Friday, January 05, 2007

Cuban Book Burners Invisible to ALA

Why am I not surprised? This alert is from Steve Marquardt, Dean of Libraries Emeritus, South Dakota State University, and Amnesty International USA Legislative Coordinator for Minnesota. Librarians with a brain and a conscience should be outraged at the transparent, pro-Castro apologetics emanating from the American Library Association.

Every time I read about such nonsense from the ALA, I'm reminded of the Library Science professor I had who declared that he would never write a recommendation for any student who didn't belong to the ALA.

So, in effect, students who do not want to support or collaborate with an organization that runs interference for Cuban book-burners may find their career adversely affected.

Please read, then act:

If government-ordered book burning is OK with you, you need read no further. Have a nice day.

If, however, ALA's refusal to post such news on its "Book Burning in the 21st Century" web site concerns or at least puzzles you, then I ask for your help in restoring the integrity of ALA.

Cuban courts in April 2003 ordered the incineration or destruction of the entire holdings – thousands of items – held in six independent libraries. You can read the documentation for yourself as follows, as the Rule of Law and Cuba web site of the Florida State University, by using the following key words:
http://www.ruleoflawandcuba.fsu.edu/documents-matanzas-9e.cfm. Search for "incineration."
http://www.ruleoflawandcuba.fsu.edu/documents-santiago-6e.cfm. Search for "incineration."
http://www.ruleoflawandcuba.fsu.edu/documents-sancti-spiritus-4e.cfm . Search for "destruction."
http://www.ruleoflawandcuba.fsu.edu/documents-matanzas-2e.cfm. Search for "incineration."
http://www.ruleoflawandcuba.fsu.edu/documents-havana-10e.cfm. Search for "destruction."
http://www.ruleoflawandcuba.fsu.edu/documents-ciegodeavila-2e.cfm . Search for "destruction."

After 18 months of repeated requests to post news of this crime against intellectual freedom on its web site devoted to "Book Burning in the 21st Century" ( http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/bookburning/21stcentury/21stcentury.htm)
ALA has yet to do so. We have supplied a paragraph for posting, complete with links to the court documents (see final page of attachment), but Don Wood of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom continues to say that he needs verification of the book burning from a major news source (despite posting news on his web page from small local newspapers). We have sought this coverage, but there is understandably little interest in "news" that is now nearly four years old!

Reputable and objective verification does exist in the total of 151 direct references to Cuba's sentencing documents in the comprehensive reports published by Amnesty International ( http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR250172003?open&of=ENG-CUB)
and the Organization of American States (http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/2006eng/CUBA.12476eng.htm ). The details are in the attachment.

This issue is important to the reputation of our profession and the integrity of our Association. Reasonable people can differ about the legitimacy of Cuban laws allegedly violated by persons operating independent libraries and accepting information materials from the US Interests Section in Havana, but if government-ordered burning of thousands of "subversive" books is not worthy of mention, then our professional association has indeed turned a new ethical corner.

I urge you to send a letter, preferably a letter on your letterhead and in your own words, asking ALA President Leslie Burger why, given reputable and objective documentation at the international level, the Office for Intellectual Freedom refuses to post news of the book burning in Cuba. Even a quick e-mail will help.

Please send the letter SOON – preferably no later than January 11, to be sure that she gets it before leaving for ALA MidWinter in Seattle.

Key points:

• Evidence of the court ordered book burning is found in the sentencing documents posted at the Rule of Law and Cuba web site hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University.

• This documentation has been accepted by and referenced 151 times in comprehensive reports issued by Amnesty International and the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

• It is easy to post links to these reports by respected human rights and international organizations on the Book Burning web page. Why has ALA OIF not done so?

• Ask for a reply and an explanation from our ALA President.

The ALA President's address is:

Leslie Burger, ALA President
Princeton Public Library
65 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
609-924-8822 ext. 253
FAX: 609-924-7937
lburger@princetonlibrary.org

AND please send a copy of your letter to the editorial page editor of the Seattle Post Intelligencer or the same officer at The Seattle Times, in the hope that they also may pose the same question during the ALA MidWinter conference:

Mark Trahant
Editorial Page Editor
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
101 Elliott Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119
E-mail: editpage@seattlepi.com

James F. Vesely
Editorial Page Editor
The Seattle Times
P.O. Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111
Phone: 206/464-2132
Fax: 206/382-6760
E-mail: opinion@ seattletimes.com

I thank you for your support, participation and commitment to intellectual freedom!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The status of this blog

I am always amazed that people read this blog, given the billion or so alternatives out there. Many thanks to those of you who wrote (or complained) about my failing, of late, to post my thoughts, both light and dark.

I've been out of the country for some time (Far East) and arrived back just in time for the holiday season.

I don't know the future status of this blog, given my (growing) family and work responsibilities. I hope to post more after the holidays, primarily on the subjects of books, culture, and the library world. However, I have very little interest or time to devote to the politics of the ALA. I tried to keep up with the twists and turns of ALA politics, but this is simply a swamp in which I cannot bring myself to swim, given my other concerns, which include a new child, two other on-line writing commitments, and my day job.

If you are interested in all things ALA, I suggest some of the site-links on the side. My only interest in the ALA is their relationship to the censorship, anti-censorship, and the culture wars in general. I cannot get excited about which set of crooks is elected to run our country, so I'm not likely to care which hard-politicos of the left run ALA.

This blog was always a grab bag of my roles as librarian, conservative Catholic, and supporter of Israel. Assuming I can continue this blog, I'm only going to concentrate on books and culture, with less emphasis on library politics, Israel, and Catholicism. So, depending on what you came here for, here are a few suggestions of other places to visit on the net:

If you want library politics, please see SHUSH, which has reinvented itself as The Notebook. Also note his many useful links. These should keep any library junky very busy.

If you came here because of my support for Israel and my dismay concerning the knee-jerk Israel-bashing in the academic world, then you should check out little green footballs, Daniel Pipes' Weblog, Sandstorm: Martin Kramer on the Middle East (a wonderful blog on academia and the Middle East), or Catholic Friends of Israel, group blog (which seems to be two people primarily).

If you're here because you're a fellow Catholic (or interested in things Catholic), please check out The Bone Chapel or Against The Grain. "The Bone Chapel" is new, but covers all things Catholic, as well as the world of high culture (literature, poetry, classical music, and art) from a Catholic perspective. "Against the Grain" covers Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church. "The Bone Chapel" seems to be more traditionalist than "Against the Grain."

For the culture wars, including the wars against Jihad and illegal immigration, I give the highest marks to Andrew Cusack and Cella's Review. Mr. Cusack is only 22 years old. That he writes so well at such a young age is only mildly irritating to we less-talented folk in the mire of middle age. Mr. Cella is likewise a gifted wordsmith. He writes one of the five best blogs on the subjects of jihad and also the culture wars, in my humble opinion. No small feat in net of over one billion blogs.

One more can't-miss blog: David Pryce-Jones. This blog has linked to Pryce-Jones many times. His subject is not so much Jihad as our submission to Jihad. He also writes extremely well on a variety of subjects related to Western Civilization and culture. He was writing about Arabs and Islam long before it was fashionable outside of Mid East Study circles. I'm told he wrote a wonderful biography of Unity Mitford, but I cannot find a copy. Still, there are some things of his in print, plus he writes better on his blog than most do in their books.

I shall make an attempt to carve out space in my schedule to post here more regularly after the holidays. If successful, I can continue corrigenda in 2007. If not, we shall all have to move on. For you that will be easy; simply book mark the above links.

Merry Christmas to all.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Double-walled beer glasses!

From RedEnvelope.com, as seen on the Today Show,double-walled beer glasses keeps your beer cold. Yeah, yeah, it'll keep hot drinks hot without burning your hands, too.

But it keeps beer really cold!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The book meme

Only a fool would do this quiz after having consumed copious amounts of Saki, but here goes. After reading Christoper Blosser's picks at Against The Grain I feel compelled to subject the six readers of this blog to my selections.

So get out your Big Chief tablets and your crayons and write this down:

One book that changed your life:

The C.S Lewis Reader by C.S. Lewis.

I had abandoned my youthful atheism and was ripe for something to pour into that empty hole. Lewis' works were a bucket of cold water, both bracing and refreshing.

One book you've read more than once:

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

I Read it right after the above Lewis compilation. It continues to nourish with repeated readings.

One book you'd want on a desert island:

The largest collection of G. K. Chesterton I could find. If I could get Orthodoxy and The Man Who Was Thursday and Lepanto in the same volume, I'd be content. Except for being stranded on a desert island.

One book that made you laugh:

The DaVinci Code. It was supposed to be funny, right?

One book that made you cry:

The Blessing of a Broken Heart by Sherri Mandell.

Mandell's son, Koby, was 13 when he and a friend were murdered by Palestinians in Israel. Their brains were bashed in with rocks. Stinkin' Koranimals; may they rot in hell. Mandell is more forgiving than I am. She recounts her ordeal in dealing with the death of her child. It is inspiring and (oddly) uplifting.

One book that you wish had been written:

Lepanto: the model for winning the war on terrorism.

One book you wish had never been written:

Christ Among Us

A terrible and dishonest book that fabricates a multiplicity of Church teachings without the honesty of simple dissent. Sadly, this is used in Catechism classes in many parishes.

One book you're currently reading:

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell.

All the Mitford sisters were smart and beautiful. I admit to having retroactive crushes on every one of them. I have a special fondness for Nancy, because she ran a bookshop. And not just any bookshop, the Mayfair bookshop in London. But even Diana, who was the most hated woman in Britain after she married a Nazi, is attractive. I'm sorry, but it's true. Lovell's bio of these sisters is also a bio of English life before and after WWII. Not to be missed.

One book you've been meaning to read:

Upon reaching middle age, I promised myself I would read Dumas Malone's six volume biography of Thomas Jefferson before I die. I will soon begin the first one, Jefferson the Virginian, and hope to travel to Monticello next year, after which I will, hopefully, complete the others at a rate of one per year.

There you have it. Those who read this blog from a mental institution (you know who you are) may now begin your course of study, in the vain attempt at attaining my level of knowledge and study.

The rest of you can go back to your lives.

Shadenfreude, anyone?

Even the best of us get taken it by charades, con games, and hoaxes. But when I read in the British Guardian that a hoax love letter had fooled A. N. Wilson, the biographer of poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, I had to wonder how hard it was to pull off the con.

The letter in question confirmed a love affair that was unknown, or at least unconfirmed, before now. When gossip becomes fact -- and sometimes even when it doesn't -- biographers are happy to wallow in the mud. But the bubble burst when a journalist pointed out that the first letter in each sentence of the letter spelled out "A. N. Wilson is a shit."

The only biography by Wilson that I have read is his ridiculously Freudian bio-deconstruction of C. S. Lewis. It was truly one of the worse biographies I have ever slogged through, Wilson's writing abilities notwithstanding. Wilson was accused of fudging the facts, as well as bending any reasonable interpretation of certain events to glean the maximum amount of sleeze, real or imagined, from the events of Lewis' life.

Was Wilson, again, looking a bit too hard for the libidinous to "balance" the laudable?

Admirers of C. S. Lewis, including his friend and biographer George Sayer, might be forgiven for having a chuckle at Wilson's expense.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Middle School teacher burns flags in class

Free speech? Creative teaching? Unpatriotic behavior? Who knows? But a Stuart Middle School teacher burned not one but two U.S. flags in class.

I think it's the fire in the classroom that concerns me. I just don't trust your average 7th grade social studies teacher not to burn down the school.

The poor guy is now on that non-teaching, paperwork-pushing, waiting-to-see-if-I'm-fired-duty. He's probably working in the permanent records department. Now there's a good place for a fire.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Grass is not so green

Gunter Grass ("The Tin Drum") admitted that he joined the Nazi SS at age 17. David Pryce-Jones takes the novelist/moral guide to task.

This would not be a big deal accept for two things:

1)Grass has spent his life admonishing Germans to tell the truth about their terrible past.

2)Grass has been one of the major finger-pointers of the German left.

As Pryce-Jones put it:

Truth-telling for him meant criticizing the United States at every opportunity, defending the Soviet Union as far as possible, and pointing an accusing finger at fellow Germans for covering up their Hitlerite past.

Grass now joins the ranks of other lefties, from Gertrude Stein to G.B.Shaw to Paul Lacan to Heidegger who supported, by word or deed, the odious Nazi regime.

Germany is, evidently, reeling from the announcement.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

We Don't Need Your Stinkin' Book

Okay, they didn't say it like that. But when a library patron offered to purchase a copy of Melanie Phillips' Londonistan (radical Islam in Britain) for the Brooklyn Public Library in New York, he received a curiously cold response:

Thank you for your question. Normally, the library doesn't add a nonfiction title to the collection (and especially one that is potentially incendiary) unless a review from a trusted source (professional journals) can be found. Unfortunately, we have not found such a review for Londonistan. Therefore, at this time, the library will not be adding Londonistan to the collection.


So says Wayne Roylance, Adult Selection Coordinator for the library.

Oh really, Wayne? If Michael Moore's new book or Al Franken's new screed has not been reviewed in a "professional journal," you would not accept it?

And what's with "potentially incendiary?" Is that in the American Library Association's position on censorship? Please give space to a variety of viewpoints, unless one is potentially incendiary, in which case, forget it.

Can we assume that donations of potentially incendiary books by Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, or any of a dozen left-wing authors who specialize in blaming Israel for the world's problems will be rejected, especially if there are no reviews in professional journals?

I wonder if this will be the least bit controversial in ALA circles. Whatever happens, I am consistently floored by the attitude of so many from the "anti-censorship" crowd.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A good book you may have missed

If you are still on Summer break from your school, you are probably not a librarian. Looking for that good novel to read, before going back to curriculums and standardized testing? John J. Miller, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has a suggestion that I must second: Yevgeny Zamyatin's largely unknown book "We."

Zamyatin's dystopian novel is said to have influenced both Huxley's "Brave New World" and Orwell's "1984." If you read all three books (and you should) the similarities between "We" and the two more famous novels is striking. All the moreso since "Brave New World" and "1984" are very different novels in both tone and content; they simply share the now-standard elements of the sub-genre dystopian literature. But while these two familiar books are unalike, they each bear some likeness to "We."

I've never seen "We" on a Banned Books Week list or table, either in a library or a Barnes & Noble. While this may be due the book being less known than some other "banned" books (which are so banned that you cannot walk into a library or bookstore without tripping over the damn things), there is also the book's lack of pedigree, so to speak. Unlike "Brave New World," Zamyatin's novel cannot be read, or deconstructed, in any way that diminishes its anti-Communist charactor, a fact that would have doomed the book, even in the United States, during the cold war, when "anti-Soviet" attitudes were considered uncouth or even fascistic.

True, Orwell took his knocks from the lefty establishement, and had some trouble publishing both "Animal Farm" and "1984" at first. But Orwell had (then) unimpeachable lefty credentials, which included having fought in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Orwell also, despite his vehement and cogent attacks on Stalinism, considered himself a socialist and a "man of the left." Zamyatin went from being considered a loyal communist to being denounced as a counter-revolutionary parasite in a very short period.

Although Zamyatin finished "We" in 1921 it was not published in his native Russia until 1988.

Miller's review contains many tid-bits of information on Zamyatin and his famous novel. His review is a welcome reminder that many authors have suffered for their work, often in ways much more cruel than finding out your novel of teenage sex has been "banned" from the local elementary school library.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

To Hell With Random House

On David Pryce-Jones'blog there's a very disturbing story about the publishing fate of George Orwell.

It seems that Random House owns the publishing imprint that publishes George Orwell's books, including both Animal Farm and 1984. Despite the enormous profits that publishers of Orwell have made over the years, Random House has elected not to publish the final volume of the Collected Orwell.

Although Pryce-Jones doesn't specifically name a reason, apart from money-grubbing, I cannot but wonder if Orwell's listing of fellow-travelling commies (contained in this last volume) didn't make the volume politically incorrect for someone at Random House.

Of course, most of the people who work at Random House are under the age of 25 and probably couldn't tell you what a Stalinist was if their life depended on it. They've probably never read a book by Orwell, either, apart from some vague memory of "that animal story I read in high school."

So maybe they are just money-grubbing parasites who feel no obligation to Western culture. Pryce-Jones concludes:

"I hope never to buy a Random House book again, and welcome any ideas short of jihad to shame them and their smelly little money-grubbing."


I second that. I hope their business goes belly-up.

8 grocery employees stabbed in Tennessee

The stabbings took place in Tennesse, but the story comes from Boston.com

Here's the punchline: The lunatic who stabbed eight people (one is in critical condition) was chasing his next victim through the parking lot when a passerby pulled his handgun and ended the terror.

This sort of thing happens everyday. By that I mean that lawful gun owners repel intruders and stop murderers every day. The vast majority of the time a shot is never fired by the gun owner. Usually just the sigh of the gun, a declaration that "I have a gun," or the sound of a gun (the slide of an automatic or the pump of the shotgun).

The interesting thing is that these stories are usually only local; they appear only in the paper of the town where the incident took place. With the internet, everywhere is local. So Boston readers can wonder what their fate would be if someone went on a stabbing spree at their place of empolyment.

Probably a lot of deaths and calls by politicians to register or ban all knives.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Insanity in Academia, part 127

I have heard tales of the group Scholars for 9-11 Truth, who believe the 9-11 attacks were faked, but I guess I didn't really want to believe such a group exists.Alas, they do.

My favorite is the Clemson prof whom a student notes was "in a coma for six years." Yeesh!

Thanks to Jonah Goldberg at The Corner on National Review Online for this glimpse into the madness.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy July Fourth

I can think of no better way to celebrate July 4th than rereading the Declaration of Independence. Laissez Faire Books has reprinted it on their blog.

God bless America.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Univ Library Boss Cancels NYTimes in Protest

The Times has taken a lot of flack lately for exposing a secret U.S. government program monitoring terrorist financial transactions. The backlash has finally hit the library world. At the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, the dean of library services has canceled that library's sub to the Times.

Selection or censorship? That's easy. If you tilt left, this is blatant act of censorship. If you tilt right, well, you can't have EVERY newspaper, so some have to go and some can stay.

The howlers have stated that the Times was canceled for political reasons, and this is what singles out this decision as a bad one.

"The censorship is just unspeakable," Romo said. "There is no reason, no matter what your beliefs, to deny a source of information to students."

The removal also runs counter to the American Library Association's Bill of Rights, which states: "Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval."


Yes, but things can be removed, especially if like-sources are still available, if the source in question in deemed inadequate, unreliable, or unprofessional. This is done all the time. If you doubt this, you have really drank to much of the special Koolaid they hand out at library school.

This is part of the library dean's argument: that the NYTimes has completely dropped the ball on professional and ethical behavior. Any school can choose to have the Washington Post, and therefore, not take the NYTimes. I personally would not have done it, but it is within his rights.

Conservative publications disapear from the shelves all the time. If you press, you'll get the "we can't afford everything" excuse. I guess liberal publications are a lot cheaper. I've personally watched the journal of the National Association of Scholars vanish from a university library. The people who axed this quarterly journal of conservative scholars were only to happy to admit that it "didn't meet the library's standards of scholarship." Yeah, who are we kidding? The NAS journal was brought back after complaints.

Then, of course, there's the tried and true method of non-censorshop censorship: only "selecting" those sources that meet one's political approval. Since your library never ordered National Review (and never will), you cannot be accused of censoring it. Nope, no bias there.

Having said all this, I think the dean at Incarnate Word made a mistake. He politicized the source selection at his library, something conservatives have complained about for years when liberals (or radicals) are in charge of selection. He should not have done this. The university (and its libraries) are far too political now. If he thought the periodical collection lacked balance (or depth) he could look into adding new titles.

Besides, this just gives rabid, activist librarians another excuse to consider themselves as the last defenders of freedom.

Tom Rice, a recent graduate of the University of North Texas library sciences program, said that in pulling the Times, the library contradicted everything he learned in school.

We felt like we were in an alternate reality when we read the e-mail," Rice said. "Then we realized how serious it was."


When the Koolaid wears off, Tom, you'll realize that your library school was the alternate reality.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

LAURA BUSH VS. LOONY LIBRARIANS

Wow, check it out: Michelle Malkin linked to Corrigenda! You have to scroll down to the end. A fine piece on the ALA's invite of Laura Bush to New Orleans, and the predictable crying from the ALA nursery.

Were this not the Summer break for this private school librarian, I might have noticed Malkin's link and had some new posting up for visiters. As it turned out, I had a post on single-malt scotch. Oops. What can I say? Alcohol clouds your judgement.

Fortunately, SHUSH - for the conservative librarian has been keeping up with the Laura Bush bruhaha, even printing the responses to her invite from various librarians. A couple of the librarians are put out by the ALA's announcement that the doors will be shut and no one allowed in the 1st Lady's speech after it starts, a fairly standard proceedure.

"I actually think that this is unprecedented and goes against our open meetings policy" opines Diedra Conkling. Mmm...you may be right, Diedra. Unless of course we're talking about Cubans who are less-than-enchanted by Castro's dictatorship. They're not welcome before or after the doors are closed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Glenlivet to recreate special still

Finally, some good news in the world!

Bottoms up.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Some good news with the bad

A survey of literature's leading lights by the Pulitzer committee has resulted in as list of the best novels of the last twenty-five years. I was prepared to be disappointed, even dispirited, but there are diamonds amidst the animal droppings.

First the bad news. Toni Morrison's BELOVED was named the best novel of the last twenty-five years. Good grief. Words fail me. Actually, a few words come to mind, but they are not fit for a family blog.

I'm not the only one who considers this choice controversial.

Roger Kimball summed it up:

"Toni Morrison is the perfect New York Times poster girl," said Roger Kimball, the co-editor and publisher of The New Criterion, America's leading review of the arts and intellectual life, and the publisher of Encounter Books.

"Someone whose opinions and skin colour immunise her from criticism and whose cliché-riddled, melodramatic prose impart a hungry urgency to the tired Left-liberal yearnings of the paper's cultural commissars. Pathetic, but wholly typical."


However, there is some good news. Coming in at number number eight is WINTER'S TALE by Mark Helprin. Good grief! Maybe I'm a cynic, but I never thought someone as politically incorrect as Helprin would be honored by his (decidedly liberal) peers. Helprin deserves a better slot in the top ten, but it is an amazing tribute to his talent that he made the list at all. The cultural gatekeepers are usually less honest in their choices.

Don DeLillo and Philip Roth each appear twice in the top ten. DeLillo might be pleased; I doubt Roth is happy with barely cracking the top five. I say this without rancor. Roth is very talented. He would have justification for crying foul. John Updike should be happy. Although his RABBIT books (collected as one volume) might have been listed separately, resulting in Updike taking fourth through seventh place.

Of course, real writers don't think in such crude terms.

Here's the top ten:

1 Beloved - Toni Morrison (1987)
2 Underworld - Don DeLillo (1997)
3 Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy (1985)
4 Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels - John Updike (1995)
5 American Pastoral - Philip Roth (1997)
6 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (1980)
7 Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson (1980)
8 Winter's Tale - Mark Helprin (1983)
9 White Noise - Don DeLillo (1985)
10 The Counterlife - Philip Roth (1986)

Personally, I would've put something by Walker Percy in that list before A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, but I confess to not being able to get through John Kennedy Toole's posthumous prize-winner. Still, CONFEDERACY does have an almost American-Idol-like following. You just can't keep that book down.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The beginning of the end

The Moussaoui trial has ended. The terrorist received life in prison (a particularly harsh prison, as it turns out) rather than execution. The behavior of all concerned ranges from the dissapointing to the disgusting. I've thought for some time now that we do not have the stomach for this war. In the end, we fear being tagged as racist, intolerant, or uncivilized more than we fear the assassin's blade. Here's a perfect example of our intellectual and moral decay, from Slate's Dahlia Lithwick:

"This decision, which will doubtless bring with it some serious national fallout, is more subtle, and more courageous, than the prosecution itself. Acting as a check on a runaway state, these jurors refused to allow a government needing a scapegoat and a man wishing for martyrdom to stand in the way of the facts. These jurors understood that for this country to kill a terrorist for his ideas, hopes, and dreams is not much different than the terrorist's desire to come here and kill us for ours."


Read the part in bold again. This is where we're headed. Over at The Corner on National Review Online, John Derbyshire sums up my feelings:


Thank God the Moussaoui trial is over. I have never been so embarrassed for my country. The low point of the thing — and a low point for our nation in its accelerating slide to oblivion — was when that U.S. Navy Lieutenenat sniveled and blubbed on the witness stand while Moussaoui jeered at her — quite rightly, in my opinion. I expected Jimmy Carter or Oprah to show up at any minute. An American officer, in uniform, weeping IN THE FACE OF THE ENEMY! She should be court-martialed. Instead, I feel sure she will get promoted. ("If you emote, we must promote.") The trial transcripts must have been translated into Arabic, Farsi & Pushtu by now, and are being passed around among the terrorists as morale boosters, with much hilarity and Moussaoui-style jeering.

Judge Brinkema's closing remarks were typical of the whole sorry performance, and gave Moussaoui yet another opportunity to play the man — the only man in the courtroom. Does anyone, DOES ANYONE, think we're going to defeat Islamofascism by squirting clouds of this multicultural mush at it? The terrorists sure as hell don't. Does anyone think the enemy gives a fig for our determination not to "focus on hatred, bigotry, and irrationality" (Judge Brinkema). I wonder if you can win a war without deploying hatred. Homer didn't think so.

The New York Post described Judge Brinkema's closing remarks as "a tongue lashing." I would say that's about right. They have suicide bombers — and, any day now, nukes which they will use. We have wet tongues.

"When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, naturally they will favor the strong horse."—-Osama bin Laden. Yes, they will. We are doomed, doomed.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Movie Critics Aghast at Andy Garcia's 'The Lost City'

Let's talk about the other immigrants. The actor Andy Garcia has made a movie about the victims of the Cuban revolution, and the critics have wet their pants. From the New York Times to Village Voice, all are aghast that anyone could criticize Che Guevara. You know who Che is, don't you? He's the cold-blooded murderer and co-dictator that adorns the shirts of every third idiot in yesterday's demonstrations.

Where was all this concern for the immigrant when Elian Gonzalez was being returned to Castro's gulag island resort at the point of a gun?

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day: three cheers for capitalism

Eamonn Butler, in a piece from thebusinessonline.com, sums up May Day nicely.

"...the promise of “pro-labour” regulation, such as maximum working hours, can be very different from the reality. It looks as if it must benefit the workers, but in fact it can end up harming them."

Are you listening, America's Catholic Bishops and Priests?

"Minimum wage laws, for example, make unskilled workers more expensive to hire. So business people respond by hiring fewer of them, or they cut fringe benefits or impose more onerous working conditions. That is no problem for skilled workers – such as those senior trade union members pressing for the regulation – because they earn much more than the minimum anyway."

No harm to the academic, either, or to those wearing the clerical collar. In fact, "pro-labor" legislation seems to make perfect sense to those who will not benefit from its genius.

It's worth remembering why one system thrived and the other died.

Illegal Immigrant Appreciation Day

Bet you thought I'd have nothing to say, didn't you? Well, I don't. But here's a bit of cross-border cultural appreciation.

Yes, it's sick and twisted, but I'm boycotting good taste in solidarity with my brothers and sisters who are skipping school and work for a principle.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Harper Lee born today

Well, born on this day eighty years ago. Best known for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, she also wrote...

I can't think if a damn thing she wrote other than MOCKINGBIRD. Today in Literature has a nice story on Lee.

Did you know Harper Lee also helped research Capote's IN COLD BLOOD? You probably knew that, because you watched the recent movie on Capote's most famous work. I haven't seen the movie, but soon, soon....

Lee, according to this article, "makes a case for not only living quietly in small-town America but for keeping quiet."

Don't I always complain about American being too noisy? That life is too noisy?

Well, maybe on this blog I don't, but trust me, my poor wife has to endure many lectures on the subject, usually in our car (where there's no escape) and often with my voice rising to a shrill and pompous crescendo (to make the point about the noise).

Here's what Lee said,

I would like to show children my own town, my own street, my own neighbors. I live on the corner. My next-door neighbor is a barber, and his wife owns a dress shop. My down-the-street neighbor has a grocery store, and my neighbor down the hill is a teacher. My neighbor to the rear is a doctor; behind him is a druggist. If children were visiting--from abroad or from other parts of the country -- they would have cookies and ice cream for them, and take them to the park with the lake and the swimming pool, and my cook, Mary, would make them an enormous cake covered with caramel frosting, and for dinner give them fresh vegetables from the garden and Southern chicken cooked right.
And then we would let them alone....


Wow. Can I live there?

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Orleans Police to Return Seized Guns

Law abiding citizens who were not even suspected of criminal activity had their guns confiscated after hurricane Katrina. Thanks to the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation, police have had to give them back.

"Natural disasters may destroy great cities, but they do not destroy civil rights," said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, which joined the NRA in the lawsuit.

How sad that people were deprived of their right to self-defense just when the criminal class began its ravenous journey through the flood-ravaged neighborhoods of Louisiana.

We all heard the "George Bush hates black people" mantra. We probably won't ever hear the "Mayor Nagin is against self-defense" sound bite.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Waco Massacre Anniversary

Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of the butchering of 80 men, women, and children by the Janet Reno's federal goon squad in Waco, Texas. I wanted to post yesterday, but I waited to see what the coverage would be. It was sparse. Over at Of Arms and the Law there's a good link and some interesting info:

"Carlos Ghigliotti, infrared expert, dead of a heart attack. Fred Zegel, infrared expert, died of unreported causes. One of the ATF agents committed suicide, saying he'd been blamed for the failure (he'd posed as a UPS deliveryman to gain info, and was a bit clumsy at it, not that that played any role in anything, but agencies look for scapegoats). One of the TV cameramen who filmed the first raid died at an early age, reportedly of drinking too much. At least one of the FBI higher-ups was drinking too much, it was said. Robert Rodriguez, ATF agent who tried to stop and raid (and whom David Koresh rather liked), forced out of the agency (and successfully sued them over leaking personal info to harm him ... as usual in a bureaucracy, the one guy who does things right is persecuted for making everyone else look bad)."

I was living in Los Angeles at the time. I was the only person among my coworkers who questioned the Federal Government's right to raid a compound that was, by all local accounts, civilian and police, no threat to anyone.

The things I remember:

1) The horrible press coverage.
2) Sen. Charles Schumer's smirking support for the raid, an attempt to show he can be tough on someone besides taxpayers.
3) Congressman Sonny Bono's admirable disgust when watching a tape of the massacre. Bono was new to Republican politics; he hadn't yet learned to dump his principles in the toilet at the first sign of government malfiesance.
4) Republican Senator John C. Danforth's ridiculous coverup of the ATF/Federal Government coverup. Ah, yes, just leading the fight for smaller, less intrusive government. Here's what Danforth's bio said about the massacre: "In September, 1999, Danforth was appointed Special Counsel by Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate the federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas." Appointed by Janet Reno to investigate the massacre. Oh yeah, that's the path to truth and justice.
5) The Documentary section of the Oscar committee didn't give an oscar to the excellent expose, WACO: The Rules of Engagement. Later they gave one to Michael Moron's fabricated piece of agit-prop, "Bowling for Columbine."
6) But most of all I remember the phone call made by the young girl inside the Branch Dividian Compound to an ATF agent, asking the agent "is someone is going to come inside and kill me?" The agent assured the little girl that no one was coming in at all.

Monday, April 17, 2006

OSU librarian's book recommendations "sexual harassment"

Item number 4,671 of a long list of things ignored by the Bush administration during these "conservative days." An OSU librarian charged with sexual harassment for recommending conservative books for freshmen.

Even amidst the usual Stalinesque overtures and Kangaroo Courts we've come to expect from the Academy, this one stands out.

"Scott Savage, who serves as a reference librarian for the university, suggested four best-selling conservative books for freshman reading in his role as a member of OSU Mansfield’s First Year Reading Experience Committee. The four books he suggested were The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian, The Professors by David Horowitz, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye’or, and It Takes a Family by Senator Rick Santorum. Savage made the recommendations after other committee members had suggested a series of books with a left-wing perspective, by authors such as Jimmy Carter and Maria Shriver."


After this THREE PROFESSORS filed a complaint saying the book recommendations made them feel "unsafe."

But, of course, other people on campus spoke up for the librarian's rights, didn't they?

"The complaint came after the OSU Mansfield faculty voted without dissent to file charges against Savage. The faculty later voted to allow the individual professors to file charges."

I can already feel the emails coming in: "Why complain about Bush? This is not his fault. Do you really expect the federal government to get involved?"

Yes, I do. I expect the president to use the bully pulpit to expose such Stalinist manuevers. I also expect the Bush administration to question the unimpeded flow of taxpayer money to Ohio STATE University in light of this travesty.

In terms of education, the only "accomplishment" this administration can boast of is the further federalization of the public school system.

Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office. What conservatives have gotten out of this is pathetic.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Girl, 5, Forced To Apologize For Hugging Classmate

From TheBostonChannel.com comes the tale of one 5-year-old hugging another 5-year-old, then being forced to apologize.

At issue is a hug Savannah said she got on the playground from a friend named Sophie. Savannah hugged Sophie back. The hugs resulted in Savannah having to write a letter, complete with teacher corrections, that read, "I touch Sophie because she touch me and I didn't like it because she was hugging me. I didn't like when she hugged me."

Of course, this is not how either of the children felt; they like hugging each other. I've seen my daughter receive a dozen hugs from classmates before I could drag her away from school.

What kind of sick freaks make a 5-year-old denounce a perfectly harmless activity which the child enjoys? The sick freaks at Greenmeadow Elementary School in Maynard.

It reminds me of a Maoist detention center where counter-revolutionaries are made to write down their crimes against the people, denouncing each misstep and claiming their "crimes" are distasteful to them.

And, of course, there's the CYA spin job by the administration:

School Superintendent Mark Masterson told NewsCenter 5 there was a "dispute of the facts between a hug and a lifting of a child off the floor." The superintendent said the school reported "one girl bear hugged another girl and lifted her off the ground.

Of course. That's why the note the poor child was forced to write (and rewrite) mentioned "touching," not lifting someone off the ground. Try again, weasel.

The family said they are so upset they'll start looking for a new school for their daughter to attend.


I would recommend private school, if they can afford it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Leader charged for 'Soviet crimes'

Poland is charging Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski with "communist crimes," resulting from his 1981 declaration of marial law in Poland.

Why, I wonder, has this not happened all over the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism? Other than the execution of Romania's first couple, and Germany's prosecution of former East German strongman Eric Honnecker, there has been a notable absence of rough justice for Marxist murderers.

Of course, this may indicate the differing views that our own cultural elites (and those in other countries) have towards communist butchers, as opposed to fascist butchers. Many an "intellectual" has a soft spot for Castro, but mention the name Pinochet in their presence and they go apoplectic with rage.

A few years back a British woman was exposed has having been a spy for the Soviet Union. Confronted by the media in her garden, she shrugged it off with some nonsense about standing up for the oppressed. And by "oppressed" she didn't mean Russian Jews or residents of the Gulag. As far as I know she was never prosecuted, nor was there any big hew and cry that she should be.

Imagine what might have happened had she been pegged as fellow traveler of Pinochet or General Franco. The chattering classes would have hounded her to an early grave.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Lucky Jim...again

I'm rereading LUCKY JIM by Kingsley Amis. I have a soft spot for all those pre and post-war British novelists/poets, from Evelyn Waugh to Philip Larkin. In the novel, the hapless lecturer Dixon, trying desperately to navigate the treacherous terraine and abstruse code of behaviour at the college where he teaches Medieval Studies, is worried early on about an article he is trying to have published. Dixon is deathly afraid of getting the sack from a job he neither completely understands or wishes to remain at. Getting published in a "learned journal" would provide some insulation from the constant threat of dismissal. Walking with the head of his department, Dixon is asked for the title of his as-yet-unpublished article. Dixon replies, after much memory searching, that the article is entitled: The Economic Influence of the Developements in Shipbuilding Techniques, 1450 - 1485. Dixon believes this to be a suitable title:

"It was a perfect title, in that it crystallized the article's niggling mindlessness, it's funeral parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon non-problems."

Anyone even remotely connected with the academic world should read this novel.

In the introduction to this Penguin edition, David Lodge argues for the novel's importance, but states that upon rereading it he found it less humoruous than he remembered. I disagree. I find that the older I get the more appreciate books like LUCKY JIM.

Thought for the Day...not

An Anglican clergyman named Rev. Allan Billings had an interesting theological observation on the BBC, according to Stephen Pollard's blog. The Righteous Rev. noted:

"Paying taxes is how love operates at a distance."


Mmm. Makes one wonder why tax collectors were held with such suspicion and in such contempt in the bible. Didn't Jesus realize they were only trying to spread the love?

Thanks to The Corner on National Review Online for this one.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscar Blues

Well, they made a film called "Brokeback Mountain," which proves we are all ready to embrace the gay lifestyle, I mean, er, gay rights.

BUT, they didn't give the Oscar to "Brokeback Mountain, which means we are all a bunch of NASCAR-watching homophobes who secretly desire to beat Matthew Shepard to death.

"I felt like 'Brokeback Mountain' was a film that brought Americans together over issues of homophobia," said Grant Colfax, who hugged and wept with his partner, Rod Rogers, as the final award of the night went to a movie that instead explored issues of race.


Yeah, what's up with Hollywood? Giving an Oscar to a film that bloviates about racism? That's unheard of!

"I think that's an absolute horror," said Brad Bruner, who is a leader in the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association. "It's an outright sign of homophobia in our country. ('Crash') won no awards before this. It makes me sick."


Yeah, I'm sick too. The Israel-blaming film lost. The Tranny actress lost. The Gay cowboy movie lost. The suicide-bombers-are-misunderstood film lost. Another year of pure, unadulterated conservatism from the Academy.

Despite the lack of success for "Brokeback Mountain," which won just three of the eight awards for which it was nominated, cowboy hats and western wear were high fashion at the party.


Let's not forget the spurs, whips, and branding irons. This is San Francisco, after all.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Harry Browne, RIP

When George H. W. Bush ran against Bill Clinton, I could not stomach voting for either man. So I voted for Harry Browne, the Libertarian candidate. Harry Browne died yesterday, after a long illness.

Browne was always an eloquent spokesman for liberty and the free market. His book HOW I FOUND FREEDOM IN AN UNFREE WORLD was a favorite of mine. Alas, Browne's books were in a box that was stolen when I lived in a coop, no doubt by some replitian leftists who believed property is theft. Oh well, that's what I get for living in cooperative housing.

After 9-11, Browne's influence, such as it was, waned quite a bit, due in no small part to his refusal to sanction any response to 9-11. His was a "protect our own, avoid foreign entanglements" philosophy, but that didn't resonate, even with some libertarians, after the U.S. was attacked on domestic soil.

Still, Browne was a principled, decent, and articulate man. A rarity among politicians.

God speed, Mr. Browne.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Remnant is coming for you...!

I've been reading some classic texts of the "Old Right." Albert J. Nock's classic rant, Our Enemy, the State is a refreshing waft of unpolluted air in the age of egalitarianism and big-government conservatism, which I loath. Nock was an elitist, in the best sense of that word. He believed that only by finding, then educating, a "remnant" of the educable few who wanted plain truth could society be turned around from its collectivist and egalitarian march to servitude.

One sentence, however, struck me as unintentionally funny:

"You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor where they are, nor how many there are, nor what they are doing or will do. Two things you know, and no more; first, that they exist; and second, that they will find you."


Good heavens! That sounds like the tag line for a horror movie! "No one can escape the Remnant. They will find you!"

I can almost see the trailer in my head.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Omagh bombing

Back in 1998, before Americans gave a whit about terrorism, a splinter group from the IRA (called "The Real IRA") put a bomb in car and murdered 29 people, including a pregnant mother carrying twins. Recently, a movie of the Omagh bombing was made and shown in the UK and Northern Ireland. This month it is on the Sundance Channel.

It was horrific, even as bombings go. Police were manipulated into evacuating citizens into a safe area (at the end of the street) while they searched a suspect area, whereupon a car bomb blew up in the crowded evacuee area.

For the families of the victims, however, the horror was only beginning. Despite assurances from the police that an investigation was proceeding apace, it became clear that catching the bombers would get in the way of the "peace process." In the movie, Gerry Adams (Sein Fein; IRA) tells the families as much in private. Eventually the "investigation" is shut down.

The interesting thing is that the victims sought justice through private means, which seems very strange in a country governed by the UK. They launched their own investigation, getting names of possible suspects in a very short time; they put pressure on both the police and The Real IRA; and they ran down a police informer, who, it turns out, told the police about the Omagh bombing before it happened. They even decided to file suit against The Real IRA in an attempt to bankrupt the organization. The movie seems to suggest that these private efforts were a complete failure; no doubt the victim's families felt that way. But in fact they accomplished a good deal in a short period of time.

What stood out for me was something I have shouted from the cyber rooftops: peace kills. Peace processes almost never work; they usually get innocent people killed; and they end up making "peace partners" out of murderers. This was certainly the case in the Omagh bombing. It has been true over and over in Israel.

The most surreal thing in the movie was watching the victim's families demonstrate outside the offices of The Real IRA. This is the group the police and Gerry Adams singled out as being responsible for the bombers. This is the organization that the police informant said was responsible for the bombing. This is the paramilitary group that claimed responsibility for the bombing.

WTF?!

Why does this organization have offices in Omagh after claiming credit for slaughtering 29 innocent men, women, and children? I'm on the libertarian end of conservatism, but shouldn't this group have gotten its doors kicked in and its files rifled through by armed officers of the state? This would be like Al-Quada having offices in Manhattan. Too, too sick-making.

This intense and well-crafted movie will leave you in a bit of a downer. But there's an update beyond the movie, available at the first link in this post: a father of four and member of The Real IRA named Colm Murphy was convicted for the Omagh bombing. Murphy was singled out early on as a suspect by TV news investigators. Of course, believing that Murphy acted alone would be almost as idiotic as believing the Palestinians want a peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Lucky thing we're all smarter than that.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Living Deliberately

I'm revisiting an old favorite, WALDEN, by Henry David Thoreau. I don't know why I felt the need to read this book, again, even as I have half a dozen books I'm currently wading through.

For some reason I remembered the most quotable lines from Thoreau as coming from his essays Civil Disobedience or John Brown. But WALDEN -- in addition to being enchantingly written -- is filled with both familiar Thoreau quotes and new nuggets of wisdom. I'm not certain Thoreau really ever understood economics (but who among the Transcendentalists did?), but he is one of those authors we must read at different times in our short lives. Youth cannot appreciate everything he had to say; age can never remember what it was like to have encountered Thoreau for the first time.

I'm only just fifty pages into WALDEN (Library of America ed.). Here's a sample:

"Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them." (pg 327)

Mmm. I suppose libraries could help with this, except that most libraries today are gushing proud if they have the new Al Frankin book. The high culture commitment is gone, though it's not clear any public library could survive if it took such an mission to task.

On manners and morals:

"The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of any thing, it is very likely to be my good behavior." (pg 331)

On owning a house:

"...for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them; and the bad neighborhood to be avoided is our own scury selves." (pg 349)

On monuments, pyramids, and other reminders of national greatness:

"Nations are possessed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave. What if equal pains were taken to smooth and polish their manners?"

"As for the pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at them in so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs." (pg 368)

Clearly this Thoreau is trouble-maker.