Saturday, May 03, 2003
What thou lov'st well remains, the rest is dross
...It is often thought that ideology makes people inflexible, unable to face new situations they've not thought about before. In fact, given how seldom a situation truly is new, a well thought through set of ideas will serve in any circumstance that arises and so may give such folk--Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and George W. Bush are the paramount recent examples--a suppleness that those whose minds function in a more ad hoc way will lack. The latter--men like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton--may be paralyzed into inaction, because they have to analyze things afresh and then worry over whether they've come up with the right decision. It is the difference that Isaiah Berlin wrote about in his famous essay, The Hedgehog and the Fox.Conservatives tend to be people who find the past appealing, thrilling, alive. You might think that would make them uncomfortable dealing with the future, but just the opposite is true. The things you love you will absorb, they will soak in, they will become part of you without the need for laborious study. And if you absorb, for example, things like the story of Gideon, you may be more ready for life's crises than the theorist who has read a hundred books...And if you absorb histories of Sam Houston or Lord Fairfax or Abigail Adams or Epaminondas, you will not be alone when the crisis comes...
I suspect our country has flourished partly because, at times of testing, hedgehogs often appear. (And if you find the accusations of stupidity heaped on Bush by the foxes to be a bit much, go back and read what they said about Lincoln. Or Jackson, or Truman...)
Friday, May 02, 2003
To Infinity...and beyond!The satires of Scrappleface are always worth reading, but I think this is a new peak...
...Mr. Clinton, who usually avoids the limelight, reluctantly answered a few questions from journalists. His replies were polite, direct and often little more than a simple, "I support President Bush."
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A faithful servant...Embassy guard Mahdi Alouneh, 58, and his son Saleh, preserved and looked after the British Embassy in Baghdad since it was abandoned in 1991.
...Mr Alouneh and his sons and nephews had protected the embassy from looters over the past 13 years, armed with a single Yugoslav-made assault rifle...(via The Corner)
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In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To the captives, 'come out,' ...From the President's speech...
...Those we lost were last seen on duty. Their final act on this Earth was to fight a great evil and bring liberty to others. All of you -- all in this generation of our military -- have taken up the highest calling of history. You're defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope -- a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To the captives, 'come out,' -- and to those in darkness, 'be free.'"
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Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Off on the train to work ...The recent attempt by Norman Mailer to explain the War on Terrorism to to the masses reminds me of something I read by Joseph Wambaugh (I'm quoting from long-ago memory): "Most writers are like children who have no idea what daddy does when he gets on the train and goes off to work in the morning."
He was actually writing about Joseph Heller, who had written a book about American politics without being burdened with any personal knowledge of the subject. Heller was famous, and admired by Wambaugh, for his splendid success with Catch 22, which was based on his experiences as a pilot in WWII. But then he unwisely accepted a position as a "writer in residence," or some such, at a small New England college. He never wrote anything important again, which Wambaugh attributed to his not having a responsible job, or any other forced-involvement in real life. He had no interesting material to write about.
Mailer is the same way. His "job" is to be a "Famous New York literary figure," and any writing he happens to do is only to add a touch of verisimilitude. Most of his reputation comes from one book, based on his—you guessed it—WWII experiences. If he were ever trapped with a bunch of miners in a coal-mine disaster, he would have material for a another great book. But he would have to abandon the pretense that ordinary Americans are like bugs which he and his clique can look down on and laugh...
What makes Mailer's analysis doubly ridiculous is that what's really going on is not especially hidden or secret. Many of the people who are guiding policy right now have been writing and defending their ideas publicly for years. Charlene and I have long been reading them in The National Review, or The Wall Street Journal. We feel like we are involved in the discussion, and that policy is being made by old friends of ours. If I ever meet them face-to-face I will have to remind myself that we've never been introduced, and I can't treat them as pals from way back when Reagan was President...
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Genocide ...Dean Esmay has a long and powerful post on Genocides of the 20th Century, starting with the Armenian Genocide.
Let us hope we do better with the 21st Century...
...The struggle of memory against forgetting. It's hard. What does it matter? It was a long time ago. I wasn't there. I don't know any of these people. Can I really be said to remember this anyway?_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
To keep ones word ...From President Bush's speech in Dearborn:
...I have confidence in the future of a free Iraq. The Iraqi people are fully capable of self-government. Every day Iraqis are moving toward democracy and embracing the responsibilities of active citizenship. Every day life in Iraq improves as coalition troops work to secure unsafe areas and bring food and medical care to those in need.Well, we will. Keep our word. Bush has said it. I don't have to lay awake at night worrying that we might abandon our responsibilities or leave a job half-done. It's a pride and a pleasure to be an American right now...
Claudia Winkler has written a good article on the speech...
...It is this granite commitment that makes all talk of turning reconstruction over to the United Nations so fatuous. You simply can't delegate such a responsibility. You have to meet it yourself. You especially can't delegate it to a faceless council and multilingual bureaucracy. In the end, it is a person who answers, and in this case he is George W. Bush...I remember being thrilled to the marrow when I read, before the invasion of Iraq had even begun, that we had let contracts to American companies to do reconstruction. The thought of us just carving up these problems and SOLVING them, without asking any Frenchman's permission, is pure bliss. Halliburton, Bechtel, Fluor, Parsons. Boots and Coots! Read 'em and weep, Tranzis.
A bunch of fat golf-playing Republican-supporting Capitalist white guys are going to grind up those jobs like hamburger. They are all less than perfect, but the problems will be solved, and I don't mean ten years from now.
Anyway, I think the scorn lathered on companies like these is mostly rubbishing propaganda written by people who've never built anything in their lives. My estimate: If you are looking for decent, thoughtful, caring people, the sort you would want representing us in distant, troubled lands, you are much more likely to find them working for Bechtel, than among New York poets or the Red Cross or God help us, the UN.
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Monday, April 28, 2003
Hide-and-seek?I notice various people writing (with unctuous satisfaction) that we haven't found any WMD's in Iraq, and therefore our invasion is unjustified. This annoys me—not because think it's anything other than nonsense—but because many people will take this seriously. It makes me want to grab people and shout, "What are you trying to say?" "What exactly are you saying?"
Jeff Jacoby, in the Boston Globe, wrote:
The threat posed by Saddam's pursuit of unconventional weapons was real. So was his support for terrorism, his record of aggression, and his flouting of UN mandates. Those were the formal grounds for war, and they added up to a strong rationale for regime change in Baghdad.Me, I don't think we need all these justification arguments. ALL the terror-supporting nations have been responsible for deliberate murders of American citizens. We have a perfect right to clean their clocks without saying anything or asking anyone's permission.
We have been very moderate and judicious in just hitting one of them. And that the one where we could stop Saddam's internal war that has killed at least a million people, thereby saving huge numbers of lives.
Update: David Adesnik just OxBlogged a variant on the "if we don't find WMD" argument:
...Still, it would be fair for critics of the war -- and even moreso, its supporters -- to distrust the President from now on, given his constant insistence, without reservation, that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, the case for preemptive war against WMD-armed adversaries would suffer irreparably if the United States turns out to have been wrong about Iraq.Adesnik is a very smart guy, but I still can't see how this makes any sense. The Blix report itself said that there were large quantities of chemical and biological weapons unaccounted-for. Because we don't find them doesn't change that. And there is heaps of other evidence that they did exist, and zero evidence that they have been properly destroyed. Even France never claimed they didn't exist; only that the inspections were, by some mysterious alchemy, disarming Iraq.
Some people will howl with delight if we don't find them. BUT, they can't push that argument too far. Where did the nerve gas go? That question will keep coming back until it gets an answer. The burden of proof will be on anyone who claims it just evaporated, or never existed. Most of us will wonder what terrorist group or rogue nation has it now. And we will likely start asking why we waited so long to invade...
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Another RJ ...I stumbled on a blog called Neil's Random Jottings! I don't think we have much in common, it's a sort of tech blog. He did link to an interesting bit of computer news I didn't know: Dalai Lama announces Yellow Hat Linux ...
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Easter prayer ...
This holy season reminds us of the value of freedom, and the power of a love stronger than death. ...More than 250,000 American troops are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom to protect our security and to free an oppressed people. Their families await their safe return, and our grateful nation remembers them in prayer. ...As a nation, we continue to pray for all who serve in our military and those who remain in harm's way. We also pray for those who have lost people they love in this war. ...America mourns those who have been called home, and we pray that their families will find God's comfort and God's grace. His purposes are not always clear to us, yet this season brings a promise: that good can come out of evil, that hope can arise from despair, and that all our grief will someday turn to joy, a joy that can never be taken away.
(from the Federalist Newsletter)
Sunday, April 27, 2003
The envelope, please ...You know how various groups give annual awards, presenting a statuette that has a cutesy name, like Oscar, Emmy, Hugo or Edgar?
I think we might establish one to honor outstanding members of that idiotarian crew who find any crazed dictator preferable to any current American (Republican) leader...
As a model for the statuette, I propose this:
An Iron Maiden torture device found in the I.O.C. compound, Baghdad.
And the name? Why the Uday, of course...
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And he's out of the mainstream...This Washington Times Article details Democrat plans to savagely attack any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, regardless (of course) of qualifications...
...The paper blizzard will include some or all of the following accusations: The nominee is not "sensitive" to the rights of women, children, black Americans and other racial minorities, the disabled, workers, unions, farmers, native Americans and others. The nominee is "out of the mainstream" of the American legal tradition; is too "right wing"; is even "radical." (Democrats perfected their use of those smear tactics against Judge Bork, stooping so low as to suggest he might not believe in God. Apparently a godless conservative is even more dangerous than a god-fearing one.) With much hand-wringing, Democrats will cry crocodile tears, sighing "if only the president had nominated a moderate conservative, we would be delighted to confirm him or her." If the nominee does not have an extensive body of scholarly writings, Democrats will tar him as a "stealth" candidate who possesses hidden and alarming views. If, on the other hand, the nominee has written extensively, those writings will be denounced as "out of the mainstream." (Remember that phrase). If the nominee believes in a color-blind society and equal treatment under the laws, and questions the constitutionality of race-conscious policies called affirmative action by some, then of course the nominee is a "racist" who will want to "turn back the clock" on civil rights, overturn Brown vs. Board of Education, repeal the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, and reintroduce slavery.If ever there was a party that deserved to spend 3 or 4 decades in the wilderness, these Dems are it...
But all this puts me in mind of a possible scenario...
Headline: June 25. JUSTICE O'CONNOR ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
Headline: June 26. SCIENTISTS ANNOUNCE SUCCESSFUL CLONING OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Headline: June 27. SENATOR KENNEDY DENOUNCES POSSIBLE LINCOLN NOMINATION
Kennedy: "Abraham Lincoln's America would a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue policemen could break down citizen's doors in midnight raids, school children could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censured at the whim of government..."
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Moving nimbly through the quagmire ...Perhaps you wondered why our President happened to give a speech at a tank factory in Lima, Ohio? Read this story:
...But the 70-ton M-1A1 and M-1A2 armored battle tanks, developed to face Soviet armor on the fields of Europe, had a weakness: Heavily armored in the front, they are much more lightly protected in the back, where their exhaust pipes are.