Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lawrence Auster gets it right on You Know Who

When Auster is good, he's very good. He says he's been pressured recently by some correspondents to support Him Who Must Not Be Named. (That's the candidate with the initials R.P. who has a Zombie Army that descends upon you if you put his name into a blog post title and criticize him.) Now, as Auster says, he's been an anti-Rockwellian all this time; why should people think he'll suddenly support the uber-Rockwellian candidate for president now? But the Zombie Army is persistent. They think if you're a small-government conservative it's just inexplicable that you wouldn't support their candidate. So they've provoked Auster into saying some good stuff.

The reason it's especially interesting is because the discussion applies to several bigger issues where the paleolibertarians and paleoconservatives have their ideologies, like the Islamist threat and the "blowback" theory, as well as U.S. relations with Israel. In the thread I learned that R.P. voted against a resolution (of which I admit I haven't read the text) condemning the Iranian president's holocaust denial. Auster, by the way, takes the Iranian threat to Israel very seriously, which is interesting in itself. Of course, R.P. and his supporters say the Holocaust denial resolution is political, is unnecessary, is just symbolic, etc. (I wonder how many of them were up in arms over the refusal, based on similar reasons, of GOP Representatives to support the condemnation of the Armenian genocide. Hmmm?)

I also saw in the VFR thread a reference to R.P.'s interview with Russert in which he actually denies that "Muslim fanaticism" is the problem when it comes to terrorism. Wow! (I did see it in the VFR thread originally, but now I can't find it there, so here's the partial transcript from a different link.) Now we're not only not allowed to say that Islam is the problem. We're even supposed to deny that Islamic extremism is the problem! No, according to R.P., the "litmus test" (for what?) is whether we are occupying Islamic "holy land." Uh-huh. It's all back to that "poor, poor Muslims. We've had troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, so what could OBL do over in Afghanistan but fly into a saffron-colored rage and send his charming boys to murder thousands of our citizens?"

Auster makes what is to my mind an extremely shrewd comment. He says that since paleolibertarian ideologues (but I repeat myself) hate the U.S. government because of interventionist foreign policy, they assume that the Islamists are like themselves and hate the U.S. government for the same reason. I also thought this comment was extremely good: "As I've been pointing out for years, scratch a person who claims merely to want the U.S. to be neutral and uninvolved vis a vis Israel and her enemies, and 99 times out of a hundred you'll find something else."

To me this is all something of a relief. After all, no one can accuse Auster, of all people, of being a war-mongering Bushite yes-man! Not by a long shot. But he has the paleos' number.

Oh, I almost forgot. For humor value, here's a great Don Feder post giving sample honest campaign ads for all the candidates. If you are a liberal, you won't like it. If you are a conservative, you will find it very funny.

Update (correction): Christopher points out in the comments that the interview I have linked for RP is actually with John Stossel, not Tim Russert. I apologize for the error and even more for the carelessness that led to the error.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Christmas Music Pick for this year: Mannheim Steamroller

And a happy Feast of Stephen to everybody.

Speaking of St. Stephen's Day, we now have a new great Christmas CD: This one, Mannheim Steamroller's first, apparently. And it has the world's most fun rendition of "Good King Wenceslaus." Mind you, it doesn't seem to have much to do with the Duke of Bavaria who forgave his murderous twin brother with his dying breath. More kickin' than that. But we have to have fun sometimes, especially at Christmas. The CD was my husband's request for a Christmas present. The last version of "God Rest you Merry" on the CD is also exceptional, as is "Silent Night." The audio clips on Amazon don't do it justice, so I didn't know if I was going to like it. One of the best things about it is its variety. I like that Olde Renaissance Faire style (cum authentic instruments) occasionally, but in moderation. So before you have time to get tired of it, the Steamroller moves back to a straight 1980's blasting synthesizer sound that makes you want to dance. I'm now dying with curiosity to know what Chip Davis means in the liner notes by referring to his "toys" which include instruments (are they?) that I've never heard of, like "dry ice" and "dots and lines." (The official editorial reviewer on Amazon is rather snooty: "Depending on your point of view, Christmas is either a quaint sonic time capsule extracted from the mid-1980s or a timeless holiday classic." We're voting "timeless Christmas classic" around here. I don't recall buying any of that guy's music recently, so perhaps he should defer to Chip Davis, who seems to know what a Christmas classic sounds like.)

I also heartily recommend this book for your young kids, grandkids, nephews and nieces, etc. It looks at first blush like just another baby-Jesus-in-the-hay picture book for children, but it's actually something much better than that. Paul Maier is a real historian, and the emphasis of the book is on the historicity of the Christmas story. As you can imagine, this makes it much appreciated in the McGrew household. The paintings are beautiful, too, with the only newborn-looking Baby Jesus I've ever seen. The book was a present from my mom and dad.

Finally, here's the collect for St. Stephen's Day from the BCP:

Grant, O Lord, that, in all our sufferings here upon earth for the testimony of thy truth, we may stedfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed; and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, may learn to love and bless our persecutors by th example of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen, who prayed for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who standest at the right hand of God to succour all those who suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!

And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Thanks be to God!

A blessed feast of the Nativity of Our Lord to my readers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Terminology shift--Jerusalem now part of the "West Bank"

Terminology shifts in the news media are interesting. They often signal historical changes in the wind. Now we find that the relatively conservative Washington Times has referred to neighborhoods in Jerusalem as "settlements in the West Bank."

Let me stress this: These are not far-outlying suburbs of Jerusalem. These are Jewish neighborhoods within the city limits of the city that is Israel's own capital, and apparently not even right at the edge, either (if that mattered). All of Jerusalem is governed by Israeli law. People who live in Har Homa (the neighborhood in question) are literally just Israeli citizens living within Israel's own capital city. That's it. And the building in this neighborhood was approved ten years ago. (Again, if that mattered.)

Now, I'm very interested in being corrected if I'm wrong, but as far as I know it has not previously been part of standard practice in the American MSM to refer to any part of Jerusalem proper as "the West Bank." Certainly even I, ignorant though I have been in the past of the entire Israeli situation, would have thought of "the West Bank" as being outside of Jerusalem. Israeli blogger Carl in Jerusalem confirms that the MSM has not previously referred to any part of Jerusalem proper as being "in the West Bank." Of course, Israel is so narrow that perhaps the entire country could be thought of as "the West Bank" of the Jordan river, if one construes "bank" broadly enough. An ominous thought.

But now we have Condoleeza Rice having a snit over building in Jewish neighborhoods within the city limits of Israel's own capital, and an American official with the insufferable, sickening, almost unbelievable arrogance to say of this, "We don't like chastising people, but we don't want people to do anything to make us chastise them." And Olmert was apparently trying good and hard to give away East Jerusalem to the "Palestinians" for their own capital (read "new rocket-launching pad") at Annapolis, but somehow he didn't succeed in doing so. And Israel may be caving on a plan to build housing in a different neighborhood, also within the limits of the city of Jerusalem, in the face of Condi's wrath. So the Washington Times reporter gets the idea from all of this that the places over which all this fuss is being made must be properly designated as "settlements in the West Bank."

I don't want to make too much of one line in one article. But I think this may be a (bad) sign of things to come for the Jewish inhabitants of East Jerusalem...and, one way or another, of all of Jerusalem.

HT to Dhimmi Watch for the link to the Washington Times article. HT to Carl in Jerusalem for information on the location of these neighborhoods and for links to the Jerusalem Post. But I noticed the line about "settlements in the West Bank" and what it was referring to all on my own and am waiting for my "place in history" badge for having been the first to notice. :-)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hymn of the Week--O Very God of Very God

Here's one I owe solidly to the old Episcopal 1940 Hymnal. Never heard of it in the Baptist church, though there's nothing sectarian about it. And it's very beautiful.

O very God of very God,
and very Light of very Light,
whose feet this earth's dark valley trod
that so it might be bright:

Our hopes are weak, our fears are strong,
thick darkness blinds our eyes;
cold is the night; thy people long
that thou, their Sun, wouldst rise.

And even now, though dull and gray,
the east is brightening fast,
and kindling to the perfect day
that never shall be past.

O guide us till our path is done,
and we have reached the shore
where thou, our everlasting Sun,
art shining evermore!

We wait in faith, and turn our face
to where the daylight springs,
till thou shalt come our gloom to chase,
with healing in thy wings.

The tune is Welsh. Those Welshmen really know how to do tunes. Think of a few--"O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus," "Jesus Lover of My Soul" (in Advent, good words to that one are "Watchman, Tell us of the Night"). A year or so ago I had a debate with someone on the proposition "Anglicans can't write tunes." I was arguing the negative side. (Clarification: This means I was arguing that Anglicans can write tunes.) My interlocutor told me I couldn't count any Welsh tunes!

This hymn raises the interesting question of the imagery of the sun and Christmas. There's no doubt that, as Christianity flourished in the Northern Hemisphere, the connection became very strong between the short days in winter and the darkness of the world awaiting the coming of Christ. One of my favorite lines in a Christmas carol is from the German carol "Es ist ein Ros"--"She bore to men a savior when half-spent was the night." This is an allusion to the phrase in the Christ Mass from the Apocrypha--"When the night was in the midst of her course, thine almighty word leaped down from on high." But the word "half-spent" in what I think is the best translation of the German carol (not, unfortunately, the translation used in the 1940 hymnal) is brilliant, combining the notion of midnight with the image of exhaustion.

But of course Christianity didn't originate in a country very far to the north. I've never lived in Israel, but by a quick and highly unprofessional look at the globe, it appears to be about on a latitude with Georgia, or perhaps Tennessee at the farthest. Not exactly the land of long, dark, cold nights of winter. And then of course there's the possibility that Jesus was born in the spring rather than the winter, which opens up a whole different historical can of worms.

God certainly foresaw the powerful darkness-light-sun motif for Christmas. Did he desire and intend it?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gaudete Sunday--with liturgical puzzle

Today is Gaudete Sunday. We were, however, snowed out of church today, so the only signs of Gaudete will be here at home, where we would have been lighting two purple candles and one pink today anyway.

The snow has stopped at something like six inches plus drifting, which really isn't too bad for this part of the world. And now the sun has come out gloriously. Hurts your eyes on all that beautiful snow. It's all very well for me to say "beautiful snow," of course. It's my husband who is going out to get milk and bread, if any is left in the store after storm-spooked shoppers were there yesterday. And it was Eldest Daughter who--for a wage she considers somewhat inadequate--shoveled the walks and driveway and brushed off her Dad's car. The hardest labor I'm doing today is laundry. But it looks pretty out there anyway.

Gaudete Sunday is the source of a small liturgical puzzle that no one I've ever talked to, nor some googling I've done in the past, has been able to solve: The introit contains the words, "Rejoice in the Lord alway," and that's why it's Gaudete Sunday. But those words appear nowhere in the readings for the day in the Book of Common Prayer. Now, that might not be so puzzling. The introit is often unrelated to the readings. The real oddity is that next week the Epistle reading in the Prayer Book is exactly that passage in Philippians 4, beginning "Rejoice in the Lord alway...the Lord is at hand." It seems to me like these must at some time have come on the same Sunday. After all, why consider one Sunday "Rejoice Sunday" in virtue of the introit but put the entire passage with those words on a different week when you're back in purple vestments again? But if so, when and how did they get separated? And which week was the original Gaudete--the third or fourth of Advent? (My bet is on the third.)

Just to be confusing and difficult, I'm going to put here next week's collect. This week's collect is about John the Baptist. Not a bad fellow, but not as great a collect as next week's. And I might be feverishly wrapping presents next week and not have time to blog. So, the collect for Advent IV:

O Lord, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bible Sunday--Hymns and collect of the week

I've been letting this feature languish, so by way of making up, this week I'll feature one collect and two hymns.

First, the collect. This is the week known as "Bible Sunday" from the collect for Advent II, an original composition by Cranmer for the 1549 Prayer Book:

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

This is one of those bits of the liturgy whose phrases make it into speech occasionally (like "devices and desires" or "chances and changes"). You might have at some time heard someone say "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest." It makes a good way to tell your students to pay attention to something, anyway.

Certainly one of the emphases of the Reformation was the sheer knowledge of Scripture, and one of the greatest gifts of my own upbringing was a comprehensive knowledge of the contents of the Bible. In my parents' home, we read the entire Bible through over the course of many family devotions. One of the big frustrations I can recall at the age of six was being forced to wear a patch over my good eye just as I was learning to read the Bible and thus having to read the small print with my bad eye. (The patch was supposed to correct a "lazy eye," but actually it was a completely useless exercise in frustrating a little kid who was just learning to read. That, however, was the doctors' fault, not my parents'.) There are many passages that still, despite the waning memory that comes once one has gone even a little way over the hill, I can continue to quote from memory if you get me started. All in the beautiful King James English, of course. I can't say I've quite given such a fully-formed treasure to my children, though we're working on it. The older ones have memorized a number of passages, and we just this year started a regular "Bible time" for Middle Daughter which is going very well. We've finished Acts and are nearly through John and Romans. I think we'll go to Hebrews after that. Just knowing what's in Scripture is a great guard against many-a heresy. I highly recommend it.

Speaking of knowing the Bible, I showed that I'm a bit rusty this morning. I was telling my family about one of the hymns we'd be singing in church that I thought they might not know or might not remember. It's "O Word of God Incarnate" and was chosen for Bible Sunday. (A bit odd to call the Bible the "Word of God Incarnate"; that should really be Christ himself. But the song gets it worked out in the end, referring to Christ as the "living Word.") I mentioned the ending, which I especially like: "O teach thy wandering pilgrims by this their path to trace/till, clouds and darkness ended, they see thee face to face." So I, trying to look learned and thinking vaguely of "Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee" said, "And it ends with a nice St. Augustine allusion," and proceeded to quote the line. "Sounds like a Paul allusion," said my husband. Er, right. And far more St. Paul than St. Augustine. What was I thinking? Obviously: "Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face"--I Corinthians 13. I've gotta watch that; don't want to start losing my familiarity with St. Paul and replacing it with St. Augustine!

So here's a nice, exceedingly meaty, Scriptural hymn for my second featured hymn, with words by none other than Charles Wesley: "And Can it Be." All the words are here, but a better version of the music is here. Click on "play music." I especially like that music recording, because it reminds me of some of the better hymn-playing pianists I've heard. Women can do that sort of thing well enough, with the big, moving bass line, but men do it best of all, because they have the big hands for it. Here's verse 1:

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

When I say "all the words" are at the cyberhymnal, I mean all. I really like John W. Peterson's 1968 hymnal Great Hymns of the Faith. I own thirty-some copies and use it for all our hymn sings, but one of my few gripes with it is that Peterson has cut out some of the words to "And Can it Be." And it isn't just whole verses that he cuts. That would be okay; some hymns do have too many verses to be printed or sung easily. But for some reason Peterson has cut the second half of all the verses other than verse 1 and replaced it with the second half of verse 1, beginning "Amazing love! How can it be..." as a chorus for all the rest of them. The version given in the cyberhymnal repeats the last two lines of every verse. The other hymnals I have here repeat only the second "Amazing love" pair of lines as a short chorus, so that all the unique words for all the verses are preserved.

Anyway, one of my favorites as a kid was the verse about the angels. (I'm printing it here with the short chorus.)

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
Amazing love! How can it be?
That thou my God should'st die for me?

An allusion to I Peter 1:12, where we are told that "the angels desire to look into" our redemption. Peter's quite a presence in the song. Until I saw the painting at the cyberhymnal site, I'd forgotten the verse about the dungeon flaming with light--an allusion to Peter's release by an angel in Acts 12. But St. Paul is all over the place, too: "Emptied himself of all but love"--the kenosis passage in Philippians 2. "No condemnation now I dread"--Romans 8. "Bold I approach th'eternal throne"--Hebrews 4:16. (And I am once again five years old, lying on my parents' bed, listening to Moody radio, and hearing a man's deep voice just before praying say, "Let us go now to the throne of grace...") In fact, you can go line by line through this hymn, as through others of Wesley's, and look up biblical allusion after biblical allusion. Yet they all fit together into poetry. You get the feeling that Scripture had become so much a part of Wesley and of his poetic gift that it just flowed out of him this way. I've known a few people (mostly, though not all, old people) whose talk sounded a bit like this.

Wesley's hymns are a gift to the world, and a gift to all Christians, from Protestantism. I don't know any other tradition that could have produced them, but all Christians can profit from them.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tudor and Neo-Gothic

A blessed Advent Sunday to my readers. I begin with the collect for Advent Sunday, to be repeated throughout Advent each week. It is one of Cranmer's masterpieces, composed by him (not, in this case, translated) for the 1549 Prayer Book.

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

The Advent Sunday collect has all those Cranmerian things that a lover of the Prayer Book loves--the Scriptural allusions (in this case, to Romans 13, the epistle for the day), the request for those things that we ought to be asking for, even if we aren't, put in a way that most of us would never think of putting it, the inevitability of cadence and phrasing. It's all there.

Contrast that with the collect which the Anglican missal, an outgrowth in the 20th Century of the 19th Century Oxford Movement, places immediately thereafter in the liturgy:

O God, who didst vouchsafe that thy Word should be made flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary at the message of an angel, grant to us thy humble servants, that we, believing her to be indeed the Mother of God, may by her intercession find favor in thy sight, through the same Jesus Christ thy son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end, Amen.

I will admit that it is difficult to separate my criticisms of style of this collect from my criticisms of substance, not to mention of logic. Even if one believed in the intercession of the BVM, isn't there something a little odd about asking God to let us find favor in his sight "through her intercession"? I mean, if you believed in prayers to the Virgin, wouldn't it make more sense to speak either to God directly or to the Virgin to request her intercession? The oddity of this prayer (as of virtually all such invocations of the saints in the Missal) lies in its curiously roundabout nature. It's rather as if one is saying to God, "Would you please ask the Virgin to ask you that I might find favor in your sight?"

Then there's that loong, drawn-out ending. Many of the original Prayer Book collects go straight to the "Amen." The one for this week has a little more to it, but is still restrained. But in the weirdly standardized mind of a Missal writer, we can never go straight to "Amen," much less vary our collect endings. All the added Missal collects have the entire spiel, "through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth," etc., etc. There's nothing doctrinally wrong with it. It just gets tedious to tack it on to every single collect, and it shows a tin ear. Some collects should end in a more flowery fashion, some in a less flowery, depending on the sound of the rest of the collect. To make matters stranger, I see in my copy of the Missal that it is suggested that this exceedingly long ending be added to the Cranmerian collect, as well. To my mind, that sort of Procrustean treatment would be nothing less than liturgical vandalism. (But it's all of a piece: If the weekly Gospel is read strictly according to the Missal, every single Gospel reading must be introduced with the phrase "at that time," no matter how strange it sounds with what immediately follows and regardless of the fact that most of the passages don't actually begin that way in Scripture. Every single epistle reading has "Brethren" tacked on to the beginning in the same mindless and pointless fashion.)

I call these sorts of additions "neo-Gothic," whereas the Cranmerian liturgy is undeniably Tudor. And the result is the sort of architectural mix-up you would get if you built a neo-Gothic wing onto a Tudor building. Sometimes the feeling of strangeness arises from sheer aesthetic blindness on the part of the Missal authors. Sometimes it arises from attempting to reintroduce doctrines that were rejected by the Tudor Anglicans and to juxtapose those additiions with the more austere Protestantism of the original Prayer Book. Sometimes it arises from an oddly pointed and pushy insistence on doctrine. The Cranmerian collect for Advent Sunday is "merely Christian." The Missal collect is making sure we work in the intercession of the saints and, indeed, asks blessings only for those who believe such-and-such, in such-and-such terms, about the Virgin Mary. There is none of that feeling of inevitability, none of the flow of phrasing, that one finds in the Cranmer collect. And I venture to say (though here I may be wrong) that even a person who invokes the prayers of the Virgin himself would not have the sense almost of relief in participation which should be called forth by a well-written collect, the sense of gratitude to the fellow who wrote it for having said it for you. The Missal collect is programatic, choppy, unpredictable, and uninspiring.

Now, it's only fair for me to admit that the Cranmerian liturgy was itself an innovation, and a fairly massive one. Cranmer partly translated, partly cut and pasted, partly rewrote, and partly added to the Gregorian liturgy, and he did it for partisan Protestant purposes. It would be foolish to deny these historical facts. But Cranmer was a liturgical genius. The makers of the Oxfordish Anglican Missal most definitely aren't. The result of their efforts reminds me of what Dr. Johnson said of the metaphysical poets: "Heterogenous elements by violence yoked together."

Perhaps any liturgy that has stood the test of time should have a little note at the front in fine print: "This liturgy was written by a certified liturgical genius. Do not try this at home."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What's (just one thing) wrong with Ron Paul, and several things wrong with George Ajjan

I used to be a big fan of Ron Paul. I was really pleased when I heard he was running in the primary and at first was considering voting for him. But really, I didn't know all that much about him. My attitude changed abruptly when I saw the now-infamous clip of Paul debating with Giuliani (for whom I hold no brief whatsoever) about the cause of 9/11. I kept listening through the whole clip, hoping Paul would clarify or something, that he really wasn't that confused, but it just kept getting worse. Well, that was it. Paul made it clear that he was one of those "blame America" paleolibertarians and that he doesn't recognize the Islamist threat, that he thinks non-interventionism can solve all our problems. It's a position with which I've been becoming increasingly familiar over the past year, so I recognized it right away in that clip.

Now, Paul didn't say anything there specifically about domestic policy concerning, say, Muslim immigration, "profiling," and the like. So someone really pulling for him might try to say that he'd be strong on those domestic issues and only objects to foreign intervention.

To that argument, I present this open letter to "Arab Americans" by George Ajjan in support of Ron Paul.

Ajjan is...terribly confused. (There, that was tactful, wasn't it?) He obviously thinks that getting (gasp!) profiled because of his last name is a much bigger thing to worry about than getting blown up on a plane by one of his fellow "Arab Americans." He also is just absolutely dying to bring Arab Christians and Arab Muslims together in a common cause against such evils--profiling, that is, not blowing people up. He has strangely little to say about that. He speaks without irony of "the Prophet Mohammed," and I swear by that point in the letter I nearly expected him to add "peace be upon him" in parentheses afterwards. Read it and see for yourself. It's very ironic that Ajjan begins the letter by making fun of Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch, though not by name, for using the term 'Islamo-Christian' and then proceeds to illustrate exactly what Fitzgerald means by that word. This whole "we Arabs are all in this together" stuff is really pretty disgusting, at least to a conservative.

I will pass by with arduous self-restraint and relatively little comment Ajjan's fantasy that the Israelis could have peace tomorrow if only they could get rid of their "militant elements" (which ones were those?) and make use of the principle of (drumroll) land for peace. Gosh! What a bodacious, new-fangled concept! Why didn't anybody ever think of that before, or try it? Unless, of course, Ajjan means by "land" what evidently the Palestinian Authority (those were the "moderate" Palestinians, in case you get confused) mean by "land"--i.e., all of the land between the Jordan River and the Sea. I suppose once that is turned over to the Arabs and made judenrein we might have peace...of a sort.

But I digress. What does all of this have to do with Ron Paul? Well, let's just start with the fact that Ron Paul was the only Republican candidate to court the Hezbollah-loving Arab American Institute at their conference in Dearbornistan. Here's a good Front Page Mag. article on it, for the link to which I am indebted to Mr. Ajjan! That's pretty significant in itself. Here's one bit of fluff, quoted by Ajjan, from Paul's speech:

The freedom message brings all of us together, whatever our religion is, or whatever our beliefs are, and wherever we came from, because freedom is not judgmental. It allows people to make their own choices as long as they don't use force to impose their will on us. So this brings people together, and this is what has been happening in this campaign. People from all walks of life are coming together.

Straightforward libertarian ideology, you may say, but libertarian ideology that takes on a peculiarly foolish, not to say dangerously stupid, ring when addressed to this particular audience! Then there's this little bit of challenging naivete:

For us to be so fearful and so intimidated from a country, whether it's Iraq or Iran, that they might attack us? How are they going to attack us, even if they had a nuclear weapon? How or why would they attack us?

One wonders what Paul would say to Iran's recent announcement that Iran has missiles that can go as far as Israel. I have a terrible feeling that I know what he would say: "It's none of our business."

And finally, there is this sentence, which is obviously part of Ajjan's reason for thinking Paul would protect people with his name against the horrors of profiling:

But we should NEVER have punishments because we belong to a particular group either.

What all of this says to me is that I was spot-on right about the implication of Ron Paul's words in that debate. And that, I might add, was before he started having such very unsavory followers in the form of neo-Nazis and such. My judgement there was a straightforward one about his judgement on matters of policy--that it is poor. Ron Paul, like so many paleos--whether -conservative or -libertarian--really doesn't believe that Muslims are any more dangerous than anybody else or that we need to have any special policy, either foreign or domestic, to take into account that threat. On the contrary, he is courting a group whose entire approach to Islamic terrorism is, as Robert Spencer points out in the article linked above, to start running about worrying that maybe somebody will be "profiled" and to act as though the enemy, and the center of all their anger and worry, should be their fellow Americans who are making obvious inductive connections rather than their fellow Arabs who are blowing people up and giving them a bad rep. In other words, Ron Paul is clueless on this subject.

And that's just one thing that is wrong with Ron Paul.