January 31, 2010

"Life is full of things which don't lend themselves to precise definition"

Macklin Horton has a very good piece on what conservatism is, Catholic and Conservative (1):

...My opponents in the disagreement documented above seem to believe that it [conservatism] is, or at least intends to be, a systematic philosophy, which makes it a rival to the Church, which in turn makes a Catholic who is also a conservative less than fully faithful to the Church because, as we all know, a man cannot serve two masters. They also insist that it fails as a system, because it is full of contradictions and inconsistencies; it is not only a rival to the Church, but an incoherent one.

I have to say that the attempt to respond to this complaint reminded me of arguing with objectivists, in that in both cases there is an insistence that certain terms must be defined with absolute precision or be dismissed as meaningless. The statement that the word "conservative" does not have a very precise meaning is taken as an admission that it has no meaning at all.

But life is full of things which don't lend themselves to precise definition, but yet exist, thereby making meaningful the words by which they are named. There are many such terms in the arts. Terms like "romantic" and "classical" cannot be defined in such a way that as to remove all doubt about whether or not any given work belongs to one of those categories, and there are others that are even more slippery—post-romantic, neo-classical, jazz. There are very few, if any, artists or individual works of art which fit perfectly into any of these categories, or which does not contain elements of both. Yet we continue to use these words because they serve a purpose in describing broad tendencies. If a critic describes one pianist's playing as more romantic than another's, everyone knows what he means; no one shouts Define your terms! And if he did, he would be laughed at, and deserve to be.

In answering the question "what sort of thing is conservatism?" these aesthetic terms provide the most useful analogy I've been able to come up with. Like them, the word "conservative" is more descriptive than prescriptive (as conservatives often note). Like them, it does not begin with a set of abstract principles. Like them, it is more understandable as a product of temperament and attitudes than as a book of rules. As Russell Kirk insisted, it is not an ideology, but rather the negation of ideology. It is a concrete human phenomenon, not an invented system. It has no necessary metaphysic, and one may be a conservative and an atheist, or a conservative and a Catholic. It is a loose alliance of people with broadly similar views about the management of worldly affairs....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:42 PM

Time for a witch-hunt...

The extent of the fraudulent politicized "science" of AGW is stupefying. This is clearly the biggest science fraud in history. (Unless perhaps you call Lysenkoism "science.")

And it is thrilling how fast the rotting log has been rolled over, and the number of horrid bugs that are scurrying for cover. Awesome! It reminds me of one of my first blog-posts right after 9/11, when I compared that time to... A rotting log being rolled over. And Oh the bugs we found! And "realists" back then were tut-tutting that there was a danger of the Middle East being "de-stabilized." And people like me were saying, "YES! That's what we want! Break some glass!"

The threads of deceit and mendacity run everywhere. The science establishment, the journals, the massive propaganda-and-bullying apparatus of education, politicians, bureaucrats, "journalists." And it is a pity that most of them will escape by a quick change of costume, and still infect the world with the spirit of the Father of Lies.

We need a new Tail-Gunner Joe, a new Nixon, to pursue the guilty with the ferocity of pigs rooting for truffles, hounding the guilty out of public life, and putting a few thousand behind bars. It won't happen of course. All will be tidied over.

James Delingpole has the right spirit. Climategate: time for the tumbrils :

...I first met Professor Stott a couple of years ago. He's emeritus professor of biogeography at the University of London, and I tracked him down because in those days he was pretty much the ONLY senior scientific academic anywhere in Britain brave enough publicly to dispute the AGW 'consensus."

We had lunch. "There are many more scientists who think the way I do," he told me. "But they don't want to stick their heads above the parapet. They don't want to lose their jobs." We talked a bit about the loneliness of our position, how impossible it was to place dissenting articles anywhere in the media, how people who thought like us were treated like pariahs.

Now suddenly it has all changed utterly. And you know what? I'm in no mood for being magnanimous in victory. I want the lying, cheating, fraudulent scientists prosecuted and fined or imprisoned. I want warmist politicians like Brown and disgusting Milibands booted out and I want Conservative fellow-travellers who are still pushing this green con trick – that'll be you, David Cameron, you Greg Clark, you Tim Yeo, you John Gummer, to name but four – to be punished at the polls for their culpable idiocy.

For years I've been made to feel a pariah for my views on AGW. Chris Booker has had the same experience, as has Richard North, Benny Peiser, Lord Lawson, Philip Stott and those few others of us who recognised early on that the AGW thing stank. Now it's payback time and I take small satisfaction from seeing so many rats deserting their sinking ship. I don't want them on my side. I want to see them in hell, reliving scenes from Hieronymus Bosch.

Yeah, maybe it isn't the Christian way. But screw 'em. It's not as though they haven't all been screwing us for long enough....

And as a Christian I would wish to note that the AGW scam is un-Christian, despite all the liberal Christian sob-sisters who have signed on. Why? Because the desired end-result of the scamsters would result in massive economic contraction, the most grievous results of which would fall upon the world's poor. The warmists are all prosperous people who would be only mildly inconvenienced by economic shrinkage (And of course many of them could look forward to being in the Nomenklatura of the new "Global Governance" order) while, un-seen by them, millions of Third World people would die, or suffer horribly.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:02 AM

January 30, 2010

Refashioning God

From The Problem of a Designer God by Msgr. Charles Pope:

Some years ago on a certain Sunday the Gospel of the Narrow Road came up wherein Jesus warns that many are on a wide and easy road that leads to damnation and only a few are on the narrow road that leads to salvation. I went on to preach of this warning of Jesus and of the real possibility of hell taught by him in this and other passages. After Mass a woman came to me and said, "I didn't hear the Jesus I know in your words today." I said to her, "But ma'am I was quoting him!" Unfazed she simply waved her hands dismissively and said, "We know he never said that. The Jesus I know would never have spoken like that."

It is one of the more arrogant trends of our modern culture to refashion revealed religious truth and God himself according to our modern preferences. Many moderns want all the consolations of faith but none of its demands. God himself must be rendered harmless so many simply refashion him and what he has said. At times I'll run into someone at the store who has not been attending Mass faithfully and I will call it to their attention. It is not uncommon that they will respond, "God doesn't care if I go to Church or not." "Oh really?" says I, "Then why do you suppose he put it in the Ten Commandments that we should keep holy the Sabbath?'" No answer usually, sometimes a shrug. I usually add: "And why did Jesus warn that if we do not eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us?" (Jn 6:53).

Many people have a designer God. A "God who doesn't care if _____ (fill in the blank)." A God who consoles but never commands. The real God who reveals himself in the Scriptures and doctrine of the Church has been set aside by many. In his place is an idol. A god that many people construct to suit themselves. There is an old saying, "God made man in his own image. Ever since we seem intent on returning the favor."...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:45 PM

Even your old grandma can do it...

Fraser Speirs on the iPad.

... I fear this January-26th thinking misses the point.

What you're seeing in the industry's reaction to the iPad is nothing less than future shock.

For years we've all held to the belief that computing had to be made simpler for the 'average person'. I find it difficult to come to any conclusion other than that we have totally failed in this effort.

Secretly, I suspect, we technologists quite liked the idea that Normals would be dependent on us for our technological shamanism. Those incantations that only we can perform to heal their computers, those oracular proclamations that we make over the future and the blessings we bestow on purchasing choices.

Ask yourself this: in what other walk of life do grown adults depend on other people to help them buy something? Women often turn to men to help them purchase a car but that's because of the obnoxious misogyny of car dealers, not because ladies worry that the car they buy won't work on their local roads. (Sorry computer/car analogy. My bad.)

I'm often saddened by the infantilising effect of high technology on adults. From being in control of their world, they're thrust back to a childish, mediaeval world in which gremlins appear to torment them and disappear at will and against which magic, spells, and the local witch doctor are their only refuges.

With the iPhone OS as incarnated in the iPad, Apple proposes to do something about this, and I mean really do something about it instead of just talking about doing something about it, and the world is going mental....

Is the radical simplicity and ease-of-use of the iPad the real point? As a Mac user I've seen this aspect growing for a while now. Especially in the way all those apps that begin with an "i" work together. I don't actually like it very much; it always makes me feel cranky and rebellious. I never download pictures from my camera into iPhoto, I'd rather arrange my own folders.

But as soon as I get into some aspect of computing that I'm not familiar with, the same ease-of-use is liberating. I recently helped start a group in our parish that wanted to put podcasts of sermons on the web site. It seemed like an impossible mountain of technical juju to climb, and we assumed we would have to recruit "experts". I wanted to be my own expert, but I didn't have the time. I kind of jump-started things by making a sample podcast in Garageband. Then clicked one button to put that into a "blog" in iWeb. Then clicked another button and uploaded it to my iDisk.

I hated working in an Apple environment that assumed I was a "lifestyle" person (iWeb I mean, not Garageband, which I recommend.) But I loved being able to whip something up myself in a hour, and send a link to the group to see, and make them think, "Yes, we can do this.". (Here's a link to our website. The most recent podcast is on the right, and the podcast page is linked on the left. Not fancy, but a start.)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:54 AM

January 29, 2010

Detached from reality...

Charlene recommends this piece by Peter Wehner on the SOTU, A Self-Reverential State of the Union Address (Thanks to Alan):

...What made the speech a bit bizarre, and somewhat alarming, is how detached from reality the president is. After having spent much of his time blaming his predecessor for his own failures, he said he was "not interested in re-litigating the past." Barack Obama lamented waging a "perpetual campaign" – even though that is what the president, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs and others in his employ do on a daily basis. He said, "Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, is just part of the game" – yet his White House has played that very game with zest and delight.

Having gone on a spending spree that is unprecedented in American history, the president castigated the political class for "leaving a mountain of debt" to future generations. Having helped to create the worst fiscal situation in our lifetime, he says he will "refuse to pass the problems on to another generation of Americans." He says, "If we do not take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery" – despite the fact that future generations will have to work to undo the deficit and debt he had done so much to increase.

It was as if we were being lectured on marital fidelity by John Edwards or Mark Sanford....
Posted by John Weidner at 11:40 AM

January 28, 2010

He blames Bush for everything... except this.

Bill Kristol: - What Obama can't bring himself to say -- we won in Iraq:

...President Obama says he is "not interested in re-litigating the past." Well, I am -- at least to this extent: Would it have been too much for the president of the United States to have acknowledged and paid tribute to a truly remarkable recent American achievement -- turning around the war in Iraq and putting that war on course to a successful outcome?

Here's what Obama did say about Iraq:
As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as president. We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. We will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make no mistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home.
That's it: "This war is ending." But it's ending in a certain way -- with success. It could have ended with failure. Success rather than failure in Iraq has made a big difference elsewhere in the Middle East -- including in Iran....

What a moral pygmy. President Bush made the tough call, the right decision, when all the weak sisters wanted to cut and run from Iraq. and we won. Now, after endless sniveling about how all his problems are inherited from Bush, Obama isn't man enough to acknowledge this signal triumph. Democrats, I spit upon you with utmost contempt. You are low-class creeps to act in this way.

This is particularly galling because Bush could reasonably have blamed Clinton for a lot of problems he inherited, such as al-Qaeda and the Dot,com recession. But he was too much of a man to do such a thing.

President Bush with soldiers

Posted by John Weidner at 11:18 AM

Interesting word mistake...

Top Democrats at war - with each other - Glenn Thrush and John Bresnahan - POLITICO.com:

Word Note logo...In a display of contempt unfathomable in the feel-good days after Obama's Inauguration, freshman Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) stood up at a meeting with Pelosi last week to declare: "Reid is done; he's going to lose" in November, according to three people who were in the room....

I'll bet that authors started with "unthinkable" and decided to find something more jazzy in the Thesaurus. But unfathomable has meanings like mysterious, mystifying, deep, profound. Its origin in the nautical measurement of depth, "fathoms," calls to mind the mysterious depths of the sea. There is nothing "unfathomable" about mentioning the political troubles that Dems are in right now, it's an obvious point.

...O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.
    -- Hopkins
Posted by John Weidner at 8:38 AM

January 26, 2010

A smidgeon of history...

Democrats' Bush-bashing strategy goes bust - Jonathan Martin - POLITICO.com:

...Running as much against the Bush White House as he was running against Sen. John McCain, Barack Obama easily carried Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts in 2008.

Yet when Democratic nominees for governor in Virginia and New Jersey and for Senate in Massachusetts sought to tie their GOP opponents to the still-unpopular former president, the strategy didn't resonate. Voters were more focused on the current administration or local political issues — and the onetime Democratic magic formula seemed yesterday's news.

"Voters are pretty tired of the blame game," said longtime Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand, a top aide on Obama's presidential campaign. "What a stupid strategy that was."

Howard Wolfson, a senior official on Hillary Clinton's campaign and veteran Democratic communications guru, noted that his party was able to run against Republican Herbert Hoover's Depression-era presidency for 30 years....

SO, what happened 30 years after Hoover? Hmmm? Well, Conscience of a Conservative was published in 1960, and became a huge best-seller. The book was by Barry Goldwater, but actually ghostwritten by L. Brent Bozell Jr., brother-in-law of William F. Buckley. That was the moment that conservative thought began to nudge its way into the public consciosnous.

It's hard to imagine now how un-idea-ed the Republicans were in the first half of the 20th Century. I was raised by intelligent parents who read books and were conservative Republicans. They travelled, knew lots of interesting people, and ran a business that employed scores of people. We went to the library in a neighboring town because ours was not large enough. (Still odd to me was that my folks had little interest in owning books. It may have been a Depression Era thing, or because there were few bookstores around. None really; just the book sections of department stores.)

Yet the idea of reading conservative intellectuals was not something I even imagined until the 1970's.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:01 AM

January 25, 2010

In fourth-Generation warfare, the front line is anywhere...

I'm just surprised that this hasn't been tried before. Or a number of other possible attacks I could mention. (But won't—no need to give certain people ideas.)

Terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba 'planning paraglider attacks' in India - Times Online:

Indian intelligence officials suspect that the terrorist group behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks is planning another audacious strike on the country — this time from the air, using suicide bombers flying paragliders.

U. K. Bansal, an Indian Home Ministry official, told reporters that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba faction was thought to have acquired a number of the gliding parachutes.

"We have intelligence reports that LeT has purchased 50 paragliding kits from Europe with an intention to launch attacks on India," he said... [...]

..."It would be natural for them to plan another spectacular attack from the air. The warning has to be taken seriously." Paragliders usually do not have an engine but can — in skilled hands and in the right conditions — cover large distances. The world record for flying a paraglider is more than 460km (285 miles).

However, they usually need to be launched from a high point, or towed by a boat or car, which could limit their effectiveness....

Oh, yeah, that's really going to limit effectiveness.

* Update: Take a look at this video. We are SO lucky that Islam is almost as damaging to cognition as liberalism, or those suicide-bomber Johnnies would be much more troublesome...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:37 AM

It's turned out like we predicted...

I remember arguing with Obamanoids, saying to them, "HOW can you vote for someone who's never run so much as a pop-stand to run the country??" You can imagine the non-responses I got. Now it is becoming obvious even to Leftists that that wasn't a smart idea. But the conservative criticism has not changed a bit. That's the point in this piece. (I confess to being wrong in the way I guessed that Obama would soon learn to triangulate skillfully like Clinton did. No sign of it yet.)

Jim Geraghty, Obama-mania Skeptics Understood This Man Before Anyone Else - :

I continue to hear a lot of talk among liberals that the reason their health-care reform effort is in trouble, the reason Obama has mediocre-to-lousy approval ratings (particularly on the economy and health care), the reason Democrats are losing big races, and the reason 2010 is looking like an impending political bloodbath is essentially right-wing "misinformation campaigns."

Look, conservatives spent much of 2007 and 2008 arguing that Obama was a pleasant, charismatic man with few legislative accomplishments, no experience as a manager, few concrete results in any area where he had worked, some naïve beliefs hidden by extraordinary eloquence, and no idea of just how hard the job of the presidency is. He underestimated the intractability of certain problems (Middle East peace), wildly overestimated the effectiveness and efficiency of government programs (stimulus spending), had a bad eye for talent (Biden, Geithner, Richardson, Daschle, Napolitano), often had bad first instincts ("I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother"), seemed to trust those who didn't deserve it (Iran), and had sailed along in the world of politics because up until now, everyone was inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Throughout that time, a large percentage of the American people rejected that argument. "He seems to know what he's doing. His campaign was a well-run ship. Look at that calm temperment. He was editor of Harvard Law Review. He'll be fine, and he'll probably be great," they concluded.

From 2007 to now, the arguments of the Right haven't changed; what has changed is that now the evidence to support the Right's initial perception — collected by watching this president in action — is becoming more and more compelling by the day.
Rush Limbaugh: Better He Should Fail
Posted by John Weidner at 10:52 AM

January 23, 2010

Walk against death...

Here's a few short clips from the San Francisco Walk for Life today. I'm sure the "press" will pretty much ignore it, but it was even more impressive than last year. The last section of the video is above Fort Mason, heading towards the Marina Green. Charlene and I sat on a bench and ate our picnic for more than 45 minutes while those crowds passed non-stop. They were still going when we finally moved on. I'd say there were no less that 20,000 people in the march, and we had lots of rain....

The first clip is along the Embarcadero, and the second is going up the hill into Fort Mason. In the last bit you can see some red-roofed buildings in the background. Those are the buildings and piers of Ft. Mason from which 1.36 million Americans embarked for the Pacific campaigns of WWII.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:45 PM

January 21, 2010

Good piece on how the wise men in Washington are protecting you...

Stephen Hayes, System Failure — The Weekly Standard:

There is one reason that White House should be thrilled about the Massachusetts Senate race. It crowded out news that came out of the stunning testimony of Obama administration officials Wednesday on the Christmas Day terrorist attack. Four top counterterrorism officials testified before a congressional committee that they were not consulted about how to handle the interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the al Qaeda operative who attempted to blow up Flight 253 on December 25, 2008.[...]

..."The decision to arrest [Abdulmutallab] and put him in criminal courts, the decision was made by the agents on the ground, the ones that took him from the plane and then followed up on the arrest in the hospital," Mueller told the committee. He also said: "In this particular case, in fast-moving events, decisions were made—appropriately, I believe, very appropriately—given the situation."

Again, stunning. The FBI Director believes it is appropriate — very appropriate — that four of the nation's top counterterrorism officials were never consulted about how to handle an al Qaeda terrorist who very nearly blew up an airplane with almost 300 passengers aboard.

Mueller testified that those FBI agents interviewed Abdulmutallab about "ongoing and other threats." What the FBI director did not mention was that his agents interviewed the terrorist without any input from the National Counterterrorism Center — the institution we now know was sitting on top of a small mountain of not-yet-correlated information about the bomber....

I'm all too familiar with governmental incompetence, but this is just weird. These guys are zombies.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:24 PM

Formidable graphics work...

My daughter sent me this link,

Here & There — a horizonless projection in Manhattan. Take a look!

It really gives a feel for the shape of the town, both close-up and distant. It was apparently a difficult thing to put together, but considering how Google Maps and Google Earth are now integrating 3-D models of buildings, one can imagine that in the not-to-distant future you will be able to see such projections from any point like you see "street views" now.

Here's a video, in much less detail...

Here & There in Manhattan from schulze on Vimeo.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:03 AM

January 20, 2010

Take a moment...

Congratulations - Michael Graham - The Corner on National Review Online:

It wasn't Scott Brown, or Martha Coakley or even Dick Cheney's Vote-Stealing-And-Weather-Control Machine.

It was you. You won this election

Not to take anything away from Sen.-elect Brown (the phrase just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?), or to lessen the value of those 200,000 miles he put on the Truck Heard 'Round The World. He has real political talent, and he's going to need it to survive 2012 with Barack Obama at the top of the Democratic ticket.

But yesterday's once-in-a-generation, never-saw-it-coming, dance-in-the-streets victory for democracy is all yours.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:50 AM

January 19, 2010

Dream on, Romney boy...

The winner and the loser — Don Surber:

In the end, it was a blowout for Republican Scott Brown as he will become the first Republican senator from Massachusetts in 37 years. Looks like a 52%/47% win. Good job. Good hustle.

The big loser was not Martha "Marcia" Coakley — she still has her gig as attorney general — or even President Obama, who also still has a job. [Neither of them will ever smile again.]

The big loser tonight is Sarah Palin. [So, let's think about this. The spirit of Tea Parties and grassroots conservative rebellion explodes in Mass., and the name Palin isn't going to spring to mind? Hmm?]

She still doesnt have a job. [she's working for Fox News, and pulling down big bucks as a speaker. More importantly, she doesn't NEED a job. She's not needy--she's the center of attention whenever she wants to be.]

Brown won without her. [So?]

Doug Hoffman lost with her. [Perhaps you weren't concentrating, but Hoffman was a third-party candidate who wasn't even expected to make a showing. And he raised over 100k the day Palin took notice of him.]

Brown won a seat that Republicans could only dream about even a week ago. [Which gives credibility to all those Republicans who are NOT establishment pooh-bahs.]

Hoffman lost a seat that belonged to Republicans. [He was running for the Conservative Party, not the Republicans. Perhaps you didn't hear about that.]

Which presidential candidate is most like Scott Brown. [See picture below]

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. [Ha ha and ha. Romney campaigning in a pickup truck would be like Dukakis in a tank.]

And who was at the Brown headquarters tonight? ['cause he's the needy one. Sarah needs no shared luster.]...

Hey, Mr Surber. Look at this picture. Who's it remind you of?

The funny thing is that his piece conveys the opposite of what Surber intends. Nobody says, "Hey, Look! So-and-so won without Romney!" No one cares. But even in a race that Palin had no connection with at all, no involvement in, people are still trying to say "Palin lost." What a joke.

You be nice to Governor Palin, I advise, because she may let your fellow be Secretary of Treasury. But his hopes of being president ended on August 28, 2008. When the Sun rises into the sky, the moons and planetoids become like mere shadows.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 PM


(That's Charlene's special title.)

Wellll, I nevah thought I'd live to see the day when Massachusetts would embrace a Republican with enthusiasm. Awesome, clean out of sight!

Scott Brown sign written in frost

Posted by John Weidner at 6:25 PM

Well, he finally has an enemy to lead America against...

Now He's Preparing a Combative Response? - Jim Geraghty:

Politico: "President Barack Obama plans a combative response if, as White House aides fear, Democrats lose Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts, close advisers say."

Well, we didn't really expect humility, did we?

Great to know, Mr. President, that Iran shot protesters dead in the streets, beat the hell out of young kids, North Korea's firing off missiles so regularly you can set a clock to them, al-Qaeda tries to blow up a plane on Christmas, al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch is winning "Franchise of the Year", China's hacking Google until every search brings back at least one smiling Mao photo, Kabul's blowing up, our southern border looks like a war zone, and after a year of outreach, reset buttons, "changing the tone" and 364 days of kumbaya we finally get to see a "combative response" from you... to a Republican winning a race.

I look forward to his Oval Office address announcing that the electorate has deeply disappointed him, and that he expects more of us.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:24 AM

January 18, 2010

Maybe I should run against Nancy?

Kathryn Jean Lopez quotes an e-mail from Massachusetts:

...On Tuesday, for the first time since I was old enough to vote, I will take part in a US Senate election whose outcome is not known to everyone in advance. I believe this is what most Americans call "democracy," and I'm looking forward to the experience!...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:54 AM

January 17, 2010

Today's quote...

Seen at Instapundit:

...Meanwhile, Dr. George Milonas writes: "If Obama thinks Bush is such an incredible incompetent, why did he send Bush to help rescue the Haitians? Does he hate black people that much that he is willing to inflict Bush on them?"...

If Democrats really believed the crap they lay on us, they would send Ray Nagel.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:38 PM

Today's giggle...

After Obama Rally, Dems Pin Blame On Bush - Hotline On Call (This is funnier if you know that Obam and what's-her-name couldn't fill a 3,000 person hall. And that The Brown campaign just had to turn people away from an appearance in a similar-sized hall. See below)...

By Felicia Sonmez. As audience members streamed out of Pres. Obama's rally on behalf of AG Martha Coakley (D) here tonight, the consensus was that the fault for Coakley's now-floundering MA SEN bid lies with one person -- George W. Bush.

"People are upset because there's so many problems," Rosemary Kverek, 70, a retired Charleston schoolteacher said as tonight's rally wrapped up. "But the problems came from the previous administration. So we're blaming poor Obama, who's working 36 hours a day ... to solve these problems that he inherited."

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), speaking with a gaggle of reporters after the event, said that while state Sen. Scott Brown (R) offers voters a quick fix, in reality, the problems created by "George Bush and his cronies" are not so easily solved.

"If you think there's magic out there and things can be turned around overnight, then you would vote for someone who could promise you that, like Scott Brown," Kennedy said. "If you don't, if you know that it takes eight years for George Bush and his cronies to put our country into this hole ... then you know we have a lot of digging to do, but some work needs to be done and this president's in the process of doing it and we need to get Marcia Coakley to help him to do that."

(Curiously, Kennedy mentioned Coakley repeatedly during his remarks to reporters, each time referring to her as "Marcia," not "Martha.")

More Kennedy: "One thing the Democrats have done wrong? We haven't kept the focus on this disaster on the Republicans who brought it upon us. We've tried too hard to do that right thing, and that's to fix it, as opposed to spend more of our time and energy pointing the finger at who got us [here] in the first place."

Blaming their problems on Bush does carry a risk for Dems, however -- with their sights so firmly focused on the past, Brown's campaign has managed to wrest the "change" mantle from them....

They're just jealous. Little pipsqueaks who know they can never dare to do great things....

Barbara, Laura and Jenna Bush

From a Friend at the Brown Rally in Worcester:

"It's an absolute mob scene. The police have closed off the streets. It's mind blowing. The hall is already full, and it holds 3,000 people. There may be another 1,000 people outside."...
Posted by John Weidner at 6:08 PM

January 16, 2010

A passion for justice...

The Just-War Tradition by George Weigel on National Review Online:

...The classic just-war tradition did not begin with a "presumption against war." Augustine didn't begin there; Aquinas didn't begin there. And indeed, no one in the tradition began there until the late 1960s (surprise!), when a Congregationalist moral theologian (James Gustafson) sold a Quaker moral theologian (James Childress) the idea that the just-war way of thinking began with a prima facie moral duty to do no harm. Childress then successfully sold the notion to J. Bryan Hehir, the Catholic theologian and political theorist who was the chief architect of "The Challenge of Peace."

In fact, however, the classic just-war tradition began, not with a presumption against war, but with a passion for justice: The just prince is obliged to secure the "tranquility of order," or peace, for those for whom he accepts political responsibility, and that peace, to repeat, is composed of justice, security, and freedom. There are many ways for the just prince (or prime minister, or president) to do this; one of them is armed force. Its justified use can sometimes come after other means of securing justice, security, and freedom have been tried and failed; but it can also sometimes mean shooting first. Two obvious examples of the latter come from modern history.
The first (to which the president alluded in Oslo) was in the case of humanitarian intervention to forestall or end a genocide. (Thus all those liberal synagogues and churches with "Darfur: A Call to Your Conscience" on their lawns might consider whether there is any solution to that humanitarian disaster other than the use of armed force.) The second comes from a more classic instance of an "aggression under way" (as some just-war thinking construes "just cause"), but without a shot having yet been fired. As students of World War II in the Pacific know, a U.S. carrier battle group under Adm. William Halsey was steaming off Hawaii in early December 1941. Suppose Halsey and the Enterprise had run across Admiral Nagumo's carriers in their stealthy approach to the Hawaiian archipelago. Would Halsey have been justified in assuming that Nagumo wasn't there to check out vacation real estate on Oahu — and shooting first? Of course he would have been, and from every rationally defensible moral point of view. (The analogy here between my Halsey hypothetical and hard intelligence of Iran loading a nuclear warhead onto a medium-range ballistic missile will strike some as suggestive.)

So the notion that just-war analysis begins with a "presumption against war" (or, as some put it, with a "pacifist premise") is simply wrong. The just-war way of thinking begins somewhere else: with legitimate public authority's moral obligation to defend the common good by defending the peace composed of justice, security, and freedom. The just-war tradition is not a set of hurdles that moral philosophers, theologians, and clergy set before statesmen. It is a framework for collaborative deliberation about the basic aims of legitimate government as it engages hostile regimes and networks in the world. The president's lifting up of this venerable moral tradition, which has deep roots in the civilizational soil of the West, was entirely welcome, if not to the Norwegian Nobel Committee and other bears of little brain. The next step is the retrieval of the classic intellectual architecture of just-war thinking and its development to meet the exigencies of a world of new dangers and new international actors.


Posted by John Weidner at 11:12 PM

Difficult decisions...

Alan Sullivan, Decision Time:

Drudge has linked this comprehensive NYT article on the relief efforts in Haiti. A critical phase is arriving. As shock wears off, rage sets in. There will be anarchy and bloodshed in the ruined city. The US has military forces on the scene. How will they be used? Difficult decisions are imminent.

Yeah. I mentioned this post to Charlene, and she said, "Do you shoot them, or not?" That's what's involved. And the decisions are particularly difficult because they are precisely the ones we've been trying desperately to avoid or fudge...

Liberalism in its current form mostly says, "Nothing is worth fighting for." But it will sometimes make exceptions in favor of military action if the cause does not directly benefit the US. Well, here you go, Mr Obama.

And an even more difficult question is, "Do we add them to the empire?" Haiti has been a human catastrophe for 200 years, which pretty much tells us that they will never get their act together on their own. The situation cries out for us to take over. Hell-hole in our back yard, or protectorate. Them's the choices.

Yet even more difficult: Haiti is like.... Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is a continent of Haitis, with maybe a flicker of hope here and there. Haiti poses the question of whether the black parts of the globe will ever be able to govern themselves.

* Update: Charlene adds, "But what about the Bahamas? They're not like Haiti. In fact they have problem with illegal immigration from Haiti." Well, they were British...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:12 PM

This may become an interestin' lawsuit...

car covered with icicles

Capital Press agriculture news (Thanks to Rand):

...A national beef group is invoking the so-called "Climategate" controversy as it challenges a recent U.S. government ruling on climate change. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association has filed a petition to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. to overturn the EPA's recent greenhouse gas "endangerment" ruling.

The ruling states that gases believed to cause global warming pose a human health risk and is the first step toward their regulation by the EPA under the Clean Air Act. The NCBA and other producer groups fear the ruling could lead to lawsuits and new restrictions on the nation's livestock industries.

The NCBA plans to argue the government's finding is based on faulty and incomplete science and that the Clean Air Act is the improper vehicle for regulating greenhouse gases, said Tamara Thies, the organization's chief environmental counsel.

"We are taking a position that we do not believe the science with regard to alleged manmade climate change is there," Thies said. "The EPA has a responsibility to conduct a rigorous scientific analysis and look at all the science out there instead of just cherry-picking certain studies that agree with its position about manmade climate change."

The cattle group points to Climategate, in which critics allege that e-mails stolen from Great Britain's University of East Anglia show bias and manipulation of data by scientists on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The fact that the EPA relied on some of the IPCC's data to make its finding makes the ruling questionable, Thies said.

"The EPA has only considered some (evidence) and never really seriously considered that climate change could actually be caused by natural causes," she said....
Posted by John Weidner at 10:06 AM

January 15, 2010

Rights come from Big Brother...

One reason among many why the Massachusetts Senate race is important...

Kathryn Jean Lopez, It's a Good Thing for Martha Coakley That There Are No Catholics in Massachusetts:

During an interview today, Martha Coakley was asked about the conscience issue Catholic medical personnel encounter when it comes to a law that mandates the distribution of  emergency contraception, which sometimes works as an abortifacient. (I wrote about the details of this issue as pertain to Scott Brown and Massachusetts and Martha Coakley's misrepresentation of all of this here.)

Coakley explained that this should not be a problem because "we have a separation of church and state." "Let's be clear," the attorney general added.

The radio host, Ken Pittman, pointed out that complex legal principle that "In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom."

Coakley agrees that "The law says that people are allowed to have that." But, making clear her view — the attorney general who wants to be the next senator from Massachusetts — she declared that "You can have religious freedom, but you probably shouldn't work in an emergency room....

"The law says that people are allowed to have that." In other words, rights are given to us by the government. If you change the law, you change our "rights." I'd guess the majority of Leftists believe exactly that. Coakly doesn't seem like a person who actually thinks about such things, or even is capable of so doing; I'm sure she's just absorbed it from the kultursmog.

I assert that rights exist, not only regardless of government, but regardless of the existance of humankind. They are part of the moral law which is embedded in the fabric of the universe. They are implicit in our being made in the "image of God."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:40 AM

January 14, 2010

Pretty funny...

This is a spoof on the attack ads being run against Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:03 PM

January 13, 2010

"An absolute nightmare"

From Caffeinated Thoughts, A Little Perspective on Steve Schmidt:

...Let me give you some perspective from Iowa. Here is what I learned from two former Iowa McCain/Palin Campaign staffers. Because of campaigns they are currently involved with I'm keeping them anonymous. Here's what I learned:
  • "Steve Schmidt was an absolute nightmare."
  • "Incompetent"
  • "We McCainiacs (people around from the beginning) never felt like he had McCain's best interest in mind."
  • "Was never around, and once (when in Iowa) disappeared for three days and we were unable to get a hold of him."
  • "Let his personal positions get in the way of the campaign."
  • "Did not have a clue about Iowans." (demonstrated by canceling a hunting photo op with Palin without explanation and said, "Iowans won't care about that")
This doesn't paint a picture of competence. Schmidt is not credible, he ran a horrible campaign and is trying to cover his butt.

So please do us a favor Schmidt, shut up and never, ever go near a campaign ever again. Unless it's a Democrat's campaign; that would be all right.

small b-w image of Sara Palin

Posted by John Weidner at 10:16 AM

January 12, 2010

"a rabbi, a priest, and a toff walked into a bar..."

This is pretty funny, American Thinker: NYT & David Brooks: Intellectuals R Us:

...So Brooks starts the New Year with anger, upset that Americans are digging in their heels -- that the ruled class does "not have faith" in its superiors, "the political class generally." And when he's upset, he gets analytical. His insight for Times readers: You have all these "fringe" people, those not belonging to the "educated class" "from states like Indiana who feel that they are fighting against a bunch of rich toffs ..."

"Toffs"? "Frissons"? "Toffs"?!

In Brooksworld, in Timesworld, in a world where "hockey players like ice" is a Pulitzer-worthy insight, people may refer to "toffs," which is British for a member of the wealthy elite. But in "mediocre" -- his word -- America, very few jokes start with "a rabbi, a priest, and a toff walked into a bar..."

Brooks is upset, and when he is upset, he talks "toff." The "educated class" must stop these very average Americans who are pulling the nation in an "angry direction." Otherwise, they may throw out the most educated and enlightened leadership the nation has ever had.

Brooks asks, in a mixture of anger and wonder, What is happening to our "educated class"?

And we the people answer: Simple -- you're in for some toff times.

So hands off our frissons....
Posted by John Weidner at 10:24 PM

January 11, 2010

The enemy of my enemy is....

Charlene noticed this post, and tried it herself with the same results. Google Blocking Negative Search Recommendations On Islam – Why?:

Religion always causes a stir when it is debated, and Google seems to know it. Google is not taking a fair approach to the way that it handles searches for different religions.

When you search for the major religions of the world, the monotheistic faiths for example, Google serves up suggestions for the search "Christianity is" such as, "a lie," or false." Try it on a number of faiths, and then Islam.

Notice any difference?

Google is systematically blocking, it seems, all search suggestions for Islam. Why? To remove the chance of an adherent of the faith from being offended by a perhaps severe search suggestion? Why not treat all search terms equally?...

Why? Good question. My guess is that the people who run Google are just garden-variety Lefties, and have absorbed (without actually thinking, of course) the common Lefty position that "offending" Islam is a horrid thing, but other religions can and should be bashed. And my guess is that, on a deep level, the reason for this is that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:42 AM

January 10, 2010

Cunctando regitur mundus...

This is just something I fudged up for a friend...

Sarah Palin motivator poster

I don't know who made the Palin/Reagan picture, it's just something I found on the web. So I can't give them credit...

And the "kick your ass" motto has apparently actually been used on Kern County Sheriffs cars... Here's a link to a photo. (Charlene grew up in Bakersfield, so it's kind of an in-joke with us.)

* Update: By the way, if you feel like doing something that might make a difference, donate to Scott Brown today...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:48 PM

January 9, 2010

Feliz A�o Nuevo!

On New Year's Day the Weidners did something chronologically appropriate (quite by accident), we went to Año Nuevo State Reserve, to see the Elephant Seals, which come ashore for a month or so for mating and giving birth to pups.

Here's a little bit of video I shot, of some males moving about. The way they move is utterly weird; galumphing along like giant caterpillars. The big males weigh about 2 tons! More than your car. And they can move fast, though mostly they just lay there semi-comatose. They aren't hostile to humans, but if you got in their way they would just squash you like a bug. So one proceeds carefully!

One of the oddities about them is that, aside for this brief time ashore, the males and females live in different worlds. The females will soon go west, as far as Hawaii. The males head north towards the Aleutians. And they will all travel alone—no packs or herds.

And the dying-motor sound you hear near the end, ka-leckh ka-leckh ka-leckh... that's their means of self-expression!

Posted by John Weidner at 7:27 PM

The man who saw through time...

....In brief, original sin is that supreme negative with countless positively verifiable effects. It is the most experimentally true of all dogmas, because each of us experiences its effects a hundred times every day. It is also easy to experience that the same dogma is resisted by the world at large. Worse, the resistance translates itself into a haughty attitude that no counter-arguments are to be take seriously, as if man's fallen nature had been disproved once and for all...

...Newman knew full well that haughty attitude, especially strong in the worlds of academia, of publishing, and of public affairs. He could talk quietly about the progress of unbelief, but only up to a point. As he once elaborated on that progress in the Oratory's common room, he noted that there would be a time when the world at large would take it for granted that Christianity had been disproved. He foresaw—a most accurate prediction indeed—that those who believed in supernatural revelation would neither be listened to nor reasoned with. Arguments of believers would be brushed aside, so Newman remarked, with the claim that since revelation "has been disproved, we cannot disprove it again." These last words of Newman's were remembered precisely because in uttering them he put "a tone of anger and impatience into his voice."...

    -- Quoted from Newman's Challenge, by Stanley L. Jaki

"Arguments of believers would be brushed aside." That's for sure. There is no debate. It is maddening. "a tone of anger and impatience into his voice." Newman was every inch the English gentleman, and speaking with anger would be very surprsing in him—no wonder people remembered this.

Me, I have no such reticence. People who smugly hold views, and won't debate or seek truth...I want to kick them into the gutter and laugh at them. It's exactly the same in politics. "neither be listened to nor reasoned with." There's never any principled debate with Leftists. I've yet to see it happen. Cowardly dogs.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:54 PM

Palin/Cheney (Liz, that is) 2012....

From Facebook | Sarah Palin: It's War, not a Crime Spree:

...It simply makes no sense to treat an al Qaeda-trained operative willing to die in the course of massacring hundreds of people as a common criminal. Reports indicate that Abdulmutallab stated there were many more like him in Yemen but that he stopped talking once he was read his Miranda rights. President Obama's advisers lamely claim Abdulmutallab might be willing to agree to a plea bargain – pretty doubtful you can cut a deal with a suicide bomber.

John Brennan, the President's top counterterrorism adviser, bizarrely claimed "there are no downsides or upsides" to treating terrorists as enemy combatants. That is absurd. There is a very serious downside to treating them as criminals: terrorists invoke their "right" to remain silent and stop talking. Terrorists don't tell us where they were trained, what they were trained in, who they were trained by, and who they were trained with. Giving foreign-born, foreign-trained terrorists the right to remain silent does nothing to keep Americans safe from terrorist threats. It only gives our enemies access to courtrooms where they can publicly grandstand, and to defense attorneys who can manipulate the legal process to gain access to classified information.

President Obama was right to change his policy and decide to send no more detainees to Yemen where they can be free to rejoin their war on America. Now he must back off his reckless plan to close Guantanamo, begin treating terrorists as wartime enemies not suspects alleged to have committed crimes, and recognize that the real nature of the terrorist threat requires a commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor. ...

"A commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor." Amen, sister.

Sarah Palin Rifle Training

Posted by John Weidner at 1:52 PM

January 8, 2010

A bit more of Yosemite...

Here's another picture from Yosemite Valley. (We're home now, by the way.) That's a bridge over the Merced River, with Half Dome in the background. Notice how nice the reflection of the bridge in the water is. We took a mid-week vacation, the best time because few people are around, and rates are low. Once I wandered away from the roads I'd hardly see another soul. We wouldn't dream of going to the valley in summertime, it would just be absurd...

snowy bridge in Yosemite

Below the fold you can see Charlene relaxing in front of the fire in her "Fortress of Solitude," the rustic Weidner cabin, pondering deep and dangerous thoughts. Be very afraid, collectivists!

Charlene at Ahwanee Hotel

Posted by John Weidner at 5:12 PM

January 7, 2010

Death by Scientific Consensus

Charlene highly recommends this piece on Vitamin D, Pajamas Media   Sunshine, Vitamin D, and Death by Scientific Consensus:

...If you do take my advice and perform further research on this subject, you will still encounter holdouts who assert that unprotected exposure to sunshine is always dangerous and that a normal diet supplemented by a daily multiple vitamin provides sufficient vitamin D. Behind the scenes, however, even the NIH is now looking for a face-saving way to change positions on vitamin D without taking too much blame for having resisted those who have urged reassessment for decades.

The stakes are huge, as are the benefits of attaining optimal vitamin D levels. The embarrassment for those who must admit past error, however, may be even greater. The reason is that untold millions have suffered and died prematurely because those who challenged the “settled science” regarding sunshine and vitamin D decades ago were treated like crackpots and demonized.

Now we know that very few people have optimal serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], the principal form of vitamin D circulating in the blood. Moreover, those with more melanin manufacture less vitamin D in their skins, so they suffer disproportionately from diseases exacerbated by vitamin D deficiencies.[...]

....Optimal vitamin D serum blood levels, attained through sunlight or supplementation, dramatically reduce the risk of many diseases other than bone maladies. Many of the most serious are ameliorated by an astonishing 50 to 85 percent. These diseases include cancers, from breast and colon to deadly melanoma skin cancers.

Yes, that's right. The really nasty skin cancers can be prevented by getting moderate, sensible sunshine or through vitamin D supplementation. Non-melanoma skin cancers do increase somewhat with sun exposure, especially with sun burns. These skin cancers, however, are relatively benign as they tend not to spread into other parts of the body. They are easily detected and removed because they appear on skin exposed to the sun...

"Treated like crackpots and demonized." Gee, doesn't that sound familiar. [Link. link, link, link, link, ]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:52 AM

January 6, 2010

You don't even need to ask the name...

Charlene's quote for the day, by Orrin Judd:

"She was so mad her expression nearly changed"
Posted by John Weidner at 10:45 AM

January 5, 2010

We are away for a few days...

Charlene and I and one of our sons are spending 3 days in Yosemite Valley. Stunning place of course. I won't try to do it justice, and right now I'm more inclined to drink Scotch by the fire than blog.... but here's one picture that I liked. We hiked up to lower Yosemite Falls, and this is the stream that flows therefrom....

River from Yosemite Falls

Posted by John Weidner at 6:24 PM

January 2, 2010


Alan Sullivan, Dead Souls, Arise!:

Peggy Noonan misses the point again. Our problem isn't failure of institutions. It is excess of institutions, and an excessive disposition to rely on them. How does it avail anyone that "journalism" has come to regard itself as an "institution?" This is the same nonsense as "consensus science." A stale collectivism has pervaded almost every aspect of American life. And not just American. We are the trailing indicator of what Europe has already achieved — a continent of dead souls. Why? Because the entire culture has turned away from the faith that defined it and gave it meaning. That faith came to seem untenable in the face of a new one whose miracles were physical rather than metaphysical. Too few were the thinkers who recognized that the two realms were a continuum, not a dichotomy.

It may seem a long leap from this deep thought to a secret Catholic boy-cult among Boston clergy, but it is just a little sideslip, a dance of ennui. Poor Ms. Noonan, still trembling in dismay. She wants to salvage institutions. Let them fail! Let the grace of individual redemption explode through them. It is not a question of taking responsibility; it is a challenge to walk away with Christ, for those of us who seek him. Or simply to heed God, immanent and unrecognized.

Addendum: And yet I love the Church — its antiquity, its dignity, its vast storehouse of wisdom and art. Let it fail, but let it also be reborn.

"Let it fail, but let it also be reborn." Amen, brother. Truth to tell the Church has failed and been reborn a hundred times, or ten thousand times if you look at local instances. There is no point in her history where you cannot find holy men and women deploring her fallen state, and setting to work reforming and renewing. But what other institution can you name that can renew itself repeatedly for 2,000 years!

...Shall the past be rolled back? Shall the grave open? Shall the Saxons live again to God? Shall the shepherds, watching their poor flocks by night, be visited by a multitude of the heavenly army, and hear how their Lord has been new-born in their own city? Yes; for grace can, where nature cannot. The world grows old, but the Church is ever young. She can, in any time, at her Lord's will, "inherit the Gentiles, and inhabit the desolate cities."...
      -- John Henry Newman, The Second Spring

As an example of renovatio, it's very interesting to consider the Holy Father's new Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, [Link] which allows groups of Anglicans to join the Church by forming personal prelatures, which are something like bishoprics, but not attached to any territory such as a diocese. And to join while keeping much of Anglican liturgical and spiritual tradition.

You could call this an institution-busting innovation. For one thing, the prelatures do not have to obey any bishops within whose diocese they happen to be operating! Wow. They are supposed to consult, but no more is required; they can consult, and then (with utmost respect of course) thumb their noses at bishops. This is surely no accident—Benedict is a deep old file, and has been dealing with entrenched Catholic bureaucracies since I was a little boy.

Also, this is a model that could easily be extended to all sorts of other Christian groups. And if so, if they start to become successful and attractive, the result would be competition within the Church! Prelatures are not supposed to be open to other Catholics, but if they are flourishing it will be hard to keep the others down on the farm. Benedict is a Tocquevillian, and can't be unaware of the greater vigor of Christianity in places where Christian groups compete for souls, compared with the state-church model of most European countries. We could live to see the day when Catholic Bishops have to hustle, and run lean 'n mean sees to keep Lutheran or Syriac prelatures from grabbing market-share!

And this is a possible step towards an Information Age structure for the church. The Anglican Prelatures do not have to have any "locality," except that they are to be formed within a particular conference of bishops, ie: The United States, or Australia. Presumably there will be headquarters, parishes, church buildings, etc. But none of these is required. The whole Chancellery could reside on a laptop.

Of course the whole thing may flop, and the assorted Anglicans may chicken-out and decide to do nothing. But that obvious worry is itself a blow against entrenched institutions, which are always averse to risk. Not B-16; he's just pushed a pile of chips to the center of the table with a smile. Be not afraid!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:08 PM

January 1, 2010

Classiest of the lawyers...

The Weidners are fans of John Yoo. [Link] Charlene's heard him speak at Federalist Society meetings, and she says this interview is just like he is in person! Totally smart, in the same understated dead-pan-funny way.

Questions for John Yoo - NYTimes.com. I wonder if the reporter has really grasped how completely outclassed she is here...

Your new book, "Crisis and Command," is an eloquent, fact-laden history of audacious power grabs by American presidents going back to George Washington. Which president would you say most violated laws enacted by Congress?

I would say Lincoln. He sent the Army into offensive operations to try to stop the South from seceding. He didn't call Congress into special session until July 4, 1861, well after this had all happened. He basically acted on his own for three months.

Are you implicitly comparing the Civil War with the war in Iraq, in order to justify President Bush's expansion of executive power?

The idea is that the president's power grows and changes based on circumstances, and that's what the framers of the Constitution wanted. They wanted it to exist so the president could react to crises immediately.

Do you regret writing the so-called torture memos, which claimed that President Bush was legally entitled to ignore laws prohibiting torture?

No, I had to write them. It was my job. As a lawyer, I had a client. The client needed a legal question answered.

When you say you had "a client," do you mean President Bush?

Yes, I mean the president, but also the U.S. government as a whole....

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Lincoln of course trampled the hell out of "civil liberties," and quite properly so. [Link, link] It needed to be done, and he did it.

And speaking of Lincoln, this is a slam bang story. And this too.

And here's my favorite (for oddness) Civil War image. Colonels Kit Carson and Lafayette Baker! Baker did a lot of Lincoln's dirty work, such as kidnapping and imprisoning suspected Confederate agents in the then equivalent of Gitmo, Old Capitol Prison. Popularly known as "Baker's Bastille." [Link]

Posted by John Weidner at 5:47 PM

Let us never forget... Sidi Bou Zid

Word Note logo(This is an old post I stumbled upon from 2002, inspired by someone who had expressed disappointment upon discovering that the Wright Brothers had in fact flown not at Kitty Hawk, but at nearby Kill Devil Hill)

I wrote (and still think):

Names are part of the poetry of history. It's worth a bit of historical inaccuracy to get a name that rings in the mind.

What if the Battle of Waterloo had been called the Battle of Hougemont? Or Shiloh called The Battle of Pittsburg Landing? Ugh. Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed's Hill, but which is the better name?

Kitty Hawk is a splendid name, so it was the correct one to use. Nothing's really lost, because anyone who is interested in the subject soon learns about Kill Devil Hill.

And since I'm on the subject of battle-names, the American defeat at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia should really have been called Sidi Bou Zid, which is where the real defeat happened. Thank goodness somebody wasn't pedantic.

And I didn't mean that the names Waterloo or Shiloh were inaccurate. But the names were chosen from several possibilities, and probably because they were noble-sounding. For the happy few who still love history, hearing the word Shiloh immediately fills the mind with profound reflections; of bloodshed on a scale until then unknown, of courage and sacrifice, of the greatness of Ulysses Grant, and of a frontier faith that named a log-cabin church in the woods after a village in Palestine. And to think that it could just as easily been called The Battle of Owl Creek!

Thinking of names of battles, the North called it The Battle of Antietam; the South The Battle of Sharpsburg. Which is better? And would perhaps a certain battle be better remembered if it had a better name than The Meuse-Argonne Offensive?

Posted by John Weidner at 7:43 AM