now Guantánamo — are officially no longer part of the demonic Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld nexus, but apparently collective legitimate anti-terrorism measures designed to thwart killers, and by agreement, after years of observance, of great utility in keeping us safe the last eight years.

Add in the Holder statements about Guantánamo in the 2002 interview, the Pelosi/Rockefeller/et al. waterboarding briefings, the need to consider torture in past statements by senators such as Schumer, and I think historians will now look back at these "dark years" as largely a collective, bipartisan effort.

All of which leaves us a final musing: If so, what was the hysteria of 2001-2008 about other than simple politics?

I doubt we get any more movies about ongoing renditions, redactions, any more Checkpoint-like novels, any more waterboarding skits and reenactments, any more late-night comedians doing their Bush tapped, intercepted, tortured, renditioned, tribunaled poor suspect X routines.

And I guess as well that the good old days of supposedly flushed Korans in Guantánamo and Omar the poor liberationist renditioned to Cairo are over. We are now in the age of a sober and judicious President Obama who circumspectly, if reluctantly and in anguish at the high cost, does what is necessary to keep us safe.

And we won't see a brave young liberal senator, Obama-like, barnstorming the Iowa precincts blasting a presidency for trampling our values with the shame of Guantánamo, wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, military tribunals, Predators, Iraq, etc. That motif just dissolved — or rather, it never really existed.

It short, all the fury, the vicious slander, the self-righteous outbursts, the impassioned speeches from the floor, the "I accuse" op-eds by the usual moralistic pundits — all that turned out to be solely about politics, nothing more....

Bush: Saving your ass, like it or not



Posted by John Weidner at 5:42 PM

For Pentecost...

From the Book of Joel, Chapter 2.

...Thus says the LORD:
I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.
Your sons and daughters shall prophesy,

your old men shall dream dreams,
your young men shall see visions;
even upon the servants and the handmaids,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.
And I will work wonders in the heavens and on the earth,
blood, fire, and columns of smoke;
the sun will be turned to darkness,
and the moon to blood,
at the coming of the day of the LORD,
the great and terrible day.
Then everyone shall be rescued
who calls on the name of the LORD;
for on Mount Zion there shall be a remnant,
as the LORD has said,
and in Jerusalem survivors
whom the LORD shall call...

Just as a point of information (sort of like one of my word notes), the old timers didn't really expect the moon to turn to blood, or the sun to go out. When you read things like that, they are not about *gasp* the End of the Earth. Rather apocalyptic, which is what that kind of writing is called, is and was a literary genre. God acts in history, acts in the world we live in. And saying that the "stars were going to fall" and similar things was understood by everyone to mean that God was going to be making big changes. Not that he was striking the circus tent, and ending the show.

The great irony is that when certain Protestant sects have calculated, from apocalyptic Bible passages, that the world is going to end on a certain day, their thinking is very much a product of the Enlightenment. They are taking, in fact, a rationalistic or "scientific" approach to scripture. They have lost the ability to "see" what Joel was saying. Even if they are Six-Day Creationists, and think dinosaur bones were planted by the Devil, they are as much chained to the narrow room of natural science as Richard Dawkins or poor Christopher Hitchins.

That's why we have the Church. The Church does not forget.

The Catholic Church is the only thing
which saves a man from the degrading
slavery of being a child of his age.
    -- GK Chesterton


Posted by John Weidner at 10:06 AM

May 30, 2009

"Real love is tough love"

From Peter Holmes, The Jihad of Tolerance...

...Hands up who is sick and tired of being told to be 'tolerant'.

The word 'tolerance' seems to mean, "allowing anyone else to do whatever they like to me, to other people, and to themselves so long as I am allowed to do the same."

Christians in particular have sold out to the error that Christianity is a religion of tolerance. It seems that Christ was all about us sitting amiably by as people engage in harmful, stupid, and even evil things?

I have studied the Scriptures daily as part of my full time occupation for the last 14 years. Try as I might, even reading in original languages and using all kinds of groovy modern critical methods, I still haven't found this 'tolerant' Jesus everyone keeps talking about...
[...]

....You may have guessed by now that I don't buy into the lie that something can be 'true for me' but not 'true for you'. Truth is truth, my believing it does not make it any more or less true.

Tolerance has at its root a kind of arrogant condescension which says "even though I consider myself, my beliefs, my actions to be better than yours, I will refrain from imposing my superior beliefs on you in exchange for you not attempting to foist your ignorant views on me."

Jesus never taught us to engage in anything so uncaring and unloving as merely tolerate our neighbour. He teaches us to love! Love recognises what is objectively good for someone and wishes that goodness for them. Real love is tough love. Tough love is a love that seeks good for our neighbour no matter what the consequences.

Real love is a love that will not stand idly by as people are encouraged to walk the road to destruction. If Christ feared being misunderstood, or 'putting people off the Church by being too confronting' he would never have lived, taught and died the way he did....

The tolerance thing is especially poisonous because it is frequently infected with leftish politics, at least around here in Pelosi-ville. No one would even consider being tolerant of Dick Cheney! And as for pointing out that some favored minority group is in fact harming itself with pathological behavior...Oh my word, no. That can't be.... tolerated.

Harbaville Triptych Deesis
The picture is a detail of the Harbaville Triptych, a 10th Century Byzantine ivory carving in the Louvre. It is the scene called a "Deesis," a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty carrying a book, flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist.
Posted by John Weidner at 7:06 PM

Cheney on the high ground....

Jonah Goldberg: Cheney an Unlikely Beacon for Conservatives....

...It's a lovely thing when the conventional wisdom proves to be so spectacularly wrong. The entire Democratic party, not to mention the media establishment, simply took as a given that suave, charming, effulgent, numinous president Barack Obama would mop the floor with grumpy, truculent, sardonic former vice-president Dick Cheney. And yet, on almost every issue he has championed since he left office, Cheney has won the debate or at least put the White House on the defensive. From the closing of Gitmo and the placement of terrorists in domestic prisons, to the release of the torture memos and the aborted release of prisoner-abuse photos, Cheney holds the higher ground politically, or in the polls, or both.

Many liberals who take it on faith that Cheney represents all that is evil, cruel, and unhip about the Republican party, not to mention carbon-based life forms, are loath to give him even an ounce of credit for his success. That Obama is backpedaling or off-balance on so many fronts, they say, is at best circumstantial evidence that Cheney is having any effect. Well, you know, Thoreau was right: "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk." The trout in Obama's milk is the trout fisherman from Casper, Wyo.....

There are profound lessons to be learned here. An easy one is that the Bush policies Democrats relentlessly demonized were hardly as extreme, politically or morally, as they alleged. If Bush's anti-terror policies were half as bad as Obama & Co. claimed, the American people and Congress would reject them all wholesale, and Cheney's arguments would sound like the ravings of a madman. That hasn't happened.

But the more important lesson, at least for conservatives and Republicans, is that arguments matter. If personalities and politics alone drove the issues, then of course flannel Cheney would lose against silky Obama. But it turns out that substance is a good counterpunch to style.

"Evil, cruel, and unhip Republican"—hey wait, that's me! Cool. No wonder I like the guy. Thank you, Mr Cheney, for expressing what I feel!

(The picture is of Vice-President Cheney at the American Enterprise Institute's World Forum, in 2004. Originally posted here.)

Posted by John Weidner at 3:22 PM

If Dems claim to care about minorities, they are lying...

When you hear Leftists gushing about Sotomayor's rise from poverty to the Supreme Court, just remember how another Hispanic was treated by those frauds...

When Democrats derailed a GOP Latino nominee | Washington Examiner:

...It was precisely the fact that Estrada was Hispanic that made Democrats and their activist allies want to kill his nomination. They were determined to deny a Republican White House credit, political and otherwise, for putting a first-rate Hispanic nominee on the bench.

Durbin and his colleagues did as they were instructed. But they had nothing with which to kill the nomination -- no outrageous statement by Estrada, no ethical lapse, no nothing. What to do?

They brainstormed. Estrada had once worked in the Justice Department's Office of Solicitor General, right? (Appointed under the first President Bush, Estrada stayed to serve several years under Clinton.) That office decides which cases the government will pursue in the Supreme Court, right? And that process involves confidential legal memoranda, right?  Well, why don't we suggest that there might be something damaging in those memos -- we have no idea whether there is or not -- and demand that they be made public?

Durbin and his colleagues knew the Bush Justice Department would insist the internal legal memos remain confidential, as they always had been. It wasn't just the Bush Administration that thought releasing the documents was a terrible idea; all seven living former Solicitors General, Republican and Democrat, wrote a letter to Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy begging him to back off.

But the Democrats didn't back off. They had a new, very serious question to ask: What is Miguel Estrada hiding?...

It was a classic dirty trick. Of course those confidential memos can't be released. The department lawyers must be able to thrash out the messy decisions of who to prosecute. Prosecutors never have the resources to go after everybody who deserves it--so they must discriminate. And if the memos were released, they could be used in trials or political attacks. It's sort of like demanding that a priest tell what Mr Estrada, or anyone, said in the confessional, and then, when he refuses, saying: "Ah HA! He's hiding something!"

If I were a Democrat I'd hang my head in shame at such vileness. But then, if I were capable of feeling shame I wouldn't be a Democrat in the first place!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 AM

U kan take it from de Tocqueville...

Charlene recommends this video by Andrew Klavan, aimed at kids graduating from college: Why Are Conservatives So Mean?

I can't embed it like a YouTube, but it's really good, and fun. Please take a look...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:24 AM

May 29, 2009

If three nice people are in love...

...Who could object to their marriage? ...except those insufferable theocrats...

Mr. and Mrs. and Mrs...or Whatever, by Chuck Colson:

...Earlier this month, Maine became the fifth state—and the fourth in New England—to legalize same-sex "marriage". Five thousand miles away in Hawaii, Sasha and Janet Lessin are hoping to build on New England's example.

If they are successful, no one can seriously claim to be surprised.

Writer Abby Ellin described how the Lessins gathered with friends and held what was dubbed a "commitment ceremony." The "commitment" being celebrated wasn't a renewal of their marriage vows—it was the incorporation of a third party, "Shivaya," into their so-called "triad."...

Triads. How could we possibly deny them their "constitutional rights?" It's like the Civil Rights Movement, right? We can't turn certain people into second class citizens, can we? We can't go back to the days of 'back-alley triads," can we?

Of course we won't get an honest debate about whatever the next innovation might be. Leftists and libertarians will ignore the possibility, and scoff at anyone who brings up the subject, until the moment when it becomes a fad, at which point they will consider it a fait accompli, and pretend that conservatives are unreasonably blocking what is "obviously" right and just.

And they will say that anyone who objects has "moved to the right!"

Posted by John Weidner at 6:56 AM

May 26, 2009

Another thought for Memorial Day...

Alan Sullivan:

At 3 PM, President Obama was playing golf very privately at Fort Belvoir, outside of Washington. So much for his ballyhooed "moment of national unity." That is for the God and guns crowd.

I want to dedicate this Memorial Day not only to those who have died in past conflicts, but to those who are going to die because the nation elected this supremely fatuous man to its highest office.

Well, it is probably true.

Think of how many have died because of the fatuousness and weakness of Jimmy Carter. Imagine if he had not ignored a year of warnings about the possibility of a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan? Imagine if he had taken a strong stand in the Iranian hostage crisis? (We now know that the hostage-takers only planned to hold our people for a few days. It was purely Carter's criminal weakness that ended up pinning a "kick me" sign on the USA.) Carter deserves to be called one of history's great mass-murderers.

What I loath most of all is Carter's claiming to be a "Christian," (personally I think he's no Christian at all) with "Christian" meaning being weak in the face of evil, and letting monsters kill and enslave millions of people. Not real people, you understand, just niggers in countries nobody's ever heard of, like Afgnanistan. What could go wrong? (To our "liberals" and "pacifists" the world is similar to that famous New Yorker cover, with a huge Manhattan, and everything else small and obscure.)

I say that's bullshit. I've quoted before the views of St Thomas, in an essay by Darrell Cole, Good Wars. This time I'll give you some John Calvin...
...Calvin, too, looks at the soldier as an agent of God's love. As he argues: "Paul meant to refer the precept of respecting power of magistrates to the law of love." The soldier is thus as much an agent of God's love as he is of God's wrath, for the two characteristics are harmonious in God. Calvin argues in this way because he holds that to soldier justly—to restrain evil out of love for neighbor—is a God-like act. It is God-like because God restrains evil out of love for His creatures. None of this is to say that we fully imitate God or Christ when we use force justly, for the just soldier's acts can never be redemptive acts—acts that have a saving quality for those who are targets of the acts of force (except, of course, in the sense that the just soldier "saves" the unjust neighbor from more unjust acts). Yet the just soldier who cultivates the military virtues in such a way as to harness and direct them toward his final end—beatitude with God—may nevertheless be said to be one who, as the Reformers liked to say, follows Christ at a distance.

How can we follow Christ—even at a distance—while fighting and killing? Calvin gives us an indication by pointing out that Christ's pacific nature (his willingness to suffer violence at the hands of Jewish and Roman authorities) is grounded in the priestly office of reconciliation and intercession that is reserved for him alone. Christ's pacific nature is thus inextricably tied to his role as redeemer and cannot be intended as a model for Christian behavior. No Christian can or should try to act as a redeemer, but all can and should follow Christ in obeying the commands of the Father. And the Father commands the just use of force...

I notice that Cole has a book on this subject. I plan to read it soon...


I notice Glenn Reynolds writes:

"Is Obama Another Jimmy Carter?" Actually, I'm beginning to think that's a best-case situation.


* Update: The SF Public Library is part of a system called LinkPlus, that gives us access to the books of scores of libraries in this region. It is really rare that I can't find a book I want in one of them. But none of them have a copy of Cole's book: When God Says War Is Right. Gee, I wonder why that might be?

I just ordered a copy from amazon.com for $9. I thought immediately of how Milton Friedman wrote about how most of the segregation and racism of the old South was instituted by government, and how the marketplace tended to color-blind!

* Update: Keep in mind that it's the publisher who gets to chose a title for the book. I'd guess that the in-your-face title was not Mr Cole's idea.


Posted by John Weidner at 8:48 AM

May 25, 2009

Of course they won't apologize--he's "the neocon's neocon"...

William A. Jacobson: Will The Left Apologize To Bolton?:

Will The Left Apologize To Bolton? On May 20, 2009, John Bolton wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal titled "Get Ready for Another North Korean Nuke Test" in which he noted that the complacency of the Obama administration about North Korea's nuclear ambitions (and Iran's) was misplaced:
"The curtain is about to rise again on the long-running nuclear tragicomedy, "North Korea Outwits the United States." Despite Kim Jong Il's explicit threats of another nuclear test, U.S. Special Envoy Stephen Bosworth said last week that the Obama administration is "relatively relaxed" and that "there is not a sense of crisis." They're certainly smiling in Pyongyang."
As usual, the Left lashed out at Bolton, who may be third after George Bush and Dick Cheney in being portrayed as crazy and paranoid. Bolton has been derided as "the neocon's neocon" who "laps up the hosannas of fellow knuckle-draggers." ...

Me, I'm proud to be a knuckle-dragger.

Apologize to Bolton? Well, wake us up when that happens. The animals won't, you may feel confident, even apologize to the human race after NK nukes Japan, or Iran nukes Israel.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:38 PM

If Dems didn't have Bush they'd have to invent him...

I think it's really low-class and creepy the way Obama continues to take every opportunity to slam the Bush Administration. It is contrary to American tradition, and un-Presidential. George W Bush, being a gentleman and a decent American, has not answered back. Obama is trying to cover up the emptiness of his Leftist soul, and his lack of any positive vision.

Chris Stirewalt notes Obama's ugly use of Memorial Day for politicking, instead of making this a day for all Americans to share appreciation of our honored dead: Obama takes swipe at Bush in Memorial Day message | Washington Examiner:

And he includes this little gem...

...It gets little notice, but even to this day Bush makes calls on wounded veterans at military hospitals, corresponds with families of fallen servicemembers and gives his own money to veterans charities. In office, Bush hugely increased funding for veterans programs and worked relentlessly to improve the lot of ordinary troops....

Try to imagine liberals, especially Mr Obama, doing that! I'd bet Obam never has and never will give one penny of his own money to veterans charities...

Some links about Bush and soldiers and vets...Link, link, link President Bush with soldiers
Posted by John Weidner at 12:22 PM

May 24, 2009

Memorial Day...

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


Posted by John Weidner at 6:46 PM

A great American versus an amiable con-man...

I liked this piece by Michael Goodwin, Obama gets schooled on terror: Cheney bests him in speech duel — by sticking to the facts:

* NOTE on the caricature below. It's by cartoonist F. T. Rea. (With permission.) I think it's cool—I LIKE tough old white guys who haven't succumbed to lefty nihilism and relativism. Possibly I'm not on quite the same, er, philosophical wavelength as Mr Rea, but hey, great art transcends partisan politics!  ;-)


It was a tale of two speeches. One was clear, direct and powerful. Barack Obama gave the other speech.

It would have been heresy to write those words any other time, so commanding has President Obama been with the spoken word. [Not if you prefer honesty and straight talk.] But the real Mission Impossible was to imagine that wheezy old Dick Cheney would be the speaker to best Obama. [Character and honesty trump all. TRUTH trumps all. And real Americans HONOR those who have grown old and wise in the service of their country.]

Yet that happened last week, and I predict it won't be a fluke. From here on out, results will increasingly trump the sensation of Obama's high-toned lectures every time.

Especially if they are as dreary as last Thursday's, which was so disingenuous and self-reverential as to be one of the low moments of his presidency. Besides not being able to clearly lay out his plan for Guantanamo detainees, Obama never mentioned what will happen to others we capture in Iraq and Afghanistan. [Good question!] Perhaps we will take no more prisoners? [We will continue to take prisoners—we're the good guys. But it would be perfectly legal and reasonable to just shoot them—they torture and kill any Americans they capture. Which never bothers the fake-liberals who pretend to "care" about prisoners.]

Meanwhile, the occasion showed that Cheney, the darkest of dark horses, is emerging as a fact checker in exile. With Democrats holding all Washington power, the ex-veep's willingness to challenge Obama's narrative of the war on terror is a poor substitute for an institutional check-and-balance, but it's all we have. [Cheney's always been the same guy. It's only those who believe the lies of our lying press who are surprised by his vigourous defense of our country in time of war.]

What I love about Dick Cheney is that he doesn't buy into the idea that leftists get to set the terms of the debate. That we have to be mealy-mouthed about our patriotism and our determination to destroy terrorist animals. He doesn't CARE if lefty journalists call him a "hate-monger." Bless the man.

In that sense, Cheney's ability to outduel Obama could mark a turning point in the debate on this and other critical issues. His TKO over the President recalls the three most important things in real estate: Location, location, location. The key to Cheney's powerful performance: Facts, facts, facts.

Cheney, whose wife jokes that calling him Darth Vader "humanizes" him, coughed his way through a 40-minute defense of the Bush administration's anti-terror strategy. He glossed over huge lapses, such as the flawed intelligence leading to the invasion of Iraq, [WRONG. That was the SAME intelligence EVERYBODY had, including Dem leaders in Congress. We learned through the Duelfer Report that Saddam's own generals thought the WMD's were there! Saddam's guys were more honest than our "Democrats," who now claim "Bush lied" for believing exactly what they believed and said in 2002.] but used to great effect the most compelling fact - no successful attacks on America since 9/11...
In a contrast-and-compare sequence, he challenged Obama's approach, including the release of the so-called torture memos and talk of prosecuting Bush officials.

"To the very end of our administration, we kept Al Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems," Cheney said. "We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed." [Amen, brother Richard. And a lot of the credit goes to you.]

For his part, Obama sounded like a put-upon plaintiff arguing a Supreme Court case. The heavy symbolism of his setting, the National Archives in front of an original copy of the Constitution, added to the worrisome impression he is lost in the legal and political weeds. [Not to mention that he's a pygmy compared to that setting.]

Ironically, his criticism that Bush took his eye off the ball to invade Iraq [WRONG of course. Iraq is precisely WHY they haven't attacked us again. It was what the terrorists hate and fear most—democracy and freedom planted right smack-dab in their heart of darkness. If Dems REALLY want peace they should promise that America will do the same thing again if we are attacked. Then we WON'T be attacked.] has a corollary in Obama's fixation on interrogation techniques. He is missing the larger point

[PS: Don't tell anyone, but the real reasons I advised George and Dick and Tony to invade Iraq are here.]

After conceding terrorism presents unique challenges, Obama argued "the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable - a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions; that failed to use our values as a compass." [We have no "time-tested institutions" for this new situation. All we have is the template Bush has created—which Obam is, in fact, following closely!]

Whoa Nellie - are the terrorists going to hit us again or not? That's what people want to know, not whether a bunch of lawyers think we're being too tough on them.

Unfortunately, Obama was less than reassuring, saying: "Neither I nor anyone else standing here today can say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives." [What a PASSIVE thing to say. Compare with JFK promising to "pay any price" to defend freedom. Or Bush promising to "smoke 'em out."]

That's a fact, of course, but it's also a fact that he's been warned his policies will make it more likely we will be hit again. It's a warning he dismisses at America's peril.

I actually think the Mr Cheney's arguments are too narrowly focused, concentrating on just the defense of the USA. The poor folk in various Third World countries are a thousand times more at risk than we are. I'd suggest this as a better context for our debates:

America has, reluctantly, and because no one else will do it, become almost the only "cop on the beat" in the rough gang-ridden neighborhood that is our planet. A neighborhood where one hears screams coming out of buildings at night, and bodies are found on the sidewalks in the morning. This cop sometimes roughs-up suspicious characters, and it may be right to criticize him. BUT, if he fails, then criminal gangs take over, and the little people's sufferings will be extreme.

Therefore, the starting point for criticism is to be in sympathy with the cop and his extremely difficult task. And to be in solidarity with the common citizens who are going to be crushed if hoodlums can take over the streets. One should start by imagining what it must be like to try to preserve the rule of law among vicious criminals. It is hard, dangerous and thankless. And then imagine what it must be like to try to raise an child to be honest and moral in a place where drug-dealers and gangsters strut and kill people, and seem more successful than those who obey the law.
Posted by John Weidner at 6:07 PM

The straight stuff...

Father Z.:

...I think people were very interested to see Pope John Paul, but they are really interested to hear Pope Benedict.

Pope Benedict speaks with great clarity, making hard concepts easier to understand by means of a step by step presentation. He is also a very linear speaker and writer, which makes him easier to follow. Pope John Paul would circle and circle back, revisiting points as he developed them and his delivery style was a little less engaging... until he went off script. And then... It didn't happen often, but when it did... wow. Pope Benedict is far more likely to leave his text and speak off the cuff, which is electrifying.

People want to know Holy Church has to say. The Church is the great enemy for many because they know she speaks a truth from positions they cannot assail with reason. As a matter of fact, that is why they nearly always use a personal attack or try to veer the conversation into emotions. But I think people have retained a sense that when the Catholic Church speaks on faith and morals, they know they are going to get the straight stuff.

We need to use the tools of social communication more effectively. I am doing my bit, but imagine what we could do if we collectively were dedicated to that task....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:01 AM

This is pretty good...


Posted by John Weidner at 5:50 AM

May 23, 2009

Reasoning with "liberal Jews" is probably a waste of time...

...But the thought of my Jewish friends still holding warm fuzzy thoughts for the "international community" (and of course opposing the horrid cowboy "unilateralism" of President Bush) ... and maybe donating money to UNESCO... and praising the United Nations? Ugh. How sick and suicidal can people be? How STUPID, to make the same STUPID mistakes decade after decade?

Bernard-Henri Lévy: UNESCO: The Shame of a Disaster Foretold:

...Who declared in April 2001: "Israel has never contributed to Civilization in any era, for it has only ever appropriated the contributions of others" -- and added almost two months later: "the Israeli culture is an inhumane culture; it is an aggressive, racist, pretentious culture based on one simple principle: steal what does not belong to in order to then claim its appropriation"?

Who explained in 1997, and has repeated it since in every way possible, that he was the "archenemy" of all attempts to normalize his country's relations with Israel?

Or who, as recently as 2008, responded to a deputy of the Egyptian parliament who was alarmed that Israeli books could be introduced into the Alexandria Library: "Burn these books; if there are any there, I will myself burn them in front of you"?

Who said in 2001 in the newspaper Ruz-al-Yusuf that Israel was "aided" in its dark intrigues by "the infiltration of Jews into the international media" and by their diabolical ability to "spread lies"?...

Who? Why, an honored leader of the "international community," of course...

It take self-induced stupidity for smart people to continue to act stupidly and not see reality right in front of them. And to persist in delusion for lifetimes...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:57 AM

May 22, 2009

The genius of democracy....

Krauthammer:

...If hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue, then the flip-flops on previously denounced anti-terror measures are the homage that Barack Obama pays to George Bush. Within 125 days, Obama has adopted with only minor modifications huge swaths of the entire, allegedly lawless Bush program.

The latest flip-flop is the restoration of military tribunals. During the 2008 campaign, Obama denounced them repeatedly, calling them an "enormous failure." Obama suspended them upon his swearing-in. Now they're back.

Of course, Obama will never admit in word what he's doing in deed. As in his rhetorically brilliant national-security speech yesterday claiming to have undone Bush's moral travesties, the military commissions flip-flop is accompanied by the usual Obama three-step: (a) excoriate the Bush policy, (b) ostentatiously unveil cosmetic changes, (c) adopt the Bush policy....

And this is right on the money...

...The genius of democracy is that the rotation of power forces the opposition to come to its senses when it takes over. When the new guys, brought to power by popular will, then adopt the policies of the old guys, a national consensus is forged and a new legitimacy established.

That's happening before our eyes. The Bush policies in the war on terror won't have to await vindication by historians. Obama is doing it day by day. His denials mean nothing. Look at his deeds....

Like I been telling you since November of 2001, [link, link] President Bush has been doing what is right, strategically, tactically, legally and morally...in the Global War On Terror. And now we see Obama agreeing with me and the former President. Running the circus "concentrates the mind."

And not once have the slippery Lefty cowards who snipe at me engaged in serious principled debate. They say life imitates art. Well, I say life imitates Random Jottings!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:29 AM

May 21, 2009

We are the Good Guys. That's the politically-incorrect truth...

I recommend former Vice-President Dick Cheney's Speech at the AEI. An antidote to the moral squalor and squashiness of the Obama universe...:

...The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the world--for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences--and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don't stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for--our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.

What is equally certain is this: The broad-based strategy set in motion by President Bush obviously had nothing to do with causing the events of 9/11. But the serious way we dealt with terrorists from then on, and all the intelligence we gathered in that time, had everything to do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch. The enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees and the terrorist surveillance program have without question made our country safer. Every senior official who has been briefed on these classified matters knows of specific attacks that were in the planning stages and were stopped by the programs we put in place.

This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It's almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future....

Vice President Cheney with troops in Qatar, March 17, 2002

Posted by John Weidner at 5:33 PM

"The state has gradually annexed all the responsibilities of adulthood..."

Mark Steyn, writing in Imprimis. And saying the same sort of things I say. But of course saying them far better, so I'm glad he's copying me...

...My book America Alone is often assumed to be about radical Islam, firebreathing imams, the excitable young men jumping up and down in the street doing the old "Death to the Great Satan" dance. It's not. It's about us. It's about a possibly terminal manifestation of an old civilizational temptation: Indolence, as Machiavelli understood, is the greatest enemy of a republic. When I ran into trouble with the so-called "human rights" commissions up in Canada, it seemed bizarre to find the progressive left making common cause with radical Islam. One half of the alliance profess to be pro-gay, pro-feminist secularists; the other half are homophobic, misogynist theocrats. Even as the cheap bus 'n' truck road-tour version of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, it made no sense. But in fact what they have in common overrides their superficially more obvious incompatibilities: Both the secular Big Government progressives and political Islam recoil from the concept of the citizen, of the free individual entrusted to operate within his own societal space, assume his responsibilities, and exploit his potential.

In most of the developed world, the state has gradually annexed all the responsibilities of adulthood—health care, child care, care of the elderly—to the point where it's effectively severed its citizens from humanity's primal instincts, not least the survival instinct. Hillary Rodham Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child. It's supposedly an African proverb—there is no record of anyone in Africa ever using this proverb, but let that pass. P.J. O'Rourke summed up that book superbly: It takes a village to raise a child. The government is the village, and you're the child. Oh, and by the way, even if it did take a village to raise a child, I wouldn't want it to be an African village. If you fly over West Africa at night, the lights form one giant coastal megalopolis: Not even Africans regard the African village as a useful societal model. But nor is the European village. Europe's addiction to big government, unaffordable entitlements, cradle-to-grave welfare, and a dependence on mass immigration needed to sustain it has become an existential threat to some of the oldest nation-states in the world.

And now the last holdout, the United States, is embarking on the same grim path...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:44 PM

May 20, 2009

Put pressure on the Palestinians? Unthinkable!

Remember? Remember that "brief interruption" when Bush actually demanded that Palestinians start acting more like human beings as a pre-condition of peace? Heady days, but they couldn't last, of course...

Rachel Abrams in the Weekly Standard...

So, after a brief interruption during which George W. Bush reversed generations of American policy and put pressure on the Palestinians before making demands of the Israelis, it's back to business as usual for U.S.-Israel relations. What happened at yesterday's meeting between Bibi Netanyahu and Barack Obama was no more than a return to the U.S. policy of pressing Israel to endanger herself for the sake of whichever "strategic interest" happens to be paramount at the moment--today it is our diplomatic opening to Iran that may be imperiled by a lack of progress on the establishment of a Palestinian state--and, of course, that ever-desirable, always-elusive siren, "peace."

Put another way, you, Israel, can have peace as soon as you agree to diminish yourself to a helplessly undefended and vulnerable entity, whether by ceding land or conceding on a divided Jerusalem or acceding to the "right of return" of Arabs displaced after losing the war they launched against you in 1948--and we, America, can have good relations with sheikhs and mullahs who hate you only slightly more than they hate us.

I've explained the "whys" of this many times, but it still amazes me that our "pacifists" can suck-up to people who teach kindergarten children to be suicide bombers, and our "Democrats" always oppose the only democracy in the Middle East. (Well, now there's a second one, and, surprise, they are not rooting for that one either!)

Or that the one country in the Middle East that has equal rights for gays and women is hated by our fake "gay-activists" and fake feminists...

woman of the Israel Defence Forces
Woman of the Israel Defense force. Detail from a
picture by photographer
Ashkan Sahihi.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:02 AM

May 18, 2009

Finally... Thank you, Mr Cheney!

Stephen F. Hayes: Cheney's War on the Democrats:

...Cheney is making arguments that the Bush administration largely avoided throughout the second term. Aside from an occasional, defensive speech about its war on terror policies, the Bush White House allowed its opponents to level harsh attacks with little or no response. Only in the final months of the administration did the White House offer a consistent, unapologetic argument that Bush administration policies, however controversial, were responsible for keeping the country safe in the seven years after the 9/11 attacks.

Equally important is that the views of the American public on national security are much closer to Cheney's than Maureen Dowd's. Democrats have made the assumption that because Cheney is personally unpopular, the policies he has advocated are, too. Obama did not become president because voters supported his positions on national security and the war on terror. They don't....

I would make a broader argument, but Dick Cheney is dead right. I'd argue that George W Bush did not just keep the US safe, he made the WORLD a much safer place. Remember, most of the suffering inflicted by al-Qaeda and the Taliban and other terror groups is inflicted on people in the Third World. We are very safe compared with the poor wretches in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

(That's why I despise pacifists. Especially "Christian" pacifists. They always turn someone else's cheek. They say "Jesus said we mustn't oppose evil with force." Then they toddle off to dinner and a safe bed, protected by armed cops and the world's strongest military. The animals know full well that massive slaughter will be inflicted on anyone who threatens them. And their icy little hearts are unmoved when niggers in far places are shredded by suicide bombers. They pass on the other side of the road.)

That's part of what drove me nuts about the passivity in debate of the Bush Administration. If you are doing something morally wrong, then stop. If you think you are morally in the right, you have the obligation to say so loud and clear. You must be willing to debate. To stand up against false arguments. Bush was wrong to not fight for his ideas in the ring.

Vice president Cheney and his wife and daughters

Posted by John Weidner at 8:23 AM

May 17, 2009

"When you dream of happiness"

It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choice that others try to stifle.

It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society.

      -- Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day 2000 Prayer Vigil

Well, we see this all around us, but we don't want to notice.

(Thanks to Sherry W)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:24 AM

May 16, 2009

Toldja...

Another Friday, another bow to Bush's antiterror legacy -- WSJ.com:

...President Obama's endorsements of Bush-Cheney antiterror policies are by now routine: for example, opposing the release of prisoner abuse photographs and support for indefinite detention for some detainees, and that's just this week. More remarkable is White House creativity in portraying these U-turns as epic change. Witness yesterday's announcement endorsing military commissions....

Just call me Sister Toldja. I wrote on August 23, 2008....

...George W Bush has set the template of the Global War on Terror, much like Truman did for the Cold War, and that's the way we will proceed from here on out... [Link]
And here's another link. June 07, 2008...
...President Bush has created the template for fighting the War on Terror, just as Truman set our course for the Cold War. Future presidents will be limited to filling in the details. Even pygmies like Obama. If they are smart, they will just read Random Jottings.

Or, better yet, listen to this deep old file....
Posted by John Weidner at 11:41 AM

May 15, 2009

The Insanity Only Grows #12,963...

Imagine a long-ago (say in the 1960's) conservative who declares that this new thing called "affirmative action" is wicked folly. Of course he's a racist! A bigot! He hates blacks, right?

And suppose he says that "affirmative action" is a bad idea because once it starts, it will just grow like a cancer, metastasizing into every crevice of life, putting more and more decisions into the hands of bureaucrats who will pick and choose life's winners according to the leftist fashion of the moment. Obviously he's CRAZY, right? That couldn't possibly happen, right? There's no such thing as a "slippery slope," right?

Trolley Driver May Get Hit With Charges - ABC News

...The office of Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley made the statement a day after ABCNews.com revealed that Aiden Quinn was hired in 2007 from a lottery that consisted of minority candidates. Quinn's status at that time was female-to-male transgender, and sources told ABC News that status was what qualified him as a minority....

What I find more important is, that if that 1960's conservative had told a liberal friend that someday people would be selected for "preferred minority" status because they were having sex-change operations, the liberal would not only have thought that that was impossible, he would have considered the impossibility as a rock-like certainty that he could have confidence in!

That is, if you told him that his liberal pilgrimage was taking him into a realm where there was no certainty, where every idea or belief could morph and shift, where nothing is dependable... He would not believe it. He would assume that some things will never change.

And what makes me want to scream is that if you encountered that same liberal today, he will still not THINK. Even though heaps of things he once considered settled and trustworthy have been swept away like sand-castles by the tide, he still believes that whatever exists at the moment is secure. He does not DARE to think.

It's like pointing out to a liberal that the same arguments he accepts now for "gay marriage," would (and will) work just as well to "justify" man-boy marriage or human-animal marriage or group marriage. He won't give you any clear answer, won't even take the point. He assumes that won't happen, that "they" won't let it happen. And when the next outrage comes along, he will just drift like jellyfish with the current, and accept the new thing: "You're a bigot to say my daughter shouldn't be able to marry the pony she loves. You are denying her EQUALITY! It's her constitutional right!"

OR, maybe the liberal will "draw the line" at that point, and say no. On what grounds, you might ask? Why, traditional morality of course!



Posted by John Weidner at 10:26 AM

May 14, 2009

"Bake sales against genocide"

Mark Steyn:
Michael, re Obama's view of the Holocaust:
Those numbers can be our future, our fellow citizens of the world showing us how to make the journey from oppression to survival, from witness to resistance and ultimately to reconciliation. That is what we mean when we say "never again."
I take your point that "it may be what he means by 'never again,' but most everybody else means 'we're going to act to throttle the next would-be Hitler.'" But I'm not sure everybody else does mean that, not anymore.

The French thinker (if you'll pardon the expression) Alain Finkielkraut says that "Never again" to a European means "Never again power politics. Never again nationalism. Never again Auschwitz" — which sounds like a slightly different order of priorities from yours. And over the decades the revulsion against any kind of "power politics" has come to trump whatever revulsion post-Auschwitz Europe might feel about mass murder. That's why in the early Nineties the EU let hundreds of thousands die on its borders in the Balkans rather than act to prevent it. Indeed, they "acted" only to prevent the Americans coming in and doing something about it, because they found it easier to tolerate the murder of their fellow Europeans than the idea of American military action to stop it.

It's interesting how easily the Obama definition of "Never again" fits that kind of passivity. Two of the three "causes for hope" the president cites — Rwanda, Sudan — are textbook "Never again" scenarios that roll around again and again and again. In fact, Darfur is still ongoing, so to congratulate yourself merely because some American high-schoolers have formed "Save Darfur" chapters looks at best like moral preening and at worst like the kind of feeble passivity that enabled the Holocaust first time round. It's grand to be a member of the Grade Ten "Save Darfur" campaign, not so good to be back in Darfur wondering when the actual saving's going to start. If "Never again" now means "Bake sales against genocide," we're all doomed.

"Bake sales against genocide." Mr Steyn hits on the right phrase as usual.

How I despise liberals who talk abut Hitler in self-congratulatory terms, as a great liberal victory. Them liberals are long gone. Just imagine the situation of, say, 1936 were to exist today, and President George W Bush was urging Americans to go to war and stop this menace while it could still be done with relatively small loss of life! Do you have any doubt that our 'liberals" and fake-pacifists would happily let the Jews fry?

Posted by John Weidner at 11:16 AM

May 12, 2009

Tuning out what doesn't fit the template...

I am, most of the time, a fan of David P. Goldman (Spengler). But I think this, from The Torture Debate Shows Our Vulnerability to Radical Evil, at First Things, is just malarky, and comes from his internal movie, not from reality...

...The scandal over torture is the perverse result of the previous administration's exercise in nation-building, that is, an attempt to bring the benefits of democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. When Justice Department lawyers write memos to set ground rules for "enhanced interrogation," something has gone woefully wrong. In the case of Iraq, the American military got up to its neck in the septic-tank of Iraqi civil society without the means to engage it. Apart from first-generation immigrants, few Americans speak Arabic, let alone Persian or Pashtun. Iraq's welter of resistant organizations was entirely opaque to American intelligence, which proposed to beat the required information out of a large pool of Iraqi prisoner. In retrospect it seems delusional to believe that the United States could shape a civil society without even the ability to communicate with it...

1. Unless I've missed something (correct me please!) the "torture" scandal has little to do with supporting operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. The (very few) cases of water-boarding were about threats by al-Qaeda to the US or Europe. (Abu Ghraib was not about interrogation.) I think Goldman is simply making stuff up.

2. The "septic-tank of Iraqi civil society" is a false description. I would say that Iraqi civil society is surprisingly healthy considering the decades of totalitarian misrule, and the general state of Arab culture. The violence we experienced was deliberately ginned-up by several murderous groups, but does not seem to have ever been what Iraqis in general wanted.

3. "...entirely opaque to American intelligence" Even if true, where are the Iraqi Defense Forces in this analysis? Turned to zombies? This is a bizarre variant on the liberal tendency I've written about to only consider America "real." The picture Goldman is painting, with only America able to act, is simply crazy.

4. I've been following accounts by our guys in Iraq since 2003, and it is very clear that they do in fact communicate effectively with Iraqis. There are lots of English-speaking Iraqi interpreters, and many of our troops have learned at least some basic Arabic.

5. Though we provide lots of advice and aid, we are not "shaping a civil society," nor trying to. The Iraqis are clearly doing that themselves.

6. We seem to be succeeding. (See quote below by Nibras Kazimi.) Iraq is now safer than a lot of US cities. Therefore, it looks like "delusional" describes Goldman much better than it does American efforts in Iraq.

(Here are a few links to reports from Iraq, stuff I think Goldman just tunes out or ignores: Link, link, link, link. There is lots more where those came from.)

One of Goldman's schticks is that America is "arrogant," and will surely come a cropper. Maybe so, but I think in the case of Iraq he's seeing his own mental picture of the world, not what's there. (By the way, my list of reasons for invading Iraq is here. I don't just assert things, I back them up.)

I'd recommend Nibras Kazimi as a useful antidote to Goldman's fantasies. This is from an article of his, Dodging 'Democracy' in Iraq:

...It seems that U.S. policy views the words 'democracy' and 'Iraq' as mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, if it is policy then it was one begun by Clinton's predecessor, Condoleeza Rice, who in the latter years of the Bush administration began to shy away from the term.

Iraq is democratic. It has a noisy political process whereby politicians are always mindful of how their constituencies will react to their actions come election time. It managed to pass a constitution by referendum, and for the first time in the Middle East, the thorniest of issues such as sectarianism, minority rights and women's empowerment are being debated, and voted on, by the Iraqi electorate. A vocal parliamentary opposition assails a coalition cabinet on anything from budgetary pitfalls to the abuse of prisoners. Heck, even prisoners and ex-felons are allowed to vote in Iraq, something that can't be said about America.

Right before the last provincial elections, teams from the country's Electoral Commission visited prisons and hospitals to explain to voter their rights, and the procedures by which their votes would be collected and counted. That's not only a stark contrast to Iraq's brutal totalitarian past, but a stark contrast to Iraq's immediate neighborhood, where elections are 'managed' to produce the results the ruling establishment decrees...

Goldman is a great thinker, and I admire him very much, but in this case I think I'm seeing things more clearly than he. Why? Because I care about Iraqis, and like them. I'm not sure why—I ind neither other Arabs nor Afghans interesting—but I glom onto Iraqi news avidly, and have been for years now. I don't think Iraq is real to him. Just something useful for his arguments.

Democracies, by the way, are always uglier the lower the per capita income. Therefore, a reasonable level of success for Iraqi democracy would still be more flawed than even Mexico or Turkey.

* Update: Actually, I'd say that Iraq is evidence that America is NOT arrogant. We said we could do the job, and even though it turned out to be ten times a hard as expected, we pulled it off! Sounds like clear-minded confidence in our abilities and in the attractiveness of our ideas to me. Not arrogance.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:52 AM

May 11, 2009

Twisted....

Here's yet another example--sigh--of how bogus "identity politics" is. The identity always comes second to the politics, and the politics is always Leftist. This example is particularly sick, because someone is being turned on simple because she has a personal friendship with someone in the "enemy" camp.

Washington Post: Friendship With Conservative Thomas Complicates Supreme Court Chances for Georgia's Sears:

One day in the early 1990s, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas telephoned Leah Ward Sears to introduce himself. She was a rising star in Georgia's legal community, a relatively liberal black woman on the state's conservative Supreme Court. Thomas had read about political attacks against Sears and called to say he didn't like it.

"It affected her that he would take the time to comfort her in that situation," said Bernard Taylor, an Atlanta lawyer and longtime friend of Sears, now chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and a potential nominee to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter. "They're still friends."

Many years after that phone call, the friendship that has endured makes for one of the more intriguing subplots of President Obama's upcoming decision. In naming Souter's replacement, Obama is likely to choose a liberal jurist. Some in the civil rights community are hoping that person will be an African American, such as Sears, to soothe the lingering bitterness over the appointment of Thomas, a conservative who is the court's only black justice.

But if the choice does turn out to be Sears, the nation's first black president would be nominating someone whose closest friend on the court is the very person civil rights activists have accused of failing to represent African Americans' interests....
...The Rev. Joseph Lowery, the longtime leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, quickly called Sears to congratulate her but also let her know that he would not attend her swearing-in [as Chief Justice] because Thomas would be there...

Yeah, how "Christian" is that?

...State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, also begged off. "I would have been a hypocrite to go up there, skin and grin, smile and shake hands," he said. His deep disdain for Thomas trumped pride in Sears's accomplishment. "[I] don't think we have any black people on the Supreme Court. It's not just the pigmentation of skin. It is philosophy, and even though Justice Thomas has our skin, he really does not vote the way African Americans would have him vote."...

The "philosophy" is to make blacks dependent on big government, so "Black Elected Officials" can stay on the gravy train. And to preserve racial polarization as a precious natural resource, one that justifies any sort of leftist power grab, or indoctrination.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:05 AM

May 10, 2009

Government health care. Disaster. So, why do it?

Mark Steyn, on the Hugh Hewitt show... (emphasis added)

...HH: Everywhere you try it, you just mentioned Bulgaria, Great Britain and Canada, it is a disaster. Why do they want to do it?

MS: Well, what is does is, if you're a Democrat, what it does is it changes the relationship between the citizen and the state. It alters the equation. If you provide government health care, then suddenly all the elections, they're not thought about war and foreign policy, or even big economic questions. They're suddenly fought about government services, and the level of government services, and that's all they're about, because once you get government health care, the citizens' dependency on government as provider is so fundamentally changed that in effect, every election is fought on left wing terms. And for the Democratic Party, that is a huge, transformative advantage.

HH: Oh, that's very interesting. Now in Canada, though, don't people get mad at their quality of health care? Don't they throw the bums out and perhaps urge a return to American style medicine?
MS: No, because the strange thing is that when people, even when people have really bad experiences, you see this in the British press all the time whenever they have one of these horror stories about someone who goes in because they've got a bad case of, they've got a case of pneumonia, and they wake up and find their left leg's been amputated because the wrong memo went around. All those horror stories are always followed two days later by someone writing a fawningly, groveling letter about having received mediocre, third world care, but being eternally grateful for it. It really does, government health care is really the ditch you want to fight in, because once you surrender that, I think it's very difficult to have genuine self-reliant citizenry every again. It really fundamentally changes the equation.

HH: Then where's the AMA?  Where is business? Why hasn't this battle been joined even as the ink is getting very dry on the big Obama rewrite of American medicine?

MS: Well, because I think most of the spokesmen for the conservative argument in Washington do not make the case. And they don't understand that once you've got a government system, it becomes like any other government program. On Friday, you have to pay the doctor, you have to pay the nurse, you have to pay the janitor. So your only way of controlling the cost is to restrict access to the patient, to the customer. And that's why once you've got a government health care system, everything is about waiting lists and waiting time. It's about waiting two years for a hip operation. It's about waiting 9 months for an MRI. It's about waiting, waiting, waiting....

Some other thoughts by Alan Sullivan here.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:06 PM

May 9, 2009

Base camp. High above the tree line...

From If Only Atheists Were the Skeptics They Think They Are, by Edward Tingley:

..."Believing is not something you can decide to do as a matter of policy," as Dawkins says—though it is odd that he does so in a discussion of Pascal, who, like him, is a skeptic. A complete misunderstanding of Pascal, however, is crucial to the way that Dawkins and every one of his fellows (past and future) always think.

Evidence is just not available to demonstrate the existence of God, said Pascal, who called himself one of those creatures who lack the humility that makes a natural believer. In that, he was of our time: We are pretty much all like that now. Three hundred and fifty years ago he laid out our situation for us: Modern man confronts the question of God from the starting point of skepticism, the conviction that there is no conclusive physical or logical evidence that the God of the Bible exists.

"I have wished a hundred times over that, if there is a God supporting nature, [nature] should unequivocally proclaim him, and that, if the signs in nature are deceptive, she should suppress them altogether"—but nature prefers to tease, so she "presents to me nothing which is not a matter of doubt" (429). "We desire truth and find in ourselves nothing but uncertainty" (401). "We are . . . incapable of knowing . . . whether he is" (418). This is where the modern person usually starts in his assault on the question, Is God real or imaginary?

This is base camp, above the tree-line of convincing reasons and knock-down arguments, at the far edge of things we can kick and see, and it is all uphill from here. Thus, it is astounding how many Dawkinses and Dennetts, undecideds and skeptical nay-sayers—that sea of "progressive" folk who claim to "think critically" about religion and either "take theism on" or claim they are "still looking"—who have not reached the year 1660 in their thinking. They almost never pay attention to what the skeptic Pascal said about this enquiry.

Instead, the dogmatic reflex, ever caring for human comfort, has flexed and decided the question already, has told them what to believe in advance of investigation and rushed them back to the safety of life as usual....
[...]

...Pascal the skeptic has ruled out a fruitless path, the path to God via logic or concrete evidence: the easy route to the summit, sought for centuries but never found. The only way forward is up from where we are, onto the icy slopes out past the limit of concrete evidence. If that is possible.

At this point, of course, the venture is not looking especially promising. The mind is made for hard evidence. It gets traction on rough ground, but what stretches before us is sheer ice (minds are not issued with crampons). Is there a way forward?

That is now the question. If we care about the truth more than we care about some favored means of data-collection, we need to discover whether there is any other way, up here where the air is thin and the ice treacherous, that a rational person could settle the question of God.

A Question, Not an Answer

"Is there anything more?" is the scientific question, but as Pascal asks it, the "scientists" vanish.

The agnostics ski down the mountain into the woods, searching for hard evidence on the basis of which to decide whether God exists—which is very odd, given that a moment ago they were standing here with us, ready to climb as declared skeptics. Agnostics, plainly, are wafflers in their skepticism: As the team gets going, they U-turn back to the foothills, where every true skeptic says there is nothing to find. They do not care about the truth.

But even more astonishing than that, the atheists have just gone home. They are not down in the valley looking for evidence; they are not looking at all. They have packed in the science without lifting a boot, as if the summit were already taken, the question answered.

The atheist is the team-member who was always talking up the loftiness of the mission, but after all his fervid urgings to "search for what is true, even if it makes you uncomfortable," to go on no matter how hard and painful the going gets, he is the chap who grandly announces, without bending a knee, that victory is ours: "God should be readily detectable by scientific means." "Absence of evidence is evidence of absence." We now "rule out the God worshiped by most Jews, Christians, and Muslims." The climb is done, and the atheist scampers back to town to meet the press....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 PM

East Side, West Side...

This is just too cool...

(Thanks to Publius)

The book to read is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Posted by John Weidner at 8:21 AM

"Officially spotless"

Alan Sullivan:
There was a minor flare-up of cycle 24 activity on the far side of the sun yesterday. It was detected by solar-orbiting scientific satellites. There were three CME's (coronal mass ejections). Presumably one or more sunspots were present for a time. But today the disturbed area has rotated around the limb of the sun, and it has already calmed down. No spot is visible, so the sun remains officially spotless. Yet this flutter of activity has caused a flurry of media attention.

Until recently, the media had entirely ignored the unusual extended solar minimum. When some stories appeared, they were invariably accompanied by caveats, quoting some warmista "climate scientist," asserting that the sun could not possibly override the overwhelming force of "greenhouse effect." But now, the moment cycle 24 shows a sign of life, the media are all over it. They are so desperate for the agenda to remain undisturbed...

"Desperate." Ha. To me the climate situation is like one of those movies where the viewer knows that something is about to happen, but the characters go wandering around the haunted house without a clue. Perhaps we are at the stage where somebody says, "I have a bad feeling about this place."

There presumably must be a point where people become aware that the Earth seems to be cooling. Average temperatures have been declining for a decade, polar ice is increasing, and, most importantly, the Argo experiment shows that deep ocean temperatures are going down. (Link, link)

And if/when we come to that point, that's when it gets really interesting to me. The question is, will people re-think? In a general way, that is. Will any significant number of people become true skeptics? A skeptic is not a disbeliever, it's someone who prefers to look carefully at the evidence and find the truth. (That, by the way, is why most people who claim to be "skeptics" in religion are phonies. They are disbelievers pretending to be thinkers. Here's a good essay on this.)

My guess is that people won't re-think. They will just accept whatever new "consensus" they are fed by politicians and the media. And Leftists will discover that massive government action is needed, lest selfishness and individualism and unrestrained capitalism cause a new ice age...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:37 AM

May 8, 2009

Steyn...

I was busily running errands yesterday morning, and caught a bit of Mark Steyn, filling in for Rush.

A couple of lines I remember:

"I don't want to talk about Edwards. I didn't like him when he was just an ordinary oleaginous creep, and now he's an adulterous oleaginous creep..."

and on Colin Powell:

[Powell's attack on Rush Limbaugh] "was like being head-butted by a butterscotch pudding."

And that Powell believes in "moderation as an end in itself." Ugh. And Mark mentioned his "moderate ending" to the first Gulf War. Ugh.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:51 AM

May 7, 2009

No reason to be ashamed...

Also part of that TigerHawk quote from the previous post:

...Hiroshima-Nagasaki

The US had already firebombed Tokyo with a higher loss of life than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The US had also firebombed about 70 other Japanese cities. Without the A-bomb drops, Curtis LeMay would have lit up all of Japan -- conventionally -- by the time of an invasion, and had already made a good start. The B-29 was a remarkable plane for its time -- it ... not the A-bomb ... would have become known as the greatest single killing machine in world history.

The horror of WWII was that civilians became military targets, all over the world. In terms of "people killed" -- a gross measure, but still relevant -- Hiroshima and Nagasaki don't rank that high. You want "millions" and "horrific", you can't beat the Nazis. The Japanese military killed 200,000 to 300,000 civilians at Nanking alone -- and did it "retail" and often sadistically.

I'm not proud that the US nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- but it was justified and the right decision in the context of WWII.

Jon Stewart -- who I like -- is just wrong on this. Exploding an A-bomb at sea as a demonstration wouldn't have been effective. I'd even go so far as to say that the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have helped the US and Soviets steer away from actual using the damned things...

Well, I AM proud that we nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was the correct moral choice, so there is no reason to be ashamed of. (And if it had been Russians who ended the war by using nukes, our lefty-frauds would have no problem with it.)

If you know the history of how difficult it was for those in the Japanese government who wanted to surrender to pull it off (the book to read is: Japan's Longest Day) you see that it is 99% likely that the nuclear bombing was one of the great acts of mercy in history, one that saved millions of lives. (If you think I'm being foolish, just read up on the battle for Okinawa, and multiply that by the much greater size and population of the main Islands!) The discussion thread I took these quotes from has comments from the descendents of Americans who were poised to invade Japan, and were saved from a bloodbath by the Atom Bomb.

But even that is in a way too America-centered; the number of Asians (including Japanese) we saved by using our nukes was far greater. Remember, Japan had more than a million men under arms in Manchuria at the end of the war. Imagine all of them fighting to the death, as was normal. Or running amok in defeat, as in the sack of Manila. (You might read this, on Japanese war crimes. Crimes which the A-Bomb put a stop to.)

  

Posted by John Weidner at 1:25 PM

"Small "t" torture"...

TigerHawk:

...Jon Stewart had to call Truman a war criminal over Hiroshima-Nagasaki, else he'd have lost the debate. QED.

A similar tactic from the left is to force debate over whether waterboarding is or isn't torture. If you admit it is, then waterboarding gets lumped in with far worse tortures -- you lose the debate. But by saying it isn't, you look disingenuous or worse.

I'm convinced waterboarding keeps coming up, because the left enjoys playing this rhetorical game. Waterboarding is a small sideshow in the scheme of things -- it's small "t" torture, didn't happen a lot, and many of us would wish far worse things upon guys like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Obama has dredged it up to make himself look good -- especially with his base -- and as a distraction from more momentous things that are going on.

Exactly. It's a rhetorical game, defining "torture." We always lose.

But more important is not to let the real context of the debate be denied. The US ended torture and cruelty in Iraq and Afghanistan that were millions of times worse than anything we've even been accused of. But this "debate" is one the Left has moved onto it's own ground, where nothing happens unless the US (or Israel) is present. A world where only the US is real. We should not let Lefty psycho-dramas set the terms of debate.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 AM

May 5, 2009

Please don't trow me in dat briar patch, Br'er Bear...

Obama's campaign manager fears Jon Huntsman the most in 2012:

...SALT LAKE CITY - (ABC 4 News) - There is one republican presidential candidate that President Barack Obama's campaign manager fears the most in 2012...and his name is Jon Huntsman Jr....

....While no republican presidential candidate yet makes Obama's team "shake in {their} shoes...," President Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, now says Governor Jon Huntsman makes him, a "wee bit queasy...I think he's really out there speaking a lot of truth about the direction of the party."

To which Kirk Jowers of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics says, "Huntsman has positioned himself in a great place right now because he is the only presidential candidate really running in the middle right now." [My emphasis]

Uh huh. The Obama administration, straight shooters that they are, have given us a glimpse, a glimpse right into their hearts! Hearts quivering in fear of The Man From SLC! Wow. I guess we better nominate Mr Huntsman, whoever the hell he is, right away.

It would be shocking bigotry for me to to suggest that this is any deceptiousness in their souls. Or that they might be nervous about, oh, um, you know, somebody else......

Sara Palin with ski plane


Posted by John Weidner at 11:03 AM

"Preemptive denial" to preempt those denialists!

Anne Minard for National Geographic NewsSun Oddly Quiet -- Hints at Next "Little Ice Age"?:

...A prolonged lull in solar activity has astrophysicists glued to their telescopes waiting to see what the sun will do next—and how Earth's climate might respond.

The sun is the least active it's been in decades and the dimmest in a hundred years. The lull is causing some scientists to recall the Little Ice Age, an unusual cold spell in Europe and North America, which lasted from about 1300 to 1850.

The coldest period of the Little Ice Age, between 1645 and 1715, has been linked to a deep dip in solar storms known as the Maunder Minimum.

During that time, access to Greenland was largely cut off by ice, and canals in Holland routinely froze solid. Glaciers in the Alps engulfed whole villages, and sea ice increased so much that no open water flowed around Iceland in the year 1695.

But researchers are on guard against their concerns about a new cold snap being misinterpreted.

"[Global warming] skeptics tend to leap forward," said Mike Lockwood, a solar terrestrial physicist at the University of Southampton in the U.K. He and other researchers are therefore engaged in what they call "preemptive denial" of a solar minimum leading to global cooling. [Getting nervous there?]

Even if the current solar lull is the beginning of a prolonged quiet, the scientists say, the star's effects on climate will pale in contrast with the influence of human-made greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

"I think you have to bear in mind that the CO2 is a good 50 to 60 percent higher than normal, whereas the decline in solar output is a few hundredths of one percent down," Lockwood said. "I think that helps keep it in perspective."...

That last sentence is just silly. Atmospheric CO2 is something like 300PPM. That's Parts Per Million. And it only accounts for about 3% of the greenhouse effect. Also, while the correlation of sunspot minimums to colder climate is not yet understood, the theories being considered don't rest on a simple decline in solar output.

(Thanks to Anthony Watt, who you should be reading every day.)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:44 AM

May 4, 2009

Yer toast, Jews...

Roger L. Simon:

...Did Rahm Emanuel just put the screws to his own people? Quite possibly, although all we have at present is a second hand report of what he told 300 big donors to AIPAC in a private meeting. According to the Jerusalem Post: Thwarting Iran's nuclear program is conditional on progress in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. [bold mine]

Great, Rahm. What a guy you are for spelling this out. But before you do anything, would you please explain the word "progress"? When last we saw serious negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians (Bill Clinton and then Taba), the Palestinians, led by Arafat, walked out and began Intifada II. Would you have blamed Israel for that lack of "progress" and allowed Iran to get the bomb? Could it just be that the Palestinians (Hamas and Fatah) don't really want a two-state solution? Has the occurred to you after all this time? What if that turns out to be true? Think about that, Rahm. This isn't a Hollywood negotiation that your brother might conduct between Warner Brothers and Universal. People die here, big time. As Ayatollah Rafsanjani has told us, the Iranians don't fear a nuclear war with Israel because there are hundreds of more millions of Muslims than there are Jews.

One last question, Rahm. How do you sleep?...

Israel better look to itself. The White House is running on the Jeremiah Wright worldview, and Jews are definitely expendable. Israel should pull out all the stops to bolster its alliances with the other friends of America that Obam is now abandoning in favor of tyrants. You know, horrid oppressor countries like India and Turkey and Indonesia and Japan. And she should take out Iran's nukes NOW.

And still American Jews will support Obama. It's part of their religion, which is liberalism. Suicidal liberalism. And if Tel Aviv gets turned to green glass, it will be a "tragedy," and they will STILL vote Democrat. And if they or their loved ones get their heads sawed off with rusty knives, they will STILL not vote for Republicans--why, of course not, that would be tacky!

And the whole business of linking Middle East peace to "progress" in "peace negotiations" between Israel and the Palestinians has always been an utter fraud and sham. It's just an excuse to do nothing, since there will never be peace with a sick death-cult that wants to destroy all the Jews. It's an excuse to leave tyrants in power in the interests of "peace." The peace of death for all the victims of tyranny and anti-Semitism.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:07 PM

Noonarians and Frumarians...

Beldar has a couple of posts Charlene and I liked...

OMG! Like, before he was 30, Obama was a law review editor! ZOMG-OMG!!1!

And...

Another well-crafted but foolish paragraph of Peggy Noonan's with which I disagree
...Oh, Ms. Noonan, you're far more out of touch than even Arlen Specter is! We don't know yet — we must have patience to learn, but aggressively prepare to seize the opportunities to affect — whether Pennsylvania voters will send a Republican or a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2010. But dear Ms. Noonan, bless your heart and your woefully myopic east-coastal blue-state-infected viewpoints, the "side [which] is winning" for sure, the side which for sure caused Arlen Specter to betray his vows and defect to the Democratic Party, is the side of the true conservatives whom Arlen Specter recognized were certain to oust him in the GOP primary. He doesn't know, and no one yet knows, whether he can win the Democratic Primary, or the general election if he gets the Dems' nomination. But he knew — we all know, Ms. Noonan! why don't you? — that he was going to lose the next race in which he was scheduled to run, that being the GOP primary.

Can you not tell the difference, Ms. Noonan, between fleeing from a battle one is certain to lose, and instead fleeing to a side that is certain to win? No one yet knows which side will win, which is to say, no side is certain to win. But Arlen Specter was certain to lose if he accepted the verdict of his own party on his performance. How could you miss that? How can you expect us to take seriously any of your other advice for the GOP when you're that blind?

There is a certain breed of Republican which is convinced that to become more competitive, GOP candidates must become even "more moderate" than John McCain or Arlen Specter. We could call them Noonarians; we could call them Frumarians; we could call them Parkersonians. Or we could call them RINOs. I will continue to voice my objections to their blather and oppose their ideas, but I will not call them apostates, and if they return to the Reaganite Big Tent, I will welcome them upon their return. Some day, perhaps we will all laugh together when we re-read the ridiculous things they wrote while they were in the thrall of Obamamania, things like "The task for conservatives is not so much to oppose the president, but to help him see." They'll blush, I hope, but feel no greater pain...

My impression is that the Specter case is sui generis, and doesn't reveal much about where Republican politics is heading. My guess is that Pennsylvania Republican voters are not rejecting a senator who "votes Republican 70% of the time," they are rejecting a capricious and erratic man who bestows his votes by personal whim. Who can't be trusted or relied on. I bet they would have stuck with him if he were a principled moderate.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:04 AM

May 3, 2009

"Infusions of legitimacy"

... Americans who are apt to argue that U.S. foreign policy needs constant infusions of legitimacy from the approbation of European governments are also apt to deplore, in the domestic culture wars, Eurocentrism in academic curricula. Such Americans resist the cultural products of Europe's centuries of vitality, but defer to the politics of Europe in its decadence.

Why? Perhaps because yesterday's European culture helped make America what it is, and today's European politics expresses resentment and distrust of what America is. Both sensibilities arise from the distaste of some Americans for America...

    -- George Will
Posted by John Weidner at 2:16 PM

May 2, 2009

Research is in progress...

From the delightful Screwtape Letters, by CS Lewis. The letters are written by an experienced devil, Screwtape, to a younger one, Wormwood, whom he instructs in the art of temptation and the destruction of human souls. Screwtape has referred to a description of heaven as 'the regions where there is only life and therefore all that is not music is silence'...

My dear Wormwood . . .

Music and silence—how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since our Father entered Hell—though longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could guess—no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise—Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile—Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it. Research is in progress.

    -- C. S. Lewis

Posted by John Weidner at 7:17 PM

May 1, 2009

Out in the cold

Andrew Bolt of the Australian paper Herald Sun, has a good round-up on global warming, Global warming alarmists out in cold:

...IT'S snowing in April. Ice is spreading in Antarctica. The Great Barrier Reef is as healthy as ever.

And that's just the news of the past week. Truly, it never rains but it pours — and all over our global warming alarmists.

Time's up for this absurd scaremongering. The fears are being contradicted by the facts, and more so by the week.

Doubt it? Then here's a test.

Name just three clear signs the planet is warming as the alarmists claim it should. Just three. Chances are your "proofs" are in fact on my list of 10 Top Myths about global warming. And if your "proofs" indeed turn out to be false, don't get angry with me....

You might want to take a look at his list. It's pretty good...

Here's one item I hadn't heard...

...What's more, not one of the world's seven continents has set a record high temperature since 1974. Europe's high remains the 50 degrees measured in Spain 128 years ago, before the invention of the first true car...
Posted by John Weidner at 4:00 PM