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Saturday, November 17, 2001

---PJ O'Rourke
"I was a guest on a BBC phone-in talk show. If the world is mad at America for anything, it should be for the invention of the phone-in talk show. The idea of a news broadcast once was to find someone with information and broadcast it. The idea now is to find someone with ignorance and spread it around."

Friday, November 16, 2001

I'm mortified. There is a hoax e-mail going around with Ollie North and Osama. I fell for it. Ugh.

More and more I think that the best of the founding fathers was John Adams (and his wife Abigail was some sharp cookie herself. Deserving to be called a Founding Mother).

He SAW the world more clearly than anyone else, was all too often right, and was of course ignored. He read the Philosophes, and their ideas of perfect societies that could easily be achieved by sweeping away all the old institutions, and he KNEW that trouble was coming. And when his friend Condorcet was hunted down by a howling revolutionary mob, John Adams was not a bit surprised.

And if he were here today and saw how our unprecedented freedom and prosperity have made us hated by a thousand varieties of would-be tyrants both at home and abroad, he’d say, “I saw this coming 200 years ago. . .”

Peggy Noonan, always worth reading

"Mr. Bush also followed a charismatic leader, and I do not mean Mr. Clinton. Mr. Clinton, whose eight years in the presidency could be compressed like an accordion into one inch of meaning, was no FDR. The charismatic figure Mr. Bush follows is the last big American president, the last who had the massive presence of a battleship, Ronald Reagan.

People kept wondering last year during the election if Mr. Bush had it in him to be a Reagan. I thought maybe he did. But now as I watch him I think: Truman.

Harry Truman did it all through gut and instinct and character. He was a good man who loved his country. He loved to read history and could quote Ovid, but he was no intellectual, not a man of strikingly original thought; his mind wasn't so much creative as quick, and solid as a rock. He grew into the job, on a steep learning curve, forced by history to absorb facts and decide quickly. He didn't know about the atom bomb until the first week of his presidency.

Mr. Bush has been on a similar steep curve, forced to absorb and decide quickly, and his decisions too seem to have been issued from a mind that's quick and solid as a rock."

I like this simple Blogger template, but it doesn't show our e-mail address. It's:

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Suggested rule for improving airline service: In return for the big bailout, for one year all airline executivs who fly must use the lowest-fare class, and wait in the same lines as ordinary passengers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

"The winds begin to rustle, the clouds gather, it grows dark; will these airy forces rear up the ocean to a foaming fury? A spirit seems to be rising; a spirit of contrition and shame at our long apathy and lethargy; a spirit of resentment of injuries, a spirit of indignation at insolence; and what to me is very remarkable, a spirit of greater unanimity than I have ever witnessed in this country for fifty years." --John Adams, on the coming of the War of 1812

"We are mapless, we are lost, and we are distracted by gusts of wishful thinking."

I like that. Tell it like it is, Nicholas. Don't spare us the grim news. Woe is us.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

The great fish swallow up the small, and he who is most strenuous for the rights of the people, when vested with power, is as eager after the prerogatives of government. You tell me the degrees of perfection to which human nature is capable of arriving, and I believe it, but at the same time lament that our admiration should arise from the scarcity of the instances. --Abigail Adams, in a letter to John Adams.

I just read that the order has been given for military trials for captured terrorists. I hope this won't be necessary because, ooops, sorry, they were all killed while resisting arrest.

I have to find time to adjust this Blogger template to include our e-mail address. 'till then, it's:

A book we liked was DECLARE by Tim Powers. It a retelling of the Kim Philby story with a supernatural explanation. I know that sounds flakey, but the actual story of Philby is so full of inexplicable oddities that it almost begs for it. (For mystery fans, the evil explorer in Josephne Tey's The Singing Sands is almost certainly Philby's father.) I've never enjoyed Tim Powers' books previously, but this one really works. He allows the strangeness to slowly emerge, rather than just dropping it in our laps. And I really came to care about the fates of the main characters.

Monday, November 12, 2001

A war begins. It's like rolling over a rotting log, the sun suddenly shines on a miriad of things both beautiful and creepy. We suddenly have a lot to say.

"They ought to have reflected . . . that as there is nothing more desirable, or advantageous than peace, when founded in justice and honour, so there is nothing more shameful and at the same time more pernicious when attained by bad measures, and purchased at the price of liberty."
Abigail Adams, in a letter to John Adams, August 19, 1774

InstaPundit mentions that John Lott has written an exceedingly interesting piece in the New York Post on the Israeli view of concealed handguns.

"Israelis realize that the police and military simply can't be there all the time to protect people when terrorists attack: There are simply too many vulnerable targets. (When the police or military are nearby, terrorists wait until they leave.) And when terrorists strike, their first targets include anyone openly carrying a gun.

What Israel has found helpful in thwarting terrorist attacks is allowing law-abiding, trained citizens to carry concealed handguns. About 10 percent of Jewish adults there now have permits to carry concealed handguns."