January 30, 2005
Those who write have a common refrain, that there is something
pounding on their skulls from the inside that begs to be put to paper. A
writer's mind is usually filled with all sorts of essays, diatribes, rants and
things poetic. He simply must exorcise these demons and so he heads for his desk
and writes. A truly dedicated writer will always carry a pen and a notepad so as
to jot down any Great Thoughts that happen to pop into his mind. (Hey! Maybe I
should do this. Oh...I am too lazy, alas.)
In days of yesteryear many such creatures would begin a
honorum (OK, I am showing off here) by becoming 'ink-stained wretches'
writing obituaries and high school football stories for the local newspaper,
though always secretly pining for a gig at a truly big rag---say, the LA
Times or the Chicago Tribune. Those few, those happy few, those bands
of brothers, who actually made it to the big city papers would then set their
sights on writing The Really Big Story. This would usually be some exposé of a
local politician either caught with his hands in the till or sleeping in a bed
not his wife's. With luck such a tale would land the writer a Pulitzer and his
career would be off and running.
Sadly (or perhaps not) most inky wretches never made it out of
the local rag. Their options now were narrowed to two: become best of friends
with Jack Daniels or find another line of work. Most left the job and so began
to actually contribute something to society. Those who remained could be found
during Happy Hour at the nearest bar, sitting by themselves with bourbon in hand
and muttering "I coulda been a contenda." Oh well.
But now all that is changed. Those who had abandoned
their dream of writing and moved on with life now have another chance at
influence and more than the allotted 15 minutes of fame. Enter the
blog. What is this? It is short for 'web logger,' meaning someone
who maintains his own web site and pontificates thereupon. Call it a
public on-line diary. The writer's interests can lie anywhere: politics,
religion, history, movies---you name the subject and there is a blog for
it. (Actually, there are millions of these blogs. I have one myself. You
are reading it now. Thanks!)
It was technology that made this so. To blog one need not know a
damn thing about HTML code. All that is necessary are desire, a computer and the
proper software. (I use FrontPage to write on my blog and on my professional
site.) As blogs have increased economics 101 has again proved its relevance.
There is now keen competition among tech companies to offer more or less free
web space for bloggers (here
is Google's) and to sell programs ready-made for blogging. (Radio
Userland is one good example.) Now any fool or genius can
publish his own Great Thoughts. Whether anyone reads them is another affair. But
the fact of just being able to have your writing on public display probably
satisfies most bloggers.
The first blogger (actually a proto-blogger) was
Matt Drudge. He
still writes, and his site is viewed millions of times a day. Drudge
began by investigating stories the mainstream media (MSM) would not
touch. He started his site during the Clinton presidency and so had stacks
of material to choose from: illegalities, immoralities, treasons,
mendacities, thieveries, conspiracies, envies, vulgarities and every
variety of pelt and pelf. The Clinton era was an amazingly fecund one
for such things, and Drudge was willing to stick his pen in the goo. It
was he who exposed Clinton's "I did not have sex with that woman!"
Monica Lewinsky scandal. Drudge's reputation was now assured, and he was
off and running.
The primal fact that inspired Drudge in the first place
and the thing that has led to an explosion in blogging was the bias,
bigotry, pettiness, arrogance and mendacity of the MSM. The simple fact
is that they had had a hammerlock on information for decades. Whatever
they saw as news became news. I
two years ago that
major media outlets---CNN, BBC, NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC (sorry for all
those acronyms), The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA
Times, Reuters---all speak with one voice. They agree on the
essentials of what passes for educated opinion on: the role of the
UN, multilateralism, religion in the public square, US foreign
policy, the military, the Kyoto Treaty, public education, abortion,
environmentalism, global warming, conservative thought, liberal
thought, affirmative action, the death penalty, the 2nd Amendment.
These media affirm each other, refer to each other and congratulate
each other. There are no real dissenting voices among them. As for
the US media, their members vote overwhelmingly democrat, few attend
any sort of religious service (recall the Washington Post front page
as referring to most religious people as 'poor, uneducated and
easily led') and most content themselves with living in a few
enclaves on the East and West coasts of the US. (One common joke
among them is that the great central mass of the US is little more
than 'fly-over territory'.)
Little about the MSM has changed since I wrote those
words. What has changed is that their monopoly on information has
collapsed. They now have competition---all those pesky bloggers.
(The rest of this story will appear in Blogging
102. So stay tuned.)
January 28, 2005
It took a while after moving to Oklahoma City and
beginning a new job to be really and truly settled in here. 'Settled in'
means coming home every day after work and going 'Ahh...!' 'Settled in'
means opening the door to the apartment and seeing for the thousandth
time the acquired stuff of a lifetime---material odds and ends, books,
music, techno gadgetry---and knowing that you are once again among
friends. 'Settled in' means that where you live reflects who you are,
that one who knows you can walk into your place and know absolutely that
you and only you could possibly live there.
All that has happened. I am settled in here:
Comfortable. Secure. Content. It was so in Buenos Aires until my final
year there. My departure date was already a done deal and all that was
needed was another year of teaching before beginning the long planned
and long fantasized 'Year of Living Dangerously.' My apartment began to
feel sort of odd, a bit strange, as if my things were themselves
preparing for departure. When the time came to leave it was an easy
thing to do. The place where I had lived was mine no more, had nothing
to do with me, was an empty place turned cold and foreign.
Now I am a thousand years and a million miles gone from
all that---and settled in yet again. And yes, there are still 'wild
weird climes, out of space, out of time' that entice me away from here.
But their pull is nebulous, like a familiar song heard far away. You
turn your head and strain to listen but continue on your journey
nonetheless. The song fades, then disappears; you shrug and return to
the here and now. There is no time to pay attention to such things.
No time. To pay attention. To such things.
Not yet. Not yet.
January 26, 2005
Lost and Found
One of the many things that bedevil historians writing
about the classical world is the primary sources---there are not enough
of them, and what we have usually has missing pieces. Whole swaths of
Polybius, Tacitus, Livy, Plutarch and such have not survived, and what
exists is more than likely to be a thousand year old copy of a copy of a
copy of a copy. Our most recent Gallic Wars, for example,
is just 950 years old---a copy of a copy created almost 1000 years after
Caesar wrote the original. Other ancient manuscripts suffer likewise.
Will Durant said that ancient history was like the flotsam that drifted
to shore after a shipwreck. One sees the broken planks and scattered
detritus and tries to make some kind of conclusion about the crew and
its mission. This is the state of ancient historiography, alas. (Though
it is no comfort, primary sources of the world before the Greeks and
Romans are more scarce than Baptists in San Francisco.)
Occasionally historians and archeologists have a stroke
of luck and come across bits and pieces of some hitherto unknown
writings. Exactly this sort of thing has happened in Italy. We owe the
to a volcanic eruption 2000 years ago that buried some Roman towns and
villas. One such country house was a remarkable affair, that of
Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, father-in-law
of Julius Caesar. Piso was typical of the ruling elite---we call them
patricians, but they referred to themselves as boni, 'the
best'---of his day. Bilingual and sophisticated, Piso maintained a
tremendous library of Greek manuscripts. When volcanic ash submerged the
villa in 79 AD the library was preserved almost intact.
It was not until 1738 that
workers in the area quite accidentally discovered part of Piso's great
house. They dug into it no doubt hoping to find some lost artifact that
might bring a tidy sum from a museum. What they found instead was
nothing more than what seemed to be mere lumps of coal. These were
unceremoniously dumped into the sea. It was not until some years later
that Piso's library of 1800 scrolls was found. It was then realized that
those 'lumps of coal' were in reality carbonized rolls of papyrus---lost
books from a nearly lost world. But all was not lost:
[We now have]
the first detailed analysis of the 1,800 papyri, now largely
unrolled and deciphered thanks to a technique known as
multi-spectral imaging (MSI). What appear to the naked eye as
jet-black cinders are transformed by MSI into readable text. Thirty
thousand images are now legible on CD-Rom; suddenly poems and works
of philosophy are speaking again, 2,000 years after they were sealed
in their cedar-wood cabinets in the summer of AD 79.
But wait---there's more! Scholars now believe that old
Piso might have had another library or even several more. After all, the
guy was loaded, his villa has several levels and the only library so far
revealed has just Greek manuscripts. Is there another library with Latin
manuscripts, say, of Livy? of Horace? of the great Caesar himself? And
is there yet a third manuscript collection, making Piso's library, like
Caesar's Gaul, divided into three parts? (Codex pisonis est divisa in
partes tres.) And so the search in and around
the house of Piso continues.
The results so far have been momentous. Whole reams of
formerly lost Greek writings are now part of our canon.
Historians of the Classical World---hardly known as a bunch of party
animals---are intoxicated with glee and fervor at the prospect of more
finds from the site, of reputations to be made, of books to be written
and of grants to be awarded.
Of course it will take some years before the research
from Piso's villa becomes available to every layman with an interest in
Classical studies. I am such, truth be told. And I await new revelations
from the world of Rome like a near bankrupt man awaiting his
January 23, 2005
Why Bush is hated and despised by some---'some' being Euro-weaklings,
Blue State girly-boys, effete intellectual types, scrawny college kids, socialist flotsam and
assorted Democrat riff-raff---is exactly why he is loved and admired by
others---'others' being Christians, conservatives, Red State types, the
military, Westerners, gun owners and Southerners. (And pardon the multiple
regime has long been a menace to its neighbors, many of whom have
been invaded. Hundreds of thousands have been slaughtered over the
years. Israel herself has been threatened. Finally a coalition of
powers invades Iraq and heads for her capital city. The entire world
is surprised by how quickly it falls. Elements of the Iraqi regime
hold out and cause havoc for the occupying powers but eventually are
headlines? Not quite. The Iraqi regime mentioned above is ancient
Assyria (1800-609 BC). Assyria gradually developed into a first-rate
military power. By 750 she was what would now be termed a super-power,
controlling one-half of the world---all or part of modern Iraq, Jordan,
Kuwait, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Lebanon. Her methods of warfare were brutal:
torture, mass-terror, mutilation, forced population shifts---in short, she resembled
nothing so much as Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
Assyria at her
Sargon II (721-705) was responsible for the destruction of the 'Lost Ten
Tribes' of Israel, leaving only two tribes in the small and weak nation
of Judah. Like Saddam Assyrian kings brought violence and tyranny to the
entire Middle East. Finally in 612 a coalition of Medes, Chaldeans and
Scythians laid siege to the Assyrian capital at Nineveh. All were
surprised that it fell in a matter of weeks. Remnants of the old regime
held out for three years but capitulated as the Chaldeans restored order
to the region.
The minor Hebrew
prophet Nahum was a superb Assyria-hater.
O king of Assyria;
your nobles slumber.
Your people are scattered on the mountains
with none to gather them. There is no assuaging your hurt,
your wound is grievous. All
who hear the news of you
clap their hands over you. For
upon whom has not come
your unceasing evil?
who suffered under Saddam could have written the same.
What remains of
the Assyrian capital---not much, as the Chaldeans left scarcely a stone
upon a stone---lie near Mosul. This city is a center of much
terror and murder in post-Saddam Iraq. Mosul is, as its ancient
neighbor was, a 'bloody city, full of lies and robbery.'
Chaldean king was Nebuchadnezzar II (605-561), he of Hanging
Gardens and Ishtar Gate fame. Here are the gardens with the Tower of
Babel looming in the background. Legend tells us the he built the
gardens because one of his wives missed the flora and cool mountain air
of her native Media.
II is also the worthy who tossed Daniel
into the lions' den, though to no effect. Like the Assyrians he was a
great enemy of Israel. Saddam actually patterned himself after this
Nebuchadnezzar and even dressed his palace guards in ancient Chaldean
uniforms. These could achieve little against the US Marine Corps, but
they looked cool.
spent the last 4 years of his life in a rather interesting
captivity---on all fours eating grass. Apparently he had angered the
Jewish God and suffered as a consequence. Saddam most certainly has
angered Him too and will suffer likewise. Hussein's prison fare is better
(and I doubt that he goes around on all fours), but his end will be the
same as Nebuchadnezzar of old---and none too soon.
For further study see
by Georges Roux.
Death Becomes Us
the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision
legalizing abortion in all 50 states. This ruling has so far cost the
lives of 43,000,000 human beings. But the abortionists missed this one:
And this one:
Her name is Gianna Jessen. She is 27. Gianna was 71/2
months in the womb when her mother decided to abort her. At the abortion
clinic the 'doctor' injected a saline solution into her mother's womb.
The idea behind this procedure is to burn the child inside and out so
that within 24 hours it will be delivered dead. But Old Scratch must
have been otherwise occupied, as Gianna came out of the womb
But let Gianna
"I did not
die that day," Jessen said. "I was delivered alive in a Los Angeles
County abortion clinic in a room full of teenage girls who had
already had the saline injections and were feeling their children
die inside of them."
She was not
expected to live. Gianna spent 3 months in an incubator and had cerebral
palsy from a lack of oxygen while being surrounded with the saline.
Physicians believed she would never be able to walk or crawl or even
hold her head up. And today?
Today, she walks with a slight limp in her left leg.
Jessen has done indoor rock climbing and is training
for the Music City marathon in Nashville in a few months. She plans
to take swing or tango dance lessons after that. Jessen also writes
and performs songs, ranging from love ballads to social commentary.
Gianna was told
when she was 12 that she had been aborted.
"It must have been the Lord, because I didn't
freak out," Jessen remembered. "I totally believe that the Lord
Jesus spared my life and I would not be walking today if it were
not for the grace of God and the power of Christ. I know that
when you need God to walk every day, you know that God is real."
Miss Jessen has
spoken before Congress against partial birth abortion and in favor of
the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. She has also met with President
Bush, whom she wholeheartedly supports. The president said to Gianna, "I
will not let you down."
To say the very
least, Miss Jessen is one remarkable young lady, stronger than any
Supreme Court, stronger than any doctor, stronger than the entire God-damned abortion industry.
And what really
goes on in an abortion clinic, in one of those places that sentenced
Gianna to death? Well,
He takes the baby out in pieces. He checks each part
and he places each one in a tray down below.
"It's impressive how well-defined they are. You can't
believe what you are seeing. You see perfect little hands, tinier
than those of a Barbie doll. You can see intestines, tiny ribs,
their little faces, and their tiny squashed heads. You can
distinguish among the parts if the baby was a boy or girl...
very hard for me to do all this...to
see all that falls on the floor, or for example, to remove a tiny
foot from the instruments. A girl who worked here told me that she
came home with a tiny foot stuck to her uniform, close to her
shoulder. She, of course, hadn't noticed until her husband told
You can read more if you have the stomach for it. But I
recommend a stiff drink first. And then you can go
and see your tax dollars at work.
We have become as Death, the destroyer of worlds.
January 18, 2005
Abortion is certainly not the only moral issue dividing Democrats from
Republicans. Sodomite marriage is another. Like abortion, Democrats see this
issue as one of rights while Republicans see it as one of morality. Obviously
there can be no compromise. I thought it useful to revisit an essay I wrote more
than one year ago about how the world's great religions view such activity. As
Dr. Johnson said, we need to be reminded more than instructed. The original
Marshall and Monotheism. Marshall wrote the Massachusetts
Supreme Court decision in November of 2003 favoring the right of sodomites to
marry. As I wrote then, in her opinion Marshall did
not quite get around to mentioning the law but she did dwell upon her feelings:
Without the right to
marry -- or more properly, the right to choose to marry -- one is excluded from
the full range of human experience and denied full protection of the laws for one's
avowed commitment to an intimate and lasting human relationship...The marriage ban
works a deep and scarring hardship on a very real segment
of the community for no rational reason.
The confusion of this touchy-feely notable is vast. Her arguments would equally
apply to polygamists and pedophiles and those who really, really love their
animals---'very real segments of society' and very much a part of 'the full
range of human experience'. Do such require---or deserve---the protection of
Sodomy and Monotheism
There is a fiercely
puritanical streak in monotheistic religions. Maybe that is because they all
arose from the desert in about the same place. Sins of a sexual nature are
always associated with the idea of uncleanliness, and homosexuality is seen both
as unclean and an abomination---an assault upon the natural order.
How would the three
great monotheisms look upon judge Marshall's legal opinion?
is one Islamic scholar on homosexuality:
the impact of which makes one’s skin crawl, which words cannot
describe, is evidence of perverted instincts, total collapse of
shame and honor, and extreme filthiness of character and soul… The
heavens, the Earth and the mountains tremble from the impact of this
sin. The angels shudder as they anticipate the punishment of Allah
to descend upon the people who commit this indescribable sin
Here is Jewish
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah
"because the outcry against its
people has become great before the Lord." (Gen. 19:13)
Jude 7 records that Sodom and
Gomorrah "acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust." Ezekiel says that
Sodom committed "abominable things." (Ezek. 16:50)
"You shall not lie with a male as
with a woman; it is an abomination. . .If a man lies with a male as with a
woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to
death, their blood is upon them." (Lev. 18:22, 20:13)
Nope. Crystal clear.
And according to
"...God gave them up to dishonorable
passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men
likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion
for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in
their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not
see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper
conduct. . . . Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things
deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them."
(Rom. 1:26–28, 32)
"Do you not know that the wicked
will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the
sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor
homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers
nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9–10)
We get the point.
Islam, Judaism and
Christianity may disagree on the divinity of Christ and on suicide bombers, but
they do not disagree on homosexuality. (Actually, the moral codes of all
religions---monotheistic and otherwise---are remarkable similar. But that will
be a subject of another day.)
monotheism, Buddhism is unclear on the
never mentions it actually---but places it under the same ethical disciplines
as heterosexuality. As far as polytheistic Hinduism...who knows? Hindu and
Buddhist scholars do mention a 'third sex,' though I have no idea what that
is---and I am not going to look for it either.
January 17, 2005
The Democrats Get Religion
The Democrat Party has a problem---lots of them,
one to wonderfully concentrate their thoughts is
religion, the Christian variety of it anyway. Democrats have seldom
shown much interest in Christians except to disparage them. Recall that
famous front page of the loyally Democrat Washington Post that
described Christians as "poor, uneducated and easily led."
But now after a string of painful electoral defeats,
Democrats want the votes of Red State Christians without abandoning
those doctrines dear to their own hearts, especially those concerning
abortion, sodomite marriage, and so on. They think they have found a
solution, their own version of
James Dobson. His name is Jim Wallis, and he calls himself an evangelical
Protestant. A registered Democrat, Wallis is eager to rescue the
"Failure makes you reassess," he said. "The
Democratic Party has increasingly had a problem as being perceived
as secular fundamentalists."
Democrat Party leader James Manley agrees.
"It is clear from the results of the election that we
Democrats need to be much more forceful and clear in communicating
their faith and values to the electorate," Mr. Manley said. "He can
help us communicate with the rising number of evangelicals in the
country, which is right now a Republican constituency," Mr. Manley
said, "but which Wallis argues could easily become part of the
Democratic constituency as well."
Conservative evangelical Protestants who voted for Bush
might easily switch their vote to the Democrat Party? How might this
miracle occur? Wallis has the answer:
He said Democrats needed to do a better job of
explaining the moral and religious foundations of policies intended
to help the poor, protect the environment and reduce violence.
Here Wallis simply parrots the Democrats' line that they have not
really explained their positions very well. Thus, Americans were confused
about what the Democrats really stood for. This is a fancy way to call
evangelical Bush voters stupid---and "poor, uneducated and easily led."
He also urged the Democrats to look for middle ground
on the social issues most troubling to religious traditionalists,
like obscenity and abortion.
Wallis is mightily confused. What 'middle ground' is he
talking about? Concerning moral issues there can be no middle ground.
Consider abortion. The Democrat line: "Abortion is a good." The
Christian line: "Abortion is an evil." Wallis' wants to look for a
middle ground. And what would that be? "Abortion is half good and half
evil." Or he could say "Abortion is neither good nor evil." In either
case Wallis' position is both logically and theologically incoherent. If
abortion were neither good nor evil then we would not be talking about
it. It would then simply be a matter of taste, like preferring tea to
coffee. And no Christian believer can take the middle ground concerning
abortion. If Christ abhors it, then He abhors every single instance of
it. He does not abhor only half of them.
As abortion, likewise obscenity---no middle ground. If
one allows fornication to be shown on TV, then one allows fornication to
be shown on TV. One does not allow only half the instances of
fornication to be shown on TV. To admit to such a position is to admit
to moral confusion.
Wallis continues in his incoherence:
Whatever their stance on abortion rights, he argued,
Democrats need to treat its occurrence as a moral problem and
propose ways to reduce it.
He at least admits that abortion should
be treated as a moral problem. Well, what does that mean? It means
that the act concerns a grave matter of right and wrong. So tell me Mr.
Wallis, how does a Democrat whose stance is abortion on demand---the
current state of this procedure in the US---come to believe that
abortion is a 'moral problem' and that he should 'propose ways to reduce
it?' Democrats do not believe that abortion is evil, they believe it
good---it is merely a 'choice' after all. This is why the Democrat Party
refuses to allow any anti-abortion Democrat (yes, there are some) to
speak for the party, to hold plum chairmanships or to exert any real
power. To the Democrats abortion is their sacrament, never to be
abandoned, never to be restricted. (Witness the shrieks when Republicans
tried to eliminate 'partial-birth' abortions, a procedure done 4000
times a year in the US and which involves the insertion of scissors into
a baby's brain just before the child is to be born.)
The Democrats have been in a similar moral swamp before.
Then the issue was slavery, and then as now the Democrats called an
evil a good, never to be abandoned, never to be restricted---even at the
cost of civil war. Indeed, just as Roe v. Wade has expanded
abortion on demand to all 50 states, so the Democrats of 150 years ago
tried to expand slavery to the entire nation using the Dred Scott
case and the Fugitive Slave Law. Then as now there were those like Mr.
Wallis---Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Douglas---who sought some impossible
middle ground between freedom and slavery. Then as now the Republican
Party---then under its first president, Abraham Lincoln---came to see
itself in a struggle against a moral abomination.
Mr. Wallis can work for the Democrats and call himself a
follower of Christ, but real Christians are not fooled by his moral
posturing or taken in by his delusions. We were warned 2000 years ago about
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing
inwardly are ravenous wolves.---Matt
Wallis may not be a 'ravenous wolf,' but he is certainly
a moral imbecile. As such he is a perfect spokesman for his party, a
party controlled by such moral exemplars as Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and
My advice to Mr. Wallis is the same I would give to
anyone: Repent and come to know the Lord. And until you do so, stop speaking in His name.
Dulce Et Decorum
the wife of a marine:
They came in
single file, about 50 of them. Silent ambassadors, to tell us who
they were. They moved at a slow pace, passing us for over 20
minutes. Some walked, while others pushed their wheelchairs as best
they could. Some were helped along on crutches by their wives or
sweethearts. They were escorted front and rear by U.S. Marines in
dress blue uniform. I have never seen prouder Marines. The Amputee
Ward from Walter Reed Army Medical Center visited the Pentagon
today. I was there.
looks of resolution, pride, or dignity. Many had prosthetic devices
where limbs used to be. All of them wore looks of surprise. We, the
26,000 employees of the Pentagon, lined both sides of the A ring
(the inner ring of the Pentagon) to watch them pass and welcome them
with thunderous applause. Half a mile they walked through a gauntlet
of grateful fellow citizens two and three deep, who reached out to
shake the hands of the remaining good arms, or grasp the remaining
fingers of hands that have given ultimate service. They walked
through us to the main concourse, where they were met by the Army
Band and color guard playing martial music for them, and where the
mall was filled with additional people who swelled the applause.
Many of us just called out loudly, Thank You, because we didn't know
what else could be said; thank you for your service to us. The
applause never stopped.
None of them
spoke. They just cried. So did we.
This is why America wins her wars. This is why America
will win this war. This is why America will win the next war.
No other nation produces people like this.
Party On, Dudes!
Watching the meltdown of the
Democrats has not been a pretty sight---for Democrats. (I have rather
enjoyed it. If the Democrats insist on committing suicide I will not
interfere.) From the wild ruminations of Nancy Pelosi to the scare
mongering of Barbara Boxer to the whiskey-soaked bellowing of Ted
Kennedy, not one of them has a clue why they failed and why they will
continue to fail.
Now comes some
from Dan Gerstein, an advisor to Senator Joe Lieberman and a more or
less rational fellow not given to Howard Dean-like outbursts. Gerstein
admits that his party " grossly underestimated the national Democrats'
capacity for self-delusion and self-defeat." Well, yeah, but this was
clear when they elected John Kerry as their candidate.
But the fact is, politics
provides clear, irrefutable ways to measure performance, and by most
any standard our recent performance stinks.
True, but obvious. Keep writing.
That begs a few
questions [sic]. Such as, what does it take to hold someone accountable
for losing? And more importantly, when do we stop beating our heads
against the wall and try something--and someone--different?
Something...someone...different? Like what...like whom?
Of course, upgrading the
salesmen won't dramatically change the results if we don't also
upgrade the product we're marketing. Right now the clear majority of
voters--including large swaths of the country--don't trust us to
keep them safe or share their values, and we have a long way to go
to rethink our messages and policies and ultimately rehabilitate our
Gerstein speaks of the
Democrat Party as a marketer would a brand of soap. He advises that the
product---that is, the message of the party---be rethought by "savvy and
compelling men and women to not only chart our course but change it."
And just what part of this
course does Gerstein want to change? Is it the Democrat insistence on
sodomite marriage? Could it be the Democrat attempts to force the Boy
Scouts to accept sodomite scout masters? Or perhaps the right to murder children in the womb?
Could it be the
slavish adulation of the UN? Or maybe the removal of God from the public square?
And how can we forget John Kerry's desire to
render unto France the same thing that Monica Lewinski rendered unto Bill
Dan, if you really did
'upgrade your product,' revamp your message and change your course you
would cease to be Democrats. And there is already another party out
there with a different message from yours. It is called the Republican
Like the Bourbons, the
Democrats have forgotten nothing and learned nothing.
January 14, 2005
Allah Sends His
After Indonesia severely curtailed American
relief efforts to those stricken by the tsunami---the victims being
those among that nation's most impoverished---we now
that the local radical Islamic group Jemaah
Islamiyah has threatened murder and mayhem.
Reports indicate that
terrorists are planning attacks against a wide variety of targets,''
the U.S. State Department said in an e-mailed statement yesterday
from Washington. Attacks ``could be directed against any location.''
These Islamic killers are the
ones blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200, most of
whom were disco habitués and surfers. Eighty-eight of those murdered in
Bali were Australians. Australia has worked hand-in-hand with the
Americans to bring aid to Indonesia in the wake of the tsunami.
Westerners working in the
Indonesian province of Aceh---the area most damaged by the tsunami---are
feared to be right in the line of fire from this radical Islamic group
linked to al-Qaeda. Sadly for those in Aceh, the US has advised her
citizens not to go there to help in any relief efforts.
The pitiless response of much
of Islam to the tragedies suffered by its own simply stupefies. Radical
Islam cannot save Moslems but would murder those who can.
Saturn Devouring His Children
January 13, 2005
It appears that the Indonesian authorities are
increasingly angry at American efforts to save Indonesian citizens. The
US has been
to leave Indonesia by the end of March.
"Three months are enough," Vice
President Jusuf Kalla told the official Antara news agency. "In
fact, the sooner [they leave] the better."
Kalla's government also forced the
Abraham Lincoln, from which Navy pilots have flown dozens of
food supply missions to the hard-hit Aceh Province, to steam out
of Indonesian waters because they refused to let U.S. pilots fly
training missions in their air space.
The Indonesians also refused to let
the Marines coming ashore rebuild roads, establish a base camp
or carry arms.
The Indonesian government has
been complaining about "American interlopers," even as these
'interlopers' save countless lives, lives the Indonesians themselves had
no hope of rescuing.
Always wary of America, Indonesia
reluctantly allowed U.S. soldiers in when it became clear it
could not deal with the aftermath of the Dec. 26 tsunami on its
The Indonesian people
themselves---those unaffected by the disaster that overwhelmed and
killed more than 150,000 of their Islamic countrymen---are as
callous as the
regime they serve:
In Jakarta, aside from flags
at half-staff, we have seen no signs of mourning for the victims:
while employees and dependents of the American embassy spent their
holiday loading trucks and putting together medicine kits, the
city's inhabitants went ahead with New Year's parties; nightclubs
and shopping centers are full; and regular television programming
continues. At least 120,000 of their fellow countrymen are dead, and
Indonesians hardly talk about it, much less engage in massive
charitable efforts. The exceptionally wealthy businessmen of the
capital -- and the country boasts several billionaires -- haven't
made large donations to the cause of Sumatran relief...We have seen
nothing akin to what happened in the USA following the 9/11
atrocity, or the hurricanes in Florida of this past year.
Exactly one year before the
tsunami an earthquake struck Iran and killed 40,000. America responded
as she always does and sent relief. The mullahs who rule the place
complained about US "meddling in Iranian affairs."
Saving Iranian Moslems is
'meddling?' Saving Indonesian Moslems is 'interloping?"
So let me get this clear:
Islam, with no capacity or apparent desire to save its own in peace or war or natural
disaster, complains about those who do.
What the Hell is wrong with
On December 26 a tsunami killed
272,000 people. Most of the dead were
Moslems in Indonesia. The first relief to reach the survivors was the Americans, Australians and Japanese. Bush
sent 20 warships to the stricken, including the aircraft carrier battle
groups Bonhomme Richard and Abe Lincoln. These reached the
area in three days. The quick action of President Bush and his
Asian allies saved perhaps 100,000 Moslem lives by bringing them water,
food, and medical care. This is not the first time, nor likely will it
be the last, that Bush has come to the aid of Moslems.
There is much irony here. In the days after
9/11 we were inundated with scenes of jubilant Islamic mobs across the
globe dancing in the streets at this 'victory' of Islam over the hated
America. (Of course, one we mobilized our military the dancing
stopped.) Bush then invaded and destroyed two Islamic regimes, that of
the Taliban in Afghanistan and that of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Whatever
one's view of these wars there can be no doubt that because of them tens
of millions of Moslems were freed from the yolk of tyranny.
The rule of Saddam and his sons had been one
of unusual brutality even by the standards of your run-of-the-mill
Islamic thugocracy. Only after the American invasion of Iraq has the
full scope of Saddam's Orwellian rule come to light. Over the years
Saddam had murdered, tortured and mutilated upwards of one million of
his countrymen. He extended this violence into the neighboring Moslem
nations of Kuwait and Iran, killing one million more of his Islamic
brethren. It was George Bush who brought an end to this madman's reign.
One can speculate about the number of Moslem lives thus spared from
Saddam's future depredations, but the number would surely be in the
hundreds of thousands.
Bush senior also saved innumerable Islamic
lives, ending Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and bringing aid to Somalia.
(American actions in Bosnia and Albania during the Clinton presidency
saved hundreds of thousands more.) One can effectively argue that the
Bush family has been the greatest benefactor to the Islamic world since
Mohammed chatted with Gabriel. One can also argue that the greatest evil
ever to befall the Moslem world has been---other Moslems. Islamic
history is one incarnadined with internecine violence. The years after
World War II have been ones of increasing Moslem-on-Moslem savagery as
the Islamic world continued its dreadful political, social and economic
collapse, a decline that began 300 years ago. I
in May of 2003 on this sad spectacle.
Iraq invades Iran and Kuwait---all three are Islamic states; Algeria murders
200,000 of its own---all Moslems; half of the Sudan---the Moslem
north---literally enslaves the other half---the Christian south; The Moslem
Taliban terrorized an entire Moslem nation---Afghanistan; Moslem al-Qaeda makes
war upon the spiritual center of Islam itself, Saudi Arabia; Islamic Somalia is
at war with itself and with Islamic Eritrea---and both of these Hobbesian
nightmares join with their Moslem brothers in the Sudan to sexually mutilate
their adolescent girls; Moslem Syria sponsors terror brigades in whatever is
left of Moslem and Christian Lebanon; Moslem Turks slaughter Moslem Kurds; Sunni
hates Shiite; Palestinian mothers exult when their sons and daughters march off
to the oblivion of suicide bombing; and on and on and on---always more blood,
always more terror, always more degradation. In almost every part of our globe
wherever there is violence you can bet that one or both of the parties is a
Moslem group or nation.
Whatever the glories of
the Islamic past the Islamic present is filled with instability, poverty
and violence. Islam has no cure for its own turmoil but in fact seeks to
export it. Osama bin-Laden is only the most recent of self-styled prophets
trying to force the dubious benefits of Islamic rule on one and all.
It surely must gall the Moslem
world to know that its greatest enemy is Islam and its greatest
benefactor is the United States, an avowedly Christian nation. President
this as clearly as he needed to:
I fully understand that
the job of the president is and must always be protecting the
great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit.
That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban...On the other
hand, I don't see how you can be president without a
relationship with the Lord.
Irony of ironies: The violence
of Moslem upon Moslem brought to an end by an Evangelical Christian who
believes that he could not be president "without a relationship with the
Lord," a Lord whose followers are routinely slaughtered by Moslems
wherever they can get at them. What would Mohammed think!
Not that I care much. Just
Indonesian child rescued by American
January 10, 2005
Less is More
Since the invasion of Iraq there has been much wailing
and gnashing of teeth concerning how many American troops are needed
there. Conventional Wisdom---as least the version of it fancied by our
mainstream media---says that there are simply not enough boots on the
ground to guarantee victory. To bolster their case the media trot out a
select group of retired generals who chant in Gadarene unison, "We need
more troops!" And then there are the usual suspects in
congress---regrettably, not all Democrats---who parrot the same line.
(Odd that these same creatures who now complain about some
imagined shortage of troops fell all over themselves during the Clinton
regime in their zeal to eviscerate the Pentagon budget.) And lest I
forget, there is our hallowed Academia, few of whom ever donned a
military uniform except at anti-war rallies, and then only to besmirch
it. Most of these worthies know little of war and less of Iraqi history.
And most of course oppose the war outright. Troop levels in Iraq are
irrelevant to them---they would like the number of American troops there
to be zero. Much of the rest of those esteemed professors bleat the standard line, "We
need more troops!"
Well, do we need more troops in Iraq? And if so, would
that bring us victory?
No. And no. History offers numerous examples both
of small armies defeating much larger foes and of large numbers being no
guarantee of success.
Iraq measures 167,618 square miles, give or take the odd
sand dune. Right now there are 150,000 US soldiers there. (Yes, I know
that marines and soldiers and airmen are not the same, but stop
quibbling.) At its greatest extent (117 AD) the Roman Empire boasted
2,200,000 square miles. The number of legionnaires then was fewer than
200,000 yet these policed an area more than fifteen times as great as
modern Iraq. Rome had only 8 of her legions---50,000
troops---stationed in what is now Egypt, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Turkey,
Lebanon, and Iraq, which was then perhaps one-third of the
Empire. Where legionnaires marched 2000 years ago Americans are marching
today. Then as now the place was unstable, violent---sicarii
('knife wielders') would make suicide attacks upon Roman soldiers and
the local citizenry---and filled with religious dissension. None the less, Rome ruled
the region for 700 years---controlling a far greater area and with far
fewer soldiers than the United States has in Iraq. According to the
logic used by the "we
need more troops" crowd this would have been well nigh impossible. Yet it
There are many such cases. Alexander the Great (356-323
BC) invaded the vast Persian Empire---marching through the same real
estate where we fight today---with an army of only 35,000, yet in the
set-piece battles of Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela he destroyed armies
five times the size of his own. Hannibal (247-181 BC) took his soldiers,
seldom numbering more than 40,000, from Spain to Italy and killed
hundreds of thousands of Roman legionnaires---60,000 in only a four hour
period (216)---and he remained in the Roman heartland for 14 years.
Hannibal scarcely lost a battle though he was usually surrounded by
thousands of the enemy. Caesar himself (100-44 BC) led 40,000 Romans
in into Gaul and conquered it in seven years (58-51)---though the Gauls
numbered 5,000,000. (OK, they were only French, but you see my point.)
Even the Swedes demonstrate the point that numbers do not
promise victory. Though immoral and pacifist weaklings today, they once
controlled an empire comprising parts of modern Russia, Norway, Finland
and northern Europe. Under their king Charles XII the Swedes with an
army of 7000 defeated 45,000 Russian troops under Peter the Great
(1700), even though Charles marched his men uphill in a blinding
snowstorm to fortified Russian positions. The Inca were superb
soldiers and empire builders, and their ruling class was one of capacity, renown and intelligence. Yet, they succumbed to the
conquistadors even though they outnumbered the Spanish tens of thousands
to one. And recall that Britain for
200 years ruled India's hundreds of millions with a relative handful of
I need to add---painfully though it be---that if vast
hordes of soldiers bring victory, how then de we lose in tiny (128,379
square miles) Vietnam? At one point in that war America had almost
600,000 soldiers there.
The "we need more troops" types never quite say what we
would do with them. They remind me of one of Napoleon's advisors who
counseled the great Corsican to arrange all of his many thousands of artillery pieces equidistant apart on the frontier
with Prussia. Napoleon quipped, "And what would be the
point of that? To stop smuggling?" Greater numbers of soldiers in Iraq
might stop smuggling, but that is a job for a customs house, not an
There are sound strategic reasons for keeping the numbers of US
soldiers in Iraq at around 150,000. More soldiers make more targets for
suicide killers. More soldiers multiply logistical problems. More
soldiers make more reminders to Iraqis that theirs is an occupied
country, however beneficial and temporary that occupation be. (And if I
walked outside my apartment and saw any foreign troops, I would reach for
What the US military is doing in Iraq is exactly what
needs to be done: hunting down and killing terrorists, destroying their
cells and gathering intelligence. But perhaps the most critical element
in the entire American occupation is the training and equipping of a new
Iraqi army and police force. And this is happening with speed and
success right under the noses of the mainstream media.
I should add that our military is superbly placed and
practiced for the upcoming wars against Syria and Iran. (You knew these
were coming, didn't you?) And 150,000 experienced and battle-tested
troops are more than enough to send these regimes into the dustbin of
January 6, 2005
Oklahoma has been hit with
a perfect storm, a
rare convergence of three weather
systems at once.
Moisture-laden storms from the north, west and
south are likely to converge on much of America over the next several days in
what could be a once-in-a-generation onslaught, meteorologists
It began early yesterday. I awakened at 3 AM to a
bone-cold morning and freezing rain. I walked out my door at 7:15 and
discovered my beautiful Jeep covered in ice. Odd, I had been at Wal Mart
the day before, and on a whim picked up an ice scraper and a can of
de-icer for car windshields. (I know that God cares for me, but it seems
He also cares for my Jeep.) Driving was hazardous, even in 4-wheel
drive. School remained open, but half the students stayed home. All the
day it rained ice.
School is canceled for today. I sit at home, coffee in
hand and heater on full. Already my mind is busy with things: write,
work on the school's web site, load a bunch of photos on my super fast
64-bit computer, catch up on some e-mails, finish reading a recent
biography of Alexander, complete long-neglected chores. Nature abhors a
vacuum and so do I. No sooner am I surprised with a free day than things
arise to fill it. It is impossible to simply sit and wonder, something
at which I became expert while solo backpacking South and Central
America. Then I need only open the tent door to marvel at God's
carpentry all around me; now, an open door reveals nothing but a cold
darkness, an icy road, a black sky.
So here I sit. It is enough today to have escaped the
frozen dreariness that begins just beyond my door.
January 2, 2005
I ended the year in an unusual way---at least, unusual for me. I was
actually at home and relatively sober when 2004 headed for the history books. For the first time in a
decade I was neither in a tent circling some Andean peak nor exploring the
Central American jungles. I mourned this fact, but there was nothing to be done
about it. I am at a new job with much to do and learn. The first opportunity I
will have to head for South America will be in June. I will have 9 weeks at
most, but that is enough. There are several possibilities for superb
backpacking---solo, of course---in Bolivia, Chile and Peru. But more on these in
And already I plan to spend
next Christmas break in the jungles of
Guatemala. It will be the dry season there, and time enough to explore the
extreme northern areas where few have tread---for good reason. It is wild and
hard to get to. There is only one road---a Jeep track, really---and even that is
only passable between December and May. The few locals who inhabit the place
still use the centuries old Mayan trade routes that wind among the many ruins
there. Dos Lagunas, El Mirador and El Zotz ("the bat") are there, and I have
seen none of them. I will need about two weeks or so to do all of this. (See
for details of my recent expedition to the region.)
I know it is yet one year away, but I began planning for my 'year of living
dangerously' long before I actually began it. And I still must think out exactly
where I will go this June and July. Some ideas are Lauca National Park in
northern Chile, the Cordillera Blanca in Peru, and a return to
using a different route. Why a return? This 12-day
adventure was the toughest of my career. When I walked out of the Andes after it
was done I was in the finest shape of my life and I thought myself invincible.
To accomplish it again would be a good way to see exactly where I stand
physically, mentally and spiritually---a perfect report card.
Ah...but first I must lose 20 pounds. Sounds like a fine New Year's Resolution
to me. I made others as well, but most of those only God can know---He, and the
priest who took my Confession January 1. It was a fine way to usher in 2005.
And today Mass was superb. School begins tomorrow, and I will stand before my
students without mortal sin. Bliss!