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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

Bruce Bawer: Who's Sleeping More Deeply?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An excellent article by Bruce Bawer, author of “While Europe Slept”, over at PJM:

In the current presidential campaign, only a small portion of the electorate seems to think that the war with jihadist Islam is a major issue. The one candidate who understood best what we’re up against, and who took it most seriously, Rudy Giuliani, was ridiculed across the political spectrum for being obsessed with 9/11 — as if the events of that day had been some kind of fluke or accident that has virtually no meaning for us today.

In depressing numbers, in short, Americans seem not to grasp the lessons of 9/11 — which should hardly be a surprise, considering how many journalists and politicians keep repeating that the terrorists are betraying a great and peaceful religion, that jihad means doing good works, and so on.

Well worth reading in its entirety, as are these earlier pieces by Bawer: An Anatomy of Surrender, and Why We Need More Leaders Like Vaclav Havel

Are the MSM really "In the Tank" for Obama?

It sure sounds like that’s more than just blogosphere perception, according to this e-mail Glenn received:

A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS: “Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working.”

UPDATE 10/1:

Demanding a Sarah Palin press conference:

Only one candidate is being sheltered from tough press questions with the active complicity of the press.

Children "Sing for Change"

OK, this is just a bit too creepy. And I truly believe I would find it no less creepy if something similar had been done by a candidate I actually favor. Can we at least agree to leave children out of our ideological battles?

Bill Whittle, on Kidney Stones and the Financial Crisis

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another fine article from Bill, over at NRO. This point in particular resonated with what I’ve been thinking about the whole mess:

So how do we inflict some badly-needed pain on people who need to feel it, without hurting the rest of the good and honest folks who pay their bills responsibility?

Much easier said than done, unfortunately.

There’s a comment thread for the article over at Bill’s place.

John Howard, interviewed by Roger Simon and Bill Whittle

Thursday, September 25, 2008

on PJTV.

November 2007 World Trade Center Pictures

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Having finally gotten around to setting up a Picassa account to go with this blog, I’ve posted my pictures from this visit to the World Trade Center site on November 23, 2007. They’re a bit dated now, but hopefully still of interest.

A few selections below. Click here for the album.

Bill Whittle on The Undefended City

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bill Whittle is back with another characteristically brilliant article at NRO: “The Undefended City” draws on some themes articulated in Bill’s earlier Silent America essays, but is well worth the read even for longtime admirers of his work.

There’s a post about the article and an open comment thread over at Bill’s site, Eject! Eject! Eject!. Everybody in the pool!

Phyllis Chesler on Ahmadinejad, and "The Stoning of Soraya M."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More from Phyllis Chesler: on Ahmadinejad’s upcoming U.N. address, and Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s “The Stoning of Soraya M.”:

What is the point of this heartrending story? Namely, that as Muslim women are being tortured and stoned to death, the Islamist-terrorists, the silent moderate Muslims, and the multi-culturally correct American and European leftists and progressives, including feminists, are de-constructing and justifying the face veil and the head scarf—and strongly opposing American “colonialist” intervention in the Muslim world.

Their view, and they may not be entirely wrong: Rather than shedding American and Western blood in vain and thereby incurring the hatred of the world, let’s give up on the Islamic world and leave them to devour each other as they have always done. Let them stone their women to death. No matter what barbarism they engage in, invading or “interfering” would be worse. The western elites hold that this view is savvy, cool, politically correct, multi-culturally sensitive, anti-racist, anti-imperialist, even feminist, and so on.

Read the whole thing.

Glenn Reynolds on Charlie Rangel's tax troubles

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Seems to me that the inability of somebody like Rangel to keep his taxes straight is, at the very least, an argument for radical tax simplification of some sort. Not that that gets Rangel off the hook, any more than it would for you or me.

A Farewell Letter from General Petraeus

Monday, September 15, 2008

Miserable Donuts posts General Petraeus’ farewell letter to his staff and troops, as he moves up to CENTCOM and leaves General Ray Odierno in command of Multi-National Force Iraq. Well worth the read.

Hat tip: Instapundit. And hats off to General Petraeus.

102 Minutes that Changed America

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The History Channel has assembled a truly excellent “History Specials” episode regarding the World Trade Center portion of the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks. What’s remarkable about this documentary is that it’s the stringing together of raw footage from a variety of sources — mostly amateur, some professional — with no narration added, save for the backdrop offered by audio clips of emergency calls, NYFD radio communications, and the like. The sequence of events as seen and experienced by observers in various parts of New York City are left to speak for themselves.

“102 Minutes that Changed America” is available on iTunes here. It’s well worth watching if you can possibly stomach it. As I’ve said before, I think it’s vital that we remember and understand what happened on that day.

The episode description:

A new historical record is emerging of the sights and sounds of the attack on the World Trade Center. This two-hour special will distinguish itself from other 9/11 documentaries by using only unique and rarely seen and heard archive to document the 102 minutes between the first attack on the World Trade Center and the collapse of the second tower. This will be a lasting document whose unique material comes from a range of non-traditional sources, including amateur photography, video, and film; FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority and emergency dispatch radio recordings, photography and video; recorded voicemails; audio/video diaries; footage and stills broadcast or published outside the United States; electronic messages; surveillance camera footage; and “outtakes” culled from raw network footage.

Phyllis Chesler: When Obama vs. McCain is an Agonizing Decision

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Though I fully realize that — Bill Whittle’s hopeful “cheering her from the rafters” comment notwithstanding — there are plenty of anti-war, or anti-“conservative”-economic-policy, or otherwise differently ideologically disposed feminists who will not be jumping enthusiastically on the Sarah Palin bandwagon, Phyllis Chesler’s point about the dilemma a few feminists face strikes a definite chord with me:

Do we vote to keep abortion legal and to stop the anti-Choice conservatives from taking over the Supreme Court–or do we vote to make sure that the American military is allowed to stop the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in their tracks? Can we really achieve both goals by voting for one candidate? If not, then what is the more pressing priority? For ourselves, for our country, for the world at this moment in history?

If American women retain the right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term–in my view, a prerequisite to female human freedom, what does this mean if the jihadists bomb the country back to the seventh century? If the jihadists triumph, American women will be forced to convert to Islam, to wear veils or burqas (body bags), and risk being stoned to death, hung, or honor murdered if they want to choose their own husbands, attend college, dress like modern American girls do, or convert to another non-Islamic religion.

Mind you: Senator Obama’s eloquence is thrilling and the good old laundry list, beginning with abortion, matters a great deal to me. But jihad is here and here to stay and I would need to be persuaded that Obama and Biden really understand that. Also, since anti-Semitism, disguised as anti-Zionism has arisen today on the Left, not the Right, as has the academic feminist betrayal of a universal vision of human rights for everyone, everywhere, including Muslim women and dissidents, I would need to be assured that voting for abortion does not mean that I end up voting against Israel, against the Jews–and against Muslims who are under Islamic seige.

Camille Paglia has plenty of disagreements of her own with Palin’s positions, but is nonetheless cheering her nomination. As something of an apostate myself in relation to contemporary mainstream feminism, with its strong ties to progressive-left ideas about justice, equality, and economics, I for one find it refreshing and heartening to hear from someone who thoughtfully breaks with the regnant orthodoxy, and is inclined to think about individual issues independently of whether her conclusions fit with a particular party’s monolithic, take-it-or-leave-it platform.

On a related note, Neo-neocon made some interesting observations about the anger Sarah Palin’s nomination has provoked in some conventional feminists:

It’s synergistic; something about Palin’s combination of brains, charm, beauty, conservative viewpoints, and proletarian pastimes has brought out an almost unprecedented verbal viciousness in women who by all rights should be proud of her achievements as the second female Vice-Presidential nominee in history. Is this not a goal for which the woman’s movement has labored for so long? Apparently not—if she’s a conservative, and a charming and beautiful one at that.

This seems to be experienced by some as an almost unbearable dilemma, leading a few of Palin’s critics to deny Palin’s very identity as a woman even as they proclaim and deride it. This makes a certain twisted sense: if a feminist defines herself as being for women, and if Palin is a woman with unacceptable views who nevertheless is on the verge of achieving power, then it solves a knotty problem to declare her to be an unwoman.

Thus we get Wilson’s bizarre opening salvo,”Sarah Palin may be a lady, but she ain’t no woman.” Wilson and her sisters get to define the parameters of womanhood, you see, and to ban those who don’t meet their PC criteria.

9/11, Seven Years On, Part 2

Friday, September 12, 2008

I’m going to hold off a bit longer on posting my own 9/11 recollections, as otherwise promised yesterday. I’m not quite satisfied with what I’ve got yet, and it’s important to me to get this right.

Meanwhile, some highlights of the best stuff I encountered during this year’s trip through the news sites and blogosphere:

Via PowerLine, Debra Burlingame, sister of the pilot of American Flight 77 that was crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, warns us not to “misremember”

There is a disturbing phenomenon creeping into the public debate about all things 9/11. Increasingly, Sept. 11 is compared to hurricanes, bridge collapses and other mechanical disasters or criminal acts that result in loss of life, with “body count” being the primary factor that keeps it in the top spot of “worst in the nation’s history.”

Misremembering is as dangerous as forgetting. If we must know one thing, it is that the Sept. 11 attacks were neither a natural disaster, nor the unfortunate result of human error. 9/11 wasn’t the catastrophic equivalent of a 3,000-car pileup.

The attacks were not a random act of violence or insanity. They were a deliberate and brutal act of war committed by religious fanatics engaged in Islamic jihad against the United States, all non-Muslim people and any Muslim who wishes to live in a secular society. Worse, the people who perpetrated the attacks have explicitly told us that they are not done.

Read the whole thing.

Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch:

[T]here has still never been a full and comprehensive discussion of the jihad threat in the American public square.

So seven years after the Towers went down and the Pentagon was wounded, the jihadists have every reason to smell victory — not in Iraq, where they are indeed on the run, but in their efforts to cow and intimidate the West into giving up all resistance to Islamization. It’s happening, but no one notices or cares, because it is happening in small steps.

More here: “Islamic terrorism is a myth”

Gateway Pundit asks: Why the relative silence from al-Qaeda on this seventh anniversary of 9/11?

New York-based Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs has pictures of this year’s 9/11 observances (and no small amount of accompanying lunacy) at Ground Zero.

(Update 9/14: Pam has video from her Ground Zero visit too: 911 “Truthers”, Bagpipes, and Great Americans)

Lahawk has a roundup of Ground Zero rebuilding news.

Neo-neocon re-posted an apropos piece from 2006, that touches, among other matters, on the foresight we wish we’d had in anticipating and guarding against the attacks:

But the clearest foreshadowing of the event that would henceforth be known only by those numbers, “9/11″—as though words were somehow inadequate to describe it—was its most direct predecessor, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. That earlier attack distinguished itself in audaciousness by being the only large-scale Islamist totalitarian terrorist attack within the boundaries of the United States prior to 9/11.

And it was every bit as serious in intent. The only reason it wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been was the seemingly Keystone Cops-like incompetence of its perpetrators. They would learn from their errors, and quickly. It would take us longer to learn what we needed to know.

Rick Moran: 9/11 Still Affects Our Political Life:

If there is one thing we should have learned since 9/11 its that absolutism is deadly. Its stultifying effects on debate precludes any kind of rational response to the serious threat of Islamic terrorism.

It is not the trivial things that separate us. It is nothing less than losing trust in the intentions and motivations of the other side. And 9/11 took a nation already split along cultural and ideological lines and added fear to the mix. Now each side sees the other not just as wrongheaded but truly evil, and opposing them becomes a matter of saving the country.

Michele Catalano:

In that small space between three hijacked planes and color-coded terror alerts, between a small field in Pennsylvania and conspiracy theories, there was a brief, lit-up moment when we felt like one. I remember thinking that this tragedy would fix us instead of break us. I want so much to feel again that hope and unity that existed in the days after the attack. There was proof, ever so briefly, that we could come together as a nation to help and comfort each other, when we were all just human beings on common ground instead of left or right, Democrat or Republican.

Never forget, indeed. Never forget that out of the rubble of tragedy arose a moment when we put everything aside to be one whole nation. It is so easy at a time like now to forget that, to draw lines in the sand and become us and them. In so many ways, 9/11 ended up furthering any divisions we had instead of closing them. We chose up sides and backed away from each other as if we were our own enemies — as if the enemies we had, those who steered planes into buildings, weren’t enough.

Flowers at Ground Zero
November 23, 2007

9/11, Seven Years On

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I had hoped to take the day off work tomorrow, so as to spend it online exploring (and perhaps, through a bit of my own writing, participating in) the distributed “memorial service of sorts” that has given me both solace and food for thought in previous years. Unfortunately there is too much that needs doing this week, so I will have to catch up with my blog-reading and link- and comment-posting later.

I am right now putting what I hope will be the final finishing touches on a retelling of my own [largely peripheral, but deeply transformative] experience of September 11th, 2001 and bits of the period that immediately followed — a project that I’ve been meaning to get to for a long while. If I still like what I’ve written well enough in the morning, I’ll post it. It’s far from the entire story I want to tell, but it’s a start.

My posts from previous years are still pretty reflective of my current thinking:

This 9/11 memorial video (backup site here) still puts a lump in my throat and moves me to tears. Never forget that day.

Remember the Falling Man, and the many others like him who were forced to make the same terrible choice.

UPDATE 9/12: I’ve posted more here.

Bill Whittle on the RNC, Sarah Palin, and John McCain

Friday, September 5, 2008

A brilliant article at National Review Online, that has managed to capture so much of what I feel and at the same time lift me up in the spectacular way that only Bill Whittle can do.

Read the whole thing by all means (not remotely hard to do once Bill’s writing gets you hooked). There’s some honest, tough-love assessment of the Republican party’s recent self-inflicted failings therein, coupled with an honest-to-gosh celebration of the possibility of a turnaround that now, seemingly against all odds, looms large. I can’t resist quoting a few gems of expression from this great piece:

I’ve seen post after post on Hillary forums about how much they love Sarah, how they are energized and lifted out of depression by her (and the sight of an actual Roll Call made some of them weep). They gush about how she reminds them of their hero, how tough and savvy and unafraid she is. And I have seen these women, hard-core, feminist Democrats for 30 years and more, sit in slack-jawed amazement at Palin and at how fiercely Republicans — Republicans! — are defending her, backing her, and cheering her to the rafters. These Clinton supporters say they don’t know what to think any more: The Republicans are behaving like Democrats and the Democrats are behaving like Republicans!

If you think that’s an insult, you’ve got it exactly backwards. That is not only a huge compliment from these abandoned, centrist Democrats who bemoan the loss of their party to the radicals, it is an early rumbling of a tectonic shift in American politics which we are only dimly beginning to grasp. Who are the real feminists? A significant portion of our former hard-core opposition is now rethinking in a fundamental way who it is that actually does what their former allies only talk about.

When John McCain told me what I and untold millions of Americans have always believed, what others tell me to be ashamed of and mock me for — that I live in the greatest country in the world, a force of goodness and justice in dark places, a land of heroism and sacrifice and opportunity and joy — to me that went right to the mystic chords of memory that ultimately binds this country together. Some people don’t know what it is, but there is such a thing as patriotism — pure, unrefined, unapologetic, unconditional, non-nuanced, non-cosmopolitan, white-hot-burning patriotism. John McCain loves this country. I love it too. Not what it might be made into someday — not its promise, always and only its promise — but what it was and what it is, a nation and an idea worth fighting and dying for.

I was lukewarm on McCain Thursday night, but after that close I will follow that man to the ends of the earth with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

And I don’t know whether or not we will win in November, but for the first time I feel like we deserve to win more than they deserve to lose. And I find myself at peace for the first time in … well, it seems like forever. Because now I know that we will win or lose based on what we love and what we believe in, and that we have managed to find two politicians who have lived those values through good times and bad.

Bill comments on his new gig at NRO over at his usual site, Eject! Eject! Eject!

Bring Them Home Now?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quoth the Instapundit:

WITH VIOLENCE, AND AN IRRETRIEVABLY CORRUPT POLITICAL LEADERSHIP, I think we should just pull out of Chicago: “Nearly 125 Shot Dead In Chicago Over Summer. Total Is About Double The Death Toll In Iraq.”

Certainly seems to put things into perspective.