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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Monday, February 28, 2005

Newt and Ward: Twin Sons of Different Mothers?

Chefjef comments on my Newt post thusly:

Chosen by genetics at age 2? I would tease you with some Hitler remarks but I promised not to do that anymore. You were, I must admit, on a pretty good role until you suggested drowning in Budweiser vats - is that bad? If you had said Miller Genuine Draft, I may have volunteered. And caps on pro-athlete salaries? I agree theoretically, but what a mood shift for Monk, who I perceive to be (economically) a libertarian.

To which I, the Monkster, answer: I think you miss my point. I was deliberately vamping on the Pol Pot thing, trying to humorously support a case for the idea that human reason, used as sole guide and followed to its logical ends, results in tyranny of some form. That was also the point of my postscript comments on Wahabbi Suni islam. Oh well--not every schtick works. Point being, though, that we cannot invoke paradise by our own efforts and we cannot imminentize the eskaton, as they say. I agree that MGD needs the flavoring more than Bud. One point of correction, however: on economics, I am actually more Austrian School (you know: von Mises, Hayek, praxeology, et al) than a Libertarian. There are differences. I'll blog more on this in the future.

Chefjef: Newt Gingrich....come on. Really smart - yep. Erudite - yep; I have rather enjoyed several of his books. Musings on Islam - agree with 70% of it. Moral compass - non-existent. He had more trists than Slick Willy; where's the moral indignation from the Right. I really loved when he broke the news to his (second?) wife, while in her cancer bed, that he wanted a divorce to run off with his mistress. That was cool.

Response: Wow, you're right--I knew there was a reason I despised the guy back in the day, but had forgotten about the wife/deathbed thing. You're "dead" spot on about his (lack of) moral compass.

Be it known, all ye presents: The Monkster Regime formally unrehabilitates Newt Gingrich and bestows upon him, from this point forward, official Ass Hat status. Thus shall he ever be known.

Chefjef: On a serious note, though, who is this Churchill guy? I've never heard of him. Can you give some background? What is he whining about, regarding tenure a(which I define as government entitlement program number six thousand three-hundred and twenty) and what are his alleged anti-American positions?

Answer: ...speaking of ass hats... Ain't no "alleged" about it, son. Here are a few relevant links:

The World of Ward, in his own words...and more...and more...and more...and still more

A modest paucity of words from the blogosphere here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, there, and everywhere... You get the idea.

My own earlier comments on him here


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Friday, February 25, 2005

He Turned Me Into A Newt!

And I got better!

Say what you will about Gingrich's political mistakes in the 90s, he's hitting on all cylinders today:

We ought to favor freedom everywhere on the planet – even when it embarrasses our so-called allies. We are in a war with Irreconcilable Islam. It’s only three or four percent of Muslims, but it’s still 30 to 40 million people, funded by Saudi Arabia and increasingly based in Europe… We are seeing a cancer growing in Europe. You saw it in Holland, when Van Gogh was killed by fanatics who were Dutch, not foreign. This is a long war. It will take 30 to 70 years to win this if we’re lucky, longer if we’re not lucky. And it is a threat to our survival if they get biological or nuclear weapons…

Ward Churchill is a viciously anti-American demagogue. He has every right to free speech, and I support his free speech… We should give him free speech by not paying him.

You don’t need tenure in this country anyway. The idea that he would be oppressed without tenure is nonsense. There are 75 whacked-out foundations that would hire him for life. Dozens of Hollywood stars would hold fundraisers for him. His life will become a film by Michael Moore. The question here, is ‘What obligation does society have to fund its own sickness?’

We ought to say to campuses, it’s over…We should say to state legislatures, why are you making us pay for this? Boards of regents are artificial constructs of state law. Tenure is an artificial social construct. Tenure did not exist before the twentieth century, and we had free speech before then. You could introduce a bill that says, proof that you’re anti-American is grounds for dismissal.

I agree entirely. He is dead spot on about the war, who it is against, and how it is evolving.
He's also correct about about Ward Churhill, who is one of those individuals that encourages right-wing extremists like me to throw around "traitor" so easily. Of course, Newt is right about his rights. Finally, Newt is also right about tenure. It is a Screwtapian corrective--remember that the Devil warns us against those sins we are least likely to commit.

But perhaps we should take things a few steps further than Newt suggests--try the Pol Pot solution. First, abolish all the colleges (after assigning all the faculty to life breaking rocks, or shooting them outright). Then drive the students out into the countryside and force them either to get real jobs or starve to death. After ten years or so of sink or swim (and after cleaning up the thousands of desscated academic corpses along America's roadways), reopen a number of colleges and allow only those few students who had demonstrated extraordinary common sense (evidenced by such things as joining the Republican Party) to enroll. Subjects such as "ethnic" and "gender" studies and "comparative philosophy" would be banned forever and those who advocated reviving them would be taken to St Louis and drowned in factory vats of Budweiser (to improve the taste). All college sports would become professional, children would be recruited based purely on genetics at age 2, and the maximum salary for all athletes would be capped at $20,000. Teams winning world championships would be sacrificed and eaten, a la victorious Mayan poc ta poc players.

Doesn't that sound like a paradise?

No? Why not? I'm just using a little good ol' Enlightenment "common sense" after all. It meets MY test of reason. And who's to say my test is any worse than anyone else's? (Ward Churchill's, say...)

I'm just knowing myself then, presuming not God to scan,
Since the proper study of mankind is man...

PS: Back to Newt's original topic: If I were a muslim, I should be a Wahhabi (and perhaps still attend school in Alexandria VA), since it is islam properly thought through--taken from its first principles and reasoned to its logical end state. Christianity, thank God, leads to somewhat different ends.

PPS: Last gratuitous Age of Reason dig: Gibbon--hail, O shining creature of Enlightenment!--had nothing but praise for early islam, thinking it purer and less adulterated than Christianity, as did many other 18C intellectuals. And isn't that where reason should lead us?

Update: The last link above is mistaken (I expected too much of islamic scholarship). The quote is actually from Simon Ockley's (not Ocklay's) History of the Saracens (not Saracen Empire), published in London in 1708 (not 1870). Gibbon was an admirer of Ockley's, and was influenced by his thinking on islam, but the words are not his. They do, however, accord with Gibbon's thinking on islam.


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Women With Power Easily Unleash Ideation About Sex

Those words just go together so well!

Ann Althouse has musings concerning The One. She treats intelligently what I made jest of last night:

Women with power easily unleash ideation about sex -- and sex and power. If the woman can't be contained by the thought that her powerfulness has removed her sexuality altogether, then the thought becomes that her sexuality has merged with her power. In the case of Condoleezza Rice, who has a high position of power and is distinctly attractive, she seems to become a strange new being -- a superhero like Neo in "The Matrix"!

Is it wrong to talk about powerful women this way? I say no. Image, fashion, and beauty are all important. And we certainly didn't refrain from talking about how the male candidates for President looked in 2004. We obsessed over their ties, their hair and their makeup, and the bulges under their clothes. So go ahead and spout your theories about the meaning of Condoleezza Rice's high-heeled boots.

Mine is: these boots are made for running for President.

What she said...

Note the repetition of the Neo meme.

Last night, I cast Condi as Neo and Ann Coulter as Trinity, not mindful of the delicious implications this had. ("Some horror movies start this way, man!" "Yeah, but some porno movies start this way!")

By the way, I met the lady face to face in 1986, when she was the NSC's Russia expert. She was damn good looking then (and made damn good Rhubarb pie, as I recall. Please do not read anything metaphorical into that, fun as the thought may be. She had made a pie and brought a piece to my mother, whom she knew loved good Rubarb pie. That's all. I swear. Oh, and I rode the elevator down with her in the EOB, too. Okay, just stop what you're thinking right now!)

I am also eternally grateful that Dr Rice called my mother the day she died. My mom couldn't respond, but I know it meant a lot to her. It meant a lot to the other family members who were there, too. She is a total class act.


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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Is Condi "The One?"

Check out the free campaign plug for America's best-looking future president.

Wow. Great picture. Front page. Above the fold. Of the WaPo. What gives?

I know! It's the Neo Coat.

She's The One!

The Architect and Smith could only keep it suppressed for so long. Of course, the Merovingian suspected, but didn't want to believe it. The Oracle knew all along. So did Morpheus. And Trinity. Now the whole Matrix is aware. Soon, people will begin waking up.

Where we go from here is up to you.....


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Common Sense and the Founders

I post ChefJef's treatise without comment. It's not that I don't want to comment--I will, of course--but this tasty meal is only part way down the snake's gullet right now--swallowed, but only partly digested. I know "it's a long one" (a phrase Spongebob hears quite often), but "read the whole thing," as they say...

Garry Wills’ statement that “Americans have now come to resemble the Islamic jihadists that we are fighting” is ridiculous. But equally ridiculous is Veith’s statement that “[F]ear is often a prelude to active persecution.” Well, the statement itself is true. But its implication that the left may attempt to “persecute’ – volatile word when combined with “Christians” – is as specious as the “evangelicals are the same as jihadists” schema that does seem to have an audience on the Left.

First, kudos to Monk’s post. It is brilliant and well written (as usual). But I do want to make a counterpart to one portion of his otherwise flawless treatise. Monk said:“The Bible's perspective on man's sinful nature is the only corrective to this. And this is one of the reasons that America's founding was so special: it was fundamentally conservative. It sought to build a government that acknowledged man's eternal nature and restrain or exploit his natural appetites for the common good, not intensify or pander to them.”

I agree with Monk’s first sentence whole-heartedly, and I agree with the paragraph in principle. But some of our key Founders underlying premises, in devising a government desigend to restrain man’s natural appetites, were not based (unfortunately) in Christian principles, but were, in fact, Enlightment period principles embodied in the “Social Contract” philosophy.

On the face of it, the Constitution is a pure expression of the social compact. Following in the footsteps of John Locke, Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon described the social compact as “an association or compact of any number of persons, to deliver up or abridge some part of their natural rights, in order to have the strength of the united body, protect the remaining, and to bestow others.” In Witherspoon’s “Lectures on Moral Philosophy” editor Jack Scott noted that “[T]he central tenet of Witherspoon’s political philosophy in common with those of other American revolutionists was the theory of the social contract.”
Madison and other of the founding generation were disciples of Witherspoon, President of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Witherspoon looked to “sturdy common sense,” rather than biblical law as his source of authority in the civil sphere. His rationalistic approach to Scripture -as it speaks to the civil magistrate - is abundantly evident from his “Lectures on Moral Philosophy” (which were prepared for the senior class at Princeton and considered the culminating course of the college curriculum). They are based far more heavily on human reason and speculation than on biblical exegesis. Madison was an avid student of this philosophy.

Still, It is very important to note that some of the key founders were clearly influenced by Christianity. But, Witherspoon, Madison, Hamilton and others in this circle believed in a kind of practical, civil religion; a common sense ethic that would be inclusive of a fairly broad range of religious faith. This is why Unitarians like Franklin and Jefferson were welcomed.

In addition to Madison, Witherspoon influenced many of the delegates to the Constitutional convention. He was a Presbyterian minister who gave a big boost to Scottish, common-sense rationalism and established it as a credible school of thought within the church; it was an infusion of Enlightment reasoning into religious philosophy. In Witherspoon’s own words (see his “Lectures on Moral Philosophy”) this was a branch of Enlightenment thought in which, in his curriculum, he advocated a form of common sense politics, not explicitly Christian. Thus, natural law rules in the public sphere; there is a common ethic that governs all political entities. For example, we seem to find universal laws against murder in all civilized societies, regardless of their religious thought (Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, etc.)

This sort of dichotomy found its way into Madison’s philosophy, and his commitment to Scripture was concomitantly problematic; though Madison had been influenced by Voltaire and other European rationalists to believe that the Bible was not divinely inspired, he did believe that a ‘high Providence’ directed the destinies of nations.

Still, Madison and Hamilton were extremely concerned about the leavening influence of “faction.” Madison in particular was concerned with the tendency of factions to be “actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens....” (Federalist Papers #10). This is a legitimate concern. But Madison saw faction emanating from a variety of sources, including organized religion: “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man...a zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points.... (Federalist #10).”

Madison regarded religion as a divisive and impotent force for social cohesion. “...we well know …that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control [for faction].” This can also be found in sources other than the Federalist. For example, in Madison’s Detached Memoranda in the 1846 “William & Mary Quarterly” (3rd Quarter) Madison voices concerns about “the danger of silent accumulations & encroachments by Ecclesiastical Bodies” and “the danger of a direct mixture of Religion & civil Government.” Madison also lamented that, “[T]he establishment of the chaplainship to Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles.”

The First Amendment as well as his earlier “Memorial & Remonstrance in Virginia” make it clear that Madison believed government should keep its hands off the church, but also that religion should reciprocate and have little if any influence on civil government. He was committed to the ideal of a secular republic and a strict separation of church and state. In the place of religion Madison exalted the republican model as the remedy which “promises the cure for which we are seeking” (Federalist Papers #10). But the Republican model included, implicitly, certain Enlightenment principles.

The key to the success of Rome, Polybius declared in his “Histories (Book V1)”, was it’s mixed government. This was not an entirely new idea- Plato hinted at it in “The Republic”, as had Aristotle in his discussions of the polity. The Roman Republic (prior to Julius Caesar) was a model of this mixed form of government which divided power among three three branches of government: the Assembly, the Senate and an (executive) group of “consuls” to put the Assembly and Senates policies into effect. Thus, no one group was able to pursue it’s own interests at the expense of the common good.

A Republic, then, was a form of popular government, but it was never intended to be a democracy (the Greeks, with the exception of the Athenians, saw true democracy as rule without Divine authority, and were very leery of it).

Democracy, said Polybius, promoted vice- the self-interested rule of the common people- whereas a republic promoted virtue- the same type of “virtue” advocated by Rev. Dr. Witherspoon’s humanistic view of “common-sense” religion. Republican virtue, to the Romans and Greeks, was the ability to rise above personal or class interest, to place the good of the whole community above ones own personal or business interests.

A millennia later, under the inspiration of these ancient philosophers, Renaissance philosophers concluded that life on earth was not simply a vale journey that the Christian (in their view) must take on his or her way to the Kingdom of God in heaven. On the contrary, life on earth was worth fully living.

These ideas were developed more fully by Machiavelli . For Machiavelli, a serious writer of political philosophy, the republic was a preferred form of government in which vigilant citizens jealously guard their liberty against encroachment by would be tyrants. Liberty, as Machiavelli understood it, is self government. He saw complacency and indifference among the populace as death to a republic.

In his “Discourses,” Machiavelli asserted that a complacent and indifferent citizen is one who cares more for money and luxury than the commonwealth; the love of wealth, luxury, and ease, combined with a corresponding indifference to public affairs is corruption, and the greatest danger a republic faces is corruption from within.

A mixed government, a virtuous citizenry, the rule of secular law- this was the ideal of the “republic” that Machiavelli adapted from Plato, Aristotle, and Polybius in his “Discourses.”

This vision inspired what is referred to as the “Atlantic Republic tradition;” a way of thinking about politics that spread from Italy into Great Britain in the 17th century and found it’s way into the writings of economists and philosophers such as John Locke, John Adams and Rev. Dr. Witherspoon. James Madison put it this way in Federalist #39:

“The first question that offers itself is, whether the general form and aspect of the government be strictly republican. It is evident that no other form could be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the Revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government. If the plan of the convention, therefore, be found to depart from the republican character, its advocates must abandon it as no longer defensible.”

American colonists opposed to King George III’s increasing tariffs and despotism couched their arguments in republican terms, but with a new twist. They developed an idea called democratic republicanism. James Madison was a primary proponent of this ideal. He believed that a republic was desirable, but the key to a successful republic was to “keep ambitious people from destroying liberty.” But Madison saw religious zealots as “ambitious people.” In his words, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition...It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest reflections upon human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” (The Federalists #10)

There is a noticeable absence in Madison’s analysis; no mention of God or biblical principles. His reference to men not being angels and angels not governing is an implicit admission – if one reads back to some of Rev. Dr. Witherspoon’s teachings - that he does not trust human nature, whether they be a “religious” man or not. I think that the Founders rightly saw the danger of establishing or subsidizing any particular Christian denomination. However, in their zeal to disestablish all denominations at the national level, they also disestablished religion, and thereby God. Even for those among you who hold the idea that the Founders were Christian men intending a “Christian based Constitution,” or a “Christian-principle based” constitution, even if that is what the Founders may have meant, latter day atheists and non-Christians (of which there are obviously too many in America) have taken their words at face value to reinforce the view that Christianity should be excluded from the public square. The seemingly innocuous seeds sown so many years ago by the key Founding Fathers, in the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, etc., are today bearing a bitter harvest.


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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Resistance Is Futile...

As if there wasn't enough for us Rove-robot Right-wingers to be ashamed of today...

...Ted Rall has ripped the lid off bloggerdom and exposed us for what we really are:
The Borg.

Borg-like, the various right-wing blogs simultaneously discuss the same stories, applying identical rhetoric. They create blacklists and urge their readers and fellow bloggers to threaten and harass their targets. Surfing this cheesy world of flag-draped neo-McCarthyite HTML makes it impossible to deny Columbia Journalism Review writer Steve Lovelady's conclusion that most are "salivating morons" who form an ideological "lynch mob." Worse, many of the right-wing bloggers are flat-out liars.

Those who used to read my emailed Borghive signals (rather than just delete them unread, like most people) will be familiar with Ted. As you can tell from the foregoing extract, he's the Cary Grant of ass-hats: a man so suave and sophisticated, so absent that pervasive, jejune Right-wing simplisme, that you just imagine him lounging cross-legged in a Mallet-Stevens easy chair, smoking jacket slightly open at the neck, sipping a martini made with finest Bombay. One look at his website or cartoons will confirm the impression. Subtlety, thy name is Ted.

And he's got us dead to rights. We must cringe and withdraw before shining insight like Rall's and Lovelady's. In fact, I myself feel so chagrined that I owe it to my readers (both of you!) to answer publicly some of the tough questions the MSM has been posing to bloggers. Some of the toughest come from Frank J., tireless champion of truth. Herewith, my own answers to...

The "Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?" Blogger Quiz.

1. Who the hell do you think you are?

Nobody important. Just ignore me. Please.

2. So, other than blogging, what's your job? Do you work at some fast food joint, dumbass?

Worse! I am a willing tool of the Military-Industrial Complex. (I'm so ashamed!)

3. Do you have like any experience in journalism, idiot?

None. You caught me playing in Daddy's shoes. I know I oughtn't be messin' with journalism stuff without a degree from the Columbia School, but I just couldn't help myself! It won't happen again! Honest!

4. Do you even read newspapers?

Not really. I only get the Montgomery Advertiser and I'm not sure it qualifies. It does come in handy for lining the birdcages, though.

5. Do you watch any other news than FOX News propaganda, you ignorant fool?

No. Guilty as charged, but Karl Rove told me not to! Sometimes, though, when I'm in my car, far from the Government's microwave towers, I put on my foil hat (so Karl can't read my thoughts!) and tune in NPR. It's delicious! You smart guys gotta tell me, though: Snick Paprikash, or whatever her name is, she's not a real person, right? She's just the news reader using a funny voice and name, huh?

6. I bet you're some moron talk radio listener too, huh?

Yep. Guilty again, but the signals from the Mothercube are only broadcast as harmonic resonances on the Glenn Beck and Hugh Hewitt shows.

7. So, do you get a fax from the GOP each day for what to say, you @#$% Republican parrot?

No. Like I said...the Mothercube...Glenn Beck...

8. Why do you and your blogger friends want to silence and fire everyone who disagrees with you, fascist?

I don't WANT to. I just can't seem to stop! I wish this humming in my head would go away!

9. Are you completely ignorant of other countries, or do you actually own a passport?

I used to have one, but I don't show it to many people nowadays. The picture was taken in 1979. I look like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. (He's a Republican too. Did you guys know that?). No, I travel on government orders. They get me anywhere I need to go.

10. Have you even been to another country, you dumb hick?

Only to bomb them and kill people or plunder their loot.

11. If you're so keen on the war, why haven't you signed up, chickenhawk?

I used to be signed up, but they kicked me out--too old; too slow; still look too much like Shaggy. Any more, when I go to bayonet a kid or dash some little girl's brains on a column, they run away and I can't catch 'em! I'm no use to Them anymore...

12. Do you have any idea of the horrors of war? Have you ever reached into a pile of goo that was your best friend's face?

Yes, but it was at a party; it had nothing to do with war.

13. Have you ever reached into any pile of goo?

I like goo.

14. Once again, who the hell do you think you are?!

Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!


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The Rove Conspiracy: Caught On Tape!

The jig is up! We've been caught! The Left is now on to us and I, for one, am ashamed...

Several days ago, Rep Maurice Hinchey...[/cue "some people call me 'Maur-rrrrice'-whoop whoop" sound bite from Steve Miller's "Space Cowboy"/] (D -NY), Tireless Champion of the People, claimed that the Eeevil Karl Rove eeevilly planted the faked National Guard memos that cost half the CBS News staff their jobs and is forcing Dapper Dan Rather into early retirement. Most dismissed this as merest tinfoilhattery and idiotarianism. Hinchey persisted, however, even in the face of a right-wing blog-storm undoubtedly stirred up at Rove's behest.

Shockingly, it seems Hinchey was right. A disgruntled White House inner operative secretly recorded Rove's instructions to his evil minions and leaked the tape to Aussie blogger Tim Blair. The transcript is a must-read.

This changes my mind about a lot of things. I had no idea Rove worked directly for Satan. I was also unaware that Clarence Thomas, Ann Coulter, and Hugh Hewitt are his paid lackeys and that there actually IS an Evil Rove World Headquarters buried deep beneath Washington's unsuspecting and benignly public-minded streets.

It's true though. All true. I must reexamine things....
I must go fold some tinfoil...

I think we all owe a big debt of gratitude to Rep Hinchey. I'd like all VaA readers and correspondents to give a warm round of applause to America's newest, bestest buddy and big toe, Maur-rrrice.


Update: Schneikies! The truth is even deeper and crookeder than I realized!

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Taliban West

Correspondent Max sends the following:

Concerning the Dubya Hitler-reincarnated thing, have you seen the piece in World magazine titled, "Taliban West?" Most liberal folk would say the author is targeting a more extreme lefty than they are personally, but I think it covers a decent chunk of the left and is a nice summary for knuckle draggin' fighter guys such as moi.
I have linked to the World article because it provides a very good general introduction to Leftist hatred of Christianity and the proper Christian response to it. Unfortunately, having spent years "wrestling the pig," as it were, I can anticipate much of the Left's response. For instance, to questions like,

If conservative Christians are the same as jihadist Muslims, and President Bush is the same as Osama bin Laden, why are they fighting each other?
The answer will be, "for the same reason Hitler fought Stalin: to divide up the spoils." Still, the article provides an excellent starting point for debate. It contains one particularly nice insight:

Mr. Wills is right, though, when he says that the Enlightenment is over. But surely, as a professor at Northwestern, he knows that this is what postmodernist academics have been saying for decades. The modern era, as an age of reason, is finished. If that is so, relativism is one option. But another is religious faith.
Right. The "Enlightenment" is dead. And that's a good thing. The Age of Reason and its aftermath is history's most effective treatise on the limits of human reason. It spawned the world's first truly totalitarian impulse: the French Revolution and Napoleon's tyranny. The philisophes reasoned correctly: absent some tie to what's eternal, man's nature is malleable, perhaps infinitely so. In that kernel of insight is the origin of every modern form of totalitarianism and tinfoilhatism, from today's soft-core, armchair Bush hatred to the genocides of Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, and Hitler. The Age of Reason released man from the "burden" of being yoked to God and God's nature, and that gave him the "freedom" to then be anything he set his reason to.

Is man born free but is everywhere in chains? Then perhaps we should free him. Most of mankind lives benighted in anti-modern regimes. Let's see... We'll need a big army to free them , won't we? Let's build one and get marching! (Napoleonic Wars, 1 - 6 million killed)

Is man born good and then corrupted by greedy social institutions? Then perhaps he can be trusted to usher in and run a classless society, absent those greedy institutions, where everyone will help everyone else and no one will actually own anything. Man was born good, right? Then he can be brought back to being good. Of course, he made need some help to get there... And a few who stand in the way may have to be "helped to understand"... (Communism, 20 - 40 million killed)

Is man born desperately yearning for some deep Kultur from the dawn of time--some magic sense of community that warmed his soul when he walked the forests or first built his great city states? Then perhaps modern industrialism can help him find his lost soul again by providing a modern version, suitably dressed up by mass media and the state. Of course, all those who don't share that ancient soul are inferior, worthy only of being slaves... (Fascism, 15-30 million killed)

Each of these thought systems came complete with a set of instructions for defining "us" and "not us." And, absent any restraining yoke to the eternal (to concepts like the equality of all before God or the sacredness of all human life), each became an engine for the unscrupulous to exploit the "not us" for the sake of the "us." Human nature being what it is, men have always done this to each other, but in the post-Enlightenment age, an essential set of restraints was removed and a system of rationalizations for liking "us" and disliking "not us" was set in its place, allowing all of man's intellectual and physical energy to be devoted to bettering "us" at the expense of "not us." What followed in every case was savagery, darkness, and death.

The Bible's perspective on man's sinful nature is the only corrective to this. And this is one of the reasons that America's founding was so special: it was fundamentally conservative. It sought to build a government that acknowledged man's eternal nature and restrain or exploit his natural appetites for the common good, not intensify or pander to them. It's important to remember that America's revolutionaries were thought intellectually backward ("how 1688!") by Britain's cognoscenti, who had fallen in love with proto-modern statism and mechantilism. Ours is the only modern revolution that can make this claim. And ours is the only revolution that did not descend into tyranny or rutting barbarism.

Max concludes on a different note:

SpongeBob? Jim Dobson said this one has attracted more media coverage than all the other much weightier issues he has raised in the past. Seems he was taken well out of context, but it makes for juicy newslines, hence the feeding frenzy.

Well, the Spongebob thing is easy to make fun of and that, finally, is the point, isn't it? Still, I have my doubts about the boy, despite what Hans thinks.


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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

22 February 1732

Today is actually George Washington's birthday. Powerline has an excellent short tribute to him. You should read it:

Today is the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Of all the great men of the revolutionary era to whom we owe our freedom, Washington's greatness as the rarest, the most necessary, and, at this remove in time, the hardest to understand.

He's a hard man for us to grasp. He was proud, almost arrogant, seeming cold and aloof to many. He thought very much like a conservative, wealthy, well-connected backcountry Englishman of his time, which is what he was until the world and God's will molded him into something different and greater. He was almost as great an innovator as Franklin and Jefferson, but he is seldom recognized for this. One trip to the new restorations at Mount Vernon will verify it, however. He was a slave owner, yes; but he was renown for his humane treatment of his slaves. His view was very much an Englishman's: he was bound to all his workers, white and black, by ties of (for want of a better term) noblesse oblige--they were in essence all part of a community together. And when he died, he freed all his slaves, unlike the liberal icon Jefferson.

He helped create the mold that made archetypal Americans like Jackson and Lincoln, but he was not made from it himself. Lincoln is more accessable to us--he seems more real, more American. Washington does not. He seems...something else. Something great, to be sure, but something remote from what we are. This accounts for his relative obscurity, I think. It's unfortunate. There is much we should relearn about the first half of our country's history--the time before it was the United States. There's even more we could learn from the process of making the mold that made the archetypal American.

The Powerline post recommends Brookhiser's Founding Father, which is a decent general introduction, doing a good job of explaining why Washington was important. The post also favorably mentions James Thomas Flexner's Washington, The Indispensable Man. I'm not so fond of this book. Having read most of the recent Washington literature at one time or another, I find Flexner sensationalizes and contains factual errors. The book is a good read, however. My own favorite among recent biographies is Harrison Clark's two-volume All Cloudless Glory. This is the truest to the ultimate source: Douglas Southall Freeman's definitive (but sadly unavailable) 7-volume work.

As Big Trunk has it, "let us send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days for this indispensable man."


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Monday, February 21, 2005

The Blogs Must Be Crazy!

Herewith, an excellent article by Peggy Noonan that explains the nature of opinion blogging, the importance it has for journalism and the explication of the truth nowadays, and the reasons the mainstream media (MSM) dislike bloggers so intensly. This will be an especially useful article for those largely unfamiliar with blogging. She writes:

That you get it free doesn't mean commerce isn't involved, for it is. It is intellectual commerce. Bloggers give you information and point of view. In return you give them your attention and intellectual energy. They gain influence by drawing your eyes; you gain information by lending your eyes. They become well-known and influential; you become entertained or informed. They get something from it and so do you.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.


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Friday, February 18, 2005

Imperialism and Treason: The Debate Continues

ChefJef continues our conversation of the last several days:

While an intelligent person may reasonably infer from my comments that I was saying a direct comparison of a U.S. President and Hitler is okay, I did not imply it. I believe I mentioned that that would be insane. I also believe that, in Monk’s quote of the newspaper article that covered the “art” story, the article stated that the “art” display did not draw a comparison between Bush and Hitler. This is why I limited the scope of my comments to a discussion of certain tactics, and why I said “grain” of truth, not simply truth. I’ll admit, to us lawyers adjectives and adverbs are important; maybe too important. Perhaps linguistic nuances to the legally educated are, rightly so, hollow verbage to the sane world. Accordingly, perhaps the preceding has clarified, with my apologies, any erroneous, yet reasonable inferences drawn but unintended from my previous comment.
Counselor, you have me there. I do not think YOU intended even an inference that Bush = Hitler. I do not think you believe this; I sincerely believe that you, like me, think a serious comparison of this nature is a) nuts—carpet-chewing, tinfoil hat stuff—and b) stupid—thoroughly ignorant of history and the nature of evil in the world.

That said, I DO think that the boy and, more to the point, his teachers in Rhode Island, DID intend a direct comparison, even if the boy represented this disingenuously as a comparison between the tactics or operational art of the Wehrmacht and US forces. This is not how the comparison was taken and is not how it was intended. Whatever the words that accompanied the mobile said, a depiction of Hitler giving the Zeig Heil in front of toy soldiers of one (wrong) color directly next to W holding his arms up in front of his own goosestepping toy army cannot reasonably be taken any other way. Many learned treatises (some of them mine) have compared the doctrinal and technological revolution represented in Blitzkrieg with the current transformation of military practice. This is a valid—and values-neutral—line of research. It carries no implied comparison of Hitler’s ideology with that of the Bush administration. The Rhode Island kid’s project did. Period. Regardless of your own opinion on the subject, Chefjef—a reasonable one, I think—this is what the kid and his BlueState betters meant to be taken from his efforts. Any wordy protests and demurrals on their part are just legalese.

ChefJef continues:

I understand Monk’s aversion to the use of the President’s name in same sentence with Hitler. I’ll admit, reading your argument I can “feel” how it offends you. I’ll also admit that I did fully understand it until now. But having read your post, I understand your position, and concede it; so much so that I will avoid doing it, and make the point to anyone who may do it in my presence.

Us RedStaters ‘presheate that. Gitrdone!

That being said, perhaps some on the Right will understand that some on the Left and in the Middle – yes, I consider myself in the Middle, stop laughing Monk! – find objectionable the “looseness” with which some on the Right use the terms traitor and treason. Not just in the legal sense, either, but also, as Monk stated, in the qualitative sense. For example, I have had people in the recent past question my patriotism for my criticism of President Bush, the Iraq war and my suggestions that the war (particular the Wolfowitz, et al, ideology behind it) is somewhat imperialistic – imperialistic de facto, not de jure; just because a person thinks they’re actions are benevolent doesn’t mean they actually are (after all Don Quijote thought himself sane!). Benedict Arnold was a traitor. Me, I served 8 years in the Army, 2 in the Infantry – not a rear unit, the Infantry. Then, after the start of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, I voluntarily enlisted in a highly deployable M.P. unit in the Army Guard, even though I disagree with the current war, because our forces are a tad low on qualified leaders and I can’t sit by watching my American brethren go off to the desert like that. Oh yeah, I serve my city everyday at work, too. I KNOW I am a loyal American. I have served and continue to serve my Country, State and City. Thus, when I, or someone like me, is accused of disloyalty because of our sincere political analysis, (someone like Michael Moore may be different – there is a sincerity and honesty issue there) I find it beyond offensive. Let’s not forget that this boy we are discussing is in fact just a kid, and one who is clearly, I think we all agree, surrounded by less than objective educators. I truly doubt he is a disloyal traitor.

I concede your point again. I have used the term too loosely at times, I admit. For that I apologize, especially if it has offended an obvious member of the loyal opposition such as yourself. I honor your service, as you have honored mine, and have no doubts whatsoever concerning your loyalty to your country and your community. I can think you a fine American—and I do—and still disagree with you, even on “first principles.” That is, after all, much of the point of this blog. Debating these issues with civility and intelligence is an art that has largely been lost in this age’s partisan fog. It is an art our founding fathers possessed, as you yourself have pointed out. Our founding age was remarkable for the open debate that took place between fine minds of differing points of view and the survival and prosperity of our Republic is in large part a reflection of the reasonable compromise on first principles they were able to achieve. I’m confident similar common cause can be found today; we just need to get past the kind of rhetoric that both sides have over-indulged in these last twenty years or so. The Civil War was an example of what happens even in a nation based on reasoned, moderate first principles when civil discourse breaks down.

I believe I made clear in my last post that there is a distinction to be made between the benevolence of intent and the fact of empire. Conquer, keep, and rule—you do those things and you are an empire. If you sweep away an army and government, set up civil rule of law, and ultimately withdraw all but your commercial interests, you are not an empire, you have a sphere of influence. The US sphere of influence today spans the globe. (I don’t consider that such a bad thing, either.) If we are an empire and if our motives are imperialistic, then the definition of empire has morphed to include the exercise of soft power as well as hard power. By this definition, the Vatican is an empire that spans the globe too. Wahabbi Sunni is also an empire that spans half a billion screaming muslims (scary thought, that). This may be reasonable, but it does not accord with the conventional definition of empire.

A note to veep…. Monk already dealt with the assertion that a democracy cannot be imperialistic. Also, you asked how spreading democracy can be imperialistic. Well, that’s depends upon how it is spread. If a democratic country invades, let’s say, a socialist country (okay…I’ll admit an invasion of Canada - excuse me Kannukistan - would be cool)…


…where the citizens actually desire and enjoy their socialist existence, and we do so for the purpose of “manifest destiny,” it is probably imperialistic. To simplify, if you have a piece of chocolate cake, and I say, “ sure do like cake,” and you give me a piece, you are a sharing person. If you have the cake and ask me if I want a piece, and I say “no, thank you,” and you say “but you don’t understand how good it is” and then forcibly shove it down my face, well then you’re not a sharer, you’re an assault and batterer. A simplistic example, I know, but the underlying moral and legal principle applies equally to cake sharing and war making.
Uh…..nice try, but no. We forced an end to Fascism on Italy and Germany, an end to militaristic imperialism (correctly defined) on Japan and an end to communism on Soviet Russia, but none of these actions were “imperialistic” per se. We conquered the first three of these countries, yes. But we administered them for several years (taking casualties from disgruntled insurgents the whole time) and we eventually restored or established the civilian rule of law and left them to their own devices. This WAS “assault and battery,” a point I readily concede (albeit they started it), but it WAS NOT imperialism. If I force you to eat a piece of my Napoleon against your will, it is a form of assault. If I then put a gun to your head, put you in a cage, and force you to do my bidding from now ‘til…whenever…that is imperialism. Again, America has done this in the past, even though the results were largely benevolent, but it is NOT doing so in Iraq.

ChefJef goes on,

That brings me to one small point to Monk. You mentioned that “how” doesn’t matter in the analysis of pre-emption vs. imperialism. Well, I think those on the receiving end may very much differ.
They may. And they’d be wrong. I’m sure the denizens of Dresden thought it was “imperialistic” of us and the Brits to turn them into 100,000 hunks of well-done steak in atonement for their nation’s genuine imperialism, but they’d be wrong, too. I’m sure the people of Hiroshima would have thought it similarly nasty of us to turn them into shadows and grease spots on the pavement, had they had time to think about it. Terrible? Perhaps. Assault? Certainly. Perhaps even murder in the strict sense. But imperialism? No. It was not. By the same token, I’m sure Slobodan Milosevic thought we were being bloody “imperialistic” when Bill Clinton ordered his cronies’ porn and stolen car parts factories bombed back to the Middle Ages, but, again, that was assault, not imperialism. One can wage war, kill, destroy, coerce, and impose one’s will in a multitude of ways and those you are attacking can curse you to heaven from now until doomsday, but none of this will be “imperialism” unless the attacker’s intent is to conquer, keep, and rule.

Lastly, and most importantly, as Monk pointed out I did vote with my feet. You got me there! Darn!
As the wise man said, young Grasshopper: GITRDONE!

By the way, I think your blog is swimming along splendidly. Kudos!

Thanks—and you are a large part of the reason it is. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!


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Thursday, February 17, 2005

An Empire of Words

Three of my correspondents have weighed in on the issue of the young Rhode Islander’s award-winning Bush = Hitler school project. Now it’s my turn.

Let me say at the outset that I agree with ChefJef’s objection to the kind of blind partisanship that leads to uncivil discourse. I don’t “fear for the Republic,” as ChefJef claims to—the Republic has seen much worse even in calm periods than the current era has put in its path (we don’t have Congressmen caning each other in the Capitol, for example)—but I do wish to encourage the civil exchange of ideas on this website. I think the new media—the ones that are rapidly toppling our self-appointed masters from the pinnacles of their information empire (see below for definition of this term)—are especially well suited to this task. Nonetheless, this blog will rapidly descend to the level of many others if we attack each other. I know I’m as guilty of blind partisanship as the next guy (Hans, for instance) and I will continue to express outrageous opinions in outrageous terms. Still, I think we need to refrain from ad hominem attacks in these pages. Margaret Cho and Rush Limbaugh are fair game. ChefJef and Hans are not. Fair enough?

In his last post, ChefJef wrote:

“The art was cheesy…but I don’t see how it is treasonous.”
You’re right, counselor. You would know better than I, but what the kid in Rhode Island did was certainly not treason in any legally actionable sense, as Hans admits. He was merely exercising his free speech rights and I would not seek to deny him that opportunity, however objectionable or ridiculous his speech may have been.

In a larger, qualitative sense, however, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to question the patriotism of someone who directly compares an American President he or she disagrees with to the most coldly, systematically evil dictator in human history,* unless the result is that the POTUS—however squamous—comes across as reason, light, dark beer, and cold cream. (I despised Nixon, but he couldn’t rise to the level of Francisco Franco in my mind. I hated Clinton and thought he should have been removed from office, but he wasn’t even as bad as Nixon in my book—he was certainly no Hitler.) You can argue that W is dumb, his policies are dumb, his cabinet is dumb, and his dog is dumb from now until doomsday, but when you seriously make (that is, in the boy’s case, parrot) a comparison of this type, you are outside the bounds of what may reasonably be thought of as the actions of a loyal American, at least in colloquial terms. You have a perfect right to do it, of course, but I also have the perfect right to think you a traitor, even though you haven’t yet proven that you are in any legally meaningful sense. I suspect most RedState Americans would agree with me.

ChefJef said,

“Furthermore, there is a grain of truth to the [boy’s] assertion. Am I saying Bush is a Nazi? Of course not; that's insane. But, the German blitz - among other things –was imperialistic in nature. The "Bush Doctrine," as it were, is also imperialistic. Now, whether or not the doctrine is justifiable is another question. A pre-emptive strike is a pre-emptive strike; some are justifiable while others aren't, but those that are justified do not, as a result of so being justified, somehow become ‘un- preemptive.’”

I beg to differ. There is not even a quark of truth to the boy’s assertion. As you say, it’s insane. It’s also I’gn’rant, as we say down here. German Blitzkrieg (as well as “the Blitz,” which is commonly taken to mean “the German bombing of London during WW II”), and all their other WW I and II campaigns, were imperialistic. That is, they sought to grab territory, resources, dependencies, and slave populations from conquered nations; to administer them directly or by suzerainty as part of an empire run solely by Germans or their immediate dependents; and to permanently occupy them with German or allied soldiers. This is not a narrow definition—throughout human history, this has been the common understanding of “empire.” An empire is a “hard power” entity. America exercises “soft power.” Our TV and movies are usually more influential than our troops, or even our cash. Yes, in many ways we are what Rome was to the Western world for many centuries and what Manchu China was to East Asia for even longer. Nonetheless, we are not an empire and our actions in Iraq were not “imperialistic,” however pervasive our influence may be. Jesus Christ, through moral suasion, influenced all history and thus sundered many empires. He created no earthly empire of his own. (Of course, He already had one elsewhere, in a manner of speaking.)

In Iraq, we sought to reduce a security threat (whether rightly or wrongly, you decide), establish a viable ideological and sociological alternative to both rogue and islamic fundamentalist regimes (rightly or wrongly, you decide), and secure access to a resource vital to the entire developed world free from the dictates of an unstable autocrat (rightly or wrongly, you decide). None of these things, however wrongheaded you may think them, were “imperialistic.” Neither was our war in Vietnam, contrary to the charges of people like John Kerry. Our aim there was not to conquer, keep, and rule. You can argue that it was stupid to stand in the way of an independence movement that was at least as much nationalist as communist. You can also argue that the war as fought was ill thought out and poorly run. But you cannot reasonably argue that our motives and efforts were imperialistic. Those that did so in the 60s were moonbats, by virtue of their unreasoned position, and, yes, many of them became traitors in what would have been a legally actionable sense in any age but ours, although that is peripheral to the issue at hand.

To put the term in perspective, Britain’s conquest and occupation of India was imperialistic. Even though its consequences were largely benevolent, it still met the criteria set forth above. By the same token, America’s conquest of Cuba and the Philippines in the early 20th century was imperialistic. If we get no ultimate benefit from military action other than a pseudo-democratic-republican country that provides us a market for our goods, it’s not imperialistic. This answers the Veep’s contention that we can’t act imperialistically because we’re a democratic country. Of course we can. We have done so and so has Great Britain, the Queen Mother of democracies in the modern world. But we have not done so in Iraq. If the Iraqi campaign was imperialistic, then so was our occupation of Germany and Japan following WW II. Further, the issue of whether the move was justified doesn’t determine whether the move was imperialistic. Again, most of Britain’s imperial conquests were benevolent, but they were still imperial in nature. We, the American Democratic Republic, may someday be justified in taking imperialistic action—even in Iraq—but that is a separate issue for another time.

Our young parrot was not critiquing or comparing the tactic of pre-emptive military action and pre-emption has nothing per se to do with imperialism. The latter is a matter of ultimate aim, not of the operational-level courses of action chosen to accomplish the military objectives. The “what” and “why” matter, not the “how”—what we do with the land once the enemy is conquered, not the conquest itself, matters most. In fact, even the word “conquer” is wrong, because it is informed by ages of imperial conquest and carries, at least implicitly, the taint of empire—even if, as in Germany, Japan, and Iraq, it is not “imperialistic” by nature.

I belabor this point because it is central to ChefJef’s argument. He maintains that this is the only aspect in which the boy intended the comparison. This is simply untrue. Even if the boy stated this as his intent, it was disingenuous—he intended the blindly partisan calumny to be taken in its larger, colloquial sense and so did the Rhode Island cognoscenti who endorsed the project. That is part of the problem of blind partisanship that ChefJef himself identifies. The leftists in Rhode Island are preaching to the choir. The Bushitler meme was such a commonplace for leftists during the presidential campaign that it’s not even noticed when it emerges in other venues: “Oh, little Johnny did a cute Bushitler mobile for art class. Isn’t that sweet! Gee, let’s give it a blue ribbon and send a picture of it to the New York Times. I HATE Bush. And that Hitler guy, he was pretty bad too, wasn’t he? He did something really awful in….where was it? China? Denver? Europe? That was it! Europe. I remember hearing about that place in college. Yeah. He did something really bad in Europe. My college professor told me that. Really cool guy. Laid back. Smoked pot. Really liberal. Gave everyone an ‘A.’ There was something about the Jews, too. Hitler was a Jew, right? Just like those damn Israelis! God, I hate those guys, oppressing the Palestinians like they do! Just like Bush. The whole world is controlled by the Jews and Bush! Bush is Hitler! Kill them all! And send a picture of little Johnny’s project to Washington! That’ll show those bloodsuckers!”

And so goes BlueState America.

We will never move toward consensus or intelligent civil discourse in this country until we get past this kind of bullshit.

That said, I agree entirely on ChefJef’s last two points—that the project represents a lowering of academic standards and that blind partisanship is strangling civil discourse in this country. I think my parody of BlueState academic standards shows my thinking on that score. The Red States are not much better, of course. Some are worse in a number of ways. Still, I grew up going to school in and around Washington DC—as Blue State as it gets. We had to worry about getting shot going to and in school. Down here in the “backward” Red States, I might have to worry about a teenager playing his music too loud, but even that’s rare. I put this to ChefJef: Where would you rather raise you children? In Los Angeles, where you grew up, or in Alabama? I think you have already made that vote with your feet, brother, regardless of what you may say on the subject. As to civil discourse—well, cool it, Hans, and all other do alike.

There is one more issue to deal with. All the Rhode Island boy’s work and several of ChefJef’s comments imply that a comparison between Hitler and any US president is “in bounds.” This diminishes the evil that Hitler represented. Hans has it exactly right, I think. The Veep does too. Where are the concentration camps? Where is the genocide? Note that I mean genocide here in its real-world sense: attempting to kill an entire people. I do not mean the sense that has been used by the leftist press for many years: “something the Right does involving the death of at least one human being that the Left does not agree with.” Yes, I am willing to entertain the idea the US government attempted a form of genocide against “Native Americans” during its imperialistic phase (from the end of the Civil War to WW I) (but not, of course, against Ward Churhill’s people, since it appears he is not an “Indian”). Be that as it may, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Bush’s policies in Iraq. The issue at hand is Iraq, not Wounded Knee. The law is an exercise in logic, counselor. Let’s keep things logical.

Again, though, to use rhetoric like the Rhode Islanders did is to diminish the reality of evil in the world. Evil is dangerous enough. It pervades the world. This is something good people cannot afford to do. Let’s have an end to “Bushitler” and agree that anyone using this meme is a moonbat and thus is outside the bounds of civil discourse.

PS: I have been out of touch with local business for several days; others have no clue—what is the news from MPD for which we need to pray?

* (albeit Stalin and Mao racked up higher body counts)

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Get a Hose!

Okay, boys--do I have to seat you two on separate sides of the room?

In Berke Brethed's words, "Dan, we have one ugly elf riot here!"

Seriously, this is exactly the kind of debate I was hoping to prompt when I started this blog. Both have some good points. I am crafting my own response. Anyone else care to weigh in?


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Treason and Partisanship

ChefJef opines as follows:

Okay, the "art" piece was cheesey, insofar as it purports to be a "work of art." But I don't see how it is treasonous. If the guy truly thinks that Bush's war policy is similar to Hitler's, how is he a traitor? Just becuase W is the President of the United States doesn't mean to oppose him, be it on one issue, several issues, or all issues, is somehow treasonous.

Furthermore, there is a grain of truth to the assertion. Am I saying Bush is a Nazi? Of course not; that's insane. But, the German blitz - among other things -was imperialistic in nature. The "Bush Doctrine," as it were, is also imperialistic. Now, whether or not the Doctrine is justifiable is another question. A pre-emptive strike is a pre-emptive strike; some are justifiable while others aren't, but those that are justified do not, as a result of so being justified, somehow become "un- preemptive."

My concern, though, is two-fold. The first is the apparent lack of academic standards at the boys' school. Again, his work, under any objective art analysis, is terrible. I sincerely hope that academic standards in other disciplines at his school are much more stringently manitained. In addition, given the lack of artistry refelected in his work, there is a strong possibility that the work received high marks because the evaluator(s) found its political message agreeable. This disturbs me.

On the other hand, I am guessing there are many people who would find the work disagreeable, yet similarly have no problem with the occasional "FemiNazi" rantings of Rush Limbaugh - that is when he is sober enough to babble-on. This equally disturbs. And therein, my-friends, is the real issue here. PARTISANSHIP. Partisanship, on both sides of the aisle, that is so strong that otherwise intelligent, reasonable people either love Bush and hate Clinton, or hate Bush and love Clinton, when both are palpably pathetic and not remotely worhy of what was, for a time, an Office of passionate statesman.


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Monday, February 14, 2005

Teppichfressungen In Our Schools

A young product of BlueState America’s education system was awarded a state art prize last week for a school project that equated W to everyone’s favorite Teppichfresser (carpet-chewer).

Jeffrey Eden, 17, insisted he was trying to make comparisons between the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the German blitzkrieg without actually equating Hitler to Bush, the Providence Journal reported.

But his piece, titled "Bush/Hitler and How History Repeats Itself," immediately prompted a complaint after it was displayed at a store with other winners of the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards.
Check out the picture. Lovely.

Color me surprised, but I can’t think why I should be. This sort of thing was only a matter of time. I don’t fault the young man—although it would be satisfying if we still had press gangs and could “induct” him into the Marines and send him to Al-Anbar Province to experience a slice of life as it really is outside the Great American Parentheses. No, I fault his teachers, school administrators, and everyone else involved in the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards program. Undoubtedly, they didn’t think twice about propagating this treasonous calumny. The kid was just cutely aping what they’d all taught him for years. This is just another symptom of the moral bankruptcy of many of our school systems that ChefJef wrote of a few days ago. (Update: Mark Steyn has further good thoughts here.)

It seems to me today's Teppichfresseren are the Lefts. Commentators are pointing out how things like this go hand in hand with things like the Eason Jordan scandal. These folks are preaching to the choir and that’s all they know how to do. Unfortunately for the Left, that’s probably all they’ll ever know how to do. This type of thinking has been entrenched for a long time—take film critic Pauline Kael’s remark back in 1980: “I don’t know how Reagan won—I don’t know anyone who voted for him.”

One listener on Bill Bennett’s program this morning was right to point out how such things may have gone on unnoticed for a long time, but have recently been brought under scrutiny by indymedia like talk radio and the blogs. The era in which this sort of thing could be propagated without others noticing is over. Predictably, those whose rocks have been turned over are already crying “McCarthyism.” (Update: More of same here.)

(BTW, my twelve-year-old daughter put together a more professional looking presentation in a day. I guess they’re too busy teaching political correctness in RI to actually teach “art.”)


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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day

Osama has a new tape out

The Onion, of course, meant this as satire, but the Saudi Mutaween have brought the humor to life, intent on proving, I guess, that truth is stranger--and sadder--than fiction.

May you all find tasty caramels and buttercreams this Valentine's Day, not the flaming sword of jihad.


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Civil Discourse and the Gene Pool

ChefJef’s post from yesterday is a work of art.

I think it goes a long way toward explaining the frustration thoughtful liberals feel with the Democratic Party and with current philosophical and cultural trends within the Left. I agree with him on a number of points: a) that most Americans are not as far apart politically as the MSM (Right and Left) would have us believe (for reasons of their own); b) that the degree to which they are apart is more a function of which issues are on the table than on fundamental differences over first causes; c) that there is common cause among many groups, such as honest liberals and evangelical Christians (others agree); d) that there are idiotarians and moonbats among the Right as well as the Left; and e) that those who wish to drag the Left off into the fever swamps and gnaw on it awhile are not representative and are frustrating the good work liberals can do in our society.

Still, they’re fighting an uphill battle. My rhetoric to the contrary, I wish it were not so. I enjoy the free exchange of ideas and wish to encourage civil debate on the issues facing our country—that’s one reason I created this site. The left seems intent on political and philosophical self-destruction—the point I was making in the post to which ChefJef was responding. I find much of the Left’s rhetoric entertaining, but in the larger context, it’s just sad. Limiting the free exchange and interplay—the zweikampf­—of ideas is like shrinking your gene pool. And us’uns down here in the South know why that ain’t such a good idea.

I think ChefJef’s message is the kind that liberals aren’t hearing on their own side of the informal Fourth Estate (certainly not from the most popular Lefty sites like Daily Kos). It’s the kind of message they need to hear—that we all need to hear if we are to pull civil discourse away from the partisan bickering and deliberate incitement of recent years.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let’s hear from some other correspondents….


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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Yeah, But Ann Coulter's A Lot Better Looking Than Margaret Cho!

In response to this post, ChefJef writes the following:

Juan Cole is clearly on the fringe of Left thought. Even though I agree with some of his premises – but certainly not all - the language in which he encases them is offensive. Still, I don’t think the Belmont Club “smack down” retort is entirely full of merit. While Cole, unfortunately, reverts to “name calling,” people like Rush Limbaugh and Gordon Liddy have been “name calling” liberals for years. Further, I don’t think “[T]he weakening of the traditional media and the stresses caused by war have created a kind of 'play' in the system which now allow unchained weights to crash about” is an explanation for the seeming increase in incivility between the Right and Left; American society, as a whole, has degraded considerably in the exercise of civility, in both red and blue states, and the political scene has concomitantly degraded as well.

Moreover, while the Left has some “ridic” spokes persons such as Garofalo and Cho, the Right’s Coultier and Liddy are no farther away from “buffoonery” than the former.

Nonetheless, I think there are more similarities between Red and Blue America than people realize. Unfortunately, both sides are missing important points. For example, there is a measure of political common ground, I think, between the University-type liberals, among whom I’ve spent many years, and evangelical churches that are thick with Republicans; the red-blue polarization is mostly (NOT entirely – there are some basic philosophical differences on some issues - but mostly) a consequence of which issues are on the table -- and which ones aren't. Change the issue menu, and those electoral maps may look very different. Imagine a presidential campaign in which the two candidates seriously debated how a loving society should treat its poorest members. Helping the poor is supposed to be the left's central commitment. In practice, the commitment has all but disappeared from national politics. Judging by the speeches of liberal Democratic politicians, what poor people need most is free abortions. Anti-poverty programs tend to help middle-class government employees; the poor end up with a few scraps from the table. Teachers' unions have a stranglehold on failed urban school systems, even though fixing those schools would be the best anti-poverty/ anti-crime program imaginable.

Most liberals I know do not like this state of affairs, and neither do most of my church friends, who regard helping the poor as both a passion and a spiritual obligation, not just a political preference. These evangelicals vote Republican not because they like the party's policy toward poverty -- cut upper-income and capital gains taxes and hope for the best -- but because poverty isn't on the table anymore.

But, ironically, however erroneously we got to it, the moral-values debate is precisely the one Democrats need to be having right now. Because if they don't capture the moral high ground back from the Republicans, they'll never be able to capture the hearts and votes of Red America.

If the Democratic Party is not about bringing focus and urgency to the creation of a more fair, just -- and, yes, moral -- society, it might as well cease to exist. FDR gave expression to the moral principle that should be animating Democrats when he said that “the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” America's Founding Fathers understood the connection between statecraft and soulcraft. They were not political men engaged in a spiritual enterprise. They were deeply spiritual men engaged in a political enterprise. After all, the premise that “all men are created equal” -- which Lincoln called “the father of all moral principle” -- is true and self-evident only in spiritual terms. We are clearly not self-evidently equal by any other criteria, including brains, looks or talent.

Democrats need to realize that the values debate is not about triangulating on gay marriage – it’s about passion and principles. And that’s what distinguishes an inspiring political vision from a laundry list of policies and four-point plans. But Democrats can’t get to the promised land by treating moral values as just another tactic their pollsters tell them they need to pursue, as something “we” need to figure out so we can convince “them” to vote for us. Until the Democrats put forth some leaders, at the national level, who understand this, the chaos that is the Democratic Party will continue.


I have only this to say:

This? or this?

-- Monk

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Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That…

It appears there IS a sort of accountability for the trolls and moonbats who have appointed themselves Masters of the Fourth Estate: Eason Jordan, the verminous traitor who accused US troops of deliberately assassinating journalists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month, has resigned as the Communist News Network’s Minister of Propaganda:

Jordan said he was quitting to avoid CNN being "unfairly tarnished" by the controversy. . . .
Gotta love a guy who’ll take one for the team…

"I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise," Jordan said in a memo to fellow staff members at CNN.

Riiiiiiiight! Apology NOT accepted, a$$-hat.

But the damage had been done, compounded by the fact that no transcript of his actual remarks has turned up. There was an online petition calling on CNN to find a transcript, and fire Jordan if he said the military had intentionally killed journalists.
Mighty interesting, that bit about “no transcript.” Still, word got out. This was a pure case of “You Know You’ve Screwed Up When…” YKYSUW # 472: …Rep. Barney Frank (D – Gerbilchussetts) considers your remarks so over-the-top that he has to lisp out against them.*

The end of this affair is encouraging for three reasons:

I -- Another dragon has been slain, as Izmud would doubtless put it. Another freak spouting leftist, secular humanist internationalism from the corridors of privilege (“speaking lies from power?”) has been silenced. The dude can probably work for Atrios, Air America, Michael Moore, or some other fever swamp venue, but his days in the mainstream (which is distinguished from the swamp only by public reputation, not by intellectual differences) are over**. Interestingly, all the venues linked above have ignored the Jordan resignation so far.

II -- Bloggers (again) did the slaying. Glenn Reynolds, Power Line, and Michelle Malkin broke and followed the story, not letting the mainstream press get away with their attempts to spike the story or to deploy WMD (weapons of mass deception) against it. The mainstream media (MSM) was even forced to admit that bloggers did Jordan in, just as they helped do in the Bush Guard Documents Big Lie and John “Mekong” Kerry’s presidential campaign. We do, in fact, have a responsible and responsive Fourth Estate in the US, but the MSM is only a very tiny and unreliable part of it. The most forward-thinking and socially useful part of it consists of samizdata*** like the blogs, talk radio, indymedia outlets such as Drudge, and the internet itself. These form a complex, distributed, free market-like system with many emergent nodes, rather than a small, exclusive monopolistically competitive system with huge barriers to entry like the MSM. This is a very good thing for a free society.

III -- The demise of this dragon and his story will help conveniently obscure the truth: that we in the military DO deliberately target journalists for fun and profit (but mostly for fun). You see, this was a black program until recently, accomplished only by elite SOF units like Epsilon Force (one codeword level deeper than Delta Force) and kept entirely under wraps for decades. Who do you think pummeled Dan Rather on that dark street corner in 1986? (Dan, a long-time double agent who recently had to be outed, really was “Kenneth” and there really was a frequency. Dan had been careless. We almost had to waste him that night.) The over-tasking of Special Forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Massachusetts led the Administration—carelessly in my view—to allow regular Army and Marine units to be read into the program. Once this happened, of course, leaks were just a matter of time. They botched it, just like the Guard botched Abu Ghuriab. Leave it to some damn amateurs to come along and spoil everybody’s fun! Still, they managed to pot twelve of the b*$+*ds before getting caught. Now that the public’s attention has been diverted, I hope we can get back to the serious (and fun) business of hunting journalists. Perhaps this story will discredit the Left’s cause enough to allow us to resume torturing prisoners! Gee, I hope so. My cattle prods are getting rusty.


* (I know…I know…uncharitable of me. Gay Jowl Syndrome is a terrible affliction, not to be made fun of.)

** Good analysis

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR[Russian = self-publishing house]

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

You Now Have Four Years To Reach Minimum Safe Distance

What the heck is the Left thinking? Liberals of late seem bent on setting the ship’s computer of their political stakes on “self-destruct.”

How else do you account for this?

Or this?

Or this? (Bio here. There’s substantial dispute about whether this dude, who’s made his career as a Professional American Indian (PAI), has even a drop of Amerind blood in his treasonous veins)

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this? (Much less this!)

Or this?

Or this? (Which initiated this wonderful Blogger Smackdown)

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this? (Or, for that matter, this, this, this, this….)

The barking moonbat element, of course, can always be relied upon to provide political street theater of a sort that causes maximum political damage to their interests. That’s why I love them so.

Still, others see strategy where I see only the Left’s true nature showing through (due to frustration I suppose). I mean, Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean are now the Democrats' chosen mouthpieces. This isn’t strategery, it’s suicide.

I personally have no problem with this. The Left could withdraw into the fever swamps and pull their tinfoil hats down over their eyes and ears for the next fifty years and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings. In fact, it would be a boon to America and the world, as the rougher, more realistic men and women destined to rule got about the business of leading without idiots impeding their progress. And it would keep us entertained. I love Jeanine Garofalo. I love Margaret Cho. My life would be diminished if people like this gave up being pure ass-hat nut-bags and started sounding like Condi Rice.

I suspect I have friends who disagree. I suppose they might make the argument that having only one sane political party on the national scene isn’t intellectually or culturally healthy.

Long before 2008 such Democrats may find themselves screaming, “Mother! I turned the cooling unit back on, Mother!” If you are one such, let’s hear from you…

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I Always Kinda Suspected After Watching Tennessee Tuxedo

Tennessee was always a little too well made-up, strutting around in his tux. Always just a bit too chummy with Chumley. More than a bit of a Fab Five vibe, y’know?

(And Phineas J. Whoopee? Whoa. Let’s just not go there, okay?)

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just…I always kinda knew. I think we all did. Now there’s proof.*

It’s not just flightless waterfowl, however. We all know there’s a larger toon problem here.

I mean, Spongebob?

C’mon--pink & yellow squishy-boys frolicking arm-in-arm? It's obvious, isn't it? Others agree.

And now there's evidence that the subversive effect of this phenomenon goes deeper than anyone suspected:

The fellow on the right even looks a bit like Patrick...

And Teletubbies…? And their live-action counterparts? Oh dear.

Where will this end?? Next thing y’know, it’ll be Catholic priests. Oh….wait….**


{Bow to Reason}


Update: Hans wieghs in:

Very OUCH!! For the first time in my life, I find myself disagreeing with Monk. I know it is hard to believe but he has it all wrong with the cartoon personalities living among us. For starters, they are among the most business saavy and astute characters I know. On a recent trip to Bermuda, I ran into no other than Smurfette. For starters, she is much taller than I imagined (at least 12" tall) but she was well spoken, articulate and open minded. We talked for quite some time and the conversation came around to how in the heck did she afford a trip to Bermuda with a huge condo on the beach. Her answer was short and sweat. She said, "Look honey, I was one girl in a village of 350 guys. Why don't you think I opened a bakery?" Oh my!! A true business woman. All I can say is that she, her grandchildren and their grandchildren's grandchildren will never have to work.

As for Spongebob. Goofy? Hell yes. Dopey? Certainly? But the man owns, in coonjunction with Opus, more than their share of "Gentleman's Clubs." Spongebob
has a personal "Stable" of celebrities that any Kentucky Derby man would be proud to own. If you are nice to me, I can probably hook you up with Betty Boop.

Yes dear Monkster, you have these characters all wrong. Morally bankrupt and socially reprhensible, without a doubt. But no man can or should ever doubt their heterosexual leanings.

PS - I intentionally left out Barney and those gay-ass Teletubies. They make me sick.

Lighten up my Monksterman.


Okay, I grant you that SBSP might go both ways; Opus, too. I mean, in SpongePants, there's that squirrel .... thing ... who seems to be female (although she's the most butch character on the show...) But just consider the logistics of for a moment, Hans: She/it breaths air; SquareBob ... uh ... doesn't breath. How would ......? I mean ........?


Still, I must be nice to you. Can you really get me a date with Boop? She is pure, liquid hotness!


* The Germans may be a bit off-base importing creatures from Sweden,**** however. Are there penguins in Texas? (Our Penguin SME says yes, but they drag gay penguins behind their pickup trucks, so they may not be the best choice either.)

** I’m real sorry for that one. Couldn’t resist. (Got at least five Catholic readers…should provoke them…) Lord, I apologize for that ... and be with them pygmies down in Borneo...)

*** Hey—how many blogs have footnotes?

**** I include a link to this verminous, hateful site as a tasteless joke only (and if that doesn’t get you to look at it, nothing will!) These boys are no different than Zarqawi in my book. And they should suffer the same fate.

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Exodus 22:24

Izmud writes, in response to our conversation regarding “Going Michael” versus turning the other cheek:
Exodus 22:24 (New International Version)

”My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”

Well, it isn't Michael speaking but close enough. My response to radical muslim verbosity.

This is a perfect segue into the theme, “always read for context—especially the Bible.” You’re right, MudMan, it isn’t Michael talking, it’s God Himself. And to whom is he talking? Yep—the Israelites themselves, telling them that this is what He will do to them if they are abusive of those to whom they’re supposed to extend charity. Here’s the whole context:

22 Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.

[This is in His elaboration of the social requirements attending the Ten Commandments, of course.]

Can’t say I disagree in principle with going Joshua Chapter 10 on radical muslims. They’re a people who have chosen war with God’s people specifically over the issue of which God is true—the Lord prescribes, shall we say, rather…harsh…treatment for such people(s).

If anyone has earned “kill them all, let God sort them out” treatment, they have—and God was not chary about having His people accompish this when called for.

Still, He commands us to act in love and justice first and, interestingly, threatens to go Old Testament on us if necessary when we disobey. I say we let Him decide when Jo10 is warranted and pray for our leaders, so they’ll know when that call is made.

(Of course, this means electing leaders who believe in the first place, but that’s a different topic…)

(And, having said that, I'll be loading up the B-52 with B-53s should they need me... Just hafta say the word... 'Would you like a little Cobalt salt with those fries, Akhmed?')


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