Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Western Confucian Speaks

In about four hours from now, 12:15 PM EST or 1:15 AM KST, you'll be able to hear me interviewed by Antiwar Radio's Scott Horton, live-streaming here — KAOS Radio Austin.

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The World's First Acid Trip

The inventor of the psycedelic drug has died at a ripe old age — Albert Hofmann, 102; Swiss chemist discovered LSD. From the obituary:
    I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with slight dizziness.

    At home, I lay down and sank into a not-unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours, this condition faded away.
Nefarious forces saw its potential:
    The Central Intelligence Agency investigated LSD as a potential agent for mind control, and the British government studied it as a truth drug. In both cases, the drug was administered to subjects who were not informed of its nature, leading to scandals and changes in regulations about informed consent.
Years ago, I read the good doctor's autobiography, LSD: My Problem Child, and enjoyed it. May he rest in peace.

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Say No to the Protestant Work Ethic

Mitchell Kalpakgian looks to literature and Catholicism for altenatives — Financial Success, But at What Price?

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Orchestral Diplomacy

First the New York Philharmonic's visit to P'yŏngyang, now this — China Philharmonic to play Mozart’s “Requiem” in Vatican visit. Let's pray this is a sign that Beijing will soon allow Chinese Catholics to practice their faith.

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Righteous Atheist Nat Hentoff on "Abortion Extremist" Barack Obama

The pro-life atheist civil libertarian's latest — Infanticide candidate for president. Mr. Hentoff is "a nonreligious pro-lifer, [his] only religion being the Constitution," and he has "often supported candidates who are pro-choice because [of] their civil liberties and civil rights records." He "was once strongly inclined to vote for Barack Obama for president," but has come to the conclusion that "on abortion, Obama is an extremist."

[link via Pewsitter.com]

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Second Horseman Looms Over North Korea

Andrei Lankov says the situation "reminds many observers of 1996, when the country was on the eve of a disastrous famine" — North Korea stoic in the face of famine. Lord, in thy mercy...

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Flannery O'Connor, en español

Compostela quotes (and elaborates upon) my favorite line from the "Hillbilly Thomist" — Ternura y gas:
    Ahora, ante la falta de fe, nos gobernamos por la ternura. Es una ternura que, apartada hace tiempo de la persona de Cristo, está envuelta en teorías. Cuando se separa la ternura de su fuente, el único resultado lógico es el terror. Desemboca en los campos de trabajos forzados y en la chimenea de la cámara de gas.

    In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber.

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A Tale of Two Anti-Torch Protests

"Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts" — Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn.

I caught a lot of slack for these earlier posts of mine, which to some may have been seen as pro-China — The Face of Humanitarian Interventionism and A Tale of Two Race Riots. I confess to being a Sinophile, but my posts were not pro-China; they were anti-protester. The idea of clueless Westerners getting up-in-arms over the Chinese response to a race riot did not sit well with me.

Rioting in a foreign country does not sit well with me either, and I share the disgust of my Korean hosts on this one, as exemplified by these headlines from the local English-language press — Video Clips Inflame Anger at Chinese Violence in Korea, Criticism Grows Over Chinese Demonstrators in Seoul, Anger at Chinese protesters escalating. I cannot imagine behaving that way in a foreign country; they should be rounded up and deported.

The anti-torch protests in Seoul were also entirely different from those in San Francisco. Their motive was to protest the Chinese repatriation of North Korean refugees back to the Stalinist Gulag State. The protesters were, mostly, Korean, and they were defending the particular lives of their suffering compatriots in the North. The San Franciscans were defending some abstract humanitarian notion and had very little knowledge of the issues involved. Would they have marched on the streets had they known that the Chinese had responded to the god-like Tibetans' burning of Chinese shopkeepers to death?

The Chinese counter-demonstrators comported themselves with dignity in San Francisco; in Seoul, they ran amok.

Let us remember the quote from the giant Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn that begins this post. The Yellow Peril myth lingers, and too many, on the right and left, are all too willing to see China, and even the Chinese, as some evil nation. What we have, instead, is a people enthralled with that outdated modernist European kool-aid, Nationalism.

"People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?" — Rodney King.

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Ulsan's Mugeo Catholic Parish

Korea's photoblogging chronicler of Korean Catholic architecture has visited the first Catholic church I set foot in in Korea back in 1997 — 천주교울산무거성당. The church is pretty exemplary of modern Korean Catholic architecture, so don't expect to be astounded.

I was not a Catholic at the time, and it was the second Catholic Mass I had ever witnessed. I was taken by one of my first Korean friends. A Korean Baptist friend later led me to a Methodist fellowship, and later some street preachers led me to a Presbyterian church, but I soon settled in at the city's sole Anglican parish, whose liturgy was closest to the High Church Lutheranism in which I had been raised. Once I came across Anglo-Catholicism, I was a goner.

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Is Ron Paul Set to Endorse Chuck Baldwin?

Hats off to "RedPhillips" of Conservative Heritage Times for posting this — Transcript of Howard Phillips’ Anti-Keyes Broadside. The critique of Alan Keyes is devastating, especially to one like me who was a few years back a supporter, but this is what really interests me:
    People have joined us and they’ve joined Ron Paul and the candidate I favor by the way is a very strong supporter of Ron Paul. The neocon candidate who challenges Chuck Baldwin regularly denounced Ron Paul and the policies which he advocated. He often sounded like Rudy Guiliani in his denunciation of Ron Paul’s position that we should get out of Iraq. And, of course, Ron Paul was with the principles of this platform and let me—and let me say, Ron is someone with whom I’ve worked since he first came to Congress. I’ve worked closely with his congressional staff, his campaign staff, and let me tell you that Chuck Baldwin is a hero to those folks because Chuck Baldwin was out there on the front lines for Ron Paul.

    Bob Barr is a friend of mine as Alan Keyes has been in years gone by. And Bob Barr spoke with Ron Paul on three occasions, begging him for his support as he seeks the Libertarian Party nomination. But, Ron Paul will not do that because in his heart Ron Paul knows that Chuck Baldwin is right and that if the Paul people are to support anyone it’s Chuck Baldwin they should be supporting. And this is something we can look to. Ron Paul has attracted scores of thousands of supporters. He’s got an estimated thirty-five million dollars in the bank and those supporters and those resources can become an asset to this party if we nominate a candidate who has been a friend of Ron Paul not an enemy of Ron Paul.
Rev. Baldwin, you may well have my vote. Readers, click on the link and read the rest of the transcript.

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How "Parenting" and "Education" Are Destroying America

Bernard Moon explains how rearing kids to clamor "for guidance and handholding" coupled with their "greater degree of pretentiousness and sense of entitlement" componded by "an increasing fear of failure" will spell our doom — Coming Soon: Nontrepreneur Nation.

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Whither Switzerland?

So much for one of the last bastions of civilization in Europe — Swiss Grant Rights to Animals, Consider Same for Plants - Liberalize Abortion Laws. When Poland, Liechtenstein, and Malta give up the ghost, all will be lost.

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The Korea National Oil Corporation Was Dead Wrong

Just four months ago, I blogged about the state-run firm's pollyanish report "that it will be difficult in the foreseeable future for people to see oil prices beyond $100" — "Is the Era of $100 per Barrel Really Coming?"

Reporting that, "US light crude hit a high of $119.93" today, this link from EnergyBulletin.net paints a different picture of the foreseeable future — Opec warns oil could reach $200.

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Suntory Banzai!

LewRockwell.com links to news that "has provoked consternation in Scotland" — Ochone! Japanese whisky is voted the best in world.

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Global Orthodoxy

Some old pictures of Seoul's St. Nicholas Cathedral before it was surrounded by ugly modernist buidlings — 한국의성당건축(17-1)-한국정교회성니콜라스대성당(김정신). I learned that "聖障" is how iconostasis is rendered in Chinese characters.

St. Nicholas of Japan Orthodox Church in Brixton, Johannesburg, described by its deacon — Xenophilia versus xenophobia. He describes "a truly multi-ethnic Orthodox Church, and that vision was being realised right now: the priest, from Kenya, read the gospel in Swahili. A Congolese student read it in Latin. An student Angolan read it in Portuguese. A Greek read it in Turkish."

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Just the Beginning

The American Conservative editor Daniel McCarthy says the good doctor's "campaign winds down, but the movement is just beginning" — The Ron Paul Evolution. He quotes influential evangelical Doug Wead: "Ron Paul owns the future... His is a campaign of ideas... His army was left unchallenged on the battlefield. Now their ideas have taken root and they will grow."

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"Either Less War or More Warriors"

"The United States today finds itself with too much war and too few warriors," begins The American Conservative's Andrew J. Bacevich, who was against the war long before it claimed his son's life — Surging to Defeat.

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Does American Consumerism Fuel China's Culture of Death?

A woman whose "'crime' was being pregnant before the 23 year age China's policy stipulates" says "US demand for Chinese consumer goods places pressure on Chinese manufactures, thus leaving little time for family life" — United States Consumerism Partly to Blame for China's One-Child Policy, says Chinese Victim of Policy.

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Deport Them!

"GI Korea" links to video dosumentation of the only violent demonstration I've ever seen by non-Koreans in this country — Videos of Chinese Protesters' Violence in Seoul.

This reaction, however, is meaningless — Seoul Raps China Envoy Over Torch Relay Violence. The protesters were mere students; arrest and deport them.

UPDATE: Maybe the above reaction is not so meaningless — Chinese Embassy Organized Student Hooligans?

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Congratulations Chuck Baldwin!

The man who got my vote for veep in '04 has "defeated the warmongering neocon" (and carbetbagger) and clinched his party's nomination— Chuck Baldwin Defeats Alan Keyes for Constitution Party Nomination.

Thomas DiLorenzo offers a telling anecdote about the carpetbagger — re: Chuck Baldwin Defeats Alan Keyes:
    Shortly after the publication of The Real Lincoln in 2002 Howard Phillips had me on his local cable TV show in Virginia to discuss the book. During one of the breaks he mentioned that he had asked Keyes to join the Constitution Party and he declined, saying that he agreed with just about everything the Party stood for except for its criticisms, mostly from Howard, of Lincoln. Lincoln idolatry is, of course, the defining characteristic of a Straussian Neocon Warmonger like Keyes, for The Legend of Father Abraham is what "justifies" the American empire and its expansion.
"A non-interventionist party nominated a non-interventionist candidate," exlaims "RedPhillips" from the convention floor — BALDWIN WINS CONSTITUTION PARTY NOMINATION!!!

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War Clouds Over the Persian Gulf

"The shooting has already started in the Persian Gulf – and chances are we'll be at war with Iran before President Bush's term is up," begins Justin Raimondo — Is War With Iran Imminent?

Jeff Huber on what the war could look like, applying the "Clausewitzean concepts of fog and friction" — Running a Risk with Iran.

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St. Clement's in Cambridge

"A big surprise during a short trip to Cambridge" awaited Claire George, as documented in her photo-essay of a church "shared by the Greek Orthodox community and the Anglicans" — The Saddest Looking Church.

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Wendell Berry and Michael Pollan on the Pages of LRC

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Republic, Not Empire!

"One reason we are so in debt is that the brainless in our country have been paying for the defense of Europe and Japan ever since the end of World War II," says Charley Reese — Nothing New. (Korea, too!) He concludes, "For a republic to survive, it needs a well-educated people with self-discipline and high morals, healthy agricultural and manufacturing bases, sound money and a frugal but wise government. I don't see much of that around these days."

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"The Capitalists Will Sell Us the Rope With Which We Will Hang Them"

Lenin was, not surprsingly, wrong — Manufacture of Free Tibet Flags Outsourced to China. Today, the Chinese are capitalists — as if the Han could be anything else — and are making a buck off the marketing of a revolution.

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"How Many Divisions Does the Pope Have?"

Unlike Stalin, credited with the above quote, Gorby was wise not to dismiss the pope — Gorbachev signed JP II KGB death warrant. His plot failed, thanks to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, and within a decade Gorby's empire was relegated to the dustbin of history. My thoughts from a few weeks back — Godless Gorby, Marxist-Lennonist.

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The De-fifthcolumnization of South Korea's Unification Ministry

The new president has set about to end the "propagating [of] distorted views on North Korea for the past decade" — Gov’t to Revamp Left-Leaning Unification Education. This is perhaps a better one than the original idea to abolish the ministry. There's a lot of damage that needs to be undone among the young who've been indocrinated into thinking that North Korea is a nice place.

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One Good Thing About Music, When It Hits You Feel No Pain

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The Axis of Nukes?

On the alleged Syria-North Korea nuke cooperation, the WaPo's Dan Froomkin suggests that "even if everything the administration says is true, there are many elements of the emerging story that deserve scrutiny" — What Are They Up To Now? An excerpt:
    Why now? Why is the White House going public more than seven months after Israel's attack?

    Administration officials offered an explanation yesterday -- saying that they were initially worried about provoking Syrian retaliation, and that the disclosure could actually help the ongoing nuclear negotiations with North Korea.

    But there are still some who suspect the announcement is the work of Vice President Cheney and other administration neocons who are trying to upset those negotiations -- and further ratchet up tensions with Iran. The White House statement about the Syrian installation insisted that "this development . . . underscores that the international community is right to be very concerned about the nuclear activities of Iran and the risks those activities pose to the stability of the Middle East."

    The timing outraged even Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who had this to say after his meeting with CIA briefers yesterday: "I think many people believe that we were used today by the administration because - not because they felt they had to inform Congress because it was their legal obligation to do that, but because they had other agendas in mind. . . . I think what we saw in the committee today, I think the chairman would agree that the relationship that we need to get international issues done, foreign policy issues done, a trusting environment between the administration and Congress, does not exist."
They were "worried about provoking Syrian retaliation?" Give me a break.

[link via The Marmot's Hole]

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One of Three Socialists

"Growing up in the military, he got a heavy dose of socialism," explains this Christian Science Monitor article — What explains McCain's values? He's a 'brat.'

[link via Conservative Heritage Times]

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Dr. M Speaks

I spent a year in his country under his rule, was impressed by his book The Malay Dilemma, came to respect him, and do so more after reading this — Malaysia's ex-PM Mahathir wants Iraq war leaders on war crimes charges.

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Nuclear Power Is Anti-Market

Harvey Wasserman writes on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the disaster — Making You Pay for the Next Chernobyl ... in Advance! He repeats the most convincing argument I've ever come across against nuclear power: "Not one of the 104 US reactors now licensed to operate, and not one of the new ones being hyped, can get insurance from private sources against another Chernobyl." The reason is obvious, and is the reason why there are no private nuclear reactors. In contrast, the author reports, "Billions of dollars in private money now pour into renewable technologies like wind and solar, which are the real solution to the climate crisis."

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Money Can't Buy the Chinese Happiness

This is interesting — Why The Chinese Are Getting Richer But Not Happier. The article sites a study which pins the blame on "the perils of financial inequality," while suggesting "anomie" and "political disaffection" as alternative explanations.

As an anti-egalitarian, I was inclined to reject the first explanation, but then I reflected on my Korean hosts. The Korean word for "envy" is used much more freely than its English counterpart. When Americans say they are "jealous" of a friend's success, they usually mean it as a compliment. When Koreans say the same, the tone of resentment cannot be missed. I'm not sure how much of this is true of Chinese, but Kiasu comes to mind.

[link via EnergyBulletin.net]

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The Saving Grace of the GNP

I had no idea that "the spokesman of People’s Democratic Movement Coalition, which pioneered the democratic movement in June 1987," was now "chief of the ethics committee" of Korea's ruling conservative party — Pastor In Myung-jin.

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Consumerism or Confucianism?

"What will benefit the environment is a reduction in excessive consumption by Europe and the US, not a reversal of Asian progress," says Chan Akya — Western excess is the Earth killer. This anecdote stands out:
    A journalist friend who attended some recent meetings of green and environmental lobbyists described a strange scene in the gents toilet. No, not anyone adopting an extra-wide stance in the stalls, but rather the significant use of paper towels to dry hands. In the middle of a meeting on the environment, this behavior struck my friend as particularly stupid, but it also highlighted the deep cultural traits that have to be reversed in Europe and the US before any meaningful progress can be made.
I heard a similar story from a Korean scholar who, visiting the United States, was suprised by the excessive number of napkins used by an American colleague with whom he was dining. Much to the puzzlement of the Korean, the American said that what he was doing was "good for the economy."

"Environmentalism" is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of The Austrian School, but might not the attitude of the American above be an illustration of The Broken Window Fallacy of Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), which it often cites?

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The God of Genocide?

Today I had the chance to meet a young man from an extremely religious background in Seventh-Day Adventism who left not only his faith but belief in God after reading the Old Testament. Specifically, he said he could not believe in a God who was "evil" after reading the account of The Canaanite Genocide .

Admittedly, this has always been the most troubling passage of the Bible for me. However, I came to understand that God, being omniscient and outside of time, saw this as being necessary to later bring forth His Son into the world, to redeem us. Evangelical apologist Dr. William Lane Craig does a pretty good job addressing the question here:He begins by acknowledging that this is "one of the most difficult questions that a Bible-believing Christian faces" and noting that "[i]t is the singularity of these narratives that make them stand out." Interesting, and both troubling and strangely telling, is Dr. Craig's repeated use of the phrase "Israeli soldiers" where I would use "Israelite army."

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Prayer Request

For little Peter Benjamin Weiss, who "died of a viral infection on Tuesday night;" the sixteen-month old "had struggled very early on as a preemie, but this was a shock" to his parents.

Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.

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Today's DVD Purchases

In addition to the 40 kgs. of rice I purchased today, I found three DVDs in a bargain for under two-and-a-half bucks each:

John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band: Sweet Toronto — Curiosity wouldn't let me pass up this concert from 1969, especially since Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Chuck Berry all appear. John has not been my favorite Beatle for many years, but still.

Chung Hing sam lam (1994) — I saw this shortly after it was released, back when I thought style was all a movie needed. Through this film, I became, for a time, a fan of the music of Faye Wong.

Buffalo '66 (1998) — What can I say? For those who are from Buffalo, no explanation is necessary; for those who are not from Buffalo, no explanation is possible.

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Shocking News from Texas

I'm sure you're as horrified as I am to learn that there are teenage mothers within our very own borders — 25 FLDS Mothers Believed To Be Minors. What's even worse, they weren't single mothers, they were married! Disgusting!

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"The President's Executioner"

Jennifer Van Bergen on the man who "opened the door to such abuse of the laws that some detainees were actually murdered" — The High Crimes of John Yoo.

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A Warning from The Wall Street Journal

"I don't want to alarm anybody, but maybe it's time for Americans to start stockpiling food," begins Brett Arends — Load Up the Pantry. This morning, we added 40 kg. of rice to our stores; tomorrow, we'll be buying canned food.

[link via Crunchy Con]

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Korea's Unique Culture of Death

"Although abortion is illegal in South Korea... the number of abortions is... possibly... 1.5 million a year" — Abortion laws most often ignored. That's a higher figure than that of the United States, a country with six times the South Korean population and where abortion is legal!

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Inconvenient Skepticism

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Fallon's Fall Was Ominous Enough

The appointment of the man he famously called a "suck-up" as his replacement is downright scary — Petraeus' rise lets Cheney loose on Iran.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Man Who Led Me to the Catholic Church

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"Bleeding the Beast"

Steve Sailer on how the FLDS used welfare fraud, racketeering, and a pyramid scheme to survive — The Economics of Eldorado. None of this, of course, warrants the kidnapping of 437 children from the mothers "following a hoax phone call from (apparently) an Obama delegate in Colorado."

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The Way Out of the Grain Crisis?

"There is more than enough grain to feed every hungry human on the planet, but the poor cannot compete with wealthier buyers of meat and biofuels," says Kelpie Wilson — Why more food is not the answer.

He says that "the solution to the food crisis will not be found in some miracle new technology" and identifies the "need to reconsider many traditional crops and methods for maintaining soil fertility and coping with drought." He says we will go "full circle from modern high-tech agriculture back to traditional practices that used animal manure and human 'night soil.'" He mentions "a practice used by an ancient civilization that occupied the Amazon before Columbus" known a "biochar," and suggests it may be "a final gift from the peoples who brought us tomatoes, maize, manioc, and a thousand different ways of being human."

The article's main weakness is that it "indicts markets with failing to eradicate hunger and poverty." But there is no reason to think that the invisible hand will not be part of the solution. The author notes that "it takes about seven pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef." As meat prices rise, people will eat less and less of it and demand will drop dramatically. My family recently switched from an occasional Korean-style beef dinner at home to an occasional Korean-style pork dinner at home, and even the cost of the latter just last night was nearly prohibitive and may have been our last for a while, at least for us parents. Ten bucks for a family of four may not seem like much, but we try to save two-thirds of my income.

[link via The New Beginning]

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The "Underlying Story" Behind the Credit Crisis

WaPo business columnist Steven Pearlstein nails it, saying that "broad reduction in wealth and living standards" is on the way — The Bottom Is Up Ahead. While he acknowledges that it's true that "mortgage bankers and brokers were sleazy, investment bankers were greedy for fees, banks were incompetent, rating agencies were compromised, and regulators either were blinded by deregulatory ideology or chose to look the other way," he asks some disturbing questions
    But what if that isn't the whole story? What if, for the better part of a decade, the United States had been living way beyond its means, consuming more than it produced and investing more than it saved? What if China and Taiwan and Saudi Arabia and even Japan were willing to finance that trade deficit on easy terms because it allowed them to peg their currencies to the dollar in a way that generated higher job creation and economic growth in their home markets? And what if this mutually advantageous imbalance in trade and investment flows wound up creating a huge supply of cheap dollar-denominated credit that virtually invited the bankers and brokers and rating agencies and private-equity firms in U.S. markets to throw caution to the wind and make ill-advised lending and investing decisions?
[link via Crunchy Con]

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Less Food, More Girls

The Daily Eudemon links today to two disturbing reports on the food crisis — Americans hoard food as industry seeks regs and Wal-Mart unit limits rice purchases. He concludes, "Based on the stories above, I guess the forecast calls for a lot more girls" — High-calorie diet linked to boys.

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Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice vs. Republic of Samsung

If you've been following the saga, this latest development will be of interest to you — Priests’ association blasts Samsung investigation results. I'm no corporate apologist, but I cannot help but sympathize a bit with the sentiment of the "40 activists from the People’s Alliance against the Samsung Special Investigation [who] held a demonstration and lofted pickets that read 'Demolish the CPAJ! They have forgotten their roles as priests.'" 'Twould have perhaps been better had a lay organization taken up this fight, but, then, they would not have the moral gravitas that priests enjoy in Korea.

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A Non-Conspiracy Conspiracy Theory

"It is not a matter of conspiracies, or expedient official lies or propaganda, as in the secret manipulation by the Pentagon of television and press," says William Pfaff — The Unspoken Truths. "On many matters, even the people who do not know that they are lying are doing so." An excerpt:
    Take a subject which everyone concerned with American foreign affairs knows about : the construction in Iraq of several huge, fortified, self-sufficient but vulnerable United States bases which the Pentagon prefers to describe as “enduring camps,” but are meant to be permanent, serving a Pentagon strategy of regional military control that antedates the Bush administration.

    Hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women know about these bases, have served on them, and see perfectly well what they are for. Journalists infrequently visit them because they know that what they write is unlikely to be published, will make waves, and will identify them in a manner unlikely to help their careers.

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Return to Abnormalcy?

"Reassurances that the energy economy will return to normal sometime soon miss a crucial detail - for the last century or so, the role of energy in the industrial world has been anything but normal," says Archdruid John Michael Greer — Business as usual. This glance at the past is enlightening:
    This was why ancient Rome and imperial China, both of which had a solid understanding of mechanical principles and sophisticated technical traditions, never had industrial revolutions of their own. Lacking massive energy supplies of the sort that made modern industrial society possible, it simply made more economic sense to invest the available resources into the labor force. The Romans did this the cheap, crude, and ultimately ineffective way, by expanding a slave economy to the breaking point; the Chinese did it far more sustainably and effectively by evolving an extraordinarily robust system of small-scale capitalism, on the one hand, and equally durable traditions of specialized craftsmanship on the other. [emphases mine]
He looks forward to "the reemergence of an economy in which the work of human hands and minds is once again the main source of economic value" and hopes that "with luck and hard work, it may be a good deal closer to the Chinese than the Roman model."

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Sorcery in Kinshasa

Scoff at this article sent in by a kind reader at your own risk — Lynchings in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital.

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Donald Rumsfeld Arrested in Italy, Sent to The Hague!

It could happen — War crimes next October surprise? Professor Jeremy D. Mayer's scenario:
    It’s early October 2008, and Democratic nominee Barack Obama maintains a steady lead in the presidential race, although Republican standard-bearer John McCain, the most dogged campaigner in American politics, remains within striking range.

    Suddenly, something happens overseas that throws the presidential campaigns off the TV screens entirely: Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on vacation in Italy, is arrested and brought to The Hague to face war crimes charges.
Rummy should consider himself lucky should such a scenario play out; war crimes (and treason) are still punishable by death in the less enlightened United States. The day might come when we see him and his cohorts strapped to the gurney in Terre Haute, but less likely so if Dr. Ron Paul is elected; the good doctor opposes the federal death penalty.

[link via these Comments]

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Against Polygyny

Lest my recent posts decrying State tyranny over the fundamentalist Mormoms leave the reader with the impression that I support their "lifestyle choice," this post. Comments from "Integer" sum up my personal opposition in two words: "one's enough."

At the societal level, I can see the damage done by looking around me, even if Korea no longer practices polygamy per se. Prostitution in South Korea "is big business, accounting for $20 billion, or 4.1 percent of the nation's total gross domestic product in 2002, just behind agriculture at 4.4 percent." It is also one of the country's most rewarded professions (see Room Salon Girls’ Salaries Investigated), and many young ladies forego marriage to reap its financial benefits, this exacerbating a bride dearth, whose correlation to these disturbing trends should not be dismissed ─ South Korea: Lowest Birthrate in the World and Seemingly Overheated International Marriages in East Asia. At the geopolitical level, the link between Polygamy and Terrorism cannot be lightly dismissed.

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The "Real Winner" in Pennsylvania

Was none other than "the most marginalized candidate in history" — Ron Paul Achieves Stunning 16 Percent. The good doctor wasn't even actively campaigning and came in second! The Ron Paul Revolution has only just begun.

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¡Viva Chile!

Literally — Constitutional Court in Chile outlaws morning after pill. I'm proud to have spent more than a year in that fine country, which has joined the Axis of Good in becoming "the fifth country in the world, together with the Philippines, Ecuador, Uganda and Costa Rica, not to have it."

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In Defense of Patriarchy

Two lengthy and scholarly articles on the subject recently appeared on the pages of First Principles. First, R. V. Young looks back to a 1933 essay by the great Catholic historian — A Dawsonian View of Patriarchy. Second, Allan C. Carlson looks at contemporary culture — The Natural Family Dimly Seen through Feminist Eyes.

The former's first paragraph:
    “Patriarchy” is a word that has almost ceased to communicate a definable meaning in contemporary discourse. Feminist theory deploys the term so loosely that it may be applied to any institution or instance in which men dominate women or are perceived to do so. “Most feminist criticism,” Heather Jones avers, “tends to represent the family as the main legacy of this male advantage and therefore as patriarchy’s primary model and institution. Consequently patriarchy has been defined in this context as a general organizing structure apparent in most social, cultural, and economic practices world-wide, a structure that is considered to promote and perpetuate, in all facets of human existence, the empowerment of men and the disempowerment of women.” Patriarchy, according to this familiar view, is thus “the rule of the Law-of-the-Father(s),” which brings about the existence of the family, which is in turn the model for every oppressive masculine structure in all facets of human existence. Nevertheless, although patriarchy arises in “prehistory” and pervades every niche of society throughout the world, “Much Anglo-American feminist criticism . . . attempts to make patriarchal strategies visible, to reveal that they are neither natural nor necessary, and thus to enable women and other ‘feminized’ groups to empower themselves.” “Patriarchy” thus becomes, like “fascism,” merely a term of abuse, applied to almost anything that certain fashionable intellectuals and academics find reprehensible according to the goals of their political agenda. This loss of meaning is regrettable, because an accurate understanding of patriarchy as a specific cultural institution provides genuine insight into the history of the interaction of family and society and the crisis now confronting Western civilization.
And the latter's:
    Aspiring patriarchs would seem to have little to cheer about in recent decades. Equal pay statutes have destroyed the “family wage” regime that once rewarded the breadwinning father as “head of household.” The real hourly wages of blue collar men are lower today than they were in 1973. Title IX rules have forcibly turned much of the male dominated athletic world over to the women. Aggressive little boys are tamed by Ritalin. School textbooks fervently promote the feminist worldview, celebrating female steelworkers and male daycare workers. The same ideology dominates the vast majority of American colleges and universities; turgid women’s studies programs are ubiquitous. The military places the quest for androgyny above the goal of victory. Prestige professions such as medical doctor and lawyer are rapidly being feminized. Marriage rates and marital birthrates are low. Child support orders turn many remaining fathers into the indentured servants of their ex-wives. Church liturgies sound like Ms. magazine articles. Language police crush the generic “he.”
The best defense I've come across was that put forth by C.S. Lewis in the sixteenth chapter of Mere Christianity:
    So much for the Christian doctrine about the permanence of marriage. Something else, even more unpopular, remains to be dealt with. Christian wives promise to obey their husbands. In Christian marriage the man is said to be the `head'. Two questions obviously arise here. (1) Why should there be a head at all - why not equality? (2) Why should it be the man?

    (1) The need for some head follows from the idea that marriage is permanent. Of course, as long as the husband and wife are agreed, no question of a head need arise; and we may hope that this will be the normal state of affairs in a Christian marriage. But when there is a real disagreement, what is to happen? Talk it over, of course; but I am assuming they have done that and still failed to reach agreement. What do they do next? They cannot decide by a majority vote, for in a council of two there can be no majority. Surely, only one or other of two things can happen: either they must separate and go their own ways or else one or other of them must have a casting vote. If marriage is permanent, one or other party must, in the last resort, have the power of deciding the family policy. You cannot have a permanent association without a constitution.

    (2) If there must be a head, why the man? Well, firstly, is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman? As I have said, I am not married myself, but as far as I can see, even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say 'Poor Mr X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.' I do not think she is even very flattered if anyone mentions the fact of her own 'headship'. There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule. But there is also another reason; and here I speak quite frankly as a bachelor, because it is a reason you can see from outside even better than from inside. The relations of the family to the outer world -what might be called its foreign policy -must depend, in the last resort, upon the man, because he always ought to be, and usually is, much more just to the outsiders. A woman is primarily fighting for her own children and husband against the rest of the world. Naturally, almost, in a sense, rightly, their claims override, for her, all other claims. She is the special trustee of their interests. The function of the husband is to see that this natural preference of hers is not given its head. He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife. If anyone doubts this, let me ask a simple question. If your dog has bitten the child next door, or if your child has hurt the dog next door, which would you sooner have to deal with, the master of that house or the mistress? Or, if you are a married woman, let me ask you this question. Much as you admire your husband, would you not say that his chief failing is his tendency not to stick up for his rights and yours against the neighbours as vigorously as you would like? A bit of an Appeaser?
When the going gets tough, my wife, God bless her, is more than willing to remind me that I am the "household head" (가장 - 家長). When the going is not so tough, she is less willing to do so, and I am more than willing to let her take care of day-to-day affairs.

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More on the Mass Kidnapping of Fundamentalist Mormon Children

Michael S. Rozeff notes that the case is "a verdict rendered against them and without justice," "has nothing to do with child abuse and everything to do with the production of uniformity and conformity," and that it is "heartbreaking to see innocents steamrollered by the State" — Elian Gonzales times 437.

There are few religious groups in the United States with whom we Catholics disagree more on theological grounds, but that does not mean we should not come to their defense.

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"Integer" on Neoconnerie

Comments of his to my post entitled Apologia Pro Vita Neocon:
    Clearly there is an attempt, after the culture/counterculture split of the 60s, and the culture wars begining in the 80s, to rebuild a consensus society in which something like what is defined as "neoconservativism" defines the legitimate range of political discourse. Hence Clinton, Obama, and McCain are "decent" while Paul is of course "out." Fortunately the only people who buy this are that declining segment of the American population that get all their information from the 6:OO and 11:OO evening news.

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"The Young Fogey" on "Liberal" Catholics

Comments of his to my post entitled Postconciliar Moderation:
    Liberal RCs are usually just culturally non-Anglo-Saxon mainline Protestants. They've assimilated into the mainstream around them but culturally on their terms (which is why they don't become Episcopalians for example). Sort of the worst of all worlds: Modernism, cultural philistinism as a class statement (none of that artsy-fartsy old-fashioned stuff the Episcopalians like) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish/'you're not from this neighbourhood/parish, are you?' parochialism. (As much as I like Christian particularism I don't like this version nor it me.)
Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity come to mind, even though they're neither "conservative" nor "liberal" classically speaking; they both take (or, more often than not, leave) The Catholic Faith on their own terms.

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Sainte Thérèse in the Driver's Seat

Katerina Ivanovna on what the "Little Flower" has to say to drivers — The Little Way - In Traffic. This saintly path will be all the more difficult to practice in Korea, but I'll try.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Old Rugged Cross Played by George Lewis in 1962

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News Flash! Neoconservatives Not Conservative!

Apologia Pro Vita Neocon was the title of my posted yesterday about Jonah Goldberg's latest — How neo are the neocons? A better title for his piece would have been, "How con are the neocons?"

I made note of the fact that he approvingly quoted Robert Kagan as admitting, "The first thing that could be said about this neoconservative worldview is that there is nothing very conservative about it." But I failed to mention this passage, because its significance did not dawn on me until this morning:
    I largely agree with Kagan on all of these points. But I have a problem too. Kagan embraces and celebrates the definition of neoconservatism as a doctrine of democracy promotion abroad, moralism in foreign policy and unilateralism toward these ends when necessary. But the original neoconservatism of the late '60s and early '70s wasn't about any of these things.

    It was about domestic affairs, primarily the dangers of overreach. Less an ideology than a branch of skepticism about the ability of government to achieve anything like utopian goals, neoconservatism was the school for former liberals -- they'd famously been "mugged by reality," in Irving Kristol's words.
As anyone with a passing acquaintance with Russell Kirk (1918-1994) knows, "skepticism about the ability of government to achieve anything like utopian goals" is the sine qua non of The Conservative Mind. (See Ten Conservative Principles by Russell Kirk.) Obviously then, "neoconservatism" was something altogether different, coming from a different place and being tempered, perhaps, by the core tenet of conservative philosophy. But these "former liberals" did not simply become conservatives, they remained something different at the core, thus the need for a distinct term, "neoconservative." It is thus more accurate to attach the prefix "neo-" to the school whence they came and of which they remained. "Neo-liberal" is inaccurate because they were never "liberal" to begin with, so perhaps "neo-Trotskyite" is the most accurate term.

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The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and Chuang Tzu

Sinologist Sam Crane makes the connection between my favorite linguistic theory and my favorite Chinese philosopher — Thinking too much.

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Wards of the State of Texas

My friend Jeff Culbreath quotes a chilling glimpse of the Texas foster care system — What the FLDS children can look forward to. An excerpt:
    The children suffer behind an iron curtain of corrupt secrecy. That curtain was lifted a few years ago, long enough to get a brief but terrifying glimpse of what was being done by people who had placed themselves beyond accountability.

    Scores of children were killed, poisoned, beaten, and otherwise abused each year. Child rape was terrifyingly common: The largest group of victims were between 12 and 15 years of age, but thirteen percent of the victims were three years old or younger.

    An official investigation of this secretive system was undertaken, but soon foundered over obstructions thrown up by those who had the most to lose if the full truth were revealed. But before the portcullis was slammed shut, the investigator learned that a child being raised in that system was four times more likely to die of criminal violence than a child in the general population.

    The obvious course of action would be to mount an armed raid to liberate those children, by whatever necessary means, from the abusive system in which they’re being held.

    Unfortunately, the entity that would carry out such an operation also presides over the systematic abuse.

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New Urbanism's Old Ideas

Catesby Leigh begins by noting that "New Urbanism is uncool because it is basically traditional" — New Urbanists Point the Way Forward. An introduction:
    Perhaps the New Urbanists should cherish their outsider status. A gifted crew of architects and planners, they have changed the conversation about urban planning in the United States. They reject conventional postwar developers’ essentially quantitative, two-dimensional, single-use-oriented blueprints for residential subdivisions and office parks in favor of a qualitative, three-dimensional, mixed-use approach to designing neighborhoods and towns that generally involves reliance on traditional architectural styles. In many ways it’s a conservative approach to building communities, which probably accounts for its not being in fashion.
These wise words from C.S. Lewis come to mind: "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

[link via The New Beginning]

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The Marmot Visits My Archdiocese

And takes several photos of our beautiful churches, noting that the city, "a major 20th century missionary center and one of the few Southern cities to avoid capture by the communists in the Korean War, is home to one of the largest and best preserved collection of modern cultural properties in Korea" — Historic Architecture of Daegu. He mentions the "girls who speak with cute accents and local politics only slightly to the right of Mussolini’s" but fails to metion that the girls are rightly reputed to be the most beautiful in Korea.

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Wendell Berry in Harpers

"It's nothing here that Berry hasn't said a thousand times before, but there is something gripping about reading it in a time when the events long prophesied by Berry -- basically, the collapse of our unsustainable, unnatural economic and social structure -- appear to be beginning," says Rod Dreher, with extensive quotes from the great man — "Ye shall be as gods..."

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You're Either With the War, or Against Us

John Zmirak on The War Party, Sen. Joe Liebermann, the press, and the death of conservatism — Nothing But the War. Mr. Zmirak recalls bing "one of the least significant of the few conservatives to warn against invading Iraq" in 2002-3:
    One thing I did suspect, however, was that the war would quickly eclipse other issues among conservatives, as wars always do. The deep-seated, anthropological instinct to rally behind the troops kicked in among most Americans, and this White House is skilled, if in nothing else, in manipulating primal instincts--turning wholesome responses into political pathologies. Soon, any leftist hack (like Christopher Hitchens) who jumped onto a tank and waved a flag was christened a comrade, while long-time conservative, patriotic stalwarts like Pat Buchanan were tarred as saboteurs.

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Mercury and Mitochondria

Anthony Wade reports on the "first crack in the denials" of the link between "mercury based preservative in children’s vaccines" and "the autism explosion in this country" — Tipping Point in Autism-Vaccine Debate.

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More Canaries in the Coal Mine

Michael McCarthy on another under-reported crisis — The Great Migration Crisis.

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Confessions of a Fellow Coca Leaf User

J. H. Huebert writes of his expereinces with the Andean botanical — Leave Coca Leaf Users Alone. I wrote about mine, and those of two popes, here — ¡Viva el Perú! ¡Viva Bolivia! ¡Viva el papa! ¡Fuera la ONU!.

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To the Docks With Yoo!

Carlos Villarreal of the National Lawyers Guild on his organization's "press release in April stating that Yoo ought to be tried as a war criminal and dismissed by the University of California Berkeley" — Professor John Yoo Should be Dismissed From Boalt Law School--And Prosecuted. War crimes are a capital offense in the United States.

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$2 Billion to a Monster in Exchange for a Nobel Peace Prize

"You don’t win a Nobel Peace Prize without having blood on your hands," pithily said anarcho-Catholic leftie "Steph" of The Dalai Lama; the same is true of former South Korean preisdent Kim Dae-jung, as a South Korean refugee has explained — Former spy to allege Peace Prize wrongdoing.

    Kim Ki-sam, [a 42-year-old former National Intelligence Service agent] who quit Korea’s main spy agency in 2000, was granted political asylum in the United States last week. “Many reporters contacted me after I was granted asylum,” Kim was quoted as saying. “Instead of talking to them one by one, I thought it would be better to meet them together.”

    In 2003 Kim made his first accusation that illegal activities helped then-President Kim win the prize. He claimed the former president gave 2 trillion won ($2 billion) to Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, in return for an unprecedented inter-Korean summit.

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Slow Grind or Fast Crash?

Sharon Astyk says we're in the midst of the latter, and thinks it's time for "the 'We regret to inform you that what you have imagined to be ''civilization'' is now falling apart' post" — We regret to inform you… An excerpt:
    In early 2008, the world’s food and energy train came off the rails. What was startling was that it didn’t happen either gradually or in a linear way - instead, things simply fell apart at an astounding rate, faster than anyone could have predicted without being accused of lunacy.
Click on the link for the rest.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

First, They Came for the Polygamists

"Damn, this whole thing just reeks," says my friend Jeff Culbreath, posting a disturbing video of mothers weeping for their children — This is justice? If I might repost the rest of his comments in full:
    Why are these people presumed guilty until proven innocent? Yes, there were pregnant teenage girls on the FLDS ranch. There are pregnant teenage girls in every city, but their families - if they have any - are not ripped apart by the state in this way. Maybe the difference is that ordinary teenage mothers don’t have enough family to matter. Maybe the difference is that the FLDS teens are “married”, and the state of Texas prefers its teenage mothers free and single. Unless Texas comes up with some evidence of real abuse, this is proving to be nothing but raw persecution of a religious group because they dare to shelter their children from the degradations of modern culture.
Texan Rick Fisk offers some Texas straight talk — No Country for Free Men. He reports that the raid was "acted upon a second-hand report of a desperate 16-year-old girl... [who] may have actually been 33-year-old Rozita Swinton, who has a history of hysterical calls into authorities which have mobilized them to action in more than one state," but also notes that "[t]he FLDS church has skirted the polygamy laws... by avoiding the marriage license [but] goes a step further by having the 'unwed' mothers apply for state welfare."

This of course calls for a removal of welfare benefits, not children, but there is no way to accomplish that under "the rule of law," is there?

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The "Seoul Searcher" Visits Kaesong

The venerable Cho Se-hyon "visited North Korea last week for the first—and probably last—time" and "the experience left [him] with a bitter taste in [his] mouth" — A Visit to North Korea.

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Postconciliar Moderation

From Damian Thompson — The Lefebvrists choose sectarianism. He notes that "Pope Benedict does not demand that the documents of the Vatican II be treated like a sort of third Testament – which is how the world’s liberal bishops regard them –" and that "[t]he great wound in the Church... was caused by the deplorable suppression of the traditional Mass, which was never abrogated by the Council."

It seems that most people who comment on the Council, favorably or unfavorably, have never read the Documents of the II Vatican Council; neither have I, but it seems that most of the abuses are a result of an appeal to "The Spirit of Vatican II" rather than to any specific document.

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Famine in Japan

Not yet, but the grain crisis has reached the country and this article, linked to by EnergyBulletin.net, notes that "[b]eing a rich nation is no protection for Japan, which faces the fallout of relying too heavily on foreign food to supply domestic needs" — Japan's hunger becomes a dire warning for other nations.

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Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Syrian Sami Moubayed on the ex-president's road to Damascus — Carter spreads a new doctrine.

At the age of ten, I felt moved to write President Carter a letter of condolence on his losing the election to Ronald Reagan. I've since come to learn that he was a failed president, not for the reasons self-styled "conservatives" tend to think, but because he carried on the decades-old treacherous interventionist policies in Central America and the Middle East. As an ex-president, however, it cannot be denied that he is moved by his Christian faith to atone for his sins and to do what he can to help promote peace in the Holy Land. God bless him.

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Apologia Pro Vita Neocon

Jonah Goldberg's latest, an appeal to tradition asserting that "[p]romoting democracy throughout the world has been a driving force in U.S. politics since the country's earliest days," is disturbing — How neo are the neocons?

Of course, he knows that the easiest way to silence an opponent in modern American political discourse is to accuse him of anti-Semitism, and that's how he spends his first two paragraphs. Some truths, however, slip through. He quotes Robert Kagan as admitting, "The first thing that could be said about this neoconservative worldview is that there is nothing very conservative about it." His appeal to tradition goes back as far "William Henry Seward, a founder of the Republican Party and Lincoln's secretary of State." (If that doesn't make you laugh, read The American Lenin or The American Indian And The "Great Emancipator".) He also notes that "both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama conceded the core neoconservative principle of the Bush doctrine," which is precisely why 2008 is such a bleak year.

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Malta, Hope for Europe and the World

Thomas Basil provides an excellent overview of the island on which the Apostle was shipwrecked, and contrasts it with my ancestral homeland — Contrasts in Christendom: Red Lights in Amsterdam, Neon In Malta.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Where You Can Find Us

Momentarily, we'll be leaving for Uljin's "Gusugok Natural Rest-Forest" (구수곡자연휴양림), to spend a night in this very cabin:


Tomorrow, we'll spend the day at the Deokgu Spa (덕구온천관광호텔):


Blogging will resume tomorrow evening, God willing.

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"The Sage of Batavia" Debates

The Tory Anarchist reports that "Bill Kauffman will be debating Michael Tomasky (editor of the U.S. edition of the lefty Brit newspaper The Guardian) at the Cato Institute" — Antiwar Conservatism vs. Beltway Libertarianism. Mr. Kauffman's new book is Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism. I was convinced of his sagacity with Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists, which I reviewed here — Steal This Book!

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Catholic Ads

Do yourself a favor and watch the three videos at the bottom of this page, sent by a kind reader — Catholics Come Home.

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Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the State Monopoly on Arms

Not surprisingly, the 16th Century monster behind both The Imjin War on Korea and The Japanese Persecution of The Catholic Faith, including the crucifixions of the Martyrs of Nagasaki, was also against the right of common folk to bear arms:
    The people of the various provinces are strictly forbidden to have in their possession any swords, short swords, bows, spears, firearms, or other types of arms. The possession of unnecessary implements makes difficult the collection of taxes and dues and tends to foment uprisings.Quotes on the Right to Bear Arms

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A Catholic Pacifist Comes Around

Not to our un-American War on Iraq but to America-loving near-pacificism, which is this blogger's stance — Bending My Stiff Neck. Moved by the papal visit, Nate Wildermuth is now of the opinion that "the defense of life must take priority over a commitment to nonviolence, most Christians are duty-bound to defend life with the least amount of violence possible." He says, "{I]f the only way I can defend life is to use a gun, then I must use a gun." He even quotes Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi:
    I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by nonviolently facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. He has no business to be the head of a family. He must either hide himself, or must rest content to live for ever in helplessness and be prepared to crawl like a worm at the bidding of a bully.
Among these Quotes on the Right to Bear Arms is this one from the Mahatma: "Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest."

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Talking Warheads

Rod Dreher reports that most of "those retired generals and other military officers we've all seen on TV these past few years, explaining events in Iraq... were, or have been, more or less on the Pentagon's payroll" and many "were involved with defense contractors, who stood to make a lot of money from the prosecution and continuation of the war" — Beware the military-journalism complex.

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Hanoi John?

Alexander Cockburn has some disturbing allegations about the (Manchurian?) candidate he calls "probably the most unstable man ever to have got this close to the White House" — "Hero" John McCain as Phony and Collaborator: What Really Happened When He Was a POW? The allegations are serious enough that the "kid-glove treatment from the press" needs to be suspended.

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Biofuels and the Grain Crisis

Another government-funded disaster — It’s Time to Scrap the Ethanol Boondoggle. Excerpts from the editorial:
    Government-funded conversion to “biofuels” such as ethanol is scarcely helping with energy efficiency and is exacerbating a global food crisis.... Around the world, governments have enthusiastically embraced ethanol and other biofuels in recent years... Skeptics have long warned that ethanol is no miracle cure, offering slight energy gains at best. But in country after country, powerful farm lobbies have encouraged government subsidies for ethanol.... The enormous investment in biofuels in the U.S., the European Union, Canada and elsewhere, we are coming to see, is fuelling a food crisis in poor countries.

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The End of the Republic of Samsung?

Some analysis suggesting that South Korea's "relationship between business and politics is starting to come apart" — Indictment of Samsung chairman, a political and economic "earthquake".

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Korean Workaholics

A report on the country whose "[w]orkers put in the longest hours in any free-market economy" — South Korean workers on edge of burnout. Sadly, this often translates as "working long hours at low levels of productivity." I published my thoughts on the topic last year — O Korea, Turn Back to the Tao.

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A Georgist Solution?

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The City of Good Neighbors?

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Drunk Talk

This, from The Daily Eudemon's lasest edition of Brews You Can Use, is too funny to pass up:
    THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:
    1. Innovative
    2. Preliminary
    3. Proliferation
    4. Cinnamon

    THINGS THAT ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:
    1. Specificity
    2. Anti-constitutionalistically
    3. Passive-aggressive disorder
    4. Transubstantiate

    THINGS THAT ARE DOWNRIGHT IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:
    1. Nope, no more booze for me!
    2. Sorry, but you’re not really my type.
    3. Taco Bell ? No thanks, I’m not hungry.
    4. Good evening, officer. Isn’t it lovely out tonight?
    5. Oh, I couldn’t! No one wants to hear me sing karaoke.
    6. I’m not interested in fighting you.
    7. Thank you, but I won’t make any attempt to dance, I have no coordination. I’d hate to look like a fool.
    8. Where is the nearest bathroom? I refuse to go in this parking lot or on the side of the road.
    9. I must be going home now. I have to work in the morning.

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Ben Stein's Anti-Darwin Movie

Sonsoles de Lacalle says, "It does a huge disservice to both the ID movement and to science" — Expelled: conspiracy or claptrap? Like Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006), people "were interviewed under false pretenses" and "quotes are edited in a way that misrepresent his original statements."

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The New Asian Hemisphere by Kishore Mahbubani

Sreeram Chaulia reviews of the former Singaporean diplomat's book — Asia pushes, West resists. You may remember his ealrier book, Can Asians Think? Understanding the Divide Between East and West.

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From Feudal Monarchy to People's Republic

Dhruba Adhikary offers some analysis — A Maoist in Nepal's palace.

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It's a Sad Day When You Can't Trust Pravda

The story of Vladimir and Alina was greatly exaggerated — Putin denies tabloid report that plans to marry former champion gymnast. I apologize for calling Mr. Putin an "hijo de puta" and the half-Tatar Miss Kabaeva a "tart."

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Friday, April 18, 2008

The Indispensible Antiwar.com

Editor Justin Raimondo on its "credo and mission" — What We're About. The first sentence: "Antiwar.com is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to the proposition that aggressive wars are the biggest threat to liberty and humanity: our goal is to stop them before they start, and, once started, to mobilize the broadest possible movement to oppose them."

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Neither SoCon Nor NeoCon

A few days ago, I gave a half-tongue-in-cheek title to a post reporting on the rapprochment between the Bush and Kim régimesTrotskyites and Stalinists Finally Make Peace. Stumbling across some Catholic bloggers giving kudos to McCain today, the thought returned to me that commies, like the anti-abortion Nicolae Ceauşescu, have always been social conservatives when it suited their purposes. Will SoCons be duped into supporting the NeoCon Permanent Revolution?

I'm socially conservative but not a social conservative; to quote "The Young Fogey" of A conservative blog for peace, "As I like to say, in a neutral, constitutional system I can vote for a partnered gay atheist, no problem" — What does ‘moral values’ mean?

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Natural Law Against Incest

You might think that this study finding a natural mechanism against the abomination might lend support to backward traditionalists like myself — The inbred—betrayed by scent? Advocates of Transhumanism, however, will just say that with genetic screening, contraception, and abortion, we now have the means to overcome these natural limitations. There's no arguing with these people.

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"God willing, we can save Europe from total destruction.”

Tea at Trianon links to Andrew Cusack's thoughts on the film adaptation of the life of the heroic Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, the Bavarian Catholic aristocrat patriot who attempted Tyrannicide against Hitler in 1944 — “Valkyrie”.

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Peter, Rock of Ages

"Need I mention that the Catholic Church long antedated the US government, and there will be a pope long after there is no US president?" rhetroically asks Lew Rockwell — Pope and President. Mr. Rockwell then quotes this remarkable piece of rheortic from "the great 19th century classical-liberal (and Protestant) historian, Thomas Babington Macaulay:"
    There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's.
My jaw dropped when I first came across and pondered that phrase "before the Saxon had set foot on Britain" a few years ago.

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Putin, hijo de puta

If this story is to be believed, Vladimir Vladimirovich "has left his 50-year-old wife and is set to marry a former gymnast half his age" — Putin to Wed 24-Year-Old Ex-Rhythmic Gymnast. The tart in question, Alina Kabaeva, is half-Tatar and a member of the Russian Duma.

UPDATE: Putin denies tabloid report that plans to marry former champion gymnast (Thanks, Josh).

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The Future of Air Travel

"[I]f you were planning to take that trip of a lifetime, you should have done it last year," says Barbara Yaffe — Two factors mean the end of air travel as we know it. Here's what the future of air travel might look like:
    "The place where airline use will actually decline is in North America where we have turned flying into 'buses with wings' mass transportation," says Anthony Perl, an Simon Fraser University urban studies professor who, along with Gilbert, authored the recently published Transport Revolutions.

    Their book explores the effect peak oil is likely to have on global transport.

    Perl believes air travel in the future will be reserved for the rich, many of whom will use "micro jets." Others will pay big bucks to be transported in larger, fuel efficient aircraft that ply high volume, long-range routes.

    He foresees a new type of passenger aircraft, designed for fuel efficiency -- one that's bat-shaped, resembling a B-52 bomber, with 20-seat rows.

    [....]

    Governments and transit authorities need to recognize, given the energy crunch, they're wasting tax dollars by plowing cash into airport and road expansion projects.

    Globally, no more than 25 airports will be functional by 2025, Perl predicts, only one of them in the Pacific Northwest.
[link via EnergyBulletin.net]

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The Lily of the Mohawks

Yesterday, the fellow Upstate New Yorker's feast day, her cause was begun — Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha’s cause for sainthood going to Vatican.

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Chinese Troops Backing Up the Monster Mugabe!

South African colleague Fr. Methodius reports the shoking news — Chinese troops deployed in Zimbabwe. He asks, "[I]f it's true, could it not be said that Mugabe was guilty of treason, deploying foreign troops against his own people? Confirmation from in country that they "patrol in full uniform, and carry pistols, and their sudden appearance has terrified some local residents" — What are Chinese troops doing on Zimbabwe's streets?

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Tagged!

By Memoirs of a Neophyte.

The rules are:
1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about himself.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What was I doing 10 years ago:
Surviving what Koreans rightly call The IMF Crisis. (See my article, I Survived the IMF.)

Five things on my To Do List today:
1. Print my midterm exams.
2. Have a lunch-date with the hot chick to whom I'm married.
3. Stock up on rice before the grain crisis hits Korea.
4. Take my daughter to physical therapy.
5. Read stories to my daughter and son.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
* Donate to various Catholic charities.
* Convert the money to gold.
* Buy a farm.
* Build a chapel dedicated the the Virgin on said farm.
* Build a camp for handicapped kids on said farm.
* Buy Naxos.

Three of my bad habits:
1. Blogging.
2. Drinking.
3. Girl-watching.

Five places I’ve lived:
1. Ohio
2. Western New York
3. Santiago, Chile
4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
5. Ulsan, South Korea

Five jobs I’ve had:
1. Paperboy
2. Dishwasher
3. Farmhand
4. Construction worker
5. Food co-op clerk

Five books I’ve recently read:
1. Chong Yagyong: Korea's Challenge to Orthodox Neo-Confucianism
2. Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran
3. A Life of Jesus
4. Whose Bible Is It?: A Short History of the Scriptures
5. Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy

The five I tagged:
1. Antes de la caída
2. KoreanCatholic
3. The New Beginning
4. Notes from underground
5. Nouspraktikon’s Weblog

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Popes and Peace

A timely article — A Rift Over Iraq Between President and Pope. The article focuses on Pope Benedict XVI, but this anecdote about Pope John Paul II is too good to pass up:
    The war itself marked a failure of months of high-energy Vatican diplomacy between Europe, Baghdad, and Washington. On the eve of the war in 2003, Pope John Paul II lost his temper in a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. And the pontiff, by one account, "used words and gestures bordering on a diplomatic incident." A few days later, in a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the pope "raised his voice, pointed an accusing finger... and even banged his fist on the table," according to a Catholic newspaper.

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From Sex Symbol to Thought Criminal

One of the most universally hated women by Koreans (for her opposition to dog meat) has been hauled into the courts again — Bardot on trial for allegedly inciting anti-Muslim hatred. Vive la Bardot libre!

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A Socialist Calls for [Somewhat] Free[r] Trade

In the wake of the global grain crisis — Brazil's Lula: food riots are wake-up call. Biofuel mercantilism was the cause.

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Die-off Time

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Pelosi Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est?

Madame Speaker, "the government's highest-ranking Catholic and a supporter of abortion rights," thinks herself more Catholic than the Pope and "intends to receive Communion" at "a Mass celebrated by a pope who has said such lawmakers should not receive Communion" — Abortion-rights lawmakers to receive Communion.

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Grain Crisis Heading This Way

It has spread from Africa — The "grain crisis" spreads in Asia, from Kazakhstan to China. And these comments yesterday by the South Korean president may indicate it's coming here soon — Search for Secure Overseas Food Base Is On: Lee. Interesting that the Koreans are thinking of "renting land in the Maritime Province of Siberia for 30 to 50 years" rather than simply importing rice.

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Peak Fiat Currency

"It’s not that oil is becoming so much more valuable," observes Serge. "It’s that fiat paper is becoming less so." He is speaking of the chart located here ─ Maybe Ron Paul Was Right. Unlike oil, they just keep making more fiat money. This doesn't negate Peak Oil, but rather only exacerbates the problems associated with it.

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John Zmirak Quotes the Dead Kennedys

In his latest post — Kill the Poor. I did the same a while back — Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill the Poor.

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The Politics of Rootlessness

The great Bill Kauffman on the three "political carpetbagger[s]" left in the major parties — The Candidates from Nowhere. Says the author:
    What's wrong with electing competent but rootless people to public office? Because just as one cannot love the "human race" before one loves particular human beings, neither can one love "the world" unless he first achieves a deep understanding of his own little piece of that world. America is not, as the neoconservatives like to say, an idea: it is a place, or rather the sum of a thousand and one little, individuated places, each with its own history and accent and stories. A politician who understands this will act in ways that protect and preserve these real places. A rootless politico will babble on about "the homeland"--a creepily totalitarian phrase that, pre-Bush, was not applied to our country.

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Reclaiming the American Right

The original introduction by Justin Raimondo to the republication of his 1993 book — How the War Party Captured the Right.

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Victory in Vietnam

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The Pontiff on America's Founding

From the report on his visit — For Pope a “moral order based on the dominion of God” is the basis of freedom and human rights:
    From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the ‘self-evident truth’ that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Trotskyites and Stalinists Finally Make Peace

In Singapore — US accepts tentative nuke deal with NKorea: White House. Does this mean Nork Socialism in One Country will be abandoned in favor of Neocon Permanent Revolution, or have Their Dear Leaders reached some sort of compromise?

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Lady Day Sings Fine and Mellow (1957)

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The End of the World as We Know It

And I feel decidedly unfine reading about "the food riots now spreading across the planet" and learning that "there are now only eight to 12 weeks of cereal stocks left globally" — How New Energy Order Will Dramatically Change our Daily Lives. Some of the signs of our times:
    Oil at $110 a barrel. Gasoline at $3.35 (or more) per gallon. Diesel fuel at $4 per gallon. Independent truckers forced off the road. Home heating oil rising to unconscionable price levels. Jet fuel so expensive that three low-cost airlines stopped flying in the past few weeks.
It has long been said this is what Peak Oil would look like. Reading the headlines in recent weeks, I feel like I'm watching one of those apocalyptic movies in which the foreshadowing of the coming doom is clear to the viewer, but the characters remain oblivious. The problem is that none of us are viewers of this movie; we're all characters.

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Bodhisattva, not Messiah

    Obviously, you are all terribly wrong, but I am such a good guy that I am going to indulge you in your false notions out of compassion for your suffering. You cling to your delusions, but I am here to teach you a path of liberation from all such attachments.
"The Messiah references have been all wrong–this is Obama as bodhisattva," says Daniel Larison, referring to the senator's condescension toward the good people of Pennsylvanniain and putting the above words into his mouth as a paraphrase — Clinging. Now, the case needs to be made for Obama as Mahdi and Obama as Avatar of Krishna.

This case is perhaps the most plausible, if it weren't for the fact that he seems to be sinking his own ship — Obama as Antichrist. People are mistaken when they think the Antichrist will appear to be a monster. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his colleagues determined Hitler could not be the Antichrist because he was too glaringly Evil. He'll be slick and seduce many, just as I was almost seduced when I wrote this reporting on others who've been seduced — Make Way for the Obamacons!

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Educating Targets and Educating Priests

Nate Wildermuth updates us on Fr. Z.'s waxing over a warship — “Gorgeous” Lies. I see nothing wrong with saying a ship has "gorgeous lines" or is "graceful," but saying "her huge turrets educated Iraqi targets" crosses a certain line, I'd say.

The good father committed no sin in his remarks, but if feels the need for penance, I might humbly suggest reading the latest from "The Sage of Batavia" — Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism. Tough talk is fun and even necessary in this age of almost universal effeminacy, but I can think of nothing tougher and more truly manly than "Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism."

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.