Quick Picks

I’m wrapping up what everyone around my knows as “those damned jury instructions,” so will refrain from lengthy blogging. Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you a few things of interest this morning:

From Strate-Sphere, we get a bead on the real enemy of Islam and, surprise! surprise!, it’s not the US, it’s Al Qaeda — at least that’s what the Sunnis in Iraq are saying.

Danny Lemieux tipped me off to a Brussels Journal article about the failure of leadership in Britain, a problem hastened by a lack of “follower-ship” — since no one is bothering to vote anymore. Britain is like a ship half filled with water that’s slowly slipping into the sea. So sad. Incidentally, you may want to pair reading that article with Peter Oborne’s piece about the death of a leadership group and the rise of a purely political class in Britain. (h/t Independent Women’s Forum.)

Earl directed me to an article about Freud and faith, which looks at his last book, Moses and Monotheism. I’ve never read that book, but am familiar with the central premise, which Max Dimont discusses fully in his wonderful book, Jews, God and History. Mark Edmundson, the author’s article, nicely summarizes Freud’s main point as follows:

About two-thirds of the way into the volume, he makes a point that is simple and rather profound — the sort of point that Freud at his best excels in making. Judaism’s distinction as a faith, he says, comes from its commitment to belief in an invisible God, and from this commitment, many consequential things follow. Freud argues that taking God into the mind enriches the individual immeasurably. The ability to believe in an internal, invisible God vastly improves people’s capacity for abstraction. “The prohibition against making an image of God — the compulsion to worship a God whom one cannot see,” he says, meant that in Judaism “a sensory perception was given second place to what may be called an abstract idea — a triumph of intellectuality over sensuality.”

If people can worship what is not there, they can also reflect on what is not there, or on what is presented to them in symbolic and not immediate terms. So the mental labor of monotheism prepared the Jews — as it would eventually prepare others in the West — to achieve distinction in law, in mathematics, in science and in literary art. It gave them an advantage in all activities that involved making an abstract model of experience, in words or numbers or lines, and working with the abstraction to achieve control over nature or to bring humane order to life. Freud calls this internalizing process an “advance in intellectuality,” and he credits it directly to religion.

Earl, in telling me about this article, made the darker point which is that, in this intensely TV driven age, we seem to be regressing. As a teacher, he sees his students having a much more difficult time with the written word, and increasingly demanding graphics as a way to access any given subject. Again, so sad.

And I thought you’d all enjoy Jonah Goldberg’s article about Hillary’s “speechifying” to General Petraeus, in which she demonstrated her signature style of saying nothing to everyone. For me, the money paragraph in Goldberg’s article is this one:

But just because Hillary is about as impulsive as a pet rock, it doesn’t mean that she’s as different from her husband as it seems. Both have mastered the art of having it both ways. Indeed, Clintonite “triangulation” and “Third Way” politics were always about having your cake and eating it too. For instance, Hillary has managed to be the leader of a rabidly anti-war party and the most hawkish Democrat in the field at the same time.

I also like the Wall Street Journal’s belligerent defense of the possibility that Pres. Bush might nominate Theodore Olson as attorney general — and its chastisement of those Republican Senators who seem to defer to Reid’s bullying pronouncement that, in effect, Pres. Bush should nominate a Democratic AG.

And speaking of the Wall Street Journal, don’t miss Kimberley Strassel’s analysis of all the good General Petraeus’ level-headed, fact-filled, straightforward testimony did:

Had anyone suggested six weeks ago that the GOP would emerge from the Petraeus hearings on the political front-foot, they’d have been laughed at all the way to Anbar. There’s a lesson here for Republicans, in particular those most worried about how Iraq will play in next year’s elections: Good military policy is good politics.

And that’s it, I’ve promised myself, until the damned jury instructions are in the email and off my calendar and conscience. I’m guessing about two hours. Whew!

5 Responses

  1. This is some mighty meaty reading, BW. I might link to it and add my two cents. I never knew that Freud felt this way. He reminds me of Oriana Fallaci, who, at the end of her atheistic life sought out the pope and took communion. Happy Rosh Hashana, too. Since we are on the subject, I thought I would send you this interesting document concerning the British record on Partition. It comes from a 1948 publication of The Nation….hardly a Republican Rag. Anyway, here is the link, which also contains a lot of information and a pdf file:
    http://emperor.vwh.net/history/br.htm#text

  2. Wow, Jauhara! That is an amazing document you linked too. I’ll see if I can get it slightly wider play by doing a post about it, although that will have to wait a few days.

  3. “those damned jury instructions,”

    I don’t know if you’re preparing criminal or civil instructions, but a good idea is to have the instructions clearly in mind when you file your complaint or prepare your answer An electronic version of California’s crimial and civil instructions is available from Thomson publishing. Having worked on the program for the last 17 years, I highly commend it to you to ease your editing burdens.

  4. I agree with you, Richard. When I’m drafting a complaint, I always start with the jury instructions and work backwards. Sadly, this was not my complaint, and the issues are somewhat amorphous, so I’ve been working to do a lot of original drafting, in addition to the CACI (and, when needed, a nod to the old BAJI).

  5. Yes, BW, my jaw dropped, too, when I first read it. Also, even more astonishing is the amazing historical work of Francisco Gil-White. He is one thorough documentarian. He has been denied tenure at Penn State for blatant political reasons. Here is another link that will keep you reading for awhile:
    http://www.hirhome.com/

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