Monday, September 17, 2007

One Mean and Nasty War

Mark Steyn, writing today in National Review:

"We should beware anyone who seeks to explain 9/11 by using the words “each other”: They posit a grubby equivalence between the perpetrator and the victim — that the “failure to understand” derives from the culpability of both parties. The 9/11 killers were treated very well in the United States: They were ushered into the country on the high-speed visa express program the State Department felt was appropriate for young Saudi males. They were treated cordially everywhere they went. The lapdancers at the clubs they frequented in the weeks before the Big Day gave them a good time — or good enough, considering what lousy tippers they were. September 11th didn’t happen because we were insufficient in our love to Mohammed Atta."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We Must Prevail

Senator Joseph Lieberman, in National Review:

Washington’s Civilizational Choice
The freedom to survive.

By Joseph Lieberman

Today we remember those who lost their lives on that horrible day six years ago. We also honor the sacrifices of Americans in uniform who have bravely fought in the war that began on September 11, 2001.

The fact is that all freedom-loving people throughout the world are engaged in a struggle against the barbarism of Islamist extremism. This is not a battle between civilizations, but rather a battle for civilization.

The cause which we are fighting for is not a Republican cause or a Democratic cause. Our cause is the cause of defending liberty and freedom against a totalitarian movement that is the evil heir to the twin totalitarian threats of the 20th century. Islamist extremism, like fascism and communism, seeks to eliminate all of the ideals that free peoples cherish.

Just as during the World War II and the Cold War, our challenge today, is not to relent in this fight for liberty. And the central front in this war today is Iraq. You cannot be serious and strong in defeating those who attacked us on 9/11 if you counsel retreat in Iraq.

To pull the plug on progress in Iraq would hand our two most dangerous enemies in the world — al Qaeda and Iran — an extraordinary military and strategic victory. These are fateful days and critical decisions we are making about Iraq. We must make them with our eye on the safety of America's next generation. It is to the credit of President Bush that he has done that in the war against Islamist extremism. He has shown the courage and steadfastness to stand against the political passions of the moment.

As Ronald Reagan once said, now is the time for choosing. If we stand united through the months ahead, if we stand firm against the terrorists who want to drive us to retreat, the war in Iraq can be won and the lives of millions of people can be saved. But if we surrender to the barbarism of suicide bombers and abandon the heart of the Middle East to fanatics and killers, to al Qaeda and Iran, then all that our men and women in uniform have fought, and died for, will be lost, and we will be left a much less secure and free nation.

That is the choice we in Washington will make this fall. It is a choice not just about our foreign policy and our national security and our interests in the Middle East. It is about what our political leaders in both parties are prepared to stand for. It is about our soul as a nation. It is about who we are, and who we want to be.

Will this be the moment in history when America gives up — when al Qaeda breaks our will, when our enemies surge forward, when we turn our backs on our friends and begin a long retreat from our principles and promise as a nation? Or will this be the moment when America steps forward, when we pull together, when we hold fast to the courage of our convictions, when we begin to turn the tide toward victory in this long and difficult war?

History tells us that appeasement of evil leads to disaster. Our cause is freedom’s cause. Together, we must prevail.

— Joseph Lieberman is a United States senator (I.) from Connecticut.

Six Years After

It was six years ago today when the perfect blue skies of a September morning were shattered by the gravest terror attack this country has ever known, and the greatest attack on U.S. soil in our history.

Living here in Utah, the immediate effects were far removed, but the entire nation went to bed that night dreading what they would wake to on September 12th.

For me, time has tempered the fears, but I find the anger I had is still there, dormant but still potent, and easily reawakened. I'm not happy with everything that has happened, but I am more frustrated with us. That we are so easily distracted, and so quick to forget. In some cases, that is virtue, but not here. And I am annoyed that some want so fervently to forget, to wish it away; because 9/11 was a stark reminder that there is evil in this world, and it cannot be ignored. You can pretend it doesn't exist, but eventually it will come to you, and completely upset the carefully constructed order of needs and wants you have built for yourself.

Some remembrances:

National Review
Jonah Goldberg
Norman Podhoretz
Victor Davis Hanson

The guys at Argghhh! share their remembrances:
The Armorer

SteelJaw Scribe describes being in the Pentagon that morning:
Part 1
Part 2

Monday, September 10, 2007

What War?

Mark Steyn, writing today in National Review:

Where’s the War?
The placidity of the domestic front.

By Mark Steyn

Oh, it’s a long, long while from September to September. This year, the anniversary falls, for the first time, on a Tuesday morning, and perhaps some or other cable network will re-present the events in real time — the first vague breaking news in an otherwise routine morning show, the follow-up item on the second plane, and the realization that something bigger was underway. If you make it vivid enough, the JFK/Princess Di factor will kick in: You’ll remember “where you were” when you “heard the news.” But it’s harder to recreate the peculiar mood at the end of the day, when the citizens of the superpower went to bed not knowing what they’d wake up to the following morning.

Six years on, most Americans are now pretty certain what they’ll wake up to in the morning: There’ll be a thwarted terrorist plot somewhere or other — last week, it was Germany. Occasionally, one will succeed somewhere or other, on the far horizon — in Bali, Istanbul, Madrid, London. But not many folks expect to switch on the TV this Tuesday morning, as they did that Tuesday morning, and see smoke billowing from Atlanta or Phoenix or Seattle. During the IRA’s 30-year campaign, the British grew accustomed (perhaps too easily accustomed) to waking up to the news either of some prominent person’s assassination or that a couple of gran’mas and some schoolkids had been blown apart in a shopping centre. It was a terrorist war in which terrorism was almost routine. But, in the six years since President Bush declared that America was in a “war on terror,” there has been in America no terrorism.

In theory, the administration ought to derive a political benefit from this: The president has “kept America safe.” But, in practice, the placidity of the domestic front diminishes the chosen rationale of the conflict: If a “war on terror” has no terror, who says there’s a war at all? That’s the argument of the Left — that it’s all a racket cooked up by the Bushitlerburton fascists to impose on America a permanent national-security state in which, for dark sinister reasons of his own, Dick Cheney is free to monitor your out-of-state phone calls all day long. Judging from the blithe expressions of commuters doing the shoeless shuffle through the security line at LAX and O’Hare, most Americans seem relatively content with a permanent national-security state. It’s a curious paradox: airports on permanent Orange Alert, and a citizenry on permanent …well, I’m not sure there’s a homeland-security color code for “Gaily Insouciant,” but, if there is, it’s probably a bland limpid pastel of some kind. Of course, if tomorrow there’s a big smoking hole where the Empire State Building used to be, we’ll be back to: “The president should have known! This proves the failure of his policies over the last six years! We need another all-star Commission filled with retired grandees!”

And that would be the relatively sane reaction. Have you seen that bumper sticker “9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB”? If you haven’t, go to a college town and cruise Main Street for a couple of minutes. It seems odd that a fascist regime which thinks nothing of killing thousands of people in a big landmark building in the center of the city hasn’t quietly offed some of these dissident professors — or at least the guy with the sticker-printing contract. Fearlessly, Robert Fisk of Britain’s Independent, the alleged dean of Middle East correspondents, has now crossed over to the truther side and written a piece headlined, “Even I Question The ‘Truth’ About 9/11.” According to a poll in May, 35-percent of Democrats believe that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance. Did Rumsfeld also know? Almost certainly. That’s why he went to his office as normal that today, because he knew in advance that the plane would slice through the Pentagon but come to a halt on the far side of the photocopier. That’s how well-planned it was, unlike Iraq.

Apparently, 39-percent of Democrats still believe Bush didn’t know in advance — or, at any rate, so they said in May. But I’m confident half of them will have joined Rosie O’Donnell on the melted steely knoll before the Iowa caucuses. If Iraq is another Vietnam, 9/11 is another Kennedy assassination. Were Bali, Madrid, and London also inside jobs by the Bush Gang? If so, it’s no wonder federal spending’s out of control.

And what of those for whom the events of six years ago were more than just conspiracy fodder? Last week the New York Times carried a story about the current state of the 9/11 lawsuits. Relatives of 42 of the dead are suing various parties for compensation, on the grounds that what happened that Tuesday morning should have been anticipated. The law firm Motley Rice, diversifying from its traditional lucrative class-action hunting grounds of tobacco, asbestos, and lead paint, is promising to put on the witness stand everybody who “allowed the events of 9/11 to happen. And they mean everybody — American Airlines, United, Boeing, the airport authorities, the security firms — everybody, that is, except the guys who did it.

According to the Times, many of the bereaved are angry and determined that their loved one’s death should have meaning. Yet the meaning they’re after surely strikes our enemies not just as extremely odd but as one more reason why they’ll win. You launch an act of war, and the victims respond with a lawsuit against their own countrymen. But that’s the American way: Almost every news story boils down to somebody standing in front of a microphone and announcing that he’s retained counsel. Last week, it was Larry Craig. Next week, it’ll be the survivors of Ahmadinejad’s nuclear test in Westchester County. As Andrew McCarthy pointed out, a legalistic culture invariably misses the forest for the trees. Senator Craig should know that what matters is not whether an artful lawyer can get him off on a technicality but whether the public thinks he trawls for anonymous sex in public bathrooms. Likewise, those 9/11 families should know that, if you want your child’s death that morning to have meaning, what matters is not whether you hound Boeing into admitting liability but whether you insist that the movement that murdered your daughter is hunted down and the sustaining ideological virus that led thousands of others to dance up and down in the streets cheering her death is expunged from the earth.

In his pugnacious new book, Norman Podhoretz calls for redesignating this conflict as World War IV. Certainly, it would have been easier politically to frame the Iraq campaign as being a front in a fourth world war than as a necessary measure in an anti-terrorist campaign. Yet who knows? Perhaps we would still have mired ourselves in legalisms and conspiracies and the dismal curdled relativism of the Flight 93 memorial’s “crescent of embrace.” In the end, as Podhoretz says, if the war is to be fought at all, it will “have to be fought by the kind of people Americans now are.” On this sixth anniversary, as 9/11 retreats into history, many Americans see no war at all.

— Mark Steyn is the author of America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Let 'Em Freeze

I see a story like this, and all I can think of is the bumper sticker I saw while in engineering school:

"BAN MINING. Let the b*****ds freeze to death in the dark."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Property Rights and John Adams

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet' and `Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free."

-- John Adams (A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787)

Reference: The Works of John Adams, C.F. Adams, ed., vol. 6 (8-9); The Founders Constitution

Monday, August 13, 2007

Yes, They Really Were That Bad

Proof positive that the East German border guards had shoot-on-sight orders regarding those trying to escape to the West.

Somehow, I doubt Robert Conquest would be surprised.

Sometimes, the bad guys really are bad guys.

Hat tip to the folks over at The Castle, who found this first.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Essence of Government

"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse."

-- James Madison (speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, 2 December 1829)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A 1956 View on Arab Nationalism

"Arab nationalism is an evil force which should be stopped in its tracks while Britain and France still have the power to do so. Seldom will Western power have been put to a more virtuous and morally defensible end. Whether any material advantage to Britain will accrue from doing the world this great service is pretty doubtful. But that the Arabs will have cause to bless the success of our mission cannot reasonably be open to question. On realpolitik grounds the operation may be ill-advised. But on moral grounds it cannot be faulted."

— Peregrine Worsthorne, 1956 during the Suez crisis.

NRO's Quote of the Day

Why We're a Republic

"In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 52, 8 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 52.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Your Attention Please

The G-File is back!

Hip hip...

Hip hip...

Hip hip...

That is all.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Surpassing the Glories of the Tsars

"The range of experiences available to the most ordinary kid nowadays surpasses the glories once reserved for Tsars."

James Lileks

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Funny How That Works

Jay Nordlinger, writing today over at National Review:
The history of Communism has taught us that suicide can be a very strange event. For example, you can shoot yourself in the head — four times.

One More Murder at the Hands of Communism

The grasping hand of the old red lie still kills.

Jay Nordlinger, writing today in National Review Online:
I can’t remember whether I mentioned Manuel Acosta Larena in columns past. Anyway, he’s dead now. He was a very brave Cuban, belonging to the dissident group called the Democracy Movement. He died in the hands of Castro’s police. The police claimed it was a suicide — that Acosta hanged himself in his cell. His friends doubt it. And the authorities won’t hand over the corpse for an autopsy.

Of course.

The history of Communism has taught us that suicide can be a very strange event. For example, you can shoot yourself in the head — four times.

Funny how that works.

Monday, July 09, 2007

An Enemy So Savage, and Yet So Ignored

Repeating what Victor Davis Hanson wrote, over in The Corner:

Thyestean feast? [Victor Davis Hanson]

Greek mythology often encapsulated an entire culture's worst fears and depravities-and over centuries of story-telling became ever more complex and layered and bizarre.

But what is strange about reading Michael Yon's graphic descriptions from Iraq is that al Qaeda (or its kindred) seems almost in a single generation to be outdoing a millennium of savagery present in Greek history and myth. You have to go to Thucydides's Mycalessus to find a parallel of wiping out even the animals of a small village.

On Friday, Yon reported that al Qaeda served up a son for dinner to his own family— a barbarism reminiscent of Atreus (hence the "curse" on the House of Atreus) cooking (sans feet and hands) and then serving his twin brother's sons to their unsuspecting father Thyestes. So Yon reports a revolting modern-day Thysestean feast:

The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11-years-old. As LT David Wallach interpreted the man's words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, "What did he say?" Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.

What is striking about all this savagery—whether with the filmed beheadings of Westerners in Iraq to the recent flaming Johnny Storm human torch at Glasgow, screaming epithets as he sought to engulf bystanders and ignite his canisters — is the absolute silence of the West, either distracted by Paris and i-Phones or suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome and obsessed with Guantanamo.

It is hard to recall an enemy so savage and yet one so largely ignored by rich affluent and distracted elites as the radical jihadists, as we have to evoke everything from mythology to comic books to find analogies to their extra-human viciousness.

For a self-congratulatory culture issuing moral lectures on everything from global warming to the dangers of smoking, the silence of the West toward the primordial horror from Gaza to Anbar is, well, horrific in its own way as well...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Defend the Things in Which We Believe

James Lileks writes on the Fourth:
And so another Fourth comes. The vast majority of Americans of all political stripes will greet the day with pride – the reasons will vary, but the core ideas are still shared. The future, however, contain a very big question, and it’s not one we haven’t faced before: together, or apart? Except now the terms have been redefined: “together” implies that we must throw our weight in with a portion of the world that seems intellectually incapable of apprehending the concept of a greater foe, and takes refuge in the dream of “disaffected” or “disenfranchised” physicians disconnected from a greater meme. “Apart” has come to mean we define our culture in opposition to another, and confront it with values we truly believe to be superior, and do so with full knowledge of our own flaws. Yesterday was the anniversary of Gettysburg, a day in which the divisions were horrible and bloody, and had to be hammered out to make the great experiment whole again. Rent apart, we had to work our way back to the whole. This is different. We have to come together, in order that we may stand apart, and defend the things in which we believe.

...It’s not a matter of race or religion; the logical extension of the ideas of the West transcends those things. I see those ideas in the flag, which is why I put it up. People claw their way to live in a place where it flies. It’s an idea that happens to be contained within a nation.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor

The Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

To see the Signers, go here.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Don't Want To Think About It

Apparently, the Democratic Presidential candidates had a debate last night. As reported by Jim Geraghty at the Campaign Spot:
Look, I try hard to see where the other side of the aisle is coming from, but this debate was painful - an egregious can-you top-this panderfest, in which nothing surprising, intriguing, thought-provoking or original was said.

The candidates knew what their audience liked and didn’t like, and served up soundbites accordingly.
More importantly, from my viewpoint:
No mention of the war on terror.
And demonstrating why I'll be pushing the button for the Republican candidate in November 2008. The Democrats have had six years now to come up with some positions on the War on Terror - but instead pretend it doesn't exist.*

This is not to say that the Republicans have all the right answers. But they do acknowledge the problem, which is more than any of the Democrats can muster. They are still stuck on the "it's Bush's war" mantra.

As recent events have shown, the jihad that the self-annointed saviors of Islam have embarked upon against the West will not end when President Bush leaves the scene. it will continue regardless of who assumes the Presidency in January 2009.

And one half of our political establishment doesn't even want to think about it.

*This doesn't even cover all the usual socialist junk - as Geraghty mentions, there's not a social program any of the candidates doesn't like. If you thought government growth was too much under Bush - wait until one of them gets there. Canada, here we come...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Star Chambers with a Smiley Face

"It is time people realized that “human rights codes” are a weapon employed by the state to suppress disapproved behaviour by the individual. They cannot be wielded by the individual against the state, as independent civil and criminal courts could be. They are star chambers used, and designed to be used, to mount show trials, in which persons who fail to snap to attention when commissar issues the latest political corrections may be publicly demonized. By removing all of their victims’ established legal protections -- presumption of innocence, the right to know one’s accuser, to be tried by a jury of one’s peers, et cetera -- they put a jackboot directly in the teeth of the tradition of human liberty descending from Magna Charta."

David Warren

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A War Upon the Weak

One does not, as I have said, need to deny heredity in order to resist legislation, any more than one needs to deny the spiritual world in order to resist an epidemic of witch-burning. I admit there may be such a thing as hereditary feeble-mindedness; I believe there is such a thing as witchcraft. Believing that there are spirits, I am bound in mere reason to suppose that there are probably evil spirits; believing that there are evil spirits, I am bound in mere reason to suppose that some men grow evil by dealing with them. All that is mere rationalism; the superstition (that is the unreasoning repugnance and terror) is in the person who admits there can be angels but denies there can be devils. The superstition is in the person who admits there can be devils but denies there can be diabolists. Yet I should certainly resist any effort to search for witches, for a perfectly simple reason, which is the key of the whole of this controversy. The reason is that it is one thing to believe in witches and quite another to believe in witch smellers. I have more respect for the old witch-finders than for the Eugenists, who go about persecuting the fool of the family; because the witch-finders, according to their own conviction, ran a risk. Witches were not the feeble-minded, but the strong-minded —- the evil mesmerists, the rulers of the elements. Many a raid on a witch, right or wrong, seemed to the villagers who did it a righteous popular rising against a vast spiritual tyranny, a papacy of sin. Yet we know that the thing degenerated into a rabid and despicable persecution of the feeble or the old. It ended by being a war upon the weak. It ended by being what Eugenics begins by being.
G.K. Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils
(Found by Jonah Goldberg at The Corner.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The More Convincing Proof

"I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in
the Affairs of Men. And if a Sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without
his Aid?"

-- Benjamin Franklin (Motion for Prayers in the Constitutional Convention, 28 June 1787)

Reference: Franklin: Collected Works, Lemay, ed. (1138)

"The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man,
that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different
characters and capacities impressed with it."

-- James Madison (letter to Frederick Beasley, 20 November 1825)

Reference: Writings of Madison, Hunt, ed., vol. 9 (230)

"A State, I cheerfully admit, is the noblest work of Man: But Man, himself, free and honest, is, I speak as to this world,
the noblest work of God...."

-- James Wilson (Chisholm v. Georgia, 18 February 1793)

Reference: 2 U.S. 419 (1793)

Source: The Patriot Post

Monday, June 11, 2007

History and Custom

"I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid."

G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Rode For A Fall

One thing they've never managed to tell you is how to take rejection. You'd think they would have figured out how by now.

I keep hearing how much fun dating is supposed to be. It's never been that way for me.

Granted, I carry some handicaps before I even start; I'm not the best looking guy, and I've done some things I'm not proud of. But I keep getting told that I shouldn't let that hold me back, that I should try anyway.

And yet I keep failing.

Sorry, had to vent. Dating just isn't much fun right now. Heck, it's not any fun at all.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hating Hate

Today in National Review Online:
Hating Hate

By The Editors

Hate crimes “are different” from other crimes: That was the argument for hate-crimes laws that Al Gore made during the 2000 campaign, and it is the argument that we are going to hear again this week, as Congress takes up federal legislation on the subject. Crimes motivated by hostility to the victim’s race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation are said to be different chiefly because they, supposedly, instill fear in entire communities and generate social division.

Even if this generalization is true—and it is not obvious that it is—it should not end our thought about hate. There is no evidence that adding hate-crimes laws on top of regular criminal laws does anything to deter these acts. Nor is there any evidence that federal action is needed. Most states already have hate-crimes laws; the federal government has a hate-crimes law that applies to victims who were engaged in federally protected activities, such as holding rallies. The proposed legislation would allow the federal government to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, whether or not federally protected activities were involved, and to assist local law enforcement in fighting them. But there is no evidence that local law enforcement has a special need for federal resources to help it combat hate crimes.

Many proponents of hate-crimes laws profess to have no desire to move against free speech. But we fear that it may be a short jump from prosecuting “hate crimes” to prosecuting “hate speech.” It is true that the law routinely looks into defendants’ motives, and that some motives tend to draw tougher sentences than others. But our social divisions, especially over homosexuality, make it especially dangerous for the law to inquire into defendants’ prejudices—and “prejudices.” We want to deter and punish crimes against blacks, women, homosexuals, and everyone else. But we do not want to open the door to legal punishment for harboring incorrect thoughts about controversial issues—especially when those incorrect thoughts are part of the historic teaching of our major religions.

The bill’s sponsors seem, at best, oblivious to the risks. The bill’s definition of violence includes intimidation, which leaves considerable room for interpretation in the hate-crimes context. It also empowers the attorney general to help states enforce their own hate-crimes laws, which means that a liberal state, in concert with a liberal administration in Washington, could involve the federal government in envelope-pushing investigations and prosecutions.

A new federal law in this area is unnecessary and dangerous, and ought to be defeated.

Hear, hear. The time to consider the motives behind the crime is at the sentencing. Penalize the actions, not the motives.

To make thoughts and opinions illegal, no matter how vulgar or profane they may be, is a dangerous line to cross.

Friday, April 27, 2007

God Governs In The Affairs Of Men

"And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need its assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a Sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?"

-- Benjamin Franklin (Motion for Prayers in the Constitutional Convention, 28 June 1787)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Race to Blame

In the wake of yesterday's Virginia Tech shootings, I have little to add. It is hard, perhaps impossible, to understand the acts of madmen. And as of this morning, there's still so much we do not know.

That lack of information hasn't stopped the usual suspects, though. Already cries for more gun-control legislation are going out in the media and press. Of course, they ignore the fact that Virginia Tech banned its students from carrying weapons, even if they were qualified to do so under the state of Virginia's concealed-carry laws.

The fact is, yet another law only restricts the liberties of those willing to obey the law. For a madman with murder in mind, a weapons possession charge is the least of his worries.

Jack Dunphy writes in National Review
The rush to blame the school’s administration and police is a reflection of a society that believes any and all misfortune can be averted by the proper application of government will. At this very moment, politicians in Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C., are exerting their tiny brains trying to be the first to propose legislation that will “prevent the next tragedy.” The number of laws the killer broke on Monday will probably run to more than 20, but there are those who actually believe he might have been deterred by a few more strokes of a legislative pen. I can’t put it any more simply than this: There are evil people in the world, and no amount of laws will make them any less so.
The race to blame everyone besides the killer is on.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

u have 2 c

Jonah Goldberg's got a new G-File out, and he's in rare form, dismantling the so-called "Queen of Nuts Nice," Rosie O'Donnell, and her latest inanities.
Renowned metallurgist Rosie O’Donnell proclaimed on TV last Thursday that Sept. 11, 2001, was a more significant date than most of us realized. It was, in her words, “the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel.”

This, of course, came as news to steelworkers, blacksmiths, firefighters, manufacturers of samurai swords, and other fools who hadn’t realized that steel is forged in magic furnaces using dragon breath and pixie dust.
It gets better:
Asked if the government was responsible for its collapse, she coyly replied that she didn’t know. All she knows is that it’s “impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved” and that, for the “first time in history, steel was melted by fire.” Wink, wink. For the record, fire can melt steel, and buildings also collapse when heat weakens steel. But that misses the point. The point is we shouldn’t have to argue with crazy people.

Regardless, it appears that not even the heat of ridicule can weaken O’Donnell’s steely resolve to make an idiot of herself.

But the point Jonah goes on to make is all too true - she shares this craziness, and yet she is still on the air.

Why is that, ABC? She's making you guys look like a bunch of idiots.

I'm sure Father Coughlin would approve, though.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Height of Civilization

James Lileks, writing in The Bleat:
They’re turning off the Eiffel tower to save the planet. The tower – which is the largest metal refutation of the concept that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar – is probably fueled by nuke-juice, but never mind. It’s going off to set a good example. Let us all be inspired by the darkness... All lights will be turned off for five minutes to show concern. After which the lights will be turned back on, of course. It’s a peculiar inversion: the height of civilization now consists of undoing the plug, not connecting it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

VDH - "If We Fail"

From National Review:
If We Fail…
Been there, done that.

By Victor Davis Hanson

Most Americans accept that if the United States cannot stabilize Iraq, and, in frustration and acrimony, withdraws in defeat, crises follow. The only disagreement is over how bad they will be.

Some point to the aftermath of Vietnam and, mirabile dictu, think the world eventually went on pretty much the same. In this rosy view, the preordained end of the Cold War made the communist postwar Vietnamese increasingly entrepreneurial, and thus more pro-American than friendly to their erstwhile Chinese patrons.

Others, more soberly I think, recall instead in the interval the million-plus of boat-people, exiles, the executed, and detained — and the aftershocks that killed millions more in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Central America, once it was established that the United States would not, or could not, thwart Communist aggression. The Iranian hostage-taking and the rise of radical Islam itself were predicated on the idea that a post-Vietnam America would not intervene against terrorists, whether in Tehran or Lebanon. And Vietnam, of course, today is no South Korea, as millions there without freedom could attest.

The Ripple Effect

Be that as it may, we sometimes forget that there are also more insidious ripples that can emanate from Iraq. I can think of three for starters, all with post-Vietnam echoes.

The first will be the effect on the Democratic party itself, now riding high in its antiwar invective. Yet for a quarter century after Vietnam its antiwar hysteria warped its stance on issues such as the military, retaliation abroad for attacks on America, and the use of force in general.

Jimmy Carter’s paralysis during the hostage taking, the sending of Ramsey Clark to beg Tehran for a reprieve, Bill Clinton’s half-hearted responses to the attacks from the first World Trade Center to the USS Cole, all this, rightly or wrongly was seen as the legacy of the party that had imploded after Vietnam.

Now again we have gone from sizable majorities in the Congress warning about Saddam all during the 1990s and voting to remove him in October 2002, to essentially a single Joe Lieberman sticking through the messy reconstruction. Instead Howard Dean’s once-pathetic yeehawing has now infected the likes of Senators Boxer, Durbin, Kennedy, Kerry, and Rockefeller, who have respectively rebuked Condoleezza Rice for childlessness, compared our troops to Pol Pot, Nazis, and terrorists, assured that our soldiers are no different from Baathist killers at Abu Ghraib, and suggested that things in Iraq were once better under Saddam.

All that may, like Vietnam-era street theater, play well to the media. But eventually Iraq, also like Vietnam, will be over — while the protocols and culture of hysteria and derangement, like low-lying marsh gas, will linger and smell. A Henry Jackson or JFK would have had nothing to do with a Michael Moore, who now has entrée with the Democratic elite. If the Republicans were once embarrassed of the Buchanan Right, and the Democrats of the Cindy Sheehan Left, now the Democrats have apparently both of them in their antiwar camp. Good luck...

Much also has been written about the post-Vietnam War military, as it struggled after the draft, the drugs, and the odor of defeat. I worry in the same vein about a similar loss of confidence in our ground forces. Before Iraq, wild-eyed reformers talked of a new military paradigm of sanitized war, following from wins in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Panama, or Serbia. Bombing from on high with GPS ordinance and a few paratroopers or special forces were the supposed future — not old fashioned, everyday artillery, armor, and infantry.

That either/or dichotomy was, of course, absurd. But if we withdraw defeated from Iraq, like it or not, there will be the charge made that the United States should not commit sizable Army and Marine forces abroad on the ground — period, under any circumstances, at any time.

Vietnam and now Iraq will substantiate in greater detail what we tasted in Lebanon and Mogadishu — the impossibility of using large conventional forces in chaotic conflicts that will inevitably turn asymmetrical and terrorist. In that regard, an army on the shelf will fossilize, as we lose confidence that it can ever achieve anything worth its losses. Generals will promise victories in the sort of rare conventional wars they can easily win, and decline the more common messy ones they cannot.

In contrast, stabilize Iraq under horrific conditions, and the world is reminded that there is nothing that a brilliantly led and highly trained American infantry cannot accomplish. Win in Iraq, and there will be fewer future calls on the Army and Marines to repeat their victory; lose — and there will be far more need to do what they cannot.

George W. Bush, True Democrat

Third, there is a weird furor growing, on a bipartisan basis, at the Iraqis in general and the Arab world in particular. Prior to Iraq, there was some American guilt over past realism, whether stopping before Baghdad in 1991, playing Iran off Iraq, cozying up to dictatorships, or predicating American Middle East foreign policy solely on either oil or anti-Communism. Read the liberal literature of the 1990s and it was essentially a call for what George Bush is now doing — and being damned for. Then the liberal bogeyman was not Paul Wolfowitz, but Jim Baker (“jobs, jobs, jobs”/”F—- the Jews”). Now the latter is the model of Republican sobriety.

Arab intellectuals and much of the Western Left once decried Bakerism and called for a new muscular idealism that put us on the side of the powerless reformers and not with the entrenched authoritarians. But if we fail in Iraq, then again, fairly or not, the verdict will be far more sweeping than simply the incompetence of the Bremer proconsulship or the impotence of the Maliki government.

Rather, the conventional wisdom will arise that an infantile Middle East ipso facto — whether due to Islamism, tribalism, gender apartheid, sectarianism, engrained dictatorship, or corruption — is simply incapable at this time of consensual government. Anyone who seeks such reform, whether in the Gulf, Palestine, Lebanon, or Egypt, is to be written off not only as naïve, but as reckless as well. A Libyan dissident, a feminist writer in Egypt, or an Iraqi intellectual who decries Western indifference to their plight or American tolerance of regional dictatorships will be told to quit whining and get a life, by a been-there/done-that American public.

Both carping hothouse Arab intellectuals and Western liberals should be put on notice of this change to come. However imperfect, however flawed, however improperly explained our efforts in Iraq were, they nevertheless represented a costly American about-face to offer something in the Middle East other than theocracy or dictatorship — something we are not likely to see again in our lifetime.

Democrats and liberals should likewise realize that for all their hatred of George Bush and the partisan points to be gained by coddling up to the libertarian and paleo-conservative Right, George Bush’s embrace of freedom was far closer to their own past rhetoric than almost any Republican administration in history. And such an effort to foster democracy was in the long run smart as well, since ultimately a free Iraq would be the worst nightmare of the Islamic jihadists — as we read repeatedly in the rantings of Dr. Zawahiri.

In short, the next Democratic president who wishes to do something about the genocide in Darfur or another mass murderer in the Middle East, will find no support from Republicans, or — in no small part due to liberals’ slurs against the war they voted for — from the country at large.

Yes, we may see thousands killed, displaced, and maimed if the United States flees from Iraq. And that tremor in the foundations of American power may embolden everyone from Hugo Chavez to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But that is only the half of it.

Leaving Iraq prematurely will also damage the credibility of the Democratic party, the reputation of American ground forces, and the idealism of American foreign policy — just those principles that the critics of the war oddly claim they will be saving by fleeing.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Jonah Goldberg: Classical Libralism vs. Modern Liberalism

Jonah Goldberg, writing in The Corner today:
A classical liberal in the tradition of Locke would agree that government should imprison people etc. But that's a basic social contract obligation, like national defense. No conservative disagrees with this sort of understanding of the state's functions. The modern progressive liberal believes in more than negative liberty. He argues that the state must do good for people, give them things, opportunities, and even, as in the case of Hillary Clinton, John Dewey and the Great Society liberals "meaning." The state is there to do good — like a King or God-head. There are countless category errors and false assumptions to the idea that the state can play such a role or that it should in the first place. It's narcissistic because it assumes that the government has the ability to make me whole or happy and if only someone like me were in charge the government would do the right thing because I am the measure of all good things.

The problem (or a problem) as I've said before, is that the State cannot love you the way a parent or even a King can. It is a sprawling mechanism bound to make countless errors and in the process of trying to do right by one select group or individual, it will of necessity do wrong to some other group or individual. There are no policy solutions only policy trade-offs. So, if you think the State should fix the lives of group A it will — as a basic fact of economics — come at the expense of group B. Many liberals acknowledge this. They just see no problem with taking my money to do what they think God or some abstract conception of Good or Progress requires them to do. In short, liberals think they have sufficient knowledge and moral authority to either take from me things I do not want to give or to tell me how I should live my life. See, for a small recent example of where such thinking leads, Bloomberg's New York.