July 31, 2009

Making news by doing nothing!

Pretty funny. The AP writes a whole news story on how there's no news from Sarah! Citizen Palin begins private life quietly.

But of course we all know she's finished. Washed up. A has-been. Not a serious anything.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:32 PM

Satisfied with ourselves...

Men are satisfied with themselves, not when they attempt, but when they neglect the details of duty. Disobedience blinds the conscience; obedience makes it keen-sighted and sensitive...
    -- Newman (Link)
Posted by John Weidner at 4:19 PM

Muddled thinking...

Mark Shea (A writer I highly approve of...except when I want to wring his neck for his partisan venom):

...But the knee-jerk Talk Radio junk about how health care is not a right appears to me to owe far more to maintaining a system in which money is exalted over the good of the person than to anything remotely connected with Catholic teaching or common sense. One can base a credible opposition to so-called "health care reform" on worries that it's going to wind up killing a lot of innocent people as a cost-cutting measure. That I can respect.

But basing opposition to health care reform on the parroted claim that "health care is not a right"--a claim that is demonstrably rubbish if we are paying any attention to the Church's teaching, suggests that other agendas besides the desire to enact Catholic social teaching as public policy are the guiding principals at work in our thinking. That's no longer really a surprise to me, given the spectacle of Faithful Catholics[TM] striving with might and main to justify torture, but it still may be worth pointing out for Catholics who may be sensing a disconnect between the Church's actual teaching and what they are hearing from the conservative side of the blogosphere that so commonly claims adherence to the Church teaching in stark contrast to the Awful Dissenters....

This is mostly a case of getting two different ideas muddled together. Two different "rights."

I have myself actually heard Rush Limbaugh talk on this point. (I betcha Shea has just picked up some leftish rumors, and doesn't know or care what's actually said.) Rush's point was that we have a responsibility to maintain our own health, and we have a moral obligation to help those who can't help themselves. And I think (I'm not an expert) that this is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church is actually saying when it asserts that people have a right to health care.

People have a right to expect that we will assume our moral obligation, and help them if needed.

But the leftish position is something different. It is that people have a right to health care in the same way that they have a right to, say, freedom of religion. What our Constitution calls "inalienable rights." Rush's point is that this would destroy both our responsibility and our moral obligation. It would destroy Caritas.

And I would add another point, which I think is desperately important. In America we have always regarded our rights as coming ultimately from God, and thus being inalienable. They somehow exist regardless of what laws we may pass. But once you start inventing new basic rights, that concept goes out the window. Rights become just human inventions, and can be given and taken away at will.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:18 PM


Charlene recommends Cultural Kleptos: How the Left Hijacks Art (and Everything Else) for the Good of Mankind, by Charles Winecoff...

...At the forefront of this morphing social tyranny: blacklist survivor Lillian Hellman. Again, she knew just how to make it work - for her. According to author Paul Johnson, after the release of the movie Julia, based on Hellman's fake memoir, the aged playwright enjoyed a renaissance as "the queen of radical chic and the most important single power-broker among the progressive intelligentsia and the society people who seethed around them.... She compiled her own blacklists and had them enforced by scores of servile intellectual flunkies."

Similarly, Karl Marx - the man - extolled the virtues of the working class, agitating for violent revolution, yet "so far as we know," wrote Johnson, "never set foot in a mill, factory, mine or other industrial workplace in the whole of his life. What is even more striking is Marx's hostility to fellow revolutionaries who had such experience - that is, working men who had become politically conscious... Marx made sure that working-class socialists were eliminated from any positions of influence."

Today, in America, we have a President who, rather than level with the trusting, hard-working voters who put him in office, plays mind games with them - asking them to believe that increasing the national debt is decreasing it, that less choice in health care is more choice, that standing up to violent savages makes us the savages, that reverse racism is post-racial. He seems to suck the meaning right out of words as he speaks them, always sure to distract with a mechanical smile.

But maybe he's just stupid....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:40 AM

July 30, 2009

Cuff the blowhards and take 'em in to cool off...

My one thought on l'affaire Gates...

The job of the police is to preserve law and order. Not just law.

I don't feel much sympathy for the bloggers who have been saying, "I have a constitutional right to mouth off at a cop." Well, maybe so, but if you do, he has—or should have—a common sense right and duty to toss you in the black-and-white and take you to jail for a few hours. And I hope he does.

Why? Because if wise-guys can get away with giving the cops a lot of crap, then the "order" part of law n' order will be severely harmed. Bad actors will be encouraged in their evils. The authority cops have to preserve order will be eroded.

It's just like the "Broken Windows Theory" of crime prevention. It has become clear that allowing a neighborhood to be vandalized or trashed encourages crime. And that keeping on top of small offenses and misdemeanors discourages crime. People just don't do crimes as much when they get the subliminal message that it's not tolerated thing.

Well, having loudmouths wandering around bragging about how they insult cops, and that the cops just have to take it without responding... That will have the very same crime-encouraging effect.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:39 PM

July 29, 2009

Midget president...

Washington Times - Obama still cashing in on Bush's failings:

Facing the first real rough patch of his presidency, President Obama and his supporters are once again resorting to a tried-and-true tactic: attacking George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In his White House press conference last week, Mr. Obama referred to the Bush era at least nine times, three times lamenting that he "inherited" a $1.3 trillion debt that has set back his administration's efforts to fix the economy.

With the former president lying low in Dallas, largely focused on crafting his memoirs, Mr. Obama has increasingly attempted to exploit Mr. Bush when discussing the weak economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the difficulty closing the military prison at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

As he took power, Mr. Obama promised a "new era of responsibility" that would transcend partisan politics....

President Bush, as I recall, never whined or finger-pointed over the problems he inherited from Clinton, such as the dot-com recession. Especially, he never played the blame game over 9/11, although he very obviously could have. He is a gentleman. All man. Obama is a nasty little creep.

I'll just add this to my list of Bush accomplishments...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 AM

July 26, 2009

Is this insane, or what?

Clinton says Iran's nuclear pursuit is futile -- Reuters:

...WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that Iran would not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon and major powers were united to prevent that from happening.

"Your (Iran's) pursuit is futile," she told NBC's "Meet the Press" program, adding that Iran did not have the right to develop a nuclear weapon.

Her comments come after Clinton annoyed ally Israel last week by saying the United States would cope with a nuclear Iran by arming its allies in the Gulf and extending a "defense umbrella" over the region... (my emphasis)

Is there something worse than allowing a mad tyrannical theocracy with dreams of regional domination to build nuclear weapons? YES. Making threats against them and then backing down! Even our brain-dead pacifists should be able to understand that.

SO, what does "would not be allowed" mean here? What are we going to DO? Can one even imagine Barack Obama acting with Churchillian firmness to lead the free world in disarming Iran—even if it requires military force? I sure can't. If he can do it I'll take back all those things I said about him...

And "major powers are united?" Since when? Which powers? If Hillary has accomplished that, I'll bow down and reverence her as one of the great diplomats of all time. But it sure sounds like BS to me.

Not to mention calamitous folly...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:11 PM

Magnanimity. Humility. Fortitude.

Sherry Weddell:
....Magnanimity is the aspiration of the spirit to great things. St. Thomas Aquinas called it the "jewel of all the virtues" because the magnanimous person has the courage to seek out what is great and become worthy of it. Magnanimity is rooted in assurance of the highest possibilities of our God-given human nature.

When I first encountered the idea that "aspiring to greatness" was a Christian virtue, I had difficulty taking it in. Aren't Christians supposed to be humble and to avoid trying to be something special, to minimize and even belittle our abilities and achievements, to avoid ambition, and to prefer anonymity? Even the idea of having charisms distresses some Catholics. Believing that God might do something really important and supernatural through them somehow seems to lack humility. One 84-year-old Scot told me in his lilting brogue, "I couldn't have charisms; it wouldn't be humble!"

To allay such fears, we can recognize that humility is magnanimity's necessary partner, the attitude before God that recognizes and fully accepts our creaturehood and the immeasurable distance between the Creator and his creation. But neither does humility stand alone: without magnanimity, we don't see the whole of our dignity as human beings. Magnanimity and humility together enable us to keep our balance, to arrive at our proper worth before God, to persist in living our secular mission, and to persevere in seeking our eternal destiny despite apparent frustration and failure.

Magnanimity empowers us to aspire to whatever remarkable vocation God calls us to but the virtue of fortitude ensures that we finish the journey well. As Fr. John Hardon, SJ put it:

Fortitude is "the important commodity of enabling us to carry to successful conclusion the most difficult tasks that are undertaken in the service of God. There are two forms of courage implied in this gift of fortitude: the gift to undertake arduous tasks and the gift to endure long and trying difficulties for the divine glory....

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 3:50 AM

July 25, 2009

Hearts of stone...

Matthew Hoy:
The former military captain says it was in the early 1990s, that he watched his then commander wrestle with giving up his 12-year-old daughter who was mentally ill.

The commander, he says, initially resisted, but after mounting pressure from his military superiors, he gave in.

Im watched as the girl was taken away. She was never seen again.

One of Im's own men later gave him an eyewitness account of human-testing.

Asked to guard a secret facility on an island off North Korea's west coast, Im says the soldier saw a number of people forced into a glass chamber.

"Poisonous gas was injected in," Im says. "He watched doctors time how long it took for them to die."
Too often the world looks back on the evil of the Holocaust and mouths that famous phrase: "Never again."


It happens every day. It happens in Darfur. It happens in China. It happens in North Korea.

Never again?


And the United Nations, that symbol of hope and unity for every blinkered Western leftist, does nothing.

When North Korea eventually falls, I suspect the horrors will rival that of the Holocaust.

And the world did nothing.

It's even a bit worse than that. Millions of people tour former Nazi concentration camps. Millions go to Yad Vashem and other holocaust museums.

How many tour former Soviet concentration camps? Hmm? Hey, liberals and lefties: What are you doing to preserve the memory of Communist mass murders? The extermination of entire ethnic groups and languages by Stalin? Or of the Christians imprisoned and killed by Mao and Ho Chi Minh?

The answer is, almost nothing. The slaughter of the Hitler regime is commemorated only because the Nazi's are popularly portrayed as "right wingers." If the public were to—correctly—perceive Nazism as just another flavor of socialism, then the "caring" would stop in an instant.

You watch. I predict that when North Korea falls, the horrors that will be revealed will be as bad as anything we have seen by Saddam or Hitler or Stalin or Mao or Castro. And our "liberals"... Will. Not. Care.

The ice-hearted "pacifists" and "Quakers" who slubber-blubber over Auschwitz or Buchenwald... Will. Not. Care. It will all be forgotten in a year...

I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name [a "yad vashem"] better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off..
— Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5
Posted by John Weidner at 11:17 AM

July 24, 2009

"It's nice to be popular"

CURL: Global Obama fans outpace local ones - Washington Times:

Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright on Thursday delivered some spectacular news to all Americans ashamed of their homeland: With President Obama now in office, you no longer have to pretend you're not from the States when you summer in Europe.

"It is nice to be popular, and I think that people feel better if we are liked, if, you know - Americans now don't have to say they're from Canada when they travel around," the Clinton-era diplomat said to laughter from a roomful of reporters at the National Press Club...

Animals. Worms. "Pretend you're Canadian." Yeah, right. But of course all those slime-animals continue to tuck into all the good things this great country provides, even as they spit upon her.

Hey, creeps, why don't you voluntarily reduce your standard of living to Canadian levels? Hmm? And when you get a rare and deadly disease, how about flying to Toronto? Eh? Or if you are traveling around, pretending not to be a scurvy American, and there's a revolution...and you're about to be lynched... How's about calling the Canadian Army? Hmm? You wouldn't want to get cooties from the US Marines, would you?

"It's nice to be popular." Yeah, like hippie teenagers trashing their middle-brow parents to their cool friends, while continuing to be supported by them. And running to them if they get into trouble.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:19 PM

Roll over the rotting log...

Michelle Malkin, investigating what it might mean when administration officials say, "We'll just let the science decide."

....Well, I did indeed read one of [Obama Administration "science czar"] Holdren's recent works that reveals his clingy reverence for, and allegiance to, the gurus of population control authoritarianism. He's just gotten smarter about cloaking it behind global warming hysteria. In 2007, he addressed the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Holdren served as AAAS president; the organization posted his full slide presentation on its website.

In the opening slide, Holdren admitted that his "preoccupation" with apocalyptic matters such as "the rates at which people breed" was a lifelong obsession spurred by scientist Harrison Brown's work. Holdren heaped praise on Brown's half-century-old book, "The Challenge to Man's Future," then proceeded to paint doom-and-gloom scenarios requiring drastic government interventions to control climate change.

Who is Holdren's intellectual mentor, Harrison Brown? He was a "distinguished member" of the International Eugenics Society whom Holdren later worked with on a book about — you guessed it — world population and fertility. Brown advocated the same population control-freak measures Holdren put forth in Ecoscience. In "The Challenge to Man's Future," Brown envisioned a regime in which the "number of abortions and artificial inseminations permitted in a given year would be determined completely by the difference between the number of deaths and the number of births in the year previous."

Brown exhorted readers to accept that "we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that artifical means must be applied to limit birth rates." If we don't, Brown warned, we faced a planet "with a writhing mass of human beings." He likened the global population to a "pulsating mass of maggots."...

One of the promises of the "Enlightenment" was that if people threw off the shackles of "superstition," the result would be happiness and progress. This assumed that the "real person" inside us was born good, and any badness we manifest was learned. But various peculiar things happened when those hoary old superstitions were discraded. One of them was the rise of a considerable number of people who think that "happiness and progress" depend not on enlightening people, but in simply eliminating them!

Guys like Stalin and Mao and Hitler and Pol Pot worked in round numbers of tens of millions. Today's "scientists" consider them pikers trying to nickle-and-dime it. Now we get the "big vision," expressing the numbers of people to be eliminated in nice tidy "billions!"

That's the "real us" that emerges without the "shackles" of traditional "superstition." The "real me" for that matter; I can easily look at the maggot-like masses swarming the city and think, "How much better things would be if the bottom 20% we eliminated." How much happier. How much cleaner!

Posted by John Weidner at 9:01 AM

July 23, 2009

Candle-light vigil postponed...

...Awaiting the inauguration of President Palin. Then the pacifists and fake-Quakers will come out of the woodwork and start blubbering about how un-Christian it is to believe in anything enough to fight for it...

From an Instapundit reader... (Thanks to AOG)

Notice how there was no "antiwar" movement during the '90's, even though we were at war the entire time in Iraq, Haiti, Kosovo, a dab here and there in Afghanistan and Sudan. Then, after 9/11, it was the "Next Vietnam" with a passionate "antiwar" movement with the NYTs full treasonous participation, just like the good old days. And now, even though the daily death count has matched the highest daily rate we ever saw in Iraq, there is no "antiwar" movement or daily casualty count in all the newspapers. It's like the "antiwar" movement can be turned off and on like a switch, depending on which party is in the White House.

It's not war the pacifist dreads, it's when the President says that we are the good guys, undertaking a noble cause worth sacrificing for.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:45 PM

Good GOP commercial....

Posted by John Weidner at 1:47 PM

July 22, 2009

Food groups of the Blue Man...

The Blue-State Meltdown and the Collapse of the Chicago Model:

On the surface this should be the moment the Blue Man basks in glory. The most urbane president since John Kennedy sits in the White House. A San Francisco liberal runs the House of Representatives while the key committees are controlled by representatives of Boston, Manhattan, Beverly Hills, and the Bay Area—bastions of the gentry.

Despite his famous no-blue-states-no-red-states-just-the-United-States statement, more than 90 percent of the top 300 administration officials come from states carried last year by President Obama. The inner cabinet—the key officials—hail almost entirely from a handful of cities, starting with Chicago but also including New York, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco area.

This administration shares all the basic prejudices of the Blue Man including his instinctive distaste for "sprawl," cars, and factories. In contrast, policy is tilting to favor all the basic blue-state economic food groups—public employees, university researchers, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street, and the major urban land interests.

Yet despite all this, the blue states appear to be continuing their decades-long meltdown. "Hope" may still sell among media pundits and café society, but the bad economy, increasingly now Obama's, is causing serious pain to millions of ordinary people who happen to live in the left-leaning part of America.

For example, while state and local budget crises have extended to some red states, the most severe fiscal and economic basket cases largely are concentrated in places such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oregon, and, perhaps most vividly of all, California. The last three have among the highest unemployment rates in the country; all the aforementioned are deeply in debt and have been forced to impose employee cutbacks and higher taxes almost certain to blunt a strong recovery....

Blue States = Europe. Unfriendly to America, morality, Israel, Life, liberty, and, especially, God. So they are dying. Well, duh.

And I can report, embedded as I am in the Heart of Darkness, that the Blue Man ain't as happy as one would expect him to be right now...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:05 AM

July 21, 2009

commenting on commentings...

Hale Adams wrote, in a comment on the previous post,

I've said it before, John, and I'll say it again: You're mixing religion with politics.

If the Church wants to insist, for its own purposes, that homosexual or multiple unions are not marriages, that's fine. Far be it from me (and it should be far from anyone else) to dictate to the Church how it deals with parishoners who break its rules.

As far as the State is concerned, however, marriages are simply contractual arrangements voluntarily entered into by the parties concerned. Yes, traditionally, such arrangements have been between one man and one woman, but if two men or two women (or any permutation of one or multiple men and/or women) want to enter into such a contract-- I say, "Let them." Maybe their arrangements will work, maybe they won't. And if (when?) the arrangements don't work, then they should suffer the messiness inherent in the dissolution of the contract. (It just might discourage others from following their example, and your position carries the day, John.)

Actually, even if marriage is just a contractual arrangement, what I wrote is still valid—that the argument made by Boies is fallacious, since it sneaks past the point that people are really divided about. (And any state regulation of contracts involves defining things, and people will always have a valid gripe if someone moves goalposts by slipping in a re-definition of terms. I myself have a valid gripe on a purely contractual level, since I'm a party in a marriage contract, and now people are trying to change what my contract says!)

But I don't think that people will ever consider marriage just part of the realm of contract, nor will they want the state, which reflects our wishes, to do so. (Nor do I think you really believe that, Hale.)

In California we already have a domestic partners law which is close to a marriage contract, and hardly anyone notices it. WHY?

People sometimes understand things without being able to think clearly about them. They drift along with what they are told by "experts," (like, say, materialists who think life can be just regulated by contract and majority vote) not realizing where the small steps are leading. Until they crash against something like the marriage issue. Then suddenly they are howling in pain, and the experts say, "Tsk tsk, how irrational the little people are. Democracy is a poor system of government. Decisions should be left to the experts."

In fact the experts usually know where they are heading all along, and carefully conceal the truth, just because democracy works pretty damn well when people have enough information. And boy do they heap contumely upon anyone who says that such-and-such a small step is leading to some big step that people will hate. The people who said that overturning state sodomy laws would lead to gay marriage were called crazy, and bigots!

Politics and religion are always going to intersect, because they are both about what human beings really are. They both define us, although politics is much less explicit about this. In America we hope to use politics to merely create a neutral space for personal decisions to be made. But that is pretty much impossible, because even the smallest political decision tends to define us. If the small town of Mudville puts up the first traffic light on Main Street, that says something about the people who go along with it. A little bit of customary law has been replaced by explicit law, and that changes the definition of citizens of that town.

It seems silly to say it about such a small matter, but it is a religious decision. A tiny bit of life has been removed from the realm of conscience and morality and personal responsibility. After that when the preacher gets up in the pulpit and says that our moral choices have big consequences, and that even tiny sins can lead to bigger ones and get us into trouble, the government has also preached a tiny but different sermon.

Everyone has a religion. That is, everyone has beliefs about the universe and existence that are not based on logic or science. Hale Adams has a religion. He is making a political proposal based on his personal faith; he has no formal or scientific proof that his view of what people are is true.

* Update: Actually, Hale's sentence: "If the Church wants to insist, for its own purposes, that homosexual or multiple unions are not marriages, that's fine..." is, itself, a religious position. One which the Catholic Church rejects. We think that our view of marriage is part of Natural Law, and is just as valid—and real—in the Cannibal Isles as it is among Christians.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:11 AM

July 20, 2009

Even if you are a same-sex marriage supporter...

...You should be embarrassed by the bogosity of the arguments in this piece...

Davis Boies, Gay Marriage and the Constitution - WSJ.com:

...The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the right to marry the person you love is so fundamental that states cannot abridge it. In 1978 the Court (8 to 1, Zablocki v. Redhail) overturned as unconstitutional a Wisconsin law preventing child-support scofflaws from getting married. The Court emphasized, "decisions of this Court confirm that the right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals." In 1987 the Supreme Court unanimously struck down as unconstitutional a Missouri law preventing imprisoned felons from marrying....

This is as if I wanted to change the definition of "US citizen" to anyone with a Green Card — and I then quoted various voting-rights cases in support of this. And then went all sob-sister about how the Supreme Court holds that the right to vote is fundamental, and how can bigots deny our resident alien-citizens their inalienable rights?

That would be a dishonest argument, because the cases assume that citizenship is a certain thing. Similarly, cases like those mentioned in the quote are not applicable because they all assume that marriage IS a certain thing. Gay-marriage advocates want to change the definition of marriage.

The article is intellectually fraudulent because it assumes a priori that same-sex couples already have the right to marry, a right that has been denied to them out of policy. Just like that law "preventing imprisoned felons from marrying." It assumes that the new definition already exists; is already accepted.

No issue can be discussed without assuming that words mean what we commonly think they mean. If you want to give a word a different meaning in an argfument, then the rules of discourse require that you say so up front. The author is pulling a fast one by slipping in a new definition as if it is something we've already accepted.

Or consider this:

...Gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters, our teachers and doctors, our friends and neighbors, our parents and children. It is time, indeed past time, that we accord them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It is time, indeed past time, that our Constitution fulfill its promise of equal protection and due process for all citizens by now eliminating the last remnant of centuries of misguided state discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The argument in favor of Proposition 8 ultimately comes down to no more than the tautological assertion that a marriage is between a man and a woman. But a slogan is not a substitute for constitutional analysis. Law is about justice, not bumper stickers...

But the authors here make the equally "tautological" assertion that marriage is with ONE other person. How can you justify that, Mr Boies? What if I love two people? Do I not have the "basic human right" to marry the persons I love? Do I not deserve equal protection? Should we not end centuries of discrimination against "triads?"

Posted by John Weidner at 9:26 AM

July 19, 2009

Just... letting you know...

Zelaya Computers had 'certified' results for referendum that was never held. (Thanks to Alan)

...Rick Moran
This has been all over the Honduran and Central American press for more than 24 hours but, as Alberto de la Cruz of Babalu Blog points out, no English speaking wire service or media has picked up on it yet.

Authorities seized several computers used by former president Zelaya that contained "official" results of the constitutional referendum that was never held showing his bid to change the law so that he could run for office again winning easily....

So, Mr Obama, you're planning to say you are sorry? Or are you looking into hiring Honduran computer consultants?

Posted by John Weidner at 7:26 AM

"The very lawfulness of nature points to a divine Lawgiver..."

From an excellent piece, How God and Science Mix, by Stephen M. Barr...

...My fellow particle physicist Lawrence Krauss has argued that "God and science don't mix." He began with an interesting statement of J.B.S. Haldane, an eminent biologist of the last century:
"My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course."
Scientists are atheists in the lab, said Krauss, and so it is only logical that they should be atheists everywhere. This is a logical argument, yes, and also quite popular, but it is based on a conception of God that is alien to Jewish and Christian tradition. For Haldane and Krauss, religion is about miracles, and miracles are about magic and the irrational, and therefore belief in God stands in opposition to the world revealed by science, a world intelligible by reason and governed by law.

For Jews and Christians, however, pitting God and the laws of nature against each other in this way is an absurd mistake; for it is the very lawfulness of nature that points to a divine Lawgiver. In the Bible, God gives laws not only to the people of Israel, but to the cosmos itself, as in Jeremiah 33:25, where he declares his fidelity to Israel in these terms: "When I have no covenant with day and night, and have given no laws to heaven and earth, then too will I reject the descendants of Jacob and of my servant David."

In arguing against pagans for the existence of a creator God, ancient Christian writers pointed to the order and lawfulness of nature, not to the miraculous. The following passage from the second-century writer Minucius Felix is typical:
If upon entering some home you saw that everything there was well-tended, neat, and decorative, you would believe that some master was in charge of it, and that he was himself much superior to those good things. So too in the home of this world, when you see providence, order, and law in the heavens and on earth, believe that there is a Lord and Author of the universe, more beautiful than the stars themselves and the various parts of the whole world.
...What then of miracles? Doesn't belief in them make nonsense of everything I have just said? On the contrary; there is no logical contradiction in believing in both natural laws and miracles; for if the laws of nature are God's ordinances to begin with, then what he has ordained he may also suspend. Indeed, to speak of a miracle in the absence of law would be meaningless...

...In the Christian view, miracles are not mere outbreaks of lawlessness in nature that happen in an utterly capricious way. Since only God can suspend his own laws, miracles are always divine acts, and serve a divine purpose. In the Bible and Christian tradition, that purpose is always to manifest God's love and mercy, and to attest to the authority of singular figures who teach or act in his name. Miracles are thus exceedingly rare events, fraught with deeply symbolic religious significance. The idea that God would interfere in the scientific experiments of Haldane or anyone else, as if he were a mischievous imp or poltergeist, is utterly silly from a Christian point of view. And to consider the fact that he doesn't do so an argument for atheism is on a par with Khrushchev's triumphant announcement that the cosmonauts had not seen God in outer space...
Posted by John Weidner at 5:52 AM

July 17, 2009

"Land of the English breed..."

I purloined this poem from the blog Laudator Temporis Acti

            A SAXON SONG:

        Tools with the comely names,
        Mattock and scythe and spade,
        Couth and bitter as flames,
        Clean, and bowed in the blade,—
A man and his tools make a man and his trade.

        Breadth of the English shires,
        Hummock and kame and mead,
        Tang of the reeking byres,
        Land of the English breed,—
A man and his land make a man and his creed.

        Leisurely flocks and herds,
        Cool-eyed cattle that come
        Mildly to wonted words,
        Swine that in orchards roam,—
A man and his beasts make a man and his home.

        Children sturdy and flaxen
        Shouting in brotherly strife,
        Like the land they are Saxon,
        Sons of a man and his wife,—
For a man and his loves make a man and his life.

    -- Victoria Sackville-West
Posted by John Weidner at 9:38 AM

July 16, 2009

Go here, click on chart....

I caught a bit of Rush this morning. He mentioned this New York Post piece, DEMOCRATS HEALTH CARE PLAN FUNDING MAY TAX NEW YORK WEALTHY 57%. I'm sure you agree with all sensible people that the wealthy are parasites who should be relieved of the riches they have stolen from the little people, but, um, there IS the teensy little fact that NYC's economy is dependent, much more than most big cities, on........wealthy people. Get rid of them and the city dies.

...Congressional plans to fund a massive health-care overhaul could have a job-killing effect on New York, creating a tax rate of nearly 60 percent for the state's top earners and possibly pressuring small-business owners to shed workers.

New York's top income bracket could reach as high as 57 percent -- rates not seen in three decades -- to pay for the massive health coverage proposed by House Democrats this week....

The chart that accompanies this article makes things veddy clear. It's no wonder such a bill gets crafted behind closed doors, and that Dems are trying to rush it through.

Rush was also commenting on a poll that showed Sarah Palin with a 72% approval rating among Republicans. And on just how amazing that is, considering the year of non-stop trashing she has received from the media.

Not to mention attacks and sneers by what he called, charmingly, low-wattage looking-down-the-nose elitists on the Republican side.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:02 AM

July 14, 2009

"The logic of the Terror"

Ralph Hancock on Bastille Day...

...The disconcerting suggestion that arises from a comparative reflection on the theoretical cores of the two Revolutions is the idea of human rights that informs the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789 cannot be altogether severed from the logic of the Terror. The potential for unlimited radicalization seems to exist from the moment the rights of man are extracted from a framework defined by the laws of nature and nature's God and made to stand on their own as assertions of human autonomy.

The germ of the Terror, the dream of the regeneration of humanity by political means, may already be present in the radically modern idea of sovereignty that informs the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. The political denial of an authoritative realm of meaning beyond politics appears barely separable from the absorption of all meaning into the political realm. Hobbes' radical materialism, which accompanies his rejection of the priority of natural law to human rights, invites Rousseau's idealism, or his craving for a comprehensive moral order not grounded in nature but created by human beings. If politics is all there is, then politics must be everything, it must hold the key to fulfilling not only the ordinary needs but even the deepest longings of humanity.

Those who propose to liberate human beings by reducing them to their naked individuality and destroying the bonds that connect them with principles understood to reside beyond human power risk arrogating to themselves the right to forge new and tighter chains. If there is no Truth above the People, then the People are led to create their own truth — in effect, of course, some revolutionary elite must create it in the name of the People, whatever the human cost. The violence of the Terror appears thus to spring from a theoretical violence to human nature...
Posted by John Weidner at 10:40 AM

July 13, 2009

Blogging helps you not forget...

This is an old post, from 2003. Frivolous souls may forget the pain and sacrifice and nobility of that time, but I don't forget...

I was just thrilled by this story by a 9/11 widow who went to Iraq on a USO tour...

by Christy Ferer
6/30/2003 - NEW YORK (AFPN) -- When I told friends about my pilgrimage to Iraq to thank the U.S. troops, reaction was underwhelming at best.
Some were blunt. "Why are you going there?" They could not understand why it was important for me, a 9/11 widow, to express my support for the men and women stationed today in the Gulf...
How can anyone not understand? Unbelievable! Well, actually not so hard to believe-- sure and I know the type. Prissy cold-hearted urban-elite liberals--this town is full of them too...
...As we were choppered over deserts that looked like bleached bread crumbs, I wondered if I'd feel like a street hawker, passing out Port Authority pins and baseball caps as I said "thank you" to the troops. Would a hug from me mean anything at all in the presence of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and a Victoria’s Secret model?

The first "meet and greet" made me weep. Why? Soldiers, armed with M16s and saddlebags of water in 120-degree heat, swarmed over the stars for photos and autographs. When it was announced that a trio of Sept. 11 family members was also in the tent it was as if a psychic cork on an emotional dam was popped.

Soldiers from all over our great country rushed toward us to express their condolences. Some wanted to touch us, as if they needed a physical connection to our sorrow and for some living proof for why they were there.

One mother of two from Montana told me she enlisted because of Sept. 11. Dozens of others told us the same thing. One young soldier showed me his metal bracelet engraved with the name of a victim he never knew and that awful date none of us will ever forget...

...One particular soldier, Capt. Vargas from the Bronx, told me he enlisted in the Army after some of his wife's best friends were lost at the World Trade Center.

When he glimpsed the piece of recovered metal from the Towers that I had been showing to a group of soldiers he grasped for it as if it were the Holy Grail. Then he handed it to Kid Rock who passed the precious metal through the 5000 troops in the audience. They lunged at the opportunity to touch the steel that symbolized what so many of them felt was the purpose of their mission -- which puts them at risk every day in the 116 degree heat, not knowing all the while if a sniper was going to strike at anytime...
In a recent post Donald Sensing wrote that 3d Division was a wasting asset. That because of its over-long deployment, re-enlistments would fall catastrophically and the division would have to be almost re-built with new people. Perhaps it will be so, it will be interesting to see. But perhaps he has overlooked one thing. We are all of us hungry to have meaning in our lives, to feel like we are making a difference. Our guys in Iraq have a difficult duty, but I would guess that every one of them also has the deep satisfaction that comes from doing something that may change the world... [As far as I've heard, The excellent Mr Sensing was, happily, wrong.]
Posted by John Weidner at 8:57 PM

Putting things in perspective...

Charlene recommends this, by the Steady Conservative:

...They immediately began to say that this is one of those 'do you remember where you were when Elvis died' kinda moments. Which sadly it probably is. Our society seems to adore these celebrities more than the true heroes of our nation. Michael Jackson was a great singer and performer. But that is all he was. And one who was accused numerous times of child molestation in addition to his drug problems.

So I ask. Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when Ed Freeman died? It was covered in the media, but not like Michael Jackson. He did get a post office named after him, but there were not millions of mourners world wide. The day was August 20, 2008. Ed Freeman was a Vietnam War era Medal of Honor recipient, although due to a technicality, he did not receive the award until 2001. His wing man MAJ Bruce Crandall received his in 2007. Here is his citation....

I can proudly say that I wasn't even aware that Elvis died, whenever it was he died. If he died...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:57 PM

"Woolly internationalist notions"

Krauthammer's Take - NRO Staff - The Corner on National Review Online:

...But Obama compounded it because he is a man who spoke about how he is going to unite the world, and has all these woolly internationalist notions. He goes to the summit of the G-8. He precedes it by trying to ram a cap-and-trade energy tax through the Congress which he knows is going to hurt the American economy in the name of climate change, in the name of demonstrating American leadership, and what does he get at that summit? No support from any of our allies.  

The Russians explicitly say they're not going to do anything on climate change if it impinges on their economy. And the Chinese and Indians say that as well, which means that anything he does at home on cap-and-trade will hurt us and do nothing about the emission of greenhouse gases....

You have to be brain-dead to think "internationalism" is ever going to work, but that's what liberals are. Or rather, what they make themselves. The alternative might be to acknowledge that their own liberal principles (which they no longer believe) mean that they owe a profound debt of gratitude and duty to this great nation, which is the very fountain of freedom and progress in the world.

It's much better to give yourself a lobotomy of the critical thinking lobes than admit that. It would compromise ones "autonomy!"

Posted by John Weidner at 10:46 AM

July 12, 2009

"With the lifted head of a lion-tamer..."

From The Catholic Church and Conversion by GK Chesterton, 1926

...To us, therefore, it is henceforth impossible to think of the Quaker as a figure at the beginning of a new Quaker history or the Calvinist as the founder of a new Calvinistic world. It is quite obvious to us that they are simply characters in our own Catholic history, only characters who caused a great deal of trouble by trying to do something that we could do better and that they did not really do at all. Now some may suppose that this can be maintained of the older sects like Calvinists and Quakers, but cannot be maintained of modern movements like those of Socialists or Spiritualists. But they will be quite wrong. The covering or continental character of the Church applies just as much to modern manias as to the old religious manias; it applies quite as much to Materialists or Spiritualists as to Puritans.

In all of them you find that some Catholic dogma is, first, taken for granted; then exaggerated into an error; and then generally reacted against and rejected as an error, bringing the individual in question a few steps back again on the homeward road. And this is almost always the mark of such a heretic; that while he will wildly question any other Catholic dogma, he never dreams of questioning his own favourite Catholic dogma and does not even seem to know that it could be questioned. It never occurred to the Calvinist that anybody might use his liberty to deny or limit the divine omnipotence, or to the Quaker that anyone could question the supremacy of simplicity. That is exactly the situation of the Socialist...
Bolshevism and every shade of any such theory of brotherhood is based upon one unfathomably mystical Catholic dogma; the equality of men. The Communists stake everything on the equality of man as the Calvinists staked everything on the omnipotence of God. They ride it to death as the others rode their dogma to death, turning their horse into a nightmare. But it never seems to occur to them that some people do not believe in the Catholic dogma of the mystical equality of men. Yet there are many, even among Christians, who are so heretical as to question it. The Socialists get into a great tangle when they try to apply it; they compromise with their own ideals; they modify their own doctrine; and so find themselves, like the Quakers and the Calvinists, after all their extreme extravagances, a day's march nearer Rome.

In short, the story of these sects is not one of straight lines striking outwards and onwards, though if it were they would all be striking in different directions. It is a pattern of curves continually returning into the continent and common life of their and our civilisation; and the summary of that civilisation and central sanity is the philosophy of the Catholic Church. To us, Spiritualists are men studying the existence of spirits, in a brief and blinding oblivion of the existence of evil spirits. They are, as it were, people just educated enough to have heard of ghosts but not educated enough to have heard of witches. If the evil spirits succeed in stopping their education and stunting their minds, they may of course go on for ever repeating silly messages from Plato and doggerel verses from Milton. But if they do go a step or two further, instead of marking time on the borderland, their next step will be to learn what the Church could have taught.

To us, Christian Scientists are simply people with one idea, which they have never learnt to balance and combine with all the other ideas. That is why the wealthy business man so often becomes a Christian Scientist. He is not used to ideas and one idea goes to his head, like one glass of wine to a starving man. But the Catholic Church is used to living with ideas and walks among all those very dangerous wild beasts with the poise and the lifted head of a lion-tamer. The Christian Scientist can go on monotonously repeating his one idea and remain a Christian Scientist. But if ever he really goes on to any other ideas, he will be so much the nearer to being a Catholic.....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:29 AM

July 11, 2009

Street of the dead...

Here is a really cool virtual tour of the Scavi, the Roman necropolis under St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. (Thanks to Argent.)

The Romans liked to construct little shrine-like buildings to bury their dead in. The Vatican Fields was a sort of trashy district outside of ancient Rome, which included a "village" of such tombs, with the buildings lined up along a "main street.". A necropolis. After St Peter was martyred, Christians buried him there secretly, and would slip off to the necropolis to pray by his grave. Pretty clever, hiding a tomb among tombs!

When Christianity became the official religion under Constantine, the first St Peter's Basilica was constructed right over the site of the burial place of Peter. The sloping area had to be built up to level ground, using, as I recall, 10 million baskets of soil. The necropolis was simply buried in the process, thus preserving it for us.

It was excavated from 1939 to 1950. Now you can tour the Scavi, something we'd love to do someday. The actual bones of Peter were found there, to a high degree of certainty! The "obvious" spot turned out to have some odds and ends of human and animal bones. But close by was a chamber embedded within a wall, and lined with slabs of marble. A graffito was found on the wall that said something like "Peter here." Inside were a man's bones, minus the feet. By tradition Peter was crucified upside-down, and might well have been just cut loose at the ankles.

(There's no mystery about the way Christians would have obtained the body. A bribe to the guards would be the expected thing. People being "disappeared" only began to happen in the Industrial age, when governments could afford bureaucratic organisations of regularly paid workers.)

[Note: The virtual tour locations can be navigated not only 360 degrees around, but also up and down. I got confused because I couldn't see the arrows to go on to the next spot...but actually I was looking down towards the floor!]

Posted by John Weidner at 5:04 PM

Tell half your readers to just go away...

Highly recommended: Carl M. Cannon, Sarah 'Barracuda' Palin and the Piranhas of the Press

...Meanwhile, an unrelated development put journalism on the firing line.

That event was the decline of conservative, mostly Southern, Democrats (and, eventually, liberal Republicans as well). A patchwork quilt of ideology and regionalism gave way to a U.S. political system more closely resembling that of Great Britain. Today, an American who is liberal tends to be a Democrat, a conservative is almost always a Republican. This may help clarify things for voters, but it created a little-understood crisis for journalists. If being "liberal" now meant sympathy for the Democratic Party, and being conservative implied sympathy for Republicans, all those liberal newsrooms across the country were gradually going to alienate themselves from about half their readers.

That this might pose a problem never dawned on the men and women who controlled the media — even as it drove their right-of-center readers and viewers away in droves. When I tell my friends working in places like The New York Times that they created Rush Limbaugh, they respond with shock and disbelief. But it's obvious to me that it's true, even as the anointed sages of the Old Media solemnly denied that an animal such as "liberal bias" existed at all....

Most people today don't even realize that there used to be conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans! When I was a boy the most important liberal vs conservative wars were within the two parties. The rise of Goldwater conservatism was a revolt within the Republican party against "eastern establishment liberals" such as Nelson Rockefeller. And the Democrats back then were the (very Catholic) party of traditional morality. Also the party of Southern white racists.

If you are still not sure that the press was grossly unfair to Palin, Cannon lays out the facts in great detail. It was absurd, insane, and utterly vile and dishonest!

Posted by John Weidner at 9:32 AM

July 9, 2009

The little tick-boxes give structure to life...

Orrin Judd:

...Sure, it's a failed presidency, but on the bright side we got a do-nothing president and crossed "elect a person of color" off our to-do list.
Posted by John Weidner at 8:31 PM

"Metropolitan liberals who don't even know where meat or milk comes from..."

Meet the man who has exposed the great climate change con trick | The Spectator:

...His name is Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology at Adelaide University, and he has recently published the landmark book Heaven And Earth, [Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science ] which is going to change forever the way we think about climate change.

'The hypothesis that human activity can create global warming is extraordinary because it is contrary to validated knowledge from solar physics, astronomy, history, archaeology and geology,' says Plimer, and while his thesis is not new, you're unlikely to have heard it expressed with quite such vigour, certitude or wide-ranging scientific authority. Where fellow sceptics like Bjorn Lomborg or Lord Lawson of Blaby are prepared cautiously to endorse the International Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) more modest predictions, Plimer will cede no ground whatsoever. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory, he argues, is the biggest, most dangerous and ruinously expensive con trick in history....

...What Heaven And Earth sets out to do is restore a sense of scientific perspective to a debate which has been hijacked by 'politicians, environmental activists and opportunists'. It points out, for example, that polar ice has been present on earth for less than 20 per cent of geological time; that extinctions of life are normal; that climate changes are cyclical and random; that the CO2 in the atmosphere — to which human activity contributes the tiniest fraction — is only 0.001 per cent of the total CO2 held in the oceans, surface rocks, air, soils and life; that CO2 is not a pollutant but a plant food; that the earth's warmer periods — such as when the Romans grew grapes and citrus trees as far north as Hadrian's Wall — were times of wealth and plenty.

All this is scientific fact — which is more than you can say for any of the computer models turning out doomsday scenarios about inexorably rising temperatures, sinking islands and collapsing ice shelves. Plimer doesn't trust them because they seem to have little if any basis in observed reality....

Here's a little more of the article...

...Heaven And Earth is the offspring of a pop science book Plimer published in 2001 called A Short History of Planet Earth. It was based on ten years' worth of broadcasts for ABC radio aimed mainly at people in rural areas. Though the book was a bestseller and won a Eureka prize, ABC refused to publish the follow-up; so did all the other major publishers he approached: 'There's a lot of fear out there. No one wants to go against the popular paradigm.'

Then someone put him in touch with a tiny publishing outfit in the middle of the bush — 'husband, wife, three kids, so poor they didn't even have curtains' — and they said yes. Plimer couldn't bring himself to accept an advance they clearly couldn't afford. But then something remarkable happened. In just two days, the book sold out its 5,000 print run. Five further editions followed in swift succession. It has now sold 26,500 copies in Australia alone — with similarly exciting prospects in Britain and the US. There's even an edition coming out in ultra-green Germany.

But surely Aussies of all people, with their bushfires and prolonged droughts, ought to be the last to buy into his message? 'Ah, but the average punter is not a fool. I get sometimes as many as 1,000 letters and emails a day from people who feel helpless and disenfranchised and just bloody sick of all the nonsense they hear about global warming from metropolitan liberals who don't even know where meat or milk comes from.'...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:01 AM

July 7, 2009

The real coin...

Angelo M. Codevilla, Who the Hell Do They Think They Are? - - The Corner on National Review Online:

....But as the nation celebrates the anniversary of the revolution of 1776, every presidential hopeful should realize that in the next election Sarah Palin — or someone like her — could be the vehicle for another revolution. The distinctions between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, are being overshadowed by that between what we might call the "Court party" — made up of the well-connected, the people who feel represented by mainstream politicians who argue over how many trillions should be spent on reforming American society, who see themselves as potters of the great American clay — and the "Country party" — the many more who are tired of being treated as clay.

As of July 4, 2009, Sarah Palin is the leader of the Country party. The fact that she did almost nothing to earn that position underlines that party’s nature and power. Neither did Ross Perot, who led that party in 1992. Perot, recall, never identified himself with any sector of American opinion or society. His appeal was simple and powerful: The U.S. government and the top rungs of American society, he argued, are filled with incompetents at best, corrupt losers at worst — people who make no sense and don't like the rest of us. Unlike the rulers, he spoke ordinary English, like one of the ruled who had had enough. He sounded like Ronald Reagan without the conservatism. Until his eccentricities disqualified him, tens of millions were ready to vote for him simply as the representative of the "outs."� Just as in 2008, when Barack Obama won by adding a few Country-party votes to his liberal ones, Sarah Palin could win in 2012 by adding a potentially huge number of Country votes to conservative ones.

We can see the nature and power of today's Country party by noting how little Sarah Palin did to become its head. The person whom candidate John McCain introduced on August 29, 2008, struck the nation like James Stewart in the 1939 movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: somebody like you, who speaks your language, unlike the politicians and bureaucrats who talk, act, and live as if they were better than you. To confirm that impression, Palin hardly had to do anything. The Court party did it for her, and she leads the Country party because highly placed people have demeaned her and everything she stands for more than they have anybody else. They heaped contempt on her for the unpardonable sin of being an ordinary American....

Codevilla's statement that Sarah "didn't do anything" to become head of the "Country Party" is true, since a large part of the people who warmed to her just looked at a few symbolic items—Moose-hunting, Trig, big family, heartland style—and were satisfied. But the statement is also factually ridiculous.

She's no Perot. Unlike a Ross Perot, who jumped into the role more or less on the spur of the moment, Palin has been living that role, and turning it into solid accomplishments, for many years. She's the PTA mom who decided to run for city council. And then for mayor. An office where she didn't just posture, but rolled up her sleeves and did stuff. (And made mistakes. That's GOOD! A person who never makes mistakes isn't trying anything difficult.)

And then did real work at the state level, and fought against the Republican entrenched elites. And, as governor, focused on one big difficult thing, and did it. (The natural gas pipeline, which had been deadlocked for decades.) That showed real managerial wisdom—the leaders who make a difference always focus their energy on a few key points, rather than try to fix everything.

Sarah Palin is the real coin. That's why I'm a fan. Not because she's being attacked by frightened elites. I never wased a minute on Ross Perot. And I've always thought that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington stuff is STUPID. Working in government is a skill, won over years of hard mucky toil. The built-in weakness of the Republican Party is that it is anti-big government in its genes, but needs to use as tools politicians...that is, people who want to be part of government! (The Dems have their own structural weakness—they are socialist in their genes, and socialism never works.)

The most precious asset the Republican Party can have is effective politicians who are not seduced by power and elitism.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:18 AM

July 6, 2009

Lying with statistics...

This is some info one might want to save. Certain statistics get used over and over for mendacious purposes...Canada's Single-Prayer Health Care:

...Infant mortality rates are often cited as a reason socialized medicine and a single-payer system is supposed to be better than what we have here. But according to Dr. Linda Halderman, a policy adviser in the California State Senate, these comparisons are bogus.

As she points out, in the U.S., low birth-weight babies are still babies. In Canada, Germany and Austria, a premature baby weighing less than 500 grams is not considered a living child and is not counted in such statistics. They're considered "unsalvageable" and therefore never alive. Norway boasts one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world — until you factor in weight at birth, and then its rate is no better than in the U.S.

In other countries babies that survive less than 24 hours are also excluded and are classified as "stillborn." In the U.S. any infant that shows any sign of life for any length of time is considered a live birth.

A child born in Hong Kong or Japan that lives less than a day is reported as a "miscarriage" and not counted. In Switzerland and other parts of Europe, a baby is not counted as a baby if it is less than 30 centimeters in length....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:23 AM

July 5, 2009

Knee high on the Fourth of July....

Reg'ler reader & friend Scott Chaffin has some pix he took of the San Antonio Tea Party.

I had to laugh ruefully, seeing pictures of people flocking to the shady spots, escaping the broiling Texas sun. Because the Fourth is always foggy in coastal SF, and I put on a turtleneck shirt this afternoon to go out and grill some burgers!

Mostly I love my burg, liberal nihilist loony-bin though it is, but every fourth of July I have the same thought.... It's WRONG! It's against nature to be cold on Independence Day!!!!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:18 PM

"Yet in their day they seem of much account"

...It is the peculiarity of the warfare between the Church and the world, that the world seems ever gaining on the Church, yet the Church is really ever gaining on the world. Its enemies are ever triumphing over it as vanquished, and its members ever despairing; yet it abides. It abides and it sees the ruins of its oppressors and enemies. "O how suddenly do they consume, perish, and come to a fearful end."

Kingdoms rise and fall; nations expand and contract; dynasties begin and end; princes are born and die; confederacies are made and unmade, and parties, and companies, and crafts, and guilds, and establishments, and philosophies, and sects, and heresies. They have their day, but the Church is eternal; yet in their day they seem of much account...
--- John Henry Cardinal Newman

Posted by John Weidner at 7:43 PM

Romanus civis sum...

From The Catholic Church and Conversion, by GK Chesterton...

...There is a postscript or smaller point to be added here to this paradox; which I know that many will misunderstand. Becoming a Catholic broadens the mind. It especially broadens the mind about the reasons for becoming a Catholic. Standing in the centre where all roads meet, a man can look down each of the roads in turn and realise that they come from all points of the heavens. As long as he is still marching along his own road, that is the only road that can be seen, or sometimes even imagined. For instance, many a man who is not yet a Catholic calls himself a Mediaevalist. But a man who is only a Mediaevalist is very much broadened by becoming a Catholic.

I am myself a Mediaevalist, in the sense that I think modern life has a great deal to learn from mediaeval life; that Guilds are a better social system than Capitalism; that friars are far less offensive than philanthropists. But I am a much more reasonable and moderate Mediaevalist than I was when I was only a Mediaevalist. For instance, I felt it necessary to be perpetually pitting Gothic architecture against Greek architecture, because it was necessary to back up Christians against pagans. But now I am in no such fuss and I know what Coventry Patmore meant when he said calmly that it would have been quite as Catholic to decorate his mantelpiece with the Venus of Milo as with the Virgin.

As a Mediaevalist I am still proudest of the Gothic; but as a Catholic I am proud of the Baroque. That intensity which seems almost narrow because it comes to the point, like a mediaeval window, is very representative of that last concentration that comes just before conversion. At the last moment of all, the convert often feels as if he were looking through a leper's window. He is looking through a little crack or crooked hole that seems to grow smaller as he stares at it; but it is an opening that looks towards the Altar. Only, when he has entered the Church, he finds that the Church is much larger inside than it is outside. He has left behind him the lop-sidedness of lepers' windows and even in a sense the narrowness of Gothic doors; and he is under vast domes as open as the Renaissance and as universal as the Republic of the world. He can say in a sense unknown to all modern men certain ancient and serene words: Romanus civis sum; I am not a slave....

Posted by John Weidner at 8:23 AM

"If you tell them, they cannot believe you"

Dorothy Sayers, from Creed Or Chaos, published in 1947
...It would not perhaps be altogether surprising if, in this nominally Christian country, where the creeds are daily recited, there were a number of people who knew all about Christian doctrine, and disliked it. It is more startling to discover how many people there are who heartily dislike and despise Christianity without having the faintest notion what it is. If you tell them, they cannot believe you. I do not mean that the cannot believe the doctrine: that would be understandable enough, since it takes some believing. I mean that they simply cannot believe that anything so interesting, so exciting, and so dramatic can be the orthodox Creed of the Church.

That this is really the case was made plain to me by the questions asked me, mostly by young men, about my Canterbury play, The Zeal of Thy House. The action of the play involves a dramatic presentation of a few fundamental Christian dogmas—in particular, the application to human affairs of the doctrine of the Incarnation. That the Church believed Christ to be in any real sense God, or that the Eternal Word was supposed to be associated in any way with the work of creation; that Christ was held to be at the same time Man in any real sense of the word; that the doctrine of the Trinity could be considered to have any relation to fact or any bearing on psychological truth; the the Church considered Pride to be sinful, or indeed took notice of any sin beyond the more disreputable sins of the flesh:—all these things were looked upon as astonishing and revolutionary novelties, imported into the faith by the feverish imagination of a playwright.

I protested in vain against this flattering tribute to my powers of invention, referring my inquirers to the Creeds, to the Gospels and to the offices of the Church; I insisted that if my play was dramatic it was so, not in spite of the dogma but because of it—that, in short, the dogma was the drama. The explanations, however, not well received; it was felt that if there was anything attractive in Christian philosophy I must have put it there myself...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:00 AM

July 4, 2009

Anybody sayin' "Yes We Can" these days?

Roger L. Simon, Storm Clouds on the Fourth of July:

...Obama is already over. In six short months the now-spattered bumper stickers with "Hope and Change" seem like pathetic remnants from the days of "23 Skidoo," the echoes of "Yes, we can" more nauseating than ever in their cliché-ridden evasiveness. Although they may pretend otherwise, even Obama's choir in the mainstream media seems to know he's finished, their defenses of his wildly over-priced medical and cap-and-trade schemes perfunctory at best. Everyone knows we can't afford them. His stimulus plan - if you could call it his, maybe it's Geithner's, maybe it's someone else's, maybe it's not a plan at all - has produced absolutely nothing. In fact, I have met not one person of any ideology who evinces genuine confidence in it.

On the foreign policy front, it's more embarrassing. He switches positions every day, such as they are, while acting like a petit-bourgeois snob with our allies and then, when people with genuine passion for democracy emerge on the scene (the courageous Iranian protestors), behaves like a cringeworthy, equivocating creep. Enough of Obama....

Sounds about right to me. Of course Obama can still do tons of damage, but he's a young guy with old ideas. Old and moldy. Ideas that have failed a thousand times.

There's also this, which, sorry Roger, I think is malarky:

...No, my suggestion is even more radical. We should junk the liberal and conservative orthodoxies that have divided - and blinded - us for so long and go back not to Eighteenth Century America, but Nineteenth, to the days of that most American of philosophies - pragmatism. "The pragmatists rejected all forms of absolutism and insisted that all principles be regarded as working hypotheses that must bear fruit in lived experience." Now there's a thought that might brighten even grumpy me on the Fourth of July...

Pragmatism was and is bullshit. Along with all the other invented philosophies and moralities of modernity. Why? Because they all lack any fixed and immutable yardstick to measure anything by. The Pragmatist says: "principles...must bear fruit in lived experience." OK, so who defines "fruit?" The original Pragmatists seem to have assumed that the world was destined to be run by people like them—educated well-to-do white gentlemen of northern European Protestant extraction. And therefore everyone would continue to define "the good" the way they would. How has that worked out?

Most of them were, by the way, Eugenicists, and the "fruits of wise policy" they envisioned included the elimination of inferior people and inferior races. Which probably included Roger Simon's poor raggedy Jewish ancestors. And blacks and Hispanics of course.

Every man-made philosophy or or morality or system for living faces the problem of drift. The world changes, and the philosophy is rigid and can't change with it. Or the philosophy is flexible, but then who can say exactly which flexes are the right ones? Who decides? What's the yardstick? And if you really could invent an immutable yardstick for your philosophy, it still wouldn't work, because the very meanings of words and concepts are always changing.

Only one philosophy, one institution, has solved this problem. And it isn't "man-made."

Posted by John Weidner at 4:02 PM

"God Save our American States"

I've posted these before, but not for a few years...

From a letter by Abigail Adams to John Adams (who was in Philadelphia with the Continental Congress), July 21, 1776:

Abigail Adams...Last Thursday after hearing a very Good Sermon I went with the multitude into King's Street to hear the proclamation for independence read and proclaimed. Some Field pieces with the Train were brought there, the troops appeared under Arms and all the inhabitants assembled there (the small pox prevented many thousands from the country). When Col. Crafts read from the Belcona [balcony] of the State House the Proclamation, great attention was paid to every word.

As soon as he ended, the cry from the Belcona, was God Save our American States and then 3 cheers which rended the air, the Bells rang, the privateers fired, the forts and Batteries, the cannon were discharged, the platoons followed and every face appeard joyful. Mr Bowdoin then gave a Sentiment, Stability and perpetuity to American independence. After dinner the kings arms were taken down from the State House and every vestige of him from every place in which it appeard and burnt in King Street. Thus ends royall Authority in this State, and all the people shall say Amen...

And also from a letter, by John to Abigail...

I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means...
--John Adams

Posted by John Weidner at 1:15 PM

Not a quitter...

I think this piece by "Jude," at Hugh Hewitt's blog, Sarah Palin Is Running A Marathon, is the best thing I've seen yet on the subject. Read the whole thing....

....She's no quitter. She's just running her own race.

Imagine the kitchen table conversation at the Palin house. 'Hey, would you guys like this stuff to stop for a while, and for Dad and I to have the option to fight back against it when does happen, and to fight for good people more often, at our own pace, on our own schedule? Would you like it if I can be home more often but also do more for America? Oh, and do you think I should be responsible and step aside as governor since the bad guys have made every day I remain in office more damaging to the state?' 'Hell, yeah.' (I like to think that one was Piper.)

Sarah Palin is the biggest star in politics after the sophist in the oval office, and Sarah Palin has been abandoned by too much of the Right. [Amen, brother!] Mitt Romney is a cyborg and probably has 2012 in hand already, which I think is great. Love the guy, think we should be so lucky. But how can the GOP and the RNC fail to defend and champion Palin? She is a superstar media talent who's natural charisma could light the sun. Don't listen to the garbage about how she hurt the ticket - that's something Democrats tell themselves to sleep at night. She is a major voice in the conservative movement, the most prominent female Republican, and on and on. Is it so hard to defend her at parties that we have to say she's finished, or that we never thought she could make it back anyway? If she's taking herself out of politics, then fine, we can let her be... but don't bet on it. Sanford has clearly taken himself off the board, but she's securing and defending her place. Palin has a remarkable killer instinct and she climbed the political ladder in a way no one expected. She may very well be passing the ball because she believes it's the right thing to do, but she's also going to become a more effective national figure by doing so. We might see more of her, not less, and if that's the case, will the RNC want to help her? More importantly, will it even know how? I think it's just as likely that she's going to learn how to play the national media all by herself, and she may be better for it in the end.

And if I'm wrong and this is the beginning of the end of Palin's political career? Well, as I said at the top of the post, this race is called life, and no one could blame her for making sure she wins that one.

It will be interesting.

I don't think she's going to leave public life. But I also think the various political maneuverings are just the trivial surface ripples of the vasty deeps of what's really going on. Palin and Obama are symbols of the two paths that America faces. The 2008 Presidential race was really between the two of them. It was a game in which Obama seemed to have all the good cards. He was prepared...prepared by years of Alinskyite dirty dealing and holier-than-thou fakery. Palin was plucked suddenly from obscurity, and painfully un-prepared.

But truth has a power of its own, and above all Sarah radiates that power. She is herself, she's not acting or playing a part. (My guess is that even Obama himself doesn't know who Obama is.) And that self is pure USA. The very attacks on her just go to show how honest she is, and how pathetic and weak they are. Think of poor Andrew Sullivan trying to prove that Trig isn't Palin's child!

Palin is, just by existing, a symbolic attack on the atheism of the Left. And on its Gnosticism! Her and Todd's decision to welcome a Downs Syndrome child with love and joy is a total repudiation of everything the trendy Left believes. It is more powerful than a thousand speeches.

My guess is that she will continue to be weak in worldly terms, and scorned by all elites, including those of her own party.... and yet somehow never finally defeated.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:53 AM

July 2, 2009

For the Fourth...

Of course it would be best to have an equivalent song from the Revolutionary war. But if there's any American who doesn't get a lump in the throat listening to this one, well, he's not an American at all. Just a worm...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:02 PM

Palin Derangement Syndrome goes on...

Jim Geraghty, on the absurd Vanity Fair hit piece on Sarah Palin: Why They Hate Her, The Angelina Jolie of Politics:

...Liberals believe their ideas, philosophy, worldview and policies liberate its believers and contend the conservative equivalents limit people. Liberals see themselves are rejecting outdated beliefs and obsolete ideas, overturning established orders and discarding traditions established by superstitious and ignorant forebears who weren't as enlightened as we are. Conservatives, in their minds, are runaway cultural super-egos, always wagging their fingers about individual responsibility, dismissing excuses, reminding people that they always can't do what they want because of the consequences to themselves and to others.

Conservatism, they suspect, will leave you in a marriage that doesn't satisfy you, burden you with children you don't want, repress your passions and trap you in a empty, boring and unfulfilled life, with no hand of government able to help....

...In her opponents' minds, Palin's made all the wrong choices, and cannot, they insist, be very bright. Yet she's happy and successful. She is an anomaly that invalidates their worldview, and for that, they attempt to immiserate her — regardless of whether she wishes to run for national office again....

"An anomaly that invalidates their worldview." That's for sure. And few things have validated my suspicions that most of what's happening in our world are battles over symbols more than the lefty reaction to Sarah Palin. The crazy thing was that Sarah has never been a "values conservative" in her practical political life. Her issues have always been good government and economic development, especially energy policy. She's never fought in the culture war, she's never mounted any attacks on liberalism or secularism!

But that didn't make any difference. Symbolically, she proclaims that the way to happiness and fulfilment is exactly the opposite of what liberal theory says it is.

"..Liberals believe their ideas, philosophy, worldview and policies liberate its believers..." That stuff is not "liberating," it's slavery.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:44 AM