Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.—W. Churchill

Monday, May 26, 2008

Julius Caesar Found

...under the Rhône River. This bust was apparently made during Caesar's lifetime, so it's it's thought to be somewhat accurate.











Looks like a cross between Ollie North and Tom Brokaw, doesn't he? That fits--- Caesar was a warrior-journalist, writing highly popular chronicles of his exploits in the Gallic Wars.

Today, he'd be a bestselling author, have a show on Fox News, or be in the White House. Maybe all three.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Founded as a Christian Nation! [?]

Thomas Paine published Age of Reason in 1794, advancing a decidedly unProvidential and therefore unChristian God---remote to the point of disconnectedness---and attacking the Bible as fable and fantasy. He received almost universal condemnation from the new American nation, including from Samuel Adams, erstwhile brewer, semi-"key Founder," and of course, cousin of the 2nd president.

Sam wrote to Paine in 1802:

"[W]hen I heard that you had turned your mind to a defense of infidelity, I felt myself much astonished and more grieved that you had attempted a measure so injurious to the feelings and so repugnant to the true interest of so great a part of the citizens of the United States.

The people of New England, if you will allow me to use a Scripture phrase, are fast returning to their first love. Will you excite among them the spirit of angry controversy, at a time when they are hastening to unity and peace?"


Now, this might indicate that even if there was a re-swell of religious affection happening, the Founding landscape was not one of church-going holy rollers.


Still, Adams adds:

"Our friend, the President of the United States [Thomas Jefferson], has been calumniated for his liberal sentiments, by men who have attributed that liberality to a latent design to promote the cause of infidelity. This and all other slanders have been made without a shadow of proof."

We may read this as indicating that the Founding landscape obliged public figures to keep their religious unorthodoxies to themselves if they wanted to remain public figures. Most of Jefferson's repudiations of Christian orthodoxy appear in his private letters, and only after he'd left office.


Was the United States founded as a Christian Nation? The answer is definitely yes. And definitely no.


As for Paine himself, the full correspondence may be found here. Paine even claims to have saved the revolutionary French from atheism! Who'd a-thunk it?

A few excerpts:


"There is however one point of union wherein all religions meet, and that is in the first article of every man's creed, and of every nation's creed, that has any creed at all: I believe in God. Those who rest here, and there are millions who do, cannot be wrong as far as their creed goes. Those who choose to go further may be wrong, for it is impossible that all can be right, since there is so much contradiction among them. The first therefore are, in my opinion, on the safest side.

...I have but one God....

Since I began this letter, for I write it by piece-meal as I have leisure, I have seen the four letters that passed between you and John Adams. In your first letter you say, 'Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and universal philanthropy.'

"Why, my dear friend, this is exactly my religion, and is the whole of it. That you may have an idea that the "Age of Reason" (for I believe you have not read it) inculcates this reverential fear and love of the Deity I will give you a paragraph from it.

'Do we want to contemplate His power? We see it in the immensity of the creation. Do we want to contemplate His wisdom: We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible whole is governed. Do we want to contemplate His munificence? We see it in the abundance with which He fills the earth. Do we want to contemplate His mercy? We see it in His not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful.'

"As I am fully with you in your first part, that respecting the Deity, so am I in your second, that of universal philanthropy; by which I do not mean merely the sentimental benevolence of wishing well, but the practical benevolence of doing good. We cannot serve the Deity in the manner we serve those who cannot do without that service. He needs no service from us. We can add nothing to eternity. But it is in our power to render a service acceptable to Him, and that is not by praying, but by endeavoring to make his creatures happy."


This is the God of Deism---unremarkable in today's world of mushy theistic secularism, but Paine stood virtually alone with Him in the Founding era. Even Jefferson himself, who was supportive of Paine's freedom of conscience [and who shared Paine's disdain for things like the concept of the Trinity and the miracles of the Bible], believed in a Providential God who was quite interested in man's affairs, a God Who smiled on the virtuous and withheld His favor from the wicked. Jefferson was no Deist, and people should stop saying it, because it's not true.

More on that later perhaps, but one need only look at the Jefferson Memorial for starters. Jefferson says "I tremble for my country" at the thought that his just and providential God might not abide the obscenity of slavery for very long.

Was Jefferson's God---the God of the Founding---the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham? Not exactly. But He was no other God than the God of the Bible, either. Not Aristotle's, not Tom Paine's, not even Albert Einstein's.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Jews Killed Kennedy

...according to the leftist Daily Kos, anyway. Hmmmm, I didn't know that.

Now in fairness, it's only in a "diary," which is different than the main page. Still, it's been up for weeks, and LGF has been all over it. Rest assured, if the conservative Red State site [which uses the same format] were hosting such paranoia and bigotry, they'd be spat upon for it, and rightfully so.

And so, Daily Kos, I spit on you, and rightfully so. First your people chased out all the Hillary supporters in favor of Obama, and now this ugliness from the left's most influential website, the cradle of the "reality-based" community.

Reality, indeed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Obama's Ox Gored, and Gored Good


I'm a strong believer in civility and I'm a strong believer in a bipartisan foreign policy, but that cause is not served with dishonest, divisive attacks of the sort that we've seen out of George Bush and John McCain over the last couple days...---Barack Obama, US Senator and apparent Democrat nominee for President




Dang, where I come from, folks listen to what a man's saying and not just how he says it. Maybe they honestly don't believe what you honestly believe, dude---that you can talk radicals out of murdering for their cause. Perhaps people of good conscience can disagree.

You're damn liars and disagreeing with me is dividing our country, is what I hear you saying here, Senator, and not all that civilly, really.

Now, where I come from is Pennsylvania, a "swing" state that you'll need to carry to be elected.

Make your case to those voters, Senator, without calling the other fellows liars and dividers, even if they are. That would be the most liberal and unifying thing to do. Walk the walk that you talk, and by the way, save your real outrage for the murderers in this world, not your fellow Americans. When will you raise up your genuine passion---if you have any---and your demonstrated ability to move your fellow Americans, against murder and tyranny and not just against words you don't like?

You're going to need that passion, concentrated to the best of your ability, if you hope to be any kind of president and leader of the free world at all.

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Bye Bye Huck: Thank God We Never Got to Know Ye

Even though I disagree with almost everything Barack Obama stands for [yeah, yeah, I know---what does he stand for?], I'd have voted for him if Mike Huckabee had been the GOP nominee, for a number of reasons.

Via The Hill via NRO:

During a speech to the National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Kentucky Friday, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee joked to the audience that an offstage noise was Barack Obama avoiding gunfire.

'That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting ready to speak. Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.'



I can excuse a lot of stupidity in American politics, but this is the lowest this year for either party, and nothing's in second place. Assassination has been a palpable concern for black leaders and presidential candidates since the nightmares of April and June of 1968, and Barack Obama is of course both of these things.


The line was met with laughter.



Both Huckabee and the NRA brass owe Sen. Obama an apology bigtime. And Gov. Huckabee needs to get off the GOP stage immediately, and for the foreseeable future. I suspect I shall never hear the words "President" and "Huckabee" in the same sentence ever again, thankfully. But if I do, either me or the GOP is going to have to go.

Now, to consolidate the vote of the evangelical right, the Republican Party might consider it clever to slip Rev. Huckabee a speaker's slot at its convention in September. But of such small symbolisms [think Jimmy Carter and Michael Moore sitting together at John Kerry's coronation], elections are lost, and rightfully so.

As David St. Hubbins once noted, there's a fine line between stupid and clever. Me, I don't even think there's a fine line here. People know.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"The New Cold War"

Thomas L. Friedman of the NYT takes a lot of ridicule from both left and right, depending on whose ox he gores. But he's an original thinker, and most importantly, he's one of the very few who actually travels to all the corners of the earth and talks with the people who live there before he pontificates on the problems of mankind.

Tom Friedman puts himself wherever the rubber meets the road. No ivory-tower type or bland theorist. He has earned every man's ear.

This is one of his very best, IMO. Excerpted here, but his entire essay is worth your time:

The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the Cold War. Yes, the next U.S. president is going to be a Cold War president - but this Cold War is with Iran.

That is the real umbrella story in the Middle East today - the struggle for influence across the region, with America and its Sunni Arab allies (and Israel) versus Iran, Syria and their nonstate allies, Hamas and Hezbollah. As the May 11 editorial in the Iranian daily Kayhan put it, "In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the U.S."

For now, Team America is losing on just about every front. How come? The short answer is that Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak, and the Sunni Arab world is feckless and divided. Any other questions?

THE TICKET?



...asks Drudge.

Oh, I sure hope so. In the merger business, we call it putting two turkeys together trying to make an eagle...


Like most everybody else, my initial prediction was Hillary, but my call for her #2 would still the best for the Democrats.

Evan Bayh. Even more now, since he's a Hillary ally who was pretty obviously positioning himself as her VP, he'd help heal the Demo HRC-BHO* rift better than any "dream" ticket.

A two-term Democrat governor from Republican Indiana and now its junior senator, a centrist with impeccable credentials and qualifications [he cut taxes, fer crissakes!], I have to admit Evan Bayh had a shot at my vote for president regardless of the GOP nominee was, but he decided not to run.

In this day of leftists and radicals claiming the American center, I have a weakness for good ole-fashioned Democrats, the few that are left. He'd balance the ticket between wack and not so wack, bigtime. Word up, BHO*.

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*Sen. Obama is the victim of bad initials. As much as using Barack Obama's "H"-for"Hussein" might be considered pejorative or racist or associating him with jihadists or Islam or certain exterminated Iraqi dictators, not using it seems even more pejorative. Even if his lovely missus has confirmed to the national press that yes, he is and he does.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Obama Shies Away Again

The most interesting thing about this blog post at Commentary is the first comment, by Michael J. Totten. The subject is the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas declaring its preference for Obama as some sort of new JFK. Totten writes:

Obama could easily make this go away: “Hamas will be VERY sorry if I am America’s president. They need to be careful what they wish for.” He doesn’t have to say anything else, but I doubt it occurs to anyone on his staff to go after Hamas instead of McCain. To me, that’s the obvious fix. What could McCain possibly say after that?



Simple. Elegant.

Sen. Obama had a chance to repudiate Hamas—at no cost to his candidacy. And once again Obama shied away from, just once, a spontaneous Sista Soulja moment, not to mention it would have been the right thing to do. They are murderers.

But Obama’s instincts took him elsewhere, to attack McCain. So much for “new politics.” So far, he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity, as the saying goes about the Middle East.


Michael J. Totten rules. The honest man’s honest man. Do visit his website http://www.michaeltotten.com. [Uncompensated endorsement.]

Totten has traveled the Middle East so much in the past 5 years that for practical purposes, he lives there, especially Lebanon, where the Islamicist rubber meets the Western road. The force of his honesty is such that the local freepaper [lefty, unlistenable altrock, bodypiercing and personal escort ads, etc.], the LA Weekly, published him regularly.

So, when a commenter appreciatively wrote, "McCain could actually use that," Totten replied:

Both Obama and McCain can take my advice. It’s free!


If I had to guess, Totten would decline an offer from either campaign to join as a paid advisor, as it would put his impartiality in doubt for the rest of his career. He's a journalist in the highest sense of the word---in the only sense of the word, and in fact, his Middle East travels are financed by freelance sales of his articles and his blog tipjar.

Nobody owns Michael J. Totten, and that's the highest praise I can give to any man.

Even when Totten writes stuff I don't want to hear, I listen. He's earned my respect and my trust. The Western world---and the world all over---ignores him at its peril. And its folly.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

The Nutty Perfesser...

This post by Todd Zwicki over at The Volokh Conspiracy defending Obama's relationship with Rev. Wright seems to me a pretty good one, actually. I'm rather surprised it hasn't gotten more play in the blogosphere. Maybe it's because it doesn't quite fit into what's becoming the tripartite partisan narrative: the hard left defends Wright since he more or less thinks what they do (maybe excepting the "govt created AIDS" stuff); the right thinks he's a wacko and so is everyone who hangs out with him; and the libs think Wright is mostly wrong, but are more worried about his electoral effect (will he kill Obama's chance at winning the presidential race?). The virtue of Zwicki's post is that it notes, entirely correctly, that it's not quite right to judge people by their friends, since most of us have friends and close associates who have some peculiarity that, when looked at singly, makes them seem entirely crazy.

That all seems right, but I'm not sure it quite gets Obama off the hook. I don't think Obama should be judged per se because he's friends with Rev. Wright. Rather, it seems to me that his relationship with Wright at least illuminates something about Obama's social and political views. After all, according to Obama's own memoirs, it was the way that Wright connected the gospel to social and political critique that first really attracted him to Trinity. What's more, his membership in Trinity is but of a larger pattern, where Obama seems often to inhabit the most starkly left-wing precincts of our society. He does, as Zwicki notes, seem like quite the decent guy and, truth be told, I would probably rather have him as president than the junior senator from NY. But show me where he is friends with, regularly interacts with, and engages with some set of people who don't think The New Republic is some sell-out rag, and then I'll begin to think that maybe we should give him a bit of a pass on Wright. Otherwise, it's another piece to the puzzle that is Obama and the picture it shows ain't exactly to my liking.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My Bad

Alas, work has piled on, the usual array of office crises has intervened, and the defense of capitalism this year has proven more burdensome than even my rare and finely-honed bemused cynicism envisioned. Accordingly: My promised posts on Doug Feith's book will have to wait until next week at the earliest. May empires not fall on this tragic news. At least not the NewsWalk Empire.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sooo...

Rev. Wright has decided not to keep his head down until November. Instead, it's all about him - he sees just how the US govt is capable of "anything" (like infecting people with AIDS), that it's unfair to demand that he criticize Farrakhan (after all, Mandela didn't throw Castro under the bus!), that 9/11 occurred because we're terrorists ourselves, and so on and so on.

Hoo-buddy! We've all really wandered into the fever swamps now and Rev. Wright has decided, apparently, that he's not backing down an inch. No sir, he's got nothing to apologize for. And that Obama denunciation/disavowal? Just "politics," dude, can't you see that?

So Obama has a choice. He's certain to be asked about these sets of remarks; what does he do? If he continues to denounce Wright's views (as opposed to Wright himself), he's just setting himself up, isn't he? Isn't it clear that Wright just *loves* the attention and will play things up as much as he can? And eventually, he's going to have to start answering specific questions about specific claims - does *he* believe the AIDS stuff, etc.?

The problem is, though, that if he goes whole hog and gets serious about his denunciations, that is what will dominate the news for at least the next week, right up through the Indiana primary, and he'll be dealt another big loss. What's more, he's in danger of becoming *defined* by his association with the wackadoo fringe of American religion. But here's the real kicker: setting aside some of the more conspiratorial stuff (e.g. AIDS), what about Wright's views would the hard-core lefties that populate too much of American academia actually disagree with? America as structurally racist? Check. Islamic terrorism essentially "caused" by US foreign policy? Check. Israel as the "problem" in the Middle East? Check. How many of these folks will sit still if Obama goes after Wright's views - who will pen the first essay lamenting Obama's capitulation to monied Jewish interests? Or the lack of his "real" progressive politics?

I'd really be enjoying this more, though, if I didn't think that he wasn't still the odds-on favorite for the presidency. Gulp.

Why Barack Obama Shunned the Flag Pin

Via the often-elegant Don Surber---

Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq War, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.”—B. Obama (D-IL)



Some of us---many of us---believe this country is already great, despite its flaws and its checkered history. The flag pin isn't just about the war in Iraq. You have to lose all sense of perspective to believe that.

We massacred each other over slavery, and could have sat out World Wars One and Two and gave Germany and Japan free rein over Europe and Asia since it didn’t affect us.

As to what proto-president Obama believes will make this country truly great at last, well, I’m willing to listen.

Perhaps he’s thought of something new.

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N.B.---The invaluable Mr. Surber also includes this quote:

The reason that I don’t always wear a flag pin is not that I disrespect the flag, it’s that when I started wearing a flag pin after 9/11, I gotta admit that sometimes I would misplace it and so I didn’t always put it on.


Well, that's a perspective that every man in America who left his wallet on the dresser while hustling off to work could sympathize with, and that's every single one of us. You could vote for a guy who understands that.

Word up, Brother Barack. When all else fails, stick with the truth.

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