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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

Obama: Building a Religion

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This is brilliantly done and disturbing all at once. Brought to you by cakesecret, who is requesting help persuading YouTube to remove the “may not be suitable for minors” flag from it.

Three Weeks of Being a Twit

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hard to believe it’s been nearly three weeks already since I started using Twitter (my first Twitter post is here)! I think I was pretty well hooked by Day 2, and now I don’t care to imagine life without Twitter.

Being able to read and post tweets on the go from my iPhone is what has really made it work, as life offers plenty of opportunities for a quick, 120-character-or-less note that aren’t conducive time-wise to writing substantial blog posts (which the entry method on the iPhone isn’t really well suited for anyway). I definitely engage with the “Twittersphere” much more via iPhone than via a web browser on the desktop/laptop. So far I’ve been using “Twitterific”, and it’s been great, though I’ve noticed there are a few other highly-rated iPhone Twitter clients that are probably worth a look. Twitterific’s ability to post pictures, current location coordinates (approximate in my case, since I have a first-gen iPhone), and URLs from Safari are very nifty, and have been lots of fun to use so far.

In terms of the Twitter community/experience, it’s been very interesting to see the variety of ways in which others use Twitter, and to start to figure out how I want to use it. The founding idea of posting occasional quick notes about “what you’re doing now” is appealing, and to some limited extent I’ve been sticking to that so far. Others have taken their use beyond that starting point, using Twitter more to chat with other users (or “Twits”, if you prefer), or as a short-form blog of sorts. Some individuals’ feeds consist mainly of links to news articles, and there are also news organizations such as the WSJ, CNN, and BBC that offer their headlines and story links in Twitter form. I followed Instapundit via Twitter for a short while, but found that my previous habit of reading RSS/Atom feeds via NetNewsWire works much better for keeping up with Glenn’s stream and other blogs/news feeds. There have been other Twitter-isms to discover such as “#tcot”, the search hashtag for Top Conservatives on Twitter. I haven’t yet figured out whether or how deeply I want to participate in that, but the #tcot list has already helped me find a number of interesting users to follow. So far, I’ve mainly been inclined to follow people with similar interests who post more everyday “what I’m up to” tweets, or a combination of that and pointers to interesting news and such. I get a good dose of news and editorials already via the blogs and sites I follow, and find what I really enjoy in Twitter is the opportunity to see what others like me do or find interesting in their day-to-day lives. There are plenty of other potential uses inherent in the Twitter format though, and maybe I will find myself making more use of them as time goes by.

Meanwhile: You can continue to find me here at, as well as on Twitter at See you all out there!

The Dilemmas of a Day Off

It’s the start of a wide-open day off where I have nothing previously planned, and as usual my mind is racing a bit with a completely infeasible number of ideas for things I might do. Picture the bits of debris whirling around in the Wizard of Oz twister; it feels a bit like that.

You might think a bit of simple rest and relaxation would be high on the list, and in a very real sense it is (I might even get myself to sit long enough to watch a movie), but in general I need something for my noggin to engage with. Creative projects of various kinds, and even simple “getting my life un-cluttered so I can feel relaxed and focus the next time I sit down to a creative project” projects are things I always wish I had more time for, and they come to mind on those rare occasions when the time actually becomes available.

The danger with a day like today is always that I’ll try to do a bit of several things here and there, and then wonder in the end, as I usually end up doing, what I actually did or where the day went. So today I’m thinking I’ll try to avoid the possibly inevitable, and start the day by prioritizing and choosing one or maybe a very few things to try to do or accomplish.

This would be the time when I fire up Things on my Mac or iPhone, and try to skim the cream off my To Do list. (Brief product endorsement here: I love Things, and rely on it as the place where I dump all the miscellaneous “I should maybe…” thoughts that would otherwise clutter and worry my overactive mind. I’ve become a big fan of “ubiquitous capture”, for the stuff that’s worth capturing at least.)

Thoughts for today: catch up on my blog/news reading (I’m days behind, and I miss it!), do some of the blog writing I’ve been wanting to get to (lots of ideas saved up, but never the time), go through our pictures from this weekend’s Big Sur / Pacific Grove / Monterey trip and post some, work on finishing one of the 2-3 books I tend to be in the middle of reading at any given time (right now it’s “An Innocent at Polebrook” and “Atlas Shrugged”, and I’m looking to start a book on getting a pilot’s license that I got for Christmas), organize the virtual mess of project files on the home computer that I never tend to since I spend my days in front of the work computer, do the same for my paper files (not so much the boring bills-and-receipts stuff, but the project folders where I’ve collected ideas and notes over the years), work on the office redecorating project we started a couple months ago (the walls are bare, and pictures need hanging), get a voltmeter so I can figure out whether the cordless drill needs a new battery or a new charger, and then get what the drill needs so I can run the wires for the surround speakers under the house to the back of the living room, fire up GarageBand for a little guitar or keyboard practice, etc. And those are just the things I’d like to do for fun. I’ve also got our baby shower to help plan, and probably a variety of other things that need doing around the house.

Of course, all this “meta” stuff of taking the time to blog about what I might do is taking time away from, well, what I might do… The hope is that sitting and taking a moment to reflect on the possibilities before launching right into anything might help me to make better decisions about how I’ll spend my day. Whether this pans out remains to be seen, but I’m feeling good about it so far. Pause to take a look around from 30,000 ft. before committing to a destination — yeah, that’s it. If nothing else, I will have written at least one blog post today, and even if it’s devoid of interesting content that somehow still feels good.

Happy vacation, to those who are on one! — May you have a much easier time simply enjoying it than I do!

Tied Up Like a Christmas Present

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Between pre-holiday work deadlines and the characteristic frenzy of activities (some authentically delightful, others perhaps less so) that makes the holidays so great, it’s likely to continue to be quiet here for at least another week. I very much look forward to posting more when I can; there’s a lot that I still want to get around to writing about. Meanwhile, you can find me on Twitter, where I hope to continue to manage at least a few potentially interesting thoughts a day.

Happy Holidays, all, and thanks for stopping by!

On Twitter as "kulak76"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A bit late to the party, perhaps, but I’ve created a Twitter account. My feed, for any who may be interested in taking a peek or following it, is at

I’m thinking I’ll give Twitter a serious try for at least a good month or so — posting at least one “tweet” a day (if not a few more) about what I’m up to or what’s on my mind as I go about the business of life. I’ll continue blogging here as usual when I find the time and inclination to point out interesting articles, or to write more substantive stuff, but I’m intrigued by the idea of supplementing blogging with a more immediate way to toss out casual thoughts, and maybe even (with any luck?) connect more effectively with others who have similar interests.

My blog-reading habit, together with the occasional posting I do here, has provided a priceless gateway to deeper thinking about issues that weigh on my mind, as well as a certain much-appreciated sense of loose-knit community and just plain “not-alone-ness”, in discovering that there are others who share similar feelings and concerns. I’d hate to have to life life without a place to write about such things, or without my periodic visits to the neighborhoods of the blogosphere that I frequent. But even during times when I’m keeping up relatively well with all of that, I feel a remaining distance at the end of the day between me and others of my kind. Can tweeting help close that gap a bit? It will be interesting to see. I imagine much will depend on finding some intersection between the Twitter-sphere and people I’ve started to get to know in glorious Blog-ville (since blithering alone into a vacuum can only hold its interest for so long — even for me), and/or discovering other interesting feeds to follow.

One intriguing aspect of the Twitter format is that gathering together a group of people who follow one another’s Twitter feeds is a bit like creating a long-lived, slow-motion/casual-turnaround chatroom of sorts. The participants don’t all have to be online at the same time, which could otherwise present a problem for those in different time zones (the reason I’ve been such a stranger at The Chase Lounge, though I don’t mean to be). You can show up now and again, catch up on what others are up to, post, and either stay logged in for a bit of back-and-forth if others are online at the same time, or come back later without missing the conversation.

Anyhow … all the above is probably way too much thinking for something meant to be fun and casual. Consider this an invitation to follow my Twitter feed if the fancy strikes you.

Don’t have a Twitter account? Create one; they’re free! (No, I don’t work for Twitter, and I have no part whatsoever in the Vast Twitter Conspiracy, no matter what anyone tells you to the contrary. I have merely drunk the Kool Aid flavor of the month and found it satisfactory.)

Incidentally, I’ve been using the Iconfactory’s excellent “Twitterific” app on my iPhone to read and post, and am liking it greatly so far.

Twitterrific on the iPhone

The free version does just about everything that the ad-free, theme-enhanced $9.99 version does, but I expect I’ll soon move up to being a paying customer if I continue to find Twitterific useful. One of its nifty features is a Javascript bookmarklet that sends the URL of any page you’re looking at in Safari to Twitterific for inclusion in a tweet. (Twitter then replaces it with a space-saving TinyURL.) Posting pictures is fully supported too (from your existing photo library, or taken on-the-fly). I’ve taken much advantage of both of these features already.

OK … ‘Nuff said. Everybody in the pool! (What’s that? I’m the last one to find the pool? Heh.)

Robert Spencer at His Best, on David Horowitz TV

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More first-rate stuff on the “David Horowitz TV” video podcast: Robert Spencer, thoughtful expositor of radical Islamist ideology and chief poster at Jihad Watch, gives an excellent talk on the machinations of “stealth Jihad”. Don’t miss Spencer’s additional insightful remarks in the Q&A video that follows.

View the talk here, or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes to get this and other episodes in the series.

Especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to see Robert Spencer in action before, this is an excellent introduction to his style, his perspective, and what he does.

Another Call for World Government

Via Drudge: Gideon Rachman in the London Financial Times (emphasis mine):

Even in the EU – the heartland of law-based international government – the idea remains unpopular. The EU has suffered a series of humiliating defeats in referendums, when plans for “ever closer union” have been referred to the voters. In general, the Union has progressed fastest when far-reaching deals have been agreed by technocrats and politicians – and then pushed through without direct reference to the voters. International governance tends to be effective, only when it is anti-democratic.

And yet, the author seems nonetheless to favor the idea, both throughout the article and in his closing:

The world’s most pressing political problems may indeed be international in nature, but the average citizen’s political identity remains stubbornly local. Until somebody cracks this problem, that plan for world government may have to stay locked away in a safe at the UN.

Pesky, provincial voters! Where is their vision? Clearly there’s a need for someone to “crack this problem”. The will of the unwashed masses can’t possibly be allowed to stand in the way of global progress.

The most frightening thing about the idea of a single world government is precisely what gives it such appeal to those who would see themselves in positions of power within it: There is no escape (short of a rocket ride to an as-yet-nonexistent off-Earth colony, and who knows even then what the governing arrangement with the mother planet will be?). Don’t like the regulatory climate, taxation scheme, or laws abridging free speech or free exercise of religion where you are? Tough. That’s the way it will be, everywhere.

More Brilliance from Victor Davis Hanson

Friday, November 28, 2008

On the David Horowitz TV video podcast: Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq, Afghanistan, the 2008 presidential election, challenges facing the Obama administration, and history’s lessons.

Hanson’s “Restoration Weekend” lunch keynote, and the Q&A session that followed, are both packed with good discussion and well worth watching. Both videos can be viewed online here. Or, do what I did and get the latest episodes via the iTunes podcast feed.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

…of others — still just as relevant the day after:

Victor Davis Hanson: “Some Random Politically-incorrect Reasons to Be Optimistic on Thanksgiving Day”. (Appreciation of dedicated pilots and the wonder of air travel hardly seems “un-PC”, but I suppose his other points qualify.)

Bill Whittle celebrates the life of a friend recently lost.

Neo recalls a Thanksgiving spent alone, in “Thanks for the burger, but no thanks”. (I’ve been there!)

Terror Attacks in Mumbai

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A horrific night/day in India’s financial capital, and it’s apparently still ongoing. Most reports thus far estimate between 100 and 125 killed, and approximately 300 wounded, after gunmen opened fire and lobbed grenades at six or seven sites around the city. Responsibility for the attacks has yet to be clearly established, though some say this attack on soft targets has the hallmarks of an al Qaeda operation. Reports claim that in addition to the 14 police officers and 80 Indian nationals killed, the gunmen were questioning people and targeting holders of British and American passports. Hostages were taken; some released or escaped, some may still be held. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is ablaze and under seige.

A selection of current reports via Drudge:

BBC: Indian PM vows action on attacks

Breitbart: 14TH LD: 125 dead, more than 300 wounded in Mumbai terror attacks

Times Online: Foreigners targeted in co-ordinated Bombay attacks

Sky News: Mumbai Hotel Terror Attacks: Scores Killed In Violence Against Foreigners By Islamist Militants

Via Instapundit: a roundup at Barcepundit, and comments from Ann Althouse.

When giving becomes a crime

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Roger Kimball on a ridicule-worthy legal absurdity in Strasburg, Illinois:

On one side you have these preposterous petty tyrants (in the case of IDOL, they’re called “conciliators”–how George Orwell would have like that!) armed with the power of the state, on the other side you have individuals and local communities endeavoring to stand on their own two feet and live their lives without “bailouts” and unmolested by state interference.

But such autonomy is the one thing these miniature despots can’t abide. They don’t want people to be independent. They don’t want local communities to take care of their own needs. They want to meddle. They want to be the sole source of sustenance and labor–and they want to do it, of course, on their own terms, enforcing their own requirements for who gets to work, when, under what conditions, and how much they are paid. This, as Friedrich Hayek observed, is the road to serfdom.

"Party of Privilege"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

John Agresto at NRO, courtesy of Ed Driscoll:

This, by the way, is why Sarah Palin was so refreshing and, to be clear, so exotic to all the elites: a woman who could raise herself up by dint of hard work and self-sacrifice to be a wife, mother, mayor, and governor. She didn’t do it by set-asides, by birth, by quotas, or by handouts. She did it as a woman and she did it by her efforts. She exemplified what we all once saw as America—a land of opportunity, where you could be anything you set your mind to be so long as you worked for it. She showed us something about both her character and ours, our old-fashioned American character. For all this, she had to be ridiculed—she represented a kind of American virtue that shames the privileged, whether they be rich or poor.

But maybe we as a party have boxed ourselves in. We believe that prosperity will trickle down from the success of the prosperous and we believe (or have been shamed into believing) in the superior moral status of those whose only job is always to ask for more. But the shiftless have no greater moral claim than others, and prosperity doesn’t always trickle down from the top. It wells up from the efforts of the working classes, the middle classes, the builders, doers, and makers of America. And it’s not just small-business owners who are the backbone of America but the clerks and sales people and night watchmen in those businesses.

The poor knew Obama was on their side, and the liberal rich were always in his camp. (If it’s simply “the economy, stupid,” and not culture and values, then why does Connecticut always vote Democratic and West Virginia not?) No, the strange thing was that the party of self-reliance, of initiative, of productivity and hard work, the party of cops and soldiers, firemen and farmers, hunters and ranchers—the party of ordinary American virtue, not privilege—allowed itself to look like the party of big oil and bailouts. How bizarre it was to see a plumber trying to come to our rescue and tell us what to say; but it was already too late.

"Ten Random, Politically Incorrect Thoughts"

Ample material for ten insightful articles, condensed into one. Don’t miss Victor Davis Hanson’s latest: “Ten Random, Politically Incorrect Thoughts”.

Today is V.I. Day

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Whereas tremendous progress has been made toward a free, stable, democratic Iraq, such that what little remains of the postwar insurgency is unlikely to undermine the bold, fledgling attempt at a free society that is today steadily growing ever-hardier roots

Whereas it appears exceedingly unlikely that we will see any official public declaration of hard-won, at-long-last victory in this war — whether from our outgoing president, our incoming administration, the press, or any other public body

Whereas all those who have risked, and in many tragic cases lost, their lives in the worthy battle for a better future for Iraq will not otherwise receive the public recognition or the heroes’ welcome that they so deeply deserve

it is left to us to call this. Right here, right now.

Today I join with many others in observing November 22, 2008 as “Victory in Iraq (VI) Day”. The Iraq War is over. The United States, her stalwart coalition allies, and — most importantly of all — the Iraqi people, have won.

To be sure, many challenges await us on the road ahead, and much remains to be done to ensure that this victory is not squandered and will not have been won in vain, but what has been achieved thus far is every bit remarkable and worthy of recognition. We have much to be grateful for and to celebrate. Let today, VI Day, be the day that we joined together to acknowledge that, and to honor and thank the intrepid souls who have made this authentic and hopeful victory possible. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Victory in Iraq Day banner

My words feel hopelessly inadequate to convey the deep and abiding gratitude and admiration that I feel for all of the courageous individuals — in our own United States armed forces and those of our staunch and noble coalition allies, as well as among the Iraqi people themselves — who have risked everything in standing up to terror and intimidation and in demanding and securing for Iraq and its people the right to pursue a brighter future of their own choosing. Despite the best efforts of a brutal dictatorship determined to hold onto power at all costs, of a postwar insurgency assisted by scheming, opportunistic rival neighbor states and by an influx of jihadists hell-bent on establishing a totalitarian, fundamentalist caliphate and base of jihadist operations in the place where a free nation rightly ought to stand, and — most heartbreaking of all to me — despite the best efforts of many in the United States and across the West who impugned and vilified our intentions, who ascribed to our actions the basest of motives, who begged and shamed us not to fight, and did seemingly everything possible to undermine our will to see this thorough to a successful conclusion — despite all of that, Iraq today stands as a free and democratic nation. With all due respect and sincerity, I say to you: If that isn’t the epitome of audacious hope prevailing against a crushing opposition to the progress of civilization and human liberty, I think I may never see an adequate example in my lifetime.

There are many worthy and constructive discussions that can and should continue to be had about the conduct of the Iraq War and our entry into it. I intend to make time to write more on such topics in the future. But this — heretoday — is a recognition and celebration of what has been achieved at the costs that we have thus far borne, for those who are willing to acknowledge it.

My heartfelt and undying thanks go out to the U.S. and allied soldiers who have fought with unsurpassed honor, courage, and dedication in this difficult war, to the brave and devoted Iraqis who have risen to fight alongside them in the stand for a free and secure Iraq, and to all those who have lent support to their efforts. This day — and all those to come that have been made possible by your steadfast courage, risk, sacrifice, and confidence in the cause of Iraqi liberty — are yours. May you have the well-deserved gratitude of a deeply indebted world.

My previous post endeavoring to help to spread the word about VI Day is here. By all means, please go visit the VI Day page at ZombieTime that started it all, where you’ll find a well-supported discussion of the conditions for declaring victory, and links to many other participating blogs.

Update 11:47am Pacific TIme: Excerpts from but a few exceptional VI Day posts:

Who Is John Galt?: “Victory in Iraq Day–22 November 2008”

Blogger Zombie has taken upon itself to do what our current President should have done.

Declare Victory.

We have enforced the UN mandate. We have deposed, tried, and executed Saddam Hussein and brought justice to his henchm[e]n. We ended Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs. We have exposed the mass graves. We have made it possible for a representative government to form. We have made possible free and fair elections. We have trained new Iraqi security forces. We have sent untold terrorists to their virgins. Stores are open, girls are learning, there is a future.

War’s over. We, the supporters of liberty, won, and so did the Iraqi people. Our troops have done the impossible.

Does that mean Iraq is a perfect example of parliamentary democracy? Of course not. Name a war that we won where the immediate postwar situation was all smiles and sunshine. Iraq has a long way to go, but it now has a fighting chance to get there.

In a sane world, President Bush would be organizing tickertape parades, days of thanksgiving, etc. He won’t. Mr. Obama certainly won’t.

We need to do it for them.

Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: “22 November will be forever remembered as Victory In Iraq Day”:

One last thing, and perhaps the most important one. PLEASE remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice not only for our country, but for a new nation; a free nation that finally has what was rightfully theirs. The Iraqis lived under a brutal dictator for over twenty years. He and his thugs are gone. those that remain have agreed to participate in rebuilding Iraq into a new, fresh democracy in the Middle East. Things are improving daily, and the violence from the animals is down considerably; almost to the point of barely being footnote worthy. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have done an outstanding job, and they deserve all the thanks and praise we can give them. And for those that did give all, no words — no deed — can convey how much we as Americans appreciate their valor and honor. To their families, I say we have a debt we can never repay, and we will miss your loved ones as much as you do.

Dog Opus Blog: “America for the Win”:

You may have noticed over the last half year or so that our largely ghoulish media’s mind-numbing obsession with lurid reportage from Iraq has ground to a jarring halt. Seriously, it’s conspicuous by its absence. Well, the reason, of course, is because we’ve won. Despite considerable efforts of cynicism, spite, and sometimes downright hatred from parties at home and abroad, our outstanding troops have resoundingly defeated the barbaric child-killing jihadi menace, and have secured an entire nation. They’ve performed magnificently, with consummate professionalism and honor. This is what American troops have always done. To the disgraceful few who rooted against them, this is a painful fact, but to me, it’s yet another opportunity to feel pride and to show appreciation for the people I look up to as heroes.

This warrants, at the very least, a day of recognition, don’t you think?

The Surfing Conservative: “Victory in Iraq Day - November 22, 2008”:

The Iraqi political paradigm has been shifted from authoritarian ru[l]e to multiparty democratic competition; Parliament, not the battlefield, is now the primary venue for political competition between the various ethnic and sectarian blocs.

neo-neocon: “Today is VI Day”:

In another world and time, this war would have been lauded as one of the least brutal in history, although it was fought against some of the most brutal of opponents—Saddam Hussein, the insurgents, and al Qaeda. But thanks to our strange reluctance to credit that there is any good that can come from the horror of a war—or to realistically analyze what victory there might look like—this particular success is being noted not with a bang but a whimper.

There will be no parades today, no crowds celebrating, and no exuberant sailors bending pretty girls backwards in a joyous embrace. But still, attention should be paid, and credit given.

November 22, 2008 is V.I. Day

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It’s about time, and nobody else is going to do it, so the intrepid Zombie steps in, calling on the world to declare the Iraq War over and won and observe November 22, 2008 as “Victory in Iraq Day”.

(Update 11/22: My VI Day post is here.)

Victory in Iraq Day banner

Bloggers are invited to commemorate the occasion by posting about it before and on this coming Saturday.

We won. The Iraq War is over.

I declare November 22, 2008 to be “Victory in Iraq Day.” (Hereafter known as “VI Day.”)

By every measure, The United States and coalition forces have conclusively defeated all enemies in Iraq, pacified the country, deposed the previous regime, successfully helped to establish a new functioning democratic government, and suppressed any lingering insurgencies. The war has come to an end. And we won.

What more indication do you need? An announcement from the outgoing Bush administration? It’s not gonna happen. An announcement from the incoming Obama administration? That’s really not gonna happen. A declaration of victory by the media? Please. Don’t make me laugh. A concession of surrender by what few remaining insurgents remain in hiding? Forget about it.

The moment has come to acknowledge the obvious. To overtly declare a fact that has already been true for quite some time now. Let me repeat:


And since there will never be a ticker-tape parade down Fifth Avenue in New York for our troops, it’s up to us, the people, to arrange a virtual ticker-tape parade. An online victory celebration.

Saturday, November 22, 2008 is the day of that celebration: Victory in Iraq Day.

What do you need to do to participate? Simple. Just make a post on your blog on Saturday, November 22, announcing that the war is over, and declaring that day to be Victory in Iraq Day. That’s it.

If you want to write a short post (or a long essay) analyzing the nature of our victory or cheering the troops for a job well done, great; but if you just want to make a simple announcement of the victory, that’s fine as well. Anything will do. Just come and join the celebration to mark the day.

Keep reading below to find: evidence that the war is over (for the doubters); an historical discussion of previous postwar occupations and guerrilla violence; a list of blogs which have already joined the VI Day movement; free banners and graphics for you to download and put on your blog, if you so choose; and an invitation to submit your own “victory graphics” for posting here.

Read the whole, beautifully done post.

Victor Davis Hanson: "Thoughts, Past and Future"

Victor Davis Hanson hits it out of the park again, reflecting on a variety of post-election topics. To quote any one part risks overlooking other truly excellent bits, so by all means go read it all.

There is now no journalism as we knew it. It died during the campaign. And so we have no mainstream media audit of politics other than the vestigial shrill warnings about the last three months of the dangerous Bush administration. From the New York Times, NPR, PBS, or Newsweek, we will hear little whether Obama is choosing a good or bad team, or said silly things or contradicts what he promised. They simply have lost all credibility and now the republic is left largely with bloggers, talk radio, and a few newspapers as mostly partisan auditors. This puts the mainstream media in a terrible bind. If Gitmo is not closed immediately, are the victimized detainees there suddenly redefined as terrible killers who can’t be let out? If adhered to, does the Petraeus-Bush withdrawal plan to leave Iraq by 2011, suddenly become sober and judicious? If not tampered with, do FISA and the Patriotic Act morph into reasonable measures? Does the economy suddenly improve on January 21, and Afghanistan become stable? Will anyone believe a Katie Couric, Chris Matthews, the front page of the New York Times, or listen to Andrea Mitchell when they speak of Obama? The media has bet that there was no efficacy to Guantánamo, the Patriot Act and similar provisions, and Iraq. But the fact is in the same period we were not attacked. If there were a connection between the two (and many of us think that there was), then shutting down Gitmo, repealing the Patriot Act, and getting quickly out of Iraq could be done within the first year easily and without risk. But will it happen, and if so, what would be the reaction following another 9/11-like attack?

This is not my concern, but rather what advisors to Obama are currently mulling out. Again, traditional journalism as we knew it —the big dailies, the weekly news magazines, the networks, public radio and TV—no longer exists. Death by suicide. RIP—around March, 2008.

Lots of good stuff to catch up on

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I have more writing in mind that I hope to get to, including posting some brief post-election thoughts that I’ve been mulling over. Meanwhile, I’ve been occupied by the flood of particularly worthy and interesting writing by others that the election seems to have prompted. Following are some highlights that I’ve bookmarked with the intention of pointing them out, including some sober and probably sorely needed self-assessment from libertarian/conservative thinkers:

WSJ: Same Old Berlin Wall

One benefit of a Democratic Presidency is that it will expose the myth that U.S. disagreements with our nations are all the fault of the Bush Administration. Take the failure of NATO, and especially Germany, to supply more troops for the war in Afghanistan.

The Continent’s free-riding on U.S. security while criticizing the way that security is provided predates the Bush Administration and will outlive it. President Bush has mainly provided Europeans with an excuse for refusing the kind of cooperation they’d rather not provide anyway. Mr. Obama has promised a multilateral surge of troops into the Afghanistan-Pakistan front. He may find, like Mr. Bush, that most of those troops will have to be American.

James Lileks reminisces in “SuddenlyEnlightenedLand”:

Hey, remember after 2004, when the interior of the country was viewed with deep suspicion for its insufficient interest in a John Kerry presidency? Crude maps called it JESUSLAND, a place opposed to liberty and education. Well, shuck my corn and call me Orville: the red part of the country has been reduced to something that looks like a mild case of contact dermatitis.

The solid block of flyover Christiansts who spend every Sunday hopping up and down so they can get a head start on the Rapture appears to have turned into enlightened change-agent lightwalkers, and in a mere four years. Or, the people in the middle of the country weren’t all weirdoes who still harbored a grudge against the Renaissance, and viewed the coasts as they were greedy remoras fastened on the Real America. In any case, no one will make mocking maps of them now.

I remember well the mocking of “Jesusland” that immediately followed the 2004 election, from the supposed standard-bearers of “tolerance” and “diversity”. It was one of the experiences that helped clarify for me that only certain kinds of diversity are to be embraced and celebrated in the contemporary multicultural order, and that certain utterances get an exception from the usual concerns about “hate speech”. I felt deeply ashamed of fellow Californians who I saw engaging in this disparagement of their countrymen, this tarring with a broad brush of stereotypes that would surely be condemned if applied to any other culture or group of people. The sight of a “Can we secede yet?” sign enthusiastically brandished at a San Francisco protest that broke out after the election filled me with gloom and despair. I heard people on the left threaten both before and after the election that they would leave the United States — move to Canada, Europe, or some other such haven of decency — if Bush were to win (or “steal”?) a second term. I heard the same threat repeated again before this year’s election, both from celebrities such as Susan Sarandon and from others around me. Katie Granju had a good response to that kind of talk, I think:

[I]f your civic investment in American democracy is so weak that it hinges on one single candidate or issue or election, then you probably would be happier elsewhere anyway…

As for the outcome of those threats/promises back in 2004, I feel entitled to complain that of all those who vehemently insisted that they were leaving the country, not one of them has sent me a postcard. Because they’re all still here!

Lileks continues:

The lesson, as always, is that things change. Things will change again. And I expect that the GOP leadership will conclude that since things do change, they can sit back and wait for it to happen again. Which is a recipe for ensuring that the next such map has a thin red line like the one you used to use to open a Band-Aid.

There does seem to be a risk of taking political pendulum swings for granted. Pendulums can get stuck, you know.

More from Lileks in “Monday delights” (see the original post for the accompanying graphic):

Conservatives cannot help but be saddened and left out – the only possible event that could lift their spirits right now would be a headline that said REAGAN, BACK FROM THE DEAD, EATS BIN LADEN AND CRAPS TAX CUT, but pictures like this reminds the right that no one was ever this happy about Bush, even when the love was at its zenith. No one put him with George, Abe and Frank before he took office. Really, he was just The Next Guy, a caretaker in a post-history world. People forget how much “compassionate conservativism” stuck in the craw back then; the party’s own standard-bearer modified the terms in a way that managed to insult, mischaracterize, apologize, and reshape the debate all at once. It would be like a Democrat running on a program of “Logical Liberalism,” and not knowing why his own followers found the catch-phrase unhelpful.

Anyway. There are rumors of new Executive Decrees, which include magic Federal dollars for stem-cell research that uses human embryos - if you have any objections, you hate science - and a ban on domestic drilling and nat-gas exploration in public lands in Utah. (If you have any objections, you hate the environment.) The two form a nice mirror image: the former was a ban put in place to preserve a particular definition of human life; the latter is a ban lifted to preserve the environment. Again, it’s understandable: we only have one Utah, but we can always make more people. As long as they don’t live in Utah.

Will executive unilateralism remain a bad thing, a threat to our rights, or suddenly gain favor with old critics? Hmmmm. Cue the Jeopardy! theme. That’s a stumper

Mark Steyn: The Death of the American Idea?

While few electorates consciously choose to leap left, a couple more steps every election and eventually societies reach a tipping point. In much of the west, it’s government health care. It changes the relationship between state and citizen into something closer to pusher and junkie. Henceforth, elections are fought over which party is proposing the shiniest government bauble: If you think President-elect Obama’s promise of federally subsidized day care was a relatively peripheral part of his platform, in Canada in the election before last it was the dominant issue. Yet America may be approaching its tipping point even more directly. In political terms, the message of the gazillion-dollar bipartisan bailout was a simple one: “Individual responsibility” and “self-reliance” are for chumps. If Goldman Sachs and AIG and Bear Stearns are getting government checks to “stay in their homes” (and boardrooms, and luxury corporate retreats), why shouldn’t Peggy Joseph?

He’s got a point.

Along that line, a particularly sobering assessment from the inimitable P.J. O’Rourke: “We Blew It”. As I’ve said before, I generally part company with O’Rourke on issues of war (roughly speaking, he’s more of a “Big ‘L’ Libertarian”) but he does make good points on a number of other topics.

Tim Ferguson:

[M]aybe this is again the early 1930s, ushering in 20, 30, 40 years of soft socialism and cynicism about markets, a bent for the bosom of the organized state over the seemingly fractious pursuits of individuals. It did happen before in America. If hard times instead freeze opinions in place, then we may be looking to a long haul.

Short term or long term, what is to be done by those still enamored of an America “conceived in liberty”?

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

On a related note, Fred Smith wrote before the election, on Oct. 15th:

A world where economic interests are disenfranchised - indeed, even de-legitimized - is a world that will have little regard for economic - and, thus, indivdiual - liberty.

Accompanying all of this, fresh threats from a seemingly forgotten enemy: Via ABC News: Osama Bin Laden promising an attack that “Will ‘outdo by far’ the attacks of September 11” and will “change the face of world politics and economics”.

Nov. 10, 2008 al Qaeda threats

A promise that al Qaeda, in its present state, is capable of carrying out? — or just bluster? Let’s hope we won’t have to find the hard way.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Don't hand the jihadis a victory

Friday, November 7, 2008

Via Jihad Watch:

The heroic Ayaan Hirsi Ali discusses Obama’s campaign pledge to withdraw from Iraq in 16 months. From “Change, but not for better,” by Christopher Pearson in The Australian, November 8 (thanks to James):

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of radical Islam’s astutest observers, was her persuasive best on the subject last week. “The original impetus of Obama’s campaign was his pledge to withdraw from Iraq in 16 months. There is little doubt that if Obama were to implement this pledge, jihadis in Iraq and across the world, who see history in the millennial terms of a long fight against the crusaders, would feel victorious … The message such a precipitous withdrawal would send to the jihadis is the same message Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero sent when he rapidly withdrew forces from the coalition in Iraq after the Spanish election in March 2004: if you hang on long enough, you can scare the West away.”

Claudia Rosett: "It's Time To Restore Liberty"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A very worthwhile article at Forbes:

What were those McCain supporters voting for? Rather than reverting to the zillion polls of recent months, which centered on the platforms put forward by the candidates, I’ll hazard a guess—based on what was missing from this campaign, and seems to have all but vanished from the main stage of American politics.

That would be the straightforward love and defense of individual liberty, with its attendant freedom to take risks, and responsibility for the results. And here I stress individual. Not the chant of the crowd, but that basic American passion for individual life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Joe the Plumber, icon that he became, was not ultimately all about marginal tax brackets worked out to the umpteenth decimal point. He was a symbol of the broad principle that America thrives when its citizens are free to chart their own lives under a government more focused on defending their liberty and private property than encroaching on it in the name of redistributive state-administered “justice.”

I doubt most McCain supporters cast their votes based chiefly on comparative health care plans or fine points of climate policy. I think they were voting for the closest thing they could get to a politician who believes that collective efforts are best confined to the common defense of the nation, not to confiscatory wealth transfers among interest groups.

“But”, Rosett continues, “McCain’s message was more muddled than Joe’s. McCain spent more time promising to ‘fight’ than he did explaining and championing the freedoms for which he himself once literally fought.” A time of reflection does seem to be in order.

The irony is that Obama arrives at the threshold of the White House steeped in ideas that subordinate individual freedom to the collective. In his campaign and his victory speech, Obama declares that America’s “timeless creed” is now, “yes, we can.” This is not a defense of liberty. It is a declaration so malleable and generic that it could have applied to anything from Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution to the Little Engine that Could.

Obama has called repeatedly upon America’s people to sacrifice. What’s not yet clear is whether this will entail sacrifice in the common defense of liberty, or whether it is liberty itself that will step by step be sacrificed in the name of the common good. If the latter, the implications are indeed world-changing. For the past century, America has stood as the world’s great bulwark of freedom. That can no longer be taken as a given. Americans will be hard pressed to support freedom elsewhere if they do not protect it at home.

Read the whole thing.

Bill Whittle: A Flag, on a Hill

Another fine essay:

Battles don’t always go that way. But sometimes they do. It depends on whether the individual soldier still has any fight in him.

It has been a source of delight for me these past few days to see nothing but evidence of this, all across our defeated lines. Nowhere have I heard a shred of defeatism or despair. On the contrary. In point of fact, the magnanimity and graciousness I have seen in defeat in so many places on the right tells me that this is a eager and seasoned army, one able to look defeat in the face and own up to the errors in tactics and strategy that got us there. And nowhere do I see a call to abandon our core principles and sue for terms, but rather that our loss was caused precisely by our abandonment of the issues we which hold dear and which have served us so well on battlefields past.

I’d say these calls for post-election civility are exemplary of the kind of graciousness in defeat that Bill refers to. I too am proud to associate with such a fine group of people.

"What I Saw at the Obama Revolution"

Rick Moran at PJM:

I suppose I got caught up in the emotion of the night due almost exclusively to the genuine and copious tears of black Americans. The ones I spoke to and interviewed were nearly speechless with joy. With a start, I realized something that had escaped me all these long months of writing and thinking about this race. For many African-Americans, this election was a spiritual event, something that transcended the corporeal and brought to mind ancestral yearnings and desires for freedom.

For perhaps many blacks, Obama is the word made flesh — the redemption of the promise in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” The small sample of blacks I interviewed all spoke of the shattering of barriers, the hope that an Obama presidency would translate into a more just society, and the belief that for them personally, their lives would never be the same.

It struck me then and now that the world has turned upside down. When I was a boy, a black man could not get a sandwich at a lunch counter in much of the country. Now a black man has been elected president of the United States, receiving more votes from whites than his predecessor of 2004.

Commenter “portia9” cautions poignantly:

Where I come from, no matter how smart you are, no matter how hard you work you are extremely unlikely to ever achieve the kind of success that is available to citizens of the U.S. If by some unbelievable stroke of fortune you do achieve it, you will be taxed very heavily, penalized really, for your efforts. There is no can-do spirit. There is nothing like the “American Dream” because that dream exists nowhere but here.

Everything that I have learned about President Elect Obama leads me to believe that he does not cherish the American Dream. He does not believe in it, although, ironically, he is a prime beneficiary of it. He would rather remake this country in the image of those his friends and allies like William Ayers cherish. Socialist countries. Communist countries.

In the decade I have lived here, I have come to realize just how precious the much maligned “American Dream” really is. I was taught as a university student in Canada that it is a fiction, but I have learned through living here that it is real. Socialism is not the answer for this country. America has made a devastating choice this election. I only hope that he will not be able to change this country so much that it will be unrecognizable in four years.

I hope that Obama’s actual performance in office won’t merit these fears, but I fear portia9’s concerns are well-founded.

Scrooge McDuck Lives!

Another brilliant Lileks piece I can’t help but link: “Crime Does Pay.”

My child no longer participates in Toontown, an online consensual hallucination provided by Disney. I’m glad; it had promise, but seemed limited, the graphics were chunktastic, and your character had names like Merry Flippy Pantswhistle. What annoyed me most were the foes the toons had to battle for jellybean points – they were called Cogs, and they were all businessmen, various forms of capitalists in robot form. The Disney execs who signed off on the project must have a big bin outside the office where they could place their sense of irony before heading in to work.

Don’t miss the pictures and the rest.

Read the Screed. It’s what you need. :-)

The Onion Responds to Election 2008

Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.

It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can’t catch a break.

Hilarious! And this video: Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are.

(Thank you, Instapundit!)

Glenn writes:

There’s a downside to everything!

Michael Crichton has died

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sad, sad news on Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog, via Instapundit:

It was an absolute shock to hear the very sad news today that award-winning author Michael Crichton has passed away at the age of 66. His family said that he had been fighting a “courageous and private battle against cancer”, adding, “He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world.”

In addition to his novels, TV and movie work, Crichton has become known to some for his expression of skeptical concern regarding the present culture, and in some limited measure the science, surrounding the issues of climate change and environmental advocacy. I remain impressed with his deeply considered, insightful, and courageous September 2003 remarks to the Commonwealth Club on this topic (which is no longer available on Crichton’s official website, but has been mirrored here), as well as his January 2003 Caltech Michelin Lecture, “Aliens Cause Global Warming” (a flippant title, yes, but with a sincere and worthy purpose — please do read the full contents of the talk to understand what he’s getting at so that you can judge his argument’s merits).

An excerpt from his Commonwealth Club address:

… I want it perfectly clear that I believe it is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment. I believe it is important to act in ways that are sympathetic to the environment, and I believe this will always be a need, carrying into the future. I believe the world has genuine problems and I believe it can and should be improved. But I also think that deciding what constitutes responsible action is immensely difficult, and the consequences of our actions are often difficult to know in advance. I think our past record of environmental action is discouraging, to put it mildly, because even our best intended efforts often go awry. But I think we do not recognize our past failures, and face them squarely. And I think I know why.

By all means, read the whole thing, and if it leaves you thirsty for further application of Crichton’s judicious scalpel of reason read the other article next.

Time will tell whether and in what respects he was correct or mistaken, but I think we’re greatly in need of courageously inquisitive minds like his. He will indeed be sorely missed.

A Milestone Indeed


WELL, YOU HAVE TO LOVE THIS: At 109, Slave’s Daughter Revels In Historic Vote.

Others have duly pointed out that Barack Obama does not himself have ancestors who were slaves in the United States, and is technically “biracial” or “half white”. Points well taken, but at the same time I fully appreciate the important symbolism that this landmark event rightly holds for many.

Robert Spencer: "Ignorant and Free?"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

At Jihad Watch:

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free…it expects what never was and never will be.” — Thomas Jefferson

The level of ignorance about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat is today higher than it has been since before 9/11. Indeed, we may consider that now that the nation has opted for the comforts of this ignorance, an era has ended tonight, one that lasted from September 11, 2001 until today. One approach to meeting the jihad threat — a deeply flawed approach, as we outlined many times here — will be set aside for another approach, one that is in some ways identical to the discarded approach and in other ways vastly different from it.

Will it work more effectively to stave off the advancing jihad? Time will tell. But I am not confident that another policy conceived in ignorance of the motives and goals of our enemies can possibly be effective in the long run to keep us free.

More Brilliance from James Lileks: "Start Making Sense"

I got an email from David Byrne. Since I signed up to get a free MP3 from his website, this means I am automatically simpatico to the portions of his worldview that do not involve moving fingers across the surfaces of strings and keys, and hence am eager to hear from him.

Read the whole, sad, hilarious thing.

“Rich” is like “racist”

New Screed, same James Lileks: Let Me Tell You About You, pt. 2

As a wise man said: half the people in the country live below the median income level. Half. In this day and age. So if you don’t want to help them - that’s what you mean when you oppose taxes, after all - you’re selfish. If you protest that you’ll have to spend less, or invest less, or save less, or give less to charity, well, you had better start making more money, then. Go on; out to the woodshed; squat over that straw nest and pop out some more golden eggs, or whatever it is you do. Incidentally, you should spend less, because you spend money on things you don’t need, and we don’t have to know what they are to know you don’t need them, just like we don’t have to visit your house or neighborhood to know that the former is too big and the latter too far away.


Calls for Post-Election Civility

Glenn Reynolds: “Whoever Wins, Chill A Bit”

You don’t have to love the “other guy.” You don’t have to hold back on fighting against policies you don’t like. You don’t have to pull punches. But once someone is duly and legally elected president, you do owe some respect to the office and the Constitution. And to your fellow Americans.

Katie Granju adds:

I have made a point of teaching my own children that no matter how much one of them may disagree with the president on any specific issue (as I often have during George W. Bush’s tenure), they need to hold a respect for the office of the presidency … I also get annoyed when I hear progressives threaten to “move to France” or “defect to Canada” if their candidate loses. Frankly, if your civic investment in American democracy is so weak that it hinges on one single candidate or issue or election, then you probably would be happier elsewhere anyway…



My summation—for tonight, at least: the American people have hated Bush long and hard, for a number of reasons. They are repudiating everything about him and almost everyone who is connected with him. Obama happened to be the beneficiary, almost as though sent by central casting to meet the needs of an electorate that was looking for the un-Bush. I don’t think people were ready or willing to seriously look at who this man actually is and what he’s been saying, and he’s smooth enough to cover it up quite nicely anyway.

How will he govern? Will his recent incarnation as a relative moderate hold, or will he steer hard left? Even though I’ve found plenty of evidence to indicate the latter, I’m still hoping for the former. Stranger things have happened. Obama may feel the weight of responsibility, especially as the first black President, to not squander the goodwill of the public by alienating them with too many radical policies. Or he may really undergo a sea change towards the center as he adjusts to the powerful responsibilities inherent in being President.

I’m not being naive and saying it will happen. I am saying it is a possibility, and I plan to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Still More: Bill Whittle:

When he is inaugurated, President Obama will be my president. He cannot be otherwise. I will disagree with him at just about every turn, likely, and that is my right and duty as an American. However, in an emergency he will have my unqualified support, and I will always wish him wisdom and hope that he may do what is best for this great country of ours. I do not wish – I do not ever wish – to see my country suffer so that I may gain political leverage. If at this same time four years from now, President Obama has acted in such a way to make us more prosperous, more safe and more free, it will be my greatest pleasure to admit I was wrong about the man. I look forward to that day. I hope to see it come to pass.

Regardless of all of that, we have together achieved something noble and magnificent tonight. We have, after a long and hazardous journey, taken the final step in erasing the one real stain on our nations history. That war is not over, but it is won. And we may all take a great deal of pride in that.

Obama and Redistribution: 2001 Radio Interview Reveals Much

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monster at The E3 Gazette::

Joe the Plumber wasn’t the first person to get Barack Obama to admit his position on wealth redistribution….

The referenced excerpt from a 2001 radio interview with Senator Obama, now on YouTube (follow the above link), is the lead story on Drudge today too.

Somehow Obama’s condescending mockery of “Joe the Plumber” seems less surprising now, though no less troubling.


Glenn Reynolds comments:

Maybe it’s just because I’m a law professor who’s followed Obama, but this is no surprise to me. Or to Jennifer Rubin. In fact, this is pretty standard stuff in large parts of legal academia.

Bill Whittle responds to the story with a short essay, “Shame Cubed”:

We have, in our storied history, elected Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives and moderates. We have fought, and will continue to fight, pitched battles about how best to govern this nation. But we have never, ever in our 232 year history, elected a President who so completely and openly opposed the idea of limited government, the absolute cornerstone of makes the United States of America unique and exceptional.

If this does not frighten you – regardless of your political affiliation – then you deserve what this man will deliver with both houses of Congress, a filibuster-proof Senate, and, to quote Senator Obama again, “a righteous wind at our backs.”

Comment thread for Bill’s post here.

"I am Bill"?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Iowahawk responds to a critic who feels he’s neglected poor scandalized Bill Ayers in his fervor to stick up for Joe the Plumber. Hilarity ensues:

I AM BILL. I am the everyday forgotten little guy in your neighborhood, the quiet anarcho-syndicalist family man who gets up early and punches the clock at the local state university, writing the manifestos and polemics and grant proposals that keep America humming. I’m just doing my job, and all I ask in return is a little respect. And tenure. And Chicago Citizen of the Year awards. And two graduate assistants to grade exams for Practicum in Imperialist Racist Hegemony 311, because I’m teaching two sections this semester. Also, a sabbatical to Italy next summer would be nice.

Read the whole, delightful fisking.

The Sinking of the M.S.M. Titanic

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another great installment of Chris Muir’s reader-supported “Day by Day” cartoon. Guest-starring Joe the Plumber!

As the Pendulum Swings...

Are “closeted” conservatives/libertarians/hawks in creative fields the “new gays”? There’s an excellent very relevant (to me) comment thread over at neo’s titled “Hope for the post-boomers?”, with lots of great, thoughtful contributions so far.

I may drop by later this weekend and add a comment from my own experience if I can find some writing time. But first, I’ve got a baby room to paint! (A task for which I am only too happy to use the plastic sheeting I bought years ago in preparation for a worst-case scenario biological or chemical jihadist attack — a scenario that I’m grateful has not yet and I hope never will come to pass.)

See also this earlier article of neo’s: A plea to the closet Republicans of Marin: come out, come out, wherever you are

ABC News' Michael Malone Ashamed of His Profession

Friday, October 24, 2008

At PJM (hat tip: Little Green Footballs):

The traditional media is playing a very, very dangerous game. With its readers, with the Constitution, and with its own fate.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I’ve begun — for the first time in my adult life — to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was “a writer”, because I couldn’t bring myself to admit to a stranger that I’m a journalist.

Prairie Fire: The Real William Ayers

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Zombie has acquired a copy of Bill Ayers’ 1974 manifesto, “Prairie Fire”, and posts scanned excerpts and analysis.

This essay only exists to correct and unequivocably debunk claims routinely made by the mainstream media over the last few weeks about William Ayers, his beliefs, and the purpose behind his bombing campaign during the 1970s.

Specifically, when questions arose during the 2008 presidential race about Barack Obama’s past associations with William Ayers, many media reports and articles blandly described Ayers as a “Vietnam-era radical” and the Weather Underground as a group that set bombs “to protest against the Vietnam War.” Both of these characterizations are demonstrably inaccurate.

Read the whole, revealing thing, which makes it seem imperative that we get some much-needed clarification on the extent or limit of Senator Obama’s relationship to Ayers. Could Mr. Obama really have reviewed another of Ayers’ books in 1997, let alone served on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge with Ayers, without having developed any awareness of Ayers’ virulently anti-U.S. radical-revolutionary ideology?

Thanks to Monster and Little Green Footbals for pointing this out.

Update 10/23: The “Ayers’ Current Views” wrap-up to the essay is now up. It concludes with this chilling quote of undercover Weather Underground infiltrator Larry Grathwohl, regarding the group’s plans for post-revolutionary America:

I asked, well, what’s going to happen to those people that we can’t re-educate; that are die-hard capitalists. And the reply was that they’d have to be eliminated. And when I pursued this further, they estimated that they would have to eliminate 25 million people in these re-education centers. And when I say eliminate, I mean kill. 25 million people.

I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees from Columbia and other well known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people.

And they were dead serious.

Update 10/28: More in a Bob Owens interview with Larry Grathwohl: Eyewitness to the Ayers Revolution

New Spirit of America Projects

Spirit of America’s fundraising activities have facilitated many good works done by U.S. servicemen and women in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa.

They’re now soliciting funds for a number of worthy projects, including building a women’s center in Baghdad, purchasing and distributing farming tools in Afghanistan, outfitting a school for the deaf in northern Muthana Province, Iraq, and building desks for a school near Nasiriyah.

Spirit of America has a long track record of humanitarian accomplishments that have filled urgent needs while helping to build positive relations with the local populations in areas where U.S. forces are active. They’re a fine outfit and well worth donating to if you’re looking for ways to help people in these regions.

Journalists today ... what can you do?

A must-read, can’t-be-adequately-summarized-with-a-quote plea to the press by Orson Scott Card: Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?

(Thank you Instapundit!)

"The Third Jihad" Will Make Cultural Islamists Squirm

Monday, October 20, 2008

Patrick Poole at PJM on director Wayne Kopping’s new documentary “The Third Jihad”. I haven’t seen it yet, but intend to:

[T]he film is narrated by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout American-born Muslim physician, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Jasser has been one of the most outspoken American Muslim leaders against the agenda of radical Islam in the U.S. and the organizations that actively work to advance the jihadist cause against our country.

Let’s hear from more brave Muslim voices of this sort, please.

In The Third Jihad, Jasser pointedly attacks the central elements to the public narrative advanced by radical Islamic groups — that there is no problem within Islam, that there is no religious element to Islamic terrorism, and that any expressions of fear about the spread of Islamic extremism and terrorism are merely reflections of latent bigotry and Islamophobia of those concerned.

In the past two years, more material has been made public about the origins of CAIR and its network of allied Islamic organizations than ever before. And these strategic documents calling for a “civilization-jihadist process” dedicated to “a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” have been recovered through court-approved warrants and made public by federal law enforcement authorities. These documents have been submitted by federal prosecutors and entered into evidence in ongoing terrorism finance trials.

By all means read the whole thing, and don’t miss the clincher:

As Jasser observes, the chief obstacle to those advocating this global Islamic state through jihad is America itself.

The Saga of Joe the Plumber Continues

Some articles of particular note:

Claudia Rosett: First They Came for Joe the Plumber…:

Within days, reports were all over the news that Joe owes back taxes, he doesn’t have an Ohio plumber’s license, his real name is Samuel, and he is — shock and horror — a registered Republican. Within days, Obama and Biden were holding up Joe to public ridicule, and by implication mocking any American working stiff who might have the audacity to want to earn more than $250,000 per year.

Obama may be full of talk about delivering the American dream, but he apparently has enormous disdain for Americans who actually sweat to earn it for themselves. He wants to take Joe’s money and spread it around in the name of helping others get ahead — but if anyone gets ahead more than Obama deems fitting, watch out.

Ruben Navarette Jr.: The Democratic Party’s Drubbing of Joe the Plumber.

Iowahawk: I AM JOE


Like Iowahawk, I’m finding that the attacks on Joe the Plumber have made me angrier than almost anything else in this long and nasty campaign.

Power Line: Two faces of socialism:

Barack Obama’s candid comment to Joe the Plumber about “spreading the wealth around” brought back memories of a similarly candid moment during Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign.

The criticisms of Joe Wurzelbacher have reminded me of a quote from “The West Wing” that I took note of around the time I started to sour on the show’s ideological bias and occasionally heavy-handed rhetoric: “That’s the problem with the American Dream,” intoned the fictional President Bartlett, in frustrated in response to the notion of people having the audacity to complain about their taxes being too high. “Everyone worries about when they’re going to be rich.

Because hey, higher taxes are OK as long as it’s somebody else who’s paying them, right?

Obama's "Spread the Wealth" Plan

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Via Instapundit: An interview with the now-famous “Joe the plumber” (not this “Joe the plumber”) whose tax question at an Ohio campaign rally elicited Barack Obama’s now equally famous “spread the wealth” comment. Very interesting stuff.

And now this video: Obama Mocks Joe The Plumber, Crowd Laughs.

That’s quite a hefty dose of sneering condescension. Don’t politicians realize by now that everything they say is recorded by someone, somewhere and can and probably will come back to bite them?

Meanwhile, Joe’s been put under the microscope:

Glenn Reynolds:

They’ve done more investigations into Joe the Plumber in 24 hours than they’ve done on Barack Obama in two years … .

Daniel Glover:

[W]hy is it that political reporters only get curious when a conservative Joe America storms onto the scene?

James Pethokoukis at U.S. News: Did Barack “Spread the Wealth” Obama Just Blow the Election? (hat tip: Instapundit):

A while back I chatted with a University of Chicago professor who was a frequent lunch companion of Obama’s. This professor said that Obama was as close to a full-out Marxist as anyone who has ever run for president of the United States. Now, I tend to quickly dismiss that kind of talk as way over the top. My working assumption is that Obama is firmly within the mainstream of Democratic politics. But if he is as free with that sort of redistributive philosophy in private as he was on the campaign trail this week, I have no doubt that U of C professor really does figure him as a radical. And after last night’s debate, a few more Americans might think that way, too.

Renovations Afoot!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

As very nearly promised last August, I’ve decided to make a break with the standard Blogger stylesheet that I’ve been relying on for the past 3+ years and give this site a new design of its own. What you should see now, if all went reasonably well, is a tentative first iteration of the re-design.

In taking this makeover leap I’ve risked revealing the very humble, limited nature of my graphic design “skills”. It seemed worth venturing, though, as I’ve really wanted to try to give this space a unique look and feel appropriate to the spirit of its purpose: a place to illuminate and celebrate the ideas and culture — nay, Civilization — that move me and are dear to my heart. I expect to continue making adjustments as I attempt to converge on that desired feel, but hopefully this first version is most of the way there (and reasonably legible!).

In accounting for the image that I’ve chosen for the top of the page, I should clarify that I am not a pilot — just an appreciator of aircraft in all their wonderful variety, who nurses hopes of learning to fly those beautiful machines someday. (If and when I do, I will certainly write about the experience here.) As for the fair ladies of relative antiquity who grace the sidebar with their presence (I’ve added one more since the previous design), they are meant to embody the virtues of this free society that I love so dearly, and serve as a reminder that it must be both stridently defended and gently and wisely nurtured. I hope my choices of imagery succeed in conveying that this is a celebration.

Anyhow, enough meta-blogging for now… In short: Pardon our dust, thank you for your patience, and please resist the urge to adjust your V-HOLD. A few links and image references might not quite be working yet, but I’m working to find and fix the loose ends and get everything running smoothly again as soon as possible, in preparation for more on-topic blogging to come. Hope you’ll drop by again soon.

The Management

Since Palin was asked about creationism, should Obama be asked about Marxism?

Jennifer Rubin, quoting Sol Stern regarding Bill Ayers’ Annenberg Challenge agenda:

Ayers’s school reform agenda focuses almost exclusively on the idea of teaching for “social justice” in the classroom. This has nothing to do with the social-justice ideals of the Sermon on the Mount or Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Rather, Ayers and his education school comrades are explicit about the need to indoctrinate public school children with the belief that America is a racist, militarist country and that the capitalist system is inherently unfair and oppressive.

So even if Obama is never queried on whether he was the only adult in Chicago unaware of Ayers’s Weather Underground background, shouldn’t someone ask why he was working for and helping to fund an organization which supported this type of curriculum? Again, perhaps he wasn’t paying attention, or they never mentioned all this in his presence, or Obama figured out it was all a bunch of bunk, but it seems it is an area worth exploring. After all, the media spent weeks puzzling over whether Palin wanted to teach creationism in schools. (For the umpteenth time, she doesn’t.) Don’t we get to know if Obama wanted to teach Marxism?

Seems like a fair enough question to me. Hat tip: Instapundit

More here, with an apt comment from Megan McArdle:

The problem Obama’s critics have is not that he once spent some time talking to Bill Ayers; it’s that he refuses to apologize for it now. That refusal to apologize is why the charge has proven hard to counter. You can argue that it isn’t a big deal, but you can’t argue it isn’t true, and unfortunately for Obama, some voters think it is a really big deal.

Still more, from Victor Davis Hanson:

Why in the world was Barack Obama still communicating on the phone or via email with Bill Ayers up until 2005 — when in 2001 Ayers gave widely publicized interviews claiming he had no regrets about the bombing, indeed regretted that he had not done enough, and did not necessarily have any remorse either about his Weathermen career?

Ponder that: the possible next President of the United States, well after 9/11 and in the climate of hourly worry over terrorism here at home, was still friendly and communicating with an associate that had to abandon his book tour due to popular outcry, and was widely quoted as absolutely unrepentant about his terrorism. That is a damning indictment of his judgement — among other things — and it is no “smear” to raise the issue.