Archive for December 2008

Israel’s Response

According to Reuters, “Israel kills scores in Gaza”.  Is Israel’s response to the constant bombardment of its southern regions too much? Is killing “scores” of “innocent” Palestinians justified? Especially since it’s not as if “scores” of innocent Israelis have been killed. These are the questions that Europeans and those in the UN are asking, if they’re asking anything at all.

However, we must note that most of the “victims” in Palestine are not “innocent”. This needs to be repeated again and again. In 2005 Israel left the Gaza strip according to assurances that Palestine would give up violence against Israel. But that did not happen. Hamas, a militant organization supported by Iran, was elected in 2006 by Palestinians themselves. In plain terms, Palestinians CHOSE Hamas.  Of course, not all Palestinians did. Some were loyal to other side, Fatah. Hamas and Fatah have been in continuing conflict. Hamas kicked Fatah out of the Gaza strip in 2007 in a bloody civil conflic.

Now, Hamas continues to flex its muscle in an effort to be recognized. To show its “strength” and to gain the sympathy of the “play nice” world, they have broken a ceasefire agreement with Israel (Reuters makes it sound like Hamas did not break it, but that it somehow expired. Umm, do ceasefires expire?) But don’t worry. Hamas leaders aren’t afraid. They “don’t fear death“. But perhaps they should. Israel has made it clear they are targeting solely terrorist and military training infrastructure of Hamas, and not civilians. Of course, there will be mistakes, and the mistakes are what will get reported.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas two years ago. Has he had a lawyer? Access to the Red Cross? Anything that even the prisoners at Guatanamo Bay have? No.

And why should Americans care? Don’t we support Israel a little too much? Continue reading ‘Israel’s Response’ »

The Shoe Thrower

You know, when that guy (you know, THAT guy — the one embraced now by anti-Americans everywhere, especially the anti-American Americans) threw his shoes in the general direction of W (and missed), I thought — would he have dared to do such a thing to Saddam? Or Uday? If I had attempted such a thing, would I not have been taken to one of Uday’s gang rape rooms? Or perhaps just the wood shredder?

Of course, I can’t say such a thing. I’m a conservative. But does it mean more, perhaps coming from an Iraqi?  (and true, he didn’t put it quite in those terms…)

The Iraqi ambassador, Samir Sumaida’ie, responding to Code Pink women:

QOTD

Bonus Carlyle!

What then is this Thing, called La Révolution, which, like an Angel of Death, hangs over France, noyading, fusillading, fighting, gun-boring, tanning human skins?  La Révolution is but so many Alphabetic Letters; a thing no where to be laid hands on, to be clapped under lock and key: where is it?  what is it?  It is the Madness that dwells in the hearts of men.  In this man it is, and in that man; as a rage or as a terror, it is in all men.  Invisible, impalpable; and yet no black Azrael, with wings spread over half a continent, with sword sweeping from sea to sea, could be a truer Reality.

QOT What the heck is with these things anyway?

The quotes are meant to illustrate certain ideas, observations, and even emotions which are part and parcel to Conservatism.

Let’s look at the most recent example (just below).  Carlyle’s wonderful book on the French Revolution has one great theme; the world we live in, this civilized world of ours, is a very thin shell enclosing all the unholy terrors which man has ever devised.  Man freed of the fetters of “society” or Civilization is not the noble savage of Rousseau, he is merely savage.  This sense of the contingency of this civilized world, it’s very palpable fragility, is one of the things which informs the Conservative heart and mind.

Carlyle was horrified by what he learned of Revolutionary France.  Not just the literal tanning of human hides, but the simple disintegration of sensibility.  When one thinks of efficient evil, one is immediately drawn to tales of Hitler’s Third Reich where the machinery of the modern world was turned to the task of human extermination.  But the French beat him to it by a hundred and fifty years.  They would tie people to barges and then sink the barges, allowing them to kill many people at once.  The guillotine was invented to be a more merciful form of execution, but it was adopted because the executioner could work more quickly and for longer periods of time.  Rationalism freed from civilized morals does not protect us from our inner demons, quite often it amplifies them.

Understanding that what we call Civilization is very valuable, and very fragile is one of the core tenets of Conservatism, and that is what Carlyle’s quote is meant to illuminate.

The other quotes highlight other aspects, and I hope to add to them as time goes on.  And that is what the heck is with these things.

QOT Yesterday

A little late, and a little long…

“At Meudon,” says Montgaillard with considerable calmness, “there was a Tannery of Human Skins; such of the Guillotined as seemed worth flaying: of which perfectly good wash-leather was made”; for breeches, and other uses.  The skin of the men, he remarks, was superior in toughness (consistance) and quality to shamoy; that of the women was good for almost nothing, being so soft in texture! – History looking back over Cannibalism, through Purchas’s Pilgrims and all early and late Records, will perhaps find no terrestrial Cannibalism of a sort, on the whole, so detestable.   It is a manufactured, soft feeling, quietly elegant sort; a sort per fide!  Alas then, is man’s civilization only a wrappage, through which the savage nature of him can still burst, infernal as ever?  Nature still makes him and has an Infernal in her as well as a Celestial.

Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution

QOTD

…with us it is always a little too late for mind, yet never too late for honest stupidity; always a little too late for understanding, never too late for righteous, bewildered wrath; always too late for thought, never too late for naive moralizing. We seem to like to condemn our finest but not our worst qualities by pitting them against the exigency of time.

Lionel Trilling, from The Liberal Imagination.

QOTD

When the course of civilization takes an unexpected turn – when, instead of the continuous progress which we have come to expect, we find ourselves threatened by evils associated by us with past ages of barbarism – we naturally blame anything but ourselves.

- F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom.

With those words Hayek begins his brilliant book.  It’s a tidy little package (the whole book is only 260 pages) which debunks all Socialism’s myths .  Would that all of our leaders had read it in these
interesting times.

QOTD

It seems to me that the mass of men do agree on the mass of morality, but differ disastrously about the proportions of it.  In other words, all men admit the Ten Commandments, but they differ horribly about which is the first Commandment and which is the tenth.  The difference between men is not in what merits they confess, but in what merits they emphasize.  All the nations of the earth are troubled about many things; they only fight about what is the one thing needful.  The spoilt son of some Chicago millionaire who puffs smoke in his father’s face for fun will not, in so many words, deny the rightness of the commandment, “Honor thy father and they mother.”  he will only think it a small and somewhat laughable matter; while he will be quite solemn about the command, “Thou shalt do no murder” – all the more because he must feel that he is the kind of person whom one murders.

- G.K. Chesterton, from The Proper Emphasis in Morality.

QOTD

We must not listen to those who advise us “being men to think human thoughts and being mortal to think mortal thoughts,” but must put on immortality as much as is possible and strain every nerve to live according to that best part of us, which, being small in bulk, yet much more in its power and honor surpasses all else.

- Aristotle from The Nicomachean Ethics.

Blago: Beyond Hubris

If you don’t live in Illinois…well…you’ve missed a lot. One governor in prison, another on his way.  It frankly warms the cockles.

He wanted to play pay for play politics. Well, he played. And he will pay. And hopefully more so than Spitzer, who got a slap on the wrist and a column in Slate (though some may argue that IS a prison term…I tend to think it’s not so much).

Is Blagojevich STUPID? That’s the question I heard a lot today. The answer is Yes. Yes he was. He was your typical Chicago machine politician who believed he was above the law (hey, doesn’t he make the law? So what’s the problem, right?), and who never expected to get caught. Not really.

And can you imagine him as HHS Secretary? When Obama wants to push through universal healthcare?? Thank God for Peter Fitzgerald. I haven’t always said that, but… this time…indeed.

update: But of course, Blago’s chances of becoming HHS Secretary were slim at best. Obama hardly knew him. And really didn’t support him AT ALL. (reading that ABC link did make us pause and say “These people are going to run THE COUNTRY.  Wow. And..uh-oh.” )