January 31, 2006

The War Against Cartoons

The Islamic world is all in a froth---OK, it is always in a froth---about those Danish cartoons. Here is one of them:

The rest can be seen at Michelle Malkin's place.

What would you think if Christianity acted as Islam acts? If Christians made war upon cartoons? If Christians made war upon Buddhist statues? If Christians chopped off heads on camera? If Christians sent legions of suicide killers into schoolhouses? If Christians murdered their daughters for violations of 'honor?' If Christians boasted about blasting civilian airliners from the sky? If Christians were involved in almost every war on the planet? If Christians at the Vatican regularly stampeded and trampled to death hundreds of their own? If Christian youth made a sport of raping non-Christian girls? If Christians hunted down and killed all who tried to leave the faith? If Christians sent out hit squads to murder all who insulted the faith? If Christians around the globe jumped with glee after the towers fell? If Protestant and Catholic Christians engaged themselves in mutual slaughter? If Christians sexually mutilated their adolescent girls?

You know the answer. Civilized peoples of all kinds would jump out of their skins to call such a faith infinitely degraded. There would be outcries of Écrasez l'Infâme throughout the land. Yet when Islam does these things the world oozes understanding. Moslems appear on Oprah to explain it all away to the cooing crowd, writers censor themselves so as not to be seen as intolerant and politicians do back flips to appease. Why?

Here is a short list of types of people killed and types of things broken by Islam since 2001:

Jews and Christians and Hindus and Buddhists and agnostics and surfers and disco habitués and businessman and children and guards and pizza lovers and airline passengers and diplomats and diplomats' wives and diplomats' children and teachers and writers and missionaries and stewardesses and professors and journalists and free thinkers. Islam builds nothing yet blows to smithereens busses and schools and synagogues and churches and skyscrapers and houses and buildings and embassies and cemeteries and cars and ships and planes.

Where is life in all of this appalling destruction? or Love? or Mercy? or Hope? Look at the Moslem world and what do you see? Where would you fit in?

In the world of Islam it is dog-eat-dog, a world gone nuts and mad and spooky with crazed theology and murderous intent: 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.

If such grotesqueries represented only a tiny fraction of Islam, where is the Moslem outcry against all of these grim atrocities, most of which are committed by Moslem upon Moslem? Where is the honor in all this? Where is the decency? Where is any creative power in all of this?

And if all of this were not enough, you might enjoy this candidate for Moslem mother of the year.

Mariam Farahat, who was elected to the Palestinian parliament, can work a crowd like a veteran politician -- shaking hands and greeting supporters. When she gets on the stage at a Hamas rally, she is the star attraction. She was one of Hamas' most popular candidates in Wednesday's election.

In Gaza, Farahat is known as Um Nidal, or Mother of the Struggle -- a mother who sent three of her six sons on Hamas suicide missions against Israeli targets.

She is most famous for her presence in a Hamas video, showing her 17-year-old how to attack Israelis and telling him not to return. Shortly afterward, he killed five students in a Jewish settlement before he was killed himself.

What the Hell is wrong with these people?

For some perspective, here is the type of cartoons that regularly appear in the Islamic press every day around the world.

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January 30, 2006

Not Quite Soldiers of God

The Jesuits are at it again. Once known for their Catholic fervor they have for half a century slowly morphed into a trendy and hip ecumenical professoriate. Their teachings and practices far more often than not confound Catholic teaching rather than affirm it.

Their house propaganda organ America very clearly shows how far the Jesuits have abandoned Catholic teaching and morals. Unless a reader knew it was produced by the Jesuits he would have little idea it came from a group of guys once known as front line warriors of the papacy. A recent editorial could have been written by fans of Brokeback Mountain. It concerns---what else---homosexuals and the priesthood. The position of the Jesuits is striking, and simply drools condescension and arrogance.

There has been a notably wide variety of interpretations from Catholic leaders of the Vatican instruction, published on Nov. 29, concerning the admission of gay men to orders.

The teachings of Christ also suffered a 'wide variety of interpretations'---you know, from the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees and other such white-washed tombs.

It is difficult, therefore, to determine exactly what effect it will have on future applicants to seminaries and religious orders.

No it is not. It will result in far fewer sodomites in the priesthood. Here is the key point made by the Jesuit author, and it admits to open rebellion against Catholic teachings:

Like any Vatican document, this latest directive, in keeping with the Code of Canon Law (Canon 17) will have to be interpreted and applied, in this case by bishops, seminary rectors, vocation directors and superiors of religious orders.

So all Vatican documents are simply loose guidelines and vague suggestions that do not demand obedience?

There is a valid concern that the priesthood should not become exclusively or even predominantly the domain of gay men. In the same way that one would not want to see all or most priests coming from a particular ethnic group, or from a particular region of a country, one hopes that the priesthood reflects the great diversity of Catholics.

To the Jesuits it is a 'valid concern' that most priests should not be sodomites in the same way that most priests should not be of one ethnic group. So homosexuality is to be equated with race, something you were born with and cannot change. Here the Jesuits have effectively removed the sin from sodomy. And as always here is that all encompassing goo-goo word, 'diversity.' The Jesuit author performs a logical sleight-of-hand, for there is no 'great diversity of Catholics.' They are all to strictly conform to Catholic teaching no matter their nation or skin color. If not, they have ceased to be Catholic in any meaningful sense. But then, so have the Jesuits.

It would be tragic, however, if this attempt by the Vatican to confront the sexual abuse crisis were the occasion for division within the church or prompted any increase in prejudice against gays and lesbians.

The division in the Church started with Judas and is not new. Jesus said that there would be sheep with the goats until the end of time. These Jesuits are the goats.

Anything that seeks to remove gay men and women from the place that is theirs within the body of Christ by virtue of their baptism or to deny their contributions to the church should, of course, be rejected. So should anything that conflates homosexuality with pedophilia or ephebophilia. The connection between them is unsupported by any credible empirical evidence, and the scapegoating and vilification of gay priests is against Christian charity.

No Catholic has the right to be a priest, and Baptism does not grant this. Allowing homosexuals into the priesthood is expose these poor men to temptations of a horrible sort. It is a great cruelty to them and to their flock, and would be anything but an example of Christian charity. Would you allow heterosexual priests to live among nuns? What would be the point except to see these men fall into sin? And the claim that there is no connection between homosexuality, pedophilia and ephebophilia is a great lie from the Father of Lies. I would ask this morally confused Jesuit: Just who then is molesting boys and young men?  And sometimes doing so right in the Church?

Some have predicted that the instruction will discourage gay men from applying to seminaries and religious orders in the future, and will lead to the ejection of celibate gay men from seminaries and religious formation programs.

I most certainly hope so.

Father Richard John Neuhaus tosses his hat into the ring.

So the response of the official magazine of the Society of Jesus in the U.S. would seem to be that homosexuality is no more morally problematic than one’s ethnic identity or geographical origins, and that there should be room in the priesthood also for men who are not gay. Rome says gay men should not be admitted to the priesthood. The Society of Jesus, insofar as it is represented by America, responds that men who are not gay should not be excluded from the priesthood. There would appear to be a problem here.

Yes there would be. The problem is one of rebellion against Catholic Doctrine and Morals set down in the teachings of Christ and Catholic Tradition. Either the Jesuits are right or Christ is. Homosexuals are to be loved and prayed for--- and kept far away from children.

Just to clear things up, here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church actually says about homosexuality:

Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.---2357.

So the Jesuits have no problem with allowing into the Catholic priesthood men who are gravely depraved, intrinsically disordered and act contrary to natural law. And these men claim to be spokesmen for Christ? They actually represent the other fellow.

No one is forced to be Catholic. It is a demanding faith and a confrontational one, for it sets its face against the world and does not accommodate it. If the Jesuits do not have the moral courage to abide her doctrines then they should get the Hell out.

(Hat tip: Amy Welborn)

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January 29, 2006

The Deadly Daintiness of Radical Islam

Say what you want about those fundamentalist Christians, they sure seem a rather calm lot. Insult them, take away the prayers of their God from schools, make fun of them in the media, use all sorts of legal wiles to keep them far away from abortion mills, remove their Ten Commandments from public spaces, make movies where Jesus marries, write plays where He practices sodomy, write books that call the whole edifice of Christianity a sham, and what happens? Not much. They keep going to their churches to pray for their enemies---and they seem to have lots these days. Yet they always turn the other cheek. You can create a piece of 'art' called Piss Christ or one with dung spread all over an image of the Virgin and all you will get for your time will be a few complaints and more of those prayers for your soul. That's it.

Ah, but try something like this with Islam! I dare say that its response will be---how does one say this?---a bit more memorable. Recall the hapless lefty Salman Rushdie. He published an obvious slander of Islam in his Satanic Verses. Hey guys, it was funny! But Moslems were not amused. The Islamic world, especially the mullahs in Iran, went stark raving ballistic. A fatwa was issued by the Iranians that called for Rushdie's death by whatever means available.

On February 14, 1989, a fatwa promising his execution was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran, calling his book "blasphemous against Islam"...Khomeini called on all "zealous Muslims" to execute the writer, as well as those of the publishers of the book who knew about the concepts of the book.

Those mullahs seem a bit touchy. Over a book. They never got Rushdie---not yet anyway---but they did get Theo van Gogh, who had the impertinence to make a film about Islamic culture. He was shot dead by a half-Moroccan on the streets of Amsterdam. No more film making for unlucky Theo!

You see the point. No matter what the modern world throws at Christians they just go about their lives. But offer the mildest reprimand or the slightest insult to Islam, and it breaks out in mayhem and murder.

Now it is making war over...cartoons. A Danish author is writing a book about Mohammed. He had a hard time finding an illustrator as few wanted the possible fatal attention such drawings might get from Islam. A Danish newspaper

approached forty artists asking for depictions of Muhammad and received in response twelve cartoons of the Prophet — several playing on the violence committed by Muslims in the name of Islam around the world today.

Danish Imam Raed Hlayhel was the first to react. “This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims,” he fumed. “Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world. We demand an apology!”

These drawings have generated all sorts of responses from the entire Moslem world.

The Egyptian ambassador in Denmark has said that the case no longer rests with the embassy. It is now being treated at an international level. As far as I have been informed by my government, the cartoon case has already been placed on the agenda for the Islamic Conference Organization’s extraordinary summit in the beginning of December

The Pakistani response has been somewhat more vigorous:

The Pakistani Jamaaat-e-Islami party offered five thousand kroner to anyone who killed one of the cartoonists.

And one Islamic leader said

that the cartoons had “trespassed all limits of objective criticism into insults and contempt of the religious beliefs of more than one billion Muslims around the world, including thousands in Denmark. Al-Azhar intends to protest these anti-Prophet cartoons with the UN’s concerned committees and human rights groups around the world.”

Rather than get bent out of shape over cartoons I would advise Moslems to use their energy to do something really radical. Like supplying clean water to their cities. Like stopping the honor killing of their women. Like figuring out why their nations are convulsed in poverty, violence and goof-ball Jew hatred. Like figuring out why tiny Denmark (population 5,432,335)  has a per-capita GDP of $33,500---ten times that of the Indonesia, the largest Islamic nation.

So naturally there is a cry from Islamic lands for a boycott of Danish goods. I would say that the non-cartoon-hating world should simply increase its purchase of all things Danish. Lost Budgie has a list of them.

Will these folks be the next victims of Islamic irrationality?

(More silliness here. And some background here. And here.)

(Update: While writing about Islam's war on cartoons I recalled this I had written in 2003:

Hmm...when a Catholic gets angry he goes to Confession. When a Protestant gets angry he gets on his knees to God. When a Buddhist gets angry he spins a prayer wheel. When a Hindu gets angry he sighs that he has not yet achieved a higher existence. When a Confucian gets angry he mourns the loss of modesty. When an agnostic gets angry he mumbles to himself over a scotch and soda.

But when a Moslem gets angry he has the right to go on a killing spree.

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Horror of horrors. I just read these headlines:

Kennedy to Publish Children's Book

So old, fat, corrupt and degenerate Ted Kennedy is going to use the skills he has garnered from his entertaining life and put them to use for the edification of our kids.

I am very excited about the opportunity to create a book for young readers and their families that will deepen their understanding of how our American government works.

Well, in the spirit of letting bygones be bygones, I would like to volunteer my services to the senator. I can actually help him put words to paper. So let's get started. But how to begin? Hmm...let's see:

See Ted. See Ted run. See Ted run his Oldsmobile into the water...

Woh! Where did that come from? This will not do. Let us try again.

See Ted. See Ted run. See Ted run from the police after running his Oldsmobile...

Damn. It happened again. OK, let's try a different tack.

See Ted. See Ted run. Run Ted run!

Whew! So far so good. So...where were we? Oh yes...

See Ted. See Ted run. Run Ted run! Run after Mary Jo at that party on Martha's Vineyard...

Hmm...some sort of problem here. But I do not give up so easily.

See Ted. See Ted run. See Ted run into the welcoming arms of his best pals Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels...

Stop it! Whoever is doing this, stop it now! I am trying to help a US senator! Do you mind? I will begin again.

See Ted. See Ted run. See Ted run for president. See Ted lose.

Well, that is not too bad I guess. So...

See Ted. See Ted eat. Eat Ted eat! Eat until you are the fattest man in the senate, until your very appearance is a grotesque monstrosity, until you can no longer see your feet, until you have to grope and search when you stand in front of a urinal, until you have surrounded your soul with so much fat that you fancy yourself protected from the avenging furies that seek to devour you...

OK. I give up. I'm beaten. But wait! I can at least help Ted write the dedication to his book. So:

Dedicated to Mary Jo Kopechne. You will never be forgotten. I hope one day to see you again, my darling.

You will, Ted. You will.

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January 27, 2006

Just to Clarify Things

Today I am a happy lad. For Hamas has won the Palestinian 'elections.' The boys of Hamas were pitted against the wholly corrupt and incompetent Fatah. Now there can be no hiding, no wiggling about, no shilly-shallying about the intentions of the Palestinian state. Whereas before the Palestinians would say one thing to the Western media and another to Arabs, Hamas does not have this problem. It is absolutely and perfectly clear about what it wants.

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.

Got it. Israel must go. War is the answer. International conferences---like the Oslo Accords---are a sham. OK, but what of this hatred of the Jews?

The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion. It does not refrain from resorting to all methods, using all evil and contemptible ways to achieve its end. It relies greatly in its infiltration and espionage operations on the secret organizations it gave rise to, such as the Freemasons, The Rotary and Lions clubs, and other sabotage groups. All these organizations, whether secret or open, work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions. They aim at undermining societies, destroying values, corrupting consciences, deteriorating character and annihilating Islam. It is behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds so as to facilitate its control and expansion.

Wow! I had no idea that those clever Zionists had infiltrated our Oklahoma City Rotary Club. Good to know.

World Zionism, together with imperialistic powers, try through a studied plan and an intelligent strategy to remove one Arab state after another from the circle of struggle against Zionism, in order to have it finally face the Palestinian people only.

Well, now I understand the Iraq War: It was waged really to remove one Arab state after another so that the US military could at last use its weapons upon the people of Palestine. Glad that is cleared up.

So there it is, folks, pure, unadulterated Hamas.

Its goal is clear, its aim is direct and its audience now has no excuses for ignorance. And as if to pound this lesson in, I read that it has promised to open an Iranian embassy in Ramallah. From DEBKA we see that

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal promised Tehran an Iranian embassy in Ramallah very shortly after its victory – five days before the Palestinian election.

Even considering that this comes from DEBKA this move makes inherently good strategic sense. Since all is open now, why not just be frank about things and allow the terror regime in Tehran a redoubt a few feet from Israel herself?

The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.

Crystal clear yet again.

For a good time type into yahoo search the words Hamas + Terror. You can choose among 192, 363 entries and then read to your heart's content. Then type in Hamas + Terror + Syria----110, 207 entries. Then type in Hamas + Terror + Syria + Iran---88,665 entries. At long last type in Hamas + Terror + Syria + Iran + Hezbollah---a mere 52,440 entires. Of course there is much overlap among these articles, but you get the point.

Iran has clarified things as well as the killers of Hamas have clarified things. We have been given the truth, and it has set Americans free.

According to a Fox News poll published Thursday, 59 percent of Americans believe the United States should take all measures necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms. The poll also revealed 51 percent of Americans support an air strike in Iran, while 46 percent back aerial, as well as ground operations.

Push has now become shove. So cry havoc, and the sooner the better.

(Hat tip: Lost Budgie)

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January 26, 2006

Heath Ledger Knows Best

I am always amused by the antics of our entertainers, especially the Hollywood variety. They are completely reliable---not to their spouses of course, but in their ability to play the public ape. It is well and good that they have neither shame nor conscience nor discernment, for otherwise we would not be treated to such deep thoughts as the following from pretty boy and Wyoming wrestler Heath Ledger.

Personally, I don’t think the movie is [controversial] but I think maybe the Mormons in Utah do. I think it’s hilarious and very immature of a society,” Ledger said in The Herald Sun. “I heard a while ago that West Virginia was going to ban it but that’s a state that was lynching people only 25 years ago so that’s to be expected.”

He speaks of course of his pro-sodomy flick, Brokeback Mountain. Poster boy Heath is deeply disturbed that there are still---still!---some people in this day and age who would rather not see a movie where two men engage in doing the sort of thing that a generation ago few thought of doing and fewer still thought of watching.

Yet, being the excellent moral philosopher that he is, he boldly speaks out against the Greatest Crime of Our Age, intolerance. The poor Mormons come in for a severe chastisement, holed up as they are in that redoubt of morality, Utah. (I am cut to the quick that Ledger did not include my home state of Oklahoma along with Utah, alas.) These pitiful souls, laboring under an ancient and decayed belief, refuse to raise themselves to the level of the breathtakingly tolerant and hip Heath Ledger. Damn them!

You see, poor old Mormonism---and Christianity and Judaism and Islam---all refer to a bunch of old books as guides to Life, the Universe and Everything. These writings are quite specific on those activities that Ledger the Wise has done in public, boosts in public, and insists that one and all praise in public.

From an old Jewish guy:

 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

From an old Jewish guy who became a new Christian guy:

...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

From a Moslem guy---and hold onto your hats, because it sure ain't pretty:

This sin, 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.

So that which Heath the Magnificent calls uncontroversial and very mature is called by that God fellow "an abomination...dishonorable...unnatural...shameless." In fact, old Yahweh really gave it to Sodom and Gomorrah for engaging in an early example of Brokeback Mountain. (Hey Heath, all those guys in those cities were sheep ranchers too!) Those places were burnt to a crisp

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 16:50 says that Sodom committed "abominable things."---Word Search Bible

So now what do we do? Should we defer to some old texts from those religious types, or should we fall in line with Heath Ledger and all those Hollywood types? Decisions, decisions.

Good old pretend sheep rancher Heath should hope beyond hope that God is dead, that all that monotheistic morality is false, that it is sweet and honorable to do unto men that which is done between married folk---a man and a woman that is, just to clarify things.

And another thing. Is it just me, or is there something more than strange that it is fine with Ledger that for all his life natural and not he will be faced with what he did on screen in Brokeback Mountain? That forever and ever his wife will go to bed knowing that her husband promoted anal sex for money? That his children and grandchildren will always live in the shadow of that mountain in Wyoming?

So Heath, one day you will have the great honor to pull your granddaughter upon your lap and tell her again what you did as a bright and shining Hollywood star.

(Hat tip: Megan Basham)

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January 25, 2006

Axis of Imbeciles

As if America did not have her hands full in Iraq and with trying to find a way of denying nuclear weapons to the grotesque Iranian mullahs, now she must deal with a host of her enemies forging alliances and ganging up on her. All sorts of ominous winds appear to be blowing from Asia, from the Middle East and from South America as the Iranian president woos unsavory Syrians, Venezuelan blow-hards, a weird-haired midget monster from North Korea and the grubby killers of Hamas and Hezbollah. All of the sudden we are told that we should be afraid---very afraid.

No we should not. The countries aligned against us at the behest of the Iranian nut-jobs are broke and incompetent. They are more of a threat to themselves than to us. I should add that anti-American alliances have always failed. Always.

Our first wars were against France and her Indian allies in North America. There were four of these French and Indian Wars and they represented the first anti-American alliances. We defeated them all: France was almost eliminated from North America and her Native American allies were pushed into the Ohio River Valley. The next war we were matched against another anti-American alliance, the British and most of the Indians. We won again. The superpower of the day was beaten handily.

The results of the first set of anti-American alliances were victories over France and Britain---the strongest nations in the world---political independence for our new nation and the first stirrings of an American power that would eventually dominate in one form or another the entire world. Not bad for the first set of anti-American axes. These really set the tone for future struggles against a host of foes: a group of nations would unite against us, we would defeat them, and the result would be a vast increase in our power and influence.

France was at it again while under the spell of Napoleon. He was recognized as the greatest captain of his age and the 'disturber of the world.' The Corsican planned an invasion of our nation, first by cementing his strategic base on the island of Santo Domingo---the present day Haiti and Dominican Republic---and then using it to ship thousands of tomahawks and muskets to Indians who would bring fire and massacre to American settlers. His goal was New Orleans and then all of Louisiana. Napoleon's aim was

to raise Louisiana to a degree of strength which will allow him in time of war to abandon it to its own resources without anxiety; so that enemies [Americans] may be forced to the greatest sacrifices merely in attempting to attack it.---Our Oldest Enemy, 104.

He also enlisted Spain in his cause. So what we had against us was a brilliant conqueror using all the resources the French overseas empire, the North American empire of Spain and thousands of France's Indian allies. When it was all over Americans owned all of Louisiana and Napoleon had abandoned his dreams of American conquest---"Damn sugar! Damn coffee! Damn colonies!" So the third anti-American coalition ended as had the first two: the defeat of our enemies and a tremendous increase in our national power. But Britain was not yet done, and formed yet another alliance with Indians in an attempt to defeat America in The War of 1812. This war was really an sideshow of the Napoleonic Wars, and really ended not with the Treaty of Ghent but with one of the greatest strategic victories of American arms, The Battle of New Orleans. It was this vastly under-appreciated defeat of Britain's finest soldiers that cemented our independence from Europe, ended forever British wars on our soil and opened the entire West to American expansion.

The next anti-American fantasy was the clumsy attempt by Napoleon III to get Mexico into an alliance against us during our Civil War. He sent the hapless, brave and silly Maximillian there to rule as the Emperor of Mexico (1864-1867). Napoleon harbored all sorts of anti-American schemes, including uniting France with the Confederacy and so splitting our Republic into separate parts. His rococo foreign policy was defeated by the Union victory and by the Mexicans themselves. Napoleon III became a perfect example of what happens to anti-American foreign leaders: Maximillian was shot, French dreams of influence in North America were over, and Napoleon himself was captured by the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).

The dream of anti-American types to get Latin America united against us was continued by Germany in 1917---the famous Zimmerman Telegram. The note promised Mexico all the lands lost in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) if she would unite with Germany, and also suggested that Mexico try to convince Japan to join Germany's anti-American alliance. The result was America's entry into World War I and the defeat of Imperial Germany. The next anti-American alliance formed after Pearl Harbor. After we declared war upon Japan Germany declared war upon us, dragging the hapless Italy along. (Mussolini was really a proto-Chavez.) So there we were: the greatest powers in Europe and Asia united against America, an America with a small fleet and an army the size of Romania's. The results of this sixth anti-American coalition were the destruction of the Nazi, fascist and Japanese regimes, an American influence that now stretched across the world and American armies permanently in place in Europe and Asia. 

The Soviets put together another group of nations dedicated to the defeat of the United States, the Warsaw Pact. It ended the usual way: the Soviets disappeared from history and many of her former allies are now American allies.

The latest Iraq war saw a great coalition united against America. Russia, China, Germany, France, Canada, the UN, much of South America and about the entire Islamic world worked to prevent our invasion of Iraq and later to insure our defeat there. All was for naught. We invaded, we conquered, and now we have a superbly trained military on the border with Iran and Syria.

Which is a good thing. For now we hear that Iran and Syria have formed an axis against the US. From the Turkish media come these headlines:

Iran, Syria leaders close ranks

Under-fire allies Damascus and Tehran, faced with growing isolation, closed ranks in talks between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Iran has the right to build up nuclear technology for peaceful purposes," Assad said at a joint press conference after their meeting.

"We expressed our support for Iran in its pursuit of peaceful nuclear technology and we back the idea of a dialogue with international parties," said the Syrian leader.

"We also reject the pressure being exerted on this country" over its nuclear program.

Should we be be now doubly worried that these two nations have bonded against us? Actually, no. Syria has been an American enemy since the rise of Hafez Assad. His career of murder and terror neatly paralleled that of Saddam Hussein. Under his rule---now weakly and incompetently continued under his son, Bashir---Syria became little more than a gangster state, a Capone-ruled Cicero, Illinois writ large.

The Syrian-Iranian terror alliance goes back a long time, at least to the mid-1980s, when Hezbollah was created to wage terror war against American and French forces in Lebanon. There was a neat division of labor: Syria controlled the territory, and Iran ran the organization. Hezbollah's murderous successes are legendary, from the suicide bombings against the French and American Marine barracks to a similar operation against the American embassy, all in Beirut, to massive bombings of Jewish targets in Argentina. That alliance remains intact, and provides the base of the terror war in Iraq today.

Always keep in mind that both of these nations have done and are doing all they can do defeat the US. Their alliance is not new and cannot suddenly---and magically---increase their power. This anti-American coalition is nothing more than an open declaration of weakness, an expression of fear, not of strength, and a public admission that when one of them falls, they will both go down together.

South America well illustrates the absurdity of anti-American alliances. Chavez is a whirling little dynamo of anti-US activity: mouth always open, vulgar insults spread all around, cuddling up to Castro---even putting the old killer's face on Venezuelan currency---tossing out threats thither and yon, sending his Bolivarian goons into the streets of Caracas to bully his opposition, hanging out with Ahmadinejad and expressing that ultimate word in socialist goo-goo, 'solidarity.' And somehow all of this makes Chavez a threat to us? How? Commentators who write that we should be concerned about all of this have really just bought into Chavez' own delusions of grandeur.

It is true that he has attempted to forge a grand anti-American axis in South America made up of Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. It really is to laugh. Having lived among and studied South Americans for 12 years I can say with accuracy that they have no competence at military and political affairs. Pick up any encyclopedia or history book and read to your heart's content. The history of the South American states---Venezuela especially---is one of mind-boggling corruption, grotesque economic mismanagement, opera-bouffe military prancing and the most odd-ball leaders this side of Africa. South Americans can scarcely unite on the simplest of economic issues---look at Mercosur---and to somehow believe that they will come together in a grand coalition to defeat American foreign policy aims is beyond ridiculous.

Just consider one of Chavez' potential anti-American allies about whom much has been written. We should worry about Venezuela fortifying itself through some alliance with----of all countries---Bolivia. Bolivia? Yes, that landlocked state where life expectancy is 60 and whose GDP per capita is $3100, a place where strikes occur as regularly as they do in France, a nation that has lost every war, a state whose number one export is cocaine and where one-third of the populace is infected with Chagas Disease. Bolivia inspires pity, not fear. As does Venezuela.

There is no possible coalition of nations that can come together and defeat us. If our history shows anything it shows this.

Bu we can be defeated, though not by any conspiracy hatched by foreigners. America will fall---if she falls---through that tried and true formula of moral collapse. That, and not any imagined terrors beyond our shores, will send us the way of the Roman Republic.

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January 24, 2006

Reality Bites

File Under Way Too Many Movies:

Remember that scene in the silly Arnold movie Commando where he is forced onto an airplane but then kills one of his captors? He then makes his way out of the plane by jumping out of it as it is almost airborne. Impossible of course. Really?

Man jumps out of plane onto tarmac at Fort Lauderdale Airport

A passenger on a commercial flight jumped out of the airplane as it prepared to take off Monday from Fort Lauderdale, authorities said.

Now what will this idiot try to do, run for governor of California?

File Under Way Too Many Movies:

Remember that scene in the Tom Cruise film Collateral where Cruise says to Jamie Fox that some guy had died on the A train but nobody knew it? His dead body was transported around the city for hours. Well...

Dead man rides subway for hours

It took more than six hours for anyone to realize that a 64-year-old Brooklyn man had died on a New York City subway train.

I know that there is some lesson here---about Man's Inhumanity to Man, about the heartlessness of urban life, about the coldness of city folks---but damn if I can figure it out. But somehow I don't think we will ever read in the papers, Dead Man Rides Tractor For Hours.

File Under Fix Or Repair Daily:

When I was a teenage punk I had a Chevy Impala with a 327, Hurst linkage and a Holley 4-barrell carb. It also boasted dual glass packs, which made it loud and a terror to my neighbors. My fellow punks and I would always make fun of Ford cars, saying Ford was really an acronym for Found On Road Dead, or something like that. Well...

Ford Motor Co. on Monday said it would slash up to 30,000 jobs and shed more than a quarter of its production capacity as it moves to cut costs and stem market share losses, building on a surprising 19 percent gain in fourth-quarter earnings.

Ford, which has faced a deepening financial crisis and struggled with a junk bond rating on its debt, said it would shut 14 manufacturing sites, including seven assembly plants, and cut between 25,000 to 30,000 jobs from plant payrolls by 2012.

Alas, now they are coming after my old Chevy!

The announcement follows a similar announcement from Ford's larger rival, General Motors Corp., which said in November it would cut 30,000 manufacturing jobs and close a dozen plants. Both automakers are struggling with high pension and health care costs and increased Japanese competition.

What's good for General Motors may not be good for the USA. We're turning Japanese, Japanese, Japanese...again.

File Under We're Coming to Take You Away, Hah Hah, Ho Ho, Hee Hee:

Please. Let us all stop asking, "Are we going to war with Iran?" We have been at war with the mullahs since 1979, or rather they have been at war with us. Seizing embassies, taking hostages, blasting airliners out of the sky, blowing up barracks, shooting at our ships---all these are acts of war. We simply have not done anything about it. Until now. They have wanted war, and now they will get it. Playtime's over boys.

US President George W. Bush will not accept a nuclear Iran, John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday.

No! Who would have guessed this?

File Under Texas Cowboys Are So Stupid:

Stop the presses! President Bush has just made it official: He will not see Brokeback Mountain.

At a session here Monday at Kansas State University, after talking about terrorism and wiretapping and Iraq, Iran and China, Mr. Bush called on a questioner who said: "You're a rancher. A lot of us here in Kansas are ranchers. I was just wanting to get your opinion on 'Brokeback Mountain,' if you've seen it yet."

The movie, of course, is the adaptation of a story about two male ranch hands who fall in love with each other in the 1960's. After some nervous laughter settled down, the questioner added: "You would love it. You should check it out."

Mr. Bush paused. "I haven't seen it," he said. "I'd be glad to talk about ranching, but I haven't seen the movie."

There was more nervous laughter as the president added: "I've heard about it."

Alas, who has not?

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January 23, 2006

Don't Worry. Be Happy.

As the day of Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons slouches closer and closer, there is a great to-do in the blogosphere, among pundits, with the striped pants set in the State Department and with professional military guys. Some of the arguments state how Iran's nuclear facilities can be taken out---and rest assured, they can be, if one is willing to deal with the cost. Some state that Iran is too far along in development and may even have one or two weapons. Some say that Iran has ways of striking back at the US and so rendering any pre-emption impossible.

The boys at Winds of Change have a sobering analysis of the coming war in Iran. It is a bit scary but sums up many possibilities and directions the Iranian crisis could take. It is a necessary read. And top off these essays with a visit to The Officer's Club.

Over at Regime Change Iran there is a nice variety of quotes, some of which are unduly pessimistic. Rational people understand well that Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed the possession of nuclear weapons. Civilized nations---there are only a handful of these really---must do what it takes to prevent this. If it occurs it will spell the defeat of the US in Iraq and led to a regional nuclear conflict.

The pessimists have a number of points, though none are persuasive. One says that

Iran simply has too many ways of striking back, in the oil markets, in the Persian Gulf, through Hezbollah.

No she does not. The mullahs have been striking at America around the world, in the sea and in the sky for 26 years. She is already doing all she can do to defeat us. Iran seeks nuclear weapons both to do more against us and to insure that we cannot strike back. Iran will wage war against us until one of us is gone.

The so-called 'oil weapon' is a weak policy instrument indeed. If Iran shut off her oil she would simply collapse. Oil producing nations need to sell their oil, not threaten to keep it in the ground. And if with her back to the wall the mullahs blow up their oil installations, why should we care? The government would collapse, we would rebuild the oil facilities---recall how rapidly we got everything working again after Katrina---and that would be that. As far as Iranian activity in the Persian Gulf...well, the Iranian navy would have to deal with the most powerful fleet in history. It would certainly have 'a short and exciting life.' And Hezbollah already bedevils American policy in the region. It is a pest but little more. When Iran falls, Hezbollah loses its funding and will collapse.

"Could we do it?" one administration official who was deeply involved in planning the Iraq invasion said recently. "Sure. Could we manage the aftermath? I doubt it."

We will not have to manage the aftermath, for we will go in, get it done and get out. We have learned from our occupation of Iraq. The US military does not make the same mistake twice.

The problem is not that Washington lacks targets...The problem is the global consequences of an attack to cripple them.

What 'global consequences' might occur? China does not want her foreign policy and economic development tied to an unstable Iranian regime with nuclear weapons. She already has to deal with one nut case, and that right on her border. Russia might wail and gnash teeth but nothing more. She has had some recent experience herself with Islamic terror. Why would anyone expect Russia to like an nuclear Islamic terror regime right on her frontier? Europe will...well, who really cares?

You should finish up your reading day with this from Michael Ledeen. It is rather optimistic---an unusual tack for him. He believes that any Iranian war would pull in Syria, but not to that nation's interest.

You can be sure that, as Assad collapses, the reverberations will reach Baghdad and Tehran. The Iraqis will gain the security they desperately need in order to advance their brave democratic project. And the Iranians, turbaned and bare-headed alike, will see the hour of their own freedom draw ever closer.

And so it will be an added bonus that Syria will collapse when Iran does---two for the price of one.

So pull it together, have a stiff drink, and prepare for the coming American war with Iran. It will be a short, sharp shock, will briefly raise the price of oil, will make for some great headlines and will put an end to the terror masters of Tehran.

Update: The literate and perceptive Kobayashi Maru as usual has some thoughts on the matter, though he does seem a bit depressed:

I was struck over the weekend by two things: deep fatigue on the Iranian crisis and an equally deep, ominous sense that this is really going down.

Stop by and cheer him up. He is always a good read.

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January 22, 2006

Cyrus the Great and Ahmadinejad the Not

Let us all agree: Iranian President Ahmadinejad hates Jews. Hates them with a bloody passion. Wants them out of the Middle East. Wants them to move to Europe. When---if---his nation gets nukes he has promised to destroy Israel. His mullah masters of course feel the same way. The anti-Semitic ravings coming from Iranian officialdom are hair-raising indeed. And Iran puts her money where her mouth is: She has long engaged in tracking Jews down and killing them wherever she can get at them. She has made no secret of this stupefying hatred of God's Chosen.

But there is no particular reason why such grotesque anti-Semitism should find a home in Iran. Historically Iran has not sought out Jews to murder them but to protect them, even to favor them.

The very first entrance of Iranians on the international stage was when they seized Babylon from the Chaldeans, they of Nebuchadnezzar fame. The great Persian King Cyrus (ruled 539-529 BC) was known for his tolerance, and he let the Jews, forced to live in Babylon since 587---the Babylonian Captivity---return to Jerusalem.

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.---Ezra 1:1-4

And there is the charming tale of the Book of Esther, of how the Persian King Xerxes (ruled 484-465) took a fancy to a Jewess. She was a real knockout and such a great girl that Xerxes divorced his prickly wife Vashti to possess her. But there was his wicked prime minister, a real Ahmadinejad type, Haman by name, who was eaten by envy, and sought the destruction of all Jews in Persia. He came to an evil end due to the cleverness of Esther and her father Mordecai.

And the king Xerxes laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Xerxes, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed. ---Esther 10:1-3

Mordecai reached the same level of prominence in ancient Persia as that other Hebrew Joseph---he of the multi-colored coat---had in ancient Egypt. Jewish success in Iran 2500 years ago is today celebrated as Purim.

And as recently as the 2003 Christmas Day earthquake in Iran

A cab driver in Tehran was heard saying: "What nerve these mullahs have to turn away aid offered by the Israelis...those poor people over there are constantly dealing with those suicide bombers,  who are probably financed by the clerics of the Islamic republic of Iran, and yet they  are kind enough to offer us their aid and these audacious zealots over here threaten to attack them!"

What we have with Ahmadinejad and the nut-job mullahs is something confined to the grubby mentality of the ruling class and not part of the Iranian people. A normal state of Iran would be less of a threat to Israel than France is.

There is something that should give the Iranian rulers pause if they were men prone to calm introspection. It is that for the last 4000 years all civilizations who sought the destruction or enslavement of the Jews were brought to a bad end, sometimes by fire and sword. Assyria, neo-Babylonia, Ramses II's Egypt, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany and the Arab world are some outstanding examples of what a people can expect once it begins to bring terror to God's Chosen. It is almost uncanny that a sure sign of a nation's imminent destruction is when it begins to push Jews around.

There is one good thing about anti-Semitism: It lets you know who the bad guys are. Right, left, black, white, freak or straight, the minute someone starts rattling on about the evil Jews, you know your train just pulled into Slimeball Station.

All bigotry is wrong, of course, but there's something about this particular form of prejudice that is weirdly reliable as a sign of deeper wickedness. Perhaps it's because the Jews contributed so much to humanity's moral code that to hate them as a race is to despise the restraints of morality itself

Whatever the reason, true, virulent anti-Semitism is such a good indicator of the presence of evil that I'm tempted to believe that when God made the Jews his chosen people, this is what he chose them for: to be a sort of Villainy Early Detection System for everyone else. (Hat tip: Bookworm Room)

It is thus a certain thing that Ahmadinejad and his masters will be booted off the world stage. But probably they will need a big push. They will get one.

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January 21, 2006

Wild, Weird Climes

I sometimes wander around my travel diaries. They were written in times that seem long ago and about climes that seem far away. Some of the places I went were worth the time and effort to get there. But some of the others were...well, here is one village in Honduras that I can say with utmost confidence I will never see again.

The village of Dulce Nombre de Culmi was borderline hostile. The people were indifferent and suspicious, and the "hotel" I stayed in was the worst I had seen, a truly ghastly place filled with insects, ancient filth, blocked plumbing---if that bizarre series of oozing pipes could be termed such---a terrible stench and shady characters.  But wait, there is more: Because I arrived there on Passover Thursday,  there would be no transport the next day, Holy Friday. So I was stuck in this pestilent s*** hole ( pardon the expletive, but I am in a foul mood) for two days. But wait, there is more: There were no places to eat in this damned place. I lived off beer and stale bread, and a dish of typical Honduran food that a woman agreed to make for me. Returning to Tegucigalpa was like crossing the Jordan River.

And I praise the Risen Lord for bringing me out of that forsaken spot.

The shore of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala experienced a terrible flood and landslide some months ago. But it had long suffered under an invasion of two-legged locusts.

Some years ago it was a magnet for hippies and Euro-trash: Kerouac pretenders, Steppenwolf aficianados, drug users, drop outs and hygiene-o-phobes who could not cut it in the real world of truth and responsibility  and so vanished into the oblivion of life-long loserville and the permanent bong hit. The ones who are not in prison and who are still among the living have showered, brushed their remaining teeth and set up nice little capitalist enclaves  that serve up, among other things legal and not, massages, yoga, fruit juice, Fen Shui classes, organic gardening methods, natural food, Pink Floyd seminars, energy chanelling, Zen sandal-making and the like. The entire touchy-feely creepy-crawly dippy-trippy-hippy Eastern mystical nonsensical kumbaya peace-love-dopey if-it-feels-good-do-it goofy slam-dunk jack-ass stupid smorgasboard of San Francisco and Amsterdam is now available on the shores of Atitlán.

Few travelers visit Paraguay. They have their reasons for avoiding the place.

I entered this forlorn country from Bolivia and traveled through its Chaco region. (See here.) Surely this place is the most isolated piece of real estate I have ever seen. There is no real backpacking as there are no real trails. One cannot simply bushwhack cross-country because of the difficulty in finding water, the host of dangerous creatures who have little fear of man because he is so seldom encountered, a plague of mosquitoes and tiny biting flies (polverines). Maps are worthless here even when you can find them.  Most roads (so-called) are little more than dirt tracks useful only for a four-wheel drive and then only in dry weather.

In reality most of the Chaco is  seldom if ever visited. Some parts are simply inaccessible, four-wheel drive or not. There are still near-naked savages roaming about, and they have a nasty habit of killing the Mennonite missionaries who venture forth into the nether regions to bring civilization, defined there as Christ, clothes,  soap and water. There is a national park, El Parque Nacional Defensores del Chaco, but it is very difficult to get to---it lies hundreds of kilometers off the road from Bolivia---and if you got there you would find no water and would have to deal with an ubiquitous thorn tree whose spines can penetrate all of your fancy backpacking clothing. And recall that temperatures reach 50 degrees at times, and there is no shade.

But of course it is all worth it. Travel involves heading out to see the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Some places you plan for years to visit annoy once you see them. Some places you stumble into by accident remind you of why you travel.

All was new. I went to places I had dreamed of but never visited. Iruya, Argentina---a type of village one cannot find elsewhere: shimmering in frozen sunlight, shockingly beautiful huddled beneath its  canyon walls, hovering in crystalline air. Putre, Chile---a delight, all small and comfortable, guarded by a family of ice-capped peaks, living under sun-soaked days and frozen nights. Cotahuasi, Peru---the deepest canyon in the world, home to Inca who still speak Quechua, reached by vertigo-inducing stages of descent (and not for the faint-of-heart), where the route passes pre-Colombian ruins. Camp there---you will be alone---and hear the voices of Inca long-dead.

I remember all of this because something odd and unsettling will occur in a few months. In April more than two years will have passed since my return from Latin America. Since 1983 I have never spent more two years away from it. I am not quite sure what must be done about this except to say that something must be done about this.

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January 19, 2006

Rumors of War

Iran is hell bent to get nuclear weapons. Niall Ferguson imagines a future historian writing about the Great Middle Eastern War of 2007-2011 if she succeeds.

The devastating nuclear exchange of August 2007 represented not only the failure of diplomacy, it marked the end of the oil age. Some even said it marked the twilight of the West. Certainly, that was one way of interpreting the subsequent spread of the conflict as Iraq's Shi'ite population overran the remaining American bases in their country and the Chinese threatened to intervene on the side of Teheran.

Scary stuff for sure. But how likely is it? Not very.

Iran labors under an insoluble strategic problem. Here was her situation pre-September 11: 

She had six terrorist buddies in her neighborhood---Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Lebanon; they worked together sending suicide bombers to Israel and suicide planes to New York; they worked feverishly to get nuclear weapon capability for Iraq and for al-Qaeda and for Iran; they had successfully pulled off dozens of terror incidents in the US and around the world, killing Jews and Americans wherever they could be found; they managed to blow to pieces airliners from several nations; they shared intelligence and assets and resources; they supported one another diplomatically and clandestinely; they all kept their populations in a vice-grip of tyranny.

Here is her situation today:

Iran is surrounded by the US military in Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Four of her pals---the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Iraq and Afghanistan---are either destroyed or occupied by the US. One more, Syria, has been receiving very unpleasant attention from the US. The US Navy completely controls the Persian Gulf, through which almost all Iranian oil must pass; Iran herself has seen hundreds of thousands of anti-regime and pro-US demonstrators in her own streets. The enemy whose citizens she has murdered, whose ambassadors she has held hostage, and whom she calls 'The Great Satan' now has a leader who has a proven war record, an invincible army of [150,000] on her border and a long memory.

Iran has experienced a text-book case of foreign policy failure of near unprecedented dimensions.

But there is more. Iran's economy is rust bucket and ramshackle. Years of sanctions and economic incompetence have had their effect: unemployment reaches 50 percent among the young, for example---and most Iranians are under 20 years of age. They have no personal experience of all the glorious hordes of 'students' who seized our embassy, ruined a presidency, humiliated our nation and daily screamed into the news cameras, "Death to America!" But they see all around a ruined economy and grimy tyranny. Certainly most Iranians would not mind at all if their nation possessed the bomb. It is a status thing, like driving a Lexus. But most Iranians are not only rational, they are pro-American---which is the same thing.

But there's the rub: Iran is in no way a rational state. Her rulers are a group of ferocious America haters, practiced killers, bloody-minded tyrants and gruesome anti-Semites---a real bunch of Mad Hatters. They are clever but their hatred addles them. The Soviets were killers but they were not nuts, and they were not driven by any suicide impulse. Their possession of nuclear weapons could scarcely have led to nuclear war---unless they wound up in the hands of a real nut, like the Soviet puppet Castro. But here is Iranian ex-President Rafsanjani, who said two years ago that on the day the Muslim world gets nuclear weapons the Israeli question will be settled forever

since a single atomic bomb has the power to completely destroy Israel, while an Israeli counter-strike can only cause partial damage to the Islamic world.

Any questions?

There is a definite sense of desperation in Tehran, as if it knows that the window of opportunity to acquire nukes is closing, and not slowly. Thus the almost daily threats, the dog and pony show with Europe and the UN, its on-again off-again love affair with Russia. Its tactics are those of a boxer who is being cornered: dance around, throw false jabs, duck and cover, bob and weave---and all the while hoping for the ring of the bell.

But that bell will not ring. No American president, no Israeli prime minister and no Arab state can possible allow the mullahs to succeed. Not even corrupt old Russia could relax with a bunch of nuclear nuts on her border. An Iran with nuclear weapons would be simply intolerable and would inflict a massive strategic defeat upon the US. To state the matter simply in my Oklahoma dialect: It ain't gonna happen.

So be not afraid. Do not worry that a cornered Iran will send her terror mobs thither and yon to wreak havoc and murder, for she already does this. Do not worry that a cornered Iran will call upon China to come to her aid, for China is a nation with little strategic reach and whose threats are nothing but bombast. Do not worry that a cornered Iran will shut off her oil in an attempt to strangle the West, for oil in the ground is useless and only acquires power when it is transformed into money, something that Iran needs to fulfill her nuclear ambitions. A mullah-ruled Iran without money would disappear from history.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad thus labors under a bizarro fantasy. His latest ranting can be answered quite easily:

Who are you to deprive us from fulfilling our goals?

We are the United States of America.

You think you are the lord of the world and everybody should follow you.

Very perceptive. Move to the head of the class.

But that idea is a wrong idea.

Prove it.

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January 17, 2006

Random Thoughts

File Under Alien V. Predator:

Our enemies recently had had some bad luck on a visit to Pakistan.

In the first official confirmation by Pakistani authorities that militants were killed, the administration of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal regions bordering Afghanistan said in a statement that the four or five bodies of "foreign terrorists" were taken away "by their companions."

As a result, a Pakistani intelligence official said, authorities do not know the nationalities of the foreigners killed. The provincial authorities' statement did not identify the dead militants, who it said were among 10 to 12 extremists at the dinner.

Killed at their dinner like old Joey Gallo, who was whacked at a Manhattan clam house back in 1972. Those whacked in Pakistan were not Pakistanis but Egyptians, foreigners and aliens. I hope they enjoyed their last supper.

That which brought about their demise was a small little aircraft, Predator by name. I love its description at Air Force Link:

The MQ-1 Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft. The MQ-1's primary mission is interdiction and conducting armed reconnaissance against critical, perishable targets.

'Perishable targets'? Well, yes. Here is a picture of the cute bird.

That odd device hanging below is the Hellfire-C laser-guided missile. Here is a better look.

(Hat tip: The Officers' Club)

The noise it made as it neared its target was the last thing on earth those terrorists ever heard. Too bad the Hellfire could not play The Ride of the Valkyries.

File Under Dog Eat Dog:

As if the al-Qaeda thugs did not have it bad enough in Iraq. Now their erstwhile pals are whacking them.

The best news from Iraq this year would certainly be the long New York Times report of Jan. 12 on the murderous strife between local "insurgents" and al-Qaida infiltrators. This was also among the best news from last year. For months, coalition soldiers in Iraq had been telling anyone who would care to listen that they had noticed a new phenomenon: heavy fire that they didn't have to duck. On analysis, this turned out to be shooting or shelling apparently "incoming" from one "insurgent position" but actually directed at another one.

No honor among thieves---or terrorist killers it would seem. The foreign (damn aliens again!) terrorists were involved in the kidnapping and torture of Iraqis both Sunni and Shiite, one of whom was found at room temperature after a gruesome time for sure.

His legs bore drill holes revealing bone. His jaw had slid off to one side of his head, and his nose was broken. Burns marked his body.

The locals had had enough and turned on their 'liberators.' The fact is that even anti-American Iraqis know who will win this war. They are simply betting on the stronger horse.

File Under Please Just Go Away:

Old Walter Cronkite is back---again. (Will he ever depart us, alas?) I had just recovered from his last bit of treason, and---shazaam!---there he is appearing before reporters and slandering his nation, an activity at which he is second only to Jimmy Carter.

We had an opportunity to say to the world and Iraqis after the hurricane disaster that Mother Nature has not treated us well and we find ourselves missing the amount of money it takes to help these poor people out of their homeless situation and rebuild some of our most important cities in the United States...Therefore, we are going to have to bring our troops home.

If any of my readers can follow the logic there, could you please e-mail me?

And Wally even dusted off the same political advice he gave to LBJ after Tet:

Mr. Cronkite's notions of statecraft and national security are airily free of practical concern. What message would running from Iraq at its moment of greatest need send to U.S. allies? What effect would it have on American credibility? "I think we can retire with honor," Mr. Cronkite said.

Sure Walter, it worked so well last time. Our retreat from Vietnam caused hundreds of thousands to perish. And now you wish the same upon the Iraqis?

What is with this guy and all of his acolytes---the Durbins and Murthas and Kerrys and Kennedys, Democrats all---who preach defeat for America and worse for her allies, while carrying as much water as they can for the most dreadful killers on the planet? Can they at the very least not publicly insult our country? Is that really too much to ask?

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January 16, 2006

High on the Blog

I started to write on my first day at Saint Michaels. I was in 1st grade, and the sister dutifully wrote upon the board the words John and God. I had in my hand one of those impossibly thick pencils that were standard equipment among my peers. The sister watched with alarm as I tried ever-so-carefully to copy out the words on the wide-lined paper on my desk. Her ruler came down hard on my knuckles and the improvement in my handwriting was immediate. At the end of day the sister proclaimed my two words the best in class. As an example for all to see, she posted my paper on the classroom wall. I was now a published author.

The desire to write has never left. All through middle school and high school writing was the one and only thing I could do well---and do better at than all the math whizzes and science geeks and bullying jocks public schools could throw at me. Writing became a haven from the sometimes freakish reality I lived in. I was in it but not of it---as the Catholics like to say. I wrote fanciful tales of derring-do and imagined writing more. Along with writing came books---lots of them, mountains of them, all to be read and re-read. The coolest to my adolescent mind were encyclopedias and adventure tales. Oddly, stories of tiger hunters in India became one of my minor specialties. Even today I can almost rewrite word-for-word some of them.

Reality intruded---it has a habit of doing that, alas---and for some years I was too concerned with mundane things like eating to leave much time and space for writing. The United States Air Force entered my life---or I entered its life---in 1972. After Basic and Medical Corpsman Tech School I settled at my permanent base in Big Spring, Texas. Now that I had much free time the old writing bug returned. And books returned, more than before.

I was discharged in 1975 and headed to Portland. College was my goal, but no 4 year school would accept me. You see, my GPA in high school was between D- and F+. I enrolled in a community college after whizzing through the writing test. I had to take the usual requirements: Math---I loved it; Science (in the form of Chemistry)---I hated it because I could not understand it (there is a lesson there somewhere); English---Home at last. Most students grumbled about the writing but I loved it. Here I could feed the addiction and actually earn college credits doing so. A perfect world, yes? My first essay was titled The Dangers of Sugar. It was tripe ("something poor, worthless, offensive") but it was writing. I was off and running.

My English instructor deserves special mention. He really wanted to be a 19th century French intellectual---a Zola type, or perhaps a  de Maupassant---and he largely succeeded. The beard, the bohemian look and the constant air of tobacco were as much a part of him as a rifle is to a Marine. He was also tubercular and must have weighed 150 pounds while standing 6 feet 4. He was funny, ultra-liberal and he liked my writing. That was good enough for me.

Wandering into a History class was a marvel. Term papers, essay exams, seminar projects and stacks of books: I was as elated as a Ted Kennedy who had wandered into an open-bar brothel that had an all-you-can-eat buffet attached to it. I still have all of these papers. Some are junk, some are still readable. I wrote on Sejanus, Assyria, the Parthians,  Germanicus, US Foreign Policy in the Middle East, Alexander, Auschwitz---on everything I could.

And I still do. Years after leaving college the writing bug now has a regular outlet, my blog. I can write to my heart's desire and fulfill every whimsy. It began to take shape in early 2003. I was teaching in Argentina but leaving for good that June. The plan was to solo backpack through South and Central America from June 2003 until the late Spring of 2004---what later became my 'Year of Living Dangerously.' Trouble was that I would be unemployed upon my return to the US. I came up with the idea of constructing a web page---mikeaustin.org---where I would place all things relevant to my 12-year teaching career: resume, letters of recommendation and so on. That way I could keep in touch with any number of US schools and any interested superintendent could simply view my web site and think, "This guy is an idiot!" or "This guy is a genius!" (I fall somewhere in between.)

And my web site gave me the tremendous advantage of allowing my to put my thoughts to web all during my year out and about. I was never one for diaries, not having the ambition or discipline that they required. But the web was different. And so began my almost daily habit of writing. It was easy to do while traveling through Latin America, as about every city and town had an internet cafe with an html editor (mine is FrontPage).

My idea worked, and brilliantly so---for it got me my present job, the Best Job in the World.

Which brings me to my blog, now 1 year old. It is really a subdomain of mikeaustin.org---mikeaustin.org/blog. Much of the writing on it was originally done for mikeaustin.org. There are no particularly 'bloggy' things about it: no trackbacks or comments section or any of the professional blog stuff. I keep things simple. For now at least. But things change.

And so has the focus on my writing. When I first started in January of 2003 I wrote about was then current in the news---the Iraq War mainly. When I began my year of traveling my focus switched naturally to Latin American things, especially solo backpacking. When I set up the blog I began to write on whatever caught my fancy: history, theology, politics, my new life in the US. I began to write longer pieces, a habit that has stuck.

And it is a marvelous habit. For it wonderfully concentrates the mind and keeps it sharp and useful. And it does not matter who reads my writing or how many do so. What matters is the writing itself. It is both means and end, written not for fortune or fame but because God is watching. And He gave me both the desire and the method to fulfill it.

Deus lo volt.

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January 15, 2006

Soldiers of God

Today is Mass. On this day hundreds of millions of Catholics will kneel before the Body of Christ and recite the words of a soldier:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive You,

But only say the Word and I shall be healed.

Who was this soldier? He was a Roman and a pagan who lived 2000 years ago. He was a centurion---what we would call a staff sergeant---and he knew Christ. A servant of the centurion was sick unto death. And so this Roman soldier---one of those men who had forced half the world through force of arms into the Roman imperium---went to Jesus to ask a favor.

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

There is neither doubt nor fear in the centurion's voice. There is only knowledge of his own unworthiness and his faith---a faith absolute---that the request will be answered.

When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Jesus is telling us that this soldier had more faith than anyone in all of Israel---more faith than even that possessed by His disciples. And the result of this soldier's faith?

And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. ---Matthew 8:5-13 (KJV)

Three years later the centurion was at the Cross, and was one of the few who recognized Christ for what He was:

And when the centurion, who stood by over against him, saw that he so gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.---Mark 15:39

So from Scripture and the 2000 year old Christian tradition we learn that Christ has a special place for the soldier. For it is his words---not those of the poet or politician or philosopher---that are said millions of times a day at every Mass.

God has always used soldiers to make His point in the world. We remember the great conqueror Joshua ('God is his help'). Even before the death of Moses Joshua was the commander of the Israeli host in the war against the Amalekites. Joshua was also sent on a spying mission among the Canaanites, which later led to the near extinction of these grotesquely immoral peoples. He eventually conquered 6 nations and 31 kings. At this soldier's death 'the light of Israel for a time faded away.' Keep in mind the words that  Edersheim used in his Bible History to describe Joshua, for they could be used to describe the American soldier of today.

To this outward calling his character also corresponded. It is marked by singleness of purpose, directness, and decision...He sets an object before him, and unswervingly follows it.

From Joshua to Saul to David to Solomon and on to the armies of Assyria and Babylon and Persia, the Old Testament is full of God using soldiers to work His will. Three hundred years after the death of the centurion He again uses a Roman soldier, Constantine (272-337), to fulfill His purpose in history. It was Constantine who before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312), had a dream where he saw in the sky the words In Hoc Signo Vinces ("in this sign shall you conquer.") The sign was the chi-rho, a symbol of Christ.

Constantine carried this standard with his army and conquered. The result was the Edict of Milan which legalized the Christian faith in the empire of Rome. No more the horrific persecutions of Nero and Diocletian, for the soldiers of God had ended them.

Their like would appear again at Tours (732), in the first three Crusades (1095-1192), at Lepanto (1571) and at Vienna (1683), each one a part of the age-long war between Islam and Christianity.

And this struggle continues today. For it was the US military, nearly all of whose members are Christian, that brought the Afghanis out of a medieval tyranny and the Iraqis out of a nightmarish barbarity. To put the matter clearly, God used the US military to free 50,000,000 million people---just as He used it to free Europe from fascism and communism and Asia from Japanese militarism. He uses it still. And He is not finished yet.

(Hat tip: The Officers' Club)

Onward Christian soldiers.

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January 12, 2006

Blowhards and Big Bellies

I have a great weakness for Ancient History. Of the 400 or so books I have read since 1996 maybe half have been about dead men in togas, phalanxes or legions. Such is my addiction. I make no apologies. I simply love the classical world. My love of these dead white males has fine company. Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Washington---in fact the entire pantheon of America's founding fathers---were well-versed in classical history. The lessons of Athens, of the Roman Republic and of the Achaean League are echoed in the US Constitution. In my heart of hearts I believe that I should have been born in Rome around 220 BC so that I could have served with P. Cornelius Scipio at the Battle of Zama. But God knows best, and He has put me into the here and now. So be it.

At times while reading about all those long-dead guys I come across something that at first seems out of space and out of time, something that fits a living man as well as the dead one. This occurred a few days ago as I was finishing From Alexander to Actium, a history of the Greek world from the death of Alexander (332 BC)---see here and here--- until the death of Cleopatra (30 BC). There are few heroes in the book. Mostly it is a sad tale of wars and rumors of wars, of assassinations and poisonings, of gross incompetence and grotesque immorality. Much of the book is concerned with the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, Cleopatra being the last of that breed.

The first Ptolemy (367-283) was a boyhood friend of Alexander and served with him until his king's death in Babylon. The empire split into areas controlled by Alexander's generals---the diadochi---who immediately began to make war upon each other. Ptolemy was the most clever. He took control of Egypt and survived the competition--that is to say, his part of Alexander's empire was the last to be devoured by Rome.

Ptolemy started well---he was called soter, 'savior'---but his dynasty began to decline after his death. I read this description of one of the Ptolemies, Ptolemy VIII Eugertes II 'Physcon'(182-116)---'potbelly.'

Everything wrong in the Ptolemies is summed up in the gross person of Physcon: the unswerving pursuit of sensual gratification (through food, drink, sex or power), unhindered by any moral restraints, guilts or fear of retribution; the acts of wanton, indeed sadistic, cruelty against his subjects; the treatment of a whole country as a monarch's vast private estate, to be milked for personal profit; the inability to see beyond the cycle of self-perpetuating rule that these assumptions engendered. There is also, less often noted, a strong and obvious component of fantasy, of megalomaniac unreality, due to the accident of Egypt's secure frontiers and virtual immunity to external invasion.

(Update January 15: The quote above is from From Alexander to Actium, page 538.)

Change a few words and we have near perfect description of America's own Physcon, Ted Kennedy. He is the most corrupt scion of a manifestly corrupt dynasty. To compose a list of his immoralities and crimes would take too long and would ruin my breakfast. It is enough to list adultery, gluttony, alcoholism, megalomania, mendacity, treason---recall his comments about Abu Ghraib---and of course what Ted did to Mary Jo Kopechne. And Americans will have to tolerate this fine human being until death takes him off. For Kennedy has burrowed into the Senate like an Egyptian scarab beetle burrows into dung.

American Physcon

 

I was reminded by all of this while reading of Kennedy's antics at the Alito hearings. Again the lies, the distortions---so riddled with meanness and slander that Alito's wife left the hearings in tears. Our old Ted was up to his usual bullying of women.

 

The sins of Kennedy have worked themselves into his very flesh---as sins tend to do. And on the day that Christ calls him, corrupt old Ted will realize more about his life than he ever wanted to know. I tell you, there will be tears and much wailing and gnashing of teeth---probably about what Mary Joe went through as the water in the Oldsmobile rose higher and higher.

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January 11, 2006

No Coffee en Caracas? ¡Caramba!

I have lived around and worked with Latin Americans for 14 years, and have studied their language, culture, politics and history for even longer. I have visited every single Central and South American nation, most of them many times. I have lived and worked in Costa Rica and Argentina, and have hung my hat in Guatemala and Peru and Chile and Honduras more times than I can remember. And the one thing that strikes me right in the face when I contemplate their political economies is this: Latin Americans have absolutely no talent whatsoever---none, zip, zilch, zero, nada---for running a country. From Mexico through Panama and all the way to Argentina (let's skip Chile until a another time) we see outlandish corruption, bankrupt economies, worthless currencies, socialist policies and a ridiculous, buffoonish political culture.

I could carry on like this for pages, but you will be spared, dear reader! I will present my case with a few anecdotes and then be done. But I must add: Never think I do not love these people who live south of the Rio Grande. It is a damn shame that they must labor under such absurd economic and political systems. Those that can get the hell out, taking the advice of that great liberator, dancer, killer and prostitute frequenter, Simón Bolívar:

The most sensible action to take in [Latin] America is to emigrate.

Millions of Latins take have taken the guy at his word and have fled their homes for the shores of the United States. Which is of course very cool for us: we get their food, their Catholicism, their delightful company and their beautiful women; they get to share our economic and political freedom. We win, they win, everybody is happy. But I digress.

Some recent headlines reminded me of the Latin penchant for incompetence.

Venezuela's coffee industry in chaos as price of beans doubles

It seems Venezuela's dictator Hugo Chavez has been meddling with the economy again.

President Chávez, who maintains price controls on basic foodstuffs, raised the price of coffee beans by 100% last month after weeks of protests by coffee farmers.

But most of the country's coffee producers, who buy, roast and grind the beans, refused to sell on the coffee yesterday, claiming their margins had been cut, and began hoarding thousands of sacks of unprocessed beans.

The entire discipline of economics since Adam Smith has escaped this fool. Why could this idiot not open any Econ 101 text and turn to 'price controls?' And then Chavez takes a page from Stalin:

I've instructed the National Guard to look for the missing coffee and to find every single kilogram of it. The army has the permission to seize the coffee with the power of attorneys and judges. We will sell the coffee at prices set by us.

No Hugo, you will most certainly not set the price for your coffee, the world market does that. You will either have no coffee to sell or you will create mountains of coffee beans priced so high that Venezuela will have no buyers. The expense of these coffee mountains would go far to bankrupt your nation. By forcing Venezuela out of the coffee market you will give a welcome bonanza to other coffee producing nations who will simply sell more coffee and earn the extra income that once went to your country. And then you will have a hard time coaxing buyers back to Venezuelan coffee once you lose world market share.

For Venezuela to experience a shortage of coffee is like Clinton experiencing a shortage of lies. Very difficult to imagine let alone arrange.

But wait, there is more. Two years ago I was backpacking around the Nicaraguan island of Ometepe. Oddly, I found that

Water is very scarce everywhere on the island, in all hotels and restaurants and homes. It simply quits, sometimes for the entire day. And the island sits in a huge freshwater lake! Granada, the third city of the republic, also suffers from water problems, and it is on the shores of Lake Nicaragua.

While the Americans look for water on Mars, the Nicaraguans cannot seem to find it in their own backyard. It baffles.

The place was awash with water yet Nicaraguans could not figure out how to get it to their homes. I remain baffled.

Argentina presents yet another case. During the dictatorship of Perón the nation ran out of beef! This in a nation that prides itself rightly so as having the finest steakhouses in the world. The reasons for this fiasco were the usual ones, economic lunacy and ignorance. Argentina has learned little in the ensuing years and still labors under corruption, national bankruptcy and socialism. Is it any wonder that 67 percent of Argentines have expressed the desire to emigrate?

Of course Latins have always blamed their troubles on---guess who!---the United States. Now there is an original thought! They should listen to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is no friend of the US:

The immeasurable pain and violence of our history are the result of  age-old inequities and untold bitterness, and not a conspiracy plotted 3000 leagues from our homes.

And everyone with an interest in Latin American economy and history should read this book, written by Latins themselves: The Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot. Buy two and send a copy to Chavez.

(Hat tip: Publius Pundit)

Update: Kobayashi Maru also recommends The Mystery of Capital, by Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto. I have read much of De Soto. He is one Latin who really gets it---about markets, about freedom, about wealth creation, about property rights.  De Soto would have been right at home in Philadelphia in 1787.

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January 10, 2006

Hollywood Gets Religion

 

Forget Benedict XVI and every pope before him. Forget Augustine. Forget Aquinas. Forget Francis and Loyola. Forget C. S. Lewis and Chesterton. Forget Martin Luther and Calvin and Spurgeon. Forget Peter and Matthew and Mark and Luke and John. Forget Paul. Forget Mary and the Saints. Hell, forget Christ Himself. For at last the moral and reasonable and patriotic Hollywood and entertainment  elite has found a religious type with whom they can readily and heartily and oh-so-willingly identify. Here is the outline for NBC's new TV drama.

The Book of Daniel focuses on the family of an Episcopal priest who regularly pops vicodin. His wife is a little too fond of martinis, his daughter is dealing drugs, one son is gay -- and the other is sleeping with the daughter of the church's warden. The priest has a newly widowed sister-in-law engaged in a lesbian affair, one of his confidantes is a Catholic priest with Mob ties...

As far as I can tell every social pathology is touched upon except treason and bestiality ---but it is early in the season. Crime, sodomy, fornication, drug abuse, alcoholism, lesbianism: about everything Paul railed against in his Epistles are here presented as a normal part of a religious life.

 

And here is the portrayal of the big guy Himself:

 

Jesus Himself is used in the same way. The character's "laid-back" demeanor...sends a message in itself, insofar as the attitude is one commonly associated with a liberal social mind-set. "Jesus" reacts to the priest's daughter's drug peddling by declaring, "She'll be fine; she's a good girl." About the son engaging in premarital sex with the warden's daughter, He's dismissive: "[The son] is a kid; let him be a kid." The message? Jesus has no problem with drug dealing and premarital sex -- so why should you?

So here yet again are the lovely and wholesome entertainment media, fresh from their self-abusing fantasies of wrestling with Heath Ledger in the Wyoming mountains. You can almost hear them purr, "Ah! Let's stick it to those Red Staters again!" Someone should tell them that the Red State types will not drink from their cup that seems so clean on the outside but is really full of filth on the inside---like a whitewashed tomb, a Carpenter once said.

What these folks are up to is something as ancient as Babylon, and their fear and hatred of Christianity is real and palpable. They cannot bear to look in the mirror and see themselves as they are---in the grip of grotesque immorality, spiritually sick unto death. So they comfort themselves with all sorts of oh-so trendy lies: religion is a sham, sodomy is cool, sex anywhere with anyone at anytime is natural, drugs are fun. So they eat drink and be merry, and pretend all is well.

But all is not well. They know it, just as the Pharisees were convicted by the words of Christ. And just like the Pharisees, Hollywood and its avatars would like nothing more than to put an and to Christianity, to Christ Himself. (Thus their natural hatred for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.) What they do is set up a counterfeit faith where all of their crimes and illicit passions and moral degradations are presented as normal.

The Book of Daniel is really a perfect view of the inner life of Hollywood and their New York admirers, into their very soul. Take a look at it if you want, but do not stay for long. You might vomit.

(Hat tip: Carol Platt Liebau)

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January 9, 2006

Useful Idiots

I wrote yesterday about the international and domestic left, how it romanticizes murderers and tyrants and lends them its support however it can. Well, well, lo and behold right on cue a bunch of those addled jackasses, calypso singer Harry Belafonte, actor Danny Glover and Princeton University's Cornel West, popped up in Venezuela yesterday. There in front of the entire world and with the smiling approval of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, Belafonte claimed

No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people ... support your revolution.

How utterly banal, how mind-numbingly trite. These useful idiots traveled to Venezuela and insulted their own nation in the presence of a buffoonish dictator. And then, just to show how novel is his thinking, Belafonte yelped, "Viva la revolucion!"

 

Now these morons will fly back to the US and enjoy all the benefits of American citizenship. They will live in the freedom and prosperity that their nation offers, drive in their fancy cars and collect their hefty paychecks. They will suffer no recrimination for their slander, but rather will no doubt receive the adulation of their fellow travelers. And during all this time 'the greatest terrorist in the world' will ignore them and continue doing the job Americans elected him to do.

 

Tell me , how bold is it to slander a nation knowing all the while that your words will carry no consequences? What if these dolts were Syrians and did such a thing? Is there really a question about what would be awaiting them back home?

 

America's domestic idiots will simply fall over themselves in the race to perform for tyrants the same thing that Monica Lewinski performed for Bill Clinton.

 

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January 8, 2006

Champions of Moloch

What is it with leftists, both the international and domestic varieties? Why do they worship at the feet of tyrants? As long as I have been a sentient being I have noticed that those who yelp "Power to the People!" and who claim a particular reverence for such things as freedom and democracy have always scattered their seed among men whose claim to fame rests upon mountains of corpses and miles of barbwire.

The first recipient of such perverse hero worship must surely have been Napoleon. Historian Paul Johnson calls the Corsican a 'proto-Hitler,' a new type of man for a new age, an age suitably brutalized by the French Revolution. This unpleasant event is better symbolized by the guillotine than any fantasy of liberty, brotherhood and equality. Napoleon managed to ride out the waves of violence tossed up by Revolution---though not before himself engaging in wanton slaughter in Italy, in Egypt, in France herself (the 'whiff of grapeshot')---and became First Consul, Dictator for Life, Emperor. As such he inflicted upon Europe 15 years of warfare and rapine not seen since the horrors of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Perhaps 5,000,000 died for Napoleon's quest for eternal fame and glory.

Napoleon Crossing the Alps---Jacques-Louis David (1801)

He certainly had his admirers. None other than the philosopher Hegel (1770-1831) not only accepted the Reign of Terror as necessary to expand human freedom but became star-struck by the sight of Napoleon himself. After the Battle of Jena (1806), Hegel wrote

I saw the Emperor - this world-spirit - go out from the city to survey his realm...It is a truly wonderful experience to see such an individual, on horseback, concentrating on one point, stretching over the world and dominating it.

Hegel saw the emperor as a world hero of the age, as God working in History. In this Hegel set the stage for all sorts of intellectuals of our own time to idolize 'men on horseback' who seize control of nations and peoples. Paul Hollander in his book Political Pilgrims tells the whole sordid tale of those who worship men whose primary skill is mass-murder.

After Napoleon there were slim pickings for hero worshippers. At last arrived Lenin (1917), who ended the Czarist regime and began the Soviet Union. He and his acolytes were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of their countrymen, but this love of terror and murder did not keep Lenin from being a darling in leftist intellectual circles around the world. But the real Soviet rock star was Stalin (1924-1953). The list of fellow travelers who made pilgrimages to sit at the dictator's feet is surprising---George Bernard Shaw, for one. Stalin reached the apogee of his popularity even as his Soviet state-induced famine carried off millions.

Lenin and Stalin

After World War II another hero emerged on the international scene, Mao Tse-Tung. He had all the right romantic traits beloved by the left: peasant background, heroic soldier, dramatic speaker, writer and a self-styled philosopher. He was also the greatest killer in history, his programs of collectivization and revolution costing perhaps 100,000,000 Chinese lives. Mao's Little Red Book and his theories on guerrilla warfare are still popular today among the addled leftists who inhabit American college campuses.

The Greatest Killer of All

It was not long after America began its Vietnam fiasco that the international left adopted another star, Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), darling of 60s campus activists and buddy of Jane Fonda. Pictures of 'Uncle Ho' were all over the halls of academia even though his political habits resembled in smaller detail those of Mao.

Uncle Ho

Leftists also looked south, to Latin America. There they found their dream come true in Ernesto 'Che' Guevara (1928-1967) who, along with the Tango and a great steak are the only notable Argentine contributions to civilization. Che really had it all: looks, youth, military fatigues, scruffy beard, calculated ruthlessness, a loose lifestyle and a talent for violence. In his words and deeds he glorified

hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine...To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary...These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.
 

Not quite the Sermon on the Mount but more than adequate to help Fidel Castro set up the Cuban police state, where Che personally executed hundreds and oversaw the deaths of thousands. His favorite activity besides adultery was shooting bound prisoners in the head. Che was a true revolutionary and fanatic, and traveled to Africa, Asia and South America in fruitless attempt to start a world-wide revolution against the United States. Che believed himself able to start "one, two, many Vietnams." Che's fantasy met the real world when he was run to ground and shot full of holes in Bolivia but not before he had murdered a few dozen Bolivian peasants. Now began his apotheosis into true international leftist pop stardom, a position the dead revolutionary has held for 40 years. The most recent contribution to the hagiography of Che is the mendacious and trivial The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), which naturally received a standing ovation from the equally mendacious and trivial Hollywood elite at the Sundance Film Festival.

Che as pop icon

 

Che in a characteristic pose

Che's sponsor in murder and rapine was Fidel Castro, and he still reigns at the top of the leftist list of heroes. A practiced killer and tyrant, Castro excites the left in some rather bizarre ways. Like feces and flies Castro has attracted a whole swarm of leftist glitterati, including such flotsam as Norman Mailer, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Steven Spielberg, the mainstream media, George McGovern, Oliver Stone, Jesse Jackson, Yoko Ono, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Rigoberta Menchu---really, the list of Castro admirers is endless. It includes the democratic governments of Canada, Germany, France and Spain. Castro has inspired all sorts of imitators in Latin America, the most recent being the Venezuelan tyrant and buffoon Hugo Chavez.

Chavez and Castro

What is the point of all this love and admiration given to dictators by so-called and self-styled intellectuals? While some reasons lie within the realm of clinical psychiatry, there are a few recurring themes. There is a strong element of America hatred in all of these (though perhaps Napoleon merely despised her). From Lenin to Chavez all have tried to reduce the power and influence of the United States---or even, as Castro and Mao fervently wished, to destroy her. Intellectuals tend to be 'men of words' rather than 'men of action.' They admire men who can impose their will upon an entire nation, a dream they themselves secretly nurse.

But there is also an element of self-loathing. Every tyrant in history except for Julius Caesar has imprisoned, exiled or murdered his political opponents, including all artists, writers, journalists and academics who were opposed to the regime. So we should ask: How long would a George Bernard Shaw have survived had he lived in Soviet Russia? How long would a Jane Fonda have been allowed to travel and speak against the North Vietnamese regime had she been North Vietnamese? How long would a Cuban George McGovern or Jesse Jackson have been allowed to roam and speak freely? The answers are obvious: all would have been arrested and frog marched either to the camp or the gibbet. Tyrants have no use for domestic versions of the international left. The purpose of the left is solely to create mischief in democratic and free societies, the prime example of which is---of course---the United States. These creatures who support every ghastly dictator are really just dupes and fools, true champions of Moloch. To put it plainly, they are in love with evil.

I will end with some anecdotes from my 14 years spent traveling and teaching in Latin America. I have taught perhaps 1000 students from dozens of nations. A few of my Latin students were admirers of Castro, sometimes grotesquely so. In every case but one their family lives were shambles, with either an absent or worthless father. The one student who admired Castro but had an intact family was an wealthy Argentine girl, a brilliant student, a fine writer and possessed of a penetrating and curious intellect. My arguments had no effect, and as far as I know she admires Castro still. The curious thing was this: If Fidel Castro or any of his ilk ever come to power in Argentina he would sooner rather than later eliminate all those of independent wealth and mind. In other words this young lady supported a man who, as ruler over her nation, most certainly would have murdered her own family.

What a world.

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January 3, 2006

Heaven and Earth

School begins tomorrow, and again my reason for being will be renewed. There is no greater joy for me than to fulfill that which God has given me to do.

He has also given me the desire to see His creation, and to see it alone. Christ Himself went off for those '40 days and 40 nights' alone in the desert. And so I will copy Him and get out in His 'wild, weird climes' for ten weeks in June.

But where? Oregon or Peru are the only candidates. I lean toward Peru, but at times something causes me to reflect. This photo did just that.

It is of Crater Lake. This jewel lies on the route I plan to take along the Pacific Crest Trail. It stuns with its beauty. I marvel at the carpentry of God. But He has been at work elsewhere too. Here is Laguna de los Cóndores in Peru. It is reached only by horse or on foot.

This little Andean lake lies near the town of Chachapoyas, a place I know well. Here is another photo.

To explore this lake and the surrounding jungle would mean to bring a dream from fantasy into reality. This is what men do. We imagine a place we want to be---on earth, in a marriage, at a vocation--and then we move Heaven and earth to get there.

And I will move Heaven and earth this June.

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January 1, 2006

New Year Resolution

 

Yeah, just one. Of course I have made many others, but those tend toward the supernatural and so are only revealed to God. What I plan this year---before June, that is---is to score at least a 225 on the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (PFT). What does this mean? It means that by June 1st I should be able to:

 

1.    Run 3 miles in 22 minutes and 10 seconds.

 

2.    Do 15 pull ups.

 

3.    Perform 75 abdominal crunches in 2 minutes.

 

See full details here.

 

The highest score is 300---100 points per event---which means running 3 miles in 18 minutes, doing 20 pull ups and performing 100 abdominal crunches in 2 minutes. There were times in my life when I could do this, the most recent being September 2003 when I walked out of the Andes after solo backpacking 12 days to and beyond the Inca ruins of Choquequirao. I wrote this high-octane piece after returning to Cuzco to recover and drink beer:

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

I returned today from the most extraordinary and difficult backpacking experience of my career---and I have walked the Darien Gap. Twelve days were spent backpacking alone through the Andes from the village of Cachora to the Inca ruins of Choquequirao and then on through the mountains to the road head at Huancacalle. The route I chose was 100 kilometers long. Several passes were crossed, one at 4200 meters and another at 4600. All told over 10,000 meters of ascent and descent were involved. Yes, I was worried at times, scared at others and delirious at others. At all times I was astounded at the sheer magnitude of what was all around me, surely God's creation in all its frightening magnificence. I am a bit thin now, my waist being what it was in college 25 years and 1000 summers ago. 

And I am invincible.

Oh...did I say that was alone? Well, not exactly. At my every step walked Christ: encouraging, challenging and carrying me. Of miracles there were many. I live, that is one.

 

After this there was more such in Central America, but I gradually lost the physical condition I was in two years ago. Sloth, beer and Krispy Kremes have all taken their toll. If I were to take the Marine Corps PFT right now I would score between 100 and 130. Yikes!

 

So there is method to this madness of achieving 225 on the Marine PFT. Sure, I want to be in better shape. But the overall reason is to be able to do the things I want---I need---to do come June. These will concern very demanding physical things in either Oregon or Peru. To tell the truth, right now I could not do them: I could neither spend 30 days walking the Pacific Crest Trail nor 20 days crossing the Andes. I would run out of steam, become seriously injured---or worse.

 

Simply stated there are three elements---physical, mental and supernatural---to the kind of success I am looking for. The mental is merely the desire---and this I have in spades. The supernatural is to be in a right relationship with God---which for me means regular use of the Sacraments (Mass and Confession), daily Bible reading, constant witnessing for Christ and an active prayer life. Being right with God means having no fear. And this fear is actually a person, indeed it is a monster always telling you to stop, to go back, to give up and give in. The Spartans believed that 'flesh was the factory of fear.' To walk with Christ is to remove this fear, to remove the fear of pain and death and failure while all alone in the wild, to actually obey and 'be not afraid.'

 

There remains the physical part---and this explains the Marine PFT. A body physically fit is one less prone to injury and more able to 'walk the extra mile' that might save your life. Here are the minimum standards:

 

 

Minimum Fitness Requirements for Each PFT Event

Age Pull-Ups Crunches 3-Mile Run
17-26 3 50 28:00
27-39 3 45 29:00
40-45 3 45 30:00
46+ 3 40 33:00

 

 

This minimum score for me right now would equal a 65, as shown here:

 

Marine Corps PFT Classification Scores
Class Age 17-26 Age 27-39 Age 40-45 Age 46+
1st 225 200 175 150
2nd 175 150 125 100
3rd 135 110 88 65

My desired score of 225 would put me better than 1st Class among those 46 and over. (I am 52.) Then there is my weight, which is about 175. I need to lose 20 pounds, which comes out to one pound a week.

 
Marine Corps Weight Chart
Height Maximum
Standard
Minimum
Standard
71 197 136
 

The race is on.

God be with you. And with me. Happy New Year.

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No Water No Cry

 

Camping in the Ouachita Forest was not a disappointment but neither was it as cool as I wanted, as I needed. I camped around Cedar Lake, hoping to backpack from the lake across the Ouachita Trail and down to Horsethief Spring, taking perhaps four days in all. Alas, no such luck. Apart from Cedar Lake itself there was no water to be had. None. Not a drop. All springs, creeks and waterholes had dried up. Which meant that all water had to be carried while hiking. For day hikes that is no problem. But for backpacking it is a serious problem, one impossible to solve. One quart of water weighs about 2 pounds. A winter backpacker needs perhaps one gallon per day to drink. Over a four day hike that works out to 32 pounds of water---and that does not include water for cooking or cleaning.

 

Fact is that the Ouachita Forest is suffering a drought. Rains have been less than half of normal and the lake itself was down several feet. Some of the lakes in the area had simply vanished, had become great muddy holes in the ground. The forest itself has become dry and crackly. Walking upon a forest floor is usually like walking upon swaths of cotton. Now it is like walking upon a bunch of wadded up newspaper---noisy and crinkly, and impossible to be subtle while wandering about. The local animals had the same problem. Normally they can scurry silently, but now their tiny footpads are heard at quite a distance. Armadillos, raccoons, skunks were easy to see and hear whether you wanted to or not. The most seen critter on my day hikes was this fellow:

 

 

The photo is stolen, alas, as I could not get close enough to the armadillos to sneak a picture. They have poor eyes but good ears, and just as I could hear them they could hear me.

 

While days hikes were OK, they were not the reason I came to the Ouachitas. So I still yearn for some real backpacking somewhere. The next break in in March, though only for nine days. I have no idea where I would go. Oklahoma is not exactly a haven for hikers. True wilderness is far and away from the city. Even most lakes in this state are artificial and serve really as places where noisy boats and huge RVs can congregate. Obviously this makes it impossible to be alone with God in His creation for any length of time. So right now I am 'trail shopping.'

 

But the real stuff comes in June and lasts until August when I will have ten weeks to so something in a 'wild, weird clime' somewhere. Peru first comes to mind---Peru always first comes to mind---but there is also Oregon, where live the extremely cool David and Kristina and Tim and Kaitlin. It has long been a dream to walk much of the length of that state along the Pacific Crest Trail, starting at Crater Lake and continuing to Timberline Lodge, all told about 250 miles. This would take about one month.

 

So I sit and wait, I dream and plan, and always I ask the Carpenter for His view on all of this. Deus lo volt.

 

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