Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Awww!!!.... pt 2.

As soon as my young son saw my daughter's letter to me, he rushed off to scrawl his own. He is an extremely kind-hearted boy, and frequently draws these for us, relatives, grandparents, church congregations, teachers--most everyone in his little life, in fact.

I think I have two new great wallpapers, here...


My six year old was fit to burst with her big secret present when I came home today. SFAIK, this is the first letter she's ever written to me. *sigh*...

Friday, August 25, 2006

If Evolutionists Are Atheists, Are Anti-Evolutionists Nazis?

At the moment, I'm reading Anthony Beevor's A Writer At War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941-1945. I hope to write a review of it, for my sadly neglected Amazon page soon.

Anyway, the book is a collection of excerpts of Soviet war correspondent Grossman's notebooks. In one passage, he is describing the scene in a Kalmyk village that had been liberated by the advancing Red Army. He notes all the changes that the Germans had introduced into the school curriculum. Including this:

Natural science: the last chapter, 'On the Origins of Humans', was banned.

So, if Ann Coulter can call all believers in evolution liberal atheists, could some similarly wrongheaded liberals call all conservative believers in Intelligent Design Nazis, based on that? Of course they could. Of course they do, in fact, without ever having read that above passage. (Longtime readers of this blog know that I am a vigorous foe of creationism in all its forms.) There's always an excuse handy to question an opponent's humanity, these days. Sad to say...

Pluto Gets The Boot From List Of Official Planets

This is rather cute. What if Pluto was getting kicked out of the neighborhood association?

So Pluto is gone from the nine planets, to join the asteroids and whatever that thing is out in the Kuiper Belt as so much rocky debris. And, as has been widely commented upon in the blogosphere, we're going to need a new mnemonic device, to remember the names of the planets.

Here's some good discussion on the developments.

Update: If you call Pluto an asteroid, it acts like an asteroid. Ha!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

YouTube Withdrawal

I haven't been able to play any videos on YouTube yesterday or today. Arrghhh!!.... I miss my video jukebox! I don't know if they've got problems, or if there's just a kludgy local network here in my area.

I mean, I have got me a serious ear-itch, to see Vanilla Fudge lip-synching "Shotgun" on the early 70s German Beat Club...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ineffectualness Causes Dictatorships

Here's an interesting thought, for those who fear creeping tyranny from the Patriot Act and suchlike:

The history of the 20th Century paints a very clear picture of how liberal orders collapse into authoritarian ones. Contrary to popular belief, liberal orders do not gradually evolve into authoritarian ones by the accumulation of state power. Instead, liberal orders fail suddenly when they cease to provide basic physical and economic security. The functional power of the state decays until conditions reach a degree of disorder that triggers a sudden collapse into an authoritarian order. Ineffectiveness kills the liberal state, not excessive powers.

In other words, not stamping out terrorism will do more to rend the social contract, than stamping out terrorism will. The selection in its entirety, you should read.

Monday, August 21, 2006

How To Negotiate With Terrorists

I'm enjoying a little traffic spike right now, thanks to this guy. Here's his post which started it all.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Waterboys - Whole Of The Moon

Random Rock Bloggage:

I've always been a sucker for big, grand, heart-on-the-sleeve anthems. The Waterboys, like so many similar 80s bands, suffered from unfair but inevitable comparisons to U2, in this area. Mike Scott and crew still deserve a wider audience than they ever actually got.

Rwanda To Back Off Capital Punishment For Genocide Trials?

Isn't this a poke in the eye!. In order to get the 1994 genocidaires back to put them on trial, Rwanda may have to forswear the death penalty. Some "compassionate" European countries won't extradite the killers, otherwise.

Only the United States has extradited a genocide suspect to Rwanda. Last year, Enos Kagaba was deported from Minnesota after he was judged to have entered the United States illegally.

Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland have been pursuing genocide suspects through their own courts.

Christ! After these garlic gobblers bugged out and left the Tutsis to be slaughtered, how can they have the nerve to act as if their justice systems are superior and more enlightened?

Have a quote:

Sometimes he cries, sometimes he just sighs, but always he looks up into my face in panicked bewilderment and says, "Monsieur Ken, eh la, comment?" I don't know exactly what the eh la means, but it punctuates everything; he says it in exasperation and passionate disbelief, exhaling, a low growl. But I understand "Comment?" How, Mr. Ken? How did you people let it happen?

The UN was here when the massacres started, twenty-five hundred troops. UN Headquarters in New York knew it was being planned, they had files and faxes and informants and they sat in their offices, consulted each other, and ate long lunches.

Most UN forces ran to the airport, they couldn't get out fast enough. This is not a case in which the UN failed to send troops to stop genocide. An armed, predeployed UN force evacuated as soon as it started. All those signatures on the Genocide Convention, dozens of rapturously celebrated human rights treaties, a mountain of documents at UNHQ on the subject of genocide, law professors all over the world making a living talking about this, and we evacuated. Tanks and supply planes and helicopters and soldiers sat useless and stationary for six months in Somalia, two hours away by C-130, and then drunk peasants armed with machetes and lists of names killed 800,000 civilians in Rwanda. And we evacuated. Eh la, comment?
-- Kenneth Cain, _Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth_, 2004

Creeping Obsolescence?

"When you are young enough, I thought, all sorts of unrevealed possibilities make you a person, but afterwards when there are no more possibilities you become a type."
-- John P. Marquand, Wickford Point

Not my computer. Me. I'm getting kind of concerned, here. I feel like, if I'm still cutting edge, I may not be the edge that's kept.

I was one of those precocious kids who was always a few units ahead of my peers. I never had to study, and thus never really learned how to do it very well, and consequently wound up rather less well educated than I might have been. As I get older and my wits lose their suppleness, it can be a chore to keep up with things. I'm doing okay, in real life, but I shudder to think if I had to suddenly re-enter the job market.

The first computers I ever used were in a college computer lab. They had DOS machines running Wordstar, and the original toaster Macs. My first pc that I ever owned was an Apple Mac Performa (which was a lemon and a half, but that's another story). I've participated in the internet age, as a layman, since 1995--which is to say, pretty much since it broke out into a mass audience. I was driving around and noticed that I'd started seeing web addresses on billboards, and thought that I'd better get on board with this stuff. I've even given tutorials to classes of new users, people even more "lay" than me.

I'm no programmer--I don't get under the hood of computers much--and I don't particularly want to be one. There have to be consumers too, you know. What's getting me concerned is the advent of some web tools, the concept behind which escapes me. Web feeds, for instance. I've read definitions, and I know that this blog is set up with a feed, in fact. Yet I don't quite grasp the idea behind it. Same with tags, as opposed to mere searchwords. Same with sites such as Digg and I guess I've got some more to unlearn, in order to wrap my brains around these things.

Scientists, artists, seekers of all types from 100 years ago would have loved to know what I know, and see what I see every day. We truly live in an age of technological wonders (and have for the last 100 years, truth to tell). So I resolve to apply myself more and keep up, the better to appreciate the unfolding marvels, and not be reduced to blundering through a maze of enigmas. For this is the real Golden Age, I'm convinced.

Iraq A Failure?

Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House thinks so, and The Commissar doesn't find much to quibble with.

I believe that the President is right, though. If the jihadis run us off from Iraq, they will follow us home. Remember how our defeat in Vietnam emboldened them in the wave of terrorism in the Seventies.

But, if Iraq's democracy dies a'borning; if sectarianism sunders the country, then the near-term future is very melancholy indeed.

Bust of Hillary Clinton

And how!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jane's Addiction - Been caught stealing (live London)

Random Rock Bloggage:

One of the few 90s rock songs I really enjoy. I'm long past caring about following bands or the personalities of their members. I just enjoy it whenever someone releases a set of chord changes that appeals to me.

Perry Farrell looks like someone out of a Lucas Cranach the Elder painting, IYAM...

A Lefty Lexicon

...another snarky faux-glossary, with a British focus, cherry-picked from here.

Best practice - normally 'established' when a Lefty wants to saddle a process with more complexity. Replaces 'working it out yourself'.

Class - grouping people by the contents of their wallet rather than, say, how they think, feel or behave as individuals.

Delegitimise - what we do if we suggest that a favoured Lefty client group may contain members who are not wholly beyond criticism as individuals.

‘Green’ issues - “if we can’t control the means of production then we’ll close it down”. NB. the US is the ‘biggest polluter in the world’ which is wholly unrelated to the fact it’s the world’s most productive economy.

Hate-speech - "shut up!".

Impartial - media, BBC: the balance achieved by attacking the Opposition for being Conservative and attacking the Government for being insufficiently Lefty.

Islamophobic - anyone who objects to having their transport blown up on the way to work.***

Justice - Government: as in ‘social justice’. Means taking money earned by the general public to give to particular groups that Lefties approve of. Replaces market economics.

NGO - Non Governmental Organisation – the repository of all moral authority in Lefty World and whose words and motives may never be questioned.

Terrorist - no such thing. Only people suffering from ‘root causes’ and ‘legitimate grievances’.

Workers - notional ‘class’ of people that Lefties once claimed to represent. Now replaced by college lecturers, human rights lawyers, pressure group employees, civil servants with 'liaise' in their job title - and other people you would probably not want over for supper.

***The author was "suspended" from his job after British Muslims complained to his employer about that one.

If, like me, you enjoy things like this, you may also enjoy Dennis Prager's "Word Abuse"

Thursday, August 17, 2006


My son's first fling with organized sports wrapped up recently. He had a good time, and really started to blossom. It was a non-competitive league, perfect for little kids just getting their feet wet. The substitute host for Laura Ingraham was sneering at noncompetitive sports the other week, and for older kids I think he may have something. I can't imagine that anyone but a bunch of picked-last-for-kickball-as-a-kid types would ever consider banning keeping score in grade school sports, or banning dodgeball. But, at this age, it worked out fine. The time to spur him on with the possibility of failure has not yet come. For now, it's best to just let the kids play.

Boortz Apologizes For JonBenet Ramsey Pile-On

Over the years Atlanta talk-show host Neal Boortz has been one of the most vocal finger-pointers, openly speculating on the Ramsey's possible part in their daughter's death. This morning he tersely apologized, contingent on everything happening now turning out to be what it seems, of course.

Of course...

I'm sure he's hoping that John Ramsey doesn't retaliate as aggressively as Richard Jewell, the security guard falsely but widely supposed to have been the Atlanta Olympic bomber, did.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

JonBenet Ramsey Suspect Arrested In Thailand

God, I hope this is the real break in the case we've been waiting for.

The Ramseys moved to my area of Atlanta after they left Colorado. They lived under a cloud of suspicion ever after, on top of the horror they endured. For ten years they were the butt of some pretty vicious humor on a popular afternoon drive-time radio show here. If this is really the end of the case, I hope Mr. Ramsey is able to pull a Richard Jewell and sue the bejeezus out of everyone who has libeled him & his wife all these years.

The cemetery that Patsy and JonBenet Ramsey are buried in is in Marietta, Georgia. It's near the public library. Several times, in the late 90s, whenever I stopped in, I would see a particularly loathesome-looking vagrant on an internet station there, surfing the JonBenet conspiracy sites. I hope this'll be the end of whatever sick thrills creeps like that were getting, too.


Minor Traffic Mystery

Several months ago, I posted this bit of bloggage about an article in First Things by Christoph Cardinal Schonborn. Ever since, I've been getting a steady trickle of hits on that post. But the beyond weird thing is, the referrals haven't been coming from people looking for information about the Cardinal, nor about evolution or intelligent design. They've been surfing in via a search for this linked picture of a chalicotherium:

Why? Ah dinna ken. Ah dinna oonderstahnd it a'tall...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Indonesian Catholics To Be Executed?

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus “Domi” da Silva and Marinus Riwu were condemned to death because they were found guilty of masterminding the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in Poso in 2001, during an inter-faith conflict that shook the area between 1998 and 2001. So far, not one Muslim has been tried in relation to the clashes that claimed a high death toll among Christians too.

In his last words, Tibo hit out at the Indonesian legal system “that condemned three innocent peasants to death when all they did was offer help to Catholic victims of the violence in Poso. Why will those criminals who raped, killed and looted during those times be spared?”

There's a stay in effect, apparently.

He said the delay was due to letters by Pope Benedict XVI, the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI) and interfaith leaders, but the execution would be carried out after Aug. 17, Indonesia's Independence Day.

Robertus was in Palu, where his father was sentenced, together with his mother, wife and son, and da Silva's uncle. They await permission to meet with Tibo and his friends to ascertain their condition after the delay.

"We hope the government will not just postpone the execution but free them from the death sentence because they are innocent," said the farmer, who works to gather rattan to support his mother, wife and son. "They are not the masterminds of the Poso riots."

Indonesia has been the scene of some of the bloodiest episodes of the current worldwide jihad. Lord help the religious minorities there, if even the current corrupt civil government gives way before the onslaught.

Jerry Coyne On Ann Coulter And Intelligent Design

Jerry Coyne wrote a much-noted piece in The New Republic last year, giving a point-by-point debunking of ID. Since then, Ann Coulter has come out with her latest book, Godless, large swathes of which are devoted to pushing ID. Dr. Coyne wearily hoists his sword of reason once again, and chops off more of the hydra's heads. And he doesn't take kindly to Coulter's slander of scientists, either.

As for biologists' supposed agenda of godlessness -- how ridiculous! Yes, a lot of scientists are atheists, but most have better things to do than deliberately destroy people's faith. This goes doubly for the many scientists -- roughly a third of them -- who are religious. After all, one of the most vocal (and effective) opponents of ID is Ken Miller of Brown University, a devout Catholic.

Of course, people who were never reasoned into an opinion can't be reasoned out of it. But you've gotta hope that the mere force of repetition of the facts will seep into some otherwise sensible skulls out there.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

NASA Is Missing Moon Landing Tapes

"I would simply like to clarify that the tapes are not lost as such, which implies they were badly handled, misplaced and are now gone forever. That is not the case," John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the Parkes Radio Observatory in Parkes, Australia, told the Web site.

Did they check behind the entertainment center? How 'bout under the couch cushions?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Gunter Grass, Former SS Trooper

Well, I'll be...

On Friday the news emerged: At age 78, the most eminent German writer of the age confessed that he served in wartime with the Waffen-SS, the embodiment of Nazi evil. [...]

He occupied a place that has no parallel in Canada, the U.S. or Britain. He was a national moralist-in-chief, often called "the conscience of the postwar generation." He hated the postwar government of Konrad Adenauer, whom he considered a puppet of Washington, and he was appalled by the consumerism that accompanied economic recovery in the 1950s. He thought Germans too eager to forget the crimes of the Nazis, especially the Holocaust. Rightly, he believed that wound should "be kept open," as he said when accepting the Nobel Prize.

Grass was no communist, but he looked benignly on communist East Germany and favoured appeasing the Soviets. He believed the U.S. started the Cold War. He was the kind of Western intellectual Lenin meant when he used the phrase "useful idiots."

His credibility shrank when the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 revealed East Germany as a prison. He was appalled to see East Germans pouring into West Berlin, seeking, of all things, fresh fruit. He was also dismayed by the apparent victory of capitalism: "Capitalism has never been more barbaric, beast-like than after the victory over the communist system." He opposed reunification, suggesting that because of their crimes the Germans didn't deserve to live as one nation.

His self-importance knew no bounds.

I'll be sure to pay even less attention to him and his anti-americanism in the future than I have been, ever since I became aware of him back in the Cold War.

Trivia: The SS Unit he was drafted into was the 10th SS Panzer "Frundsberg" Division. There is a group of World War II re-enactors who have recreated a company from that division, here. Bet their sitemeter's spinnin' this week.

To get temporarily back on schtick, there's actually a couple of tangential First Things tie-ins for Grass. For example:

Modernity has supposed that the world "out there" is such that stories can be told that are true to it. And modernity has supposed that the reason narratives can be true to the world is that the world somehow "has" its own true story, antecedent to, and enabling of, the stories we tell about ourselves in it. [...]

Postmodernism is characterized by the loss of this supposition in all of its aspects. We can see this most vividly in literature. The paradigmatic fictional works of the twentieth century either present accounts that make dramatic sense in themselves, but tell of events or sequences that could not occur in the world outside the storytelling; or they meticulously describe events that could occur or perhaps actually have occurred in "the real world," but in such fashion as to display precisely their lack of dramatic coherence. Gunter Grass' The Tin Drum may serve as an example of the first mode, Sartre's Nausea as an example of the second, and Joyce's Ulysses of both at once.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Paul McCartney and Wings - Juniors Farm

Random Rock Bloggage:

This is my favorite solo McCartney song, so it's nice to see a Macca home movie of it being recorded in the studio. The fellow in the striped shirt is little Jimmy McCulloch, of Thunderclap Newman fame.

Shame on me, but even after all this time I can't help but snicker at Linda McCartney's one-finger keyboard technique.

My New Favorite Online Time-Waster


The internet age's way of sending a message in a bottle.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"That Fidel Castro is Really Something!"

"Why, he's almost as smart, sensitive, and cultured as I am!"

Why are journalists so impressed by left-wing dictators who can hold up their end of a conversation? One thinks of Wells and Lenin, Edgar Snow and Mao, everyone at NPR and everyone in the Sandinistas...

But I was really surprised to read this gush from Mortimer B. Zuckerman, in U. S. News & World Report. Castro's made an art of flattering journos and glitterati with admission to His August Presence for decades. Surely Zuckerman is not ignorant of his very calculated charm.

A Scene From The Jihad, IX

Zivit Seri is a tiny woman, a mother, who speaks with clumsy, defenseless gestures as she guides me through the destroyed buildings of Bat Galim—literally “daughter of the waves,” the Haifa neighborhood that has suffered most from the shellings. The problem, she explains, is not just the people killed: Israel is used to that. It’s not even the fact that here the enemy is aiming not at military objectives but deliberately at civilian targets—that, too, is no surprise. No, the problem, the real one, is that these incoming rockets make us see what will happen on the day—not necessarily far off—when the rockets are ones with new capabilities: first, they will become more accurate and be able to threaten, for example, the petrochemical facilities you see there, on the harbor, down below; second, they may come equipped with chemical weapons that can create a desolation compared with which Chernobyl and Sept. 11 together will seem like a mild prelude.

For that, in fact, is the situation. As seen from Haifa, this is what is at stake in the operation in southern Lebanon. Israel did not go to war because its borders had been violated. It did not send its planes over southern Lebanon for the pleasure of punishing a country that permitted Hezbollah to construct its state-within-a-state. It reacted with such vigor because the Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be wiped off the map and his drive for a nuclear weapon came simultaneously with the provocations of Hamas and Hezbollah. The conjunction, for the first time, of a clearly annihilating will with the weapons to go with it created a new situation. We should listen to the Israelis when they tell us they had no other choice anymore. We should listen to Zivit Seri tell us, in front of a crushed building whose concrete slabs are balancing on tips of twisted metal, that, for Israel, it was five minutes to midnight.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

High And Dry In Tel Aviv

Our old pal Michael Totten, whose citizen journalism from Lebanon most of you are surely aware of, has flown to Tel Aviv to get a ground perspective from Israel. Hit his tipjar to defray his travel & lodging expenses, why don'cha? And if you are familiar with Tel Aviv, he'd like to know where he can rent a cheap apartment for a few days.

C'mon! You don't want to have to rely on Reuter's pro-terrorist stringers for news from over there, now do you?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Blue On Blue

Here's some disturbing news. The Israel Defence Force is very casualty-averse, since Israel's population is too small to fight a meat-grinder style war. Sadly, on Wednesday, the IDF lost more than a dozen soldiers, including some superb--and not easily replaceable--special forces operators. But the wrenching part is that several of these fatalities were the result of friendly fire. It happens in every war, but Israel can't afford it. Here's hoping they can wrap this up pronto, before the international Voices Of Compassion© reign them in and reinstate the terrorists in their former redoubts.

Meanwhile, In Gaza...

NPR is on the take--I mean, case--in the jihad on Israel's southern border. They trot out some UN face card to bolster NPR's battered Israel/Palestinian template. Let's tick off the cliches:

Assertion of endless, causeless "cycle of violence? Check.

Pro forma acknowledgement of Israel's due diligence in avoiding civilian casualties, only to lead into a laundry list of the Pals collateral woes? Check.

Deploring of travel restrictions, lack of work, lack of government services, implying that it's Israel's fault and never mentioning it's because the Palestinians elected a load of Jew-murdering terrorists to be THEIR EFFIN' LEADERS?? *puff, puff, gasp*... Check.

It's like Michael Medved says:

Every Arab child in Lebanon, in Gaza, and in the West Bank could sleep sweet, undisturbed slumber as soon as tomorrow night if the adults once-and-for-all gave up their long-standing project of driving the Jews out of the Middle East.

In a very similar NPR segment I heard on All Things Considered on the way home earlier today, the interviewee was bewailing the lack of international attention to the plight of the Gazans during the Israeli counter-terrorism offensive. I thought to myself, it's because there's only so much hypocrisy the international community can generate at any one time. Their meter's were redlining even before this summer.

Lost In Translation

I have in-laws in a foreign country. They've discovered that having an educated native English-speaking family member is quite handy at times. Right now I and my wife are trying to translate an Australian mental health booklet, for one of them's graduate studies. The writing is hideous academic prose--long, constipated compound sentences, hedged with qualifiers, sandbagged with redundant adjectives, and festooned with buzzwords and jargon and other signifiers of faux precision. Ugh! Our nerves are rubbing raw, as I struggle to reduce the thickets of academicese into a trim lawn of plain English, so she can bash it into the other language. It's almost as bad as when I taught her to drive, years ago.

Eschew Obfuscatory Verbiage, I always say.

A Scene From The Jihad, VIII

Today is the anniversary of the infamous Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Israel, 2001. One of the victims' parents started a memorial website for their daughter.

The day our fifteen year-old daughter was murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists, everything changed for my wife and me. Malki died in an explosive massacre, targeted not at some military installation but at a fast-food restaurant full of holidaying children, teens and mothers. Immediately following the bombing, her cell phone did not answer and our insides started to churn. We searched the hospitals. We prayed, we cried, we hoped. When we finally found her in the early morning of the next day, Malki's body had already been lifeless for twelve hours. Our daughter was the last of the 15 victims to be identified and the last to be buried.

But don't you dare call them "terrorists". That's too, too judgemental and ethnocentric. In fact, just to make sure everyone gets the point, we'd better enclose the term in two sets of quotation marks: ""terrorists"".

After all, one man's terrorist is another man's restaurant critic.

Slithering filth. Swift justice be upon all such.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Waiting For Primaries Results...

The radio talk shows are flogging Joseph Lieberman's anticipated loss in the Connecticut senatorial primary as proof positive that the loony left will have taken over the Democrat mainstream. Some say that it's a catastrophe for the moonbat left to get another toehold in the national leadership. Others say that it's a good thing (for the right), that it'll give the Dems a more readily demonizable face. Or the whole uproar may be a case of projection, and nothing will change except that a blue state becomes a little bluer.

(I checked out some of CNN's county-by-county election maps from last time. I noticed that some blue states such as Massachusetts were blue only because the urban areas were able to outvote the rest of those small states.)

If Lieberman loses, his loss may be offset by a Cynthia McKinny loss. The Cutest Little Jihadist In Congress has been an embarrassment for everyone in her district who is not dependent on government charity for a livelihood. She was voted out once, and may be again, this time. Punching a Capitol Hill cop and playing the race card to brazen her way out of it was too much for the police unions here, who gave their support to her opponent, Hank Johnson.

Back to waiting...

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Ever-Seductive Temptation To Fill The Pews By Emptying The Service

Via Rachel at Tinkery Tonk, here's a story about an English churchman trying to coax his fellow agnostics onto his premises for fun & psychobabble. What emptiness! Meanwhile, churches that make demands of their members continue to grow. There are doubtless plenty of good zingers from First Things's archives that could be posted in counterpoint, but here's what I've got ready to hand:

When a church doesn't take itself seriously, neither do its members.[...] When your religion says "whatever" on doctrinal matters, regardsJesus as just another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it's a short step to deciding that one of the things you don't want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to church. [...] So this is the liberal Christianity that was supposed to be the Christianity of the future: disarray, schism, rapidly falling numbers of adherents, a collapse of Christology and national meetings that rival those of the Modern Language Assn. for their potential for cheap laughs. And they keep telling the Catholic Church that it had better get with the liberal program - ordain women, bless gay unions and so forth - or die. Sure.
-- Charlotte Allen, "Liberal Christianity is paying for its sins", Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2006

(Note: I may have blogged the above quote earlier, but I'm too lazy to go back and check. No charge, in any case.)

Hugh Hewitt Interview With "Fiasco" Author Thomas Ricks

I've said before that Hugh Hewitt is close to being my favorite conservative talk show host. He doesn't belittle the guests or the callers; he isn't just getting the talking points out there; he gives quantity time to the opposition; and he still manages to cheerlead for Our Side in a most winning manner.

Just tonight I heard an excellent, excellent interview with an author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure In Iraq, which is making some waves right now. With most any other talk show host, this would have turned into a shouting match, one-sided or not. Instead, although Hewitt did try to corral him, he let Ricks expound his view to his--and the listener's--satisfaction.

HH: There are a number of very fascinating passages in Fiasco, which is why everyone should read this, and I want to get to them serially, Thomas Ricks. First, I want to get to the WMD question. Any doubt in your mind that George W. Bush and his team and the Pentagon career believed there were WMD there when the war began?

TR: No doubt whatsoever. I think they drank their Kool-Aid, and talked themselves into it, on the basis of no evidence. But yeah, they believed it.

HH: When you write that Operation Desert Fox was tremendously successful, you're concluding that those WMD were there in 1998? Or did Clinton drink the Kool-Aid as well?

TR: Yeah, there were WMD facilities in '98, and they were taken out pretty effectively by those raids. The most effective aspect of the Desert Fox raids, though, which we didn't recognize at the time, it's very difficult to pull out, was the psychological effect. The message sent to Iraqi weapons scientists was Uncle Sam is not going to let Saddam Hussein have this stuff. And their hard work of seven years, after the '91 war, was taken out. It was destroyed.

HH: Can it really be said to be, "drinking the Kool-Aid", as you just said, to conclude that that which had been destroyed in 1998 would immediately be begun to be rebuilt, even as Saddam had begun to rebuild after 1991. Or would it have been prudent, post-9/11, to conclude that Saddam then, as Saddam now, is Saddam always?

TR: Well, that would, but it would be untethered from the realities of Iraq, which was that the country was becoming increasingly poor, weaker, had a less strong military, and that in fact, the '98 Desert Fox raids had almost toppled Saddam Hussein.

Very well rallied.

Georgia Aquarium

If you live within a two-day drive of Atlanta, then it is very worthwhile coming here to see the Georgia Aquarium. Tip: Come on a weekday, either very early or very late in the day. Otherwise, it'll be like an Indian train station at rush hour.

Israel Too Soft on Hezbollah?

This opinion piece in The Jerusalem Post , by Caroline Glick, gives a peephole view into Israeli domestic politics:

LEFTIST NEWSPAPER columnists and television and radio commentators are arguing that the cause of the current war is Israel's refusal, to date, to surrender the Golan Heights to Syria, and Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem to Fatah and Hamas. In their world the fact that global jihadists are explicit about their intention to destroy "the Zionist entity," whatever its territorial boundaries may be, is studiously denied. The fact that Palestinian society is a jihadist society and that the international Left increasingly rejects Israel's very right to exist remains either irrelevant, or a matter that can be appeased away by further territorial giveaways.

Additionally, leftist opinion-makers are now arguing that the main lesson of the war is that unilateral Israeli actions are the problem. Writing in Ma'ariv last Thursday, Nadav Eyal argued that the next step will be to use the multinational force that the UN, the Olmert government and the State Department wish to deploy to Lebanon as a model that will enable future Israeli withdrawals from Judea and Samaria (and presumably from the Golan Heights and Jerusalem). By this new logic we should continue to retreat, but next time, the French and the Turks will protect us.

The IDF is blowing south Lebanon to kingdom come, and yet this columnist takes the absence of a wider ground offensive as evidence of PM Olmert's indecision and half-measures. So long as Hezbollah is still shooting Iranian rockets into Israel, she's got a point, I guess. Israel is too small to take a lot of casualties, but there may be no way to oust Hezbollah other than to grind them out.

Have a quote:

You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life, but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.

-- T. R. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History, 1963

Raunchy Lyrics Spur Early Start of Sexual Activity Among Teens

Just in case you haven't had something painfully obvious pointed out to you today. Seems like the experts are always the last to know.

Friday, August 04, 2006

"Lieberman's long, long list of accomplishments..."

An endorsement of the embattled Senator from a home state newspaper.

The bottom line is that Joe Lieberman, who is an expert on foreign policy and the Middle East, feels any withdrawal of troops that looks like a lack of will or staying power will embolden our enemies in a way that would be "disastrous" for the U.S. and our allies. For the senator, leaving "with the mission accomplished" is the only way to ensure a path to lasting peace. Who among us actually has the knowledge to declare that he is wrong?

The Iraq debate aside, Joe Lieberman is a senator who has accomplished tremendous good on almost every issue of importance-from civil and human rights to jobs, health care, the environment, education funding, defense spending and homeland security. He votes with Democrats 90 percent of the time, and when he does not it's because he feels his constituents would be better served.
Stand by Joe Lieberman. Our state, and the nation, need his leadership in the Senate.

Moonbat Media

Here's a new portal for pics of antiwar demos, snapped by various undercover photo-bloggers. I'm familiar with San Francisco's "zombie", but these others are new to me. They're a good way of getting around the selective editing (as if there's any other kind!) that the newspapers' photojournalists do, to make these creepy confabs seem like mere assemblies of concerned citizens. Good luck, fellas!

Thx to Samizdata.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Depeche Mode Cancels Tel Aviv, Israel Concert


I remember Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones snarling defiance at the jihadists after the Bali bombings, which had prompted Paul McCartney to cancel an Oz tour.

I say to Osama and the boys bring it on, evaporate me. If it gets to the stage where these guys are dictating if we rock or not, then forget about it. If McCartney uses these guys as an excuse, he should give it away. Don't give them the power. I can't wait to tour Australia, even if they take out my plane on the way there.

That's the voice of someone who was conceived during the Blitz for you...

Radicals Are Unaccountable For Their Actions

No one hands the coffeeshop communards their a$$es quite like James Lileks:

The usual delusions are abundant. The progressives imagine they’re the vanguard shielding the last jot of human rights from the ever-gathering fascist storm. (Forget the executions in Somalia for the crime of watching the World Cup; there’s a rumor Wal-Mart won’t offer the usual new-release discount for DVDs of Al Gore’s eco-doc.) They imagine that conservatives support Israel because they want to convert Jews and usher in the last book in the “Left Behind” series. They have internalized the Palestinian narrative so deeply they blame the “occupation” for rocket attacks coming out of territory no longer occupied. They’re so convinced of their rectitude that the obscenity of an Israeli flag spattered with swastikas makes perfect sense: why, if they weren’t actually Nazis, the progressives wouldn’t oppose them. They marched with communists for Worker’s Rights, regardless of whether anyone in communist countries had a job or any rights. And now they march with Hezbollah supporters for Peace and Justice. [...]

Given the Left’s romance with revolution and guerillas, it’ll only be a matter of time before Hezbollah leader Nasrallah appears on T-shirts like Che, and his merry band are lionized as the new Viet Cong. Hezbollah builds schools, you know. Granted, they’re schools where the biology lesson consists of sawing off the heads of infidel frogs. But they build schools!

Imagine rallies in 1939 where brown-shirts taunted Jews, screamed NO BLOOD FOR BEER, blamed Pearl Harbor on the FDR, and called for the destruction of the French Entity while peace activists applauded. That’s what we have today. It’s like watching Nazis and Quakers ballroom dance.

I used to have quite a smart mouth when I was younger. Maybe if I was less well brought up, I could have wound up with as acid a pen as him.

Left-Wing Blog Comment Threads

I'm more of a comments dweller than a blogger, and I usually keep to the dextro-sphere. But I've always recognized the need to avoid the echo-chamber effect. So I sometimes sally forth into a lefty blog, and weigh in on the comments thread. I do try not to troll, though that's in the eye of the beholder. Here I am getting tossed over the ropes at Sadly No!, for example.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Creationist--I Mean, Intelligent Design School Board Candidates Defeated In Kansas

Great news from the midwest. Pat Hayes of Red State Rabble has been your go-to guy from this front, so click through and join the champagne shower!

And then cowboy up for the next round:

Moderates must not be fooled into sitting on the laurels in the coming months. We must not allow ourselves to be satisfied by a narrow one-vote majority on the board. We need to go out, raise money and win both elections in November.

IDF Commando Raid At Baalbek

It's too soon to take the early reports at face value. But this looks like a superb hit and run operation by Israel's commandos. There may be quite a war story here, once the dust settles.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

German Reactions to Israel-Hezbollah War

A ongoing collection of very nuggetty English-language excerpts is here, at Signs And Sight.

The State of the Dems

So I was out surfing the news at Google's portal, and found this Morton Kondracke column, talking up Joe Lieberman. He talks about how Lieberman is a throwback to a time when there used to be such things as liberal national security hawks. He also deplores how the self-described progressive "netroots" (and conservative-described "nutroots") have vilified Lieberman for being insufficiently hateful towards George Bush and Israel.

So I thought hmm... Why is Morton Kondracke trying to boost the stock of a Democratic senator up for reelection? Does he maybe sense that the Republicans are going to lose ground this time, and is anxious that the foamy-mouthed Left not be the gainer?

Then, I clicked down my bookmarks to Jessica's Well, where Walsingham has a link to an Iowahawk satire of a Berkeley student's pro-Hezbollah poem, which was linked by Opinion Journal, which...oh, just click through and read it!

If the Berkeleyoids are attracting and producing people like that, Kondracke is wise to worry about the future of the Democratic Party.