“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

Pardon Our Dust

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

To accommodate an improvement in the way I write and submit my posts, I’ve had to republish all my old entries. I seem to have succeeded in doing so without causing those entries to appear as new in the blog’s Atom feed. But in cases where I didn’t get the necessary accompanying markup adjustments quite right, you may see some formatting oddities in archived posts — blockquotes with missing line breaks, paragraphs concatenated together, etc. — that I will hopefully notice and fix soon. (Blogger’s “Convert line breaks” setting is retroactive in its effect, so changing it for the benefit of my new posts requires me to adjust all the old ones to look right with the new setting.)

The expected payoff for all the trouble is a faster, easier process that I hope will lead me to do more writing and post here more often. (A-ha! I said it! I committed!)

So, per this post’s title and the usual signage convention, please “Pardon Our Dust” during renovations. We are improving our facilities to better serve you, our valued customers…

Thank You for your patience during this transition,
The Management

"The Bolivarian Republic of Massachusetts?"

At Heritage c/o Instapundit:

The Christian Science Monitor reports today that “liberals from around the world” are flocking to Caracas “to experience Hugo Chavez’s experiment in socialism.” Liberals here in the United States worried about the carbon credits they’d have to purchase to offset a flight to Venezuela might consider visiting Massachusetts instead.

Heh indeed.

The news isn’t all light humor though. According to the author, Congressman James McGovern (D., Mass.) has been “working with an American go-between, who has been offering the [FARC] rebels help in undermining Colombia’s elected and popular government.”

I guess at least one contemporary Democrat feels he shares a common cause with Marxist “rebels”? How telling.

Update 3/26: More at Gateway Pundit

Obama's "Carefully Chosen" Friends

(hat tip: Ann Althouse, c/o Instapundit)

Thomas Sowell at RealClearPolitics::

Barack Obama’s own account of his life shows that he consciously sought out people on the far left fringe. In college, “I chose my friends carefully,” he said in his first book, “Dreams From My Father.”

These friends included “Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk rock performance poets” — in Obama’s own words — as well as the “more politically active black students.” He later visited a former member of the terrorist Weatherman underground, who endorsed him when he ran for state senator.

Obama didn’t just happen to encounter Jeremiah Wright, who just happened to say some way out things. Jeremiah Wright is in the same mold as the kinds of people Barack Obama began seeking out in college — members of the left, anti-American counter-culture.

Read the rest — it’s a short piece, and well worth it.

Update:

Christopher Hitchens offers some incisive comments on the topic at Slate:

It’s been more than a month since I began warning Sen. Barack Obama that he would become answerable for his revolting choice of a family priest. But never mind that; the astonishing thing is that it’s at least 11 months since he himself has known precisely the same thing. “If Barack gets past the primary,” said the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the New York Times in April of last year, “he might have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.” Pause just for a moment, if only to admire the sheer calculating self-confidence of this. Sen. Obama has long known perfectly well, in other words, that he’d one day have to put some daylight between himself and a bigmouth Farrakhan fan. But he felt he needed his South Side Chicago “base” in the meantime. So he coldly decided to double-cross that bridge when he came to it. And now we are all supposed to marvel at the silky success of the maneuver.

You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily.

and later:

Look at the accepted choice of words for the ravings of Jeremiah Wright: controversial, incendiary, inflammatory. These are adjectives that might have been — and were — applied to many eloquent speakers of the early civil rights movement. … But is it “inflammatory” to say that AIDS and drugs are wrecking the black community because the white power structure wishes it? No. Nor is it “controversial.” It is wicked and stupid and false to say such a thing. And it not unimportantly negates everything that Obama says he stands for by way of advocating dignity and responsibility over the sick cults of paranoia and victimhood.

Hitchens does make a number of excellent points. As with Sowell’s article, I suggest reading the whole piece.

Freedom to Taunt Our Enemies

Friday, March 21, 2008

Flemming Rose, culture editor for the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper that drew the ire of Jihadists by publishing the infamous Mohammed cartoons, responds to Osama Bin Laden’s latest threat:

What kind of civilization are we, after all, if we refrain from mocking and ridiculing bin Laden and his followers?

I’ve said so myself before.

Glenn aptly answers Rose’s question:

A pretty sorry one. Which, I fear, would suit some people fine.

Sadly so.

Prime Mover

Inspirational song lyrics of the day: Rush’s “Prime Mover”, from the Hold Your Fire album:

“Prime Mover”

Basic elemental instinct to survive
Stirs the higher passions
Thrill to be alive

Alternating currents in a tidewater surge
Rational resistance to an unwise urge

Anything can happen…

From the point of conception
To the moment of truth
At the point of surrender
To the burden of proof

From the point of ignition
To the final drive
The point of the journey is not to arrive

Anything can happen…

Basic temperamental filters on our eyes
Alter our perceptions
Lenses polarize

Alternating currents force a show of hands
Rational responses force a change of plans

Anything can happen…

From a point on the compass
To magnetic north
The point of the needle moving back and forth

From the point of entry
Until the candle is burned
The point of departure is not to return

Anything can happen…

I set the wheels in motion
Turn up all the machines
Activate the programs
And run behind the scene

I set the clouds in motion
Turn up light and sound
Activate the window
And watch the world go ‘round

From the point of conception
To the moment of truth
At the point of surrender
To the burden of proof

From the point of ignition
To the final drive
The point of a journey
Is not to arrive

Anything can happen…

Obama's Grandmother: "Typical White Person"?

Geez.

Think about it: can you imagine any Presidential candidate, in any context, describing anyone as a “typical black person?” Or a “typical Asian person?” Worse, what Obama said was that the “typical white person” views others of different races with fear and suspicion. Obama appears to be digging himself in deeper and deeper.

c/o Instapundit

And Glenn later notes that some are already cashing in on the gaffe. T-shirts anyone? Heh indeed.

"Withdrawal is not defeat"?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On Reuters a couple of days ago: “Clinton attacks Obama and McCain on Iraq”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton put the war in Iraq in the forefront of her campaign on Monday, attacking Democratic rival Barack Obama and Republican John McCain over an issue that has divided the country.

Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, laid out her policy proposals to deal with the conflict, including ensuring that troops have sufficient rest time between deployments, pressing the United Nations to be more involved, and getting key allies to help stabilize the region.

“Bringing our troops home safely will take a president who is ready to be commander in chief on Day One,” she said in a speech.

“Withdrawal is not defeat. Defeat is keeping troops in Iraq for 100 years.”

Oh! Well, if it’s going to take that long to defeat our fanatical Jihadist enemies, then forget it I guess. It’s hardly worth the trouble.

Seems worthy of concern to me that she who aspires to be our military’s commander-in-chief shows no qualms about demonstrating the United States to be the very “paper tiger” or “weak horse” that Osama Bin Laden counted on us to be. Is she just shrewdly pandering to the anti-war component of her voter base, or does she really and truly not see any serious long-term consequences to allowing the United States to be perceived as weak-willed and lacking in resolve? Furthermore, I don’t see how in March 2008 one can make such a gloomy prediction about Iraq’s future and expect to be taken as fully serious, given the significant progress that our shift in strategy has brought. Seems like there’s an ever-growing disconnect between the politically convenient “the Iraq war is a failure” narrative and improving realities on the ground.

Buckets o' Interesting Stuff

Friday, March 14, 2008

I’ve found myself reading and bookmarking a number of noteworthy articles this past week. Lots of interesting stuff to comment on here, but for fear I might not find the time to do so at any length very soon, I’m going to catch up by posting some quick quotes and links…

First up: Writer/director/producer David Mamet wrote an exceptional article in the Village Voice, in which he explains his shift away from the left. Interestingly, he attributes his own change in thinking to an inability to reconcile long-held beliefs with the more favorable evidence offered by his everyday experiences.

I’d observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances — that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired — in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

And I began to question my hatred for “the Corporations” — the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.

And I began to question my distrust of the “Bad, Bad Military” of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations — they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will. Are these groups infallible, free from the possibility of mismanagement, corruption, or crime? No, and neither are you or I. So, taking the tragic view, the question was not “Is everything perfect?” but “How could it be better, at what cost, and according to whose definition?” Put into which form, things appeared to me to be unfolding pretty well.

It sounds to me like he’s simply become more pragmatic. Brings to mind neo-neocon’s excellent and insighful “A Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change” series.

Elsewhere in the article, Mamet included a mention of NPR that I found amusing and relevant, as my own wife is an NPR fan of many years but I’ve come to find the station’s reporting biases frustrating. Mamet begins:

We were riding along and listening to NPR.

(Typical scene for me and my wife too, during our morning commute.)

I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. “?” she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been — rather charmingly, I thought — referring to myself for years as “a brain-dead liberal,” and to NPR as “National Palestinian Radio.”

Funny, I’ve come to refer to it in my own mind with a chuckle as “Nationalized People’s Radio” … Mamet and I must be thinking on similar wavelengths…

(Update 3/19: “National Progressive Radio” is another variant I’ve since caught myself using)

In other news: George McGovern seems to get it more than either of our current Democratic presidential candidates when it comes to economic freedom, as Glenn Reynolds noted at Instapundit. Why, as Glenn rightly asked, isn’t he running for president?

The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.

The last remaining staircase at the World Trade Center site was moved on Monday. Fittingly, it sounds like it’s going to be preserved as part of the World Trade Center 9/11 memorial.

Charlie Martin puts his finger on something that’s been troubling me about the healthcare debate for a long while: What many people think of as health “insurance” isn’t actually insurance.

IraqPundit genuinely wonders what Obama thinks about U.S. involvement in Iraq, and provides an instructive recap of Obama’s position statements over time. Therein lay some interesting surprises for me, including this quote from a Boston Globe report:

In July of 2004, the day after his speech at the Democratic convention catapulted him into the national spotlight, Barack Obama told a group of reporters in Boston that the United States had an ‘absolute obligation’ to remain in Iraq long enough to make it a success.

‘The failure of the Iraqi state would be a disaster,’ he said at a lunch sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, according to an audiotape of the session. ‘It would dishonor the 900-plus men and women who have already died… . It would be a betrayal of the promise that we made to the Iraqi people, and it would be hugely destabilizing from a national security perspective.’

He might actually have had a chance at my vote, had he continued with this kind of talk. But lately he seems disinterested in talking about anything but his 2002 advocacy against the Iraq invasion, and in discussing any Iraq policy or strategy short of an immediate withdrawal — an act of retreat and defeat that our enemies would not soon forget, and that would surely come back to haunt us in future conflicts.

Also, at Hot Air: Does the media’s anti-war rhetoric embolden Iraqi insurgents? (Thanks again Instapundit.)

At the Wall Street Journal: What is it about Democrats and Chávez?

And at phi beta cons: Is “postmodern belief in the futility of life” helping drive some to become campus killers? (Hat tip: Instapundit)