Archive for August, 2006
31 Aug 2006

The Post Pulls the Plug on Plamegame

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The Washington Post concludes that we now know that “the primary source of the newspaper column in which Ms. Plame’s cover as an agent was purportedly blown in 2003 was former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage” the Plame Affair story is over and dead.

Mr. Armitage was one of the Bush administration officials who supported the invasion of Iraq only reluctantly. He was a political rival of the White House and Pentagon officials who championed the war and whom Mr. Wilson accused of twisting intelligence about Iraq and then plotting to destroy him. Unaware that Ms. Plame’s identity was classified information, Mr. Armitage reportedly passed it along to columnist Robert D. Novak “in an offhand manner, virtually as gossip,” according to a story this week by the Post’s R. Jeffrey Smith, who quoted a former colleague of Mr. Armitage.

It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House — that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame’s identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson — is untrue. The partisan clamor that followed the raising of that allegation by Mr. Wilson in the summer of 2003 led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, a costly and prolonged investigation, and the indictment of Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, on charges of perjury. All of that might have been avoided had Mr. Armitage’s identity been known three years ago.

And the Post identifies the real culprit:

it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame’s CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming — falsely, as it turned out — that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush’s closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It’s unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.

The Washington Post has joined the United States Senate in identifying former Ambassador Joseph Wilson as a liar.

31 Aug 2006

Impressive Design

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One possible Renovatio design

Motorcycle News reports:

Confederate motorcycles, the US makers of the amazing Hellcat and Wraith, has unveiled its latest prototype — and it looks just as mad as its predecessors.

The Renovatio is still in concept stage but the designs and specs look pretty far down the line considering the firm has had to recover from the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, which devastated the factory.

The minimalist design is centred around a GM based v-twin engine and not much else. The engine puts out 150bhp in standard trim but there’s a supercharger option that boosts that to 190bhp.

Confederate describe the concept as “Minimal; using the fewest pieces, moving parts and systems to accomplish her dynamic mission. She is uncompromised, light weight, possesses enormous torque, is capable of extreme performance, yet has maximum real world streetable active safety. She is graceful in motion, yet potentially brutal.”

So essentially you’ll be riding an engine and not much else.

The firm has also continued the use of its massive solid carbon fibre forks which is another thing that makes it look so out of the ordinary.

Confederate Motocycles homepage: What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

My wife is definitely going to think I’m too old.

31 Aug 2006

Imagine Gore or Kerry in Charge

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Jonah Goldberg suggests that criticism of Bush could be sometimes (just a trifle) exaggerated.

LORD KNOWS I have my problems with President Bush. He taps the federal coffers like a monkey smacking the bar for another cocaine pellet in an addiction study. Some of his sentences give me the same sensation as falling backward in one of those “trust” exercises, in which you just have to hope things work out. Yes, the Iraq invasion has gone badly, and to deny this is to suggest that Bush meant for things to turn out this way, which is even crueler than saying he failed to get it right.

But you know what? It’s time to cut the guy some slack.

Of course, I will get hippo-choking amounts of e-mail from Bush-haters telling me that all I ever do is cut Bush slack. But these folks grade on the curve. By their standards, anything short of demanding that a live, half-starved badger be sewn into his belly flunks.

Besides, the Bush-bashers have lost credibility. The most delicious example came this week when it was finally revealed that Colin Powell’s oak-necked major-domo Richard Armitage — and not some star chamber neocon — “outed” Valerie Plame, the spousal prop of Washington’s biggest ham, Joe Wilson. Now it turns out that instead of “Bush blows CIA agent’s cover to silence a brave dissenter” — as Wilson practices saying into the mirror every morning — the story is, “One Bush enemy inadvertently taken out by another’s friendly fire.”

And then there’s Hurricane Katrina. Yes, the federal government could have responded better. And of course there were real tragedies involved in that disaster. But you know what? Bad stuff happens during disasters, which is why we don’t call them tickle-parties.

The anti-Bush chorus, including enormous segments of the mainstream media, see Katrina as nothing more than a good stick for beating on piñata Bush’s “competence.” The hypocrisy is astounding because the media did such an abysmal job covering the reality of New Orleans (contrary to their reports, there were no bands of rapists, no disproportionate deaths of poor blacks, nothing close to 10,000 dead, etc.). It seems indisputable that Katrina highlighted the tragedy of New Orleans rather than create it. Long before Katrina, New Orleans was a dysfunctional city in a state with famously corrupt and incompetent leadership, many of whose residents think that it is the job of the federal government to make everyone whole.

The Mississippi coast was hit harder by Katrina than New Orleans was. And although New Orleans’ levee failure was a unique problem — one the local leadership ignored for decades — the devastation in Mississippi was in many respects more severe. And you know what? Mississippi has the same federal government as Louisiana, and reconstruction there is going gangbusters while, after more than $120 billion in federal spending, New Orleans remains a basket case. Here’s a wacky idea: Maybe it’s not all Bush’s fault.

Then, of course, there’s the war on terror. Democrats love to note that Bush hasn’t caught Osama bin Laden yet, as if this is the most vital metric for success. Yes, it’d be nice to catch Bin Laden — no doubt Ramsey Clark, the top legal gun for both LBJ and Saddam Hussein, will be looking for a new client soon. But even nicer than catching Bin Laden is not having thousands of dead Americans in New York, Washington and L.A. Contrary to all expert predictions, there hasn’t been a successful attack on the homeland since 9/11. Indeed, the current issue of the Atlantic Monthly contains a (typically) long, exhaustively reported cover story by James Fallows about how the U.S. is in fact winning the war on terror, thanks largely to Bush’s policies (though Fallows works hard not to credit Bush).

Political dissatisfaction with the president rests entirely on Iraq and overall Bush fatigue. The rest amounts to little more than Iraq-motivated brickbats gussied up to look like free-standing complaints. That’s how hate works: It looks for more excuses to hate in the same way that fire looks for more stuff to burn.

That’s why Bush’s Democratic critics flit about like bilious butterflies, exploiting each superficial or transient problem just long enough to score some points in the polls and then moving on. Bush’s Medicare plan was an egregious corporate giveaway, they cried, until seniors overwhelmingly reported that they like it. And the Patriot Act? Can anyone even remember what the Democrats were whining about? I think it had something to do with libraries that were never searched.

Look, things could obviously be a lot better. But they could be a lot worse too. John Kerry could be president.

31 Aug 2006

Fisking Olbermann’s Pretentious Rant

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Keith Olbermann put “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” on his stereo, turned the volume up on high, and proceeded to explain to MSNBC’s viewers that Donald Rumsfeld was being McCarthyite by criticizing defeatism, and that Rumsfeld’s urging courage and endurance made him like Neville Chamberlain, while persons outside government, demanding appeasement, retreat, and surrender in the face of militant Islam were really all courageous Churchills.

Rick Moran already has performed the obligatory task of shredding Olberman’s nonsense in detail.

I will just observe mself that Olberman’s rant was delivered in a tendentious and partisan tone, and included insolent rhetoric, absurd allegations and expressions of wildly subjective opinion utterly and completely incompatible with the role of a supposedly objective commentator.

For example:

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelope this nation – he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have – inadvertently or intentionally – profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emperor’s New Clothes.

The spectacle of another empty-suit talking head climbing atop his electronic soapbox, and striking heroic poses, while insulting a variety of individuals in the current administration who left seven figure jobs heading up major business organizations to work in government as “profiting and benefiting, both personally and politically” from a syntactically confused melange of leftwing paranoid fantasies was particularly contemptible.

31 Aug 2006

John Lehman Wonders Are We Winning the War?

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Former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, no democrat, evaluates the Bush administration’s policies, accomplishments, and failures.

We are at war with jihadists motivated by a violent ideology based on an extremist interpretation of the Islamic faith. This enemy is decentralized and geographically dispersed around the world. Its organizations range from a fully functioning state such as Iran to small groups of individuals in American cities.

We are fighting this war on three distinct fronts: the home front, the operational front and the strategic-political front. Let us look first at the home front. The Bush administration deserves much credit for the fact that, despite determined efforts to carry them out, there have been no successful Islamist attacks within the United States since Sept. 11, 2001. This is a significant achievement, but there are growing dangers and continuing vulnerabilities…

One of the most deep-seated of these problems is the U.S. government’s tendency to treat this war as a law enforcement issue. Following a recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission, Congress sought to remedy this problem by creating a national security service within the FBI to focus on preventive intelligence rather than forensic evidence. This has proved to be a complete failure. As late as June of this year, Mark Mershon of the FBI testified that the bureau will not monitor or surveil any Islamist unless there is a “criminal predicate.” Thus the large Islamist support infrastructure that the commission identified here in the United States is free to operate until its members actually commit a crime.

Our attempt to reform the FBI has failed. What is needed now is a separate domestic intelligence service without police powers, like the British MI-5…

Turning to the operational front, our objectives are to destroy the capability of Islamist organizations to attack us and to deny them geographic sanctuaries in which they can recruit, train and operate.

The post-Sept. 11 threat demanded preemptive attack against Islamist bases, and this was done without delay in the invasion of Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaeda and remove the Taliban government, its ally and supporter. It was a brilliantly executed operation in which all our armed forces and CIA operatives combined in a ruthlessly efficient victory. In the succeeding years, however, the Taliban and al-Qaeda have been able to regroup, rebuild and re-attack because they enjoy a secure sanctuary largely free from attack within the border areas of Pakistan.

The next military operation of the war was, of course, the invasion of Iraq. Here again the combined military operations of the United States and Britain were brilliantly successful in defeating Iraqi forces and removing Saddam Hussein and his regime. But in the aftermath of that victory, grave blunders were made. There was a total misunderstanding of the requirements for successful occupation.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was proved right in his keeping the initial invasion force small and agile, but desperately wrong in disbanding all Iraqi security forces and civil service with no plan to fill the resulting vacuum. Certainly it is hard now to understand the logic of that decision.

The military occupation in Iraq is consuming practically the entire defense budget and stretching the Army to its operational limits. This is understood quite clearly by both our friends and our enemies, and as a result, our ability to deter enemies around the world is disintegrating.

This brings us to the third front, the strategic-political. The jihadist regime in Iran feels no reservation about flaunting its policy to go nuclear, and it unleashed Hezbollah, its client terrorist organization, to attack Israel. In Somalia a jihadist group has seized control of the government. In Pakistan, Islamists are becoming more powerful, and attacks within India are increasing. Governments in Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Algeria and Jordan are under increasing Islamist pressure. In the Pacific, North Korea now feels free to rattle its missile sabers, firing seven on America’s Independence Day. China is rapidly building its 600-ship navy to fill the military vacuum that we are creating in the Pacific as our fleet shrinks well below critical mass. Not one of these states believes that we can undertake any credible additional military operations while we are bogged down in Iraq.

The indoctrination and recruiting of jihadists from Indonesia, South Asia and the Middle East are carried out through religious establishments that are supported overwhelmingly by the Saudi and Iranian governments. Even in the United States, some 80 percent of Islamic mosques and schools are closely aligned with the Wahhabist sect and heavily dependent on Saudi funding. Five years after Sept. 11, nothing has been done to materially affect this root source of jihadism. The movement continues to grow, fueled by an ever-increasing flow of petrodollars from the Persian Gulf.

There is no evidence that the administration has ever raised this matter with the Saudi government as a high-level issue, and — just as damaging — it has never acknowledged it as an issue to the American people. Thus Rumsfeld’s question — are we killing, capturing or deterring jihadists faster than they are being produced? — must be answered with an emphatic no.

In reviewing progress on the three fronts of this war, even the most sanguine optimist cannot yet conclude that we are winning or that we can win without some significant changes of policy.

31 Aug 2006

Munch’s “The Scream” Recovered

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The Scream. 1893. Oil, tempera and pastel on cardboard. Nasjonalgalleriet.

Reuters reports that Edvard Munch‘s best known painting, The Scream, stolen by armed robbers in 2004 has been recovered.

30 Aug 2006

Fact Checking a Liability Lawsuit

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Ted Frank, at Overlawyered, demonstrates that you don’t have to go all the way to Lebanon to find the mainstream media failing to apply the slightest critical standards to news items originating from the kinds of sources to whom they are sympathetic. Hezbollah and liability lawyers have a friend in the MSM. Read the whole thing.

30 Aug 2006

Beretta Xtrema 2 Shotgun

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Gas-operated semi-automatic shotguns, like the renowned Remington 1100, have been much admired for their ability to reduce recoil. Beretta’s Xtrema 2 shotguns take recoil reduction up a notch, apparently to the point of virtual elimination, as is demonstrated in this wonderfully nostalgic video of old-fashioned trick shooting used to promote a new model shotgun.

That shotgun is not cheap, but it looks like a fine semi-auto. Kudos to Beretta for some excellent advertising.

Hat tip to Henry Bernatonis.

30 Aug 2006

Your Tax Dollars at Work

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The Washington Post reports:

The three most prosperous large counties in the United States are in the Washington suburbs, according to census figures released yesterday, which show that the region has the second-highest income and the least poverty of any major metropolitan area in the country.

Rapidly growing Loudoun County has emerged as the wealthiest jurisdiction in the nation, with its households last year having a median income of more than $98,000. It is followed by Fairfax and Howard counties, with Montgomery County not far behind.

That accumulation of suburban wealth, local economists said, is a side effect of the enormous flow of federal money into the region through contracts for defense and homeland security work in the five years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, coming after the local technology boom of the 1990s. “When you put that together . . . you have a recipe for heightened prosperity,” said Anirban Basu, an economist at a Baltimore consulting firm.

The result is that the Washington area’s households rank second in income only to those in San Jose, eclipsing such well-heeled places as San Francisco and the bedroom suburbs of New York.

We came very close to moving to Loudoun County recently.

30 Aug 2006

Tsuba on Tosogu.com

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There is write-up on a tsuba (Japanese sword guard) for which we are temporary custodian on Rich Turner’s Tosogu.com. This one has a nautical motif. Tosogu means Japanese furniture in general.

30 Aug 2006

Viewing Terrorists from the Right Legal Perspective

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Douglas R. Burgess Jr. makes the argument again that Islamic terrorists should be being viewed legally as a contemporary species of pirate.

More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, “enemies of the human race.” From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable. More important, there are enormous potential benefits of applying this legal definition to contemporary terrorism…

Until 1856, international law recognized only two legal entities: people and states. People were subject to the laws of their own governments; states were subject to the laws made amongst themselves. The Declaration of Paris created a third entity: people who lacked both the individual rights and protections of law for citizens and the legitimacy and sovereignty of states. This understanding of pirates as a legally distinct category of international criminals persists to the present day, and was echoed in the 1958 and 1982 U.N. Conventions on the Law of the Sea. The latter defines the crime of piracy as “any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends.” This definition of piracy as private war for private ends may hold the crux of a new legal definition of international terrorists…

TO UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL OF DEFINING TERRORISM as a species of piracy, consider the words of the 16th-century jurist Alberico Gentili’s De jure belli: “Pirates are common enemies, and they are attacked with impunity by all, because they are without the pale of the law. They are scorners of the law of nations; hence they find no protection in that law.” Gentili, and many people who came after him, recognized piracy as a threat, not merely to the state but to the idea of statehood itself. All states were equally obligated to stamp out this menace, whether or not they had been a victim of piracy. This was codified explicitly in the 1856 Declaration of Paris, and it has been reiterated as a guiding principle of piracy law ever since. Ironically, it is the very effectiveness of this criminalization that has marginalized piracy and made it seem an arcane and almost romantic offense. Pirates no longer terrorize the seas because a concerted effort among the European states in the 19th century almost eradicated them. It is just such a concerted effort that all states must now undertake against terrorists, until the crime of terrorism becomes as remote and obsolete as piracy.

But we are still very far from such recognition for the present war on terror. President Bush and others persist in depicting this new form of state vs. nonstate warfare in traditional terms, as with the president’s declaration of June 2, 2004, that “like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the United States.” He went on: “We will not forget that treachery and we will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy.” What constitutes ultimate victory against an enemy that lacks territorial boundaries and governmental structures, in a war without fields of battle or codes of conduct? We can’t capture the enemy’s capital and hoist our flag in triumph. The possibility of perpetual embattlement looms before us.

If the war on terror becomes akin to war against the pirates, however, the situation would change. First, the crime of terrorism would be defined and proscribed internationally, and terrorists would be properly understood as enemies of all states. This legal status carries significant advantages, chief among them the possibility of universal jurisdiction. Terrorists, as hostis humani generis, could be captured wherever they were found, by anyone who found them. Pirates are currently the only form of criminals subject to this special jurisdiction.

Second, this definition would deter states from harboring terrorists on the grounds that they are “freedom fighters” by providing an objective distinction in law between legitimate insurgency and outright terrorism. This same objective definition could, conversely, also deter states from cracking down on political dissidents as “terrorists,” as both Russia and China have done against their dissidents.

Recall the U.N. definition of piracy as acts of “depredation [committed] for private ends.” Just as international piracy is viewed as transcending domestic criminal law, so too must the crime of international terrorism be defined as distinct from domestic homicide or, alternately, revolutionary activities. If a group directs its attacks on military or civilian targets within its own state, it may still fall within domestic criminal law. Yet once it directs those attacks on property or civilians belonging to another state, it exceeds both domestic law and the traditional right of self-determination, and becomes akin to a pirate band.

We previously cited Mackubin Thomas Owens’ Detainees or POWs?, which identifies Sir Michael Howard as making the same point in 2001:

The real reason the detainees are not entitled to POW status is to be found in a distinction first made by the Romans and subsequently incorporated into international law by way of medieval European jurisprudence. As the eminent military historian, Sir Michael Howard, wrote in the October 2, 2001 edition of the Times of London, the Romans distinguished between bellum, war against legitimus hostis, a legitimate enemy, and guerra, war against latrunculi — pirates, robbers, brigands, and outlaws — “the common enemies of mankind.”

The present governments of Britain and the United States have vast military resources and enormously large cabinet departments filled with trained attorneys. It speaks eloquently of the decay of our educational system internationally that this fundamentally important aperçu needs to be advanced in the remoter reaches of the blogosphere five years after 9/11.

29 Aug 2006

Dumping on American Popular Culture

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The irascible Spengler lambastes US popular culture, particularly Rock N’ Roll. One gets the feeling that Spengler missed Disco and Rap. Lucky guy!

No other nation rejects the notion of a high culture with such vehemence, or celebrates the mediocre with such giddiness. Americans prefer to identify with what is like them, rather than emulate what is better than them. The epitome of its popular culture is a national contest to choose from among random entrants a new singing star, the “American Idol”.

Three or four generations ago, US popular culture shared a porous boundary with classical culture. The most successful musical comedy of the 1920s, Jerome Kern’s Showboat, contained classical elements requiring operatic voices. George Gershwin, the 1930s’ most popular tunesmith, prided himself on an opera, Porgy and Bess. Benny Goodman, the decade’s top jazz musician, recorded Mozart. The most successful singer of the 1930s, Bing Crosby, had a voice of classical quality. Never mind that what he sang was insipid; his listeners knew very well that they could not sing like Bing Crosby.

Americans of earlier generations, in short, listened to music that they admired but could not hope to imitate, because they looked up to a higher plane of culture and technique. Today Americans favor performers with whom they can identify precisely because they have no more technique or culture than the average drunk bellowing into a karaoke machine. Taste descended by degrees. Frank Sinatra sounded more average than Bing Crosby; Elvis Presley more average than Sinatra; The Beatles more average than Elvis; and Bruce Springsteen (or Madonna) about as average as one can get, until American Idol came along to elevate what was certified to average.

The dominant popular style of the 1930s, Swing, required in essence the same skills as did classical music. By the early 1950s, every adolescent with a newly acquired guitar could hope to follow in the acne-pitted footsteps of Bill Haley or Buddy Holly. This was “a voice that came from you and me”, as Don McLean intoned in his mawkish ode to Holly, America Pie (1972). That was just the problem.

Stylistically, rock ‘n’ roll offered little novelty. It drew upon the music of rural resentment, the country and hillbilly music that appealed to failing farmers at county fairs and honky-tonks. Rural America began its Depression a decade before the rest of the country, and country music developed as a parallel culture before Hollywood adopted singing cowboys such as Gene Autrey and Roy Rogers during the 1930s. Hard-time country audiences preferred the hard edge of a Hank Williams to the mellifluous crooners who charmed the urban audience.

What requires explanation is how the whining, nasal, querulous style of country music came to dominate national taste with the rock ‘n’ roll of the 1950s. The species leap from the county fair to The Ed Sullivan Show occurred because the United States, for the first time in its history, had spawned a distinctive youth culture. That is, the postwar generation of American adolescents was the first with sufficient spending power to afford its own culture. Before World War I, adolescents went to work. The years after World War II produced an unprecedented level of affluence, and teenagers for the first time had money to spend on records, instruments and cars. Young people are as resentful as they are narcissistic, and the easily reproduced, droning complaint of country music satisfied both criteria.

The resentful country folk who formed the first audience for the now-dominant style in American music turn up in literature as noble, suffering peasants fighting for a traditional way of life, as in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Nothing could be further from the truth. American farmers were migratory entrepreneurs who did well during World War I, when agricultural exports surged, and very badly during the 1920s, when exports fell, and even worse during the 1930s. Country people were resentful because they were becoming poorer. That was unfortunate, but feeling sorry for one’s self is no excuse to inflict the likes of Hank Williams on the world. The object of high art is to lift the listener out of the misery of his personal circumstance by showing him a better world in which his petty troubles are beside the point. What is the point of music that assists the listener in wallowing in his troubles? Some country-music fanciers no doubt will find this callous, and I want to disclose that I do not care one way or another whether their wife left them, their dog died, or their truck broke down.

Word-play aside, what does this have to do with idolatry? Resentment is simply an expression of envy, the first and deadliest of sins. Adam and Eve envied God’s knowledge of good and evil, Cain envied Abel, Ishmael envied Isaac, Esau envied Jacob, Joseph’s brothers envied the favorite son, and the Gentiles envied the nation of Israel. Why reject what comes from on high to worship one’s own image, unless you resent the higher authority?

The culture of resentment runs so deep in the American character that the self-pitying drone of immiserated farmers, amplified by the petulant adolescents of the 1950s as a remonstration against parental authority, now dominates the musical life of American Christians. Not only Christian country, but Christian rock and Christian heavy metal have become mainstream commercial genre. I agree with the minority of Christians who eschew Christian rock as “the music of the devil”, although not for the same reasons: it is immaterial whether Christian rock substitutes “Jesus Christ” for “Peggy Sue”, permitting its listeners to associate putatively Christian music with secular music with implied sexual content. It is diabolical because the style itself is born of resentment.

He clearly likes Broadway musicals and Swing, which effectively impeaches Spengler’s taste in my own view. Not to overlook all the problems with using “Spengler” as a soubriquet for someone writing from a traditionalist perspective. Oswald Spengler was a seriously unsound thinker. He was an historicist, i.e. he believed history unfolded in predictable cycles, based on mystical principles. Worse yet, he was a socialist and an authoritarian.

I’m going to go put on Joan Jett doing I Love Rock N’ Roll.

29 Aug 2006

Jihadi Road Rage in San Francisco

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1 Dead, 15 injured

There has been another case of Islamic murder by motor vehicle. The SF Chronicle reports:

As many as 14 people were injured this afternoon by a motorist who drove around San Francisco deliberately running them down before being arrested by police, who believe the same driver struck and killed a man earlier today in Fremont.

At least one hit-and-run victim remained in critical condition this evening.

Reports of the incidents began pouring in at 12:47 p.m., police said.

Within a half-hour, San Francisco police had cornered and arrested 29-year-old Omeed Aziz Popal, who has addresses in Ceres (Stanislaus County) and Fremont.

Authorities suspect Popal was the same driver who ran over and killed a 54-year-old man in Fremont around noon….

Mayor Gavin Newsom visited five of the victims at San Francisco General Hospital.

“This was so senseless and inexplicable,” the mayor said afterward.

Note how the Chronicle, in the case of this kind of story, carefully overlooks parallels, and fails to discern any possible religious motivation.

Gateway Pundit has a link collection.

videos

29 Aug 2006

Seven and a Match (2001)

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Yesterday evening, I caught a film, running on IFC, written and directed, by a more recent Yale graduate than most I know personally, Derek Simonds ’94, titled Seven and a Match.

It was a rather depressing Gen X-ers’ version of Big Chill, in which late 20’s friends from Yale re-unite at one of their group’s family home in Maine.

The hostess Ellie (Tina Holmes) is in bad shape. Her parents were killed in a car crash, leaving Ellie nothing but the house, whose taxes alone she cannot cover from her own income. Ellie used to work at a camp for disabled children. Driven to desperation, Ellie has gone into a tail-spin, losing her job, selling her house’s furniture to get by, and scheming to burn it down for the insurance. Her college friends have been invited to supply cover for the intended arson.

It’s one of those weekends: renewing old friendships and animosities, status insecurities, fear of commitment, drinking, infidelities abound. Two girls cheat on their down-market boyfriends, but decide they want them after all, when the boyfriends start to walk out.

I was finding the film depressing, until there came a great moment.

After dinner, the gang retires to the living room to chat. Ellie reveals her problems and her plan, and the friends are not eager to participate, so Ellie sulks off to bed. Before long, struggling actor Sid (Eion Bailey) and bad blonde Whit (Heather Donahue, best known for the Blair Witch Project) are left alone, pouring down shots, and reminiscing about old times. “I had sex with Blair in that very chair,” boasts Sid, adding details about glassware broken during moments of passion. Whit rises, dims the lights, and pats the chair by way of invitation.

When he sits down, she climbs into his lap, then pauses, and observes: “There is something I like to say on occasions like this.” …pause.. “It has become something of a tradition.” ….longer pause… and throwing back her head… “I’m really drunk!”

A line like that will make you forgive a lot in a movie.

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