Showing posts with label National-Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National-Review. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Whittaker Chambers on Ayn Rand

[Originally posted Sunday, May 30, 2010 at]

Whittaker Chambers on Ayn Rand

Whittaker Chambers spent a long time in the American Communist party and came to regret it, writing a book called Witness, about his experiences, and also serving as star witness against Alger Hiss in his perjury trial when Hiss denied his association with Chambers in the Communist underground in the mid 1930s (My impression, impressionistic as it is, is that Hiss did perjure himself). The case remains controversial, but Hiss was sentenced and spent 3-4 years in prison. The Hiss case also helped launch Richard Nixon's career as he played a leading role in getting Hiss convicted.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Jonah Goldberg says Only Extremists can Build Bridges.

Sound counter-intuitive?

I was reading the intro to Jonah Goldman's just released The Tyrrany of Clichés.  The intro can be accessed the "Tyrrany Blog", created to promote the book.

So here is how he views extremism or some true-blue ideological position vs "the center".  The ideologist of one stripe will build the bridge across the river.  The one of another stripe won't build the bridge at all, but the moderate or centrist will build it half way across the river.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

NRO Article "The OIC and the Caliphate" by Andrew McCarthy

My comments on the article at

Mr. McCarthy has at least one thing in common with certain mullahs.  Sometimes it seems like every other word he says is infidel.  Well not exactly, but his version.  Approximately half the article consists of dubious claims about what either progressives or "Islam" believes.

It doesn't leave much room for saying what he thinks (aside from what he thinks other people think), and indeed he provides no practical recommendation - the closest he comes is, after ridiculing the idea of a "battle for hearts and minds" (which Gen. Petraeus has shown is essential for winning wars, or at least salvaging them from total catastrophe) ... he tells us that Attaturk's secularization of Turkey was accomplished by "one of those quaint military wars...".  Typical innuendo ("That's how a liberal would see it" - apparently); it's easier than giving any clue as to how Attaturk's revolution is a model for anything that is happening today.

The article is full of "Islam this" and "Islam that".  OK, "know your enemy" is an important part of conflict, but Mr. McCarthy's sweeping generalities apply to only some parts of the Muslim world, and the more we address the Muslim world as if they are all the enemy of the west, the more they will be driven to unite and really be at total war with the West.

Suppose Mr. McCarthy is right, then what recourse is there?  Can we take out the whole Muslim world even if we somehow decided that was the right and moral thing to do?  No, we are simply in a quandary with no escape, unless there is to be an apocalypse orchestrated by God.

But he is not right (see article here), and we simply must find and forge ties with the saner elements of the Muslim world, and wage a long fierce but patient struggle to isolate the fanatics who would gladly bring on the apocalypse.

Andrew McCarthy's books include

If we are unaware of the sane and human side of the Islamic world, we will simply remain in an impossible situation with no way of mitigating the worst possibilities of world with 1.5 billion Muslims.  Are we forced to choose between the apocalypse and waiting till the tide engulfs us?  The following books offer insight into the human side of Islam, and demonstrate that there are effective means of winning the support of non-fanatics.

QUOTE: "There could be a powerful international women's rights movement if only philanthropists would donate as much to real women as to paintings and sculptures of women"
    This book has plenty to say the very worst things happening to women in the world. Chapters include "Rule by Rape" and "The Shame of 'Honor'", and it certainly doesn't shy away from misogyny in the Muslim world.
    But it doesn't stop there -- with no hope unless maybe the "hope" of converting (or if not that, then what?) 1.5 billion Muslims -- an idea as impossible as it is inhumane, and based on inability to see that there are many Muslim cultures.
    Indeed the last chapter, which can be read online, is "Four Steps You Can Take in the Next Ten Minutes."

 A True Story that reads like an incredible adventure: In 1993, an unemployed mountain climber, on a mission to climb K2, is separated from his party and becomes lost.  After much wandering and nearly dying from exposure he stumbles into a Pakistani village unreachable by road.  Villagers take him in and nurse him back to health.  Seeing the poverty and illiteracy there, he promises to return in a year and build a school there.  He leaves after consulting with locals on what it will take and the cost of materials.  
   Needless to say, he cannot build a school by himself, but will bring material and some expertise, and expect the villagers will do most of the work. 
   He spends much of the next year soliciting donations from prominent people.  After 1,000 letters he gets one check, for the whole amount that he needs, from an electronics entrepreneur and former mountain climber.      
  In the two years it takes to build one school, a small core of fierce supporters is drawn to Greg Mortenson, the one-time adventurer.  But some of these supporters want schools for their own villages.  Ultimately, this leads him to found the Central Asia Institute, which has now been responsible for educating over 50,000 Pakistani children, as Mortenson became fluent in many languages, and adept at getting around in the back country.
     One condition for the Central Asia Institute's help in building a school is that "A village must agree to increase girls’ enrollment by 10% a year". "Mortenson believes, as do many experts, that providing education for girls directly helps to lower infant mortality and bring down birth rates—which in turn reduces the ignorance and poverty that help fuel religious extremism."

More than a sequel to Three Cups of Tea. Mortenson has carried his work into Afghanistan, including building a girl's high school in the village of Mullah Omar, head of the Taliban since before 9/11.  His organization, which is almost entirely made of of Afghans and Pakistanis, has by now built over 130 schools which are educating 50 thousand students, the majority girls, and has also built community centers for village women.
   Virtually all the work of the CAI is done, and the decisions are made, by a diverse group of Afghan and Pakistani ex-Mujahadeens, ex-cabdrivers, ex smugglers and warriors and you name it. You definitely see a different side of the 1.5 billion people, and countless different cultures, that call themselves Muslim.   Many of these men took on impossible projects so their daughters, and sometimes wives, can be educated.  The propaganda that tells us Islam is 100% a horror show is self-defeating and taken to its logical conclusion, can only appeal to those who eagerly await Armageddon.  After 200 years of 'Reformation', Catholics and Protestants mostly stopped declaring holy war on eachother (tho in Northern Ireland it lasted almost to the present day).  It can and must happen with Islam.

  Bangladeshi-born Muhammad Yunus is another believer in improving society by empowering women.  In 1973 he was an economics teacher in Tennessee with an American wife.  Shortly after Bangladesh became independent, in a time of severe famine, he returned to his newly independent native country.
   After some years there founded the Grameen Bank, the original blueprint for "Microlending" which is now a worldwide phenomenon.  It started with money out of his own pocket to provide tiny loans to poor villagers, especially women, and has grown and diversified enormously in the last 35 years.  The loans must be for specific business purposes (such as buying a supply of bamboo for making stools), and loan recipients are required to belong to support groups, which have helped maintain the extraordinarily high rate of loan repayment.
    Yunus is no fan of government programs for the poor, but believes passionately in his trademark form of "social business" which is something in between the normal non-profit, and corporations which are legally obligated to maximize profits no matter what.
     Some of Grameen's enterprises have included the "Telephone Ladies" who for a time were likely to be the only owner of a phone (cellular) in a village, and who made the phones available for a fee.  Something like the old style payphones that those villages never had -- at a fraction of the cost.
     The "Micro Lending" which Yunus made famous, has been imitated by groups all over the world, and I believe the total scale of this kind of operation had gotten into the billions of dollars.

  History of the Shiite-Sunni split.  Particularly interesting at a time when people believe an email that says the martyr "Imam Ali" flew one of the planes on 9/11 (it turns out Imam Ali was a founding prophet of the Shiites, who died before 800 AD, and so did not live long enough to participate in the 9/11 attacks  - see "My Not-Really Right-Wing Mom and her Adventures in Email-Land"

Friday, July 2, 2010

Corollary to the Big Lie Theory

Once you get a group of True Believers sufficiently attached to a set of lies about critically important issues, then any person or institution trying to report the truth becomes discredited in their eyes.  If research, educational, journalistic, governmental groups, and NGOs become alarmed and continue to repeat the "discredited" claims, their protests only reinforce the certainty of True Believers that academic researchers, educators, etc. are lying scumbags.

This, in my opinion, is the main usefulness to the right of calling Global Warming a hoax -- it becomes a constant source of ridicule, generated by people who work enthusiastically for free, of the "MSM" (or Main Stream Media), the scientific community, etc.  The more alarmed and emotional they get about it, the more they get written off as "alarmists".  The parties responsible for the original deception can stand back and watch, without expending energy, or putting their fingerprints on the stream of abuse against their rival institutions.

While big oil like Exxon-Mobile have backed off from the memeplex they helped create (excepting the Kochs), right-coalition in general has become a huge beneficiary of this stream of abuse of sources frequently allied with liberals.  Hence they would have far too much to lose if they ever gave up their attacks on anything connected with Global Warming (esp. Al Gore, whom they would have to invent if he didn't exist).  Hence support for measures to mitigate climate change have become a third rail for Republican politicians -- grounds for organizations to place a well funded opponent in their next primary, while good soldiers who toe the party line, even if they lose, will get a nice sinecure at some think tank, if they need it.

There are some exceptions among the less automatically propagandistic elements of the right, like this National Review article.