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Friday, December 23, 2005

New German Fortitude

Mohammed Ali Hamadi is a terrorist, (a murderer), and purportedly was spending the remainder of his days on earth in a German prison. Victoria Toensing has a historical overview of crimes and capture.
Hamadi was tried in Frankfurt for the June 14, 1985, hijacking of TWA Flight 847 and the murder of Navy diver Robert Stethem. Our government had strongly requested that Hamadi be extradited here to be tried in U.S. courts, but the Germans refused. The refusal was based on terrorists' demands not to extradite or they would kill two German hostages in Lebanon.

Hamadi's arrest was a fluke. He was questioned at the Frankfurt airport in January, 1987, because of suspicious behavior. That "border stop" led the authorities to discover explosive material hidden in his possession. Only after he was booked and fingerprinted did the Germans realize who they had in custody. Immediately, the Kohl government notified the United States.
Notice that the crime committed was against the United States; it was an American airliner that was hijacked and a member of the American Navy. He harmed American citizens. The only claim and jurisdiction that West Germany had was that the bastard was captured on their soil. Our government wanted him and swiftly pursued extradition along all proper legal channels. However
within 24 hours of the public announcement of Hamadi's arrest, a German citizen was kidnapped in Beirut; within a few days the terrorists grabbed a second German hostage.

The great urgency suddenly subsided into a six-month lull while the Germans delayed and delayed their decision on extradition.
West Germany had no victims among the attacks and really had no stake in the matter. Essentialy when terrorists would make demands as terrorists do, with hostages in the mix, the Germans and their own citizenry would be less strict and steadfast as to carrying out the life sentence.
When I was in Bonn in June, 1987, negotiating Hamadi's extradition, I warned the German delegation meeting with us that Hamadi would be a "hot potato." If they convicted him, they would always have to deal with threats for his release. It would be far better to send him to the United States, I argued, where we had the resolve to keep him because he was charged with the murder of an American serviceman, the hostage-taking of U.S. citizens and the hijacking of a U.S. carrier... the German government might not have the strong support of its people to continue to imprison a convicted terrorist when fellow Germans' lives are once again being threatened-as was the situation on the extradition decision.
Essentially Toensing recognized that the next set of demands would only be a matter of time and she wished the Germans well in confronting them. The time has come; the current administration of policy-makers in "Germany has quietly released" the bastard and the popular theory is that it was a trade with terrorists as
Hamadi's release occurred shortly before German hostage Susanne Osthoff was freed in Iraq. The archaeologist was taken on Nov. 25 and was said by German authorities on Sunday to be in safe custody.
Is that a disturbing coincidence?
he German Foreign Ministry however has denied any link between the Hamadi and Osthoff releases. "There is no connection between these two cases," Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jäger told Reuters.

But a Lebanese source told Reuters that a senior German intelligence officer visited Damascus early this month but did not disclose the purpose of the trip. Syria is a key backer of Hezbollah and Hamadi's brother, Abdul-Hadi, was a senior security official of the group.
CNSNews.com puts it best
Germany freed the murderer of a U.S. Navy diver despite personal intervention by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the State Department has confirmed, amid speculation that Berlin let the Hizballah terrorist go as part of a deal to free a German hostage in Iraq.

Mohammed Ali Hamadi flew to Lebanon after being released last week, 18 years after he was sentenced to "life" imprisonment for hijacking a U.S. airliner in 1985 and killing 23-year-old Petty Officer Robert Stethem.

Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora appeared unmoved Wednesday by American requests that Hamadi be handed over.
The Germans acted, apparently, faithful to their own legal system. One shouldn't confuse the current German regime with that of West Germany, although the current system takes more from the West than the East prior to reunification. The simple part is that the Germans now have an interesting precedent. If it is true that the Germans would overturn justice so terrorists would not kill one of their citizens and that is actually what happened then there is no German principle against acting in a similar manner in the future. It was best that the killer face American justice. Now, as State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Wednesday

At this point, I think what I can assure anybody who's listening, including Mr. Hamadi, is that we will track him down. We will find him, and we will bring him to justice in the United States for what he's done.
. Some things should not be let go.


As it is I finally recalled why Victoria Toensing's name sounds so familiar to me. She was on the Sean Hannity Show within the last couple months and is a technical expert on the legalities surrounding disclosure of identity within and of CIA employees.

The Proper Function of the Law

The following is an excerpt from The Law, written by Frédéric Bastiat, as translated by Dean Russell. The title is not mine.

... in all sincerity, can anything more than the absence of plunder be required of the law? Can the law — which necessarily requires the use of force — rationally be used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone? I defy anyone to extend it beyond this purpose without perverting it and, consequently, turning might against right. This is the most fatal and most illogical social perversion that can possibly be imagined. It must be admitted that the true solution — so long searched for in the area of social relationships — is contained in these simple words: Law is organized justice.

Now this must be said: When justice is organized by law — that is, by force — this excludes the idea of using law (force) to organize any human activity whatever, whether it be labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or religion. The organizing by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy the essential organization — justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I am going on a Blogging Sabbatical

I am sorry to disappoint my most dedicated fans and readers (all ten of you) but I have to go on a sabbatical from blogging for the next two weeks, and that includes Monitor Duty and comments in the weblogs of my comic book (and political) colleagues.

Finals Weeks is next week. I have a final exam tomorrow. I have about three weeks worth of work to do within two weeks. I have a lot to get done; I have a lot on my mind. I don't have much time to accomplish much work.

If you may, please pray for my diligence and discipline in the coming two weeks.

Oh. and they are laying me (and the whole dept) off in the next week or so as well, so I need a new job.

pray

pray

pray

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

ABC and the Lost Creators are Being Jerks

Lost ran as an extended episode tonight. That demonstrates and indicates that the creators of the television show, as well as ABC, are somewhat thoughtless and inconsiderate and as I somewhat overstate, they are being jerks. Since ABC ran an extended episode tonight, I missed the ending. I'm pissed. The ending of a show like this is either an average and mundane bit of resolution played to a background of pop music, or it contains a valuable nugget of dramatic importance. I am really, truly mad because I missed what it was. I control my television viewing, or attempt to, in a manner as divorced from the station controlling my schedule as possible. I record a fix number of shows using my VCR and then watch them as my schedule permits and demands. I am often busy on Wednesday and Thursday nights so Lost and Alias must be recorded. The VCR is set to start recording at 9 PM and cease at 10 PM EST; it is faithful and reliable, unlike ABC. I didn't get to see the ending of the show and I was filled in by my online buddies. ABC is effectively snubbing those using standard recording devices. My fellow victims can find out what happened here.

I am not losing perspective. I know that it is only a television program. However I am a man who values constancy and consistency and in fact I need it. I desire and even expect a certain amount of those qualities from others in the proper ways. A one-hour show starts at one time and ends one hour late, as it is recorded in the television guide and as it occurs every week. My VCR turned off at 10 PM EST, just in the middle of what Sawyer was saying to Kate. It cut off a conversation between two major characters in the middle of a sentence; I think it was in the middle of a word! Naturally I get angry when my best-laid, simple, and innocent plans go awry thanks an easily-averted outside force directly interjecting in what should be complete entertainment. jwd (IP:63.233.94.251) has a similar experience tonight* and no doubt we share a similar sentiment.
I set my DVR timer and of course per usual it cuts it off because the show was exteneded. I got the part where Michael [xxxxxxxxxxxSPOILERSxxxxxxxxxxxx] and the show ended on me. Blast doors come down? Magneto bust out of the wall and declare they're on "Island M" ?

Stupid extended episodes. *grumbles*
Michael Hutchison put it in perspective when he explained who was hurt by this and who will be hurt by this.**
I'm now in the doghouse because I told Melinda that I'd tape Law and Order for her while she's at work, and then Lost ran over so that viewers miss the whole premise of Law and Order. And don't think that's not intentional. It's the networks trying to keep you from watching any other channels, first by eliminating all buffer time between shows and now by not following an hourly schedule.

I was going to say "if only there was a way to make them pay for that" but then I realized that they are digging their own graves. I mean, are they TRYING to encourage more online piracy? Because nothing's going to drive more honest people to appreciate the possibility of Torrent files than having millions of loyal viewers discover that they've missed the ending of their show due to ABC being manipulative jerks. What, are you going to wait for the REPEAT (if ever) to find out? No. I'm not a pirate, but I'm definitely going to have to download the complete Law and Order episode to show my wife.
Lost's creators are violating fair expectations with far too little warning. It's not like my evening's ruined, but to see my plans go unfulfilled because what should be the most simplest of routines and promises is ignored just to edge out other networks' programming concerns is just annoying and inconvenient. I did not get to see the whole episode. They’re yanking my chain. Yet I will be back next week; I suppose that makes me part of the problem.


* Posted on November 30, 2005 at 21:37:29
** IP:68.115.94.172 Posted on November 30, 2005 at 23:38:00

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

John Cusack is not a political genius

He is one of my favorite actors and High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blank are great movies. Serendipity was passable and a great excuse to look at Kate Beckinsale without her husband killing me. Where was I? Oh, yes. I already knew that his political ideas and philosophies were somewhat on the other end from me, which doesn't stop me from enjoying his films. He makes movies and he is good at that job. However his comment to the entiriety of the sociopolitical right, apparently: "So maybe I'm smug, and maybe the Democrats are petty. Maybe you're right. But you're ordering people to their deaths. How are those two things comparable?"

He also claims that the Democrats stand for something (but are poor communicators). To be honest, that is something that is debateable. Democrats should debate that. I could care less whether or not they stand for something, if what is being communicated remains what is being communicated today. If the Democrats do indeed stand for something, I don't care.

The post is too long.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Lovely People At Newsweek Near and Far

Doug highlights Newsweek magazine insulting this country and the President.

They do it somewhere safe though... on the cover of an International Newsweek issue.

Kurt Vonnegut Praises Terrorists

The writer was already a leftist and protested the Vietnam War and the current war in Iraq, but now he's made statements that are quite notably misguided in the least, perhaps moderately stupid... heck, putting bad guys on a pedestal for the wrong reasons with wrong sentiments is one of those things I cannot let go of. Kathryn Jean Lopez notes that "Kurt Vonnegut Praises Terrorists." I cannot improve on her words.

Kurt Vonnegut's words:
discussing his views with The Weekend Australian, Vonnegut said it was "sweet and honourable" to die for what you believe in, and rejected the idea that terrorists were motivated by twisted religious beliefs.

"They are dying for their own self-respect," he said. "It's a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It's like your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you're nothing."

Asked if he thought of terrorists as soldiers, Vonnegut, a decorated World War II veteran, said: "I regard them as very brave people, yes."
Mr. Vonnegut defends terrorism.
Vonnegut suggested suicide bombers must feel an "amazing high". He said: "You would know death is going to be painless, so the anticipation - it must be an amazing high."
I honestly cannot make a better observations about what this man is saying.
Vonnegut's comments are sharply at odds with his reputation as a peace activist and his distinguished war service. He served in the US 106th Division and was captured by German forces at the Battle of the Bulge.

Taken to Dresden and held with other POWs in a disused abattoir, Vonnegut witnessed the appalling events of February 13-14, 1945, when 800 RAF Lancaster bombers firebombed the city, killing an estimated 100,000 civilians.
I'll point out that terrorists target innocents and innocents specifically. Morally these actions are indefensible. Man is free to explore monster as he wishes, but I'm not always thrilled at the findings, when they look like these.

the speed of light revised

Awhile ago I reviewed and noted the speed of light as a constant, although "a popular misconception is that, according to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, nothing in the universe can travel faster than this speed."

Which is to say that scientists have been working to speed up and slow down the speed of light. A team of scientists led by Luc Thévenaz is using optical fibers in a technique called Stimulated Brillouin Scattering to alter the relationships of the phase velocities within a pulse of light. Different frequency components exist and either they move at the same group velocity or they don't but it's possible to create the illusion that the pulse is moving faster than light.

These experiments don't use special media and there are possible implcations in the telecommunications field.

Ricky Holland


Image hosted by Photobucket.com


He is still missing.





It's been awhile.





Who remembers?





I hate these things.  People pray on the innocent.  These

monsters deserve to be kneecapped.  There actually is/was some

controversy growing about the foster parents that the boy was living

with.  I don't believe that was ever conclusively settled; of

course the only way this sort of thing is ever really settled is when

the boy is found and safe.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Listen to the word on the 'Arab street'

The following is an article written by Mark Steyn that I have reprinted here without permission, only because the Telegraph apparently does not keep archives of such material as regular policy. Therefore I am archiving it here. My opinions reflect Mr. Steyn's almost exactly. Original URL:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/11/22/do2202.xml

By Mark Steyn
(Filed: 22/11/2005)

Rumours of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death may be exaggerated. He was reported by several Arab TV networks to have been among eight terrorists who self-detonated in Mosul on Sunday. Still, whether or not he's sleeping with the fishes or the 72 virgins, he's already outlived whatever usefulness he had to the jihad.

On Friday, the allegedly explosive "Arab street" finally exploded, in the largest demonstration against al-Qa'eda or its affiliates seen in the Middle East. "Zarqawi," shouted 200,000 Jordanians, "from Amman we say to you, you are a coward!" Also "the enemy of Allah" - which, for a jihadist, isn't what they call on Broadway a money review.

The old head-hacker was sufficiently rattled by the critical pans of his Jordanian hotel bombings that he issued the first IRA-style apology in al-Qa'eda's history. "People of Jordan, we did not undertake to blow up any wedding parties," he said. "For those Muslims who were killed, we ask God to show them mercy, for they were not targets." Yeah, right. Tell it to the non-Marines. It was perfectly obvious to Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari and his missus what was going on when they strolled into the ballroom of the Radisson Hotel.

Still, Mr Zarqawi has now announced his intention to decapitate King Abdullah. "Your star is fading," he declared. "You will not escape your fate, you descendant of traitors. We will be able to reach your head and chop it off."

Good luck, pal. I don't know what Islamist Suicide-Bombing For Dummies defines as a "soft target" but a Jordanian-Palestinian wedding in the public area of an hotel in a Muslim country with no infidel troops must come pretty close to the softest target of all time. Even more revealing, look at who Zarqawi dispatched to blow up his brother Muslims: why would he send Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, one of his most trusted lieutenants, to die in an operation requiring practically no skill?

Well, by definition it's hard to get suicide bombers with experience. But Mr Shamari's presence suggests at the very least that the "insurgency" is having a hard time meeting its recruitment targets. Though it's much admired in the salons of the West, armchair insurgents such as Michael Moore seem to have no desire to walk the walk. Mr Moore compared the Zarqawi crowd to the "Minutemen" of America's revolution, pledged to take to the field of battle at a minute's notice. Alas, the concept of self-destructing Minutemen depends on the often misplaced optimism of the London bus stop: there'll be another one along in a minute.

Mrs Shamari's brother, Thamir al-Rashawi, Zarqawi's right-hand man and the "Emir of al-Anbar" (i.e., the Sunni Triangle), was killed by US troops in Fallujah last year. Her other two brothers and her brother-in-law all died in engagements with the enemy this year. Sending a surviving member of your rapidly dwindling inner circle to blow up a Palestinian wedding is not a sign of strength.

True, he did manage to kill a couple of dozen Muslims. But what's the strategic value of that? Presumably, it's an old-fashioned mob heavy's way of keeping the locals in line. And that worked out well, didn't it? Hundreds of thousands of Zarqawi's fellow Jordanians fill the streets to demand his death.

Did they show that on the BBC? Or are demonstrations only news when they're anti-Bush and anti-Blair? And look at it this way: if the "occupation" is so unpopular in Iraq, where are the mass demonstrations against that? I'm not talking 200,000, or even 100 or 50,000. But, if there were just 1,500 folks shouting "Great Satan, go home!" in Baghdad or Mosul, it would be large enough for the media to do that little trick where they film the demo close up so it looks like the place is packed. Yet no such demonstrations take place.

Happily for Mr Zarqawi, no matter how desperate the head-hackers get, the Western defeatists can always top them. A Democrat Congressman, Jack Murtha, has called for immediate US withdrawal from Iraq. He's a Vietnam veteran, so naturally the media are insisting that his views warrant special deference, military experience in a war America lost being the only military experience the Democrats and the press value these days. Hence, the demand for the President to come up with an "exit strategy".

In war, there are usually only two exit strategies: victory or defeat. The latter's easier. Just say, whoa, we're the world's pre-eminent power but we can't handle an unprecedently low level of casualties, so if you don't mind we'd just as soon get off at the next stop.

Demonstrating the will to lose as clearly as America did in Vietnam wasn't such a smart move, but since the media can't seem to get beyond this ancient jungle war it may be worth underlining the principal difference: Osama is not Ho Chi Minh, and al-Qa'eda are not the Viet Cong. If you exit, they'll follow. And Americans will die - in foreign embassies, barracks, warships, as they did through the Nineties, and eventually on the streets of US cities, too.

As 9/11 fades into the past, that's an increasingly hard argument to make. Taking your ball and going home is a seductive argument in a paradoxical superpower whose inclinations on the Right have a strong isolationist streak and on the Left a strong transnational streak - which is isolationism with a sappy face and biennial black-tie banquets in EU capitals. Transnationalism means poseur solutions - the Kyotification of foreign policy.

So, just as things are looking up on the distant, eastern front, they're wobbling badly on the home front. Anti-Bush Continentals who would welcome a perceived American defeat in Iraq ought to remember the third front in this war: Europe is both a home front and a foreign battleground - as the Dutch have learnt, watching the land of the bicycling Queen transformed into 24-hour armed security for even minor municipal officials. In this war, for Europeans the faraway country of which they know little turns out to be their own. Much as the Guardian and Le Monde would enjoy it, an America that turns its back on the world is the last thing you need.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

X-Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney X vid capture taken from Drudge Report


During a recent live broadcast of the Vice President speaking of criticism of the war in Iraq on CNN there was a persistent X that kept popping up on the screen right over the VP's face. What does this represent? Is it disrespect of the Vice-POTUS? It's claimed to be an honest bug in the switcher machine. Sean Hannity (in today's radio broadcast) speculates that it was mischief by an individual technician. Rush today suggested that Fox News take a camera into their own control rooms and demonstrate how easy to operate such machinery to turn the "X" on or off.

The articles in question are Drudge Reports. I'll switch the links to the Drudge Report Archives as apropriate.

Promoting Alternative Technology and Software

You know those guys that go around promoting all these internet browsers aside from Internet Explorer? You know how these guys have nothing to gain, really, from the expanded consumer use of whatever open-source utility that they favor? They didn't make it or have a hand in making it or are getting paid to promote it. Then they go around telling people to use this alternative technology, especially citing that the software is less vulnerable to hacker attack and viruses because the audience is so small and the hackers are so busy creating stuff to attack all of those IE users out there.

Do you know those guys? Those guys are idiots.

I tell you the truth. If we do have some software that truly is less vulernable to attack by hackers simply because the target is small, then it is incredibly dunder-headed to attempt to make the new browser a standard of any sort and attract attention from said villain hackers whom just a few minutes prior your were announcing your immunity regarding.

What colossal idiocy drives someone to wear shorts saying "punch me here" printed right between the legs...

Die Another Day Buddy Icons and other sweet official Downloads

I cannot believe it's still up. The AIM Buddy Icons put up on the official James Bond web page for Die Another Day are still up. The Die Another Day Buddy Icons are still up for downloading. I assume the rest of the Bond 40th Anniversary downloads and Bond 20 web toys are up as well. I'm going to download me some screen savers and some wallpapers.

Bleeping What in Syndicated?

South Park is now syndicated. I'm certain that the words that are bleeped now are the same words bleeped on Comedy Central.

One word often used is A-hole, although on TV it is unabreviated. Why is the word "ass" in A-hole" un-bleeped but the word "hole" is bleeped? Why not just bleep the entire compound word? The second half doesn't really make the first half more profane given the context.

Whatever Happened to the Ownership Society?

from Imprimis November 2005

Larry P. Arnn
President, Hillsdale College


Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from the Claremont Graduate School. He also studied history at the London School of Economics and at Worcester College, Oxford University. From 1985-2000, he served as president of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. In 1995, he was the founding chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative, or Proposition 209, a voter-approved initiative which prohibited racial preferences in state hiring, contracting and admissions. He is on the board of directors of the Heritage Foundation, the Henry Salvatori Center of Claremont McKenna College, Americans Against Discrimination and Preferences, the Center for Individual Rights and the Claremont Institute. Published widely in national newspapers, magazines and periodicals on issues of public policy, history and political theory, Dr. Arnn is the author most recently of Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education, published in 2004 by Hillsdale College Press.

obviously, the following is a speech; I know not when or where or on what occasion, but here it is. It's Imprimis.

Before Hurricane Katrina flooded the tear ducts of our politicians and the vaults of our treasury, President Bush had us talking about America’s “ownership society.” This is one of the best things he has done. He did it prominently in his reelection campaign. He did it bravely in relation to Social Security, which risks the outrage of the media and the votes of older people who always vote. If he did it in some ways foolishly, never mind. It showed promise because it had us talking about something central for a change. This question of ownership is at the heart of America. It always has been.

“No taxation without representation” echoed in the hearts and spirits of our fathers because it called up the ideas they held most dear. If you may not tax me except as my representative, then for the same reason you may not govern me except by my consent. If you cannot take my property except by law and with difficulty, then my title to my property is real. It is truly mine. I own it. And if James Madison is to be believed, my ownership of my property stands on just the same footing as my entitlement to speak my mind or to say my prayers or to vote my conscience.

It is therefore no accident that the Virginia Declaration of Rights, when it lists our inherent rights, mentions the “means of acquiring and possessing property” alongside life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and safety. This document was adopted on June 12, 1776, less than a month before the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson turned to it in the writing of the Declaration. Several people voted for ratification of both documents.

It is therefore no accident that the Bill of Rights in regard to the federal government, and the 14th Amendment in regard to the states, protects against the deprivation of our “life, liberty, or property” without due process of law.

It is therefore no accident that the idea of one man owning another man was condemned by our Founders, some of them slaveholders themselves who were, and who knew they were, condemning themselves. Our right to our property, by their principles, stems from the same source as our right to all things that naturally belong to us, including our bodies, our conscience, and our relationship with our Maker. One man, said Abraham Lincoln famously, has no right to eat the bread wrung from the sweat of other men’s faces.

If this question of the ownership society is controversial today, it is another among many signs that we are in a time of fundamental dispute. If it has been engulfed for a moment by the Gulf of Mexico, it will come back nonetheless for two reasons: first, because it is engraved upon us by our first coming together; and second, because it is in jeopardy today.

The Direct Assault on Property Rights

This jeopardy is plain in several facts of direct relation to the right to property, and in several indirectly related, through their implications for constitutional government.

Start with the direct. The right to property stands now, after a generation of court rulings and political practices, upon a different footing. This is true at every level of government, from all three branches of the federal government down to the smallest tribunal in the smallest hamlet. Which property owner, wishing to build a house or expand a factory, does not fear exactions, delays and denials that may ensue anywhere and are bound to ensue wherever land is dear?

Right here in southern Michigan, some local officials oppose in principle the “conversion of public land to private,” as when a property owner might take control of the unused alley behind his house. These officials have forgotten, if they knew it, that Michigan was part of the Northwest Territory. Almost the whole of that territory was converted en masse to private use, else we in Michigan would have nowhere to build our homes. The Northwest Ordinance, and the Land Ordinance of 1785 that preceded it, are among the finest pieces of legislation ever passed. They mark a turning away from the use of land and property as a means of control. They part from the practice of the Czar of this and the King of that, that only the Czar and the King may say who owns what and who does what with it. We are the first people fully to recognize that the public interest is best served when private people hold the means of their own existence in their own hands.

In the notorious Kelo v. New London decision this last summer, the Supreme Court has decided that the property of one can be taken and given to another so that the other may make more money and pay more taxes with it. The old man in his childhood home, and the widow in the dwelling where she raised her children, are no longer secure in their abodes. The Fifth Amendment states: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” There is no provision in the document for the taking of private land for other private uses.

In Lucas v. South Carolina in 1992, several members of the Supreme Court opined that Mr. Lucas could be deprived of the use of his property without compensation, so long as any small use was left to him. One Justice was of the opinion that Mr. Lucas should be happy so long as he was allowed to picnic and camp upon his parcel. The land in question was on the sea shore, and Mr. Lucas had bought it at great expense. There were houses to the left and right of him. He did manage finally to prevail, though after years of litigation and massive expense.

Mr. Lucas came out better than poor Susette Kelo. She had purchased a little pink house on the river that had been her dream. The family of one of her neighbors had lived in the region since 1895. Another lives next door to his parents, who have owned the residence since the 19th century (I know these facts from the splendid Institute for Justice, who represented Ms. Kelo).

These takings of land upon the least pretext, and the heavy regulation of land use at every level of government, form the direct assault upon the principle of ownership. The indirect assault is equally dangerous and much more general. Ultimately, it is an assault upon constitutional government itself. To understand this, we must think for just a minute about the foundation of the right to property and our other natural rights.

Why Limited Government?

The key to understanding natural rights lies in the word “nature.” It means the essential attribute of anything, whatever makes a thing what it is. It also means, for living things, the process of begetting and growth by which they come to be and thrive.

The Founders were keen students of this subject. They located the nature of man above the beasts and below God. Being imperfect—partaking of the divine but not divine—man is capable of both good and evil. Free from the government of iron instinct, he must govern himself. Government is therefore necessary, and also natural, to the human being. But in forming governments, we must remember that those who hold the power of government are human, too. They, too, are capable of evil. And so for the same reason that government is necessary, it is necessary that it be limited. In Federalist 51 Madison writes:
But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.
Madison is writing here about the organizing principle of the Constitution: separation of powers. That principle means simply that all the powers of government are not to be united in a single set of hands.

Separation of powers is one of the two chief safeguards built into the Constitution against unlimited or despotic government. The other is enumeration. This principle means simply that certain things are delegated to the federal government to do. There are many of these things, and they are important. They make, and they are meant to make, a powerful government, a government powerful enough to defend our rights against enemies foreign and domestic. But although it is to be a powerful government, it is to be also a finite government. It may do the things enumerated, but not others.

Madison had written earlier, in Federalist 10, that the “first object” of government is to protect the “diversity in the faculties of men,” in which property rights originate. Government must, Madison is saying, begin with the job of protecting property. This is the first step toward protecting what he will later define as the “permanent and aggregate interest” of the society. Only a government whose powers are divided, and only a government that is limited in scope, can be trusted effectively to protect civil and religious freedom, of which the right to property is a key element. Only such a government will leave room for people to tend to their own subsistence by the accumulation of the fruits of their own labor. Winston Churchill, especially when he was protesting against the carelessness of generals with human life and property, liked to say that in a free society, money must be allowed “to fructify in the pockets of the people.”

Make no mistake, then, that the condition of the ownership society, as it was conceived by those who built the first one ever to exist, was a government limited in scope, economical in function, devoting its powerful yet finite authority to the protection of individual rights, correctly conceived.

The “Rights” Revolution

“Correctly conceived” is precisely the problem today. The ownership society is, as President Bush says, in jeopardy. It is in jeopardy because government has now grown beyond every constitutional bounds. Over the past generation, our government has been transformed to undertake any project, however remote, miniscule, or local. There is no interest, however isolated, parochial, or private, in which it will not meddle. This is unmistakably a change of constitutional proportion, a change in the very way we live. As it continues, it will necessarily alter not only our relation to the government, but also our habits of mind and the disposition of our character.

Like most powerful and sustained movements in American history, this one begins with a variation on our central idea. This variation has a strong appeal, and there is good in it. That accounts for its strength. It is, however, contradictory of our central idea and destructive of the benefits that originally flowed from it.

The variation is explained beautifully in the short message Franklin Roosevelt sent to Congress in 1944 regarding an “Economic Bill of Rights.” The theme of this message is plainly revolutionary, even if on the surface it pretends only to complete the work done by the American Founders. The rights articulated by the Founders, Roosevelt says, are “inadequate,” because “necessitous men are not free men.” These “economic truths” have become “accepted as self-evident.” They require a “new bill of rights.” He proceeds to list the components in this new bill of rights. The list is compelling in a way that is evident all about us. Today we are constantly making new bills of rights: the Victim’s Bill of Rights; the Patient’s Bill of Rights; the Academic Bill of Rights; soon enough, the Aardvark’s Bill of Rights.

Roosevelt’s list is compelling because it is a list of good, even vital things. The list includes the right to a job, to food and clothing, to medical care and to an education. These things are indeed valuable and some of them necessary to life. And yet they differ from the list of rights in the original Bill of Rights, as Roosevelt admits. While admitting the difference, he conceals the nature of the difference. The rights protected in the original Bill of Rights do not demand anything of another except their recognition. One may pray all he pleases, and others are left free to pray or not, and with all their property intact. Short of slander, libel, or treason, one may say what he pleases and do no harm to another. We may come together, or as the Bill of Rights says, we may “assemble,” and so long as we do not obstruct the traffic, others may go freely about their business.

One can see how the right to property, properly conceived, has this same attribute. If my property is the fruit of my labor, and not of yours, then we have no conflict. You may have your property, and I may have mine. What is good for me is good for you. My having my good deprives you of none of yours, and your having your good leaves me secure in mine.

The interesting thing about this understanding of rights is the harmony it breeds in society. My getting the things of which I am entitled takes nothing from you. I may own what is mine, you may own what is yours, and we may be at peace with each other. This harmony—or to use the political term, this justice—is the reason why our Constitution has lasted so long and our nation has prospered so well. We can all share hope, and in that hope we can all build our property to sustain ourselves and our families, and to provide charity for our neighbor when he is in need.

The Current Crisis

We can see today the effects of the “new self-evident truths” (as if there could be such a thing) and the “new bill of rights.” The system of philanthropy, unique to our country, that had prevented people who suffered misfortune from starving, is now replaced by a general system of taxpayer aid that has encouraged the destruction of family life, the essential way to raise children. This is nowhere more evident than in the fact that the illegitimacy rate in the 1950s, before the federal War on Poverty was launched, was four percent, whereas today it is 35 percent (68 percent among black Americans).

Or consider the “right to an education.” Education was vital to the people who built our country. In the aforementioned Northwest Ordinance, they wrote: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall ever be encouraged.” They proceeded then to provide the most massive subsidy to education that has ever been given in this country. The one exception to the conversion of public land to private was the holding back of 1/36th of the western land for the provision of education locally, and of course under the direction of state governments which had the constitutional power.

Today, by contrast, we have the centralized Department of Education at the federal level. In providing the “right to an education,” it regulates our nation’s colleges in the closest detail (Hillsdale College being an important and rare exception). Since September 11, 2001, defense spending in the U.S. has risen almost 60 percent; spending on higher education has risen more than 200 percent.

What do we get for this money? Not learning. It is notorious that college graduates today know little to nothing of the history of our country or its constitutional meaning. If you doubt this, ask a senior a few questions about the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.

Nor does the money buy political support for the party that has voted these massively increased subsidies. It is notorious that the beneficiaries of federal aid to higher education, namely those who work in colleges, support the other party by embarrassing margins.

Nor do we get patriotism. In fact, a consortium of colleges is suing the federal government right now because they object only to the requirement that military recruiters be admitted to their campuses as a condition of receiving federal aid. Already these colleges are abiding thousands of pages of regulation. They object to this specific one. Perhaps they have forgotten that Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution—which enumerates the powers of Congress—mentions defense eight times. Education is not mentioned at all.

A good word is due here about many in government today. President Bush introduced the idea of private accounts in Social Security, and it has lately foundered. But the cause has been taken up by a group of young members of Congress. They are proposing variations on the powerful idea, expounded by the American Institute for Full Employment, that the portion of Social Security taken directly from a worker’s pay should be placed in a private account. The other half could be used to pay benefits to those now on retirement or soon to retire. This idea would be a massive step back toward the ownership society in its full meaning.

Likewise, one wonders why those who make law today would not simply emulate the Founders in providing education. If you want to subsidize education, why not find a constitutional way? Why not a tax deduction or even a credit? Anything would be better than the current top-down bureaucratic control of matters that are essentially local or private or both.

It was well known to those who built the United States that education, food, and medicine are important. This importance has been known to nearly any fool, for as long as there has been civil society. The question is only how these things should be provided. Our Founders practiced the art of constitutional government, under which government is limited and people have the right to provide for themselves. Under this system one gets more food, and more medicine, and more education than under bureaucratic rule. Also, he gets his liberty under the law.

It was no small achievement to build the first ownership society known to man. Those who built it thought it fragile. It could be sustained only under the right principles, embodied in and practiced through the right constitutional structure. If we lose that, we will find ourselves in a condition of poverty too deep to measure in money terms.

Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College, www.hillsdale.edu.

PBS Clip Show Commercial Currently Presents...

Every season PBS has a fun little music video clip show thing. Each one runs shots and clips from the programming and episodes that they are proudest to promote. There are usually comforting colorful lines and swirls animating through the advertisement and psuedo-profound comments and imperative statements that are tangentially related to the particular clip that it was framed on top of and these things are usually comforting in some manner. The music is either meant to be inspiring or comforting or both and it is generally the stuff you'lll find playing at Barnes and Noble when you walk inside but you really have no idea what the heck it is that you are listening to.

And it costs eleven dollars. Enough of that.

This season and this month of this year the song is "World Looking In" by morcheeba.

The lyrics that I instantly memorized and used to find the title are
Don't Stop Just Yet We've Got The World Looking In Our Window
If anyone wants to find the complete lyrics (and I wish to hear the complete song and I have not) then they can Google that themselves. That is how I found them.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

An Unoriginal Thought On Stalker Songs

Apparently one of my readers/skimmers came from another Blogger site through that odd Blogger bar uptop. Backtracking to there through Sitemeter I found this very concisely and clearly put post on the music industry. It's got vulgar and obscene language so follow at your own risk.

The fact is that people in the music industry think language about stalking and hunting and harrassing as such is supposedly sweet and romantic. This is not news. The best and most famous example is the Police and their song "Every Breath You Take". That's nasty and unfortunate. None of this is new but it should be mentioned every now and then and I didn't know that Clay Aiken had joined the evil crowd. Creeeeeepy. Any teenage girl still think he's warm and cuddly?

DivX for Windows 98

The most recent version of DivX does support my operating system; it now is only compatible with Windows XP and the variants. Currently DivX recommends downloading version 2.6.

I kind of hate that.

MSU Common Sense Online

MSU Common Sense was Michigan State University's second monthly Conservative newsletter/newspaper/periodical. It was the only one that I have not had a hand in creating and also was the only series that I did not contribute to. It also had the shortest lifespan of the three. The first one was the Spartan Spectator, headed by originally by Jason Van Dyke back in 2000. That died after nearly three years and two Editors-in-chief/publishers; there weren't many published issues. Common Sense died after only one year despte that the creators were apparently so serious that they purchased a URL. Common Sense was a quality-enough publication that the Spartan Sword staff archived all the articles in a special section of its homepage here.

The Spartan Sword is the third attempt of the College Republicans, Young Americans for Freedom, and other Conservatives on and of MSU, towards a successful published right-wing voice. I'm actually contributing to this monthly endeavor; how can it fail?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

makes my bones hurt

and all of my sudden my joints feel a bit more stiff.

November 6, 1981 was when I was born. That makes me age today.

If anyone really is curious about that sort of thing, regardless of his or her intent, my Amazon wish list is here. Honestly all I really desire from and through the internet is well-wishes from my comrades and condemnations and ill-thoughts from my enemies.

It's a good life. I'm very blessed.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pinging Misfire

I know that something in the Comics Weblog Update-a-Tron is busted (probably blo.gs) because I'm getting a disproportionate number of hits from that listing today, despite not having created a new post since the weekend.

Friday, October 28, 2005

so much for my being in good taste....!

I wanted to resist, but to heck with it!


"Heyyyyy! I'm so farkin' homosexual it's hilarious!"

Yes. He's fabulous.

Will I Ever Look At Sulu the Same Way Again?

George Takei recently outted himself as a homosexual. He is 68.

I'm not linking to anything here and frankly I don't care what the old dude does in his free time, Sulu is still Sulu to me. I just won't tell the kids.

C.S. Lewis on Moral Education

from Imprimis October 2005

Gilbert Meilaender
Duesenberg Professor of Christian Ethics Valparaiso University


Gilbert Meilaender, the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Professor of Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University and a fellow of the Hastings Center , is a member of President George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and has also taught at the University of Virginia and at Oberlin College . He has served on the board of directors of the Society of Christian Ethics, as an associate editor of Religious Studies Review, and on the editorial board of the Journal of Religious Ethics, where he currently is an associate editor. Dr. Meilaender has published numerous articles and books, including Friendship: A Study in Theological Ethics; Faith and Faithfulness: Basic Themes in Christian Ethics; and Body, Soul and Bioethics.

The following is adapted from a lecture delivered at Hillsdale College on September 12, 2005, at a Center for Constructive Alternatives seminar on the topic, “C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Inklings.”

When we think about C.S. Lewis’ understanding of morality, we have to distinguish three elements: (1) what moral truths we know, (2) how we know them, and (3) how we become able to know them.

What do we know when we know moral truth? Most fundamentally, we know the maxims of what Lewis—in his book on education, The Abolition of Man—calls the Tao. These “primeval moral platitudes” (as Screwtape, in Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, once terms them) constitute the human moral inheritance. We would not be wrong to call them the basic principles of natural law: the requirements of both general and special beneficence; duties both to parents/ancestors and to children/posterity; and requirements of justice, truthfulness, mercy and magnanimity. These are the starting points for all moral reasoning, deliberation and argument; they are to morality what axioms are to mathematics. Begin from them and we may get somewhere in thinking about what we ought to do. Try to stand outside the Tao on some kind of morally neutral or empty ground, and we will find it impossible to generate any moral reasoning at all.

Lewis provides an illustration of the Tao in That Hideous Strength, the third and last volume in his space fantasy series. He himself subtitled the book “A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups,” and in the short preface he wrote for the book, he says: “This is a ‘tall story’ about devilry, though it has behind it a serious ‘point’ which I have tried to make in my Abolition of Man.” We can follow his hint and illustrate the Tao by remembering the scene in That Hideous Strength in which the sinister Frost begins to give young professor Mark Studdock a systematic training in what Frost calls “objectivity.” This is a training designed to kill in Mark all natural human preferences.

Mark is placed into a room that is ill-proportioned; for example, the point of the arch above the door is not in the center. On the wall is a portrait of a young woman with her mouth open, and with her mouth full of hair. There is a picture of the Last Supper, distinguished especially by beetles under the table. There is a representation of a giant mantis playing a fiddle while being eaten by another mantis, and another of a man with corkscrews instead of arms. Mark himself is asked to perform various obscenities, culminating in the command to trample a crucifix.

Gradually, however, Mark finds that the room is having an effect on him, which Frost had scarcely predicted or desired. “There rose up against this background of the sour and the crooked some kind of vision of the sweet and the straight.” This was for Mark all interwoven with images of his wife Jane, fried eggs, soap, sunlight and birds singing. Mark may not have been thinking in moral terms, but at least, as the story puts it, he was “having his first deeply moral experience. He was choosing a side: the Normal.”
He had never known before what an Idea meant: he had always thought till now that they were things inside one’s head. But now, when his head was continually attacked and often completely filled with the clinging corruption of the training, this Idea towered up above him—something which obviously existed quite independently of himself and had hard rock surfaces which would not give, surfaces he could cling to.
He is experiencing the Tao, which is neither his creation nor anyone else’s. He does not construct these moral truths; on the contrary, they claim him. The world around us is not neutral ground; it is from the start shot through with moral value.

We can, of course, criticize one or another of these moral truths, or, at least, particular formulations of them. But we will inevitably call on some other principle of the Tao when we do so. Thus, for example, we may think Aristotle’s magnanimous man insufficiently merciful and too concerned about his own nobility, using thereby one principle of the Tao (mercy) to refine another. In pursuit of our duties to posterity we may be willing to sacrifice the weak and vulnerable on the altar of medical research, but then we will have to ask whether we have transgressed the requirement of justice—every bit as much an element of the Tao as our duty to posterity. But to step—or try to step—outside the Tao entirely is to lose the very ground of moral reason itself.

Thus the principles of the Tao do not solve moral problems for us; on the contrary, they create, frame and shape those problems. They teach us to think in full and rich ways about them, as we recognize the various claims the Tao makes upon us.

The Need for Moral Education

If this is what we know, how do we know it? If, as I put it a moment ago, the world around us is shot through with moral value, then to recognize a moral duty—as something other than our own choice or decision—is to see a truth. Lewis thinks we just “see” those primeval moral platitudes of the Tao. They cannot be proven, for it is only by them that we can prove or defend any other moral conclusions we reach. It is, as Lewis puts it at the end of The Abolition of Man, “no use trying to ‘see through’ first principles. . . . To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.” We might say, as Lewis says for instance in Miracles, that these first principles of moral reasoning are “self-evident.” One can argue from but not to the maxims of the Tao.

This is, however, one place where we need to gloss Lewis’ discussion just a bit, for he is not entirely consistent in his writing. If we look at what I take to be Lewis’ most mature expression of his view, in The Abolition of Man, we will immediately see—for reasons to which I will come in just a moment—that “self-evident” cannot mean “obvious.” It cannot mean that any rational person, giving the matter some thought, will see that the maxims of the Tao are the moral deliverances of reason itself. Yet, consider a passage such as the following from Mere Christianity:
This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that every one knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it. They did not mean, of course, that you might not find an odd individual here and there who did not know it, just as you find a few people who are colour-blind or have no ear for a tune. But taking the race as a whole, they thought that the human idea of decent behaviour was obvious to every one.
This is a different formulation, and a less satisfactory one, than that of Abolition of Man. The precepts of the Tao constitute a kind of natural law not because everyone knows them without being taught, but because they express fundamental truths—which we may or may not learn—about human nature. Those of us who do learn them will, to be sure, just “see” them. There will be no process of reasoning by which they are proven, but Lewis’ more developed view offers us no reason to assume that we all will or can easily discern these first principles of natural law.

Why not? Because—although Lewis does not put it this way in Abolition of Man, a decidedly non-theological piece of writing—human reason and desire are disordered by sin. What Iris Murdoch once called the “fat relentless ego” constantly blinds us, so that the mere fact of opening our eyes does not guarantee that we will see truly. Indeed, if Lewis really held that the precepts of the Tao are “obvious,” the central theme of Abolition of Man could make little sense; for it is a book about our need for moral education.

Which brings us to the third element in Lewis’ understanding of morality. If we ask, what moral truths do we know? the answer is: the maxims of the Tao. If we ask, how do we know them? the answer is: we just “see” them as the first principles of all moral reasoning. And, now, if we ask, how do we become able to “just see” these maxims? the answer is: only as our character is well formed by moral education. Without such education we will never come to know the human moral inheritance. We may be very bright and very rational, but we will be what Lewis calls “trousered apes.” Lacking proper moral education, our freedom to make moral choices will be a freedom to be inhuman in any number of ways. The paradox of moral education is that all genuine human freedom—a freedom that does not turn out to be destructive—requires that we be disciplined and shaped by the principles of the Tao.

Our appetites and desires may readily tempt us to set aside what moral reason requires. Hence, from childhood our emotions must be trained and habituated, so that we learn to love the good (not just what seems good for us). And only as our character is thus shaped do we become men and women who are able to “see” the truths of moral reason. Moral insight, therefore, is not a matter for reason alone; it requires trained emotions. It requires moral habits of behavior inculcated even before we reach an age of reason. “The head rules the belly through the chest,” as Lewis puts it. Reason disciplines appetite only with the aid of trained emotions. Seeing this, we will understand that moral education does more than simply enable us to “see” what virtue requires. It also enables us, at least to some extent, to be virtuous. For the very training of the emotions that makes insight possible has also produced in us traits of character that will incline us to love the good and do it.

Moral education, then, can never be a private matter, and Lewis follows Aristotle in holding that “only those who have been well brought up can usefully study ethics.” Hence, the process of moral education, if it is to succeed, requires support from the larger society. Ethics is, in that sense, a branch of politics. Thus, for instance, to take an example that Lewis could not precisely have anticipated, consider the problem of protecting children from internet pornography (which the U.S. Congress attempted in what was known as the “Child Online Protection Act,” but which the Supreme Court ruled, in Ashcroft v. ACLU, was in probable violation of the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees). True as it may be that this protection should be the primary responsibility of parents, they face daunting obstacles and almost inevitable failure without a supportive moral ecology in the surrounding society. Moral education, if it is to be serious, requires commitment to moral principles that go well beyond the language of freedom—principles that are more than choice and consent alone.

We should not think of this moral education as indoctrination, but as initiation. It is initiation into the human moral inheritance: “men transmitting manhood to men.” We initiate rather than indoctrinate precisely because it is not we but the Tao that binds those whom we teach. We have not decided what morality requires; we have discovered it. We transmit not our own views or desires but moral truth—by which we consider ourselves also to be bound. Hence, moral education is not an exercise of power over future generations. To see what happens when it becomes an exercise of power by some over others, when we attempt to stand outside the Tao, we can look briefly at two ways in which Lewis’ discussion of morality in The Abolition of Man takes shape in That Hideous Strength, his “‘tall story’ of devilry.”

Man, Nature and Biotechnology

The driving force behind the plot in That Hideous Strength is the plan of the National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments—whose acronym is NICE—to take the last step in the control and shaping of nature. (It is rather a nice irony that in today the National Health Service has established a National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence—whose acronym is also NICE—to formulate guidelines about the use of quality of life assessments in the clinical care of patients.) Having gradually conquered the world of nature external to human beings, the goal of NICE is now to view human beings also as natural objects—in particular, to take control of birth, breeding and death. The project that Lewis fancifully imagined in his “fairy-tale for grown-ups” has made considerable progress in the decades since he wrote. Let me illustrate.

Consider the following sentences from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea:
He looked down into the water and watched the lines that went straight down into the dark of the water. He kept them straighter than anyone did, so that at each level in the darkness of the stream there would be a bait waiting exactly where he wished it to be for any fish that swam there.... I have no understanding of it and I am not sure that I believe in it. Perhaps it was a sin to kill the fish.... He urinated outside the shack and then went up the road to wake the boy. He was shivering with the morning cold.... Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him. How many people will he feed, he thought. But are they worthy to eat him?... That was the saddest thing I ever saw with them, the old man thought. The boy was sad too and we begged her pardon and butchered her promptly.... The boy did not go down. He had been there before and one of the fishermen was looking after the skiff for him.
Hemingway’s prose is, of course, generally regarded as clear and straightforward. And every sentence in the passage above is simple and transparent. But taken as a whole, the passage makes almost no sense at all. There’s a reason for that: The sentences in the passage are drawn from pages 29, 104-5, 22, 74, 48, and 123—in that order.

But consider now the image of the human being in the following frequently quoted passage from Thomas Eisner, a biologist from Cornell University:
As a consequence of recent advances in genetic engineering, [a biological species] must be viewed as . . . a depository of genes that are potentially transferable. A species is not merely a hard-bound volume of the library of nature. It is also a loose-leaf book, whose individual pages, the genes, might be available for selective transfer and modification of other species.
I have tried to provide a humble illustration of this by splicing together sentences from different pages of just one book, producing thereby something unintelligible. But I might also have spliced in sentences from Anna Karenina and A Christmas Carol—producing thereby an artifact we could not name.

This train of thought was first suggested to me by one of the findings of the Human Genome Project, a finding that got quite a bit of attention in news articles announcing (in February, 2001) the completion of that project by two groups of researchers. We were told that the number of genes in the human genome had turned out to be surprisingly small—that human beings have, at most, perhaps twice as many genes as the humble roundworm (downsized even more with new findings in 2004, so that human beings and roundworms have about the same number of genes)—and that the degree of sequence divergence between human and chimpanzee genomes is quite small. Considering the complexity of human beings in relation to roundworms and even chimpanzees, it seemed surprising that, relatively speaking, much less complex organisms should not have far fewer genes than human beings.

Why, one might ask, should that seem surprising? It will be surprising if you assume that the complexity of a higher being is somehow built up and explained in terms of “lower” component parts (which serve as “resources”). If we explain the higher in terms of the lower, it makes a certain sense to suppose that a relatively complex being would need lots of component parts—at least by comparison with a less complex being. And, of course, one might argue that the Human Genome Project is the ultimate product of such an extreme reductionist vision of biology.

In The Abolition of Man, Lewis powerfully depicts the movement by which things came to be understood as simply parts of nature, objects that have no inherent purpose or telos—which objects can then become resources available for human use. Hence, the long, slow process of what we call conquering nature could more accurately be said to be reducing things to “mere nature” in that sense. “We do not,” Lewis writes,
look at trees either as Dryads or as beautiful objects while we cut them into beams: the first man who did so may have felt the price keenly, and the bleeding trees in Virgil and Spenser may be far-off echoes of that primeval sense of impiety.... Every conquest over Nature increases her domain. The stars do not become Nature till we weigh and measure them: the soul does not become Nature till we can psychoanalyze her. The wresting of powers from Nature is also the surrendering of things to Nature. As long as this process stops short of the final stage we may well hold that the gain outweighs the loss. But as soon as we take the final step of reducing our own species to the level of mere Nature, the whole process is stultified, for this time the being who stood to gain and the being who has been sacrificed are one and the same.
In that final step of this reductive process, the human being becomes an artifact, to be shaped and reshaped. One way to describe this is to say that we take control of our own destiny. But the other way to describe it is as the villainous Lord Feverstone puts it in That Hideous Strength: “Man has got to take charge of Man. That means, remember, that some men have got to take charge of the rest . . . .” That is what happens, Lewis thinks, when we step outside the Tao and regard even morality as a matter for our own choice and free creation.

From this angle, developments in biotechnology are likely to affect most our attitudes toward birth and breeding. But there remains still the fact of death, and once we take free responsibility for shaping our destiny, we can hardly be content to accept without challenge even that ultimate limit. When Mark Studdock is asked to trample on a crucifix as the final stage in his training in “objectivity,” he is—even though he is not a Christian—reluctant to obey. For it seems to him that the cross is a picture of what the Crooked does to the Straight when they meet and collide. Mark has chosen the side of what he calls simply the Normal . He has, that is, begun to take his stand within the Tao. But then he finds himself wondering, for the first time, about the possibility that the side he has chosen might turn out to be, in a sense, the “losing” side. “Why not,” he asks himself, “go down with the ship?”

For those who stand within the Tao, how we live counts for more than how long. There are things we might do to survive—or to help our species survive or advance or, even, just suffer less—which it would nonetheless be wrong or dishonorable to do. Indeed, we do not have to look very far around in our own world—no farther, for instance, than the controversies about embryonic stem cell research—to see how strongly we are tempted to regard as overriding the claims of posterity for a better and longer life. “We want,” Lewis’ Screwtape writes, “a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the Future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.” Better to remember, as Roonwit the Centaur writes to King Tirian in The Last Battle—the seventh and final volume in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia—that all worlds come to an end, and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy.

This is at least something of what Lewis still has to teach us about the education we need to make and keep us human. In the modern world it is the task of moral education to set limits to what we will do in search of the rainbow’s end—to set limits, lest that desire should lead to the abolition of man. “For the wise men of old,” Lewis writes, “the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue.” But when freedom becomes not initiation into our moral inheritance but the freedom to make and remake ourselves, the power of some men over others, it is imperative that we remind ourselves that moral education is not a matter of technique but, rather, of example, habituation and initiation. And, as Lewis says, quoting Plato, those who have been so educated from their earliest years, when they reach an age of reason, will hold out their hands in welcome of the good, recognizing the affinity they themselves bear to it.

Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College, www.hillsdale.edu.

Kristen Bell has nice legs

I've only seen one episode of Veronica Mars, and it was good, but I will tell you that Kristen Bell is an attractive young woman and this image highlights a positive.

Friday, October 21, 2005

not blogging lately...

Miss me?

busy. school.

got a new car.

Arndmobile mk III

more later.

sorry.

no internet at the home. at the farm.

Superman is a Jerk!

Perhaps more specifically Clark Kent is a jerk.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Both President and Condom

Part of the legacy of the 42nd American President is that the Chinese have named a condom after him. President Bill Clinton has shown another reason that we Americans should be proud to have had him as our leader as he has trivialized and squandered so much, and basically means more as a sexual reference than a productive contributor to the world.

"New York Sen. Hillary Clinton was unavailable to comment on her husband's latest achievement."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Obscure Spider-Man 2 Walkthroughs

Most of the general walkthroughs for the current generation Spider-Man 2 game (created for the current three consoles and based on the movie) are scant on the specific data I want. I have already beaten the game, I just want to track down details.

Finding the Hideout Tokens Walkthrough

The hideout tokens, since they are located inside structures on the ground level of the New York City simalcrum that we play in, are difficult to find at best. This walkthrough should help in theory, but there remains the caveat that it was constructed from/for the Gamecube port and I can only hope that it was translated successfully from the Playstation 2 on the way there.

Boss Arena "Walkthrough"

This walkthrough is also based on the Gamecube port but I cannot beat the Calypso character on my own knowledge so hopefully its input is equally valid.

Yes, even the official IGN walkthrough is inadequate.

It's also inadequate for the one section of Metal Gear Solid 2: the Sons of Liberty, that I needed help on, and it still offers minimal assistance for the first boss fight in Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

Old Apple Software

Apple is offering up for download some ancient and obsolete software, stuff that was made prior to January 1998, on its AppleCare site. This is all legal and free but I can make no promises because Apple does not. The links may not work, the downloads may be imperfect and the programs may not even function at all. The site/list was "created and published on 17-July-2001" and since then "will not be updated with new content, nor will it be maintained (removing links to software no longer available)." If the software causes harm to your existing systems Apple takes no responsibility and offers no assistance.

Again: I make no promises.

Macromedia is Dead To Me

Macromedia released Dreamweaver 8. In fact it has ceased all support and free trial releases for Dreamweaver MX 2004. The problem is that version 8 is only good for Windows 2000 and XP. I have Windows 98SE.

They don't want me to buy their product. If I were to speak with them I would say "up yours".

Microsoft has also all but killed support for Windows 98. My fear is for when they finally kill Windows Update support for Windows 98. The version as installed is not a complete version; it's impossible to have a complete OS package of that version without connecting to the internet (my dial-up modem is currently dysfunctional) so I cannot get a full system right now. Even when I reestablish the Internet I fear for the day when I reformat my hard drive but cannot fully restore my system.

Everyone needs to reformat their systems every three months or so.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Which is Better, Michigan or Michigan State?

This weekend is the long-awaited U of M versus MSU football game. The game this year carries extra interest as this farce of a so-called rivalry actually becomes a real one. Various Spartans over the years have carried with them the impression that there is rivalry between the two teams as there exists betweent the two schools. For decades that's been foolishness and a good deal of the more aware ones know it! There has long been a rivalry between fans of the two teams but to be honest there is no rivalry, let alone arch-rivalry between two teams when of them has a more or less steady record of getting thumped by the other. Michigan State has a terrible record against the Wolverines in football. This year is different; the Spartans are undefeated and the University of Michigan is at a turning point with a 2-2 record. The Spartans are the favorite to win this year, making the entire thing quite legendary. This is also the moment where Michigan decides to be good or actually, geniunely suck.

WZZM 13 out of Kalamazoo and West Michigan has created this website complete with countdown clock and my favorite stuff, juicy polls. Honestly the favorite fight song is a matter of taste and I think MSU's has better lyrics, even if the tune is less catchy and the song is often so ironic when played (not this year, though). I originally voted as to liking U of M's helmets better but then I realized that even though the helmets are less plain and quite prettier they are also vague and could be for any team, given the blue and yellow striped patterns. Heck, the helmet design is described as "wings". What kind of Wolverine has wings?

Go to the site and take part in the polls. Michigan State University and the undefeated Spartans are favored by one and all.... I'm rooting for my team regardless.

Voices in My Head this AM

I can hear my last shred of sanity talking with my sense of self-preservation. One is backing down. I wonder which.

The Doctrine of Preemption

from Imprimis September 2005

George F. Will
Journalist


George F. Will writes a twice-weekly column that appears in more than 450 newspapers and a biweekly column in Newsweek. He also appears regularly on ABC’s This Week on Sunday mornings. In 1977, he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He has published seven collections of his columns as well as several other books, including Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does and Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball. Mr. Will was educated at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and at Oxford and Princeton universities, and taught political philosophy at Michigan State and Toronto universities prior to entering journalism.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on May 23, 2005, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Dallas, Texas.

What I will say tonight about the war on terror draws heavily on my earlier life as a professor and student of political philosophy. A long life in journalism and around Washington, D.C., has taught me not just that ideas have consequences, but that only ideas have large and lasting consequences. We are in a war of terror being waged by people who take ideas with lethal seriousness, and we had better take our own ideas seriously as well.

I think the beginning of understanding the war is to understand what happened on 9/11. What happened was that we as a people were summoned back from a holiday from history that we had understandably taken at the end of the Cold War. History is served up to the American people with uncanny arithmetic precision. Almost exactly sixty years passed from the October 1929 collapse of the stock market to the November 1989 crumbling of the Berlin Wall-sixty years of depression, hot war, and cold war, at the end of which the American people said: "Enough, we are not interested in war anymore." The trouble is, as Trotsky once said, "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." And this was a war with a new kind of enemy-suicidal, and hence impossible to deter, melding modern science with a kind of religious primitivism. Furthermore, our enemy today has no return address in the way that previous adversaries, be it Nazi Germany or Stalin's Russia, had return addresses. When attacks emanated from Germany or Russia, we could respond militarily or we could put in place a structure of deterrence and containment. Not true with this new lot.

Our enemy today refutes an axiom that has governed international relations for nearly 400 years, since the Peace of Westphalia, when the nation-state system began to emerge in Europe. The axiom was that a nation could only be mortally threatened or seriously wounded by another nation-by massed armies and fleets on the seas, and an economic infrastructure to support both. This is no longer true. It is perfectly clear now that one maniac with a small vial of smallpox spores can kill millions of Americans. That is a guess, but an educated guess based on a U.S. government simulated disaster that started in an Oklahoma shopping center. Smallpox is a strange disease; it has a ten-day incubation period when no one knows they have it. We are mobile people, we fly around, we breathe each other's airplane air. The U.S. government, taking this mobility into account, estimated that in just three weeks, one million Americans in 25 states would die from one outbreak like that.

On the other hand, the enemies who attacked us on 9/11 failed to ask themselves the question, "But then what?" That is the question Admiral Yamamoto asked when the Japanese government summoned him in 1940 and asked him to take a fleet stealthily across the North Pacific and deliver a devastating blow against the American navy at Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto said he could do that if his government would design some shallow running torpedoes and a few other things. He said he could run wild in the Pacific for six months, or maybe a year. But he asked his government, "Then what?" Yamamoto knew America, and he loved America. He studied at Harvard and had been back to the U.S. as a diplomat in Washington. He knew that after Pearl Harbor, Japan would have an enraged, united, incandescent, continental superpower on its hands, and that Japan's ultimate defeat would be implicit in its initial victory. Our current enemies will learn the same thing.

Preemption: Necessary but Problematic

Meanwhile we have worries-and these are not new worries. In 1946, Congress held what are today remembered, by the few who remember such things, as the "Screwdriver Hearings." They summoned J. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Manhattan Project, and asked him if it would be possible to smuggle an atomic device into New York City and detonate it. Oppenheimer replied that of course it would be possible. Congress then asked how it would be possible to detect such a device. Oppenheimer answered: "With a screwdriver." What he meant was that every container that came into the city of New York would have to be opened and inspected.

This year, seven million seaborn shipping containers will pass through our ports. About five percent will be given cursory examination. About 30,000 trucks crossed our international borders today. If this was a normal day, about 21,000 pounds of cocaine, marijuana, and heroin were smuggled into our country. How hard would it be, then, to smuggle in a football-sized lump of highly enriched uranium sufficient to make a ten-kiloton nuclear weapon to make Manhattan uninhabitable for a hundred years?

To enrich uranium is an enormous, complex process that requires scientists and vast physical plants. But once you have it, making a nuclear weapon requires only two or three good physics graduate students. And there is an enormous amount of fissile material floating around the world. In 1993, some officials from the U.S. Energy Department, along with some Russian colleagues, went to a Soviet-era scientific facility outside Moscow and used bolt cutters to snip off the padlock-the sum of all the security at this place. Inside, they found enough highly enriched uranium for 20 nuclear weapons. In 2002, enough fissile material for three weapons was recovered in a laboratory in a Belgrade suburb. And so it goes. The Soviet Union, in its short and deplorable life, deployed about 22,000 nuclear weapons. Who believes they have all been accounted for? The moral of this story is: you cannot fight terrorism at the ports of Long Beach or Newark. You have to go get it. You have to disrupt terrorism at its sources. This is a gray area. It's a shadow war. But it is not a war that we have any choice but to fight.

This leads us directly to the doctrine of preemption, with which there are several problems. First, we do not yet have-as it has been made painfully clear-the intelligence capacity that a doctrine of preemption really requires. The second problem with preemption is encapsulated in Colin Powell's famous "Pottery Barn principle," which Mr. Powell explained to the President before the second war with Iraq began: If you break it, you own it. Iraq is broken; we own it for the moment. And we are therefore engaged in nation building.

This is particularly a problem for conservatives, who understand that societies and nations are complex, organic things-not put together and taken apart like Tinker Toys. The phrase "nation building" sounds to many conservatives much the way the phrase "orchid building" would sound. An orchid is a complex, wonderful, beautiful, natural thing, but it is not something that can be built. Conservatives know it took thirty years in this country to rebuild the south Bronx. And now we have taken on a nation to build.

There are those who say that neoconservatives-and most of my friends are neoconservatives, although I am not quite-have exported the impulse for social engineering that conservatives have so rightly criticized over the years at home. There is, of course, an element in this critique of President Bush's policies that echoes in part the contemporary liberal version of isolationism. The old isolationism of the 1920s and 1930s was a conservative isolationism, and it held that America should not go abroad into the world because America is too good for the world. The contemporary liberal brand of isolationism-the Michael Moore view of the world-is that America should not be deeply involved in the world because the world is too good for America. This is not a serious argument, even though seriously held.

The serious argument over nation building is an argument conducted between conservatives of good will with one another. On the one hand, we have a school broadly called the realist school, and on the other hand, there is a school associated with Woodrow Wilson and his crusading zeal for the export of democracy. President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, two intelligent and very good men, have in them a large share of Wilson's crusading messianic spirit, a spirit that is quite natural to America. Once you enunciate a country founded on principles that have universality written in them, as our Declaration of Independence does-i.e., "all men are created equal . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"-a kind of universal eligibility for these rights is postulated. What the realists remind us is that over time, it is the details that matter.

President Bush has said, in a phrase he got from Ronald Reagan, that it is cultural condescension to say that some people are not ready for democracy. Tony Blair, in July 2003, after the fall of Baghdad, came before a joint session of Congress and gave a wonderful, generous, good ally speech, in which he said that it is a "myth" that our values are simply "Western values," or simply a product of our culture. Our principles, he said, are "universal," embraced by all "ordinary people." The problem is that this belief-that every person is at heart a Jeffersonian Democrat, that all the masses of the world are ready for democracy-might lead you not to plan very carefully for post-war nation building. If this is true, then nation building should be a snap, because everyone is ready for democracy.

Realists know better. They know there was a long, 572-year uphill march from Runnymede to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Even more sobering, our Constitutional Convention was followed in less than 75 years by the bloodiest Civil War the world had ever seen, to settle some leftover constitutional questions. We know from our history how difficult regime change is. When the president speaks of regime change, he is using a term from Aristotle. For Aristotle, changing a regime did not mean substituting a few public officials for other public officials. For Aristotle, a regime meant the habits, mores, customs, dispositions, public philosophy, and culture of politics that sustain public institutions. Therefore, regime change is statecraft and soulcraft; it is changing the temperament of a people. It is very complicated.

Major League Baseball managers often say in spring training that they are just two players away from a World Series. Unfortunately, the two players are Ruth and Gehrig. Likewise, Iraq is just four statesmen away from sturdy constitutionalism. All they need is a George Washington, a charismatic figure to unify the nation; a James Madison, a genius of constitutional architecture; an Alexander Hamilton, who can create from whole cloth a functioning economy; and a John Marshall, a jurist who knows how to change a constitution from words on parchment into a breathing, functioning document. Most of all, of course, they need the astonishingly rich social soil of America in the second half of the 18th century from which Washington, Madison, Hamilton and Marshall sprang. All of which is to say that Iraq may not be close to constitutional democracy just yet.

The Miracle of America

I say this not to disparage the Iraqi people but to increase our appreciation of what a miracle the United States is. John Adams said that the American Revolution was accomplished before the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Everyone used to learn-we do not learn these things anymore-Emerson's great poem about the battle of Concord's bridge: "by the rude bridge that arched the flood/their flag to April's breeze unfurled/here once the embattled farmers stood/and fired the shot heard round the world." But before that shot was fired, according to John Adams, independence had already been accomplished, because the spirit of independence was in the hearts and minds of the American people, a people prepared to shed blood in defense of their God-given natural rights.

One of the mistakes our enemies have made-and one of the reasons I wish our enemies would study American history to disabuse themselves of some of their grotesque errors-is their belief that we are squeamish about defending freedom and about the violence of war. They persist in the assumption that we are casualty averse. Osama Bin Laden said as much after the Somalia debacle when President Clinton, after suffering some casualties, immediately withdrew American forces. Whether or not we should have been in Somalia is another matter, but the means by which we left Somalia clearly convinced our enemies that we were paper tigers. People have been making that mistake since General Howe made it in the Battle of Brooklyn Heights in the Revolutionary War. He chased us across the East River and figured that was that. It was said again after the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862-up to that day the bloodiest day in American history. Many observers thought the North would sue for accommodation and, in the words of Horace Greeley, let our erring sisters go in peace. It did not turn out that way.

A few days after Shiloh, some men were seen on the still corpse-strewn fields of northern Maryland, men carrying strange devices. They were from Mathew Brady's photography studio in New York, and they took pictures. Three months later, these photos became an exhibit of devastating impact in Manhattan called "The Dead of Antietam." It was the first time graphic journalism had brought the real face of war to a democratic public. And it raised the question that to this day affects us and troubles political leaders: Does graphic journalism-first photography and then, of course, television-that brings war into our living rooms, in real time, cause nations to crack when they see the real face of battle?

The First World War produced the worst carnage the world had ever seen, but not once during the war did a picture of a dead Brit or dead Frenchman or dead German or dead American soldier appear in a newspaper of any of those countries. In the Second World War, the first picture of an American soldier dead in the surf in the Pacific did not appear in Life magazine until it had been held up in the War Department (as the Pentagon was then known) for nine months. The war in Vietnam produced more anxiety about graphic journalism, where it was suggested that in fact it was television that caused the American will to break. In fact, the American will never broke-but that is another matter. This has been a constant recurring anxiety in America, as Winston Churchill could have told us-and in fact did tell us when he came to North America immediately after Pearl Harbor. Churchill gave a speech in which he said, "We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy." No, we are not. We are much tougher than our enemies understand.

Character and the Power of Ideas

One hundred years ago, people believed not only that war was inevitable, but that war was good for us. Without it, they thought, we would have to look for strenuous domestic challenges that would be the moral equivalent of war- something elevating that would pull us out of ourselves and into great collective endeavors as war does. Tocqueville said, "war almost always enlarges the thought of a people and elevates its heart." Stravinsky, the great composer, said war is "necessary for human progress." All of these men echoed Immanuel Kant, who said "a prolonged peace favors the predominance of a mere commercial spirit, and with it a debasing self-interest, cowardice, and effeminacy and tends to degrade the character of the nation."

There is much to be said for the commercial spirit, because the commercial spirit is a civilizing spirit. It is a spirit conducive to cooperation among peoples and within a political community. We are today engaged in a great race to see if we can integrate China into the community of nations with less catastrophic violence then that which accompanied the attempt 100 years ago to integrate the newly muscular and buoyant and dynamic nation of Germany into the community of nations. In the 33 years since President Nixon went to China in 1972, Republicans and Democrats alike have followed the same national policy, which holds that if we can only suffuse China with the commercial spirit, it can be tranquilized and made civilized. The reason for believing this is that commerce, entrepreneurship, and all the various elements of capitalism form an enveloping, civilizing culture.

Capitalism requires the diffusion of decision-making and the diffusion of information. Capitalism requires contracts-a culture of promise-keeping enforced by the judicial system. It requires banks to make self-interested, calculated, and rational allocations of wealth and opportunity. It sublimates the troublesome passions of mankind into improving the material well-being of people. It is for this reason that what we want to do with the fever swamps of the Middle East that produce our enemies is to try and drain those swamps and bring to them enterprise cultures. It is altogether right that Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the war against Iraq, is now going to the World Bank where he can try and help the next stage of development, which is to spread the commercial spirit. In some ways, this is the American spirit.

On the other hand, as Tocqueville warned us, if a people is only concerned with material well-being, only concerned with commercialism, they lack something-they lack the heights of nobility and character and aspiration. But first things first: get people into this enveloping culture of capitalism. Nor is this to say that we Americans are a materialist people. The stupidest political slogan I have heard in three-and-a-half decades in Washington was the Clinton slogan in 1992, "It's the economy, stupid." The American people almost never vote their pocketbook as is commonly said, and almost never vote merely on economics. We are a much more morally serious and complicated people than that.

In the 1790s, our party system began to coalesce with, on the one hand, Jefferson advocating a sturdy yeoman republic, a static society of the kind he lived in, and, on the other hand, Hamilton urging a speculative, entrepreneurial society with a system of credit, a dynamic urban society. Hamilton's "Report on Manufactures" was obviously couched in economic terms, but it was not about economics at all. It was about national character and what kind of people we would be. Later, Andrew Jackson defined modern democratic populist politics with his attack on the Bank of the United States. It was not about a bank; it was about morality. He argued that speculators earn their dishonest living through banks. Jackson did not understand much about the modern world or capitalism, but he held that people who earn their living that way are bad people. He thought it was bad for the soul. And throughout our history it has not mattered whether we were arguing about abolitionism, immigration, prohibition or desegregation. All of the great arguments that have roiled American politics over the years have not been pocketbook issues. They have been about the soul of the country and what kind of people we would be.

Well, the kind of people we are is a people who rise to the challenge of the new kind of enemy we have today. Our enemy has ideas. They are vicious, bad, retrograde, medieval, intolerant, and suicidal ideas, but ideas nevertheless. And we oppose them with the great ideas of freedom and democracy, which America has defined better than anyone in the world. And we turn to these people with an energy they could not have counted on. Edward Grey once said, "The United States is like a gigantic boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate." And these enemies improvidently lit a fire under us.

We have done this before. In September 1942, General Les McGraw of the Army Corps of Engineers bought for the government about 90,000 acres of Tennessee wilderness. There was nothing there-no roads, no towns, nothing. It was along the Clinch River, in eastern Tennessee, not far from Knoxville. But very soon there were streets and shops and schools and homes and some of the finest physics labs the world had ever seen. And 35 months later, on a desert in New Mexico, there was a flash brighter than a thousand suns and the atomic age began. Thirty-five months from wilderness to Alamogordo. That is what America does when aroused, because, as I say, we are not made of sugar candy.

Today we are the legatees of all the giants on whose shoulders we stand. We live in circumstances our parents did not live in, or our grandparents. We live in a time in which there is no rival model to the American model for how to run a modern industrial commercial society. Socialism is gone. Fascism is gone. Al-Qaeda has no rival model about how to run a modern society. Al-Qaeda has a howl of rage against the idea of modernity. We began in 1945 an astonishingly clear social experiment: We divided the city of Berlin, the country of Germany, the continent of Europe, indeed the whole world, and we had a test. On one side was the socialist model that says that society is best run by edicts, issued from a coterie of experts from above. The American model, on the other hand, called for a maximum dispersal of decision-making and information markets allocating wealth and opportunity. The results are clear: We are here, they are not. The Soviet Union tried for 70 years to plant Marxism with bayonets in Eastern Europe. Today there are more Marxists on the Harvard faculty than there are in Eastern Europe.

We must struggle today with the fact that the doctrine of preemption is necessary, and with the serious problems it entails. But what we must have overall is the confidence that our ideas are right. I grew up in Lincoln country and I am reminded that in 1859, with war clouds lowering over the country, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech at the Wisconsin State Fair. In the course of this speech, Lincoln told the story of an Eastern despot who summoned his wise men and gave them an assignment. Go away and think, he said, and come back and give me a proposition to be carved in stone to be forever in view and forever true. The wise men went away and came back some days later, and the proposition they gave to him was: "And this, too, shall pass away." Lincoln said: perhaps not. If we Americans cultivate our inner lives and our moral selves as industriously and productively as we cultivate the material world around us, he said, then perhaps we of all peoples can long endure. He was right. We have and we shall persevere, in no small measure because of the plucky brand of people, true to these ideas, such as those that have formed around the college we here celebrate tonight.

Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College, www.hillsdale.edu.