- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Calvinist founders

“If in religion [Princeton University President John] Witherspoon was an orthodox Calvinist, in epistemology and metaphysics he was a realist. … One of the early beneficiaries of this union of religious seriousness with common-sense realism was James Madison. Madison went to Princeton from his home in Virginia in 1769 when he was [18]. … He graduated after two years but stayed in Princeton for another six months to study elementary Hebrew and theology with Witherspoon. …

“The two great formative influences on Madison’s outlook were his own Calvinist beliefs and Witherspoon’s tutelage. … The influence was evident everywhere, from Madison’s rhetorical style to the substance of his political thought. Famously taciturn, Madison took to heart (or perhaps it was just a matter of reinforcing his own temperament) this Witherspoonian injunction: ‘Ne’er do ye speak unless ye ha’ something to say, and when ye are done, be sure and leave off.’ …

“Witherspoon believed that religion was ‘absolutely essential to the existence and welfare of every political combination of men in society.’ Madison agreed.”

— Roger Kimball, writing on “The forgotten founder: John Witherspoon,” in the June issue of the New Criterion

Blogged out

“There are many observers of the New Media who believe that blogs or other on-line communities will one day replace the mainstream media as the best way to transmit news and information to the American public. …

“Frankly, I don’t buy it. And judging by the burgeoning controversy surrounding Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, the biggest liberal blogger on the planet, we may in fact be witnessing something of an earthquake that will alter the blogging landscape, changing the public’s perception of these on-line journals from fiercely partisan, independent voices to little more than pale echoes of the political parties they support. …

“Gone are the days when many of us simply blogged for the sake of writing and sharing information. And while there are still thousands of bloggers who enjoy blogging for its own sake, for many of us, it has become a competitive enterprise, a stepping stone to bigger and better things.”

— Rick Moran, writing on “The New Media is Starting to Look Old,” Friday in the American Thinker at www.americanthinker.com

Not alone

“Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s tribe in Jordan, the Al-Khalayleh, claimed last November that they had disowned the man who had sown havoc in Iraq. They made that public declaration in the aftermath of his attack on three Amman hotels. … But blood has its claims, and in truth Zarqawi had been, and remained, a man of high standing in Jordan and in other Arab lands. After his death, the regime in Amman may have announced that his corpse would not ‘stain Jordan’s soil,’ but his clan held a ‘martyr’s wedding’ for him, and four members of Jordan’s Parliament turned up at that funeral ceremony. …

“The four parliamentarians were rounded up by Jordanian security forces and hauled off to prison. But the matter of Zarqawi cannot be written off as the ‘embarrassing’ scandal of a prison bully and enforcer given to macabre videotapes and grim beheadings. For in the way he lived and died, Zarqawi illuminated much of the Arab reality from which he hailed. The bigotry of Zarqawi was not his alone. …

“The extremist is never alone; the terrorist on the fringe of political life always works with the winks and nods of the society that gives him cover.”

— Fouad Ajami, writing on “The Extremist Is Never Alone,” Sunday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

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