Fifty thousand

50,000 visits since this blog began on October 8th. Not exactly Instapundit territory, but it’s been quite a success in my opinion. Thanks to all the regulars stopping by, and I hope you’ll all continue to do so in 2004. I’ve very much enjoyed the experience, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.

Have a happy and joyful new year.

Mowbray gang agley

Joel Mowbray writes: Technically, the former head of the Central Command in the Middle East didn’t say “Jews.” He instead used a term that has become a new favorite for anti-Semites: “neoconservatives.” As the name implies, “neoconservative” was originally meant to denote someone who is a newcomer to the right. In the 90’s, many people self-identified themselves as “neocons,” but today that term has become synonymous with “Jews.”

Joel Mowbray has done some yeoman’s work on Saudi Arabia in the last year, but he’s seriously smoking crack if he thinks that neoconservative is synonymous with Jew. A neoconservative is someone who pretends to be a conservative, but supports a Wilsonian foreign policy. Alternatively, a big government conservative. In either case, a left-moderate in conservative clothes.

There may be many Jewish neoconservatives these days, as their formerly beloved Marxists and left-liberals have turned on them with a vengeance over Israel. Unfortunately, they haven’t abandoned many of their anti-conservative positions. If they had, there would be no need for the adjective “neo” now, would there. I am opposed to neoconservatives. I also defend the Jewish people and Israel at every opportunity. Am I, too, an anti-semite? The fraudulent manufacture of verbal offense via code word is much better left to the anti-intellectual vocabulary perverters of the Left.

Zinni hasn’t tarnished his reputation. Mowbray, sadly, has.

Shut up, TMQ, we know

In fact, by Monday that page [at] opened with, “The football gods must have something against the Vikings.”

Clearly, it’s time for Ragnar to execute the blood eagle on representatives from the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins, the Atlanta Falcons and now the Arizona Cardinals. Why do I have the feeling that there’s a lot of Redskins’ fans who’d like to nominate Steve Spurrier?

Mailbox: the vanity of virtue

JX writes: Yeah, Vox. Slice and dice those morally self-righteous liberals. Sometimes it’s like picturing a primetime fight between Lennox Lewis and Rosie O’Donnell. I have an important question:How do you deal with those people around you who accuse you of being ‘better’ than they for your choices? I’ve come across that lately, some people I used to hang with back in my secular days referred to me as Mr. X in the street instead of my first name in order to diss me, and their sly assaults on my character are making me madder than I should be. How would you go about attacking this?

Well, first, I don’t get a lot of this, if any. I’ve made some impressively bad choices in my day, so the notion of portraying myself as some sort of behavioral exemplary would strike a lot of those who know me well as being more than a little humorous. Your problem is that you are still too concerned with what the world thinks of you. Who cares? And what is important to keep in mind is that even as they are mocking you, they are watching your behavior. It’s good that they have noticed a difference – a very minor, but totally uncharacteristic change in the White Buffalo’s behavior was integral to my reassessment of Christianity – so you should not be angered by their taunts, you should be pleased. If you are greeted as Mr. X, then smile, give them a little mock bow, greet them with a friendly “Mr. Y” and let it slide. Don’t attack it, ever. Eventually, one of them will probably approach you quietly and want to talk in depth about the changes in your life.

What is this, an advice column today? Where’s the hate?

Mailbox: On learning language

JB commiserates about the Vikes and asks: Question…did you learn those foreign languages at an early age? I have recently tried to learn a bit of Italian. Although I can speak and understand some basics, I can’t imagine the amount of work it would take to get fluent at reading the language. If you learned to read either of these languages as an adult, were there any particular strategies you used to help you in your quest?

No, I did not. I had five years of German in junior high and high school with an excellent German teacher. I studiedJapanese in college and learned Italian as an adult while living in Europe. My Italian is usually described as “bellissimo… per un americano”, which is to say that it’s functionally conversational as long as the other person doesn’t speak troppo veloce or use a lot of idioms. I still remember trying to figure out how the heck a wolf had come into the picture during a conversation about school when my friend saw my confusion, laughed, and explained that “in the mouth of the wolf” is an idiom used to say that you’re facing a difficult situation. One responds by saying “hit the wolf”, if I recall correctly. Of course, Italians are so shocked that you speak any Italian that they tend to give you far too much credit. My German used to be quite good, but it’s been so long since I’ve used it that it’s a real struggle. More often than not, it tends to come out Italian. The Japanese is totally shot.

I find that reading a language is much easier than speaking it. The tough part about reading Italian is the placement of pronouns, as they tend to scatter si and ci around pretty haphazardly – the fact that both words are part of the reflexive verb structure as well as serving as a pronoun and at least one other unrelated word doesn’t make it any easier – and the use of the gender-specific “the” as a pronoun is also confusing. La what? Which la? Le? Who? Speaking also doesn’t help as much with reading as you’d hope. I was reading “Il visconte dimezzato” and fortunately, references to starvation, putrifecation and corpses hadn’t tended to come up in my everyday conversation with people, so I was forced to resort to the dictionary distressingly often.

I would recommend starting with a book like 501 Italian Verbs, published by Barron’s, which has the seven simple tenses and seven complex tenses for the most common verbs. Verbs are the key to any language, as once you have that, its usually relatively easy to figure out the subject and the object. Make up a flash card system or use something like WinFlash on your computer. Don’t go on from the present indicative until you know 85 percent of them down cold, then start mixing in the imperfect, future and present perfect conjugations. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of irregulars, but having the basics down really helps. Just do 15 minutes every day, and you’ll make progress.

I warned you, Penelope

I find it tremendously amusing when someone complains that I have embarrassed them by utilizing the cruel device of quoting them at length in public. It is particularly ironic when they are clearly unaware that I respond every week to critical email, while at the same time asserting detailed knowledge of me, my philosophy and my membership, or lack thereof, in various organizations.

I do not post private correspondence. When you send me an insult-filled diatribe about a column I have published somewhere, we are not corresponding. I freely admit that I rather enjoy vivisecting nonsensical lunacies for the benefit of my readers, but such missives are wholly unsolicited nevertheless.

I have zero sympathy for those who believe they should be able to freely rail at public figures without consequence. Perhaps most columnists suffer such blather in Olympian silence; I do not. I stand by what I write, and I expect everyone else to do likewise. Polite and reasonable criticism will always receive polite and respectful treatment, both in this blog and via email. Baseless assertions and petty insults will be mercilessly mocked. The choice, dear hate mailer, is always yours.

I have said it before. I will say it again. Don’t bring it if you can’t take it.

So not surprised

California’s parks department, staggered by the state’s budget problems and trying to avoid closing dozens of parks, announced Tuesday it will raise entrance and camping fees to their highest levels in history. Some fees will more than double at California’s 277 state parks, which range from redwood forests to “Baywatch” beaches, desert ghost towns to mountain ranges, and battlefields to Lake Tahoe shoreline sites. Getting into Hearst Castle, for example, will jump from $12 to $25.

I warned about this. When you vote for a pragmatic Republican, you not only get tax increases, you usually get tax increases that are worse than anything the Democrats can put together. This is the first step – Arnold will soon go back on his pledge not to raise taxes, because “the situation is worse than he realized it was before he took office.” Isn’t it always.

The spending half of the equation won’t be significantly addressed because that’s harder. So, Schwarzenegger will be saluted in the press for his “courage” and California Republicans will finally begin to realize that they screwed themselves badly in electing a pragmatic man without any commitment to small government principles.

In truth, he’s already violated his pledge. Fees are taxes, they’re just slightly more optional.

Mailbox: Howard Dean, compassionate conservative

Seriously, the header on an email from one SP is “Howard Dean Lives Compassionately and is Conservative”, who goes on to write: How sad that your religious convictions preach exclusion rather than inclusion. Jesus was anything but exclusive is thoughts and deeds. Jesus did not use invective as you do, he loved rather than hated. Where are you sitting to judge others who differ in opinion on issues of separation of church and state. Do you support those who call themselves Christians but practice exclusion and spew invective.

Looks like Gov. Dean has nailed down the LSD vote. Yes, I fully support those who practice exclusion and “spew invective”. I think a few quotes from the man whose words are clearly unknown to SP will suffice by way of response:

“None shall come to the Father but by me.” (Sounds pretty exclusionary to me.)

“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be a wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (For those who don’t know, Jesus is the Son of Man. More exclusion, and at his command.)

“Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites!”

“It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” (Samaritans being equated with little dogs.)

“O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?”

“Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white-washed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

The only significant flaw that I can see with my invective is that it falls far short of the slashing example set by Jesus Christ. There was more from SP, but it didn’t merit response, being wholly delusional. His argument boils down to the notion that since Howard Dean wants to take your money away from you and give it to other people, he is being loving like Jesus.

Never mind that Jesus also said: “But if he refuses to even hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

Poorly educated, easily led

PhD Mom writes: I had to laugh when I read the email from someone who couldn’t imagine what a “leftist” education would be. Although I have since recovered, in my elementary, secondary, and most of my college educations, I was the victim of just such a scheme.

For example, in my junior high years, I was taught that the Palestinians were right and Zionism was racism. I was taught that abortion is a right, and “anti-choice” extremists were not only disagreeable, but both stupid and cruel. I was taught that animals are more important than people. In my math class, we once figured the cost of raising a child as opposed to the cost of having an abortion. Every year, when we had debates and individual presentations, the issues of gun control, abortion, prayer in schools, and Palestine were always among the most popular. There was no question which side of the argument would garner the better grade.

In college, I was trained in Marxism, Maoism, and feminism. I was taught a class on sexism, racism, classism and heterosexism in American life by an avowed Wiccan who wore a pentagram around her neck in class. I was taught political economy by a professor who carried a copy of Das Kapital everywhere he went and called it his “Bible.” (Of course, none of my instructors would ever have carried a REAL Bible.)

At long last, God chased me down and changed my mind. I became a Christian just before beginning my PhD dissertation, after many years as a teacher’s pet feminist secularist. Things…changed. My professors were terribly disappointed and lost all respect for me (though eventually they did pass my dissertation which was promptly academically published, despite treating pro-life activists as a legitimate political faction instead of a disease in the body politic).

On the way, however, there was no end to the insults to which I was subjected. For example, I asked my major professor for a letter of reference to apply to teach at a Christian college. He agreed, but told me I shouldn’t need it. “A place like that,” he said, “isn’t looking for excellence.” Really? Suppose I had received the same reply when asking for a reference for a historically black university? Would I have had grounds to sue? You betcha–and this professor would have been the first to say so. But in the rareified air of the academy, only one kind of prejudice doesn’t have an odor to it.

At any rate, I hope now your correspondent understands what a “leftist” education is. It is not a “fair and balanced” (you’ll excuse the expression) view, egalitarianism, or a grounding in justice and equality. It is a form of elitist brianwashing that beats down those who are subject to it, presses its case at every opportunity, and demands adherence to communist catechism in even the smallest of things. And, in the absence of radical internal change, the victim nearly always emerges in the form required for the Democratic party to succeed.

Another poorly-educated, easily-led Christian. And a mother, no less! I wonder how she manages to survive the sexist oppression of her home life. The poor thing.

Mailbox: the Secular Inquisition

JH writes: In your latest column, you refer to secularist American politicians as a “secular inquisition.” In using this phrase, you trivialize the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of Christians (and non-Christians). If you were a reader of European history, you would know that Protestants and proto-Protestants suffered appallingly at the hands of the Roman and Spanish Inquisitions. You insult the memory of these martyrs when you compare non-violent advocates of secularism to the fiends of centuries past.

I am, as many of you know, a reader of European history. Which I have read in italiano and Deutsch, as well as English. The purpose of the Spanish Inquisition – which was a government affair instigated at the command of Queen Isabella – was not to persecute non-Christians, it was to ferret out non-Christians – mostly Jews – who were falsely pretending to be Christians in order to violate the King’s proclamation which banned Jews from the kingdom, as well as heretics pretending to be orthodox. It was not a haphazard persecution of imaginary enemies, although like all government programs, it had a tendency to run amok at times.

I once thought much as JH, until I began reading some of the historical documents relating to the Spanish Inquisition. The first thing that struck me was how the rules and procedures were tightly written to protect those being “asked the question”. They could only be tortured twice, by law, and no blood was allowed to be shed. Contrast with this the procedures which are used by modern secular torturers, which are far more savage and used with far less discrimination. Much of what was assumed of the Inquisitions was largely after-the-fact Protestant propaganda – and please keep in mind that I am a Protestant myself, I am no Catholic apologist.

Furthermore, the most recent analyses of the Inquisition estimate around 6,000 executions in 356 years. This pales in comparison to nearly every human tragedy of the past, and is again testimony to the relatively civilized nature of the Inquisition. One can hardly call it a great tragedy when more than twice as many American children are killed on bicycles ever year than perished in the dread flames of the auto-da-fe. I am not defending the Inquisition itself, I do, however, insist on defending the historical record and I stand by my condemnation of the secular inquisition, which poses a far greater threat than the Spanish Inquisition ever did.

I think it is fair to lay at least partial blame for the Molochian holocaust of American abortion at the feet of this secular inquisition; a tragedy which in a single year far exceeds the 356-year toll of the Inquisition. In any case, the secular inquisition – which consists of more than America’s politicians – has only been with us for about thirty years; it has another 326 to go before one can absolve it of innocence in comparison with one of its historical predecessors. As to the Roman, I have not done my due diligence, but I will be glad to address that question once I have.