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“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
— Thucydides

“A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”
— Jean-François Revel

A Brief Lesson on Elementary Self-Defense

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Over at Eject! Eject! Eject!, Bill Whittle reflects on the state we're in, following an adroit and roundly deserved Fisking:

We can no longer afford to let this anti-American garbage pass unchallenged. As a kind and secure people, we tend to let a lot of this go under the bridge, but this kind of crap gets more and more traction, and those days I think must come to an end for a while.


America is dying from relentless and unwarranted criticism that is so out of the realm of reason and measure that it is corroding the foundations of society.

I would never, ever want an American history that excluded slavery and the fate of the Indians. But ask a college kid today about American history, and most will tell you it is nothing more than slavery and the Indians.

That has to be fought tooth and nail.

It does indeed.

Freedom vs. Justice

Friday, November 30, 2007

Mind-nourishing food for thought and good discussion on the topic over at Bill Whittle's place.

I'm back from New York, by the way, and hope to soon make time to post pictures and thoughts from my November 23rd visit to the World Trade Center site. Stay tuned...

Visiting Hallowed Ground

Friday, November 23, 2007

I'm iPhone-blogging from the World Trade Center site, a lump in my throat as I write this. This is the first time I've been back here since two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, when large debris was still being cleared and one couldn't get closer than a couple of blocks. Blogger doesn't yet appear to support image posting from the iPhone, so I'll have to wait until I her home to add pictures (of which I've taken many).

Overall feeling of deep sadness coupled with searching for that glimmer of hope that we will finally rebuild. I just wish it wasn't taking so long...

Update 9/21/2008: I've finally posted my pictures from this day. Click here to view the album.

Freedom, Wealth, and Poverty

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

This recent comment following Dr. Helen's post “Time for Another Boston Tea Party?”, struck me as aptly put:

There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. We all get that, rich or poor. What one does with that time is up to that individual. 3% of the population, on average, has a library card. It's free! The contents of a library are free to borrow! The cumulative knowledge of mankind is at hand, free! There are librarians there to help you, if you don't understand the Dewey Decimal System. Free!

All men are created equal. After that, it's up to each and every one of us. The reason one is rich, one is poor, one lives in a huge house, and one lives in an 8x10 cell is what's between his ears. Always has been, always will be. Emotional IQ as well as intelligence IQ. A fair tax is a killer idea. If it's fair. That is, as long as fairness is not the same as beauty, being in the eye of the beholder.

I am far and away from being wealthy. I believe in paying the goose that lays the golden eggs. It is good to help those who cannot help themselves. Food, clothing, roof over the head, help to get back on your feet. Then the "training wheels" need to come back off.

I have great sympathy for those who truly struggle, and believe those of us who are better off should do what we can to help others lift themselves up out of debilitating poverty. But if we value this magnificent free society that allows the production of this wealth that we are so fortunate to enjoy, we must do so by means of voluntary good that is consistent with the free society's principles, rather than by coercive means, and we mustn't allow the perpetuation of a "victim" mentality, or a soft bigotry of low expectations, to substitute for doing real, practical good.

Bill Whittle eloquently yet succinctly addressed the issue of poverty, what to do about it, and what not to do about it in his 2003 essay “Trinity” -- highly recommended, and always worth another reading.

At Instapundit: Love the Prosperous

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Via Instapundit: Learning to love the prosperous.

The prosperous are a precious thing, and we have tons of them in America. The more, the better. I know that not everyone pursues prosperity: many pursue other goals instead. But the more wealthy people we have, the better.

Wealthy people do not ask the government (meaning their neighbors) for stuff, they live independent lives, they donate time and money to charities, they tend to be civic-minded and grateful, they "ask not what America can do" for them, they educate their kids, they spend money and keep the retail economy rolling, they invest in businesses which grow and create jobs, etc etc.

Without the estate tax, we would have many more wealthy in America than we have now. And if more people had good old Yankee thrift and the backbone to resist every temptation, we'd have even more wealthy people. Wealth is not the most important thing in life, but private assets are the foundation of being a Free Man or Woman.

The goal of American policies should be to help create as many wealthy people and families as possible.

Well said, I thought.

Brainwashing 101 at U. of Delaware

Just in time for Halloween... Scary tales of ideological indoctrination at the University of Delaware (hat tip: Instapundit, with more here).

Many universities try to indoctrinate students, but the all-time champion in this category is surely the University of Delaware. With no guile at all the university has laid out a brutally specific program for "treatment" of incorrect attitudes of the 7,000 students in its residence halls. The program is close enough to North Korean brainwashing that students and professors have been making "made in North Korea" jokes about the plan. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has called for the program to be dismantled.

Residential assistants charged with imposing the "treatments" have undergone intensive training from the university. The training makes clear that white people are to be considered racists - at least those who have not yet undergone training and confessed their racism. The RAs have been taught that a "racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality."

My response, which in hindsight summed up my immediate thoughts on the issue pretty well:

Chilling. And I thought the level of attempted indoctrination was bad when I went to college in the mid-90s. Clearly the situation has worsened since then.

Perhaps saddest of all is that such ideological, thought-police badgering is deeply counterproductive to the ostensibly noble causes of humanity's advancement that these people claim to champion. Evidently the self-congratulatory thrill of claiming the mantle of moral superiority, and the timeless passion for power over others (I'm thinking here of Lord Acton's renowned observation), takes precedence for these frauds over the actual achievement of real good or elevation of the human mind and spirit. As a case in point, I consider myself a supporter on classical liberal/libertarian principles of legally allowing homosexual marriage (or civil unions, as may prove a more practical compromise), very much despite the similarly-minded pedantic, sanctimonious cries of "homophobia" that seem to befall most anyone who doesn't toe the P.C. thought-and-speeh-correctness line to the precise letter these days. (I often wonder how much necessary traction the Civil Rights movement would have gained among mainstream America had the public discourse been dominated by similar scolding cries of "negrophobia" or the like.) The "oppressed" that the academic ideologues who peddle this stuff claim to speak for are done no good whatsoever by such disgraceful, self-serving conduct. They are pushing their extreme agenda farther and farther, and have, I certainly hope, finally reached the point where they'll begin to be met with a substantial and well-deserved backlash of public opinion and consequential deprivation of funding.

...but, hey, what do I know? I'm just a white heterosexual male-of-European-descent member of the bourgeois-subjectivist-individualist-captilast exploiter class (and probably sexist and racist by default too). Please disregard the foregoing as irrelevant. ;-)

Boo hiss, University of Delaware. Hurrah for FIRE's steadfast defesne of real, meaningful intellectual liberty. And thank you for publicizing this important issue.

I don't have any children myself yet, but I can't help but worry what the state of affairs will be like when my future kids go off to college. I'm glad for the good work that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has been doing to help counteract the apparently substantial thought-diversity problem that exists on many U.S. college campuses.

Sweet Nothings

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cox & Forkum, brilliant as usual, on Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia

If Existed 65 Years Ago

Friday, September 14, 2007


Hat tip to Instapundit.

Iraq News: The Good and The Bad

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Independent journalist Michael Totten posted another of his exemplary reports from Iraq a few days ago, on the state of things in Ramadi in particular and Anbar province in general -- well worth reading in its entirety to get a more detailed insight into the situation there than most of the news outlets provide.

Sadly, we just today lost Sahawa al Anbar leader Sheikh Sattar, who, as Michael described in his most recent dispatch, has been a key figure in helping to drive al Qaeda fighters out of Anbar and pacify the region:

Nineteen Arab tribes led by sheikhs live in Anbar Province. In June of 2006, nine of those tribal sheikhs cooperated with the Americans, three were neutral, and seven were hostile.

In October of last year the tribal leaders in the province, including some who previously were against the Americans, formed a movement to reject the savagery Al Qaeda had brought to their region. Some of them were supremely unhappy with the American presence since fighting exploded in the province’s second largest city of Fallujah, but Al Qaeda proved to be even more sinister from their point of view. Al Qaeda did not come as advertised. They were militarily incapable of expelling the American Army and Marines. And they were worse oppressors than even Saddam Hussein. The leaders of Anbar Province saw little choice but to openly declare them enemies and do whatever it took to expunge them. They called their new movement Sahawa al Anbar, or the Anbar Awakening.

Sheikh Sattar is its leader. Al Qaeda murdered his father and three of his brothers and he was not going to put up with them any longer. None of the sheikhs were willing to put up with them any longer. By April of 2007, every single tribal leader in all of Anbar was cooperating with the Americans.

The remaining Sahawa al Anbar leadership vows to fight on, as well they should, but this is certainly a tragic loss of a man who was making a positive difference in Anbar.

9/11, Six Years On

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'll be at work today, but will try to follow events in the blogosphere and post links here when I can.

Looking back on my 2006 and 2005 memorial posts, I'm struck by how little seems to have changed in my perception of our general mood, the challenges we face, and the shape we're in. I hold out hope that things will improve (what can I say, I'm an optimist), but I regret to say it doesn't seem likely that the situation will change anytime soon.

September 11, 2001 - We must not forget.

Via Instapundit, Jonah Goldberg on 9/11, Six Years Later:

If I had said in late 2001, with bodies still being pulled from the wreckage, anthrax flying through the mail, pandemonium reigning at the airports, and bombs falling on Kabul, that by ‘07 leading Democrats would be ridiculing the idea of the war on terror as a bumper sticker, I’d have been thought mad. If I’d predicted that a third of Democrats would be telling pollsters that Bush knew in advance about 9/11, and that the eleventh of September would become an innocuous date for parental get-togethers to talk about potty-training strategies and phonics for preschoolers, people would have thought I was crazy.


But it’s important to remember that from the outset, the media took it as their sworn duty to keep Americans from getting too riled up about 9/11. I wrote a column about it back in March of 2002. Back then the news networks especially saw it as imperative that we not let our outrage get out of hand. I can understand the sentiment, but it’s worth noting that such sentiments vanished entirely during hurricane Katrina. After 9/11, the press withheld objectively accurate and factual images from the public, lest the rubes get too riled up. After Katrina, the press endlessly recycled inaccurate and exaggerated information in order to keep everyone upset. The difference speaks volumes.


There are plenty of arguments one can have about the Iraq war and the uses and abuses of 9/11, but I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that the disagreements over the Iraq war are expressions of divisions that long predate it. The culture war, red vs. blue America, Bush hatred, Clinton hatred, and radical anti-Americanism poisoning much of the campus Left: All of these things were tangible landmarks on the political landscape long before the invasion of Iraq.

It has certainly seemed that way to me.

Also, David Rusin at Pajamas Media asserts that we should not only remember 9/11, but remain [constructively] angry about the events of that day and their aftermath.

Victor Davis Hanson:

It's been nearly six long years since a catastrophic attack on our shores, and we've understandably turned to infighting and second-guessing — about everything from Guantanamo to wiretaps.

But this six-year calm, unfortunately, has allowed some Americans to believe that "our war on terror" remedy is worse than the original Islamic terrorist disease.

We see this self-recrimination reflected in our current Hollywood fare, which dwells on the evil of American interventions overseas, largely ignoring the courage of our soldiers or the atrocities committed by jihadists. Our tell-all bestsellers, endless lawsuits and congressional investigations have deflected our 9/11-era furor away from the terrorists to ourselves.

Reflections on the anniversary at neo-neocon:

I was hardly alone in thinking that some sort of permanent change towards greater unity had occurred. Everyone, Republican and Democrat, seemed somber and serious, interested in fighting this evil that had existed for many years but seemed newly competent in its ability to inflict harm, and far more viciously hate-filled than had ever before been appreciated.

Gerard Vanderleun—writing shortly after the shattering and powerful experience of watching the towers fall from a close vantage point as he stood amidst the crowd that had gathered on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade—expected change as well, that Americans would be filled hereafter with “a terrible resolve” and a unity of purpose, as in WWII. And this thought was shared by many, including me.

Perhaps, as Norman Podhoretz writes in this new piece on the sixth 9/11 anniversary, it might finally be the end of widespread America-hating on the Left, and the defeat of the “Vietnam syndrome.” He himself hoped for it. But he also knew the Left very well, far better than I:

On the one hand, those who thought that we had brought 9/11 down on ourselves and had it coming were in a very tiny minority–even tinier than the antiwar movement of the early ’60s. On the other hand, they were much stronger at a comparably early stage of the game than their counterparts of the ’60s (who in some cases were their own younger selves). The reason was that, as the Vietnam War ground inconclusively on, the institutions that shape our culture were one by one and bit by bit converting to the “faith in America the ugly.” By now, indeed, in the world of the arts, in the universities, in the major media of news and entertainment, and even in some of the mainstream churches, that faith had become the regnant orthodoxy.

But even Podhoretz didn’t foresee how quickly they would regroup, how strong they would get, and how closely they’d follow the Vietnam template of the 70s. In fact, the only thing that seems to have prevented a repeat of those years (at least, so far) is the fact that the antiwar group lacks enough votes in Congress to override a Presidential veto.

A stirring remembrance at Cox and Forkum

9/11 memorial video [alternate link]

Remember. Always.

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Birthday, old friend. And thank you for the life you've made possible.

Cross the fearsome ocean,
brave the rolling seas
Show me to the Frontier,
where Men can scarcely be.

Leave me all the Risks
that go with being Free.
I'll gladly take the lot,
as the price of Liberty.

Cameron Diaz apologizes for Maoist bag

Monday, June 25, 2007

From Yahoo's syndicated news headlines earlier today: Cameron Diaz apologizes for Maoist bag (photos here):

Cameron Diaz apologized Sunday for carrying a bag with a political slogan that evoked painful memories in Peru.

The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated "Shrek" films visited the Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru's Andes on Friday carrying an olive green bag emblazoned with a red star and the words "Serve the People" printed in Chinese, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong's most famous political slogan.

The bags are marketed as fashion accessories in some world capitals, but in Peru the slogan evokes memories of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency that fought the government in the 1980s and early 1990s in a bloody conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead.

"I sincerely apologize to anyone I may have inadvertently offended. The bag was a purchase I made as a tourist in China and I did not realize the potentially hurtful nature of the slogan printed on it," Diaz said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

It strikes me as a very sad state of affairs that there is seemingly so little awareness of collectivism's grim and humbling legacy in the West, to the extent that such accoutrements can be considered hip fashion accessories. (I don't know what things are like in the rest of the country, but such articles are easily found in San Francisco's trendiest boutique stores.) No one with a shred of decency would think of heading out the door with a swastika and Nazi party slogan emblazoned on their handbag. Why the difference in sentiment, given especially that the likes of Mao and Stalin made Hitler look like a rank amateur when it came to killing?

Seems like it's none too soon that we're finally going to have a memorial in the U.S. to raise awareness of the far too many who perished under totalitarian collectivist regimes over the course of the 20th century (and in some tragically forgotten parts of the world, such as North Korea and ZImbabwe, continue to do so today).

Bill Whittle's back ... again!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I've been AWOL (even more so than usual) for a while now, due largely to my seeming inability to muster the necessary focus to take on any other projects outside my very satisfying but equally time-consuming tech job. (Given that I'm writing sentences like the foregoing, that may not be such a bad thing.)

I'll be back when I can. In the meantime, I'm overjoyed to use this space to note that there's been lots of activity again lately over at Bill Whittle's site, Eject! Eject! Eject!, and to heartily recommend a visit over there. Bill's in the process of printing a second edition of his truly inspired “Silent America” essay collection, in which he's succeeded brilliantly at what I can only dream in my best moments of being able to do: illuminating with great eloquence the virtues of this modern Civilization of ours, and the crucial importance of keeping its brightly burning light of freedom, reason, and virtue vital and alive. By all means, if you haven't had the pleasure of reading Bill's work before, whatever are you doing still here? Find a comfy chair to settle into for a while, head over to, pick any essay at random from the archive links in the right-hand sidebar (they're consistently amazing), and enjoy!

Claudia Rosett on U.S. Diplomacy

Friday, March 2, 2007

(Courtesy of Instapundit)

From global superpower and world cop, America is now recasting itself as feel-good therapist for rogue regimes — seeking to know what's really on the mind of Kim Jong Il, and ready to break bread with the ayatollahs. It all sounds so civilized.

But I am more worried now than I have been since that clarifying and awful morning of Sept. 11, 2001. While America's policy may be shifting, the nature of our enemies has not. We are now seeking good-faith deals with governments that rule by terror, and lie and cheat with an impunity that our own leaders cannot afford.


[W]ith terror-based governments, regime change remains the only real answer. And if America is now living in a dream world in which there is no war unless we choose to declare it, our best hope remains that these regimes -- like the former Soviet Union — will collapse from within. On that score, our real allies are not the tyrants who now deign to haggle with us over "stability" while pursuing weapons of mass murder and supplying roadside bombs to terrorists.

Our natural allies are the people living under such tyrants; people who desire not a false détente while their despots build bombs, but the genuine rights and freedoms that America not so long ago was promising to support.

Johan Norberg: "Entrepreneurs Are the Heroes of the World"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A spot-on, beautifully articulated essay from Johan Norberg on the achievements and discontents of entrepreneurship, in the Winter 2007 issue of Cato's Letter. I haven't been able to find a plain text copy online, but here's a PDF link. By all means, read the whole thing. It's succinct, relevant, and well put.

Think about that heroic journey once again, and think of the persons I just talked about — people like you, thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs. What makes it possible for us to buy equipment and goods from the other side of the world? Entrepreneurs face ancient traditions, political obstacles, taxes, and regulations, but they also have friends — people with access to capital, to knowledge, to other businesses. If they are lucky, entrepreneurs succeed. If not, they learn something new, make it even better the next time, and bring to the community something new that changes lives forever.

That is the heroic epic. The entrepreneur is the hero of our world. We do not really need the Frodos, the Luke Skywalkers, or the Buffy the Vampire Slayers. We have the Malcolm McLeans of the world.

But as you all know, that is not really what popular culture thinks of capitalists and entrepreneurs today. If you go to an average Hollywood movie, the hero is someone quite different.

The scientist and the capitalist are the enemies in most Hollywood productions. That is a bit ironic, because we would not have film technology if there were no scientists, and we would not have a film industry if it were not for the capitalists. But they are presented as villains.

Some anti-globalists and people opposed to free trade are now well-paid consultants who sit on the boards of big companies and tell them that what they do is really a bad thing and that they must accept much more corporate social responsibility. In their terms, corporate social responsibility means that what you have done so far is not social. It is not enough to create goods, services, and technologies that increase our life expectancies and save the lives of our children. No, you need to do something more. After making your profit, you need to give something back to society.

Give something back to society? As if the entrepreneurs and capitalists had stolen something that belonged to society that they have to give back! Profit is not something that we have to apologize for. Profit is proof that the capitalist has given something to society that it cherishes more than the material wealth it has given to the businessman.

I must emphasize that entrepreneurs should never be grateful for a society that gives them license to act, to dream, to innovate, and to create. I think that we, the society, should be grateful to the entrepreneur and to the businessman for what they do. Entrepreneurs are the heroes of our world — that despite the risks, the hard work, the hostility from society, the envy from neighbors, and state regulations, they keep on creating, they keep on producing and trading. Without them, nothing would be there.

More brilliance from Victor Davis Hanson

Friday, February 9, 2007

...over at Pajamas Media.