July 2007 Archives
July 4, 2007
Happy 4th of July
We couldn't let the day go by here at WWWtW without noting it. Whatever y'all are doing, I wish my fellow contributors and our readers a happy fourth. May God bless America: "America, America, may God thy gold refine, till all success be nobleness and every gain divine."
July 6, 2007
Raindrops on roses
One of my heroes is Alois Podhajsky. Podhajsky was the Austrian colonel who, during WWII, focused his considerable energy and passion on...horses. It's almost enough to make one laugh, or even get angry. There is the world, tumbling down, all too many innocent people dying and being killed everywhere in horrible ways, the great powers battling, good and evil duking it out. And this fellow, drafted by the Anschluss into the de facto status of a soldier on the wrong side, thinks and works entirely toward the end that the Lippizan horses of Austria, the Spanische Hofreitschule of Vienna, and the ancient art of dressage shall not perish from the earth. Is this not Quixotic, not to mention trivial?
July 10, 2007
Raindrops on Roses--Part II
The lists of favorite things from you, gentle and gentlemanly readers, have been so excellent that I'm almost hesitant to move on to Part II. This is especially true because your approach to the things you list is so obviously free of wrong attitudes that Part II is inapplicable. And please don't feel that you must now abandon that thread for this one.
But here goes:
The question before us is this: If there are indeed things valuable in themselves, irrespective of any utilitarian value they may or may not have, how is it possible that a love of them and a devotion to them can be corrupting?
There are, unfortunately, all too many answers. One answer is that such a love can be corrupting when we fail to recognize a scale or hierarchy of values and are reckless of the ways in which the promotion of the valuable thing in question may harm other valuable things. An obvious example here is sex. Readers of other posts of mine know that I'm fond of paraphrasing a saying by Denis de Rougemont, cited by C.S. Lewis, "When Eros is made a god, he becomes a devil." The human wreckage of the sexual revolution speaks for itself of the dangers of idolizing one good at the expense of others. The fact that an act or an object is beautiful and wonderful in an intrinsic and non-utilitarian way never means that it is the most important thing or that it should be treated as the most important thing in life, and to do so risks unguessable harm, ultimately and paradoxically, to the beautiful thing itself.
July 12, 2007
What? I mean, que?
A Dallas discount chain will start accepting pesos in payment for goods. They're holding a big party to announce the new policy.
Could someone explain this to me? Is this even legal? How the dickens are they actually going to get paid? Do they just change the pesos at the present exchange rate at their local bank?
I suppose I ought to be amused. But somehow, I'm not.
HT: Michelle Malkin
July 16, 2007
I heart golf.
Another reason to love golf: it seems that about a third of the men on Tour are professing Christians of humble and endearing faith. Almost every other winner gives glory to God in his interviews, sometimes to the amusing discomfiture of the interviewer. Yesterday an American named Jonathan Byrd won the John Deere classic in Illinois, a smaller tournament lacking in big-name players but thereby offering a better opportunity to the younger guys. Interviewed by Bobby Clampett, he said that he prayed to God for calm during the final holes. If that sounds hokey to you — well, then you’ve probably never played golf. Calm in this game, in pressure situations, really must have a divine origin.
Poor Tim Clark, a South African who held the lead almost all day Sunday until his last two holes, showed on the 17th why this is so. His second shot on the par-5, slightly mis-hit, landed on the upslope of a fairway bunker, right near the lip, leaving a near-impossible shot. Had it carried 18 more inches, it likely would have taken a nice bounce up toward the hole, at worst coming to rest in the greenside bunker to set up a fairly routine up-and-down for birdie.
Just another week on the PGA Tour. Byrd’s victory give him a bid to next week’s British Open, as well as a spot in next year’s Masters. Nice perks for a “smaller” tournament.
July 17, 2007
I'll forgo any pretense of being shocked or even the least bit alarmed at finding out that our first Muslim member of Congress has been caught on tape displaying sympathy for crackpot...Well, let's hear it in his words:
It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box -- dismiss you.Yeah. It would be nice, because there's something in the phrasing that might put the nutballs in your debt.
The strange decline of privacy.
It is not obvious that true privacy in our day will endure the ministrations of its narrow partisans. There is a bizarre sort of double pressure on the idea of privacy right now: a simultaneous exaggeration and diminution. Its deterioration as a firm principle of life proceeds at once with the most horse and desperate cries in its defense; almost as if a howling mob of revolutionists, their hands bloodied from the work of expropriating and uprooting, now turn around and with all the sincerity of madmen, demand that their appointed despots reinstate Tradition, so that they may live by the simple customs and prejudices by which simple men lived before the Revolution. It is like the most ferocious Jacobin turning monarchist just as the guillotine’s blade falls on the King; and stridently claiming he was monarchist all along. It has an air about it, undoubtedly inspiring a certain human sympathy, of furtive penitence; perhaps it is the confession of faithless men. In any event, it is an intriguing phenomenon.
July 19, 2007
Conservatism after Bush.
What should Conservatism look like after Bush? I try my hand at this question over at Redstate. Have a look.
July 20, 2007
The Right Call?
From The Weekly Standard comes a pedestrianly written but, because of the subject matter, moderately mesmerizing article entitled "Cheney Speaks", in which Stephen Hayes recounts the following from the events of 9/11:
Moments later Cheney spoke to Bush for the third time. The Secret Service had told Cheney that another aircraft was rapidly approaching Washington, D.C. The combat air patrol had been scrambled to patrol the area. We have a decision to make, Cheney told the president: Should we give the pilots an order authorizing them to shoot down civilian aircraft that could be used to conduct further attacks in Washington? Cheney told Bush that he supported such a directive. The president agreed.
July 23, 2007
Last year one of my blog colleagues from Right Reason posted a piece on his own site in which he argued that Islam is the greater threat to us in the West and that we should unite to oppose it. The comparative language was meant to contrast the culture war with Islam with the culture war between social conservatives and liberals on domestic issues like abortion.
In response to that post, I put up one on the old Enchiridion Militis called "Incommensurable Conflicts" in which I argued that the two conflicts cannot be compared and that the statement that the culture war with Islam is more important than that with the Left is just false. I instanced there some of the horrors of the abortion culture.
Now I want to make the same statement about incommensurable conflicts, though in response to the opposite claim.
July 24, 2007
The Jihad-sedition law.
My call last week for a Jihad-sedition law stirred up a hornet’s nest. While it was not a new idea, I often forget that what is old hat to me may be new and shocking to others. I also must take some blame for some misinterpretations — because the simple fact is that my writing, in one paragraph in particular, was a convoluted mess.
So here, in legal and more precise language, is what I propose:
July 25, 2007
Writing in the Claremont Review of Books, Diana Schaub delivers a fine review of a new two-volume collection called American Speeches, published by the Library of America. The effect of reading this essay is to induce at once pride and sadness; for America was once a land of great orators, in our Congress most of all, but today the quality of her rhetoric has fallen into grave decline. Professor Schaub effectively demonstrates this decline by contrasting the two volumes, the one consisting of oratory up through the Civil War, the other after the war.
Discriminating Against the Jihad
America lies torpidly beneath a consoling, yet leaden blanket of illusions, made all the more inviting by the mythology which has grown up around - or, rather, has been imposed by representatives of the dominant liberal elite - the history of her post-WWII period. According to this mythology, America was a nation which was conceived, not as the expression of a distinct and settled culture, albeit a restless one, but as a promise of the future; and that future, moreover, was cruelly deferred for a significant segment of the population, deferred, that is, until liberals awakened the conscience of the nation and roused her to realize that future. And we might well acknowledge that, despite the grotesque "unfurling of history" quality of the liberal narrative, that there was a terrible contradiction and injustice that begged for rectification.
Yet, America did not seem to rest content, having at least acknowledged a troubled history and moved to redress it. To the contrary, the liberal narrative laid hold of her authoritative institutions, if not the hearts of the people, and that glorious promise of the future cast ever-darkening shadows over the present, and even as Americans adjusted their habits to correct those perhaps now outmoded, showed it as little more than a collage of injustices. American history was now a litany of abuses and perfidies. Perhaps her essence was no more than this. At the heart of this emergent image of the republic, or at least near to its heart, was the notion that much injustice resulted from the drawing of distinctions, and the actions that followed upon such employments of reason.
July 26, 2007
Don't Listen to What They Say, Watch What They (Don't) Do
In all of the controversies regarding immigration policy, the standard trope of the GOP establishment has been that Hispanics are natural Republicans and the future of the party.
There are 21 current congressional districts that were majority Hispanic in the 2000 Census. All are represented by Democrats, which Mehlman might explain by pointing to Pete Wilson and the GOP's historic treatment of Hispanics. But if the GOP has a good message to offer to Hispanics, why isn't it even running candidates in Hispanic districts? Of those 21 districts, the GOP fielded no candidate in 6 of them, and provided no funding for 14 more. The only candidate to receive any support from the national party, incumbent congressman Henry Bonilla, lost in 2006.
Of the 42 districts that are one-third or more Hispanic, 35 elected Democrats in 2006. Excepting Bonilla's district, none of those 36 Democrats received a serious GOP challenge last year - much less one on which Ken Mehlman's RNC or National Republican Congressional Committee was willing to spend a dime. If Mehlman really believed that "Hispanic Americans are natural Republicans," as he wrote in the Journal, he would have at least run serious candidates in these districts. Howard Dean sent Democrats to run in Republican districts in the belief that people in Indiana would see that not all Democrats have horns, which could yield seats in the long run and pleasant surprises in the short run. Mehlman could have tried that in East L.A. or along the Rio Grande. He didn't. (Timothy P. Carney, in the July 2 issue of The American Conservative)
Inaction belies trite rhetoric; the reality is far grimmer:
The post-modern American empire turns inward, against it's own population. The elite effectively occupies the nation against its will through the invading force that is the illegal alien mass, illicitly, even illegally, trading off to a foreign population a stake in the American Commons for greater power and the economic needs of their lobbyist overlords. (Dennis Dale)
In other words, it is not about the GOP and the future of conservatism; it is about the plutocracy. Ahem.
July 28, 2007
And now for some good news
Today, something that is right with the world:
From browsing Compass Direct News Service, I have just learned (rather late in the game) that Christian convert Bahaa El-Akkad was released at the end of April from highly unpleasant imprisonment in Egypt.
July 29, 2007
For this Sunday: Double-think about Double-effect
With the anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki fast upon us, I thought this excerpt might be of some historical interest, in as much as the prinicples discussed are the same as those several of us defended in this post. Situations change, but the temptations do not. A Catholic philosopher addressing her co-religionists of a slightly earlier time, in the era of the Cold War:
The principal wickedness which is a temptation to those engaged in warfare is the killing of the innocent, which may often be done with impunity and even to the glory of those who do it...Now it is one of the most vehement and repeated teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition that the shedding of innocent blood is forbidden by the divine law. No man may be punished except for his own crime, and those "whose feet are swift to shed innocent blood" are always represented as God's enemies...
Catholics, however, can hardly avoid paying at least lip-service to that law. So we must ask: how is it that there has been so comparatively little conscience exercised on the subject among them? The answer is: double-think about double-effect.
July 31, 2007
Dave Matthews and the apocalypse.
A professor at Washington and Lee University by the name of Eduardo Velázquez, in his recent book A Consumer’s Guide to the Apocalypse — in my incomplete reading, a rip-roaring adventure in polemics and philosophy, bombast and humor, caricature and insight — dedicates a chapter to a careful analysis of the music and lyrics of Dave Matthews. Now for those readers over 40, Dave Matthews is the songwriter and frontman for an exceedingly successful rock band, whose albumic strategy, if you will, has largely consisted of a couple very catchy tunes supported by a mass of more complex and enterprising material, much of which is uneven but the great peaks of which have formed the soundtrack for a generation of young men and women.