Ignatius Insight Scoop explains why you don’t want to go to The New Yorker for a reasoned critique of the Pope. (Hat tip: Paragraph Farmer.) Then, just to round things out, CDR Salamander offers a video explaining what the Pope actually said last Fall that excited so much Muslim outrage, and why he said it. Compelling reading and viewing this Easter weekend.
For reasons entirely unclear to me, I haven’t been linking to the stuff at Flopping Aces lately. I say unclear because Curt and his co-bloggers have an extraordinary ability to ferret out political and military information and to present it vividly. I’m always fascinated by, and I usually learn something from, the stuff I read there.
I wandered over there today and, with every article I read, fully intended to link to it in a separate post here, at my own blog. After about five articles, though, I realized that it would just be easier to suggest that you check out the blog yourself and, perhaps, consider it something that should be on your regular reading list.
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
For a primer on this language, check out this Wikipedia article. As you read it, pay particular attention to “Blackwhite.” Indeed, I’ll help you by quoting from Orwell right now:
…this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.
Have you got this firmly fixed in your mind? Do you recognize the socialist habit of putting a bass ackward spin on readily understood concepts, and embracing this manifest falsity for the Party benefit, embracing it so strongly that, for as long as the party needs it, it wipes out objective reality?
Good. Now read what Nancy Pelosi said about her trip to a terrible dictatorship, one that is one of the world’s major terror exporters, and one that is on the United States list of forbidden regimes — a keep in mind that this was a trip that the White House strongly advised against:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, deflecting White House criticism of her trip to Syria, said Friday she thinks the mission helped President Bush because it showed the United States is unified against terrorism despite being divided over the Iraq war. Pelosi, D-Calif., met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus earlier this week, against the president’s wishes.
“Our message was President Bush’s message,” Pelosi said in a phone interview with The Associated Press from Portugal, where she stopped briefly en route back to the United States.
“The funny thing is, I think we may have even had a more powerful impact with our message because of the attention that was called to our trip,” the California Democrat said. “It became clear to President Assad that even though we have our differences in the United States, there is no division between the president and the Congress and the Democrats on the message we wanted him to receive.”
Bush earlier in the week assailed Pelosi for making the trip to Damascus, saying it sent mixed messages to the Syrian government, which his administration considers to be a state supporter of terrorism.
Back is white. Evil is good. Treason is patriotic.
You go, Nancy girl! While those already in your camp may be incapable of restoring colors (i.e., black and white) to their true values, my hope is that the vast number of reasonable Americans, reading your doublespeak nonsense, will begin to appreciate that the current crop of Congressional Democrats is not, collectively, practicing good citizenship.
UPDATE: It occurred to me that Pelosi’s approach to facts probably saw her function very well in Saudi Arabia. This month’s Atlantic has a long article (only a part of which you can see online if you’re not a subscriber), discussing the prevalence of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia (something scarcely surprising when you consider the complete gender segregation in that country). It turns out that, although homosexuality is technical subject to the death penalty, the way around the deathly proscription is to define yourself out of homosexuality altogether. That is, you’re not homosexual if (a) you say you’re not and (b) you’re not the half of the couple on the receiving end of the act. Within these finely drawn lines, the fact that two men are engaging in a sexual act becomes irrelevant.
Frankly, since I have no truck with criminalizing homosexuality, I’m glad that gays in Saudi Arabia have figured out a way to live their lives without fear of death. Nevertheless, I find it telling the lengths to which repressive regimes and their citizens have to go to avoid the truth and effect of their own rules and reality.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 23 years since Ghostbusters came out. I’ve always liked that movie, particularly the seen where Bill Murray’s character is trying to convince New York’s mayor that he’s got a problem on his hands:
Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes…
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria.
I was inexorably reminded of this scene when I read at American Thinker that the UN, when it released its latest climate change report, was afraid of a media panic:
Achim Steiner explained that while scientists would never use words such as “crisis,” “terrifying” or “Armageddon,” the media’s over-hype may damage public willingness to act by making the problem seem all but insurmountable:
“I’m a bit preoccupied that the media, having contributed to every day making another doomsday news headline, then in six weeks time will declare it hysteria and move on.”
Mr. Steiner was right to be worried. The same American Thinker article points out that, within hours, the major media outlets had generated the following high pitched headlines:
Climate Report: Poor Will Suffer Most (CBS News)
UN Warns of Extinction, Flooding From Global Warming (Bloomberg News)
Panel: Global Warming a Threat to Earth (ABC News)
Results Of Global Warming: Hunger, Disease, Extinction (AP)
U.N. Report: Climate Change Poses Bleak Future (NPR)
Be afraid, be very afraid. It’s either this or the Stay-Puff Marshmallow man.
As pressure goes, the Iranians did not lay it on very heavily:
Lt. Felix Carman, safely home with his 14 colleagues, said the crew faced harsh interrogation by their Iranian captors and slept in stone cells on piles of blankets. Unable to see and kept isolated, they heard weapons cocking.
“We were blindfolded, our hands were bound and we were forced up against a wall. Throughout our ordeal we faced constant psychological pressure,” Carman said. “All of us were kept in isolation. We were interrogated most nights. . . .
Admittedly, it must have been terrifying but these, are after all, members of the armed forces, not preschool teachers. As a certified wuss myself, I’d nevertheless expect a bit more backbone from them. (And, if you’re in the American military, you’re actually required to show more backbone.)
But did you notice that, when I wrote “We were interrogated most nights” I ended the sentences with ellipses, not a period? As it happened, Lt. Felix Carman had more to say:
“We were interrogated most nights and presented with two options. If we admitted that we’d strayed, we’d be on a plane to (Britain) pretty soon. If we didn’t, we faced up to seven years in prison.”
There you have it, the real threat: not isolation and a stone floor, not even clicking weapons. No, the real threat was seven years in an Iranian prison. And this threat was real because these sailors knew, absolutely knew in their heart of hearts that Britain lacked either the ability or the will to stop it from happening. They knew this because, even though they were not in Iranian waters, and even though the HMS Cornwall, a battleship, was nearby, the British didn’t lift a finger to protect them from capture. That being the case, why should the British lift a finger to protect them from the possibility of a hellish imprisonment?
These sailors caved, not because they were particularly weak, or they were treated particularly badly, but because they knew with dead certainty that their country would abandon them, just as it had done before. That’s how battles, wars and even whole countries are lost. The rank and file knows that there’s nothing for them to protect, and no one bothering to protect them.
Danny Lemieux sent me the link for the ultimate editorial nailing precisely how awful British conduct was vis a vis Iran from start to finish in the last two weeks:
Rule Britannia! Britannia rules the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Pathetic objects of international ridicule, perhaps, but never slaves.
Not yet, anyway.
“England expects that every man will do his duty,” said Admiral Lord Nelson off Cape Trafalgar in October 1805.
He lost his life in the ensuing battle with the combined fleets of France and Spain – but his stunning victory set Napoleon on the road to ruin and established Nelson indisputably as the greatest of his nation’s numberless naval heroes.
We strain to imagine what the old sea dog would have made of that sorry gaggle of British sailors and Marines – waving and smiling, decked out in cheesy duds and clutching swagbags stuffed with goodies from the mullahs: books, candies, pistachio nuts and even a bud vase or two.
Which is probably the best that can be said of their 13 days in Iranian custody. If there has ever in history been a faster, more humiliating submission to Stockholm Syndrome, we’re unaware of it.
No doubt, being plucked out of one’s rubber raft at gunpoint and passed into an Iranian captivity of uncertain duration was a harrowing experience.
But aren’t British service personnel trained for this sort of thing?
Well, actually, that’s a secret.
“We’re not releasing the details of the training any of the services go through under those conditions,” said a Defense Ministry spokesman, “because if we do that, then it would make it easier to interrogate them.”
Easier than what, we wonder.
There’s more, but you get the point. I particularly like the description of the sailors at the moment of my release — looking for all the world as if they’d just won the Eurovision song contest — because it puts into words the very strong feeling of disgust I had when I saw those images.
Apparently even San Francisco has its limits, and the Critical Mass debacle the other day seems to have pushed the limits button. How else to account for this fiery editorial at the notoriously liberal SF Chron, decrying the CM phenomenon:
THE VOLATILE clash between the Critical Mass cyclists and a Redwood City family in a minivan was all too predictable. The only surprise is that something like this hadn’t happened sooner. It was a blessing that no one was seriously injured in the confrontation.
For too long, the pack of rude and sanctimonious bicyclists who call themselves “Critical Mass” have been tolerated in San Francisco. The police have looked the other way and elected officials have been afraid to confront a determined political force in this city.
But as the flood of responses to a SFGate.com blog indicate, plenty of residents and visitors have been gritting their teeth as Critical Mass bicyclists flood the streets and run traffic lights with impunity, and then respond with hostility to any pedestrians or motorists who dare to challenge their demonstrations.
It’s time to make them respect the law. The assault on Susan Ferrando’s minivan, with two terrified daughters inside, is only going to escalate tensions on the street. There should be zero tolerance for such lawlessness.
The more militant of the bicycle advocates fail to recognize that they are undermining their cause with their open provocation. Yes, San Francisco is precarious terrain for bicyclists, with its hills, narrow streets and concentration of people and cars in 49 square miles. It’s also a difficult city for motorists, pedestrians and the many residents who must rely on the Municipal Railway to get around.
The way to make this compact city work for all modes of transportation is for San Franciscans to share the streets with civility, humility and adherence to the rules of the road. The Critical Mass rides contain none of the above.