There is an ancient joke about four Jews sitting in a café, discussing the situation. The first three go through various “oy vey”s. Then the fourth (it could have been yours truly) announces that he’s an optimist. The others ask why, if he is an optimist, he looks so worried. He answers: “do you think it’s easy being an optimist?”
Today it’s not being made particularly easy by two depressing op-ed pieces:
- Former Jerusalem Post editor (before that, Brussels correspondent of the Wall Street Journal) Bret Stephens wonders whether our civilization has become incompetent. Moneygrafs: “a civilization becomes incompetent not only when it fails to learn the lessons of its past, but also when it becomes crippled by them.[…]Our deeper incompetence stems from an inability to recognize the proper limits to our own virtues; to forget, as Aristotle cautioned, that even good things “bring harm to many people; for before now men have been undone by reason of their wealth, and others by reason of their courage.[…] We can be proud of how deeply we mourn the losses of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. But a nation that mourns too deeply ultimately becomes incapable of conducting a war of any description, whether for honor, interest or survival. We rightly care about the environment. But our neurotic obsession with carbon betrays an inability to distinguish between pollution and the stuff of life itself. We are a country of standards and laws. Yet we are moving perilously in the direction of abolishing notions of discretion and judgment. […]One of life’s paradoxes is that we are as often undone by our virtues as by our vices. And so it is with civilizations, ours not least.“
- Correspondence Committee contributors “JCM” and “Realwest” wrote an exclusive piece of analysis on 0bama’s Afghanistan strategy (such as it is) that also reviews the history of the Afghan conflict. It is a long but very worthwhile, if depressing, read.
In other news:
- Hope and changeDupe and chains! University of Illinois furloughs faculty and staff.
- Transparency! C-SPAN begs to be let in to televise the healthcare bill negotiations, to no avail.
- Michael Yon, former special forces military man turned independent journalist, arrested and harassed at SEA-TAC airport. “Pi guy” at C2, only half-jokingly, suggests that there may be a business opportunity in people selling Korans and Muslim gear at the entrances of airports so people can buy them to get speedier and more polite treatment by the TSA.
- David Brooks (yeah, I know): “The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year. . . . A year ago, the Obama supporters were the passionate ones. Now the tea party brigades have all the intensity.” Gee, no idea why people are getting fed up with the New Class feathering its own bed?
- Insty rightly asks why the same people that are throwing hissy-fits over “racist stereotypes in images” aren’t checking out the cover of Vanity Fair.
- Youth unemployment reaches post-Great Depression high
- And Glenn Reynolds, generally at pains to stay out of blogwars unless they’re clearly for laughs, wrily comments on “The four horsemen of the blogapolypse” (of which he is the last man standing)
- China dismisses UN Security Council debate on Iran sanctions (H/t: Origin of Specious)
- 3wood on how the mortgage relief program did more harm than good
- More updates possibly to follow.