Just Above Sunset
October 2, 2005 - Getting to the Core

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Over at the daily site, As Seen from Just Above Sunset and here on the weekly review, there's this lighthearted dispute with our columnist Bob Patterson. He seems to think the direction of both sites is wrong. They should cover the news, not do all the long-winded commentary on political theory and history and whatnot. He's in favor of brevity, and of what people really want to consider – things like Michael Jackson's guilt (or innocence), or at least his behavior, or, perhaps, the antics of the press covering such things.

To cite him:


Do you seriously mean to say that there can be an "intellectual analysis" of contemporary culture via mundane trivial "news" items such as the recent coverage of Madonna's horse riding accident? ("Are equestrian competitions racist?") Only a few dedicated (fanatical?) intellectuals want a constant diet of complex (hard to digest) issues that need extensive elaboration to be understood. It seems logical to assume the writer and publisher wants the material to reach the largest possible audience to achieve the maximum effect on the audience. There's an old maxim in advertising that advises it is better to shout your message from the treetop than to whisper it down the well.


Ah, but some things just are complex and "hard to digest," and one cannot avoid that. The intention here has been to examine the complexity, and try to unravel it when possible, or put it in some sort of perspective. Failing that, one can only marvel at it.

Thus the long items here can be seen as "aids to digestion," so to speak. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But that's what we do - and Bob get is two columns each week here at Just Above Sunset to do what he does. Yes, the most powerful man in the world, reelected by a clear majority of Americans, has made a career of denying complexity - "They hate us for our freedoms." - but somehow that leaves some of us - what Bob calls "a few dedicated (fanatical?) intellectuals" - thinking maybe there's something more going on.

Well, maybe there isn't and he's right. A few sentences will do for almost anything?

But how to explain all this, just a sample at the end of the day, Tuesday, September 27 ...

Are we winning in Iraq? You decide.

Al-Qaeda's No 2 in Iraq is shot dead after betrayal (Times Online)
US is logging gains against Al Qaeda in Iraq (Christian Science Monitor) Zarqawi emerging as self-sustained force-US intel (Reuters)

How are things in Israel? You decide.

Israel shells Gaza for first time since pullout (ABC News)
Sharon's Likud Opponents Vow to Oust Him (San Francisco Chronicle)

The fellow who resigned as head of FEMA testifies before congress, and said what? And he still works for them? What one-liner do you use?

Brown: 'I know what I am doing' (CNN)
Brown puts blame on Louisiana officials (CNN)
Brown serving as consultant to FEMA (CNN)

Over in Northern Ireland? What's to say?

No power-share, says Paisley as he disputes IRA weapons move (Times Online, UK)
Protestants Not Buying IRA Disarmament (ABC News)
Doors open again for Sinn Fein in US (Belfast Telegraph, United Kingdom)

That girl was convicted of abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib and she's really, really sorry. Case closed?

Lynndie England apologizes for abuse photos (ABC News)

The second day of the trial was underway regarding "intelligent design" near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, not far from the Three Mile Island reactors, and the New York Times leads with this - "Intelligent design is not science, has no support from any major American scientific organization and does not belong in a public school science classroom, a prominent biologist testified on the opening day of the nation's first legal battle over whether it is permissible to teach the fledgling 'design' theory as an alternative to evolution." Curiously the Times of London (UK) gives is this: Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side' - an item that opens with this - "Religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today." Really. See also God versus science debate continues in court (ABC News) and School defends its decision to teach 'intelligent design' (Independent - UK) and Claims of scientific support for 'intelligent design' disputed (Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau). Enough has been said in these pages on that topic. Anything more will bore everyone.

You can't cover everything.

As de facto editor and publisher you cover what interests you. You hope some "intellectual fanatic" will hang on for the ride. If not, then so be it.

And what interests this de facto editor and publisher is what underlies what is said and done - trying to figure out how people think and how they think the world should be.



Perhaps, but here's the ride.

Tony Blankley has a new book.

Who is he?

Well, he speaks for the right. He's the man in charge of the op-ed page of the Washington Times, Reverend Moon's conservative alternative to the Washington Post, what Fox News is to CNN, if you will. He's a regular panelist on that weekend shout-fest on PBS, The McLaughlin Group, you see him on the MSNBC Chris Matthews Show now and then, quite often opining on Fox News, and he's the "right" on the nationally syndicated NPR commentary show Left, Right and Center recorded out here at KCRW in Santa Monica. He's a big gun on the right.

So how does he think, and what's this new book? It's The West's Last Chance, published by Regnery, the publisher of Michelle Malkin (previously discussed here and quoted often). The Blankley book was published September 12 - 256 pages, ISBN: 0895260158 - and it's a hoot.

Over at Richard Mellon Scaife's TOWNHALL one Rebecca Hagelin says it's important


"It is increasingly likely that such a threat cannot be defeated while the West continues to adhere to its deeply held values - as it currently understands them - of tolerance, the right to privacy, the right even to advocate sedition and the right to equal protection under the law," Blankley writes. "The day is upon us when the West will have to decide which it values more: granting these rights and tolerance to those who wish to destroy us, or the survival of Western civilization."

If those strike you as harsh words, it shows how poorly understood the current threat really is. Blankley invites us to consider the way America and Britain faced Germany and Japan in the 1940s. In times of imminent peril - when the choice, like it or not, was kill or be killed - our leaders made some hard decisions that, frankly, saved us. For President Franklin Roosevelt, that meant, among other things, censoring radio broadcasts, investigating subversive activities and, yes, interning Japanese-Americans.


Yep, that's the thesis. Unless we forget about "tolerance, the right to privacy, the right even to advocate sedition and the right to equal protection under the law" we'll all die. Just as we put those Japanese families - men, women and children - in those camps in the desert, because they were merely Japanese, so we may have to do the same thing now. Michelle Malkin wrote a book arguing that - In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror.

But Tony Blankley is beyond that - to survive we'd better accept something like a police state with no rights.

First steps? Hagelin explains:


So what do we need to do? First, Blankley says, declare war. No, not today's "Global War on Terror," which is far too elastic, but a formal declaration of war against those we are actually at war with - Islamic jihadists. We could then expand our war effort to include the full network of radical Islam, from mosques and schools to Web sites dedicated to our destruction. Second, use ethnic/religious profiling. To do otherwise, Blankley says, "puts political correctness before common sense." Third, secure our borders. Fourth, adopt national ID cards. We also need to strengthen our alliance with Europe, which is crucial to winning this war.


Comment from Jesse Taylor here


So, we declare formal war against an idea. What's its home country - the ImagiNation?

Now, if you're looking for radical Islamic terrorists, it makes sense to look in places where radical Islamic terrorists might congregate. However, the dragnet that Blankley is advocating runs into the same issue that Japanese internment did - treating 120,000 people as suspects for no particular reason wastes a lot of time and pisses a lot of people off. Again, the goal of fighting terrorism seems to be fucking up American society before the terrorists can do it. Secure our borders? What a great idea! ...

National ID cards? I'm actually in favor of them. That, of course, means that they must be burned at the stake for the heresy of being accepted by a librul.

It would probably help to strengthen our alliance [with Europe] if the party in charge hadn't run against their favored American candidate by referring to him alternately as "French" or "European," if the party in charge didn't refer to everything they hated about liberalism as European socialism, or if the author in question didn't believe that Europe was fundamentally drifting away from America, and that new alliances with them involve capitulation to a new world order.

But, honestly, if the worst you can say about Blankley's book is that he wants a party that is ideologically incapable of carrying out his plan to fight a threat that doesn't exist with an ally that he believes is intractably removed from our concerns, then you can say some pretty bad shit about it.


But that is what he wants. Underlying it all he seems to want to end this crap about having a country where people can say what they think and folks do their best to tolerate each other. We can't afford it? To survive we must run our country with iron discipline, much as the mullahs run Iran or some such thing. Sometimes concentration camps are necessary. We have to preserve our way of life, after all.

What way of life? It seems you can say some pretty bad shit about this book on what we must become. To save the America we know and love we must become a fascist state, with all the trimmings,

This would be a minor thing if Blankley were a bit player. But, as noted above, he's a big gun, with considerable influence. Amazon sells his new book here - to the paranoid. The book service at TOWNHALL sells it here with these blurbs:


"A great book. To win the War on Terror, you have to include Tony Blankley's The West's Last Chance and its antidote to the blame-America-first liberals and their suicidal complacency. Buy it, read it, and use it." - Rush Limbaugh, host of The Rush Limbaugh Show

"Tony Blankley treats the Islamist threat with the gravity and urgency it deserves. Not enough of our leaders do. The West's Last Chance is an incisive and invaluable book." - Michelle Malkin, author of In Defense of Internment

"Tony Blankley gets it! The enemy is much more than al Qaeda and the stakes are much higher than most people realize. A timely, thoughtful, and provocative read." - Governor Tom Ridge, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

"Tony Blankley's breadth of vision and understanding are breathtaking: Few others have the courage or insight needed to tell you just how deep a fix the Western world is in, or to offer practical and useful solutions for its salvation. Blankley does all this and more with admirable eloquence, erudition, and wit." - Robert Spencer, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)


Ah, the salvation of the western world is at stake. Cool. But this book is not about its salvation. It's pretty obvious it's about getting rid of those things that define it - to save it.

That raises an interesting question one might pose to Blankley, or Robert Spencer, or to Michelle Malkin. If you take away these things - "tolerance, the right to privacy, the right even to advocate sedition and the right to equal protection under the law" - then you must be operating under the assumption that they do not, really, define what you call "the western world." Just how are you defining it then? Please explain. After all the takeaways, what's left? Who are we and what do we stand for, and how should we live our lives?

That is a real question. Some of us - the intellectuals Bob finds so boring - want to know. Their vision of "what's left" is not here. What is it? What are the core values? There's nothing given.

What remains?

The news stories up top are about transitory events. These issues are what lie underneath.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
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