A family situation will keep me away from this post (and these posts) for perhaps the next seven days or so. See you later.
Monday, January 29, 2007
If you haven’t yet, you might want to go read about the debate in England between London Mayor Ken Livingstone (insert “Red Ken” here) and Daniel Pipes on “The Clash of Civilizations.” It has been getting no coverage from the mainstream media, although cameras and journalists were apparently present in force at the time.
And via LGF, there’s a story in Britain’s Daily Mail on a poll which says that 37 % of young Muslims in that country desire to live under Sharia law. And, naturally enough, 36 % of the same 16-24 year old age group believe that conversion away from Islam should be punishable by death.
On the broader subject of race relations in Britain, Clive Davis has a column in the Washington Times, on things stirred up by Britain’s “Celebrity Big Brother” TV show.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
There are a variety of signs that while senators in Washington continue to bloviate and grandstand regarding “the surge,” the new security strategy for Baghdad is in fact being taken very seriously indeed by the bad guys. Baghdad blogger Omar has a lot on the subject.
There are some stories floating around the media about an odd joke Hillary Clinton made today at a rally in Iowa. There are also some stories about her singing of the National Anthem being caught on an open mike yesterday. However, I’m far more interested in the tone of her remarks today about the war in Iraq and President Bush, and about her attitude to taking on the challenge of that war were she to become president. From Reuters:
“The president has said this is going to be left to his successor,” the New York senator said during a jammed rally in a fairground exhibit hall in Davenport as she concluded a two-day campaign swing in the state that kicks off the 2008 presidential campaign.
“I think it’s the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it,” she said. “This was his decision to go to war, he went with an ill-conceived plan, an incompetently executed strategy and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office.”
Are you kidding me? Someone who would have us believe that she is fit to be president is whining that she personally resents that she will have to deal with the reality of a war that the United States is engaged in? As if this just about how large her workload is going to be! The current president is somehow obliged to clear the decks so that she doesn’t have to deal with these problems, instead of making the best judgment in terms of the national interests of the United States.
Well, Hillary, if the job sounds just too damn hard, then there’s no one telling you that you have to do it.
(I apologize — especially in the light of the previous post — if this one does not seem all that “charitable.” Personally, I think it best for everyone, including herself, that Hillary Clinton does not find herself burdened with responsibilities that overwhelm her abilities.)
Millions of Christian church-goers today would have heard what, for many Dylan fans, might be called the Watered-Down Love reading. It’s Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13:
1: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2: And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3: If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4: Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
5: it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6: it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
7: Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8: Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9: For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
10: but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
11: When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
12: For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
13: So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
That’s from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. It’s pretty clear the degree to which Dylan’s 1981 song, Watered-Down Love echoes this passage. (Click here to hear a YouTube version, from 1981, slightly cut at the start.)
You don’t want a love that’s pure
You wanna drown love
You want a watered-down love
Love that’s pure, it don’t make no claims,
Intercedes for you ‘stead of casting you blame,
Will not deceive you or lead you to transgression,
Won’t write it up and make you sign a false confession.
Now, Dylan generally seems to favor the King James translation of the Bible (as witnessed by his quotes on “Theme Time Radio Hour”) where, instead of “love,” the word “charity” is used. That good old atheist, Christopher Ricks, explains all this as well as anyone (while at the same time showing little charity to the designers of the Memorial Church at Stanford University):
At Stanford University in California, the Memorial Church is decked with allegorical figures: Faith, Hope, Charity, and Love. Designed by the great architect Maximus Crassus Ignoramus (of Soloi, birthplace of the solecism), the Memorial Church is certainly a memorial to something. A memorial to the railroad millionaire Leland Stanford’s wish to railroad St. Paul by erecting not just the Christian trinity of graces, Faith, Hope, and Charity, but a quadrangle that can then grace the university expansion. Fourfold! Billfold! A memorial to institutional indifference towards the English language as well as towards history, including the history that it purports to honor. For charity is love, or certainly was so (and therefore is so, if you respect the enduring life of the tradition that you are invoking), within the supreme sequence voiced in St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 13: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
But now abideth in an educational establishment not just these three but these four. And once Love is to be granted a separate spot, what is left for Charity to undertake? Up there on the facade of the Memorial Church, she is apparently doling out soup to the unfortunate. Well worth doing, and the great virtue that is Charity does not disdain such compassionate doing of good. But this is not because she is distinct from Love, it is because she incorporates such love within the many kinds and kindnesses of her patient love. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind.” Charity is pure love.
Love that’s pure hopes all things
Believes all things
The opening words of Watered-Down Love are themselves an act of hope and of belief: in the simplest way, the hope that those who hear the song will recognize (in both sense of recognize) what is being alluded to, together with the belief that St. Paul is to be believed when (in the words of that glory of the language, the King James translation) the saint speaks with such divine eloquence of this the highest form of Love, the form that the English language then called Charity so as to distinguish it from, for instance, the love that is erotic love.
The four verses highlighted above read thusly in the King James:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Ricks says of this:
Those closing clauses constitute one of the most noble progressions ever realized. Dylan’s song does nothing to demean this but does have the courage to play mischievously with it (as against competing with it) when calling it into play.
All of the above is from his 2003 book, "Dylan’s Visions of Sin".
There’s also something in the first lines of this same chapter from Paul that would ring a bell with many Dylan listeners:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
That would be Dylan’s 1991 song Dignity:
Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men
Wasn’t any difference to me
(Click here for a YouTube version, from 2000)
Dylan’s reference is consistent with St. Paul’s meaning, if you assume that the reason there “wasn’t any difference,” is because, without love, both the tongues of men and of angels sounded to the singer just like those clanging cymbals.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
From an Associated Press story on today’s protest in Washington DC:
The crowd heard addresses from more than a dozen veterans, anti-war activists, religious leaders, Hollywood stars and political leaders like the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
“Keep hope alive. No more death. Keep hope alive. No more money. Keep hope alive. Bring the troops home,” chanted Jackson, an African-American civil rights statesman.
Merriam-Webster defines the word “statesman” as follows:
1 : one versed in the principles or art of government; especially : one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government or in shaping its policies
2 : one who exercises political leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship
With regard to definition number 1: the Reverend Jesse Jackson has never been elected to a political office, and has never been in government (although he has run for president more than once, and your humble scribe — barely out of the cradle, mind you — even voted for him in a 1988 primary).
With regard to definition number 2: Would even Jackson’s staunchest supporters claim that he is without partisanship?
Addendum: In the same story, there is the following regarding Jane Fonda’s appearance at the rally:
She said her daughter and two granddaughters were with her at the protest.
“I’m very proud that they’re here, but I’m so sad that we still have to do this, that we did not learn the lessons from the Vietnam War,” Fonda said.
She’s not the only one who is sad about that.
As noted at the time, Monday last (January 22nd) was supposed to be the “unhappiest day of the year,” according to whatever goof-ball researchers came out with that particular judgment.
I don’t know: looking around the world today, I’m getting pretty darned depressed.
LGF and others are covering the “moonbat puppeteering” in Washington DC today.
Hot Air has the man who — two short years ago — was almost president, chummying up with known enemies of the United States (and of civilization in general) and calling his country an “international pariah.”
You can laugh at both scenes and at similar stuff, but all of this bitter laughter gets old sometimes.
Cartoonists Cox & Forkum know from bitter laughter, as Noo Yawkas say.
From yesterday’s New York Post:
JERRY Lee Lewis is stingy with his autographs. When “The Killer” played B.B. King’s [club] the other night, Rodeo Bar music booker Jack Grace, who opened for him, asked Lewis to sign his guitar next to Merle Haggard’s signature. “I don’t sign guitars. I only sign pianos,” Lewis said. Grace replied, “Yeah, I had a little trouble getting my piano down the stairs.” Jerry Lee smiled, “Well, tough luck, kid.”
Friday, January 26, 2007
A columnist with The Free Market News Network, Corp, reports that Senator Jim Webb (D-Va), is the new Bob Dylan. Or something like that.
According to historians William Straus and Neil Howe, each historical post-war period is divided into four generations and last 80 years, with each generation having a 20-year run. Each generation also has its own gods, heroes, goddesses and Great Mothers, all starting with Coyote Trickster. I am 60 years old and a product of the Second Generation. The Coyote Trickster of my generation was Bob Dylan. It is said that the generations changed from first to second one afternoon in Newport when Dylan changed from a wooden guitar to an electric guitar in the region of 1965. Bob Dylan changed everything, but in particular, he changed the gods who would follow. Paul McCartney said that The Beatles enjoyed writing teen age love songs, but when they first heard Bob Dylan, they then desired to be artists. Today, on mainstream crappy radio and TV ads it is impossible not to see the influence of Dylan, Magical Animal and Coyote Trickster of Generation Two almost everywhere – hair, garments, attitude, tone of voice.
We enter now the Fourth Generation, the most critical generation, according to Strauss and Howe in their most provocative book, “The Fourth Turning.” Jim Webb will be Coyote Trickster to this new generation.
His speech in response to Bush’s State of the Union was one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard. It portends something new and astonishing happening within the Democratic Party. With it, the rising political generation has crossed the river to the new country. I think Old School senses it right away, as John Kerry might have when he decided not to run the next day. Rightly so. The season has changed.
Hearing Webb’s speech the other night commentator Mark Shields said “A star is born.” It is a star which will rise with a new generation and the values Webb brings to politics will become the values of that generation, as always, in opposition to the generations which came before. Marcos yesterday claimed Webb as his own; that is, as the product of the net roots. Rightly so. It doesn’t matter if the new culture in the Democratic Party finds success in 2008. Perhaps it will take longer for the old culture to fall away. But there is now no question that what is new in the Democratic Party will rise now with Jim Webb and a generation will rise with it which will bring new values to the Party and to the country over the next 20 years.
Well, another crown of thorns is lifted from Bob Dylan’s head and planted on somebody else’s noggin — he will be pleased at that. Although I’d never heard of this “coyote trickster” stuff before, I’m sure that he got a lot of mail about it down through the years.
And we’ve known for some time that Shepard Smith of Fox News is “the new spokesman of a generation.” So, there’s not much left for Bob but the “song and dance man” title, and that must suit him fine.
I’m going out to buy some Jim Webb records just as fast as I can.
It’s been a theme of “moonbats” for years: Vice President Dick Cheney is nuts, a bitter old man with a hair trigger temper, frustrated at seeing his plans to control the world not come to full fruition. Now, it’s entering the mainstream. From the Seattle Post Intelligencer: Cheney’s out of the shadows but still an enigma .
A group of Republican lawmakers was waiting for an elevator on Capitol Hill when one of them said in frustration to his colleagues, “What’s with Cheney? Anybody know?”
One colleague muttered, “The guy’s getting a little strange, seems to me. Big chip on his shoulder.”
Vice President Dick Cheney has re-emerged from the shadows, causing a new ripple of speculation about whether his pit-bull attitude serves the president well, whether he’s the one dictating Iraq policy, whether he’s even thinking clearly.
Cheney, who was in charge of vetting potential running mates for George W. Bush in 2000 and ended up taking the job himself, is an enigma to many. Whether swearing at a Democrat on the Senate floor or calling former defense chief Donald Rumsfeld the best secretary of defense in U.S. history, Cheney’s conduct makes even some Republicans nervous.
In an interview with a Capitol Hill newspaper, McCain said of Cheney, “The president listens too much to the vice president. Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility, but he’s been very badly served by both the vice president and, most of all, the secretary of defense (Rumsfeld).”
When asked about that by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Cheney responded laconically, “So?”
Cheney told Blitzer that any accusation that he’s lost credibility is “hogwash.”
It’s delightful to talk to the sitting vice president about trout fishing in Wyoming. On any other subject, listening to him is unnerving.
Well, I like the fact that Cheney is unnerving columnists for the Seattle Post Intelligencer, by sticking to his guns and failing to roll around in a state of abject apology. (We’re also supposed to believe that he is unnerving Republicans in congress, based on the columnist’s impossible-to-verify quotes from nameless “colleagues” waiting for an elevator.) I like his attitude a whole lot, but then I always have. Nowadays, there are also certain questions which he just no longer has the patience to answer with long, drawn out niceties. Some examples from the Wolf Blitzer interview the other day:
BLITZER: Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good president?
VICE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t.
VICE PRESIDENT: Because she’s a Democrat. I don’t agree with her philosophically and from a policy standpoint.
BLITZER: Do you think she will be president?
VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t.
Why should he waste time with dancing around such stuff? He’s got bigger things to worry about, and he’s never going to run for re-election again. Likewise:
BLITZER: … Nancy Pelosi. What was it like sitting with her last
night as opposed to Dennis Hastert?
VICE PRESIDENT: I prefer Dennis Hastert, obviously. I like having a fellow Republican in the
Speaker’s chair. Nancy’s now the speaker of the House. We had a very pleasant evening.
And I’m sure they did. Big time.
Richard John Neuhaus has a piece today on the National Council of Churches. In case you ever wondered how a body supposedly representing millions of American Christians came to be just about as reliable a supporter of left/liberal causes as you could find, he has the story.
The NCC has thirty-five member denominations representing various Protestant and Orthodox traditions, and its founding definition is to be “a community of Christian communions’ with the purpose of advancing Christian unity in “confessing Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, as Savior and Lord.” [RWB: emphasis mine] Beginning in the 1960s, like so many establishment institutions of the time, the NCC took a sharp leftward turn, with the predictable result that it alienated many of the members of its member churches. The contributions of those churches to the NCC precipitously declined, and continue to decline. Since 2000, the decline has been from $2.9 million to $1.75 million–a drop of 40 percent in four years.
So how is the NCC recovering from its financial crisis and near collapse? The answer is that Edgar [the NCC general-secretary] turned to non-church sources of income. In 2003, he obtained a $7 million gift from an anonymous woman who did not belong to any member church but admired the NCC´s politics [RWB wonders: Barbra Streisand?]. Income from other non-church sources has, since 2000, grown from $800,000 to $2.9 million–more than a threefold increase. Such income includes major grants from foundations such as Rockefeller, Ford, Tides, and Kellogg, as well as organizations such as the Sierra Club.
Every enterprise of any size and consequence requires financial support. Support is most likely to come from those who support the purpose of the enterprise. That seems obvious, even embarrassingly obvious. The NCC is not so much to be criticized for “selling out” to its funding sources as for abandoning the purposes for which it was established.
The Sandy Berger story continues — or, rather, it’s the degree to which it doesn’t continue that is the story. R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr. has it in his syndicated column today:
This autumn a congressional committee made an astounding discovery regarding the contents of Mr. Berger’s socks. The archives had failed to catalogue the materials that they gave him to review. No one aside from Mr. Berger has any idea what he took from the archives. He may have doctored documents. He may have destroyed documents. There have been many distinguished former government officials who lived to write their version of the history they participated in. Sandy Berger is the rare government official who has lived to erase history. A polygraph test might reveal how much history he erased.
Mr. Berger’s lawyer, a veteran Clinton smog artist, Lanny Breuer, insists there is no “evidence” that his client did anything wrong. That is classic Clinton obfuscation. Mr. Berger was caught stealing classified documents from the National Archives. For a former national security adviser to do such a thing is without precedent. Mr. Berger is also a proven liar — he turned around and said he did take the documents from the National Archives. All this constitutes “evidence” that Mr. Berger has done something very wrong.
A lie detector test may give us a sense of how much wrong he did. Mr. Berger should live up to his 2005 agreement and take the test. The Justice Department should enforce the rule of law.
Under his plea deal, Berger can potentially regain his access to classifed documents on April 1st of 2008. As a former high ranking official in the first President Clinton’s administration, one must wonder what position a second President Clinton might give him in her administration. Has she been asked this question?
And good questions to pose to Berger were he ever to take that lie detector test would be:
(1) Were you acting on your own behalf?
(2) Did anyone encourage or pressure you to steal or alter documents?
(3) If so, was it a former boss?
(4) Does his last name begin with “C”?
And so on.
In Hillary’s campaign, the proven malfeasance of Sandy Berger — and the likelihood that what he did is far worse than that for which he was prosecuted — needs to be an issue.
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