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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

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.