August 30, 2010

No middle ground...

Hugh Hewitt is dead right on the need for Republicans to move with decisive speed when (we hope) we win the House

...But it will be uniquely John Boehner's job to general the effort, and John Boehner's moment. If he can impress upon his House colleagues the absolute need for speed and for firm but civil insistence on the key priorities --huge spending cuts, extending the Bush tax cuts and the suspension of key Obamacare mandates as a prelude to comprehensive repeal and replacement-- then he will have done his job even if the Senate and/or the president's veto frustrates the agenda in whole or part.

The key will be to move expeditiously to pass out of the House a budget, all of the appropriations bills and the tax cut legislation that embodies the agenda. The GOP must be seen to be implementing quickly --in a matter of weeks actually-- what the fall campaign ahead is premised on.

If this happens, there will be a mighty collision with the president and his party. That collision cannot be avoided and it should not be postponed. If the country delivers a rebuke to the Democrats in November and a mandate to the Republicans, that statement cannot be frittered away with a long, drawn-out dance around the illusion that there is some middle ground to be found on any of these issues...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:34 AM

August 29, 2010

Inertial navigation....

Hale Adams wrote in a comment to my neo-Gnosticism post...

...I think this ties in neatly with my periodic rants on "political Taylorism". Taylorism, as properly applied to the production of goods, resulted in such astounding success that we no longer truly want for any material thing.

Being as how it's hard to argue with success, Taylor's principles have been applied improperly to other realms of human activity. I've ranted about its application to politics and society— it's what we call "Progressivism"— but it shows up in religious matters as well, as the "neo-gnosticism" in your post. Rather than stick with the tried-and-true Judeo-Christian beliefs about human nature, too many people go with new-fangled ideas promoted by "experts"...
"applied improperly to other realms of human activity"

You are exactly right. And we see the same thing in many other areas. We constantly hear that "science" or "research" or "experts" or "psychology" tell us things about how to live. But how we are to know with certainty whether we can trust them? That's never explained.

More broadly, this is all part of the problem of inertial navigation. Which is, you can't navigate inertially unless you can occasionally refer to fixed landmarks outside your own system. Apollo missions could not depend on their own instruments and computers alone to get them to the moon or back. The astronauts took sightings on stars, with sextants, and made course corrections. Today's ships and planes get fixes from satellites, and adjust course accordingly. (When I was young they still used sextants. And the satellites must themselves be calibrated by reference to the stars, or to fixed points on Earth.)

Taylorism is proper to use for something like industrial production, because we can stand outside and measure and criticize the results, and because the goal is pretty much defined. (One of my own heroes, Peter Drucker, pointed out some of the flaws of managing people purely by efficiency. The ugly labor relations of the US auto industry are an example, and one that has led to very inefficient results.)

But if we are adjusting ourselves, guiding ourselves, then how do we stand outside and judge the results? And make course corrections? We can't, unless we have some sort of fixed reference points outside ourselves to navigate by.

"Neo-Gnosticism is the philosophy that invites you to search deep inside yourself and discover some exciting things by which you must then live." Same problem. If you are using yourself as a guideline, how can you measure the results? You are your own measuring instrument, and you are changing yourself.

Humans have never come up with a long-term solution except various forms of transcendent religious faith. All other attempts have failed. Marxism tried to use "laws of history" as fixed points. Taylorism/Pragmatism/Progressivism uses efficiency, or "what just works." But that just begs the question of how we decide that efficiency is what matters. Or what guidelines to use to judge "what works."

"The wisdom of our forefathers" has always been a good stopgap, but it breaks down over the long run once people become self-conscious about it, and start to try to pin down exactly what that wisdom is. That's the dilemma of non-religious conservatism—you still need guidelines for what exactly should be conserved! Conservatism itself cannot give an answer.

And even if by some magical revelation one knew for sure that efficiency, or the Federalist Papers, or "the greatest good for the greatest number," or Liberty should be our guide in politics and society, there remains the deeper problem that the results are being measured by the very people and societies you are tinkering with! It's like the lab rats running the experiment on themselves and then saying what it means.

Every non-religious thought-system is in deep philosophical trouble. (That doesn't mean that the religious ones are true; that's a different question.) DEEP TROUBLE! WAKE UP! And none of them want to think about it, which is why I don't have vast numbers of people avidly reading this blog.   ;-)

If there is something in your life you don't want to think about, then you are living in fear! You are skating on thin ice. And if there's even one thing you don't want to think about, then you can't be confident about anything. Why? Because you can't know the extent of the problem-area....... unless you think about it!

And this is at the core of the problem of nihilism I keep nattering about. My theory is that until recently most people in the Western world retained many habits left over from Judaism and Christianity, even though formal religious faith has been in decline for centuries. Therefore they felt like they had solid ground under their feet, and were much less fearful. Those habits have now mostly worn off, and many people have no belief in anything greater or truer than themselves. And so people are acting very strangely, because on some deep level they know that they are in trouble...

As unbelievers deny Revelation more decisively, as they put their denial into more consistent practice, it will become the more evident what it really means to be a Christian. At the same time, the unbeliever will emerge from the fogs of secularism. He will cease to reap benefit from the values and forces developed by the very Revelation he denies. He must learn to exist honestly without Christ and without the God revealed through Him; he will have to learn to experience what this honestly means. Nietzsche had already warned us that the non-Christian of the modern world had no realization of what it truly meant to be without Christ. The last decades [this was written in the 1950's] have suggested what life without Christ really is. The last decades were only the beginning...
   — Romano Guardini, from The End of the Modern World
Posted by John Weidner at 9:51 AM

August 28, 2010


From Tom Wright's essay, Decoding The Da Vinci Code:

...Let me sum up this lecture in the following way. The Da Vinci Code is a symptom of something much bigger, a lightning rod which has throbbed with the electricity of the postmodern western world.

One of the basic fault lines in the contemporary Western world is the line between neo-Gnosticism on the one hand and the challenge of Jesus on the other. Please note that, despite strenuous attempts to make this line coincide with the current sharp left-right polarization of American culture and politics, it simply doesn't. Nor, for that matter, does it coincide with the polarizations of British or European culture either. So what is this real, deep polarization which runs through our world?

Neo-Gnosticism is the philosophy that invites you to search deep inside yourself and discover some exciting things by which you must then live. It is the philosophy which declares that the only real moral imperative is that you should then be true to what you find when you engage in that deep inward search. But this is not a religion of redemption. It is not at all a Jewish vision of the covenant God who sets free the helpless slaves. It appeals, on the contrary, to the pride that says "I'm really quite an exciting person, deep down, whatever I may look like outwardly" — the theme of half the cheap movies and novels in today's world. It appeals to the stimulus of that ever-deeper navel-gazing ("finding out who I really am") which is the subject of a million self-help books, and the home-made validation of a thousand ethical confusions. It corresponds, in other words, to what a great many people in our world want to believe and want to do, rather than to the hard and bracing challenge of the very Jewish gospel of Jesus. It appears to legitimate precisely that sort of religion which a large swathe of America and a fair chunk of Europe yearns for: a free-for-all, do-it-yourself spirituality, with a strong though ineffective agenda of social protest against the powers that be, and an I'm-OK-you're-OK attitude on all matters religious and ethical. At least, with one exception: You can have any sort of spirituality you like (Zen, labyrinths, Tai Chi) as long as it isn't orthodox Christianity.

By contrast, the challenge of Jesus, in the 21st century as in the first, is that we should look away from ourselves and get on board with the project the one true God launched at creation and re-launched with Jesus himself. The authentic Christian gospel, which is good news about something that has happened as a result of which the world is a different place — this gospel demands that we submit to Jesus as Lord and allow all other allegiances, loves and self-discoveries to be realigned in that light. God's project, and God's gospel, are rooted in solid history as opposed to Gnostic fantasy and its modern equivalents. Genuine Christianity is to be expressed in self-giving love and radical holiness, not self-cosseting self-discovery. And it lives by, and looks for the completion of, the new world in which God will put all things to rights and wipe away all tears from all eyes; in which all knees will bow at the name of Jesus, not because he had a secret love-child, not because he was a teacher of recondite wisdom, not because he showed us how we could get in touch with the hidden feminine, but because he died as the fulfillment of the Scriptural story of God's people and rose as the fulfillment of the world-redeeming purposes of the same creator God; and because, in that death and resurrection, we discover him to be the one at whose name every knee shall indeed bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, confessing Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:52 PM

Deflation may be the new normal...

The Futurist: The Techno-Sponge:

...Most high-tech companies have a business model that incorporates a sort of 'bizarro force' that is completely the opposite of what old-economy companies operate under: The price of the products sold by a high-tech company decreases over time. Any other company will manage inventory, pricing, and forecasts under an assumption of inflationary price increases, but a technology company exists under the reality that all inventory depreciates very quickly (at over 10% per quarter in many cases), and that price drops will shrink revenues unless unit sales rise enough to offset it (and assuming that enough unit inventory was even produced). This results in the constant pressure to create new and improved products every few months just to occupy prime price points, without which revenues would plunge within just a year. Yet, high-tech companies have built hugely profitable businesses around these peculiar challenges, and at least 8 such US companies have market capitalizations over $100 Billion. 6 of those 8 are headquartered in Silicon Valley.

Now, here is the point to ponder: We have never had a significant technology sector while also facing the fears (warranted or otherwise) of high inflation. When high inflation vanished in 1982, the technology sector was too tiny to be considered a significant contributor to macroeconomic statistics. In an environment of high inflation combined with a large technology industry, however, major consumer retail pricepoints, such as $99.99 or $199.99, become more affordable. The same also applies to enterprise-class customers. Thus, demand creeps upwards even as cost to produce the products goes down on the same Impact of Computing curve. This allows a technology company the ability to postpone price drops and expand margins, or to sell more volume at the same nominal dollar price. Hence, higher inflation causes the revenues and/or margins of technology companies to rise, which means their earnings-per-share certainly surges.

So what we are seeing is the gigantic amount of liquidity created by the Federal Reserve is instead cycling through technology companies and increasing their earnings. The products they sell, in turn, increase productivity and promptly push inflation back down. Every uptick in inflation merely guarantees its own pushback, and the 1.5% of GDP that mops up all the liquidity and creates this form of 'good' deflation can be termed as the 'Techno-Sponge'. So how much liquidity can the Techno-Sponge absorb before saturation?

At this point, if the US prints another $1 Trillion, that will still merely halt deflation, and there will be no hint of inflation at all. It would take a full $2 Trillion to saturate the techno-sponge, and temporarily push consumer inflation to even the less-than-terrifying level of 4% while also generating substantial jumps in productivity and tech company earnings. In fact, the demographics of the US, with baby boomers reaching their geriatric years, are highly deflationary (and this is the bad type of deflation), so the US would have to print another $1 Trillion every year for the next 10 years just to offset demographic deflation, and keep the techno-sponge saturated...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:55 AM

August 26, 2010

Listen to a wise man...

Listen to the Maha Rushi, brothers and sisters. He speaks pearls.

Leftists use embarrassment as a weapon. They paint those they fear as embarrassingly stupid or "not polished," or crap like that, and in our desire to appear "sophisticated" people buy it. They did it to Palin from the instant she walked onstage, and they are doing it to Sharron Angle right this minute.

(Here's a transcript of Rush's remarks.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:08 PM

This one brought a tear to my eye...

Jeez, remember what it was like to have a real President! You know, one of those right-wing extremists who is pro-American...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:40 AM

August 24, 2010

Sorry guys, there's no "there" there...

I'm just doodling here. Nothing important...

Dems urge Obama to take a stand - John F. Harris and James Hohmann -

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs's recent complaint about the ingratitude of the "professional left" is a small symptom of a larger problem for President Barack Obama: He has left wide swaths of the Democratic Party uncertain of his core beliefs. [I doubt if the swaths have any more "core" than Barry Obama does.]

In interviews, a variety of political activists, operatives and commentators from across the party's ideological spectrum presented similar descriptions of Obama's predicament: By declining to speak clearly and often about his larger philosophy — and insisting that his actions are guided not by ideology but a results-oriented "pragmatism" [It would be harder to say a sillier thing. You can't avoid the deep questions by being "results-oriented," because you must decide first which results you favor. Which is something your philosophy must ultimately say.]— he has bred confusion and disappointment among his allies, and left his agenda and motives vulnerable to distortion by his enemies. [Ha ha. Couldn't happen to a more deserving Party. ]

The president's reluctance to be a Democratic version of Ronald Reagan, who spoke without apology about his vaulting ideological ambitions, has produced an odd turn of events: Obama has been the most activist domestic president in decades, but the philosophy behind his legislative achievements remains muddy in the eyes of many supporters and skeptics alike. There is not yet such a thing as "Obamism." [Sure there is, that's what Obama believes when he looks in the mirror]

The ability to transcend ideological divides and unite disparate parts of the electorate was a signal strength of his candidacy in 2008. [Only because his campaign was a total lie.] But that has given way to widespread — if often contradictory — complaints about his agenda (too radical or too cautious?) and the political tactics (too partisan or too conflict averse?) he uses to pursue it.

At first blush, it is a mystery: How could a political leader preside over nearly $1 trillion dollars in stimulus and other spending, and pass overhauls of the health care and financial services sectors, but still leave many of his own supporters uncertain of his larger aims? [They are not sure of their own "larger aims." ]

"He hasn't sought, I think, to bring coherence to the achievements of the last 20 months," said former Democratic senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart, adding that "it would not hurt" to do so soon. [Uh, did Gary Hart ever bring any coherence to Gary Hart?] ...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:08 PM

August 23, 2010

You've probably already seen this chart...

... of "Deficits with and without Iraq War." Either way it is damning for Dems, but especially it demolishes the Democrat claim that our fiscal problems can be blamed on the Iraq Campaign. Or on the the Bush tax cuts...

Deficits with and without Iraq War

The chart is from a great piece in American Thinker by Randall Hoven, Iraq: The War That Broke Us -- Not. A quote:

...Just for grins, use the above chart to dissect Christopher Hayes' statement that our current and future deficits are caused by "three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts and the recession."

Two of those three things -- the wars and tax cuts -- were in effect from 2003 through 2007. Do you see alarming deficits or trends from 2003 through 2007 in the above chart? No. In fact, the trend through 2007 is shrinking deficits. What you see is a significant upward tick in 2008, and then an explosion in 2009. Now, what might have happened between 2007 and 2008, and then 2009?

Democrats taking over both houses of Congress, and then the presidency, was what happened. Republicans wrote the budgets for the fiscal years through 2007. Congressional Democrats wrote the budgets for FY 2008 and on. When the Democrats also took over the White House, they immediately passed an $814-billion "stimulus." (The $814 billion figure is from the same CBO report as the Iraq War costs. See sources at end of article.)...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:33 AM

August 22, 2010


I've been subjected lately to far more waffling vagueness and equivocation than my heart can easily endure, so this dose of bluntness was refreshing. (This isn't, of course up to the sermonizing standards of the Ordo Praedicatorum, our dear Dominicans, but Franciscans are often worth listening to.)

(Thanks to Patrick Madrid)

St. Augustine: "Concerning those things, then, which are known to God, unknown to us, we judge our neighbors at our peril. Of this the Lord has said, Judge not. But concerning things which are open and public evils, we may and ought to judge and correct, but still with charity and love, hating not the man, but the sin, detesting not the sick man, but the disease.
Posted by John Weidner at 9:21 AM

Random Sunday quote...

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
    --Archbishop Raymond Burke
Posted by John Weidner at 9:18 AM

August 21, 2010


This is just a bit of ammo to keep in your locker, if you happen to be one of those who are accused of being bigots or denying constitutional rights by opposing the Ground Zero Mosque...

TThe ground zero mosque and the Restoring Honor rally:

...When news broke that Glenn Beck would be hosting a "Restoring Honor" rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, that Sarah Palin was slated to speak and that the rally would take place on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have A Dream" speech, the cry of outrage from the Left was immediate. Keith Olbermann was so distressed by the news that he invited uber-liberal talk radio personality Bill Press to weigh in on the matter:
"Unbelievable isn't it? [When] I first heard about this – from you, by the way – you know I was just outraged that the park service would even consider giving Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin a permit to hold a political rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, that sacred shrine, on this historic date. . . . Clearly – I don't care what he says – he chose that site, on that day, to kind of supplant Dr. Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech with his message, whatever it is."
So, not only is Mr. Press outraged by Beck's presumption and insensitivity, he openly suggests that the government should prevent him from doing so! In one fell swoop Mr. Press commits a constitutional double-whammy, assaulting not only Beck's right to speech but his right to assemble. And how did Olbermann respond? Did he "speak out" against this diatribe with solemn recitations of Holocaust poetry and a condemnation of Press's "stoking of enmity" against Beck and Palin? Why, of course not. Instead of defending Beck's constitutional rights, Olbermann chooses instead to focus on rectitude, even going so far to suggest that Beck rally will be a "racist desecration" of Dr. King's memory....

In this case we have an American "sacred space" defined by both place and time. The equivalent to the mosque might be if Beck had reserved the time annually for the next 20 years!

Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 AM

August 19, 2010

Good prose is tough-minded and pungent...

Which is why Leftists can't write any more. (see: "Journolist." Borrrring. Boring people!)

A tweet by Sarah...

Who hijacked term:"feminist"?A cackle of rads who want 2 crucify other women w/whom they disagree on a singular issue; it's ironic (& passé)

"Cackle of rads!" I love it. She's a poet.

* Update: Hilarious (to the happy few who still read). This Lefty at TPM doesn't get the reference (and I'm sure he thinks he's smarter than Sarah, and than you and me)...

If you don't know what phrases like "cackle of rads" derive from, click on the book image..


Posted by John Weidner at 1:48 PM

Wising up...

Public Policy Polling: Obama on the Trail:

Illinois voters say they would be negatively influenced if a candidate was endorsed by Barack Obama. And if his support isn't an asset in his home state it's hard to imagine where it is....

My position on the 2008 election has always been that what is important is not that people make mistakes, but whether they learn from them. So items like this one I find very interestin'.

The important thing about Obama is not the guy himself, but that he was a stealth candidate. His skin color and moderate stances on the campaign trail were a big lie. He's a white left-wing academic elitist.

For about 50 years Americans have not wanted to elect northern liberal Democrat senators president. Democrat southern governors yes, northern senators no. Obama was slipped in by slight-of-hand. My guess is that it will be another 50 years before we make that mistake again...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:33 AM


Charlene and I really liked this XKCD...

XKCD cartoon

Posted by John Weidner at 7:50 AM

August 15, 2010

Reprint of a personal favorite from 2005...

I was looking through old posts recently, and encountered this one. I'll just re-post it. Why? Because I want to--and it's my blog!     ;-)

Someone suggested I'm a "nationalist" recently. I don't think that really fits. My feelings are perhaps best expressed by what Lincoln said in his Eulogy on Henry Clay:

He loved his country partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country; and he burned with a zeal for its advancement, prosperity and glory, because he saw in such, the advancement, prosperity and glory, of human liberty, human right and human nature. He desired the prosperity of his countrymen partly because they were his countrymen, but chiefly to show to the world that free men could be prosperous.

"The United States of America" is a set of ideas, not a territory or a race or a volk. There are lots of people living in foreign lands, who are Americans in good standing, because they "get it." It was Steven den Beste who wrote about this, and posted this great quote from an essay by Peter Schramm:

[My father] gathered my sister, me, and my mother up, and, in the middle of the night, we walked to Austria. I was not yet ten years old. When I asked him where we were going, he said: "We are going to America." I asked "why to America?" He said the following: "We were born Americans, but in the wrong place." It took me a while to understand what that meant. It took a lot of study of some great philosophers, of the American Founders, of Lincoln. I received four degrees for the effort and I slowly came to understand. My father always understood.

Perhaps someday America will change, and become just a nation. And perhaps a few people will resettle in Martian caves, with battered e-books in their hip-pockets containing the Federalist Papers, and The Constitution. And they will be the True Americans. (Myself, I would go a bit further, and say we Americans are the True Englishmen. Our revolution was fought for the "Rights of Englishmen," and our ideas haven't really diverged very far from what we thought then, while England has become a pale shadow of what it was.)

If you are a Leftist, you MUST be anti-American. You MUST oppose the idea that is America, because that idea is utterly opposed to collectivism and statism, and opposed to the belief that our rights are granted by government, or that the interests of "society" are worth the sacrifice of the individual. Many Leftists won't honestly acknowledge their enmity, but resort to sneaky formulas. and claiming to be "against nationalism" is one of them. It's a lie of course, none of them are bothered by French nationalism, or Swedish nationalism, or criticize when a Russian proclaims her love for her "Motherland."....

Actually one of the tricksy formulas for disguising leftish anti-Americanism is nationalism. You can say you love America, meaning things like Jazz, or "the simple workers" or Cajun cuisine, or kosher delis, or the beauty of the mountains and the prairies, etc. Sure, of course, we all do, but that's not America.

More by den Beste:

...You're French if you're born in France, of French parents. You're English if you're born to English parents (and Welsh if your parents were Welsh). But you're American if you think you're American, and are willing to give up what you used to be in order to be one of us. That's all it takes. But that's a lot, because "thinking you're American" requires you to comprehend that idea we all share. But even the French can do it, and a lot of them have.

That is a difference so profound as to render all similarities between Europe and the US unimportant by comparison. But it is a difference that most Europeans are blind to, and it is that difference which causes America's attitudes and actions to be mystifying to Europeans. It is not just that they don't understand that idea; most of them don't even realize it exists, because Europeans have no equivalent, and some who have an inkling of it dismiss it contemptuously...
Posted by John Weidner at 6:10 PM

August 14, 2010

The great koan...

Pascal, Penseé #631:

It is good to be tired and weary from fruitlessly seeking the true good, so that one can stretch out one's arms to the Redeemer.

Awesome line! Peter Kreeft comments (Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal's Pensees):

Suprise! "Seek and you shall find" is a koan, an unsolvable puzzle. If we do not seek, we will not find; but finding God does not come as a direct result of our seeking either. We don't find God as we find a planet but more as we find a mate. We do not find God, we are found by God. (See the last two paragraphs of chapter 11 of C. S. Lewis' Miracles.)

So you can't get to God by trying, and you can't get to him by not trying. It's an unsolvable puzzle, solvable only by God.

If it is the true God we are dealing with, and not some figment of our comfortable imagination, we will come sooner or later to a turning point in our search where we discover that"you can't get there from here" (in the words of the famous Vermont farmer joke); that our ignorance, our impotence and above all our sin blocks our access to God; and that unless God has stretched out his hand to save us, we cannot stretch out our hand to him and be saved.

At this point we discover what we can do: just say Yes, accept, believe, receive, open our tight-clenched hands and hearts and let him enter.

If you have never done that, it's not too late—yet.
Posted by John Weidner at 4:50 PM

Not a "tragedy," and not a "trauma"

Bill Kristol:

...This is revealing. For Obama, 9/11 was a "deeply traumatic event for our country." Traumatic events invite characteristic reactions and over-reactions--fearfulness, anger, even hysteria. That's how Obama understands the source of objections to the Ground Zero mosque. It's all emotional. The arguments don't have to be taken seriously. The criticisms of the mosque are the emotional reactions of a traumatized people.

But Americans aren't traumatized. 9/11 was an attack on America, to which Americans have responded firmly, maturely, and appropriately. Part of our sensible and healthy reaction is that there shouldn't be a 13-story mosque and Islamic community center next to Ground Zero (especially when it's on a faster track to be built than the long-delayed memorial there). But Obama (like Bloomberg) doesn't feel he even has to engage the arguments against the mosque--because he regards his fellow citizens as emotionally traumatized victims, not citizens who might have a reasonable point of view....

The desperation of Leftists to avoid the implications of 9/11 were evident from day one. You can add this "traumatized" crap to the list, along with "9/11 was a tragedy," And "Americans lashed-out in anger after 9/11." And "All those flags will offend foreign visitors." I'm sure you can think of others...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:48 PM

August 13, 2010

The WaPo takes pity on us Republicans...

Seem to be a lot of that lately. Liberals trying to help us poor confused Republicans get on the high road to electoral success. Mighty kindly I take it, their giving us some helpful advice. And I thought they didn't like us.

But it's a funny thing. They all seem to have the same advice... Have you noticed?

A Washington Post editorial, Sarah Palin endorsements help push GOP farther from the center:

...Still, the particulars of Mr. Murphy's background are not the most interesting aspect of this tale. In fact, the endorsement reveals much more about Ms. Palin than about Mr. Murphy.

It shows, first of all, that the former Republican vice presidential nominee does not really care much about winning. [She's a loser. My heart's abroken.] After all, Mr. Murphy stands virtually zero chance of stealing the Republican nomination away from former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who maintained relatively high approval ratings statewide even as he was defeated in his bid for reelection four years ago. Maryland is one of the most liberal states in the nation; if any Republican stands a chance at winning statewide office, it will be a moderate like Mr. Ehrlich, not a conservative like Mr. Murphy. [That's the CW. Lather, rinse, repeat.]

It also suggests that Ms. Palin's political worldview, if you can call it that, consists mainly of a short checklist of slogan-ready, litmus-test issues on which Mr. Murphy ranks higher in the conservative canon than Mr. Ehrlich does. Opposed to raising taxes? Check! [How marginal can you get? Only six people in the country oppose raising taxes.] In favor of Second Amendment gun rights? Check! [a few kooks!] Opposed to abortion? Check! [The guv would never endorse someone like, say, Carly Fiorina.] Dislike illegal immigrants? Check! [We marginal Republicans not only dislike them, we string them up from the lampposts.]

To the extent that Republicans follow Ms. Palin down this path, they will find it leads to a very snug tent, just big enough for the hard-core partisans [You have to "make your bones" to get in the club] who refuse to deviate from checklist politics for the sake of character, pragmatism or victory. You could call that principled. You could also call it a political strategy so narrow that it amounts to self-marginalization. [Guns? Check! Ammo? Check! A year's supply of food? Check!—we're ready, Sarah!]

I really don't deserve such bliss, sinner that I am, but the pleasure I would have watching those worms writhe and squirm and yelp through the eight years of the Palin presidency.... I shouldn't even think about it...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:17 PM

"The man was never bigger than his country."

I liked this piece by Fouad Ajami, The Obsolescence of Barack Obama. Esecially this bit on Ronald Reagan

...It was canonical to this administration and its functionaries that they were handed a broken nation, that it was theirs to repair, that it was theirs to tax and reshape to their preferences. Yet there was, in 1980, after another landmark election, a leader who had stepped forth in a time of "malaise" at home and weakness abroad: Ronald Reagan. His program was different from Mr. Obama's. His faith in the country was boundless. What he sought was to restore the nation's faith in itself, in its political and economic vitality.

Big as Reagan's mandate was, in two elections, the man was never bigger than his country. There was never narcissism or a bloated sense of personal destiny in him. He gloried in the country, and drew sustenance from its heroic deeds and its capacity for recovery. No political class rode with him to power anxious to lay its hands on the nation's treasure, eager to supplant the forces of the market with its own economic preferences.

To be sure, Reagan faltered midway through his second term—the arms-for-hostages trade, the Iran-Contra affair, nearly wrecked his presidency. But he recovered, the nation rallied around him and carried him across the finish line, his bond with the electorate deep and true. He had two years left of his stewardship, and his political recovery was so miraculous that he, and his first mate, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, would seal the nation's victory in the Cold War....

It's just Christianity 101. Reagan had a servant's heart. That's the secret of happiness, and the secret of true success.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:06 AM

August 11, 2010

Very cool...

George and Laura Bush surprise some of our troops returning home from deployment today.

See photos here.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:08 PM

August 10, 2010

Pascal notes. (For the happy few)

This is in response to some recent comments, mentioning Pascal's famous line: "The heart has its reasons, of which the reason knows nothing."

Peter Kreeft writes...
..."Reason" meant something broader to pre-moderns than it has since Descartes narrowed it to scientific analysis and calculation. (Discourse on Method I, I, I). Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, for example, all meant by "reason" intellectual intuition as well as calculation, and moral intuition as well—that is, intuitive knowledge of moral first principles. Pascal uses "reason" in the new, modern, narrower way, to refer to what medieval Scholastic-Aristotelian logic calls "the third act of the mind" only: discursive reasoning, not the understanding of the meaning of an essence (= "the second act of the mind") or the affirmation of the truth of a proposition (= "the second act of the mind"), but the process by which we discover or prove one truth (the conclusion) form another (the premise).

When Pascal demeans the power of reason in relation to our knowledge of God, he means this narrow, modern "reason," not the broad ancient reason. The difference between Pascal and Aquinas is mainly a verbal rather than a real contradiction...

Emotionalism, the tendency to substitute emotions for reason, is a grievous error, but not one Pascal is guilty of, as far as I can see.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:21 PM

August 9, 2010

Leftist theories kill millions. Another example...

Tens of millions.

This is the same general catastrophe I wrote about last week here. And Here. To these people, the theory is real; the actual human beings affected are not real. So humans can be killed without a qualm.

Malarial mosquitoes, not bedbugs, are the real pest--Paul Driessen -

...DDT is the most powerful, effective, long-lasting mosquito repellant ever invented. Spraying the eaves and inside walls of mud huts and cinderblock homes every six months keeps 80 percent of the flying killers from entering. It irritates most that do enter, so they leave without biting, and kills any that land.

Yet many aid agencies refuse to encourage, endorse or fund spraying. Many don't even want to monitor mosquito and malaria outbreaks or determine success in reducing disease and death rates. That's more difficult and costly than counting the number of bed nets distributed and underscores the embarrassing reality that their "comprehensive" (and politically correct) programs achieve only 20 to 40 percent reductions in morbidity and mortality. By contrast, as South Africa and other countries have shown, adding insecticides and DDT can bring 95 percent success.

Since the Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT in 1972, billions have been stricken by malaria and tens of millions have died. This is intolerable.

We need adult supervision and informed debate on pesticide policies, laws and regulations. We can no longer leave those decisions to anti-chemical activists in unaccountable pressure groups and government agencies. These zealots are making decisions that affect the quality of life for millions of Americans -- and life itself for billions of poor people worldwide....

"Many don't even want to monitor mosquito and malaria outbreaks or determine success in reducing disease and death rates." They don't want to know!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:44 AM

August 8, 2010

Every true scientist will be saved...

...If he had wished to overcome the obstinacy of the most hardened, he could have done so by revealing himself to them so plainly that they could not doubt the truth of his essence, as he will appear on the last day with such thunder and lightning and such convulsions of nature that the dead will rise up and the blindest see him.

This is not the way he wished to appear when he came in mildness, because so many men had shown themselves unworthy of his clemency that he wished to deprive them of the good they did not desire. It was therefore not right that he should appear in a manner manifestly divine and absolutely capable of convincing all men, but neither was it right that his coming should be so hidden that he could not be recognized by those who sincerely sought him He wished to make himself perfectly recognizable to them. Thus wishing to appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart and hidden from those who shun him with all their heart, he has qualified our knowledge of him by giving signs which can be seen by those who seek him and not by those who do not.

'There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.'
      — Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #149. [ Link to my edition, which I recommend.]

That last line is perfect!

The word "science" means an organized search for truth in a particular subject. We use the term mostly for natural science, but one can speak of "the science of criminology," or "the science of history." Someone who calls himself or herself a scientist should be a seeker of truth.

A true scientist is a seeker of truth. Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Thus the true scientist, who hungers for truth, will be saved, either in this world or the world to come. [More here. And here.]

Alas, in our time the word scientist has come to mean a technician in a white coat who is the willing slave and hireling tool of giant leftist bureaucracies, willing to lie and deceive if it will feed the power of the state. [For instance, a few items plucked from my "science" category: Link, link, link, link, link. The are tons more there.]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:50 AM

August 6, 2010

The real pacifist... Harry S. Truman

Happy Peace Through Victory Day!:

Today marks the anniversary of the single greatest act in the cause of peace ever taken by the United States:

Dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. That one decision, that one device, saved more lives, did more to end war, and created more justice in the world in a single stroke than any other. It was done by America, for Americans. It saved the lives of hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of American soldiers and sailors...

...Euroweenie peaceniks and an annoying number of American liberals see the bombing of Hiroshima as a shameful act. What is it America should be ashamed for—defeating an enemy that declared war on us? Bringing about the end of a fascist empire that killed millions of people, mostly Asians? Preventing the slaughter of the good guys—Americans—by killing the bad guys—the Japanese?

Here's everything you need to know about the Obama Left’s view of America: We’re supposed to be ashamed of winning WWII, and proud of a mosque at G'ound Zero.

The nuclear bombings almost certainly saved the lives of millions of Japanese. Even a brief look at the Battle of Okinawa shows what a bloodbath the "Battle of Japan" would have been. (People talk of our work in Afghanistan as a "war," but that's just stupid. It's not even a skirmish compared with Okinawa.) And it ended the conventional bombing of Japan, which killed many more people than the nuclear bombings did, and was turning scores of Japanese cities into charred wastelands.

And the prodigious economic growth of many liberated Asian nations under our influence after the war, and under the protection of our nuclear umbrella, has probably saved a hundred million or so lives just by increasing global wealth.

Hiroshima ended world wars, regional wars, and wars between developed nations. One can't even begin to guess how many lives have been saved by that.

Hiroshima was the single greatest humanitarian act in history. We should be proud of it.

And if the war had been ended by the Soviets bombing Hiroshima, all our fake liberals and fake pacifists and fake Quakers would be celebrating the event.


Posted by John Weidner at 7:59 PM

We need grownups!

That was Charlene's response when I mentioned this gem...

Why Are We In Afghanistan If Our Government Won't Even Designate the Taliban a Terrorist Organization? - The Corner - National Review Online:

...To be an enemy combatant, an operative must be affiliated with the enemy we are fighting in a war. Yet, though we have been at this for nearly nine years now, though Americans have been told we need to continue the fight in Afghanistan because the Taliban must be defeated, though the Pakistani Taliban is closely linked to the Afghan Taliban, and though the Pakistani Taliban is plainly plotting to attack our homeland, Congress has never amended the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) enacted after 9/11. The AUMF does not expressly name either Taliban organization, much less both of them, as enemies. Nor does it name other jihadist organizations targeting our forces, such as the Haqqani Network and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (the faction of Gilbuddin Hekmatyar, whom I discussed in Tuesday’s column).

It gets worse. Yesterday, after three months of delay, the State Department finally issued its congressionally mandated annual terrorism report. It shows that the United States has not even designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization — not in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan. Similarly, the government has also failed to designate both the Haqqani Network and HIG. (Hekmatyar himself, in his individual capacity, has been designated as a "global terrorist" since 2003.)...

Like so many things recently, one can hardly even blog about this, because it's just meaningless and bizarre. I can't criticize the administration's plan, because there is no apparent plan. If you read on in the piece, it quotes the State Department's reporting on Afghanistan, with lots of hideous terrorism by both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban...

* Update: Actually, I'm perfectly capable of explicating this. It is completely consistent with my oft-repeated theory that most Left-leaning people (which would include most of the State Department and the Obama administration) are really not liberals, but nihilists. This is just a clue to their (mostly unconscious) inner drama. To the nihilist, America and Israel are the true enemies, because they symbolize belief. Especially, belief made concrete in decisions to wage war, and take life. (This is the same symbolic reason that most leftists favor gun control.)

Belief or faith are irritations and affronts to them—reminders of their frightening inner emptiness. If my thinking is true, then it must grate maddeningly on State Department leftists to declare the Taliban to be terrorists, since this justifies... war by the United States!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:04 AM

August 5, 2010

"Frost, with a gesture, stays the winds that dance..."

      THE DEAD

These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvelously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
And sunset, and the colors of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.

There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
Frost, with a gesture, stays the winds that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.

      --Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)
Posted by John Weidner at 1:37 PM

August 2, 2010

My experience exactly...

Paul at Power Line:

Yesterday, I claimed that, while libertarian candidates like Rand Paul are uncomfortable with "fudging" their views, liberal candidates seem quite willing to fudge their beliefs in order to gain office. An email from one of my favorite Power Line correspondents, Scott Smith, prompts me to suggest the following explanation for the difference: liberals think their ideology makes them, above all, morally superior; libertarians think their ideology makes them, above all, intellectually superior.

Moral superiority, for many who feel it, is not compromised by deceptive statements made in the name of gaining the power to "do good." But intellectual superiority is compromised by any statement that is incorrect or intellectually lazy.
Posted by John Weidner at 8:24 AM