September 23, 2013

This guy is worth 10,000 gun-grabbing lefty nihilists...

A true hero in a West turned sick and feeble!

England is dead, and my heart breaks every time I think of it. A friend there once told me she and her husband would visit Belgium to practice their sport, target-shooting at a shooting range! Guns are diagnostic, because the real sickness of our time is people who have been hollowed out. Empty souls, believing nothing. And they hate belief above all things, like orcs hate light. Guns are a symbol of belief; they stand for believing in something enough to fight for it.

I have shelves of English murder mysteries, but I can hardly bring myself to read them anymore.

Kenyan Mall Massacre: Off duty SAS soldier with handgun saved 100 lives:

An off-duty member of the SAS emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday, after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives.

The soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday. With a gun tucked into his waistband, he was pictured helping two women from the complex. He is said to have returned to the building on a dozen occasions, despite intense gunfire.

A friend in Nairobi said: ‘What he did was so heroic. He was having coffee with friends when it happened. ‘He went back in 12 times and saved 100 people. Imagine going back in when you knew what was going on inside.’ 

Sources said the soldier was with the Special Air Service, or SAS. He cannot be named for security reasons. The British Special Forces regularly train and operate out of Kenya, and have been involved in tracking UK citizens involved with hardline Islamists in Somalia and Yemen.

Former members work with both the UK and Kenyan governments and security firms across East Africa...

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Saddest poem I know...

    THE RECALL
I am the land of their fathers.
In me the virtue stays.
I will bring back my children,
After certain days.

Under their feet in the grasses
My clinging magic runs.
They shall return as strangers.
They shall remain as sons.

Over their heads in the branches
Of their new-bought, ancient trees,
I weave an incantation
And draw them to my knees.

Scent of smoke in the evening,
Smell of rain in the night—
The hours, the days and the seasons,
Order their souls aright,

Till I make plain the meaning
Of all my thousand years—
Till I fill their hearts with knowledge,
While I fill their eyes with tears.
    --Rudyard Kipling
Posted by John Weidner at 8:11 PM | Comments (2)

August 5, 2013

Hollow men...

Roger L. Simon , The Rise of Al-Qaeda and Why the Administration Lied about Benghazi:

...Lately, Obama has incurred the ire -- with some justification, I think -- of new Egyptian military strongman al-Sisi for going against the wishes of the Egyptian people in favor of a kind of desperate nostalgia for Morsi and the Brotherhood. (Forget the rapes and the rest of it.)

So what accounts for Obama's weird attraction for this "Muslim revivalism," despite all its Medieval tenets and near-psychotic behaviors?

No, he is not a Muslim. I repeat NOT (just to be absolutely clear). Nor is the president a Christian, unless you count Reverend Wright as such, which is ridiculous (and we all know he's under the bus anyway).

Obama is a postmodern agnostic par excellence. But like so many schooled in post-modernism and cultural relativism, he has an immediate and intense enmity for anything that smacks of imperialism -- and an equally intense desire to be seen as supportive of (although certainly not to live like) the downtrodden of the Earth....
[Part of my nihilism posts. More here.]

Sorry, but I don't think "enmity for imperialism" explains much. It's just an often-useful excuse to attack what really bugs them. Lefties don't really care much about those post-colonial countries. They only take notice of them when the US or Israel impinges on them somehow. Obama has never given Kenya the time of day, though his father and brother are from there.

And if they cared about colonialism you would see lots of focus on the UK, France, Russia, Spain and Portugal. Do you see much of that?

People like Obama, and there are a lot of them now, are hollowed out. They have lost belief in anything. In anything bigger than themselves. And they know deep down something is wrong. They lack belief, so anything that smacks of belief irritates and pains them. They hate America and Israel, because those two countries are the only ones that command belief. They are symbols of belief, and this stuff works at the level of symbols perceived by the unconscious.

Other things that symbolize belief include our military, firearms and self-defense, traditional marriage, and the sanctity of life. Plus of course orthodox Christian and Jewish faith. (so of corse they find Islam attractive. A fake religion that works as a shield against God's Truth.) ALL of these things irritate lefties like Obama, as I can tell you, living as I do in über-liberal SF.

People like Obama do not in fact even believe in their leftism. They are never found dying in any revolution. They just wear leftism (or pacifism or some times libertarianism) as a disguise. And they are currently happily intertwined with Wall Street in a way that clearly shows they aren't of the Left. (The Wall-Streeters are hollow men too. None of them believes in capitalism or economic freedom. Only self.)

Posted by John Weidner at 4:47 PM

June 9, 2013

Tolerance is a sin...

Cambridge Struggles to Accept Marathon Bombing Link - NYTimes.com:

I was going to fisk this piece, but haven't found the time. But the blindness is just stunning, and is the same blindness I see in SF every day. This is how the nihilism I've often written about works out in real situations.

The only virtue in Cambridge is "tolerance." And tolerance is, literally... NOTHING. Tolerating everything means believing in nothing. The young brothers Tsarnaev were given nothingness at every turn, and then these people in Cambridge are bewildered when something real fills up the vacuum they have nurtured. Duh.

...he was probably more welcomed and more easily incorporated into the environment at C.R.L.S. than he would have been at almost every other high school in the country, but that doesn't mean there aren't big gaps."... So, the most "welcoming" high school in the country isn't "welcoming" enough. So let's heap on more of this "welcoming." Jesus nailed it, "Your son asks for bread, and you give him a stone."

In the past liberals could at least have offered liberalism as some kind of solid food, but they no longer believe even in that. They are just wearing liberalism (or Quakerism or pacifism or "social justice") as a disguise--it's not something they would fight for. Like the Invisible Man wore bandages, to cover his "nakedness." His nothingness.

...The brothers moved to Cambridge in 2002 from Dagestan, when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was 8 years old. Because of his age, he left a deeper impression on the city than his older brother, spending much of his life in the city's schools. He graduated in 2011 from Rindge and Latin, where 57 flags represent its students' countries of origin and about 75 native languages are spoken.

"On my wrestling team, we have 28 kids -- 14 would be from different countries," Mr. Payack said. "The point is that when Dzhokhar was part of my team, he wasn't a minority. There were no minorities. He had an accent, but everyone had an accent."

Jeff Young, the superintendent of Cambridge Public Schools, said the experience had been disorienting for the district. "How is it," he asked, "that a person who grew up in a place like this ends up in a place like that?"

Parents and students here have asked that question often, wondering about the relationship between Mr. Tsarnaev and this community -- some of whose own residents were gravely injured in the attack.

"In another school, a kid like that could have felt really alienated, but that's really not the case at that high school," said Nancy Alach, a parent of one of Mr. Tsarnaev's classmates. "It's hard to figure out how he felt so angry or alienated, that he was able to get to the point of doing something like that."

Bob Binstock, a 55-year-old writer who has lived here for more than 35 years, found himself looking repeatedly at a photograph of one of his daughters and Mr. Tsarnaev, who graduated alongside her.

"I think that Cambridge is like a paradise of some kind," Mr. Binstock said. "The fact that you can say about Dzhokhar, for instance, is that he was probably more welcomed and more easily incorporated into the environment at C.R.L.S. than he would have been at almost every other high school in the country, but that doesn't mean there aren't big gaps."

Mr. Binstock's daughter, Rae, said she and her classmates found themselves defending a hometown that many of them, now in college, are trying to move beyond. "Respect is a big part of it, and it's a very big part of Cambridge," said Ms. Binstock, 19, who is studying playwriting and anthropology at Columbia University. "Other communities don't have to deal with the idea that lots of communities of different people have to coexist."

Her father continued, "Maybe this is something we can learn from this." He added: "Cambridge is very welcoming, and it's very diverse. Maybe the acceptance to that blinds us to the fact that there may be more difficulty than people realize."

Some of the Tsarnaevs' fellow immigrants have taken things more personally.

"Cambridge is a very progressive city that is at the forefront of many social issues in this country," said Samuel Gebru, a 21-year-old senior at Concordia College who graduated from Rindge and Latin in 2009. "And one of those social issues is welcoming immigrants and respecting diversity -- not only tolerating it, but celebrating."

"Those of us who are immigrants -- they are probably the most betrayed," said Mr. Gebru, a native Ethiopian who moved to Cambridge from Sudan when he was 3. "This country has provided me everything, and it has provided you everything. How dare you turn your back? That's what really angered me, more than everything..."

So, Mr Gebru, does Cambridge teach about America? Her greatness and specialness? Her freedom, her equal opportunity for all? The hundreds-of-thousands of heroes who have died defending her? Her traditions of self-sufficiency, self-defense, and limited government ? And the Christianity that all of what we are and have flows from?

No way. What they teach is "diversity." "Multiculturalism." "Welcoming." Which are all words that really mean nothingness. They don't care about you, Mr Gebru; they have treated you like dirt.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:17 AM

May 9, 2013

Just give the terrorists what they want...

Charlene found this post, and it's dead-on. What Boston did was the best way to encourage more little Islamic loons to make bombs. My area of concern is that declaring safety to be our highest good is nihilism. (Other posts on this here.) It is saying that ones self is the most important thing in the cosmos, and no higher values exist. Honor, defending others, defending your city or country, defying evil... these DO NOT EXIST. Boston broadcast the message that only your self is important.

This is also a good indicator that what used to be called "Liberalism" no longer exists. Most liberals today just wear their fake-liberalism as a disguise. It is no longer a cause that is bigger than the self.

Boston's troubling message:

...In the wake of the bombing, Boston and its surrounding communities went into a defensive crouch, as nearly one million people "sheltered in place."  Boylston Street, the heart of the business district, became a ghost town and remained so for nine days.  At the height of the crisis, there was no public transit, no taxi service, no Amtrak service.  The public schools and dozens of colleges shut down.  City employees were told not to report to work.  Courthouses closed, and jurors were sent home, as the justice system ground to a halt.  The Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins postponed their games.

Now this is one way to deal with terrorism, and it carries with it certain advantages.  It enhances public safety.  No one knew whether other explosive devices remained in Boston's public areas.  Citizens locked inside their homes are less exposed to danger.  And streets bare of vehicular traffic make it much easier for law enforcement to track and pursue terrorists.

But other cities have dealt with other crises differently.  On the morning of July 7, 2005, 52 civilians were killed and over 700 injured as terrorists detonated three bombs in the London Underground, and a fourth on a double-decker bus.  By 4 pm that same day, bus service had resumed.  Subway service, except in the damaged stations, resumed the next morning.

Israel has withstood scores of suicide bombings, and tens of thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on its civilian centers.  It has developed a strict protocol for handling crime scenes.  Victims are evacuated, body parts respectfully removed.  Then clean-up crews arrive to remove the wreckage and repair the walls and the glass.  Within hours the affected facility - a bus station, a restaurant, a market - is reopened and back in business.

A quick return to business as usual is not callousness.  Israeli cities are dotted with plaques bearing the names of the victims of terrorism.  They are not forgotten.

But Israelis, Londoners, and others realize that the goal of terrorism is to inculcate a sense of vulnerability and helplessness.  Therefore, one of the most effective anti-terrorist tactics is the prompt return to normality....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:16 AM

April 22, 2013

Charlene recommends...

Ed Driscoll, Off the Rails: Mad Men and American Liberalism in 1968. I recommend it too.

...While the two-hour sixth season debut of Mad Men earlier this month played oddly coy about which year the series was set in, we now know that we're witnessing Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce versus 1968.

Or perhaps it's the other way around, given how the year of 1968 came close to tearing the country apart. In many ways, the events of that year shaped our current world in ways that are still playing themselves out, so it's worth exploring just how badly the nation imploded. Apologies for the length of this post, but it's merely a partial list of 1968′s horror stories....

Any regular readers of Random Jottings will be way ahead of the admirable Mr Driscoll in understanding why things went random in the 1960's. You are the Illuminati! Two major shiftings of hidden tectonic plates erupted then, giving us volcanoes and earthquakes, chain lightning and meteor showers. It rained frogs! I was there. I alone have survived to tell thee!

One eruption was nihilism. People in the West with no explicit religious faith had retained religious habits of thought. They still believed in things like objective truth, objective morality, and the possibility they themselves might obtain religious or secular faith at some point. But habits wear off. And this one wore off with a crash in the 1960's, resulting in very different thinking in a significant portion of the American people! As I've often described.

Why the 1960's? Because people were not keen on experimentation and change during the years of Depression and war. Change was sort of put on hold. By the 60's it was clear that post-war prosperity was going to last. The Cuban Missile Crisis made WW-III seem unlikely. The Baby Boomers were mostly too young to lead the 60's changes, but they were probably giving an unconscious boost to youth culture and general craziness.

Most of all, the second movement of subterranean plates give impetus to the first one. This was the dawning of a new age of the world, the Information Age. This was another change in thinking. The dominant thought-patterns of the Industrial Age melted away, and people were suddenly waking up with new ideas.

One of the old ideas was a strong bias toward stability. The Industrial Age saw a huge expansion of the size and wealth of organizations, without much expansion in the ability to process information. The solution to this problem was for organizations to become computers of a sort, computers with human components. Clerks and filing systems and hierarchical org charts and bureaucratic rationality ruled. But this meant the need for stability was paramount. The transistors in the computer need to stay put! Stability colored all thought!

Long before PC's and the Internet, improved information processing technology was undermining the ideas of the Industrial Age. More phones, more cars, better roads, more education, airlines, IBM punch-card machines, carbon-paper, photostats, teletypes. All made information-processing more robust. The reign of stability started to crumble.

And among the ideas that had been supported and preserved by that great bias towards stability were those connected with religious faith and religious habits of mind. In the Industrial Age people tended to stick with their parent's faith. Or their parent's quasi-religious habits of mind. This meant that more and more people were believing things that they really didn't quite believe anymore. Once the great cultural bias towards stability crumbled, then it was "Katie bar the door!"

Read Mr Driscoll's article, and see if these thoughts don't fit, and make sense.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:29 PM

April 20, 2013

Chechens... What could possibly go wrong?

Howie Carr is scathing on these Muslim scum terrorists, and their America enablers. USA needs refuge from refugees. I concur. BUT, he doesn't understand how strange and evil the situation is. This mess is not just the result of fatuousness and foolishness.

The key to understanding is to recognize that for a large part of our population all meaning and belief has drained away. People have become simply nihilists. That is, they believe in nothing bigger than themselves. They typically don the disguises of liberalism or pacifism. But they are nothing like the leftists of the past, for whom the cause was often bigger than the self. Their pacifism or Quakerism is a fraud.

And what the nihilist of today hates is belief. Including anything that symbolizes belief. (None of this is conscious, by the way. They will deny the whole thing with perfect sincerity.) The things this leads them to hate are many, including America, Jews and Israel, Western Civilization and Christianity. All of these symbols of belief irritate and infuriate them, because they all demand our allegiance. They are bigger than the self. And if that's the case, then one obvious remedy is to encourage Muslim immigrants. That will tend to undermine all four!

No sane person would advocate allowing immigration from Chechnya. Chechen terrorists even frighten the other Muslim terrorists. They are beyond crazy--Google Beslan if you don't believe me. But to today's empty people none of that is real. Their world has shrunk to the circle of their own (unconscious) pain. They are like you would be if you were in agony in the ICU. A wrinkle in your sheet might be a misery you would do anything to ease. News of a million people dying in an earthquake would be meaningless. (More posts on this here.)

Here's some of Carr's piece...

So once again, no good deed goes unpunished.

Uncle Sam lets another bunch of leeching future terrorists into the country who have absolutely no business being here, gives them “asylum,” making them immediately eligible for welfare, and this is the thanks we get?

They turn into mass murderers.

We bring in thousands of Muslims from a primitive society that has been battling Christians for centuries, and put them into a peaceful Christian society — what could possible go wrong?

This is what I was thinking about yesterday, with much of the city under what amounted to martial law. Once more, law-abiding American citizens were paying the price for the insane immigration policies that have so damaged this society in recent years.

You can see the decay everywhere — in the emergency rooms, in the courts, in the welfare offices and, yes, in the epidemic of senseless murders. The only difference this time was one of the bloodthirsty fiends was actually a naturalized U.S. citizen.

And then these “refugees” started killing the generous Americans who supported them for years in their indolence. The young Tsarnaev even got a $2,500 scholarship from the City of Cambridge — which is why I never, ever gave a dime to the Cambridge scholarship fund when I lived there.

I know you’re not supposed to paint with a broad brush, unless you’re a liberal, in which case you are not only permitted, but expected to make Adam Lanza the poster boy for 100 million law-abiding legal gun owners.

But please, before the Kool-Aid drinkers in the Senate try to get amnesty for at least 12 million un­documented Democrats, can somebody please consider how many more of these Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs we really need?

A better question: How many of these jihadist “refugees” can we as a society survive?...

UPDATE: I should add that the Chechens have a reason for being even more evil and crazy than the usual Islamic terrorists. As part of their noble project of building a better world, free of the evils of competition and freedom, the Progressive regime of Joseph Stalin shipped most of the Chechens to labor camps in Siberia. When the survivors returned home (presumably purged of the false ideas of capitalism and individualism) they found their land and homes occupied by Russians. They have been quite testy ever since. Which seems perhaps very selfish of them, since the Progressives were only trying to make them better people. As they are doing here.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:24 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2012

The worst piece of design I've ever seen...

For your viewing pleasure, the old and new University of California logos...

Univ of California logos new and old

On the plus side, two of my main blogging-points are perfectly encapsulated in this. One is nihilism; the way meaning and belief have drained away from many people's lives. The new logo probably deserves a prize for having the absolute lowest amount of meaning a logo can have--a plain blue rectangle would have more profundity than this.. In fact it may possess negative meaning. That is, if you have still in your mind or soul any high and noble purpose, anything greater then yourself, staring at this graphic will tend to destroy that. If Fiat Lux--Let There Be Light--still has meaning for you, the new logo can cure you of this mental aberration. It can help make you a well-adjusted citizen of the Obama Welfare State.

The other theme is the Information Age. Specifically, that those institutions which have failed to make the transition to the new age we are in are, all of them, delusional. Crazy, in fact. What we call a university is actually an Industrial Age invention. The UC System used to be at the cutting edge of new things. Now it has become profoundly dysfunctional. It needs to be destroyed, to free up human and financial resources for the university-to-come.

UPDATE: My son says they should title it: "Fading into nothingness..."

A news story on this...

University of California introduces a modern logo - San Jose Mercury News:

...After 144 years with the same old Victorian seal, the University of California has decided to go mod.

The university's original logo -- with its open book, 1868 date stamp and "Let there be light" script -- will still be in circulation, appearing on president's letters and official university documents. But marketing materials and websites will feature a radically simple and more contemporary symbol: a little "C" nesting inside a shield-shaped "U."

"They wanted something that would reflect the innovation, the character of California -- just more modern, user-friendly," said Dianne Klein of UC's Office of the President. "That's not to take away from the gravitas of the original seal."...
Posted by John Weidner at 2:17 PM

November 1, 2012

Thoughts for Ed Koch...

Why Are Prominent Obama Critics Alan Dershowitz, Ed Koch, and Haim Saban Now Endorsing the President? – Tablet Magazine:

...But it may be that these pro-Israel democrats [such as Koch, Dershowitz and Saban] are playing a longer game with a far-seeing strategy. If Dershowitz and the rest were to leave the fold, the Democratic Party could shift policies, and possibly quite rapidly. That is, perhaps they’re embracing Obama for the sake of the party—and so Israel continues to have support on both sides of the aisle.

Even before the founding of the Jewish state, the U.S.-Israel relationship has been based on strong bipartisan support. As I wrote in May, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s late father Benzion pioneered this consensus, lobbying both sides of the aisle. AIPAC, of course, has institutionalized it, ensuring that the Jewish state has devoted friends everywhere on Capitol Hill.

Without that broad agreement—that Israel is a valuable strategic partner in a region of vital U.S. interest, and a friend with whom America has shared values and principles—the relationship would be buffeted by all of Washington’s various political winds. By sticking with Obama in spite of all, Dershowitz and others are arguably protecting the bipartisan nature of the relationship, and at an especially vulnerable time....

I hadn't thought of that, but it makes a lot of sense. And though it seems impossible right now, the Dems may start to return to sanity after a decade or two in the wilderness. Not the same people, but younger people who can still re-think.

...Like many pro-Israel Democrats, Koch is still reeling from the chaos that broke out at the Democratic National Convention when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had to call for a floor vote three times to include recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the party’s platform. “Nobody,” said Koch, “has adequately explained to me how the boos for God and Israel at the Democratic convention were louder than the cheers. How can that be?”...

Well, ahem, I could explain it to you, Ed. But you probably don't want to know. The Dem party has become the home of the many people in our world for whom meaning and belief have drained away. They are nihilists--they believe in nothing. Nothing greater than themselves. And, as I've explained before, when you come to that place, you will be very afraid. Perhaps not consciously, but deep down you know that "yourself" is a cruel and dangerous god.

And you will strive for some place of comfort. For a world where you will not be reminded of painful realities. You will not want to be reminded of what you have lost, and where you are now. You will hate anything that resembles belief. Because they symbolize God. The real decisions of the world are based on symbols. (Then later the conscious mind invents some malarky to explain the decision post hoc.)

So what are the symbols? You can SEE them all around, if only you will open your eyes. Besides God and the Jews and the Church, they are America and Israel. There are personal firearms and our military, both symbolizing believing in something enough to fight for it. Manliness fits in there too, also symbolizing God and country. It's no wonder there's a "war on men." I could go on and on. But it's getting late. (And I'm busy helping my son get ready for his monthly Army Reserve duty tomorrow. I feel like I'm striking a tiny blow against nothingness and lefty sappiness.)

"Nemo Me Impune Lacesset" (No one wounds me with impunity)


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Posted by John Weidner at 8:46 PM | Comments (5)

October 21, 2012

A "modern iteration of the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism"

This is just an odd bit of something plucked from the Internet torrent that goes pouring by my porch. Link from Instapundit. I post it because it echoes many of my thoughts. "Narcissism that results from the focus on personal gratification" sounds a lot like the nihilism that I go on about. And it is the Information Age that has unleashed it--the Industrial Age with its strong propensity for stability helped to reinforce and preserve traditional faiths and habits of mind, though they were slowly eroding all the while. Once the Info Age hit it was Katie bar the door!

Charles Hugh Smith, Narcissism, Consumerism and the End of Growth:

...In the modern iteration of the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, the narcissism that results from the focus on personal gratification via consumption cripples the person in the workplace. Ironically, the flattening of corporate management and the demands for higher interpersonal skillsets has eroded the security provided by the strict hierarchy of previous eras.

Instead of working less and doing easier work--the implicit promise of "endless growth"-- the work is becoming more challenging and insecure even as compensation declines.

If there is any personality that is unsuited for the "New Normal" workplace, it is the narcissistic consumer--the very type of person that our consumption-dependent economy creates, nurtures and demands. That is the new Cultural Contradiction of Capitalism.

"Personal gratification" is the driver of narcissism and consumerism, which are two sides of the same coin. Consumerist marketing glorifies the "projected self" as the "true self," encouraging self-absorption even as it erodes authentic identity, self-esteem and the resilience which enables emotional growth--the essential characteristic of adulthood.

Personal gratification is of a piece with self-absorption, fragile self-esteem and an identity that is overly dependent on consumerist signifiers and the approval of others.

No wonder Japan's "lost generations" are lost: not only are expectations of secure, high-income jobs diminished, the work is more demanding and the security and pay are too low to support the consumerist lifestyle that society has implicitly promised everyone who goes to college and works hard as a birthright....

And this piece is perfectly appropriate as one of my Sunday thingies. Jesus taught that that "focus on personal gratification " was exactly the wrong path to take. And in the Information Age it's going to be ten times as bad. Because navigation is at least ten times as difficult. To try to guide yourself while looking at yourself is folly. If you fill your "self" with consumer rubbish.... Oh brother.

...Anyone who thinks he already has it all, so he can take what he wants and center everything on himself, is depriving himself of giving what he otherwise could. Man is not there to make himself, but to respond to demands made upon him. We all stand in a great arena of history, and are dependent on each other. A man ought not, therefore, just to figure out what he would like, but to ask what he can do and how he can help. Then he will see that fulfillment does not lie in comfort, ease, and following ones inclinations, but precisely in allowing demands to be made upon you, in taking the harder path. Everything else turns out somehow boring anyway. Only the man who "risks the fire", who recognizes a calling within himself, a vocation, an ideal he must satisfy, who takes on real responsibility, will find fulfillment. As we have said, it is not in taking, not on the path of comfort, that we become rich, but only in giving.
-- Josef Cardinal Ratzinger
Posted by John Weidner at 1:58 PM

August 14, 2012

Write 'em off...

Joseph Pearce,Slimey Limeys:

Against my better judgment I watched the closing ceremony of the London Olympics last night. I was expecting the worst and it was even worse than I expected! The whole thing was a nasty and narcissistic celebration by the denizens of modern Britain of how wonderful it thinks it is. It was a debauched celebration of atheism and hedonism, including schoolchildren singing Lennon's atheistic anthem, Imagine, as hundreds of people came together to create a giant icon of Lennon's face. Lennon, the most ethno-masochistic and anti-Christian of the Beatles, had once claimed that the "Fab Four" were more popular than Jesus. Judging by last night's closing ceremony, he is right. Everything is more popular than Jesus in modern Britain. The Son of God is well and truly hated as is His Church. Anti-Catholicism reared its intolerant head during the ceremony as dozens of roller-skating women, dressed as nuns, cavorted across the stage, lifting their habits to reveal their underwear.  

Another feature of the closing ceremony was the celebration of the homosexual lifestyle, demonstrated by the resurrection on the big screen of Freddie Mercury to lead the crowd in inane chants. There was also a performance by the leather-clad George Michael, sporting a skull on his belt buckle, symbolic of the culture of death of which he is a symbol. There was much more that was much worse but I don't have the stomach to continue with the litany of smut.  

As an Englishman, I might have felt ashamed of such a spectacle. Instead I just felt as if my body had been covered with slime. I also felt a great sense of gratitude that I had shaken the smut and dirt from my sandals and had left the sordid culture of which I was once a part. Deo gratias!  

As for the land of my birth, I am reminded of the words of C. S. Lewis who would have been as appalled by last night's spectacle as was I. In The Great Divorce, he wrote that in the end there are only two possibilities for each of us. We can either say to God, "The Will Be Done", or else God will ultimately say to us, "Thy will be done". Modern Britain has what it deserves; it has what it wants. The slow and tortuous decay of its barely living corpse will continue until it dies of self-abuse. Its passing will be a blessing...

Sounds like some street fair in San Francisco. Blech. Both cultures are dying. Literally, because they are both reproducing well below replacement rate. And more importantly, they are dead or dying spiritually. If you worship yourself, you are traveling like a person lost in a dark wood, who thinks he's going straight when in fact he's going in a circle. You are, as Augustine put it, incurvatus in se. Curved in on yourself. You are going nowhere.

The Remnant will inherit the future. It's like when Elijah wandered off into the desert, because all the good guys had been killed. Which left him kinda disheartened. God told him to buck up and get back to business, because Elijah didn't know it, but there were seven thousand men in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:24 PM | Comments (10)

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

April 30, 2012

The "Peace Studies" malarky should be the tip-off...

Walter Russell Mead, Europe's Jew Hatred Isn't Just On The Fringe:

...Not so, alas. Norway's Johan Galtung is no ordinary professor of sociology. Known worldwide as the "father of peace studies," Galtung is famous for his work on the peaceful resolution of conflict. He is the founder of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo and the Journal of Peace Research, the recipient of numerous awards, accolades, and honorary degrees and professorships, as well as a hugely prolific writer on issues of peace and conflict. His Wikipedia entry calls him the "principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies," a discipline offered at universities around the world. He lived through the German occupation of Norway during WWII and saw his father arrested by the Nazis.

Galtung has long been a respected and influential member of the European academy. He is no immigrant from the Middle East and is not identified with any fringe political movements. He is as establishment as they come.

And he is also a vicious and hate-spewing anti-Semite.

In remarks at the University of Oslo and a follow-up email exchange with the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Galtung betrayed his true feelings on Jews.

He hinted at links between Anders Behring Breivik's attack on civilians in Norway and Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. He suggested there was some truth behind the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He said that Jews share some of the blame for what happened at Auschwitz -- they had provoked the poor Germans under the Weimar Republic. He suggested that Jews control the American media and academic establishments. The list goes on and on -- the kind of remarks that haters call "common sense" and "daring to tell the truth" but that sane people see as hatred, error and bile....

What fascinates me is that Mead, an intellectual giant, has no explanation for this. He doesn't even make a stab at one. And I, a mere pygmy, have the answer. (OK, OK, I think I have the answer.) He should read RJ.

To boil it down, probably too far, the conventional view is that religious faith in the West has been declining over many centuries. I don't think that is true. Rather, overt Christian and Jewish worship has been declining. BUT, people remained "religious," because they retained many of the habits of thought that derived from faith. They continued to believe in objective truth, for instance. And in objective morality. And many traditional Christian moral beliefs. (They thought divorce and abortion were wrong. And that it is admirable to be a "good Samaritan.") They retained the idea that they might join some cause or truth, even if they had not yet done so. These are all things that are bigger than the "self." All are holdovers from Jewish and Christian faith.

But, habits wear off. These wore off, for many people, around the middle of the 20th century. (Yes, it ties in with the book I'm writing on the transition to the Information Age. They are inter-connected. I'll resist the temptation to go into that now.)

The result was nihilism. That is, as I define it, the lack of any cause or belief bigger than ones self. Maybe for 20%, or 30% of Americans. And for even bigger percentages in Europe. This change in thinking was HUGE! And its effects are seen all around us.

For instance, most of those people assumed disguises, to cover their spiritual nakedness. The most popular one was "liberal." Followed by "pacifist." That's where the "Peace Studies" baloney comes from. Galtung has never accomplished anything in actually promoting peace. But no one cares. The point is, war is vastly offensive to the nihilist.

Why? Because what he hates is belief. And war symbolizes belief, belief that there is something worth fighting for. Even dying for.

I predict, even without knowing anything about him, that Galtung also hates or sneers at America, armed citizens, war (even against the worst tyrants), Israel, Western Civilization, traditional morality, and traditional art and architecture. And most of all, he hates Jews. All symbolize (and I think people mostly react to symbols, not conscious thought) belief in something greater than the self. All are symbolically God.

(I can explain all these points in much greater detail, if anyone cares. Or there are other posts here.)

 

Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 PM

February 4, 2012

Reverting to pagan sacrifice...

David Mamet: Israel, Isaac and the Return of Human Sacrifice - WSJ.com:

...What is the essence of the Torah? It is not the Ten Commandments, these were known, and the practice of most aspired to by every civilization. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner teaches they are merely a Calling Card; to wit: "remember me . . . ?"

The essence of the Torah is the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. The God of Hosts spoke to Abraham, as the various desert gods had spoken to the nomads for thousands of years: "If you wish me to relieve your anxiety, give me the most precious thing you have."

So God's call to Abraham was neither unusual nor, perhaps, unexpected. God had told Abraham to leave his people and his home, and go to the place which God would point out to him. And God told Abraham to take his son up the mountain and kill him, as humans had done for tens of thousands of years.

Now, however, for the first time in history, the narrative changed. The sacrifice, Isaac, spoke back. He asked his father, "Where is the Goat we are to sacrifice?" This was the voice of conscience, and Abraham's hand, as it descended with the knife, was stayed. This was the Birth of the West, and the birth of the West's burden, which is conscience.

Previously the anxiety and fear attendant upon all human life was understood as Fear of the Gods, and dealt with by propitiation, which is to say by sacrifice. Now, however, the human burden was not to give The Gods what one imagined, in one's fear, that they might want, but do, in conscience, those things one understood God to require.

In abandonment of the state of Israel, the West reverts to pagan sacrifice, once again, making a burnt offering not of that which one possesses, but of that which is another's. As Realpolitik, the Liberal West's anti-Semitism can be understood as like Chamberlain's offering of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, a sop thrown to terrorism. On the level of conscience, it is a renewal of the debate on human sacrifice....

Good stuff. And it makes sense to call the Akedah "the Birth of the West." But personally I don't think we are dealing with Realpolitik "sops thrown to terrorism." My suspicion is that the "liberal West" is really hardly aware of terrorism, at least consciously. It is unconsciously reacting to symbols, according to how they they affect their inner suffering--which is also unconscious. They have lost God and Truth, and that's a scary place to be. And so they try to kill God.

What symbolizes God? More than anything else, Jews. Anti-Semitism is, I think, more common now that it was in the 1930's. But it is mostly expressed by proxy. The so-called Palestinians are proxy Jew haters and Jew-killers. And the obsession of the liberal West with the Palestinians is utterly bizarre by any rational standard. One small oppressed group gets more attention than all the other oppressions and genocides of the whole planet. A million dead in Rawanda get far less attention than does some diplomatic wrangle about settlers on the West Bank, with no one even injured.

And we pay the Palestinians to hate Jews. They are economically better off than their brethren in Egypt or Syria or Jordan. Because of our 'foreign aid"--The US for instance gives them 600k a year. Of course they will never stop terrorism, it's their livelihood.

My guess is that the supporting of the Palestinians is a way for Western liberals to "kill God." It always makes me think of how the emperor Julian the Apostate undid his Christian Baptism by having himself "baptized" with bull's blood. It was totally illogical, unless you view it on the level of symbols.

I theorize (yes, yes, I know. I'm way out of the mainstream) that the other popular way to "kill God" is through abortion. If true, that might explain why support for abortion is higher among liberal American Jews than any other group. (The stats are stupefying. Something like 80%. And many more abortionists are Jewish than their numbers would indicate. )Why? Maybe because Jews are the ones who can't easily kill God by supporting Palestinians.

Mount of Olives, looking west over Kidron

Posted by John Weidner at 9:42 PM | Comments (5)

January 15, 2012

The Only pagan thing...

...If any one wants to hold the end of a chain which really goes back to the heathen mysteries, he had better take hold of a festoon of flowers at Easter or a string of sausages at Christmas. Everything else in the modern world is of Christian origin, even everything that seems most anti-Christian. The French Revolution is of Christian origin. The newspaper is of Christian origin. The anarchists are of Christian origin. Physical science is of Christian origin. The attack on Christianity is of Christian origin. There is one thing, and one thing only, in existence at the present day which can in any sense accurately be said to be of pagan origin, and that is Christianity.
      -- GK Chesterton, Heretics (1905).

(Thanks to The Hebdomadal Chesterton)

This is a problem for the old-fashioned atheist, but not a huge problem. Think of the late Christopher Hitchens. He scorned Christianity, but had no problem (or said he didn't) with appreciating things like the King James Bible. But Hitchins was in fact a very religious man, in the sense that he cared passionately about truth, about right and wrong. Hitchins inherited habits of thought from Cristian culture...

But, as I have argued before, [Link, link, link...] we now have a significant portion of the developed world's population who believe in nothing greater than themselves. And they are the ones who are in a hard spot, though they will never admit it. They are, beneath the conscious level, feeling "phantom pain" all the time. I use the term "nihilists" for these people; it's the best one I can find. But that word doesn't quite capture the essence of what I suspect is happening.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:46 PM | Comments (2)

November 26, 2011

Amen, brother Albert....

One of the more odd-but-meaningful moments of my life was in 1971. One of my professors at UC Berkeley was the well-known architecture critic Allen Temko. He brought a batch of his students over to SF for the "unveiling" of the Vaillancourt Fountain, and we handed out his flyers deriding it. (I remember the flyer described Justin Herman as "the Gauleiter of the Redevelopment Agency.") It was a signal moment of my life, though it took me 3 decades to really start to "see" it. To see what it meant.

Burke touches [the] matter of patriotism with a searching phrase. 'For us to love our country,' he said, 'our country ought to be lovely.' I have sometimes thought that here may be the rock on which Western civilization will finally shatter itself. Economism can build a society which is rich, prosperous, powerful, even one which has a reasonably wide diffusion of material well-being. It can not build one which is lovely, one which has savour and depth, and which exercises the irresistible attraction that loveliness wields. Perhaps by the time economism has run its course the society it has built may be tired of itself, bored by its own hideousness, and may despairingly consent to annihilation, aware that it is too ugly to be let live any longer.
      -- Albert J. Nock

Well, we can see this all around us. It's plain as a pikestaff, but no one wants to see. Look at this picture of the Vaillancourt Fountain, with the Ferry Building behind it...

Nihilist Vaillancourt Fountain and noble tower

Our world is belatedly becoming conscious that there's something very bad going on with birthrates. (If you are new to our brave new situation, "TFR" stands for Total Fertility Rate. It's how demographers designate birthrates. The TFR number is births-per-woman. A TFR of 2.1 is replacement rate. That is, the birth-rate at which population will stay the same. Below that, population shrinks. Above, it grows. Europe now has an average TFR of 1.5. Europe is toast.)

The book to read right now is David P. Goldman's How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (I wish I had the ooompf to write a full review, but I did write a bit here.)

Goldman points out that the most reliable correlation is between birth rates and faith. Family size correlates with frequency of religious observance. (This is not controversial, demographers are in agreement on this one.) I'd like to suggest that there is something else that dovetails with birthrates, although it can't be quantified or pinned down.

Knowing what we know now, I will submit with confidence that the people who built the tower in the background had a TFR of at least 3. And the people responsible for the abomination in the foreground—that's you, SF liberals—have a TFR well south of 2.

Beauty is really a proxy for something deeper. Beauty comes from God. The San Franciscans who built the Ferry Building and its towering 1898 were still in touch with the deep wells of faith from which beauty grows. (Explicit religious observance was in decline, and the architect may not have been a church-goer, but, as those who have followed my arguments about nihilism will understand, the habits of Judaism and Christianity still lingered on.)

Liberalism is the idea that we humans can navigate ourselves, without need for outside landmarks or guide-stars. [Link] One expression of that idea has long been that art and poetry etc will flourish once people are liberated from the shackles of religion and tradition and stuffy morality. So, human race, how's that bit of hopey-changy working' out for you? Hmm? Are we all happy with the buildings we are getting? With the poems—do they linger in your mind like a fragrance? How about paintings and sculpture? Do they make your life sweeter? Or nobler?

This has turned into a stream of consciousness post, and I should really outline my thoughts and re-write it. Ha ha, how likely is that? Maybe later.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:54 PM

October 6, 2011

Armageddon never happened--Media Silence Is Deafening

None of this is surprising. Gun control is never about reducing crime. And the gun-grabbers never even consider taking guns away from criminals first. (Or last, or ever.) They only want to disarm law-abiding citizens. Why? Because they are not the liberals they pretend to be. They are people-of-no-beliefs wearing liberalism as a disguise. To them, belief is a painful irritant, reminding them of something they are missing inside. The armed citizen symbolizes having things you are willing to kill for. here for, symbolizes belief in something bigger than the self.

Media Silence Is Deafening About Important Gun News | Fox News:

Murder and violent crime rates were supposed to soar after the Supreme Court struck down gun control laws in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Politicians predicted disaster. "More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence," Washington's Mayor Adrian Fenty warned the day the court made its decision.

Chicago's Mayor Daley predicted that we would "go back to the Old West, you have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle it in the streets . . . ."

The New York Times even editorialized this month about the Supreme Court's "unwise" decision that there is a right for people "to keep guns in the home."

But Armageddon never happened. Newly released data for Chicago shows that, as in Washington, murder and gun crime rates didn't rise after the bans were eliminated -- they plummeted. They have fallen much more than the national crime rate.

Not surprisingly, the national media have been completely silent about this news.

One can only imagine the coverage if crime rates had risen. In the first six months of this year, there were 14% fewer murders in Chicago compared to the first six months of last year - back when owning handguns was illegal. It was the largest drop in Chicago's murder rate since the handgun ban went into effect in 1982.

Meanwhile, the other four most populous cities saw a total drop at the same time of only 6 percent.

Similarly, in the year after the 2008 "Heller" decision, the murder rate fell two-and-a-half times faster in Washington than in the rest of the country.

It also fell more than three as fast as in other cities that are close to Washington's size. And murders in Washington have continued to fall. ...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 AM

September 16, 2011

Judenrein--You watch, it will perfectably acceptable for our fake liberals.

PLO Ambassador: No Jews in New Palestinian State -- Commentary Magazine:

According to this report in USA Today, the Palestine Liberation Organization's representative in Washington has declared there will be no place in any future Palestinian state for Jews. There are several ironies.

Turkey and perhaps European countries as well are maybe on the verge of recognizing the first state since Nazi Germany to propose a judenrein policy. There are several ironies: First, Israel, whose Arab Christian and Muslim minorities—perhaps 20 percent of the population—have full rights, but is lambasted by the cocktail set as racist. Second, when the Netanyahu government proposed recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, many diplomats—including those in the State Department—balked. But to propose a Jew-free state? That's okay.

Yes it will be perfectly acceptable with our "liberals" and academics and journalists. Likewise, our "pacifists" and fake-Quakers never object when Palestinians teach kindergarten children to be suicide bombers.

Why? Because the Palestinians are fulfilling the secret desires of most of the Left (and a few on the Right). It's no longer fashionable to be openly anti-Semitic, but Jew hatred is just as common as it was in the 1930's. The difference is that now we pay the Palestinians to be our proxy Jew killers. The US, for instance, pays them 600 million dollars a year, in "foreign aid."

Jew-hatred is part of the thinking of losers. If you are going nowhere, you turn to hating the Jews. This is because the people who are going somewhere, who have a future, always believe that there are things in life more important than they are. Jews symbolize our duty to God. And this duty is echoed in many lesser symbols, all of which involve belief in something higher and more important than our little selves.

Therefor the person who has a servant heart towards one of the lesser symbols, such as loving country or family or truth, is, on a deep level, serving God. And the weird paradoxical thing is, those people are the ones who tend to become stronger, and bolder, and who grow towards the future. ey have a future. They are not losers." (I think of the word in the American slang sense, such as, "I hope she doesn't marry that guy. He's such a loser.)

Whereas the people who sign on to one of the human-centered philosophies, one of the men-will-be-like-gods confections... those people shrink! We see it all around us, if we we dare to open our eyes. For instance our mad unending proliferation of safety regulations--a left-liberal obsession.. That's not what people do when they are feeling Promethean! It's what you do when you are afraid. Same with obsessing over clean water and clean air. San Francisco has delightful tap water, brought direct from the high Sierras, near Yosemite. But lots of people have water filters and we spend millions on bottled water.

That's fear. and it's very reminiscent of that guy in the movie Dr Strangelove, who though fluoridated water was contaminating his "precious bodily fluids." (Anti-flouridation, by the way, is no longer a right-wing issue, it's now a lefty fad.)

It's exactly like what I posted about Inertial Navigation. The submarine trying, for some crazy reason, to cross the Pacific underwater without ever using landmarks may start out with a brave flourish and feelings of self-sufficient power. But errors accumulate, and by the time it gets near the other side, the main feeling will be fear. And if there is some person who symbolizes submission to things outside the system (imagine a navigator walking around with a sextant in his hand) that chap may well be hated!

Friend of Israel emblem

Posted by John Weidner at 7:49 PM

June 23, 2011

"Anti-gun zealots" WHY?

This stuff is just too crazy. Layer after onion-layer of crazy. You need a theorist to explain what's going on.

Wait, you have one! Me. I can explain it. In fact, I have, over and over... ["Mama, why is that odd man talking to himself?"] Most people don't think, and especially, liberals don't think. People respond to symbols. And most liberals today have no belief in anything, except themselves. Belief and meaning have drained away. To such nihilism, belief is an affront and an irritation. They hate it.

And firearms are symbols of belief. Why? Because they symbolize being willing to fight for something. Another way of expressing the nihilism of most liberals is that they don't think there's anything worth fighting for. This also explains why gun control efforts are always aimed at law-abiding citizens. They don't care if criminals have guns, since those only symbolize rapacity.

Michelle Malkin — Reminder: Another zealot waiting in ATF wings:

For 30 years, Chicago banned handguns. The crime rate skyrocketed. Murders soared. Gangs blossomed. Desperate city officials even considered calling the National Guard to combat the out-of-control violence that all the "community organizing" in the world couldn't curb. The Supreme Court struck down Chicago's individual firearms ownership prohibition last year, but the same anti-gun zealots who put Windy City citizens' lives at risk remain in power.

And now one of them may soon be in charge of the scandal-plagued Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Meet Andrew Traver. He's President Obama's nominee to head ATF. The Senate Judiciary Committee refused to act on the original nomination last fall. His name was sent up again earlier this year, and a hearing has yet to be scheduled. Obama's czar-happy habits should be a red flag on a possible recess appointment.

Traver has spent two decades in the Chicago ATF office bureaucracy. The White House touts his record as a Navy vet and crime-fighter. But it's his anti-gun advocacy that won him Chicago crony backing in the Beltway. Liberal Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and rabid leftist Sen. Dick Durbin both support their home state bureaucrat. Grassroots Second Amendment groups across the country (not to mention rank-and-file ATF agents) have raised their voices in opposition....
Posted by John Weidner at 9:44 PM

March 19, 2011

Wrongness...

I have a Facebook account, but have almost entirely stopped using it. Because the things I really want to say don't fit the format.

A good example was the other day, when a "pacifist" posted that our military's humanitarian assistance to Japan was all fine and well, but that we should remember that an army is intended to kill people and destroy things.

Now that is a very stupid thing to write. But a rebuttal would bore and perplex most of those who are my "friends" on Facebook. (and of course would be wasted on the person in question.) Blogs are much better for such replies.

The problem with the statement is that an army is a tool of the state. And in a state like ours, a representative democracy, an army is a tool of the people. Of us! If our army smashes things, the real actors are the people of this country. If America bombs Bormenia, WE did it. You and I.

There is a certain type of person, very common these days, who want to fudge that point! Why? Because their pacifism, or anti-war activism, or whatever, is a sham! A pacifist is a person who has renounced violence as a tool to attain his ends. But these fake-pacifists are in fact people who have lost all higher meaning in their lives, and no longer believe in anything. They are people for whom nothing is worth fighting for. So their pretense that they are acting out of conscience or morality is a lie.

They try to create the impression that our military is some kind of autonomous death cloud, some miasma of evil. Then they can oppose the military, and pretend that that is somehow "pacifism." And feel moral and superior, even while enjoying all the good things our superb military provides us, such as peace and safety.

Actually, I suspect that if there are any "real" pacifists among the fakes, they are pretty much fakes, too. They all make sure to live in safe places. Which are kept safe by cops and soldiers. When I hear of pacifists getting killed because they won't call the cops when hoodlums are breaking down their door at night... then maybe I might guess they are for real.

But of course they do call the cops. And the police are also our tools, who do what we the citizens ask. If I call the police because someone's breaking in, I'm starting an action which may lead to people having large holes shot in them by my hired gunmen. Now I'm fine with that. I think about these things a lot. And I accept the moral responsibility. Including the possibility that things may go all random, and the wrong people are killed. That comes with the package.

And I think that's part of our duty as citizens. To make life-and-death choices. To think things through, and sometimes to decide that deadly force is necessary. Just as I thoughtfully decided (and still feel) that our invasion of Iraq was correct and morally justified. So I bear some of the responsibility, and some of the credit if things turn out well in the long run.

And actually almost any political decision has life-and-death consequences. If you vote for more money for X, that means less money for Y, even if you can't see Y. You have a duty to see it, to imagine it, to foresee the consequences and take responsibility. Choosing or voting for "good things" does not get you off the hook, morality-wise. People may suffer or die because you have starved them of the resources that went to your pet project. Even "pacifists" slaughter people in the voting booth.

And deciding to do nothing usually has life-and-death consequences too. Obviously so, though people wish to slither past this truth. Doing nothing doesn't get you off the hook. Doing nothing is often an evil choice.

US Cruiser fires missile
Posted by John Weidner at 9:17 PM

March 1, 2011

Even the optimists are pessimistic...

Scott is dead-on... We seem to be well and truly hosed:

I talked to one of my little buddies tonight over cervezas. Guy is a top hand on off-shore support boats, the ones that make drilling platforms work. Work is drying up. Rigs are moving to other continents. Permits are not being let. All of the preceding is shallow-water, not deep stuff like what blew up last year and killed all the stupid pelicans.

THE single most frightening thing he told me tonight was that nobody he's talked to, and he knows a lot of people after several decades in the industry...NOBODY has projected work for 2011. Nobody.

If you know anything about the oil industry, then the fact that not one single oilman is projecting off-shore work for the remaining 10 months of this year of our Lord, 2011, should frighten the ever-loving FUCK out of you.

Lookie here...I've never met a more optimistic breed of man than the oilman. Not even the nerds who made the 2001 dot.com bust into the globe-rocking meltdown that it was, were as optimistic as the oilmen I've known for well on 40 years of listening to the grown-ups. If they are projecting NOTHING, well, hell, the game is up.

That kind of talk has me extremely fretful. I'm just a hayseed, but even I know this entire country can't live off of Facebook ad sales and solar panel installations... ain't gonna happen.

Look, this is just the kind of thing I've been blogging about ad nauseum. If you trace the causes back you will come to liberals in government. But they are not liberals anymore--they are something else. There's no "liberal" reason to kill the oil industry during a recession. That's not "liberal."

We see the same thing all around. There's no liberal reason to always side with tyrants and hate the idea of bringing democracy and freedom to oppressed peoples. Harry Truman or JFK would have said that that's crazy. And it is crazy.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:21 PM

January 23, 2011

Leadership requires thinking about what is true...

Heather Wilson - Our superficial scholars:

...Unlike many graduate fellowships, the Rhodes seeks leaders who will "fight the world's fight." They must be more than mere bookworms. We are looking for students who wonder, students who are reading widely, students of passion who are driven to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the broader world through enlightened and effective leadership. The undergraduate education they are receiving seems less and less suited to that purpose.

An outstanding biochemistry major wants to be a doctor and supports the president's health-care bill but doesn't really know why. A student who started a chapter of Global Zero at his university hasn't really thought about whether a world in which great powers have divested themselves of nuclear weapons would be more stable or less so, or whether nuclear deterrence can ever be moral. A young service academy cadet who is likely to be serving in a war zone within the year believes there are things worth dying for but doesn't seem to have thought much about what is worth killing for. A student who wants to study comparative government doesn't seem to know much about the important features and limitations of America's Constitution.

When asked what are the important things for a leader to be able to do, one young applicant described some techniques and personal characteristics to manage a group and get a job done. Nowhere in her answer did she give any hint of understanding that leaders decide what job should be done. Leaders set agendas. ...

If you read Random Jottings, none of this should be the least bit surprising. To set an agenda, you must decide what the goal is. And doing that is, at root, a philosophical question. You won't get far in, say, setting government policy, if you haven't thought through your philosophy of government. And to do that rightly, you must have a clear philosophy of everything! You must decide what is important, what is the good.

Foolish people imagine that the good is obvious. "Everybody knows what it is!" If you were born in, say, the year 1800, you might think chattel slavery was a great good, and a blessing for poor Africans who need organizing and bracing-up. A few years later you might think the opposite. And both times you might say that the good was obvious!

To get beyond such fatuity, students must be challenged to defend their ideas on deeper and deeper levels. "How do you know that? How do you justify that conclusion?" Universities should act like Socrates, probing and questioning. It doesn't happen anymore.

Our universities are ground-zero for the ever-increasing nihilism of our world. They don't dare teach the young to think or question, because those who comprise the university have no philosophical underpinnings they can trust. They believe in nothing, and are desperately trying to hide that fact from others and above all from themselves.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 PM

December 27, 2010

"There are two reasons: secularism and socialism (aka the welfare state)."

RealClearPolitics - Vitality Has Been Sucked Out of European Society:

...Outside of politics, sports, and popular entertainment, how many living Germans, or French, or Austrians, or even Brits can you name?

Even well-informed people who love art and literature and who follow developments in science and medicine would be hard pressed to come up with many, more often any, names. In terms of greatness in literature, art, music, the sciences, philosophy, and medical breakthroughs, Europe has virtually fallen off the radar screen.

This is particularly meaningful given how different the answer would have been had you asked anyone the same question between just 80 and 120 years ago...

[...]

...What has happened is that Europe, with a few exceptions, has lost its creativity, intellectual excitement, industrial innovation, and risk taking. Europe's creative energy has been sapped. There are many lovely Europeans; but there aren't many creative, dynamic, or entrepreneurial ones.

The issues that preoccupy most Europeans are overwhelmingly material ones: How many hours per week will I have to work? How much annual vacation time will I have? How many social benefits can I preserve (or increase)? How can my country avoid fighting against anyone or for anyone?

Why has this happened?

There are two reasons: secularism and socialism (aka the welfare state).

Either one alone sucks much of the life out of society. Together they are likely to be lethal....

If anyone out there doesn't like the term "lethal," feel free to make a counter-argument. Betcha can't, cowards.

Myself, I think that "secularism and socialism" are really surface manifestations of the real problem, which is nihilism. Nobody believes in secularism or socialism, no one will fight for them anymore. It is absurd to even imagine some Belgian or Spaniard fighting for........ anything! It don't happen. So they are dead. The corpse staggers along for a few more years, but its dead.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:41 PM

November 17, 2010

Is "Moderate" the new "Progressive?"

Word Note logoDiogenes is rightly sarcastic over this line, in an article about the election of Archbishop Dolan to the presidency of the US Conference of Bishops...

Washington Post: ...Victim advocates spoke out against Kicanas, but the more significant opposition came from conservatives, who considered him too moderate in tone....

Don't "conservatives" usually oppose those who are too **ahem** "liberal?"

This interests me especially in the way Leftizoids are slippery about defining themselves. The word "liberal" is itself a deception. As I wrote here, about Hillary Clinton referring to herself as a "progressive"...

...That's the problem when you start to tell lies. You get all tangled up. The lie started, as you probably already know, when various New Dealers were asked if they were Socialists. They didn't want to admit that (though it was true, and a bunch of them were Communists, foul secret agents of Stalin) so they dubbed themselves "Liberals." Thereby giving the word a new meaning that was very different from the classical meaning of Liberal.

Of course the word Liberal soon came to mean "Quasi-socialist." So now our current crop of quasi-socialists label themselves "Progressive." So cute. And now, now we see Hillary squirming away from that word!! If you tell one lie, you have to tell more lies to cover up the first one...

To me the deep problem with lying is that once you start, you begin to live in fear. If you mis-represent yourself, then you can never be sure what people think about you. And if you lie very much, then you will start to lose track of what's true in general, and you will really be afraid. Including afraid to admit to yourself that you have a problem, so more palaces of lies are built to cover that up.

If you've read me on the subject of Nihilism, you know that I think that many "liberals" (and some conservatives too) are living in very elaborate lie-palaces indeed.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:29 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 6, 2010

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

July 27, 2010

Unreal deaths...

CBS's Lara Logan, responding to Katie Couric,..

...Well, the issue of civilian casualties is a major one and the U.S. has taken a lot of criticism because of this. However, what's interesting to note that is according to the documents, 195 Afghan civilians have been killed. But also according to the documents, two thousand Afghan civilians have been killed by the Taliban, which is more than ten times the number said to be killed by U.S. and NATO forces. And very little is being made of that. The coverage would indicate that it's more of an issue for the U.S. to kill Afghan civilians than it is for the Taliban to do so....

This just puts a finger on what I keep saying, that to most leftists, the world is not real, except for the US and Israel. Even if the Taliban slaughter millions, it won't be of any concern to them. The only real thing is their interior psycho-drama, as they desperately strive to cobble up excuses to avoid their duty to God and country, and avoid confronting the interior vacuum.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:54 AM

June 26, 2010

What I've been telling you...

The Unengaged President - Mark Steyn - National Review Online:

...Raising the problem, Senator Lemieux found the president unengaged and uninformed. "He doesn't seem to know the situation about foreign skimmers and domestic skimmers," reported the senator.

He doesn't seem to know, and he doesn't seem to care that he doesn't know, and he doesn't seem to care that he doesn't care. "It can seem that at the heart of Barack Obama's foreign policy is no heart at all," wrote Richard Cohen in the Washington Post last week. "For instance, it's not clear that Obama is appalled by China's appalling human rights record. He seems hardly stirred about continued repression in Russia. . . . The president seems to stand foursquare for nothing much.

"This, of course, is the Obama enigma: Who is this guy? What are his core beliefs?"

Gee, if only your newspaper had thought to ask those fascinating questions oh, say, a month before the Iowa caucuses....

There ARE no core beliefs! That's what I keep writing, over and over. And our oh-so-wise pundits keep touching lightly on questions like: "Who is this Obama chap? What are his core beliefs?" If they read Random Jottings they would know precisely what's going on. [Link to my blog-posts on the subject of nihilism.]

Most liberals, especially the "activist" types, have no core beliefs. Nothing. It's all drained away. What are Nancy Pelosi's "core beliefs?" There are none. (Except they all have the belief that government must grow. But that's a "belief" only in the way the addict believes in Heroin.)

I feel like a combination of that boy who said the emperor has no clothes, and Cassandra. Although in this case the clothes have no emperor! Like Cassandra, I keep saying, "You damn fools, you just that wooden horse be!" but nobody listens...

And I keep telling you all that China and Russia are not real to our liberal nihilists. In their view of the world, only America and Israel exist. Why? Because these are the two countries that are beliefs. Are ideas. And belief is an irritant and an affront to the person who has no beliefs. The rest of creation only exists when touched by America or Israel. We see this every day, yet people won't "see" it. For instance the "Palestinians" only exist for Western liberals when Israel does something to them. Arab countries do far worst things to them than Israel does, yet those are invisible.

China's appalling human rights record means absolutely nothing to most leftists. But if I, an American, went to China with my ice cream cart and sold ice cream cones to Chinese children... and they got belly-aches... That would be a big deal! China would suddenly exist! We see this all the time. And if you listen to me, it will make perfect sense to you. (How's that for hubris! It doesn't matter; no one will notice ol' Cassie.

Smelly hippie lights cig on burning American flag
Posted by John Weidner at 10:17 AM

March 28, 2010

We are all Israel now...

William A. Jacobson, We Are All Bibi Netanyahu Now:

The reaction to Obama's treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ("Bibi") Netanyahu was as strong if not stronger than I have seen in the comments here and elsewhere in the blogosphere on any other issue. (I didn't let through a number of over-the-top comments.)

Why this reaction? I bet a lot of the people having this reaction only had heard of Bibi Netanyahu in passing on the news.

Who would care if our President left a foreign leader to wait in the White House while the President supposedly went to have dinner with his family? Who would care if our President broke protocol by refusing to be photographed and hold a press conference with a foreign leader? Who would care if that foreign leader left tail tucked between his legs, humiliated at home at the treatment by the leader of the free world?

Part of it certainly is that the foreign leader in question was the leader of Israel, which is tremendously popular with Americans. In Israel the clear majority of Americans see a democratic nation surrounded by implacable enemies who also are our enemies, doing what it takes to survive and thrive. In so many historical, religious and political ways Israel is our kindred spirit, more than just one among many nations....

It's more than just being a "kindred spirit." Israel is us. Israel and the United States are the only two countries that are ideas. Anyone who "gets" America's idea as expressed in the founding documents, is an American. As much so as someone whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower. If I say someone is "un-American," you would not imagine that I'm criticizing their skin color, or accent, or lack of long residence in our country.

It's much the same with Israel. Jews from obscure corners of the world, with all sorts of languages and skin colors can make Aliyah and become Israelis.

Both countries have been refuges for the oppressed. And both have been founded by those who fled the control of their "betters" in the European elites. Fled and used only their own strength and courage to build a country from nothing. Both countries were toughened by fighting against savages, and by taming a harsh landscape.

Both countries are hated by Leftists, because Leftism is about taming people, and putting them under control of self-styled elites.

But there is a deeper similarity. It is my suspicion that much of what people believe and do is not because of rational thought, but is a reflection of spiritual struggles fought on a mostly unconscious level of symbols. We are all on a sort of path that can only be travelled in two directions: Towards God, or away from God and towards self-worship. And both America and Israel symbolically represent movement towards God. Not only in the religious elements of both country's formation, but symbolically in their demand that we consider an idea to be something bigger than ourselves; something for which we might even have to sacrifice our lives.

As I've bored you by mentioning before, I think that most "Leftism" today is not really Leftism at all, that the quasi-religious beliefs such as socialism or liberalism that were the old core of Leftist thinking have drained away, leaving nothing. Leftism today is mostly nihilism. The old-time Left didn't automatically hate America or Israel, because they considered it normal to believe in an idea—they just had a different idea. To the nihilist, belief is an affront!

And more than an affront. Almost an assault. They know somewhere deep in their hearts that they were made for something bigger, and the knowledge angers them.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:39 AM

December 14, 2009

What you see is fear...

The question no one seems to ask is, "If people are really worried about man-made global warming, WHY don't they want to hear any of possibility that the theory might be wrong?" You would think that they would be happy to hear that the seas are perhaps not going to rise and inundate them? Right? Or, if not happy, and least slightly open to the idea.

This is from an interesting story by a meteorologist who makes school presentations on weather, to which he has been adding a soupcon of warming skepticism. Art Horn: Climategate in the Classroom? (PJM Exclusive):

... A school told me I would not be able to return this year because of my global warming comments. When I visited the school last year, I told the students that the polar bears were not drowning and that their numbers have been increasing. I also showed them reasons to believe that nature has changed climate in the past and would likely continue to do so in the future.

One of the students then went home and told the parents. Apparently this did not fit the parents' understanding of what is going on in the Arctic. I was told the student was upset; I tend to believe it was the parents that were upset.

A phone complaint was made to the teacher who had invited me. Also, a complaint was made to the superintendent. The teacher who invited me actually had to do a special project about global warming to set the parents minds at ease. I have no idea what the teacher told the parents. The teacher then asked the district science coordinator if I could tone down my comments about global warming if I were to return.

The principal of the school said my information was educational, but very one-sided. I found this rather odd, since the principal also said in the email that:
It is our obligation as a public school to present both sides of an argument. In the area of science this is extremely important.
Since the kids are constantly bombarded with the alarmist point of view, I figured the realist side was just getting equal time.

The school has agreed to have me back — but there is to be absolutely no mention of global warming at all....

Anyone who follows this blog knows that I think that many people are in deep spiritual trouble, and the natural consequence is fear. [Link] And I suspect, though it seems paradoxical, that the possibility of warming catastrophe is a kind of antidote to that fear. Why? Because an imminent catastrophe over-rides all sorts of other worries and problems. It gives a kind of meaning to life.

I've read accounts of people who felt deep relief at the outbreaks of the two world wars. All the nagging problems and doubts of life were suddenly replaced by one big simple problem. And the duty to help solve that problem gave meaning and purpose to their lives.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:35 AM

November 15, 2009

Just do it...

John Hinderaker, at Power Line:

...On our radio show yesterday, Andy McCarthy proposed an explanation that amplifies on Scott's last paragraph. He suggested that the Obama administration views KSM et al. as its allies (my paraphrase) in its war against the Bush administration. Obama expects them to make their treatment by the Bush administration, real and imagined, the centerpiece of their defense, with the possible result that Bush, Cheney, and others may be indicted as war criminals by European countries or international courts, thereby satisfying the far left of the Democratic Party, which Obama represents. I'll post a podcast of the interview when it's available.

Makes sense to me. Leftists hate President Bush because he is a liberal. (Just think: What could be a more liberal—in the style of Truman and FDR—project, than toppling a fascist dictator and bringing democracy to the liberated.) Bush revealed how utterly empty and fraudulent our "liberals" are. (They hate Sarah Palin because she is.... America. Same dynamic.)

Well, I say, "Bring it on!" Just do it. I hope KSM is "acquitted," and walks out of the courtroom a free man, pumping his fist in the air and yelling "Allahooo Ackabar!" while crowds of smelly hippies and "pacifists" cheer. I look forward to President Palin explaining—politely of course—that any indictments of any Americans by those pygmy "international courts" will constitute an Act of War...

Smelly hippie lights cig on burning American flag

Posted by John Weidner at 9:41 AM

November 8, 2009

Even a schlep like me can see the flaw in this reasoning...

Marvin Olasky:

...Confirmation of biblical wisdom came earlier this fall from an unlikely source: an Ivy League savant who says it's wrong to depend on the Bible.

The prestigious Oxford University Press sent me the new book Morality Without God? by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, a Dartmouth professor. (I'm going to quote him a lot, so I'll use his initials.) WSA begins by complaining that his students quote to him Dostoevsky's favorite line, "If God is dead, everything is permitted." WSA then argues that we don't need God: We all should simply agree not to harm others—cause death, pain, or disability—unless there is "adequate reason."...

The obvious flaw is that who defines "harm?" Who defines "others?" Who defines "adequate reason"? If I can define my own terms, then I can harm anybody..... I'll just define them as not being a person, or define my harm as not really harmful.

The whole concept of people deciding what their own morality will be is just stupid. It's like the lab mice deciding on how the science experiment should be analyzed. Nothing can be judged from the inside. There always has to be some standard, or some judge or critic, that comes from outside the system, something which has authority because it is at a higher level than what is being critiqued.

Now you may be thinking, "What right has a nobody like Mr Weidner to call a Dartmouth professor stupid?" Fortunately Marvin Olasky gave me the necessary data by posing a moral question to Mr WSA. In fact, the obvious moral question, one that WSA must surely have heard and had time to think out an answer to. But he can't give a cogent answer!

Here, judge for yourself...

Wondering if WSA is one of those exceedingly rare secular professors with the courage to be pro-life, I emailed him to ask. He responded that there is no "simple solution to this complex problem . . . the moral problem of abortion cannot be solved by citing religious texts or religious leaders."

Hmm . . . How can it be solved? WSA wrote, "What matters is the present and future harm to the fetus and others. This does not solve the problem, but it tells us where to focus our discussions. I hope this helps."

Hmm . . . It helps only if WSA can tell us how to compare "harm to the fetus" (death) to other harms, so I emailed him again. He responded, "The bottom line is that I think some moral problems are insoluble. . . . They are just too difficult for us to figure out. . . . The answer, 'I do not know,' should become common."

Hmm . . . I asked WSA whether people could really make "I don't know" the default statement. He responded, "Why not? People get used to having a belief about everything, but they do not have to. Life can be lived like an experiment where you guess but do not believe until you see how it turns out."

Why can't this guy give a good answer? I bet I could fudge-up some plausible-sounding cackle. The question I think we should ask is: "Why has this man made himself stupid?" He presumably has a higher IQ than me, but he seems to have given himself a lobotomy! Why?

My theory (feel free to skip this if you've read it on this blog before) is that people have been coasting on Christian and Jewish morality and values, even though fewer and fewer people practice the religions faithfully. That morality has lingered as habits. (Imagine parents who have lived through the Great Depression and later become prosperous, trying to transmit their habits of thrift to their children. Some of it will rub off, some will be lost. And more will be lost when the kids try to pass this wisdom on to the grandkids. Good habits drain away if one is separated from their source.)

Mr WSA thinks he's devising morality de novo, but really he assumes a lot of Judeo-Christian morality. Probably most of the people who have ever lived have believed that it's FINE to harm people if they are not in your tribe. But WSA assumes that this is not where his ice-your-own-cupcake morality is heading. Why? Because the habit of not thinking that way is part of Western Judeo-Christian culture. He just assumes that faith-based moral habits will be there. Sort of like children assuming that the grownups will always take care of them!

But the problem is that the habits are wearing off, a little each generation. And now reality is starting to bite people. He won't admit it consciously, but I think that deep down Mr WSA is becoming very afraid. And that is why he, and millions of other people, have made themselves stupid. They don't want to think about their situation. They don't want to realize that next year it may be just "decided" that they are not "anybody," and can be "aborted retroactively" without violating morality. A good current example of this fear-based stupidity is the many important pundits who have been gravely saying that we may never know what motivated Major Hasan, and whether religion had anything to do with it! That is literally insane.

Romano Guardini wrote, back in the 1950's:

...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 [the two world wars] have suggested what life without Christ really is. The last decades were only the beginning...
    -- Romano Guardini, from The End of the Modern World

* Update: Just want to amplify a little my comment that WSA "assumes a lot of Judeo-Christian morality." His phrase "We all should simply agree not to harm others" is a debased version of a Christian moral concept. The Pharisee who agreed that we should love our neighbor asked Jesus, "Who IS my neighbor?" His culture would have assumed that "his neighbor" meant "fellow Jews." Jesus answered with the story of the good Samaritan. The story implies something really radical and shocking: that everyone should be treated as our neighbor. (Jews and Samaritans hated each other like poison.) The idea that we should not hurt anybody is a corollary of this new idea.

WSA claims that we can just invent morality. He's fooling himself. If people with no preconceptions invented a morality, they would not come up with anything like what he expects.

I also strongly suspect that he thinks his formula is a TRUTH, though he would never dare admit it in the academy, or to himself. If somebody invented a morality that said: "We all should simply agree to harm anybody who annoys us," I'd guess he would exclaim "That's Wrong!" Wrong with a capital "W." I'd bet money that deep down he believes that there are moral laws that objectively exist, that are not invented by people. Therefore his atheism is a fake. Deep down he knows there is a Higher Power, but he's a coward and shrinks away from the implications.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:34 AM

November 7, 2009

"The Issue beneath all the other issues"

From a 2006 article by George Weigel:

...But perhaps the most intriguing intervention of the conference came from my friend Rémi Brague, who divides his time between the Sorbonne in Paris, where he teaches philosophy, and Munich, where he holds the chair of the late, great Romano Guardini. Professor Brague's name would rightly appear on any list of Ten Most Intelligent Catholics in the World, and in Vienna, he didn't disappoint.

Picking up on a phrase I had used in The Cube And the Cathedral , that Europe is "dying from a false story," Brague suggested a fascinating way of looking at the last two centuries of western history. The 19th century, he proposed, was focused on the question of good-and-evil: the "social question," posed by the industrial revolution, the emergence of an urban working class, and the demise of traditional society, dominated the landscape. The 20th century, he argued, had been the century of the question of true-and-false: totalitarian ideologies, built on perverse misunderstandings of the human person, defined the contest for the human future that drove history from the aftermath of World War I until the Soviet crack-up in 1991.

And the 21st century? Ours, Professor Brague said, is the century of the question of being-and-nothingness — the century of the metaphysical question.

Which may sound extremely abstract, but is, in fact, very concrete. For if nothing is "given" in the human condition, then everything is up-for-grabs. If, to take a salient example on both sides of the Atlantic, maleness and femaleness are mere "social constructs," then "marriage" can mean anything someone wants it to mean, including not only "gay marriage" but polygamy and polyandry — and to deny that is an act of irrational bigotry.
Brague, who knows a great deal about Islamic philosophy, knows all about the threat to the West from jihadist Islam. In Vienna, however, he insisted that nihilism — a soured cynicism about the mystery and wonder of being — is the prior enemy-within-the-gates. For nihilism leads to deep skepticism about the human capacity to know the truth of anything; skepticism leads to what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger described on April 18, 2005, as the "dictatorship of relativism;" and relativism is a solvent eating away the foundations of western self-understanding, western civilizational morale — and the western capacity for intelligent self-defense.

An Enlightenment intellectual, cited by Professor Brague, once said that he didn't have children because begetting children was a criminal act — a matter of condemning another human being to death, to oblivion. That is the kind of nihilism that lies beneath Europe's demographic suicide of recent decades. That is the kind of nihilism that occupies some of the commanding heights of American culture. That is the kind of nihilism that makes the defense of western civilization difficult today — and would make it impossible tomorrow, were it to triumph culturally.

The very goodness of life, the goodness of being — that is The Issue beneath all the other issues of the 21st century. So suggested Rémi Brague. I'm afraid he's right....

 

Posted by John Weidner at 7:47 PM

November 6, 2009

Political Correctness kills...

Armed Israeli Defense Force girls

The above picture is one I took on our last year's pilgrimage to the Holy Land. You see young people like this everywhere in Israel. Maybe, just maybe, Israelis know something about dealing with Muslim terrorists. Hmm?

Political Correctness and the Ft. Hood Shooting - Stephanie Gutmann:

...Soldiers in other countries are allowed to carry arms on base and even when they are off-duty. In Israel, for instance, soldiers are issued a rifle and then . . . it's theirs. One sees slender 18-year-old girls, traveling from base, home to the suburbs for Shabbat dinner, still slung with a massive M-16 rifle almost as big as they are. The prevalence of arms doesn't mean the country experiences the kind of random mass murders seen in the United States. It means that the few times someone has gone crazy with a gun in a city street, he was taken down fast by bystanders.

But not American soldiers....

Pacifism, or rather nihilism disguised as fake-pacifism, is one of the sicknesses of our time. No matter how many times it's proved wrong, a large portion of the populace will continue to believe that looking and being weak will make them safer and will prevent violence and war. But pacifism causes war.

Whoever gave the orders that American soldiers should not carry their sidearms or other weapons on our military bases murdered those soldiers who died at Ft Hood. Charlene was an Army brat, and she says that personnel carried their weapons on the base when she was young. Somebody (the phrase "death panel" springs to mind) disarmed the very men and women who are sworn to protect us using violent force when necessary. INSANE! SICK!

And I remember when Reagan became President, one of his first acts was to rescind an order that forbade officers from wearing their uniforms much of the time when working in Washington DC. It's the same sickness.

Bookworm writes, in a good post:

...I've also heard from back channels that people like Hasan have been an ongoing concern within the military. The fear inspired by political correctness, however, has meant that internal enforcement agencies (FBI, military police, etc.) have been afraid to act on their suspicions for fear of being tarred as racists or ideologues. This climate of PC fear must have increased dramatically since Obama's justice department made it plain that it considered those who acted in defense of the U.S. as potential war criminals. In the topsy turvy world of Obama politics, it's a worse sin to be politically incorrect than to be a terrorist. Our national security forces have read the tea leaves and, no matter how patriotic I'm sure they are, they've concluded that the sure risk to their career for being un-PC is greater than the potential risk of a terrorist attack from some psychiatrist or foot soldier somewhere in the South or the Midwest, or wherever else the next Muslim loony-toonz starts making noise on American soil...

Any sane society would have interned Major Hassan. Slapped him into a nice comfy summer-camp as soon as he started talking his Islamist trash-talk. Or at least discharged him! But that would require believing that our country is worth doing tough, even brutal, things for. It is belief that the nihilist fears. Belief in anything that is bigger than the self, anything that demands putting the self second.

What is the common thread among the things that our fake-liberals hate and want to destroy? Christianity and Judaism, America, Israel, family, Western Civ., traditional morality, traditional art and architecture, our military, global responsibility. TRUTH. ALL of them are, on a symbolic level, things that are bigger than the individual, bigger than the supposedly "autonomous" self. Things that demand servanthood, and sacrifice, and devotion.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:47 AM

September 16, 2009

If your "god" orders you to kill a million people...

What happens?

I recommend this piece by Gregg Easterbrook in WSJ, The Man Who Defused the 'Population Bomb', about Norman Borlaug, whose lifetime of work increasing agricultural yields in Third World countries has saved perhaps a billion lives!

But I have my own special field of blogging interest, which is the change that is coming over the Western world as the "faiths" that substituted for fading Christianity have themselves started to fade. To drain away, leaving only the worship of the most terrifying god of all- — the self. "But wait," you say, "I'm not like that! My 'self' is a pretty good guy." Well, it probably is, but only because you've imbibed habits of morality derived from religious faith. And habits drain away over generations, when their source is forgotten. We see it all around us.

You are not intrinsically one of the good guys. None of us is. And if you think I'm just kooky, ponder the following....

...After his triumph in India and Pakistan and his Nobel Peace Prize, Borlaug turned to raising crop yields in other poor nations especially in Africa, the one place in the world where population is rising faster than farm production and the last outpost of subsistence agriculture. At that point, Borlaug became the target of critics who denounced him because Green Revolution farming requires some pesticide and lots of fertilizer. Trendy environmentalism was catching on, and affluent environmentalists began to say it was "inappropriate" for Africans to have tractors or use modern farming techniques. Borlaug told me a decade ago that most Western environmentalists "have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists in wealthy nations were trying to deny them these things."

Environmentalist criticism of Borlaug and his work was puzzling on two fronts. First, absent high-yield agriculture, the world would by now be deforested. The 1950 global grain output of 692 million tons and the 2006 output of 2.3 billion tons came from about the same number of acres three times as much food using little additional land.

"Without high-yield agriculture," Borlaug said, "increases in food output would have been realized through drastic expansion of acres under cultivation, losses of pristine land a hundred times greater than all losses to urban and suburban expansion." Environmentalist criticism was doubly puzzling because in almost every developing nation where high-yield agriculture has been introduced, population growth has slowed as education becomes more important to family success than muscle power....

The "environmentalists" mentioned are certainly all "Liberals." They consider themselves better people than "greedy capitalists" and American "Imperialists" and "heartless conservatives," like me. And yet, after the problem of starvation in India was solved, they can coolly sit and condemn millions of African to likely death by...... starvation! Because tractors would be "inappropriate!"

Think about it! Why should we consider such "Liberals" to be any better than Stalin, who deliberately condemned millions of Ukrainians to death by starvation? Why should they be considered any batter than Hitler? WHY?

What's going on in these people's heads? And it still goes on today; there is, right now, intense resistance to introducing genetically modified crops into Africa.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:52 AM

July 25, 2009

Hearts of stone...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bull.

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

Never again?

Bull.

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

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

And the world did nothing.


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

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

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

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

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

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

June 22, 2009

Events have destroyed our excuses...

Spengler:

Now that it is obvious that engaging Iran was a delusional misstep, President Obama should denounce the Iranian regime as a rogue state that employs terrorism against its own people as well as overseas. It is time for a Reaganesque statement. The administration should say, in so many words,"

"The clerical regime in Tehran has revealed its moral bankruptcy by using terrorism against its own people;

"The sponsorship of terrorism by Iran in Lebanon through Hezbollah, in Gaza and the West Bank through Hamas, and in Iraq through various entities is intolerable, and America will exact heavy penalties should it continue;"...

Nice try, Spengler old chap. You are right, but no dice. Obama can't be Reaganesque, because that implies believing in something enough to fight for it.*(See note)

"America will exact heavy penalties should it continue." What does that mean? The truth is that we are already at war with Iran. But we have been and still are desperately eager to pretend we are not. Why? Because we don't want to test whether we believe in ourselves enough to fight. (Iraq was a much easier test, since we opposed a much more obviously fascist regime, and then opposed terrorists who slaughtered people en masse. Even so we came close to failing.)

And our big excuse for not risking open conflict with Iran has been that the Iranian regime holds elections, and therefore it is wiser to wait, and let the democratic processes work. It made some sense, but was mostly wishful thinking.

Well, that excuse is now gone. But the hunger to deny reality is still as active as ever.

*Note: If Mr Spengler read Random Jottings, he would have a better understanding of what's really happening in our world. The key is that "liberals" like Obama are—most of them—not liberals anymore. Their "faith" has drained away, and they are believe in nothing. They are nihilists. And to the nihilist, belief is an intolerable affront and irritation. This explains a thousand different things we see around us. For example, the way "liberals" are not unwilling to commit American forces in places where we have no strategic interest. Such as the Balkans. Why do no "pacifists" or activists protest our ongoing military commitment in Bosnia? Because it does not imply belief that America is worth fighting for.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:41 AM

April 24, 2009

Yet another comment on a comment....

I started to comment on a comment by my friend Dave T, at this post, but it grew longer and longer, and I decided to make it a stand-alone post because I don't want to waste electrons on Earth Day:

What Dave's given here won't lead to an honest debate [on so-called torture]. There is something askew, something missing.

Think about the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza. Put aside the question of who was right or wrong, and think about the fact that the whole Western world was riveted by the conflict. Why? It was tiny on a global scale, yet it was treated like the biggest of things. Treated as a much bigger deal than, say, the death of a million people in Rawanda. Why? The Middle East has multitudes of oppressions and attacks, but no one cares if Turks kill a bunch of Kurds, or Iranians oppress the Ghashghai. Why is Israel important? It is weird, yet everyone takes it for granted.

I won't keep you in suspense. The reason is that there are only two countries that are real to the average Western Leftist. The USA, and Israel. To most liberals, this planet is like some vast dark warehouse where the only lights are America and Israel. All the other places are only seen if one of us two comes near. Only exist at that moment.

I could cite hundreds of examples, but I'll just give you two. (Extrapolate! You can do it.)

Example: The French are much rougher on terror suspects than we are. Gitmo is a playpen compared to their jails, but no one cares. (This is not just a matter of us Americans giving priority to our own supposed sins; European Lefties obsess over Guantanamo just as much as we do.) Also the French have made numerous military incursions into Africa in the post-colonial period, but no one asks them to obey "international law," or ask permission of the UN. Why? Why do no "pacifists" protest? No one pays the least attention. The US is real, from a Left perspective, and France is not. Why?

Example: In 1992 30,000 Palestinians were kicked out of their homes and sent into exile. Quick, how many of you reading this can name the country that did the deed? Hmmm? And for bonus points, describe the protests that convulsed the globe as liberals and "pacifists" took to the streets demanding justice, and calling on the UN to take action. Well, you can't describe the protests because there weren't any. All those Libs who say they "care" about the Palestinians? They are liars.

Yet....not exactly liars. To them there is no lie, because only Israel is real. Nothing happened to the Palestinians in 1992 because they were not hurt by Israel. Kuwait does not exist to them! It's not real!

We see this stuff all the time, but we don't notice it. I feel like that obnoxious kid pointing out that the Emperor is naked.

Look at the quote by "IOZ" that Dave posted. It is, to put it bluntly, delusional. Crazy. It paints a world where nothing moves except the United States. No one else acts, or speaks, or has any effect on anything. The entire rest of the human race is just a deer in the headlights.

And Dave's own comments assume that the US is the only moral actor that can be considered. The only one that exists. I've followed Dave's writing for many a year, and he has never subjected other countries to intense moral scrutiny. Oh wait, I'm wrong! Actually, it did happen, just once. The country was......Israel! He once heaped harsh moral censure on Israel for striking back against a terror bomber by bulldozing a house. SO, get this, terrorists turn women and children into shredded meat, Israel responds without killing or injuring any person....and who does our supposed pacifist condemn? I've been shaking my head at the sheer craziness of that one for years.

Trying to reason with such a worldview is a waste of time. It's like telling a paranoiac that nobody's trying to get them. The simple fact is that America, which would really like to stay home and enjoy the good life, has been forced into the position of being the decent cop in a rough neighborhood. Of course we slap some wise-guys around, but it's necessary if hoodlums are to be kept from taking over and making things a million times worse.

We water-boarded a few people (and do so routinely to our own troops such as Navy SEALS in training) in the course of fighting against people who interrogate using electric drills to drill into people's heads and knees. That's the context that somehow goes missing when you try to debate with leftists. If poor brown-skinned fellows get tortured or massacred in distant corners of the globe, they don't care. They posture all the time about how "caring" they are, but they. DO. NOT. CARE. It's not even real to them. Therefore what America is doing in the WoT is not real.

Actually they don't even care about the real living breathing America or Israel! These are only important to them as symbols. Remember your college psych class? Symbols, right? Important, psychologically. And spiritually. (Actually in the Catholic worldview symbols can actually "come alive" and be real! Awesome life-changing stuff, but that's for another day.)

So what's going on, symbolically speaking? Well, you have to understand first that liberals are not liberals any more. (Sorry if you've heard this already.) Once upon a time liberalism was a philosophy that people believed in, would fight for. (Imagine Harry Truman or JFK being asked if it's morally right to fight to topple a fascist dictator, and bring democracy to oppressed people! They would have laughed to think one would even need to ask such a question.) Liberalism was a sort of religion, in the sense that it was bigger than the individual.

But that belief has drained away, and left nothing inside. Nothing but self-worship. Nihilism. NOTHING. Now people like IOZ or Dave are wearing liberalism as a kind of disguise.

But if you put yourself in the center, if you make yourself god, then you will hate and fear rival gods. Countries of course are not normally anything like gods. BUT, there are two countries (guess which) on this planet that are something analogous to gods, in the sense that they are really ideas, ideas that demand our service and belief. They are the only two countries you can easily join by accepting their idea. If you dig it, if you "get" the constitution and the Declaration and the Federalist Papers and similar things, then you are an American. Even if you never set foot on US flag territory! (And here's an interesting piece on becoming an Israeli.)

But the nihilist hates and fears belief. He is always against God (sometimes cloaking this in a religious disguise) because being a Christian or a Jew means being a "servant of the Word," or "bearing the yoke of Torah." If you worship yourself you can't be no servant! And on a much lower, but analogous, plane, being an American or an Israeli means being the servant of an idea. It means putting yourself second.

When Leftists rant interminably about the sins of Israel and America, (ignoring everything else in the world) what they are really saying is, "Don't you dare make a claim on me! Don't you dare suggest that anything could be more important than ME! I'm never going to be a servant!" They scrabble endlessly to find excuses to avoid duty, hence the way they savor any mistakes made by... you know who.

This is, I more and more suspect, a very unhappy state of existence. But the empty soul doesn't realize he's unhappy. Why? Because he's like that paranoid, who also doesn't think he's unhappy. He thinks everything would be FINE if only those people weren't trying to kill him! WE know that he's unhappy. He's obviously deeply unhappy. But he can't see it himself.

And the biggest pity is that it's all so unnecessary. People imagine that being a servant to things greater than the self is a kind of death. That it will be a misery. But it is just the opposite. It's hard to demonstrate this point when you look at the big ideas, but the cosmos works by analogies, and there is a small-scale analog close at hand that most people can understand. That is the family. You could look at me as a wretched slave to my wife and children, and in a way I am. But while I've lost big-time as an autonomous individual, I've gained enormous dignity and respect-worthiness as a member—a servant—of my little family. And gained far more than I've lost in richness of life. (And of course we see a lot of people who look on the family in the way Lefties look at America. And call abortion a "blessing," and being unattached "freedom.")

And all the other analogous things work just the same way, up and down the ladder of importance. They look like death to the self, but they are really where the self can be what it wants to be, and was always intended to be, the servant of greater things. Poor IOZ, he thinks he's declaring truths, but he looks to me like some poor ragged wretch walking down the street screaming paranoid fantasies.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:49 AM

March 20, 2009

Today's joke...

I just saw a bumper sticker on the car of one of our liberal neighbors (very nice folks, by the way. Nothin' personal): "Unjust War. Unending Debt. The Bush Legacy Continues." Pretty hilarious, seeing that Iraq's now a democracy and safer than many big American cities, and Obam's busy tripling the National debt.

It should be repeated frequently: the Iraq Campaign was a splendid, successful and idealistic liberal project by a great liberal president. That's why nihilists-pretending-to-be-liberals hate it. It exposes them as the frauds they are...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:52 PM

March 2, 2009

" the conscious atmosphere of corruption and payoff..."

From Maimon Schwarzschild, Not the Spirit of the New Deal:

....There are different streams of ideas on today's politcal left than there were in the 1930s. There is the idea that prosperity and growth are bad: bad for the "planet", hostile to the environment, vulgar, and linked to immoral individualism. There is the idea that a humbler, poorer, less powerful America would be a good thing. These are fundamentally pessimistic ideas, pessimistic about America at least: very different from the buoyant and self-confident (if sometimes, or often, misguided) outlook of FDR and the liberals and leftists who made the New Deal (and who went on to fight the Second World War.)

The spirit of the Obama-Pelosi "stimulus", and the conscious atmosphere of corruption and payoff that surrounds it, is consistent with today's negative, if not sour, leftist worldview. The New Dealers believed they were building a more "scientific" and much more prosperous world. There was a great deal of genuine idealism among them. Today's triumphant political class does not seriously imagine that it will promote economic growth and prosperity. The political class is, at best, ambivalent about whether it even wants such things. What today's political class wants is a massive transfer of power and money to itself. This is what the "stimulus", and much else that will follow, is openly intended to do. If there were a spirit of optimism and generosity and idealism about it, as there was among the New Dealers, there would at least be reason to hope that things wouldn't quickly degenerate into corruption. It seems to me that there is little such spirit, or none at all, today. ..
(Thanks to Chicagoboyz)

SO, are these people, in fact, liberals at all? I'd say Schwarzschild is missing the interesting part of the story, though he's right on the edge of it.

"the liberals and leftists who made the New Deal (and who went on to fight the Second World War.)" Right. They led a great war to overthrow fascist dictators, end genocide, and bring freedom and democracy to oppressed peoples. Today's leftists had an opportunity to do the very same thing. And what happened? They HATED it! Hated it even when things were going well, and millions of Iraqis were braving terrorism to vote in elections. Hated the man in charge (who was the real liberal).

I'd say what we see is NOT merely a "pessimistic outlook." It is nihilism. (Tune out if you've already heard me on this subject.) Leftists are like a church that keeps reciting the Creed every Sunday, even though all faith and belief has leaked away. "Liberals" are NOT liberals, and our world will not make sense as long as you keep thinking they are.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:20 AM

December 28, 2008

Faxes of faxes of faxes...

I often mention "hollowing out" --that is, the way meaning seems to drain out of modern people's lives leaving an outer shell with nothing much inside. And how people construct substitutes for what they've lost, and how meaning then drains away from those substitutes...

I haven't seen a better example than this NYT editorial, When Christmas Comes:

...But, really, Christmas needs no saving. It does not exist apart from what we make of it. And, on its own, it cannot save us, though it contains the gestures of generosity and thankfulness that are halfway to being a better person, a richer community. Christmas is all the better for being a simple place, nothing more, perhaps, than two red cardinals, male and female, against the backdrop of a snowy field. They are there every day. The only difference is that today it feels like Christmas.

So what IS this "Christmas" the editors are editorializing about? Heaven knows. It's like a document that's been faxed around so many times it's turned to a gray blur. Somebody long ago fudged-up "secular Christmas." And then somebody created a secular version of that still quasi-religious thing, and then the newer blander version was refined into a yet-more secular thing..... Finally we get to "Snowflake Day," when, for some forgotten reason, we feel sort of warm and fuzzy inside when the city puts snowflake decorations on the lamp posts along Main Street!

The underlying reason for the hollowing-out is that anything that has "meaning" is bigger then the self. And therefore it makes demands on us. So if people become self-worshippers, then they will try to get rid of meaning. Get rid of the solidity, the real-ness of things.

We see this process all around us, and it bewilders me how little people will "observe" it. Everything that is tough and chewy gets tenderized into pablum. Marriage, for instance, has been repeatedly faxed throughout my lifetime, becoming ever less demanding and real. People keep hoping and wishing it will be meaningful for them, while at the same time eagerly knocking off any sharp edges that might bruise them. What a sick joke. It should be re-named "White Dress Day." And the especial insanity is that each time the document gets faxed, the proponents of that particular iteration insist that it stands alone, that this faxing is a one-time thing, and the document will really be the same.

It's all kind of funny, but once you really "see" it, you see that people are sliding over the edge of a terrifying abyss. If you worship yourself you worship Moloch. The "self" will ask for the sacrifice of anything that rivals it. We all say, "Of course I would not do such-and-such! There are lots of things I would not sacrifice for my own satisfaction." Alas that "of course" is actually for most of us just a collection of habits that we have all inherited with our culture.

But the habits aren't "real," aren't solid, aren't something you can take to the bank. We tend, for instance, to feel a bit less selfish at Christmas, to think more about family and friends..........but, that's just a habit. And habits have a way of wearing off. Especially if people are trying to get rid of the underlying reasons for them. (The ultimate source, sometimes buried under many layers, is Jewish and Christian faith.)

The more the habits (not to mention the underlying reality) wear off, the more scary things are going to be.

...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 leam 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 [the two world wars] have suggested what life without Christ really is. The last decades were only the beginning...
      -- Romano Guardini, from The End of the Modern World

"He will cease to reap benefit from the values and forces developed by the very Revelation he denies." That's what we see all around us.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:49 PM

December 14, 2008

The future belongs to those who will fight for it...

I found this piece from The Australian, Obama May Have To Keep Neo-con Ideals, very revealing. For the obvious irony of course, but more for the underlying dilemma of the left--which won't go away because a lefty is in the White House... (I point the problem out in paragraph three.)

Ian Buruma writes:

WITH George W. Bush's presidency about to end, what will happen to the neo-conservatives? Rarely in the history of US politics has a small number of bookish intellectuals had so much influence on foreign policy as the neo-cons had under Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, neither of whom is noted for his deep intellectual interests. [They are both of them deeper thinkers than the press wants us to know. But more importantly, the job of a leader is NOT to be a clever intellectual, but to have the wisdom to chose the right policies. A wise leader uses intellectuals such as the neo-cons, none of whom should ever be president.]

Most presidents hope to attach some special meaning to their time in office. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, gave neo-con intellectuals the chance to lend their brand of revolutionary idealism to the Bush-Cheney enterprise. [Note how the author insunuates motives here--but he will not present any evidence for the sneer. The neo-cons had been saying for decades that our policies were failing, and we were heading for big trouble. Being right when everyone else was wrong tends to EARN one the job of cleaning up the mess.]

Writing for journals such as The Weekly Standard and using the pulpits of think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, neo-cons offered an intellectual boost to the invasion of Iraq. The logic of the US mission to spread freedom across the globe - grounded, it was argued, in American history since the founding fathers - demanded nothing less. [I'll fill you in on what's really going on. You can skip the rest of my stuff, but understand this: This "neo-con" notion of overthrowing tyrants and spreading freedom is linked in our history with certain leaders...FDR, Truman, JFK. It is the quintessential LIBERAL project. In fact it is fair to call the neo-cons Liberals, in the older sense of those who think that things and countries can be fixed.

They, and Bush, are the true liberals of our time. That's why they are hated by the Left. Because most leftists are no longer liberals, but are still wearing liberal garments as a disguise. Bush and the Iraq Campaign have shone a cruel spotlight on leftists, and revealed them as the nihilists they have become. You will never understand current politics until you grasp that liberals aren't liberal anymore. Baruma is tiptoeing around the problem in this piece.]

Objections from European and Asian allies were brushed away as old-fashioned, unimaginative, cowardly reactions to the dawn of a new age of worldwide democracy, [Which they were.] enforced by unassailable US military power. [The neo-cons never said any such thing. Rather, that democracy was something that would grow and take root if our power cleared it some space. Since this has happened many times in the post-WWII world, it's not an unreasonable proposal.]

The neo-cons will not be missed by many. [I'd bet money you are wrong.] They made their last stand in the presidential election campaign of Republican John McCain, whose foreign policy advisers included some prominent members of the fraternity. (Most were men.) None, so far, seems to have found much favour in the ranks of Barack Obama's consultants.  [Wait'll he actually decides to accomplish something. He'll need to find some thinkers who still believe that things can be fixed. Nihilists and "realists" won't cut it.]

Such clout as the neo-cons wielded under Bush is unusual in the political culture of the US, which is noted for its scepticism towards intellectual experiments. [And yet with a straight face Leftists will say that Bush is "anti-intellectual."]

A certain degree of philistinism in politics is not a bad thing. Intellectuals, usually powerless themselves outside the rarefied preserves of think tanks and universities, are sometimes too easily attracted to powerful leaders in the hope that such leaders may carry out their ideas.

But wise leaders are necessarily pragmatic because messy reality demands compromise and accommodation. Only zealots want ideas to be pushed to their logical extremes. The combination of powerful leaders with an authoritarian bent and intellectual idealists often results in bad policies. [Baruma's so close, but can't make the leap. The Iraq Campaign was extremely pragmatic. You can read my reasons here.]

This is what happened when Bush and Cheney took up the ideas promoted by the neo-cons. Both previously had been pragmatic men. Bush first ran for office as a cautious conservative, prepared to be moderate at home and humble abroad. Cheney was better known as a ruthless bureaucratic operator than a man of bold ideas. But he was obsessed with the notion of expanding the executive powers of the president. [He was, wisely, concerned to reverse the post-Watergate erosion of Presidential power. It was not an expansion. And each of our major wars has required the amplification of executive power. Bush has done nothing compared to Lincoln or Wilson or FDR.]

The combustible mix of autocratic ambition and misguided idealism took hold soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Even if, by some miracle, Iraq were to evolve into a stable, harmonious, liberal democratic state, the price already paid in (mostly Iraqi) blood and (mostly American) treasure is already too high to justify the kind of revolutionary military intervention promoted by the neo-cons. [ Nonsense. The price has been TRIFLING compared to our other experiments in freeing countries and helping them become democratic. About one tenth of the price for South Korea for instance---does the author think that was a mistake? Would he care to compare North and South Korea, and then apply the same standard to Truman that he does to Bush?]

Another casualty of neo-conservative hubris may be the idea of spreading democracy. The word, when voiced by US government spokesmen, has become tainted by neo-imperialist connotations. [The connotations exist only in the heads of lefty nihilists. To the oppressed peoples of the earth the dream is as sweet as ever. As witness the ENVY being expressed in Third World countries because here in America a corrupt governor has been arrested!]

Similar things have happened before, of course. The idealism of Japanese intellectuals in the 1930s and early '40s was partly responsible for Japan's catastrophic war to liberate Asia from Western imperialism. [What pernicious nonsense. This is the usual "moral equivalence" malarky of people desperate to deny that there are high ideals that impose a DUTY on them. ]

The ideal of pan-Asian solidarity in a common struggle for independence was not a bad one; it was commendable. [That "ideal" was never Japanese policy. Our ideals ARE policy.] But the idea that it could be enforced by the imperial Japanese army running amok through China and Southeast Asia was disastrous. [There is no comparison. We have not "run amok;" we have liberated just two countries, and helped them form elected constitutional governments. ]

Socialism, too, was a brave and necessary corrective to the social inequalities that emerged from laissez-faire capitalism. Watered down by the compromises without which liberal democracies cannot thrive, socialism did a great deal of good in western Europe. [Europe is DYING, you fool. Dying of socialism before our eyes. Every European country is in demographic collapse. Europe is bankrupt and decadent, no longer leading in ANY realm except bureaucratic regulation. Not in religion, nor ideas, nor movements, nor economic growth, nor innovation, nor the arts. No one goes to Europe for the exciting new trends. (Except to Vatican City.) Socialism has failed, always and everywhere.] But attempts to implement socialist or communist ideals through force ended in oppression and mass murder.

This is why many central and eastern Europeans view even social democracy with suspicion. Even as Obama is worshipped in western Europe, many Poles, Czechs and Hungarians think he is some kind of socialist. [They KNOW! They know the beast.]

The neo-cons, despite their name, were not really conservatives at all. They were radical opponents of the pragmatic approach to foreign strongmen espoused by people who called themselves realists. Even though the arch-realist Henry Kissinger endorsed the war in Iraq, his brand of realpolitik was the primary target of neo-con intellectuals. [To oppose "realism" does not mean you are not a conservative.]

They believed that aggressive promotion of democracy abroad was not only moral, and in the US tradition, but in the national interest as well. [They didn't just assert it, they made a case. Which leftists have never countered in any credible way. Instead they just pretend the theory has already been invalidated.]

There is a core of truth in this assertion. Liberals, too, can agree that Islamist terrorism, for instance, is linked to the lack of democracy in the Middle East. Realism, in the sense of balancing power by appeasing dictators, has its limits.

Democracy must be encouraged, wherever possible, by the most powerful democracy on earth. But revolutionary wars are not the most effective way to do this. [I've bad news for you pal. It's always going to be a bloody and messy business. Therefore it will only be done by those who still have beliefs they are willing to fight for. Therefore you Eloi are out of the game. You are useless and obsolete. The future belongs to those who will fight for it.]

What is needed is to find a less belligerent, more liberal way to promote democracy, stressing international co-operation instead of blunt military force. [It'll never happen. It's the same with nations as with individuals. Those who are willing to fight are real, all others are just fading shadows. You might notice that the "shadows"�people or nations� have at least two things in common. Lack of Christian or Jewish faith.......and socialism.]

Obama is unlikely to repeat the mistakes of the neo-cons. [He will have to folllow the template Bush has set for the WoT. But he will probably not do it as well.] But, to succeed, he will have to save some of their ideals from the ruins of their disastrous policies. [He is going to piggyback on Bush's successes, and try to claim them as his own.]

Posted by John Weidner at 6:28 PM

November 1, 2008

"Who feels threatened?"

This piece, by Caroline Glick of the The Jerusalem Post, The Threat of a Jewish Army, is intensely interesting to me, because I'm obsessed with the broad movements of Western Civilization. Thanks to Richard Fernandez, who writes that Israel is the "canary in the coalmine."�

Glick writes: "The Left's vision of Israel as an atheistic, multicultural, morally relativist society holds little attraction for most Israelis." I sure hope so, since that's the Left's vision of America too. My guess is that the chomskys are going to be very disappointed in the results if their current "Manchurian Candidate" is elected He will have about as much success in advancing socialism as Clinton did. His judicial appointees will do a lot by legislating from the bench, since the vile measures of the Left rarely find favor with American voters they despise. That will be an evil thing, but he won't do any better with his version of HillaryCare than Bill did.

....Under the title "Without a Lord of (Military) Hosts," the paper demanded that IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi "put the military rabbinate in its place" and force it to limit its activities to ensuring that IDF grub is kosher and that religious soldiers have what they need to observe religious laws. Haaretz further insisted that the position of chief rabbi be cancelled and that the position of "chief religious services officer" be created in its place. As the editorial put it, "The injection of a religious dimension into the Israel Defense Forces' goals constitutes a serious internal threat."

The real question is, who feels threatened? The Haaretz editorial claimed that Israel "has a secular majority, which would be outraged if anyone tried to change its way of life through religious coercion." But this is untrue and Haaretz's editors know it.

They know it because last November Haaretz published the results of a survey conducted by the Israeli Democracy Institute regarding how Israeli Jews self-identify on the secular-religious spectrum. The results of that survey showed that only twenty percent of Israelis classify themselves as secular. Eighty percent of Israelis view themselves as either religious or traditional.

Rabbi Ronski himself is the most beloved and charismatic IDF chief rabbi since Rabbi Shmuel Goren, who served as chief rabbi during the Six-Day War. Rabbi Ronski, 56, regularly risks his life by accompanying combat units on missions. He doesn't simply show up. The soldiers ask him to join them.

The popularity of leaders like Rabbi Ronski is an unbearable affront to the Israeli Left. The enthusiasm with which young Israelis embrace their Jewish heritage is a direct assault on the Left's demand for cultural supremacy. But what the Left refuses to acknowledge is the simple fact that Israeli society has never accepted their views of what Israel is supposed to be.

Until the mid-1970s, most of today's leftists were Labor Zionists. They believed Israeli society followed them both for their Zionism and for their socialism. But Israeli society never bought into the Left's utopian social theories. Labor Zionists were the cultural avant-garde because they were Zionists.

When, in the late 1970s, the Labor Zionist movement began disavowing Zionism, it became increasingly estranged from the general public. Religious Zionists like Rabbi Ronski are followed while the leftist cultural elites are ignored because religious Zionists today are the most outspoken advocates of values shared by the vast majority of Israelis.

The Left's vision of Israel as an atheistic, multicultural, morally relativist society holds little attraction for most Israelis. So to reassert their cultural superiority, leftists have increasingly taken to bullying and intimidating the rest of the country to toe their line. The seasonal assaults on religious soldiers are simply one aspect of their larger culture war against Israeli society as a whole.

"When, in the late 1970s, the Labor Zionist movement began disavowing Zionism, it became increasingly estranged from the general public..." Substitute "Democrat Party" for Labor-Zionist, and "Christianity/Judaism" for Zionism, and you describe current American politics. I bet we will be seeing more attacks on the US military for having too many Christians...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:39 AM

October 19, 2008

Rambling answer to libertarian comment...

Hale Adams comments on the previous post, "The New Progressive Person"
I think you're wide of the mark, John.

The coercion in the case of gay marriage lies not in the marriage itself-- one is free to marry or not marry as one pleases. The coercion lies in teaching things to kids who aren't old enough to make sense of them.

So, the anecdote about the cute little Hispanic girl isn't an argument against gay marriage; it's an argument against government-run schools, which are often "captured" by people who really shouldn't be trusted with the power to ram things down the throats of unsuspecting children.

You've just pushed the underlying problem away, not confronted it. The message comes from a hundred directions, not just public schools. And private schools want to push the same message, at least here in SF. (Coming soon to a town near you!) Hollywood and Internet too.

In our world we have a LOT of people who want to change the world into something very different. And it's hard to discuss this because we are using different terminology. In your terms that goal is some sort of socialism. Something like the Euro-socialist welfare state. You see the growth of the state as the problem, and you are right--that's a large part of the plan. (Though notice that there no longer seems to be any worship of the state, as there was in fascist and communist regimes.No demands for sacrifice for the state.)

In my terms the goal is to free themselves of anything that the individual can feel as being bigger than the self. That's the nihilism I keep harping about. The goal is making oneself God. (I would say that gay marriage and socialism and "radical feminism" and the welfare state are exactly the same problem, in different dress. They all have the same underlying goal.)

We are allies in a vast struggle with people who are foes of libertarianism, conservatism, democracy, religion, and tradition. But their tactics are like the peddling of a dangerous and seductive addictive drug. One whose harms only show up slowly, and whose pleasures are immediate. Not like the old socialist revolutions---there's no Comintern anymore.

For want of common terms, I'll call the problem "the Drug."

Libertarianism doesn't have a good answer. Less government doesn't get rid of the problem. The front line is everywhere, not just government. Art, architecture, literature, journalism, entertainment; all are war zones. All are being churned and transformed like a WWI battlefield. The meanings of the very words we speak are being morphed, sometimes deliberately. (And recently we've seen capitalist bastions on Wall Street turn out to be Democrat strongholds!)

Actually the battleground is every person. Libertarianism says to let people choose, but the very essence of the people who do the choosing is what is being struggled over and changed. Changed by this Drug, that gives people the power "to be like gods." To be in control of themselves and others.

I'm sure most libertarians would agree that this drug should be resisted. BUT, the ideas that help fight against the drug did not come from libertarianism. You have inherited those ideas as part of the package of Western---especially Jewish and Christian---civilization.

Libertarianism piggy-backs on a great inheritance of Western ideas and virtues. And you are assuming that most people here have a good stock of those. And that therefore you can give people lots of free choice, and expect good things. But libertarianism has no answer to the problem of when those ideas themselves slip away or grow dim. I think that is happening.

To fight this insidious Drug, we can't just rely on a diminishing stock of inherited virtue. My evidence can be expressed in one word: Europe. We've been watching Europe ratchet down, down, down for the last century, at least. And to me, one of the most salient features of this decline is that, at any particular moment, people assume that ordinary European people will stay the same. They assume that the German will always be hard-working. That the Englishman's home will be his castle. That the Spaniard will be Catholic, and the Italian will have a big extended family with lots of pasta-munching bambinos. That the Frenchman will fight for La Patrie...

But all those assumptions have been WRONG. If you bet any chips on the character, the inherited ideas and culture, on the virtues, of Europeans, you've lost your bet. And this wasn't like a fight between good guys and bad guys. It was a matter of people being "hollowed out." Of virtue just draining away mysteriously.

A telling statistic: By the year 2050, 60% of Italians will not know what it is like to have a brother or a sister or an aunt or an uncle or a nephew or a niece. Italy is in demographic collapse now, and will soon be in population collapse. It is economically stagnant, and produces no exciting new ideas or inventions. But who is the "bad guy?" Who forced this upon the Italians? No one; they chose it.

What does libertarianism offer here? How does it explain this? I think you are carrying a knife to a shotgun fight. You are unarmed.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 AM

October 11, 2008

"A drug lord or a stuffed duck"

I think this thought from Shannon Love is dead on about Obama....

EVEN TO HIS SUPPORTERS: Weeks Before the Election, Obama Remains an Enigma.
I think that is very true. I don't see a lot of Obama supporters who know much about his voting record or can address any of the questions raised about his radical and corrupt associations.

I've come to the conclusion they simply do not care one way or the other. Obama could be a drug lord or a stuffed duck and they would still support him.

I think that politics on the Left has become a social process, i.e., a means of group identification and self-validation. Leftists care less about the triumph of ideas and far more about the triumph of a group of people with which they ego-identify. They need their ego-identity candidate to win so that they can feel good about themselves. The character and policies of the actual candidate does not matter.

Obama serves merely as a symbol of a group aspirational identity. Only the symbol matters, not the actual individual human being. Because of this, leftists do not care if Obama the man has been through a vigorous vetting and testing that will expose any weaknesses before those weaknesses do damage to the leftist cause or the nation as a whole....

In other words, don't bother asking Obama supporters why they are voting for a man who has never accomplished anything. It doesn't even matter to them.

My prediction is that an Obama presidency will be an embarrassment to those who voted for him but are not radical Leftists. I also predict that it will NOT cause those people to start THINKING clearly. The besetting ailment of our time is people worshipping themselves, and holding no higher cause. And to those people, the outside world is not real. It is just a stage upon which the all-important self stands in the spotlight. Obama is just a prop, or a supporting character in the internal drama.

He will be discarded when no longer useful.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:39 AM

October 4, 2008

"We watch the wrinkles crawl like snakes, On the new image in our sight..."

The Anchoress: GOP: Get the lawyers ASSEMBLED

... I despise the insertion of lawyers and courts into election processes, but Al Gore did create the precedent, and after reading this, I'm thinking if the GOP has any brains left (and that is debatable) they'll start assembling an 'army of lawyers' for this election day.

And this is why I am fasting [and praying], because this election has been co-opted by something dark that has too many tentacles, and too many mindless ant-workers, in too many places. McCain can never beat it back because he -- like Bush, I'm sorry to say -- is still trying to hold on to what America has always been, instead of dealing with what it has become. And that,s not going to work, this election. If the GOP does not have an army of lawyers ready to challenge state after state, they may as well shut up their shop...

"this election has been co-opted by something dark that has too many tentacles" Well, I say that would describe the whole Western world. Regular readers will perhaps be annoyed by my returning to old themes, but I feel like the guy in some SF movie who's running around desperately, warning that alien shape-shifters are replacing people, and everyone just thinks he's crazy, or maybe stares at him with strange glowing green eyes...

I keep thinking about the curious fact that I've been blogging since 2001, and my blog has annoyed more than a few leftish people, and yet never once has one of them given me a well-reasoned or principled counter-argument. One that really challenged me to answer. And I've personally had, several times, the experience of knowing someone who seems reasonably intelligent -- maybe more intelligent than I -- and then watching them drift into the Leftish camp. And each time I am disappointed, but I think that at least I'll get some good debates going. BUT IT NEVER HAPPENS! And the things they subsequently write or say are, frankly, not very intelligent. It's like they've given themselves some sort of higher-brain-function lobotomy.

I think many people right now are intentionally making themselves stupid. Probably because if you think clearly about life, then you see that life demands that you grow up and discard childish things, and decide that certain things are True. And then act on those truths, to the extant of putting your own self second. (I often write that I think many people today, especially on the Left, are nihilists. The nihilist believes in nothing except himself, but that's just a different way of saying he doesn't want to grow up.) People are making themselves stupid because they want to remain children, without responsibilities.

And the Anchoress's "something dark that has too many tentacles" is just another way of describing this. Millions of people are working to make a world that is congenial to their decision to remain childish. And they are working like children do, not laying a deep plan or taking a broad view, but just scheming to get the next piece of candy. But all those petty little schemes of "mindless ant-workers" keep pushing our world, our country in certain direction, one that they can never clearly describe. Socialism and atheism are a large part of the goal, but there are few Socialists or Atheists anymore. Not in the old sense of those being causes that are bigger than the individual. It's just socialism in the sense of being taken care of from cradle to grave. (I was recently reading about how increasing numbers of Italian men are living with their parents permanently. Take that as a picture of what I have in mind.) And atheism in the sense of just not wanting to think about deep and demanding questions.

And I'm feeling very pessimistic, because it's a plague that is almost impossible to fight. You can't reason or argue little children into seeing things that are above their heads. And if a large portion of the population is basically reasoning at the level of a five-year old, then how do you get a grip in the problem? What can you do?

..Ah, who had known who had not seen
How soft and sudden on the fame
Of my most noble English ships
The sunset light of Carthage came
And the thing I never had dreamed could be
In the house of my fathers came to me
Through the sea-wall cloven, the cloud and dark,
A voice divided, a doubtful sea...

...How swift as with a fall of snow
New things grow hoary with the light.
We watch the wrinkles crawl like snakes
On the new image in our sight.
The lines that sprang up taut and bold
Sag like primordial monsters old,
Sink in the bas-reliers of fossil
And the slow earth swallows them, fold on fold...
      -- GK Chesterton, from The Towers of Time
Of course there is more to the long poem than that. Here are a few lines...
...(The light is bright on the Tower of David,
The evening glows with the morning star
In the skies turned back and the days returning
She walks so near who had wandered far
And in the heart of the swords, the seven times wounded,
Was never wearied as our hearts are.)...

...Thou wilt not break as we have broken
The towers we reared to rival Thee.
More true to England than the English
More just to freedom than the free.
O trumpet of the intolerant truth
Thou art more full of grace and ruth
For the hopes of the world than the world that made them,
The world that murdered the loves of our youth.
Thou art more kind to our dreams, Our Mother,
Than the wise that wove us the dreams for shade...
Posted by John Weidner at 10:32 AM

October 1, 2008

Starting Wars for Dummies, 1st ed.

A lot of people have mentioned this article because of the possibility that the Iranian ship has radioactive materials aboard that are killing the pirates. To me the much much more interesting issue is that we see revealed a miniature, a little "Cliff Notes" version of the path that led to the Global War on Terror we are now in. Maybe I should write a book, "War Promotion for Dummies!"

A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.

Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill "within days" of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died....

...About 22000 ships a year pass through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aden, where regional instability and "no-questions-asked" ransom payments have led to a dramatic rise in attacks on vessels by heavily armed Somali raiders in speedboats.

The Iran Deyanat was sailing in those waters on August 21, past the Horn of Africa and about 80 nautical miles southeast of Yemen, when it was boarded by about 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They were alleged members of a crime syndicate said to be based at Eyl, a small fishing village in northern Somalia...
This is just insane. We, the Western, developed world, are tolerating piracy in the 21st Century? WHY?
  • Is there any question that piracy is totally wrong according to the generally accepted values of the civilized world?
  • Is there any question that the powers have both a right and duty to suppress it?
  • Is there any question that we have fought piracy in the past, to the great good of the planet. (And especially to the poor of the world, who would be hurt most by contractions in trade?)
  • Is there any question that the problem will get worse if not stopped now? That the profits of piracy will be invested in more powerful weapons and the recruitment of more pirates?
  • Is there any question that we have ample power to fight the problem? (Think satellite surveillance, Predator drones, Hellfire missiles into any speedboats approaching ships.)

The answer is that we are paralyzed because we have lost the core values of Western Civilization. America partly, Europe almost totally. The real problem is inside the souls of the people of the West. The problem is nihilism.

And that is precisely the case with the War on Terror. We had the right and duty to squelch terrorism when it first became a problem, many decades ago. And we didn't. And because we failed to slaughter hundreds of people back in, say, the 1960's, hundreds of thousands have to die now. Maybe millions. The short answer is that pacifism is murder, and those who call themselves pacifists or anti-war activists these days have blood of innocents dripping from their hands.

But the bigger problem is that there is almost no real pacifism today--it's just a smokescreen to hide empty souls who don't dare to take any decisive action, because that requires acknowledging higher duties.

Western civilization is, to its very core, a Christian civilization. Once the habits of Christian virtues (which can also be held by unbelievers) are lost, there is really nothing left.

...The moral approach to war in Aquinas and Calvin is refreshing for those familiar with modern Christian approaches to warfare--approaches which, more often than not, do little to help Christians understand why they should be prepared to participate in or support war of any kind. Aquinas and Calvin, in contrast, teach Christian soldiers why they need to participate in and support just wars. From the divine point of view, God desires to restrain evil among His creatures. And in using human beings to do so, God actually elevates the restrainers...

...The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches--contrary to today's prevailing views--that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God.
    -- Darrell Cole

The story or myth that expresses this is the story of the knight who protects the innocent. I don't think the like occurs in non-Christian cultures. There are no folk-tales or ballads of the Centurion or the Samurai who has a duty or calling to protect the little people. If you follow the stories of our troops (and sometimes the Brits) in Iraq and Afghanistan, you will see the old story told anew. (You won't get it from the foul devils of our "news-media," but us bloggers pass the tales on like Samizdat.)

Posted by John Weidner at 11:24 AM

September 29, 2008

Grim days, I think...

Today's events have really got me down.

I have been arguing for years that the "Left" in this country, and throughout the developed world, is not just pursuing bad policies, but is in deep psychological and existential trouble. Is suffering from pathologies that have no likely cure.

A crisis is an chance to test the theory. The indication is that I'm right. And this is a case where I would LOVE to have been proved wrong. Because I think we are not just looking at one financial crisis. If a large portion of the country---maybe 25%, maybe 33%? Who knows?---is seriously deranged, then we can only expect things to get worse in the future.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:43 PM

August 24, 2008

Sacrifices...

David Harsanyi writes:


Biden on Haditha
In June 2006, straight-talking Joe Biden went on Meet the Press and demanded accountability from the administration for the so-called Haditha massacre. Biden spoke about the incident as if the accused marines were guilty (before a trial) and called on the administration to proceed — and to be treated — as if there were a cover-up at the highest levels of government.

Well, it turned out Biden was wrong about Haditha. Eight of the Marines charged for the “massacre” and “coverup” have already been exonerated. (One case is still pending.)...

[Thanks to
Glenn R]

He writes that Biden ought to admit he was wrong and apologize, especially since Biden demanded apologies and admissions of mistakes from the administration. In fact demanded that the Secretary of Defense should be fired immediately!

I completely agree with Harsanyi, but I don't think that's what's most important here.

There are claims made on us by things that are higher and more important than our selves. Of course the highest is our duty to God. But there are also claims on a lower level that work in an analogous way, and are mysteriously tied to each other. One of these is the duty we owe to our country. Especially in a case where ones country is not just a nation or a volk or race, but is based, like the United States, on ideas handed down from our forefathers.

And the claims of our country are strongest in time of war. We have then, all of us, an especial duty to put our selfish interests second to the needs of our land. This will involve for some people putting their lives at risk. Others owe different sacrifices. Politicians have a duty to put their political advantage second to the needs of war. (No, I'm not saying they can't criticize, but any criticism must be constructive, and done with the utmost care.)

This is a duty. There is no evading it.

An example of this is our four great wars of the Twentieth Century. All of these were Democrat wars. Democrat presidents led us into WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. And in each of these wars the Republican Party was a loyal opposition, and gave up many opportunities to criticize. No Republican stood up in the Senate and pointed out that Belleau Wood or Iwo Jima or Slapton Sands or LZ Bitch were blunders that threw away lives needlessly. No Republican demanded that Stimson be fired for the Battle of the Bulge. Why not? Because it would have undermined the war effort and the confidence of our troops.

When Joe Biden condemned the Haditha marines, declared them guilty before the incident had even been investigated, he violated this solemn rule. In fact what he did was to commit treason, just as much as if he had given secrets to the enemy. He voted to send those men into battle in the Iraq Campaign, and then he betrayed them. He sent American men and women to risk death in war, and then he turned around and spit on them.

This is close-to-certain evidence that he is a nihilist. That he puts nothing higher than himself. Why do I say that? Because the claims of higher things are tied to each other. Each one teaches us about the others. I put my children's welfare higher than my own, and this is a very easy thing for a parent to do. But that duty teaches me a lot about how to undertake other solemn duties. (As a Catholic I would say that these things are somehow linked sacramentally. The small things touch on the greater things, and vice versa, in ways that are supernatural and mysterious.)

Mr Biden's casual flouting of a solemn duty is strong evidence that he acknowledges no higher duties of any sort. Of course I could be wrong about this, but I would be surprised to learn that he has some philosophy or cause or set of deep principles that he holds sacred, that he would sacrifice his own interests for. And I think that what he is says a lot about the party and the type of people who have put him forth as a possible Vice-President.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:02 AM

August 17, 2008

True with a capital T...

VDH, good as always:

More on the Warren Interview—St. Nuance

One is struck by Obama’s postmodern worldview. There are no absolutes, just nuances and contexts that preclude certainty. Evil for Obama: “A lot of evil’s been perpetuated based on the claim that we were fighting evil.” Could he be specific where we have perpetrated “a lot of evil?”

Again, the gut instinct for Obama—whether talking about our “tragic history”, or the need for more “oppression studies” or evoking our sins in front of the Germans—is always to start out with the premise of a flawed America, rather than appreciation of the vast difference between us and the alternative. Never a word here about evil abroad, or bin Laden or Dr. Zawahiri. No, instead, we need humility about that “lot of evil” perpetrated by you know whom.

Somehow he is pro-choice, but anti-abortion, for man/woman marriage, but not in the legal sense, not for merit pay, but for rewarding good teachers—all this is in the manner he was against the Russians and for them while for and against the Georgians. His mushy responses were emblematic of the therapeutic style—empathy with everyone, judgment on no-one. We may soon be back to Jimmy Carter, paralyzed how to divvy up the White House Tennis Courts among feuding subordinates. He can’t say much pro or con on abortion, other than there is an ethical and moral element to the issue. And any of you who deny that, well are just darn wrong. He is against late-term abortion— but only if the mother’s life is in danger. And so on.

After watching some of this, I don’t think Obama will be having many town hall debates with McCain. However undeniable his calm and presence, he is simply incapable of extemporizing. A written transcript of this interview would be embarrassing, since it would be largely streams of meandering—and, but that, ah, you know, that, and, with uh, uh, I don’t think, ah, ah, that, that, I think, that, that, on, on, an issue…”

It's no wonder Obama is the Dem candidate; he IS contemporary liberalism. There is nothing solid inside him. No principles, no guiding philosophy, no core values. No moral absolutes.

Nothing that could ever let him be pinned down. And his real audience is those like him: millions of "hollowed-out" people. And they know he's one of them. They, like me, listen and hear nothing---but that's exactly what they want to hear!

And Obama's advantage over the equally nihilist Hillary Clinton is his magnetic style that can make it all sound good. His listeners can feel like they are good and superior people, without actually committing to anything being True with a capital T.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:31 PM

August 7, 2008

It's the fighter who can make peace...

I recommend thus post by Greyhawk, The British Invasion, about the British occupation of Basra in Iraq. I won't quote from it, since it is itself just a long series of news quotes. Starting out with the Brits very disdainful of the crude Americans who know so little, and ending up with the Brits crawling off in disgrace while we and the Iraqis clean up the bloody mess and bring PEACE.

Short version: You whop the bad guys with the big stick first, then you speak softly.

Short version of underlying British problem: It's hard to whop the bad guys if you have lost the belief that you are the good guys.

Short version of application to Christian practice: Those Jews that Jesus told to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile? They were dangerous men! In fact they were berserks who repeatedly rebelled against Rome, fighting to the death for what they believed. And every Roman knew it.

If they had been like today's pink-t-shirt nihilists, like our fake-Quakers and hippy-dippy peaceniks, Jesus would NOT have given them that advice, since it would have just encouraged evil. It's the fighter who can make peace.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:35 AM

August 4, 2008

"under the skin of the post-moral left"

I was just rummaging deep in the archives and found this quote from Melanie Phillips, which bears posting again, since it is very close to certain of my own themes...

...Such people often think of themselves as liberals. But authentic liberalism is very different. For it was at its core a moral project, based on the desire to suppress the bad and promote the good in the belief that a better society could and should be built. What has happened in recent decades is that this moral core which upholds social norms and discriminates against values that threaten them has been replaced by a post-modern creed of the left, which has tried to destroy all external authority and moral norms and the institutions that uphold them, and replace them by an individualist, moral free-for-all —the creed which has led to the moral relativism and denial of truth that lie at the core of the anti-war movement.

Where Sullivan is absolutely right is to call Bush a liberal. For in repudiating the corrupted values of both the post-moral left and the reactionary appeasers of the right, Bush has indeed exhibited the classic liberal desire to build a better society, along with the characteristic liberal optimism that such a project can and must succeed.

And this is surely why Bush is so hated by the left. For this hatred wildly exceeds the normal dislike of a political opponent. It is as visceral and obsessive as it is irrational. At root, this is surely because Bush has got under the skin of the post-moral left in a way no true conservative ever would. And this is because he has stolen their own clothes and revealed them to be morally naked. He has exposed the falseness of their own claim to be liberal. He has revealed them instead to be reactionaries, who want both to preserve the despotic and terrorist status quo abroad and to go with the flow of social and moral collapse at home, instead of fighting all these deformities and building a better society....
Posted by John Weidner at 5:10 PM

July 10, 2008

Dangerous if provoked

Paul at PowerLine:

A new Gallup poll on religious belief and preference for president contains much to reflect upon. Like David Hazony, I took particular note of the views of Jewish voters. According to the poll, Jews who see religion as important in their daily lives make up 39 percent of the Jewish vote (an interesting fact in itself). These voters divide evenly between McCain and Obama. However, among the remaining 61 percent, Obama trounces McCain, 68 to 26 percent. When you add it all up, McCain gets about 33 percent of the Jewish vote, compared to 24 percent for President Bush in 2004.

You might think that even Jewish voters for whom their religion isn't terribly important would have serious reservations about a candidate who worshipped for 20 years under the spiritual guidance of a raving hater of Israel, and who himself apparently sympathizes with the Palestinians and, at least until political considerations intervened, favored transforming U.S. Middle East policy accordingly. But it seems that they don't, and I can't say I'm surprised.

I found the 39% surprising also. But otherwise, nope, no surprise.

The two countries Leftists hate are Israel and America. (They usually don't admit it, but watch how their eyes light up when an excuse to criticize those countries comes.) This doesn't make much sense until you realize (because you read Random Jottings) that most leftists or "liberals" are really nihilists. They no longer believe in anything bigger than themselves. And what the nihilist hates is belief. It is an irritant, in a way analogous to how you might be irritated by some snooty person assuming they are socially superior to you, for no discernible reason. The nihilist senses that the believer has a certain je ne sais quoi, but what is it? He suspects we may be laughing at him. Yes, we are.

Israel and America are perpetual irritants to Leftists, because they symbolize belief. They do so in the most concrete way, by being willing to fight for themselves and their interests. They are the only remaining developed Western nations of whom it can be said, "Dangerous if provoked." (And the same irritation extends to the religious belief itself. The term "fundamentalist" is flung around promiscuously.)

A large part of secular Jews fit that category, and they are not going to be much bothered that Obama tends to surround himself with Jew-haters. (Who, if challenged on their anti-Semitism, probably reply, "I'm not one of those anti-Semites who thinks the Jews are secretly controlling the world for their own benefit. I'm just pointing out that ISRAEL is secretly controlling the world for its own benefit.")

Posted by John Weidner at 7:42 AM

July 7, 2008

The flip-side of the story...

NY Daily News:

A young undercover city detective spent four years in the shadowy world of terrorist wanna-bes - taking part in jihadist discussions and training in parks in the dead of night - to get a handle on the homegrown threat.

At great personal risk, he participated in everything from prayers at a mosque to martial arts training under cover of darkness to watching jihadist videos, with many of the activities laced with talk of killing, according to a source familiar with the undercover's investigations.

His experiences paint a vivid portrait of the potential for local terror. While the picture is in no way indicative of the city's Muslim population as a whole, it provides insight into its most radical element.

The detective spent his time interacting with informal groups of youths and men who shared extremist views - and his experiences illustrate what police say is the potential for radicalization of some elements in the community.

He reported that after prayers at a neighborhood mosque, there were often private classes that included discussions about bombing different areas.

The men discussed violent jihad in bookstores, private houses and on buses en route to paintball and shooting-range events.
He was invited to join in "bonding" activities like working out at a gym and martial arts training in parks at night, during which the group discussed ideological justifications for killing Westerners....

It's good to be aware of things like this.

But, as always, what really interests me is the invisible flip-side to the story. If you think of radical Islam as a pressure, tending to expand and grow, there is also a partial vacuum that is encouraging that growth. Drawing it forth.

Let me ask you, why isn't this kind of story in the NYT or the WaPo? It would sell papers. It would be good for business. Why? It is because they and their readers don't want to know.

Leftists often complain about how Bush is destroying the Constitution to wage perpetual war, etc etc blah blah. But if you know anything about our history you know that what is conspicuously absent in this war is tough quasi-lawless action against domestic subversion. If Bush had been acting like Abraham Lincoln (scaled-up to our greater population) there would have been tens-of-thousands of suspicious characters imprisoned, beat-up, roughed-up, kicked-out, disappeared, or hanged at Gitmo. "Terrorist wanna-bes" wouldn't dare go from a mosque to "paintball and shooting-range events." And I say that it is the absence of that fear that is like a vacuum drawing-out violence and terrorism.

My point here is not about whether we should be doing such stuff (that's a different topic), my point is that there is that there is something missing in the souls of maybe 30 or 40 percent of Americans, such that they are repelled by the thought of taking decisive and tough action in defense of our country (and won't give it political support). Something that wasn't missing before. Wilson and FDR were liberals, but they never hesitated to take ruthless action in defense of our nation. Wilson for instance shut down hundreds of newspapers.

And my theory, which I've often mentioned, that it is really the absence of ALL belief that we see here. That most liberals today aren't liberals at all, they are nihilists. That belief in anything (except themselves, and perhaps family) has drained away, leaving them like HD Wells' Invisible Man, wrapping themselves in bandages to conceal their emptiness.

It's not only liberals who are running on empty, but "liberalism" is the most useful set of bandages right now. It allows one to puff up the all-important self without demanding any real commitment. Liberal or New-Age religios now performs the same function. To inflate the ego by being too "spiritually advanced" to believe in anything.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:26 AM

July 2, 2008

Shoulda known it was a fake...

I wrote yesterday about Mr Obama's embrace of Faith Based Programs. How-ev-er, there's a catch. Obama will, generous fellow that he is, allow your group to be based on faith. But you can't discriminate in hiring, say, by discriminating in favor of those who actually, like, have faith. That would be wrong.

Terry Eastland at the Weekly Standard Blog...

....A key issue in the eight years of Bush’s faith-based initiative has concerned the authority of religious entities as employers: May they take religion into account when hiring people to do the work that government funds? On numerous occasions Bush has asked Congress to pass legislation confirming such authority--on the argument that otherwise the character and mission of faith-based organizations would be compromised. With Congress refusing to do that, Bush has used executive orders to try to secure that authority. In announcing his faith-based initiative yesterday, Obama made clear that he sides with Congress. Which is to say that under Obama religious charities would not be allowed to consider religion when making their hires. In other words, a Methodist charity could not hire only Methodists or otherwise make Methodism a ground for an employment decision.

Obama’s position on this matter is likely to weaken his effort to appeal to religious conservatives. Especially since he also supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (known as ENDA), which would make sexual orientation a forbidden basis for employment decisions--including, necessarily, those made by religious charities taking federal dollars....

The idea that a Catholic charity should hire Catholics, or a Jewish charity should hire Jews, is reasonable. (And in practice such organizations are normally very diverse and tolerant, and are rarely white-supremicist pre-millenarian death-cults.) The opposition by collectivists like Obama has nothing to do with preventing discrimination. It's all about destroying faith.

By the way, I'm by no means sure that Faith-Based is a good idea. I wrote in a comment in that previous post:

I've never decided what I think about Faith Based Programs. On one hand it is indisputable that many of then do a better job, for less, than secular alternatives. And the interpretation of the constitution that claims we can't give funds to them is both both false and stupid.

On the other hand, while I see no plausible danger of faith-based groups corrupting the republic, I see a big danger that government funds may corrupt the groups. If you start sending me a fat monthly check, I'll probably start to discover that your ideas have a lot more merit than I had previously supposed... (I'll try the experiment, if anybody's willing) ;-)

Plus what government agency is going to.........discriminate? Say against nice innocent faith-based Wahabbist groups? Or Scientologists? Or Wiccans? They may do so at first, but then a Dem gets in the White House, or donations are made to congressmen.....
Posted by John Weidner at 5:48 PM

May 30, 2008

"News blackout"

Regular readers will know that it's not my habit to mock and ridicule the various "oppressed" peoples of the earth. It's not Political Correctness, which I hate and despise; rather, it's just not my style.

But this is.....unbelievable! Morons! We have here racial/ethnic/religious/regional imbecility!

....The takeoff warning horn was blaring away in the cockpit because they had all 4 engines at full power. The aircraft computers thought they were trying to takeoff but it had not been configured properly (flaps/slats, etc.) Then one of the ADAT [Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies] crew decided to pull the circuit breaker on the Ground Proximity Sensor to silence the alarm.

This fools the aircraft into thinking it is in the air.

The computers automatically released all the brakes and set the aircraft rocketing forward. The ADAT crew had no idea that this is a safety feature so that pilots can't land with the brakes on.

Not one member of the seven-man Arab crew was smart enough to throttle back the engines from their max power setting, so the $80 million brand-new aircraft crashed into a blast barrier, totaling it.

The extent of injuries to the crew is unknown, for there has been a news blackout in the major media in France and elsewhere. Coverage of the story was deemed insulting to Moslem Arabs. Finally, the photos are starting to leak out.

Actually, my contempt for those brain-damaged (by a sick culture) Arabs is minor compared to my contempt for the French. "News blackout" indeed. That's not surprising, since they've had—how many now, 10 or 20 thousand?—cars torched by "youths," without ever mentioning that they are all Moslem criminals? The French are liars and cowards! A culture of lies and cowardice. Nihilism. They've rebelled against God, and now we see them sink back into the slime.

(Thanks to Bookworm)

Posted by John Weidner at 2:45 PM

May 19, 2008

"The Europeans are paying for their own nihilism..."

Spengler, on German President Horst Koehler's bewilderment at the world financial markets...

....The monster is not the financial system, crooked and stupid as it may have been. The monster is the burgeoning horde of pensioners in Germany and other industrial countries. It is easy to change the financial system. The central banks can assemble on any Tuesday morning and announce tougher lending standards. But it is impossible to fix the financial problems that arise from Europe's senescence. Thanks to the one-child policy, moreover, China has a relatively young population that is aging faster than any other, and China's appetite for savings vastly exceeds what its own financial market can offer.

There is nothing complicated about finance. It is based on old people lending to young people. Young people invest in homes and businesses; aging people save to acquire assets on which to retire. The new generation supports the old one, and retirement systems simply apportion rights to income between the generations. Never before in human history, though, has a new generation simply failed to appear.

As the above chart makes clear, America's population profile is far more benign than Germany's, but it is aging nonetheless. There simply aren't enough young people in America to borrow money from Europe's and Japan's aging savers...

....Koehler's indignation is understandable, but it is pointless to blame the sausage-maker. Economics simply does not offer a solution to a lapse of the will to live among some of the world's richest economies. The Europeans are paying for their own nihilism. Having invented the perfect post-Christian society with cradle-to-grave services, they have not found anyone willing to live in it, except for the immigrants who well may inherit it from the disappearing locals.

It's is good to keep in mind that despite our gross faults, the Republicans are the party that tends to oppose imitating Europe, and the Democrats are the party that wants us to be Europe. And Europe is DYING.

Euro-style social democracy and secularism is perhaps the biggest "experiment" ever run on this planet, and it has failed calamitously. No European country is reproducing at the replacement rate. All European countries are in demographic collapse. (Population collapse will hit when their "baby-boom" generation starts to die off.) Equally important, Europe is no longer producing new ideas, new movements, new inventions. To a person like me who reads history, this change is shocking. (That's one of the many reasons liberals discourage the study of history.)

The death of Europe (and some other developed lands, such as Japan) is the biggest "fact" we have to deal with in our time. The biggest QUESTION. What does it mean for the human race? What does it mean for us? For me?

In my opinion, if you are not chewing on this problem, and wondering if your current ideas need to change because of it, you are not a serious person.

[Me, I think St Anthony got it right: "After the deluge, only the fishes will survive."]

* Update: Actually, there is still one European leader who is also a world leader. And one European state�a very small one�that still produces exciting new ideas that the world debates and takes seriously....

Posted by John Weidner at 7:13 AM

May 16, 2008

Can I re-define "taxpayer" to exclude me?

From Justice Baxter's opinion (Quoted by Hugh Hewitt) on the California Supreme Court's

...History confirms the importance of the judiciary’s constitutional role as a check against majoritarian abuse. Still, courts must use caution when exercising the potentially transformative authority to articulate constitutional rights. Otherwise, judges with limited accountability risk infringing upon our society’s most basic shared premise — the People’s general right, directly or through their chosen legislators, to decide fundamental issues of public policy for themselves.

Judicial restraint is particularly appropriate where, as here, the claimed constitutional entitlement is of recent conception and challenges the most fundamental assumption about a basic social institution.

The majority has violated these principles. It simply does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice...

If judges can simply re-define marriage at their whim, then what can't they re-define?

The real issue here is that leftists hate democracy, and work tirelessly to circumvent it. They used to hate it because they were socialists, and no people, knowing what they are getting into, will ever vote for socialism. Now they are nihilists, and their only goal is to worship themselves, and feel good about themselves. But the result is the same. They feel good about themselves because of their supposed superiority, and so they need to circumvent democracy, and impose their superior ideas on people who would never vote for them.

And ALL the lefty whims work in one way or another to destroy those institutions and cultures (such as families, churches, traditional morality) that stand between the individual and the state. To atomize society, so that the state (staffed almost entirely by liberals) will have supreme power. So the end that's being worked-toward is still......socialism!

* Update: It is very ironic here that the twisted and racist accusations of Jeremiah Wright---that whites have invented AIDS, or have introduced cocaine in order to kill blacks---are partly true. White middle-class liberals have worked tirelessly to legalize and legitimize drug use, with devastating effects on black communities. And they've done everything they can to legitimize and popularize the suicidal promiscuity of the gay community. And promiscuity in general. So gays and drug-using minorities are destroyed by AIDS, while the Prius-driving crowd continues to feel superior to all those red-neck conservatives who are so horribly "intolerant" of gays or drug use.

Jeremiah Wright is correct--whites are trying to destroy blacks. White liberals, that is. Like Barack Obama.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:55 AM

May 14, 2008

"The emptiest vessel ever..."

Baseball Crank has a worthwhilepiece on the importance of experience in a presidential candidate...

.....And if one must speak of hypocrisy, it is rather amusing that we heard Democrats the past few years arguing that various Bush appointees were underqualified hacks who lacked the basic qualifications for their jobs (e.g., Miers, Mike Brown), but those same Democrats who were outraged at appointing unqualified people to mid-level jobs in the Administration are suddenly unconcerned about picking a guy without adequate experience for the top job, the guy who appoints all the others.

But for the same reasons why I rejected that style of argument when I came out in opposition to Harriet Miers (here and here) and Mitt Romney, Obama's lack of all the relevant types of experience, taken together, are very much a problem and quite arguably disqualifying by themselves, or at least very substantial reasons to be skeptical of his candidacy. Assuming he does hang on to squeeze Hillary out of the race, Obama is the emptiest vessel ever to get a major party nomination, a man who can't be judged on the results he has achieved because he's scarcely left a trace of results anywhere. It's all too easy to say "yes, we can" when you haven't ever had to be the guy people look to to say "yes we did."

He's never run anything at all, not even a small law practice like John Edwards. Besides his campaign, probably the biggest thing he's ever run was the Harvard Law Review.

He has nothing resembling national security experience or even particularly sustained advocacy on the issue before announcing his candidacy in 2007. The man has apparently hardly even traveled to Europe, to pick one example.

He is running in a contested election outside the insular world of Chicago politics for the first time and has never had any sort of responsibility for political leadership.

He's never served in the military and seems to have scarcely any experience even knowing people who served in the military.

His private-sector business background is negligible.

Are any of these things disqualifying from the Presidency? No. But electing a man who is so seriously lacking in all of them is indeed unprecedented. And that is and should be a central issue in this campaign......

I think Obama's lack of experience is central to his appeal to "core Democrats." They prefer it. Why? Because, as I've argued many times before, Liberals aren't "Liberal" any more. They have no belief in anything bigger than themselves. They wear "Liberalism" as a disguise, and to give themselves reasons to feel superior and important.

Their big fear is that they are going to be called on this. That they will be put into a situation where they will have to either fight fight for something, or admit they are frauds. That's why they hate the Iraq Campaign so bitterly, whether it's going well or badly. Overthrowing a fascist dictator and sponsoring democracy and freedom are Liberal ideas, and leftists still preen themselves on their regime-change in Nazi Germany. Iraq called this bluff.

Even the minimal experience Clinton can claim is associated with making choices. The latte-sipping crowd longs to float above all the gritty choices of practical politics, and just feel good about themselves. They want, for instance, to endlessly bask in the warm glow of the Civil Rights Movement, while ignoring the current plight of minority children in dysfunctional inner-city schools. And ignore the fact that black Africans are being enslaved right now, by Moslems in Sudan.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:53 AM

April 19, 2008

Our two critical advantages...

Don't Miss mark Steyn's scathing comments on Mr Obama's rare moment of truthfulness. Guns and God? Hell, yes!

....Sen. Obama's remarks about poor dumb, bitter rural losers "clinging to" guns and God certainly testify to the instinctive snobbery of a big segment of the political class. But we shouldn't let it go by merely deploring coastal condescension toward the knuckledraggers. No, what Michelle Malkin calls Crackerquiddick (quite rightly – it's more than just another dreary "-gate") is not just snobbish nor even merely wrongheaded. It's an attack on two of the critical advantages the United States holds over most of the rest of the Western world. In the other G7 developed nations, nobody clings to God 'n' guns. The guns got taken away, and the Europeans gave up on churchgoing once they embraced Big Government as the new religion.

How's that working out? ....

Workin' out like shit. Spiritual collapse, demographic collapse, economic stagnation, an utter absence of any compelling new movements or dreams. That's Europe. And that's what Obama and the San Francisco Democrats want for us. They want it desperately, even though they dare not make a case for it openly.

Why? Because what they are fleeing from is belief. Belief in anything that is bigger than oneself.

I'd say this is a good answer to nihilist Euro-weenie hate-America Democrats like Clinton and Obama:

Posted by John Weidner at 1:17 PM

April 12, 2008

"syllogistic string of superciliousness:"

John Podhorertz: (Thanks to Glenn)

Well, it has finally happened. Barack Obama has done what Democratic candidates for president invariably do — he has revealed the profound sense of unearned superiority that is the sad and persistent hallmark of contemporary liberalism. Obama’s statement today that small-town folk “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations” may be the most distilled example of this train of thought I’ve ever seen.

Obama’s astonishing sentence offers a syllogistic string of superciliousness: Gun ownership is equated with religious fanaticism, which is said to accompany hatred of the other in the form of opposition to immigration and support for trade barriers. It drips with an attitude so important to the spiritual well-being of the American liberal — the paternalistic attitude that says, “Oh, well, people only do thing differently from me because they are ignorant and superstitious and backward” — that it has survived and thrived despite the suicidal impact it has had on the achievement of liberal political goals and aims.....

Actually, feeling superior IS the liberal goal. If you don't believe in anything bigger than yourself, then how you feel is the most important thing there is. And if liberals DO believe in something bigger them themselves, well, what is it? Can someone tell me?

* Update: Hmm. Why does this line seem to have a certain similarity... Beijing's second in command in Tibet, Qiangba Puncog: "I believe Tibetans are a good, simple people who know how to be grateful..."

* Update: Rand Simberg is a don't-miss: "By cracky, it's like the man sees into my soul!

"Thirty years ago, I had a good job in the mill in Pittsburgh. I was bringing in a good income, going to jazz clubs, discussing Proust over white wine and brie, with my gay friends of all colors. I was all for free trade, so that we could sell the steel overseas, and I never bothered to go to church, let alone actually believe in God.

"But then, the plant closed down, and I couldn't get another job. I went on unemployment, and found odd jobs here and there, but they barely paid the rent in the loft, and the payment on the Bimmer. I couldn't afford the wine and brie any more, and had to shift over to beer and brats.

"Of course, as a result, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd--the beer drinkers..."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:34 AM

April 2, 2008

Curveball...

From WSJ, Curveball Revisited, March 29, 2008; Page A8

In the long history of U.S. intelligence fiascos, few have been as minutely examined as the "Curveball" episode – the source whose fraudulent claims were largely responsible for the pre-Iraq War view that Saddam Hussein possessed biological weapons. So it's worth noting what a new, remarkable report from the German magazine Der Spiegel tells us about the spy who lied...

....But Curveball was nobody's stooge. On the contrary, he is Rafid Ahmed Alwan, an opportunistic Iraqi asylum-seeker who came to Germany in 1999. His claims to having inside knowledge of Saddam's illicit weapons program quickly made him a prized asset of Germany's intelligence service, the BND. So convinced were the Germans of the reliability of his information that in the fall of 2001 they purchased 35 million doses of smallpox vaccine for fear of what Saddam might be cooking up.

More remarkable is that even after September 11 – when then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder promised "infinite solidarity" with the U.S. – the German government refused to allow the CIA to interview Curveball in person. Often, the Germans resorted to dishonest pretexts for their lack of cooperation, such as that Curveball didn't speak English, when in fact he spoke it fluently (and as if nobody in the CIA spoke German or Arabic). "It was a blockade that made it impossible for any other service to validate his information," David Kay, who ran the Iraq Survey Group that looked for WMD after the war, told Der Spiegel.

BND nonetheless sent some 100 reports about Curveball's information to the CIA. And while doubts about Curveball's credibility began to emerge on both sides of the Atlantic as early as 2000, the Germans persisted in believing him. In November 2002, according to Der Spiegel, Curveball's disclosures formed the centerpiece of a top secret briefing by the BND to the foreign affairs committee of the German parliament. This caused one of those who were briefed to note the "enormous discrepancy between the public statements made by the government" – which opposed the war and downplayed the Iraq threat – "and the knowledge it had in its possession."...

I don't really care about this in regards to our decisions--I think we had plentiful reasons both moral and practical to liberate Iraq. But it is very interesting as a psychological window into the nihilism of most of Europe. Germany believed that Saddam posed a huge danger to them and the world---believed it enough to purchase 25 million doses of smallpox vaccine. And yet, amazingly, at the same time, Germany was eager to prevent us from doing anything about it! That seems insane.

(Regular readers already know where I'm going here...feel free to skip.)

But it's not actually insane if you follow my thinking about these things. (And I'd be happy to entertain alternate theories, or critiques of my logic.) My theory is that the amorphous leftism (what we Americans usually call "liberalism") that is the norm in Europe's governing classes and much of its population, is now being worn as a disguise, to cover up the complete lack of any real beliefs. To conceal nihilism.

It was precisely because they believed or suspected that Iraq was a real threat that the bulk of the world's leftists hated the idea of taking any military action. (And regardless of how things turned out, it looked in 2002 like Iraq was a big threat, with a large well-equipped military, active WMD programs, and active sponsorship of many terrorist groups.)

The invasion of Iraq posed a huge existential threat to the left, because it was implicitly a blow in defense of Western civilization, and our own interests. It was saying that we believe that our world is worth fighting for. It said that we believe in our Western and liberal values, such as the value of liberating people from a hideous fascist tyranny. It is belief that is a threat to the nihilist.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:51 AM

March 20, 2008

Question for "Democrats"

In Mr Obama's speech, he said:

...To succeed in Afghanistan, we also need to fundamentally rethink our Pakistan policy. For years, we have supported stability over democracy in Pakistan, and gotten neither. The core leadership of al Qaeda has a safe-haven in Pakistan. The Taliban are able to strike inside Afghanistan and then return to the mountains of the Pakistani border. Throughout Pakistan, domestic unrest has been rising. The full democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people have been too long denied. A child growing up in Pakistan, more often than not, is taught to see America as a source of hate – not hope...

So, question for Dems, for liberals: WHY are you so disdainful of democracy in Iraq?

WHY did you prefer "stability over democracy" in Iraq? Even to the point of supporting the cruelest fascist tyrant ever?

Iraq just passed its provincial election law, one of the" benchmarks" leftists have been complaining about. WHY is no leftish person expressing happiness?

What is it about Iraq?

My theory is that Iraq is not only the central front of the War on Terror, it is at this moment the "central front" in the much larger struggle for the soul of the Western World.

President Bush, with a wicked cleverness we never dreamed he possessed, has posed, in the form of the Iraq Campaign, the perfect "put up or shut up" test for that vast part of the West that can be labeled "liberal."

  • You claim to be anti-fascist, so here's your chance to prove it.
  • You claim to be pro-democracy, so here's your chance to prove it.
  • You claim to oppose genocide, so here's your chance to prove it.
  • You claim to care about people who have no "homeland," here's the biggest bunch of all, the Kurds...

I could write a much longer list. Almost everything "liberals" claim to be for, Saddam was against. And when President Bush posed the question, "liberals" (most of them) failed on every count.

The test has been repeated, and "liberals" have failed, repeatedly. Not only did they fail to support, for Iraqis, things like a free press, women's rights, gay rights, worker's rights, the right to travel........they failed even to express pleasure when Iraqis gained any of those rights!

And when al Qaeda and many of the Sunni tried to destroy the new Iraqi democracy by a campaign of savage terror, "liberals" failed again. They were almost all of them in favor of handing the Iraqis over to the butchers. And now that Iraqis have turned strongly against terrorism, and American and Iraqi forces are working together to achieve a stunning victory over al Qaeda, "liberals" have failed yet again. They are not happy with our success at all.

From Obama's speech: "...And that is why Senator McCain can argue – as he did last year – that we couldn’t leave Iraq because violence was up, and then argue this year that we can’t leave Iraq because violence is down..."

Well, I would turn that sentence around. Mr O, whether violence is up or violence is down, you are desperate to get out of Iraq. Why? Whether things are going good, or going bad, whether we are winning or losing, you are desperate to get out of Iraq. Why? Some liberals, like you Mr O, claim they want to get tough in places like Iran, Afghanistan, or Pakistan.....other liberals don't want to get tough anywhere......but you are ALL of you desperate to get out of Iraq. WHY?

I think most liberals are writhing in agony because they are being put to the test over and over again. I bet Obama could have come out in favor of conquering Pakistan and making it an Imperial Protectorate, and no lefties would have minded, as long as he promised to get out of Iraq.

That's what that speech was really about.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:04 AM

March 8, 2008

Treason pure and simple

Michelle Malkin has a long long LONG report on the many ongoing attacks and harassment of military recruiters by leftists. It's worth reading. These things have nothing to do with any sort of legitimate free speech or democratic political action.

They are crimes, pure and simple. And treason pure and simple. And evil, pure and simple--this has no connection to any sort of real pacifism. (Which is apparently extinct—I don't expect our current crop of fake-pacifists to make any protest against lawless violence. Violence in favor of left-wing goals is always fine with those frauds.)

Leftists hate America, and hate the Iraq Campaign, and hate our military...for one reason. Those three have something in common. They each symbolize a willingness to fight for what one believes in. To the nihilist, belief is an affront and an irritant.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:02 PM

February 11, 2008

Jonah speaks to Nineveh

I suspect that most people just think I'm a bit kooky when I obsess over my theory that most "liberals" aren't liberals at all any more. That they are nihilists, that they've been "hollowed out," that any philosophy or principles that you associate with the term "liberal" are gone. But I see the evidence all around us, and I think it is the real story in our politics, and in the culture war.

You simply won't "get it" if you keep asking why liberals are doing such un-liberal things...It's the wrong question to ask.

Jonah Goldberg has an illustrative piece in NRO (Thanks to Anchoress and Gerald): Taking Issue With the Democratic Race: An Empty Primary...

....But that’s it. The rest of their disagreement boils down to who is a more authentic agent of “change.” In fairness, there’s an interesting debate to be had on that score, as Obama and Hillary’s philosophies of government differ dramatically. Obama believes in a transformative politics where lofty — often gassy — rhetoric is not merely a substitute for action, but actually preferable to the nitty-gritty detail work Hillary prefers.

But that debate is almost entirely theoretical,
[Actually, it's NOT "theoretical"--there's no theory of government ever made explicit] drowned out by the mad scramble to assemble an identity-politics coalition of generic “Hispanics,” “blacks,” “white women,” etc. It’s amazing how complacent the media is in carrying on with this kind of nakedly reductionist analysis. The notion that Hispanics may be voting one way or another for reasons other than their ethnicity seems never to come up.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, women, blacks and Hispanics vote too, but that’s not how the demographics and coalitions of the right work. GOP candidates actually have to win over people who believe things. (After all, the famed, and tragically frayed, “Reagan coalition” was about different groups of principled people, not a mere hodgepodge of ethnicities and genders.) Exit pollsters ask GOP voters whether they’re committed pro-lifers, whether they think the economy is the most important issue, etc. I’m sure they ask Democratic voters similar questions, but it’s telling how little we hear about that. What Democratic voters actually believe doesn’t seem to be that relevant, in large part because Democrats aren’t voting their beliefs, they’re voting affections.

Obama is “the one” — in Oprah’s words — not because of his policies but because his is a transcendent, unifying, super-nifty-cool personality. Hillary, meanwhile, is staying aloft largely through her ability to guilt-trip female liberals into sticking with her. Her cultivated weepiness and dour lamentations about how she’s been so picked on sometimes make it seem like she’s setting up a political version of one of those “how-does-a-Jewish-mother-change-a-lightbulb?” jokes. Answer: “It’s all right; I’ll just sit in the dark.”...

....The Republican party is a mess, absolutely. Conservatives are sorting out what they believe, what heresies they can tolerate and on which principles they will not bend. At times this argument is loud, ugly and unfortunate. But you know what? At least it’s an argument about something...

Liberalism used to be about liberating oppressed peoples from fascist dictators, and bringing them democracy and opportunity. Too bad no one wants to do that stuff anymore. Oh wait...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:21 AM

January 19, 2008

"Every revolution devours its offspring..."

Do NOT miss The Wages of Sensitivity: The Democrats' politically correct chickens come home to roost, by Noemie Emery...

.... Looking ahead to the general election, Democrats were prepared to describe any critique made of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as an example of the racism and sexism that they like to believe permeates the Republican universe. But this was before their own race became quite so close, and so spirited. They never seem to have stopped to think what might occur if they turned their sensitivity bludgeons against one another. They are now finding out....

"Sensitivity bludgeons." Yeah, they were getting ready to use them against ME. Against YOU. Since I despise from the bottom of my heart the whole foul devil's-brew of sensitivity and identity-politics, this is all just too sweet. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of pompous frauds.

...Now they [Clintons] find themselves unable to criticize a black man for what they think are legitimate reasons, because they helped to teach people that criticism is bias in disguise, and they can't complain that their words have been misinterpreted, because the theory of hate speech maintains that the listener can project on to words uttered by others whatever motives he wants to see in them. If he declares himself offended, the listener has the last word.

Add this to the unforeseen clash of two groups who have been told for years by liberals that they are victims of everyone, and the result is explosive. It is, David Brooks writes, "a Tom Wolfe novel" beyond even Wolfe's imagining. "All the rhetorical devices that have been a staple of identity politics are now being exploited by the Clinton and Obama campaigns," Brooks continues, "competing to play the victim .  .  . accusing each other of insensitivity .  .  . deliberately misinterpreting each other's comments in order to somehow imply that the other is morally retrograde. All the habits of verbal thuggery that have long been used against critics of affirmative action .  .  . and critics of radical feminism .  .  . are now being turned inward by the Democratic front-runners. .  .  . Every revolution devours its offspring, and it seems that the multicultural one does, too."....

And this, sweet, sweet:

...For the Clintons, with their sense of private entitlement running head on into their boomer assertion of moral enlightenment, all this must come as a shock....

Ha ha and ha. How I despise my generation! At least this aspect of it. "Boomer assertion of moral enlightenment." I grew up in the middle of that, and I hate it. I spit upon it.

And on the plausible presidential candidacies of Liddy Dole and Colin Powell, which did not succeed:

Republicans (conservatives especially) more than Democrats define themselves by ideology--the objections to Powell were based on what the right saw as his deviationist liberal tendencies--and regard everything else as an afterthought. Republicans tend to disdain appeals on the basis of victimhood. They are resistant to group-think and allergic to identity politics. And their major donors and interest groups are race and gender neutral--the right to life movement, the Club for Growth, the National Rifle Association. The only ethnic lobbies they court are purely local affairs (like Miami's Cubans). There are no ethnic and gender spokesmen to deal with, no agendas to speak of, no interest groups to appease.

It is my theory that Leftizoids use "sensitivity bludgeons" not just because they are useful, but because they do not dare to compete in the arena of ideas. They don't have any. That is, they have no underlying beliefs or principles. They are nihilists. Everything I see going on today tends to confirm this.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:25 AM

January 17, 2008

Effete idiocy...

As far as ANWR is concerned, I don’t want to drill in the Grand Canyon, and I don’t want to drill in the Everglades. This is one of the most pristine and beautiful parts of the world. -- John McCain [link]

Well yes, Alaska National Wildlife Refuge IS pristine and beautiful. What rarely gets mentioned is that the lofty snow-clad peaks and Grizzly Bears are not in the area where the oil is. The area proposed for drilling is a coastal mud-flat. A mosquito refuge. A place nobody visits.

And the drilling proposal would only occupy a tiny portion of it, with no likelihood of harm to wildlife—we've already built an oil pipeline all the way across the state without any reported harm to wildlife.

"Pristine and beautiful" are only human values. Nature cares nothing for them. If we used Yosemite Valley as a dumping place for old cars, the birds and raccoons would not mind at all.

But people don't think logically about this stuff. Because "Green" is a religion. The perfect faith for the nihilist, since the Goddess cares nothing about us, "created" us with no conscious intent to do so, may wipe us (and our whole planet) out in the blink of an eye, without remorse, and is "worshipped" by leaving things "pristine and beautiful," which is defined as having no humans touching them.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:33 AM