July 31, 2012

Do we wake or dream?

UK experts to help Iraq destroy chemical residues - Yahoo! News:

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Britain will help the Iraqi government dispose of what's left of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons, still stored in two bunkers in north of Baghdad, the British embassy in Baghdad announced Monday.

The British Defense Ministry will start training Iraqi technical and medical workers this year, an embassy statement said. The teams will work to safely destroy remnants of munitions and chemical warfare agents left over from Saddam's regime. He was overthrown in 2003 following an American-led invasion.

Saddam stored the chemical weapons near population centers so that he could access them quickly, despite the danger to his civilian population.

Most of Iraq's chemical weapons were destroyed by military forces in 1991 during the first Gulf War or by U.N. inspectors after the fighting. The inspections halted just before the invasion.

Iraq is a party to the U.N. Chemical Weapons Convention and must get rid of the remaining material, according to terms of the pact....

Jeeze Louise. First the chumskys told us we shouldn't invade iraq, because millions would be killed when Saddam's WMD's were unleashed. Then they told us "Bush lied," for suggesting that Saddam had WMD's at all. Now this. I give up.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:42 PM

July 29, 2012

So Heaven must be the home of clear thought...

From Fr. Dwight Longenecker, The Prophet and the Preacher:

...Also the prophet says, "Hell is a completely absurd concept."

The Preacher replies: Hell is indeed absurd because in Hell all logic and reason is absent for they are qualities of the light. All  evil is absurd for it is the repudiation of truth, and hell is the consolidation of evil. The horror of hell is that it is absurd. One of the terrors and torments will be that in that place there will be no reasoning and therefore no argument. The darkness will be complete...

"there will be no reasoning and therefore no argument." I guess I'd better be good, or I will spend eternity in San Francisco!

Annigoni Saint Anthony meets the tyrant Ezzelino da Romano
Annigoni, Saint Anthony meets the tyrant Ezzelino da Romano

Posted by John Weidner at 5:07 PM

July 27, 2012

The long march to nowhere...

WH's Carney Refuses To Name The Capital Of Israel | RealClearPolitics:

...White House press secretary Jay Carney is asked by a reporter what is the capital of Israel.

Reporter: What city does this Administration consider to be the capital of Israel? Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?

Jay Carney, White House press secretary: Um... I haven't had that question in a while. Our position has not changed. Can we, uh...

Reporter: What is the capital [of Israel]?

Jay Carney: You know our position.

Reporter: I don't.

Lester Kinsolving, World Net Daily: No, no. She doesn't know, that's why she asked.

Carney: She does know.

Reporter: I don't.

Kinsolving: She does not know. She just said that she does not know. I don't know.

Carney: We have long, lets not call on...

Kinsolving: Tel Aviv or Jerusalem?

Carney: You know the answer to that.

Kinsolving: I don't know the answer. We don't know the answer. Could you just give us an answer? What do you recognize? What does the administration recognize?

Carney: Our position has not changed.

Kinsolving: What position?

Carney then moved on to another question....

What worms. What losers...

Friend of Israel emblem

Posted by John Weidner at 9:19 AM

July 24, 2012

Realignments?

The possibility that American Jews will drop their suicidal "religion" of liberalism still seems remote to me. But this is very interesting...

Lawrence Solomon: Losing the anti-Semite card | FP Comment | Financial Post:

...But today the politics is realigning. Anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli venom is on the rise, and it is coming mostly from the left. Anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses is a "serious problem," concluded the 2006 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. "There is more sympathy for Hamas [on U.S. campuses] than there is in Ramallah," wrote award-winning Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who found during a 2009 speaking tour of the U.S. that it "is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state."

Surveys by Jewish organizations confirm that anti-Semitism is on the rise, as does a 2009 survey by researchers at Stanford and Columbia University, designed to find explicit prejudice toward Jews as a result of the financial meltdown. To the researchers' surprise, they found that "Democrats were especially prone to blaming Jews: while 32% of Democrats accorded at least moderate blame, only 18.4% of Republicans did so," a difference that jars "given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party's electoral coalition." Warning that "we must take heed of prejudice and bigotry that have already started to sink roots in the United States," the authors noted that "Crises often have the potential to stoke fears and resentment, and the current economic collapse is likely no exception."

Almost as if on cue, the Occupy Wall Street movement arose, with Jews often crudely singled out for blame, and with prominent Democrats, Obama and Pelosi among them, stoking the anti-1% sentiment. Anti-Semitism is coming close to home for many of America's Jews, who see themselves in the 1% and who see their children -- students at American campuses -- too intimidated to speak out against the anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli activities that confront them.

As Jews are reassessing their support for Obama and other Democratic candidates, they are also beginning to warm to Republicans. Much of the credit here belongs to Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, who made it unacceptable for evangelicals to be anti-Semitic. Evangelicals and the American right are now unabashedly in the Jewish and Israeli corner, leading many Jews to end their reflexive opposition to anything labelled right-wing.

In Canada, Jewish alarm at Liberal tolerance of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli policies, coupled with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's unequivocal stance against terrorism -- "[There's no] moral equivalence between a pyromaniac and a firefighter" -- persuaded Jewish captains of industry who were also Liberal funders and fundraisers to tear up their Liberal membership cards and throw their support behind the Conservatives. In the U.S., where the Democrats are losing their ability to play the anti-Semite card, a similar phenomenon could be underway....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:33 PM

July 17, 2012

This is beautiful... "Sheer synchronized stupidity"

snowy bear

Energy Tribune- Irony of Ironies: Europe Switches to Coal as US Gas Glut Reduces Emissions:

...Here's a tester for you. Which raft of energy policies gets proven 'greener' results? Is it the anti-fossil fuel, cap-and-trade regulatory regimes of socialist Europe? Or is it the path of technological innovation set by the 'evil' capitalists in the Kyoto-eschewing Bush White House?

In what has to be the irony of ironies, Europe's consumption of coal grew by 3.3 percent in 2011. The increase was directly due to the glut of European Trading Scheme (ETS) emission allowances which made coal the most profitable electric power fuel. Over in the United States in 2012, however, coal burning to generate power continued to decline, primarily due to America's switch to shale gas. Natural gas emits around half the CO2 of coal. U.S. levels of carbon emission are currently plummeting; a feat Europe has no chance of matching, not least as coal use is on the increase. It's a situation that ought to bring the whole raft of EU market-interfering policies geared to reducing carbon emissions into sharper focus. Policies that can only be characterize by three S's: sheer synchronized stupidity.

Not that the U.S. coal industry is suffering from the domestic switch to gas, you understand. America's high-quality coal has had no trouble finding an alternative and lucrative market: Europe. And U.S. coal exports to Europe are only set to increase further....
Posted by John Weidner at 12:05 PM

July 15, 2012

Blinders. We wear them because we are scientific.

Sherry Weddell, Miracles, Healing, and Conversion. Are We Ready for This?:

The Catholic Diocese of Itanger in India has grown 40% over the past 35 years. Their secret? Miraculous healings apparently. Lots of them. Conversions because of an encounter with the healing power of Jesus Christ are occurring by the millions all over the world and is readily spoken of by other kinds of Christians but Catholics are often reluctant to acknowledge that it happens among us as well. And this reluctance is not just found among western Catholics.

Note the Vatican Insider title: India's "Impossible" Miracles. Note that the Indian priest telling this story says the stories “baffle me. I have a theological mindset and it is easy to become skeptical about this kind of thing. But the interested parties are absolutely convinced that what happened to them was real.”

Just when must a theological mindset be at odds with acknowledging the power of God to heal? That's not a "theological" mindset (think St. Augustine gathering stories of healing in his diocese), that's an Enlightenment mindset. And it shows a poverty of both imagination and spiritual expectancy that would be very foreign to most of the great Catholic missionaries and evangelists of the past.

An Indian friend wrote and shared his experience of the Catholic attitudes toward evangelization in India:

There is a strong emphasis on the narrative that "evangelization has not worked," that India is somehow inherently impervious to the Gospel. It is also ironic because Indian cultures are *very* religious, popular devotions are, well, really popular, there isn't this kind of skepticism towards and distance between the "ordinary" world and the supernatural/spiritual/numinous, there is a long and rich tradition of mysticism and so on. Stories like Arunachal Pradesh are a reminder of the sovereignty of God! And so inspiring!

And I responded: “Interesting - the "India is impervious to the Gospel" which I also heard in the 90's at my Jesuit grad school from a Jesuit. He told our class (seriously) that Francis Xavier went to India to get away from the Pope! Fortunately, I happened to have a grad background in Indian - specifically Jesuit - mission history as well as a much more accurate sense of the realities of global missions. He said that only 2% of Asians were Christian while I knew that the number was really about 7% then.” Today, that percentage is nearly 9%....

Maybe the real narrative should be that Jesuits are somehow inherently impervious to the Gospel!

That "Enlightenment mindset" is so bogus. All kinds of people "know" things such as that miracles don't happen. How do they know? Dogma.

Evidence that miracles don't happen? "We don't need no steenkin' evidence, we're scientists!" Actually it was Enlightenment thinking that divided the world into "normal" things and "miracles." But that was just an assertion. Which immediately became a set of mental blinders. It was and is a faith that people convert to. No one at the time said that Moses or Jesus worked "miracles." They spoke of "signs" and "wonders."

Likewise the Enlightenment asserted that if mankind were freed of religion and superstition, we would become wiser and better. But this was never advanced as a hypothesis, as something that could be tested and falsified.

A real scientist should be a truth-seeker, and should be delighted to hear that the universe might possibly be richer and odder than he had thought.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:23 PM | Comments (5)

July 14, 2012

Lordy, how I hate our fake-liberals...

Walter Russell Mead, Blue Blight Update: Largest CA College to Close?:

The collapse of blue California is picking up speed. California’s largest college, which enrolls 90,000 students, faces closure within a year unless the school can essentially reinvent itself. Bad administration, wasteful personnel spending, poor organization, a lack of strategic vision and a series of budget cuts as the state of California frantically hacks at its own budget deficit have brought City College of San Francisco to the brink.

As the Mercury News reports, the college has been ordered to prepare for closure by next March even as administrators and politicians search for ways to keep the school open.Threatening to pull the plug is the state’s accrediting commission that supervises junior and community colleges. Without major reform, the commission says, the College will lose its accreditation in March of 2013 and without accreditation it would lose access to the state funding that keeps it alive....

The Weidners are less than a mile from the main City College campus. One of my boys has been thinking of taking some courses there. Another learned some welding at the Evans campus. I could say a whole bunch of things about the fecklessness and stupidity of our local government, but why bother. It's all going to crash, and then maybe some sanity will be the result.

...But CCSF’s problems point to an important local failure: deep blue San Francisco is not doing a good job at helping low income people. The noble rhetoric about justice and compassion that liberal politicians so eloquently express doesn’t seem matched by particularly inspiring results. To let the community college that offers low income people their most hopeful route of escape from the poverty trap fall into ruin is not the mark of a compassionate or justice seeking political movement...

The only good part is that there aren't any Republicans involved. This is pure Blue evil. Blue Blight

Posted by John Weidner at 4:28 PM | Comments (2)

July 12, 2012

A joke I liked...

I copied this from Donald Sensing ages ago, and then lost it in the trackless immensity of my stack of stuff...

Two beggars are sitting side by side on a street in Rome. One has a cross in front of him; the other one the Star of David. Many people go by and look at both beggars, but only put money into the hat of the beggar sitting behind the cross. A priest comes by, stops and watches throngs of people giving money to the beggar behind the cross, but none give to the beggar behind the Star of David.

Finally, the priest goes over to the beggar behind the Star of David and says, "My poor fellow, don't you understand? This is a Catholic country, this city is the seat of Catholicism. People aren't going to give you money if you sit there with a Star of David in front of you, especially when you're sitting beside a beggar who has a cross. In fact, they would probably give to him just out of spite."

The beggar behind the Star of David listened to the priest, turned to the other beggar with the cross and said: "Moishe, look who's trying to teach the Goldstein brothers about marketing."

Friend of Israel emblem

Posted by John Weidner at 9:34 AM

July 8, 2012

"a secret ideal that has withered all the things of this world."

From Heretics, by GK Chesterton...

...For the truth is that Mr. Shaw has never seen things as they really are. If he had he would have fallen on his knees before them. He has always had a secret ideal that has withered all the things of this world. He has all the time been silently comparing humanity with something that was not human, with a monster from Mars, with the Wise Man of the Stoics, with the Economic Man of the Fabians, with Julius Caesar, with Siegfried, with the Superman.

Now, to have this inner and merciless standard may be a very good thing, or a very bad one, it may be excellent or unfortunate, but it is not seeing things as they are. It is not seeing things as they are to think first of a Briareus with a hundred hands, and then call every man a cripple for only having two. It is not seeing things as they are to start with a vision of Argus with his hundred eyes, and then jeer at every man with two eyes as if he had only one. And it is not seeing things as they are to imagine a demigod of infinite mental clarity, who may or may not appear in the latter days of the earth, and then to see all men as idiots. And this is what Mr. Shaw has always in some degree done.

When we really see men as they are, we do not criticise, but worship; and very rightly. For a monster with mysterious eyes and miraculous thumbs, with strange dreams in his skull, and a queer tenderness for this place or that baby, is truly a wonderful and unnerving matter. It is only the quite arbitrary and priggish habit of comparison with something else which makes it possible to be at our ease in front of him. A sentiment of superiority keeps us cool and practical; the mere facts would make, our knees knock under as with religious fear. It is the fact that every instant of conscious life is an unimaginable prodigy. It is the fact that every face in the street has the incredible unexpectedness of a fairy-tale. The thing which prevents a man from realizing this is not any clear-sightedness or experience, it is simply a habit of pedantic and fastidious comparisons between one thing and another.

Mr. Shaw, on the practical side perhaps the most humane man alive, is in this sense inhumane. He has even been infected to some extent with the primary intellectual weakness of his new master, Nietzsche, the strange notion that the greater and stronger a man was the more he would despise other things. The greater and stronger a man is the more he would be inclined to prostrate himself before a periwinkle...

I'm sort of like both of these men. I can walk down a busy street one day, and think that the rabble swarming by are so ugly and stupid and near-crippled that it would be a kindness to euthanize them forthwith. The next day, walking on the same street, the sun will shine, and with soft buttery light illuminate the astonishing richness and oddity of God's creation, and I will feel delight to be living in such a marvelous world.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:54 AM

July 6, 2012

We ae being manipulated by taxes all the time...

This, from Sean Trende, Roberts Didn't Expand Government's Taxing Power, is the same argument AOG made in a recent comment...

...Second, that Congress would have the power to pass the mandate pursuant to its power to tax makes eminent sense. John Yoo wrote in last week's Wall Street Journal: "Congress may not be able to directly force us to buy electric cars, eat organic kale, or replace oil heaters with solar panels. But if it enforces the mandates with a financial penalty, then suddenly, thanks to Justice Roberts's tortured reasoning in Sebelius, the mandate is transformed into a constitutional exercise of Congress's power to tax."

This is odd, given that Congress already does provide a tax penalty for not buying electric cars. Consider the following hypothetical scenarios:

(a) Two people make $100,000. There is a 25 percent flat tax imposed, with one exception: a $7,500 credit is allowed for buying a Chevy Volt. A buys a Volt, B does not. A therefore pays $17,500 in taxes, while B pays $25,000 in taxes.

(b) Two people make $100,000. There is a 17.5 percent flat tax imposed, with one exception: a $7,500 surtax is imposed for not buying a Chevy Volt. A buys a volt, B does not. A therefore pays $17,500 in taxes, while B pays $25,000 in taxes.

I honestly may be missing something here, but I can't see how option (a) -- an oversimplified statement of present law -- is acceptable, but (b) offends either the conscience or the Constitution. The simple fact is that almost all of us pay higher taxes each year than we otherwise would on the basis of things we forgo: whether it is not buying an electric car, not installing energy-efficient windows in our house, or not having that third kid. There's no new ground being broken here....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:45 PM

July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

I just a few days ago stumbled on this picture, by one of the greatest of American artists, JC Leyendecker...

J. C. Leyendecker, Uncle Sam at the Helm, July Fourth, 1936


And if perchance you say, "I don't see anything that says, 'great artist,'" ....... then ZOOM IN....

Detail, . C. Leyendecker, Uncle Sam at the Helm, July Fourth, 1936

This may be a picture of Uncle Sam, but we are not in Kansas anymore, baby. Look at that hair! Like scales of armor, or the wing-covers of insects. And those white lines defining throat and cheek--stunning brushwork. Look at that hand! SEE IT! And then look at the whole man in the larger picture. There is nothing, not a single wrinkle, not a hair, that doesn't thrum with the tension and strength of him. Leyendecker has made Uncle Sam a god.

One thing that fascinates me is that Leyendecker was queer. And this is evident everywhere in his art, to my modern San Francisco eyes. Yet people of his time didn't seem to notice it. They didn't "see" it at all. He often painted pictures showing a beautiful woman surrounded by three or four handsome men. But typically the woman's eyes are downcast, and she is somehow subdued. While the men are tensely alive, and their glances seem to flare towards each other, not at the female who is ostensibly at the center of things...

This one is a favorite of mine. These are officers of the American forces of the First World War, and a nurse. Presumably bound for France with the AEF...

Lyendecker, WWI officers and nurse shipboard

Look at the eyes! Who is the Marine officer on the right looking at? Not the gal, I think. Look at his expression. Wolfish. Look at the Navy guy. So alive, so amoral. Did that wistful woman cause that smile? I doubt it. Look at her. She's lost whatever she yearned for. She's receding into the background. She's turning into ice before our eyes. She's out of it.

And observe that Army officer with his back to us. So ambiguous, so conflicted. Perhaps caught in a spider's web. Is that what Navy boy is enjoying? I think so. The real drama here is between the two men in Khaki.

This is one of the oddest pieces of art I've ever seen. Yet I'd guess that 99% of people in 1918 would have perceived it as a totally innocent and light hearted moment.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 PM

My take on Roberts...

David commented here:

I think it's a good strategy for the MSM. You wear down Romney by telling people he's ducking the issue, and Romney eventually gets weary. It worked against Roberts, didn't it?

I think we will have to wait and see with Roberts. I suspect he's playing a deep game, and we will look back twenty years from now and see it. See that he was planning chess moves far in advance. I read somewhere that when he was a young conservative lawyer just getting started in DC, he would never comment on controversial legal issues. Presumably because he was looking forward to a future judicial nomination.

Sounds like a "steely-eyed missile man" to me. Not somebody who gets "worn down" easily. Not someone who gets flustered by criticism from the gasping media. (Or from conservatives either.)

The thing is, most people don't have any philosophy. They have never thought deeply about what they believe—just picked stuff up from their milieu. You put them in a different environment, and their views morph, without any thought. Like a chameleon changes its colors. That's what we've seen happen with horrid amphibians like David Souter. Move him from New Hampshire to DC, and he mimics the local coloration. And is probably perfectly unaware that he has changed. The new palate just seems obvious, and the old one a distant dream.

People are just assuming Roberts is a chameleon too. I doubt it. Many people have pointed out ways that this decision fits with a long-term plan to overturn many items of lefty over-reach by our "imperial judiciary." I think that's happening.

You can remember this, and laugh at me if Roberts turns out to be a liberal squish!

UPDATE: POLITICO, Liberals fear the John Roberts rebound :

...Liberals who celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision on health care may be nursing an ugly hangover after the justices dive back into their work this fall, with a docket likely to be loaded with controversial cases.     

And left-leaning courtwatchers are already worried about the jurist who brought them such relief last week: Chief Justice John Roberts.

Some liberals contend that Roberts’s surprise crossover on the health care law has given him a free hand to craft and sign onto a slew of conservative opinions next year without suffering much of a public drubbing from Democrats and the press. With one major case, Roberts may have inoculated himself and the court against charges of partisanship....

UPDATE. Which made me laugh...

From The Corner ...Following up on Jan Crawford’s reports that Chief Justice Roberts switched his vote while drafting his opinion, thus prompting Justices Kennedy, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas to write a rare joint dissent, Salon’s court watcher Paul Campos says he has it from a top source that Roberts in fact wrote much of the dissent, as well:...

Mastermind! I have this mental picture of John R grabbing the dissent away from Kennedy, and saying, "You write like a girl! Let me do it!"

Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 AM | Comments (25)

July 1, 2012

"Aggressive, rude, and hegemonic"

What Would Father Richard Say? - George Weigel - National Review Online:

...Neuhaus’s third point in The Naked Public Square was closely linked to his second: The secularism of late modernity (and, now, post-modernity) would not be neutral, civil, and tolerant, but aggressive, rude, and hegemonic. It would demand, not a civil public square in which the sources of all moral convictions would be in play in a robust debate, but a naked public square — a public square in which secularism would be de facto established as the national creed (or, perhaps better, national moral grammar). The new secularism would not be content to live and let live; it was determined to push, not only religion, but religiously informed moral argument, out of public life, and to do so on the ground that religious conviction is inherently irrational. And of course it would be but a short step from there to the claim that religious conviction is irrational bigotry, a claim implied by the Obama administration’s refusal, in defiance of its constitutional responsibilities, to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act in the federal courts....

There will probably be a bit of relief if the Republicans win in November. But this is the trend. It won't go away.

John 15:18-21... If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Which is one of the reasons that I in some ways welcomed the coming of the Obama regime. Because the worse they make things, the bigger the crash they cause... the greater the chances that people will wake up from their stupor and abandon various bad policies and ideas.

And of course this is yet another vindication of the founders' belief in limited government. Especially Federal government. They believed in Original Sin. They just knew that any institution can become corrupt and tyrannical.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:46 AM | Comments (6)