Friday, May 06, 2005

Friday reads

Victor David Hansen writes in National Review Online, "Democratic Suicide":

Philosophically, two grand themes explain the Democratic dilemma. One, the United States does not suffer from the sort of oppression, poverty, or Vietnam nightmares of the 1950s and 1960s that created the present Democratic ideology. Thus calcified solutions of big government entitlements, race-based largess, and knee-jerk suspicion of U.S. power abroad come off as either impractical or hysterical.

Second, there is the widening gulf between word and deed — and Americans hate hypocrites most of all. When you meet a guy from the Chamber of Commerce or insurance association, you pretty much know that what you see is what you get: comfort with American culture and values, an upscale lifestyle that reflects his ideology and work, and no apologies for success or excuses for lack of same.

But if you listen to Dr. Dean and his class venom, it hardly seems comparable with how he lives or how he was brought up. John Kerry's super power boat, Teresa Kerry's numerous mansions, Arianna Huffington's gated estate, George Soros's jet, Ted Turner's ranches, Sean Penn's digs — all this and more, whether fairly or unfairly, suggest hypocrisy and insincerity: Something like, "High taxes, government regulation, racial quotas, and more entitlements won't hurt me since I have so much money at my own disposal anyway, but will at least make me feel good that we are transferring capital to the less fortunate."

With the opening of the movie "The Crusades", American Thinker ran a chilling two-part history lesson this week: Jihad begot the Crusades (1) and Jihad begot the Crusades (2). A sample:
The Iberian peninsula was conquered in 710-716 C.E. by Arab tribes originating from northern, central and southern Arabia. Massive Berber and Arab immigration, and the colonization of the Iberian peninsula, followed the conquest. Most churches were converted into mosques. Although the conquest had been planned and conducted jointly with a faction of Iberian Christian dissidents, including a bishop, it proceeded as a classical jihad with massive pillages, enslavements, deportations and killings. [...]

Al-Andalus represented the land of jihad par excellence. Every year (or multiple times within a year as “seasonal” razzias [ghazwa]) raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the north, the Basque regions, or France and the Rhone valley, bringing back booty and slaves. Andalusian corsairs attacked and invaded along the Sicilian and Italian coasts, even as far as the Aegean Islands, looting and burning as they went. Many thousands of non-Muslim captives were deported to slavery in Andalusia, where the caliph kept a militia of tens of thousand of Christian slaves, brought from all parts of Christian Europe (the Saqaliba), and a harem filled with captured Christian women.

A much faster read is the commentary by military historian John B. Dwyer.

Over at TechCentralStation, Ryan Sager pens "The Left Catches On":

Three years after the passage of McCain-Feingold (a.k.a. the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a.k.a. the End of Free Speech As We Know It), a smattering of Democrats and liberal activists are slowly coming to the conclusion that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to let the government decide who can and cannot engage in political speech.

After all, what would prevent incumbents in Congress from passing laws to secure their jobs by making it harder for their opponents to criticize them? And what would prevent a political party -- holding, say, power in both houses of Congress and the White House -- from using election laws to try to smother the opposition?

Right: Nothing.

Daniel Henninger writes about the policy effects of the CDC's statistical gaffe on the obesity non-epidemic:
Public officials will always ride in the slipstream of an evident crisis. But there is a cautionary tale here. The informational world we inhabit has become a volatile mixture of news, rumor and often incomplete science. This or that threat, need or cause comes at us constantly. But there may be a limit to how often politicians can lower a bucket into the well of public credibility, asking people to alter their behavior and pay handsomely for the privilege--as here, or climate change or fuel alternatives. There might not be much left when the authorities most clearly must ask people, for example, to prepare for an avian flu pandemic before it arrives from Asia.

When the 400,000-dead obesity study unraveled, the CDC's director called it a "lesson in humility." In a world that is evermore complex, busy and costly, it would be a good thing if the people in Washington with the power to impose solutions to the problems of life on all of us made their new watchword "humility." Fat chance.

Tech Central Station has related articles here, here, and here.

Down Under, Arthur Chrenkoff's roundup of Good News from Afghanistan is in its 12th edition, and I expect he'll post another Good News From Iraq on Monday. He also has a pictorial on "The disadvantages of pissing off America, or Why life as a top Al Qaeda operative is not good for your health and well-being, not to mention your skin."

And finally, Mudville Gazette posts a handy guide to the "knobology" of blogging, "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Blogging (But were Afraid to Ask)"