AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 8/08/2003 02:05:00 AM ----- BODY:
NOTICE TO ALL VISITORS! PLEASE GO TO THE NEW HOME OF MY BLOG! Thanks for stopping by, and please set your links if you reached this URL. Eric -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 8/01/2003 11:16:00 AM ----- BODY:
Curtains for gay rights? Why would the number of Americans who favor legalized homosexual relations drop precipitously since the Lawrence v. Texas decision? This Gallup poll (link via Nick Gillespie thanks to Instapundit) shows that they did -- and the change is in the double digits. According to the poll,
the level of support for legal homosexual relations has dropped 10-12 points in a period of just two months.
Forget logic, and forget facts. Americans simply do not like being told from above what to think, and what laws they may not have. While getting rid of sodomy laws was certainly the right thing to do, there is nonetheless something undignified about the Supreme Court simply issuing decrees as an end run around popular prejudices -- regardless of how indefensible those prejudices are. This apparent fickleness, in my view, reveals an indelible feature of the American character -- a contrarian spirit which can be both damnable and laudable. A leading Israeli intellectual recently stated that most Israelis have a Mezuzah attached to their door frames, but that if the government were to order them to display a Mezuzah, about half of them would run outside and yank them off. Regardless of correctness of the ultimate result in the Lawrence case, a significant percentage of Americans feel stepped on. Obviously, many of them were harangued into feeling that way by the usual demagogues, but that does not alter the fact that a victory ordered from above is not at all the same as one based on clear victory through the individual state legislative process. If we analogize to private disputes, a mutual agreement is always preferable to an official edict. It is better to talk to your neighbor about a problem than call the police. The higher the authority figure issuing the edict, the more it smacks of tyranny and builds resentment. To use the schoolyard analogy, a disagreement worked out between two kids results in a better peace than when one kid has to go to the teacher or the principal to get his way. Homosexuals tend to be hated anyway, and too many of them feel guilt and shame, which makes the haters feel justified in hating them. This will not disappear simply because the Supreme Court Court declares state sodomy laws null and void. On the contrary it will only increase -- and cause homosexuals to look to Big Brother for protection. I don't want to look to Big Brother! I want to take care of my own business. That is the most dignified way, and it is the American way. I am glad the medieval sodomy laws are gone, but I would rather have had it done it state by state. This is not said so much in defense of states' rights, so much as the right to true independence -- one of the hallmarks of which is freedom from fear. If one has to call the police, or invoke government help, one cannot be said to be self-sufficient and thus independent. Years ago, I was appalled to see supposed "gay activists" cowering on national television at what should have been a pivotal point in their "campaign" for the right to serve in the military. Bill Clinton had shocked many Americans early in his first term by attempting to accomplish this by executive fiat. All hell broke loose, and the usual series of hearings were held. At one such hearing, Senator Strom Thurmond (as bitter a foe as the homos ever had), leaned forward angrily, pointed to a gay "leader" and asked nastily, "ARE YOU A HOMOSEXUAL?" Well, what do you suppose happened? An immediate touchy-feely "huddle" event occurred, and the man exchanged poignant, feel-my-pain, glances with the "lesbian activist" seated next to him, and -- THEY NEVER ANSWERED STROM THURMOND! I will never forget and I will never forgive such rank cowardice. These people are not my "leaders." They are made-up, fraudulent media sycophants, hiding their sexuality in rainbow-hued closets of politically correct ambiguity. Even those who don't like my hyperbole should ask themselves whether or not cringing before a 90 year old man like a deer caught in the headlights constitutes leadership. I don't believe it does. Yet what was being asked of Thurmond (himself a highly decorated combat veteran of the D-Day landing) was the right to serve in the military. You know, a thing called combat? Might a similar principle be involved with those who would rather have Big Brother in the form of the Supreme Court issue a decree than face down the occasional petty bigot in a state legislative committee? I submit that if you are afraid to walk into the guy's office and tell him how you feel about the law, you have no dignity. (Even if you are right.) What, you might ask, would I have said to Senator Thurmond in response to his simple but admittedly personal question? Well, by way of suggestion, here's an example:
"Well Senator, you have asked me a personal question, but since you consider it relevant, my answer is YES, I am a ho-mo-sex-u-al! But since we're onto personal questions, I have one for you: How does a 90 year old manage to get a 20-year-old wife and have children? What's your secret? Boy! I wish I could do that!"
Something like that might have broken the ice with the old coot. Might not have melted his cold, cold heart, but it's just more human than hiding behind quasi-presidential skirts, aloof judicial robes, or some other man-behind-the-curtain power. Hell, even the Wizard of Oz, penultimate Man Behind the Curtain, saw the wisdom in having Dorothy first prove her mettle. Ditto for Dorothy's followers -- whether feline, metal, or straw. And even after all that they still had to get heavy and yank away the curtain. Con artist that he was, the Wizard knew something that is being forgotten: Human dignity cannot be simply granted or bestowed from above. The American people seem to understand this principle, and I think this latest bit of Gallup Poll insolence poll proves it. -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/31/2003 04:31:00 PM ----- BODY:
Dead issues? Catching up with current (and not so current) events, I learned to my dismay that Idi Amin is not dead. (Story courtesy of Instapundit.) This means my earlier obituary is in need of revision. While I am at it, I should also note that my numbers were off: while Idi Amin brought misery to millions, the actual total of his murder victims was only in the hundreds of thousands. What had interested me more than the numbers of murders, though, was precisely why our Saudi allies find this dreadful man so utterly endearing. I mean, killing hundreds of thousands – why, that shouldn’t rank him all that high, unless you consider the percentage of Ugandans the hundreds of thousands represent. I still think it had to be Dora Bloch. By choking an elderly Jewish grandmother to death with his bare hands, Idi Amin showed the Saudis he was their kind of guy. That inspires loyalty, especially from the sanctimonious Mutawein – who believe there’s a religious duty to strangle Jewish grandmothers. What kind of "allies" do we have, anyway? I mean, this is almost as bad as Syria sponsoring another lovely human specimen, Eichmann's right hand man Alois Brunner. I guess it's just politics. But sometimes, I wish I didn't have to hear the moral lectures. It's tough for me to take moral posturing seriously when I keep running into such double standards. It is especially tough to be accused of "moral relativism" by those who elevate such manipulation to an art form. But I should cheer up! Instapundit linked directly to the quote for today:
"Government bureaucracies are tough on artists."
It is not a good idea to be too tough on artists, though. (Just look at what can happen when artists get tough.) Artists! Can't live with 'em; can't live without 'em! -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/31/2003 04:30:00 PM ----- BODY:
Classical vocals from the Midwest and beyond Late on Tuesday night, I blogged about my favorite song, "Every Day of the Week" by The Students. I was not kidding about it being my favorite; it just so happens that I keep a RealAudio version of the song in my laptop, and this morning, just to see whether it could be done remotely from a laptop, I decided to feed it up into my new blogsite for you. After a little tinkering, I got it to work. So that it won't clutter up anyone's bandwidth by downloading, I set it up to stream as a RAM file. All you need to do to hear it in RealAudio is click HERE! Classical Doowop at its finest. I find the vocals genuinely haunting, and this genre always reminds me of choir music I heard when I worked in the Congo in 1971, but that's another, longer story. -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/31/2003 01:31:00 AM ----- BODY:
Ancient and modern values Here's a view of the Iowa State Capitol with my favorite gas station in front.
-------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/31/2003 01:29:00 AM ----- BODY:
Two scoops! Thucydides. Now there's a mouthful! As usual, one of my linkers is doing a better job of citing the classics than I. In this case, Tim Sandefur is is at it again -- first pleading guilty to the crime of pretentiousness for blogging about the ancients:
a charge of which I’m awfully guilty. Anyone who refers to Aristotle, Thrasymachus, Thucydides, Locke, Hobbes, Holmes’ Lochner dissent, and the sarcastic wit of Homer J. Simpson in a single week—in a single post, even!—is certainly pretentious.
NOTE: these blogspot links are problematic; so you might have to scroll down. Reviewing Donald Kagan's new book on the Peloponnesian War, Sandefur notes with approval the author's skepticism of Thucydides' portrayal of the war, because
there are two views of the war, which have caused it to become something of a trophy in the ideological contests of the twentieth century. The Spartans claimed that they were freeing the Greek cities from the yoke of Athenian hegemony, and that the Athenians were creating an empire which was forcing its views on the people of Greece. The Athenians, of course, didn’t see it that way at all—they were out to help democracies, and to protect them against the growing influence of oligarchy, as supported by Sparta. Historians, however, have routinely taken the Spartan view of things, seeing Athens as the aggressor in the war, and more or less rooting for the Spartans. This parallels the twentieth century’s conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States, of course, in which the Soviets claimed to be pushing back American hegemony by arming the communist troops of various third-world countries. Americans, they said, were out there imposing democracy and capitalism on people. Americans, on the other hand, believed (and wouldn’t it be nice if they still believed?) that democracy and capitalism—that is to say, freedom—was the entitlement of all humanity, and that it is oppression, not liberty, that is imposed. But, of course, much of the academy takes the Soviet view of things, seeing America as the aggressor in the cold war, and more or less rooting for the Soviets.
Absolutely right, and you'd better read the whole thing yourself, as I am on the road in Des Moines Iowa, and without time to do justice to the whole Sandefur piece. One thing is certain: Thucydides is often relied on by antiwar activists, as if he is the only ancient worthy of attention, which itself is suspicious. I was recently disgusted to watch a performance of "Trojan Women" updated for "today" -- the Greek soldiers wearing American uniforms, and King Agamemnon wearing a suit and a hard hat -- the spitting image of Dubya. Years ago, when reading a prepared speech late after a very long day, the first President Bush stopped cold at the name "Thucydides," and all he could do was stammer "THU-THU-THU-THU" (The speechwriter was in BIG trouble!) That's about the way I feel. Long day today! Tomorrow is THU- THU- THU- READ THE WHOLE SANDEFUR PIECE ALL THE WAY THU, OK? But what I had not expected was Tim Sandefur's difficulty in, er, swallowing my KASS ICE CREAM quote. It is absolutely genuine, and I hand-copied it myself. If you don't like it, I suggest taking it up with the guy who hates cones as much as he hates clones. By the way, the famous Sandefur-Baude debate (which Baude has lost miserably) prominently featured ice cream as a central example. That's my dish for tonight! -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/29/2003 01:48:00 PM ----- BODY:
ALL ROADS LEAD TO HOME (and the new home of this blog.....) I seem to be on the road right now, and I will attempt to log in and post when and where and if I can. If you have come to you are at the right place, as I am 98% finished with the move and redesign. (I guess I need to announce it at the blogspot site.) Eric BLOG IS BEING MOVED TO -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/29/2003 01:46:00 PM ----- BODY:
Yawn..... "Justin Case" is the pseudonym of my paranoid research assistant who lives thousands of miles away but is still freaked out by this blog. Anyway, Justin is hopping mad about what he considers my sloppy reporting of "the Leon Kass ice cream quote." He thinks the quote needs expansion. Great! More musings about ice cream from the guy who wants to stop cloning. How do I get talked into this stuff anyway? As I said earlier, it's a real drag when I make a mistake and to have to go through this kind of crap again, but here is the original ice cream quote, which I found on the Internet, and used in what I thought was its entirety:
Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone... This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if WE feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior."
Nothing wrong there; it's just that there's much more in between the little dot dot dots. Here's the whole quote:
Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone --a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive. I fear I may by this remark lose the sympathy of many reader, people who will condescendingly regard as quaint or even priggish the view that eating in the street is for dogs. Modern America's rising tide of informality has already washed out many long-standing traditions -- their reasons long before forgotten -- that served well to regulate the boundary between public and private; and in many quarters complete shamelessness is treated as proof of genuine liberation from the allegedly arbitrary constraints of manners. To cite one small example: yawning with uncovered mouth. Not just the uneducated rustic but children of the cultural elite are now regularly seen yawning openly in public (not so much brazenly or forgetfully as indifferently and "naturally"), unaware that it is an embarrassment to human self-command to be caught in the grip of involuntary bodily movements (like sneezing, belching, and hiccuping and even the involuntary bodily display of embarrassment itself, blushing). But eating on the street -- even when undertaken, say, because one is between appointments and has no other time to eat -- displays in fact precisely such lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly. Hunger must be sated now; it cannot wait. Though the walking street eater still moves in the direction of his vision, he shows himself as a being led by his appetites. Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. Eating on the run does not even allow the human way of enjoying one's food, for it is more like simple fueling; it is hard to savor or even to know what one is eating when the main point is to hurriedly fill the belly, now running on empty. This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if WE feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior." Kass, Leon: The Hungry Soul at 148-149. (University of Chicago Press, 1994, 1999)
Are you hungry? Is your stomach growling? I am running late and I have to leave right now!! Just about ready to start a big road trip. I'm hungry too! Forgive me! I have a lot to be ashamed about, and I have barely started. (The irony here is that I am a polite person, and I really don't think I needed Dr. Kass's lecture, which in my view fully justifies Howard Stern antics.) -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/28/2003 09:48:00 AM ----- BODY:
Hard drive to where? Here's some very valuable information about hard drive forensics. (link thanks to AgendaBender.) Reading about hard drive detectives (hard what?) made me think of a subject I am not supposed to talk about ever -- Vincent Foster! Uh oh! There I went again! Well, OK, the man is dead and buried, and we might as well just do as we're told and forget about him. So, I'll keep my pledge, and I WON'T talk about Vincent Foster. But what about his hard drive? The story of the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't Foster hard drive is to my mind, even more bizarre than the death of the drive's owner. First, we were told (and this is reflected in the Fiske Report), that the hard drive was somehow "destroyed" but "accidentally." I have always wanted to know how to accidentally destroy a hard drive, especially when you first have to accidentally locate it inside the supposedly "secured" office of the recently shot White House Counsel, then "accidentally" remove it from the computer. Well, if Foster committed suicide, couldn't his hard drive have also gotten depressed, and decided to splatter its electronic brains all over the place? Anyway, I assumed quite naturally that the spooks had gotten to it, and "sanitized" the thing. Considering what had happened to its owner, they probably figured who's going to ask too many demanding questions about hard drives? Well, it was subpoenaed, but it wasn't "there." Except then the next thing you know -- towards the end of the Clinton administration -- we were told that it wasn't destroyed at all, but it had been sitting in someone's desk for years. Then there was an election. Since then, silence. Case closed? Does that mean the hard drive committed suicide too? The last news we heard about the hard drive was this -- a summary of the last WorldNetDaily report:
Former Special Counsel Robert Fiske never seized nor even tried to seize Vincent Foster's computer as evidence after the deputy White House counsel died unexpectedly in 1993, WorldNet Daily has learned. As a result, Foster's hard drive became a hot potato inside the White House, bouncing from one official's hands to another's -- breaking the chain of custody over and over, before finally, last week, ending up where it has belonged all along -- in the hands of investigators, according to former White House officials who are finally talking publicly about what they know about the Foster case . . . Ray has yet to rule on Whitewater and the alleged obstruction part of the Foster case. He will give a summary of his findings on the first couple's shady Ozark investment and the Foster aspect "within the next couple of weeks," said Keith Ausbrook, a senior counsel in Ray's office here. He said the investigation at this point is "still open." . . . One of the computer files reveals that Foster and his wife planned to go out the same night he was found dead in Fort Marcy Park, according to a White House whistleblower who has read the file and recently turned over evidence to Ray under subpoena. The former computer specialist is scheduled to testify about Foster before a federal grand jury on Thursday . . .
Yow! This is like that disappearing Black Bird in "The Maltese Falcon." Someone please bring in Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet so we can find it. Conspiracy theories, of course, abound. One holds that the secret has something to do with top-secret computer shenanigans involving the Clipper Chip and the NSA. It is tough to make data disappear -- accidentally or deliberately. I can find no news whatsoever about that hard drive since 2000. Are they just hoping this story will go away if no one talks about it? Well, I might shut up about Vincent Foster, because as I said before I want to get invited to the right parties and all, and no one likes "conspiracy theorists." But I wanna know what's on that hard drive! My tax dollars paid for it, and they've insulted my intelligence with these lies over the years. Sheesh! Even Boris Badenov could have done a better job! -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/27/2003 09:31:00 PM ----- BODY:
Steer straight I really wish I didn't have to read stuff like this, but there it was, staring me in the face. (Link thanks to Perverse Access Memory, via Invisible Adjunct, via Photon Courier -- and all thanks to Instapundit.) Wow! That was a lot of epistemology to accessorize. (Such concepts give me the screaming memes! Go find a meme and kill it now!) But really, stuff like the above article always makes me remember why I started this blog: to oppose medieval efforts to instill guilt and shame where it does not belong. Look at this crap:
the leaders of the Texas GOP are no ordinary conservatives, or even ordinary social conservatives for that matter. They are theocrats, devoted to the idea that there is no proper distinction between God's law and civil law. They have become an embarrassment to the national Republican Party. It's the Texas delegation, you may remember, that had its members bow their heads in prayerful protest while openly gay Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., was permitted to speak -- on the issue of free trade -- at the 2000 Republican National Convention. But the best evidence of Texas GOP leaders' devotion to theocracy is their 22-page party platform, which is less a political document than a fundamentalist encyclical. It declares the United States "a Christian nation" founded "on the Holy Bible."
And that's jest a sample. If you're alreddy lickin' yer chops, read the whole thang! I don't mean to make fun of Texas, but hey, I saw Full Metal Jacket! That drill sergeant said that "Only steers and queers come from Texas." (You can even stream the audio if you want proof.) -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/27/2003 08:30:00 PM ----- BODY:
The Emperor has no spark! This will be an experiment, so just let me indulge myself with something having nothing to do with Classical Values.... My car has been occasionally running a little funny, and the "check engine" light has been going on intermittently. My mechanic couldn't figure out what it was; said it could be "a hundred things." Typical. Have you ever felt that doing something would be a complete waste of time, but you did it anyway? The only thing you can really do with modern cars is change the spark plugs and real basic stuff like that, and I thought, "Come on, you know the spark plugs won't affect a damn thing; they're only a year and a half old anyway!" But I thought, what the hell. So I pulled all six, and found this one -- so encrusted with deposits as to be shorting out! Here it is, in the arms of the evil Emperor!
I hope you can see the encrustation. It's so covered as to be literally shorted out. No gap! Empires fail because of little things like that. And no, I am not looking for a Latin phrase. Not right now! (I am not "stalling" either.) -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/27/2003 01:21:00 PM ----- BODY:
Do words of war come with rules?
War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means." Clausewitz
I sure hope I got that one right! I have to watch out with these quotes, because some of my readers are better scholars than I am, and, much as I love accuracy, whenever I am wrong it makes for more work. (So Clausewitz had better not have appropriated the above observation from Sun Tzu or somebody or I'll be in more trouble!) John Jenkins is quite an authority on the famous Roman motto, "Si vis pacem para bellum." ("If you seek peace, prepare for war.") I attributed the quote to Cicero (who doubtless used it , as would have almost every Roman in a position of authority at one time or another), and I supplied a URL for it. Mr. Jenkins immediately took notice, and emailed me as follows:
I believe the quote which you attributed to Cicero was actually by the general Vegetius,( It is originally, Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum--"Therefore, he who desires peace, let him prepare for war" I spent last year digging around about this when I was taking Latin and couldn't find anything about Cicero having said this. That's not to say he didn't, of course, just that I couldn't find it.
Naturally, this caused me to scurry around. The following was my reply:
I researched the hell out of this last night, and you are right; the motto did originate with Vegetius. But there are additional problems in that the original quote was paraphrased by later Romans. This creates confusion, and the situation is further compounded by the adoption of the paraphrased quotation as the official motto of the Roman legions. Original text: Qui desiderat pacem, preparet bellum. "Who desires peace should prepare for war." Vegetius De Rei Militari III Sometimes the original and the paraphrased quote appear interchangeably: In time of peace prepare for war, [Lat., Si vis pacem, para bellum.] - Epitoma Rei Militaris (lib. III, end of prologue), Qui desiderat pacem, preparet bellum (Vegetius De Rei Militari III) "Over 1600 years ago Vegetius wrote 'Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum,' a maxim often paraphrased as 'Si vis pacem, para bellum.' " Worse yet, the paraphrased version is often credited not only to Cicero, but to Appius Claudius the Blind: "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" Appius Claudius the Blind, 281 BC This would make a fun posting; do you mind if I use your name or do you want to remain private?
If this isn't getting complicated enough, consider something that very few people in modern America ever think about: the prohibition on "Igitur"!
Feel free to use my name. It gets better though: Igitur is supposed to be a postpositive conjunction that can't appear at the beginning of a sentence, but it does here. My Latin professor has suggested to me that this is because Vegetius was a late Roman author and perhaps the prohibition on igitur was no longer recognized or considered important. I don't know. I do know that the 1885 Lang edition of Epitoma Rei Militaris, reprinted in 1967 uses the igitur version. I can't find any other versions to compare it with though.... I'm not sure if *Epitoma Rei Militaris* and *De Rei Militari* are alternate titles for the same work or not. If you want something even more funny, Wheelock uses the shorter version (si vis pacem...) and cites it as original Latin (the asterisk indicates the original, not paraphrased as I mistakenly noted yesterday), not paraphrased from something called "Military Prologue 3". If I find out that *Epitoma Rei Militaris* and *De Rei Militari* are the same or different, I'll let you know. There's a copy of Epitoma available at the OU library, so I'm going to go look at it and see which version it uses.
Whew! At the rate this is going, I'll be a full time researcher instead of the crazed blogger I wanted to be. Any research volunteers? When a quote becomes famous enough to gain wide circulation, it can easily be misattributed, and of course, it gets worse when the quote is paraphrased. Even the phrase, "the best defense is a good offense" expresses the same sentiment as "si vis pacem para bellum." So, to make things easier, I am going to use the paraphrased version, and I think I'll just call it the Roman Legion motto. But wait! The Imperialist Dog has also raised another very important issue: the curtailment of free speech under the guise of new political campaign laws.
You have to read this website for about five minuted to know that I'm not a Howard Dean fan. By extension, you might also conclude that I don't often agree with professor Lawrence Lessig at Stanford. But this horseshit is just plain wrong. Because Dean was allowed to guest-blog on Lessig's website, Stanford is asking him to take the site off of the Standord servers, "given FEC regulations." The only thing that I can come up with is that maybe they see this as an in-kind campaign contribution, but it's patent to any observer that's not what it's about. This is clearly a limit on constitutionally protected speech that shouldn't be allowed to go unchallenged. Dean has a right to speak in any public forum, even one on the internet, and its clear that the web servers of a university are a public forum. This is not something that an institution of higher learning should be engaging in. Consider this list list of Standord student organizations, many with websites on the Stanford servers. I should think that some of them have and enunciate political views that, if you were to read the statutes broadly enough, could be considered in-kind contributions. This sort of silliness is not the sort of thing that institutions of higher learning should be engaging in. I still remember the marketplace of ideas, but apparently Stanford has forgotten it.
He's right of course. This issue has nothing to do with Howard Dean, but the sinister over-reaching of Big Brother -- this time taking the form of "FEC regulations." Every blogger should take notice of this deeply disturbing development. If you don't think that big government, Bigger-Than-Ever-Consolidated-Big Media, and the regulatory thugs who work for both wouldn't love to either wipe out blogging completely, or at least emasculate bloggers so that they are unable to reach out and touch certain institutions or political developments, think again. In Europe, so called "fair comment" regulations are already in the works, and if you don't think it could happen here, consider again the FCC's ominous reclassification of cable and phone based broadband providers as information rather than telecommunications services:
The Internet might soon be the last place where open dialogue occurs. One of the most dangerous things that has happened in the past few years is the deregulation of media ownership rules that began in 1996. Michael Powell and the Bush FCC are continuing that assault today (see the June 2nd ruling). The danger of relaxing media ownership rules became clear to me when I saw what happened with the Dixie Chicks. But there’s an even bigger danger in the future, on the Internet. The FCC recently ruled that cable and phone based broadband providers be classified as information rather than telecommunications services. This is the first step in a process that could allow Internet providers to arbitrarily limit the content that users can access. The phone and cable industries could have the power to discriminate against content that they don’t control or-- even worse-- simply don’t like. The media conglomerates now dominate almost half of the markets around the country, meaning Americans get less independent and frequently less dependable news, views and information. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson spoke of the fear that economic power would one day try to seize political power. No consolidated economic power has more opportunity to do this than the consolidated power of media.
Whoa there! I just cited Howard Dean! Hell, I would cite Pat Buchanan for the same principle. What say ye, bloggers? Do you think the bastards are already trying to snuff out our newly born presidential campaign in its crib? I can't resist closing with another ancient slogan:
Silent enim leges inter arma. [Laws are silent in times of war.] Cicero, Pro Milone
Cool! Now I think I'll paraphrase it:
FEC, FCC, this is war! So blow it out your ass!
-------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/26/2003 11:32:00 PM ----- BODY:
Best Blogs! It is mind-boggling how many great blogs there are out there. I can't keep track of them. I have been blogging now daily for two months, and I run into new blogs all the time. Whenever I see one which grabs and holds my attention, and makes me want to return for more, I tend to link to it immediately. Sometimes I tell them how much I like their blogs, but once I link to a blog, I try to visit that blog every day if I possibly can. The following blogs have been nice enough to link to me, and I cannot tell you how honored that makes me feel, because I am new and I am trying hard, but I just can't hold a candle to most of these bloggers. As far as I am concerned, they are the best of the best, not only because I like their blogs, but because apparently they see something they like in mine! I have done reviews of my new links before and I'll do it again, but if you are here and reading this, by all means check each one of these blogs -- and link to them. That is what blogging is all about. Now, I can't possibly rank my links, and if anyone can figure out whether there is any order in my link list over there on the left, please tell me what it is, because I have no hierarchy or structure of which I am aware. The list here is taken in the order that I found them at technorati, and if I had to list them in the order I liked them or agreed with them or how I thought others ranked them, I would go crazy. Please understand that I love you all for linking to me, and I visit all links as often as I can. This has nothing to do with whether I agree with your positions on various issues; when have any two people agreed on everything anyway? I admire integrity and sincerity more than anything else; each of you strikes me as having that and more, or else I wouldn't have been interested in your blog. While "Montana Politics" is the blog's name, this is a perfect example of what I call, "THINK GLOBALLY, BLOG LOCALLY." Keen political insights and humor from a state I have visited and where I would love to live. Don't miss this blog! Practical Penumbra: Lives up to the name of "A better little corner of cyberspace." Style, wit, satire, puzzles, nice graphics. A true delight to visit every time! Freespace: Timothy Sandefur inspired me to play catch up with the Classics! I better keep an eye on him lest he snatch away my readers who come here search of ancient history and find out how distracted I become by current events! Solomonia: I am fiercely pro-Israel (a country I consider a direct modern link to ancient wisdom), and I am deeply honored to merit a link from Solomon -- who lives up to the venerated ancient name with his wisdom and sagacity, enhanced for modern times with superb graphic design, and a first rate blog. Civic Dialogues: Erasmus fully lives up to the name of that great Renaissance scholar. Witty daily dissections of politics, philosophy, and life. Fair to both sides; read and learn. Sector 7-G: Uh oh! Ray has not only linked to me, but he says he wants to stalk me! Don't you know that turns me on? Careful.... VodkaPundit: This distinguished blogger needs no introduction, as he is way up at the top, one of those Blogger Superstars. I am very honored that I somehow managed a place on his menu, and as a Gin and Tonic at that! But I warn you, Stephen, GIN MAKES ME SIN! Ghost of a flea: Hard to define the Flea. Eclectic cultural cuisinart; all sorts of stuff here, guaranteed to teach you something you didn't know. The origins of cool? Find out! Beautifully cool women, astute observations on religion, and more! God of the machine: Any Isabel Paterson fan will recognize the name. Top notch libertarian/Objectivist blog. Aaron Haspel is a witty, entertaining, politically astute. Discount Blogger Michael Demmons (congratulated by Instapundit as the "first gay blogger to be legally married") runs a very fast-paced blog with a libertarian bent. Lots of stuff, great pictures and graphics, and always something new and lively. Don't miss it! Mind of Mog: Every time I visit this blog, I feel as if I have entered an infectiously creative mind. Go there and you'll see what I mean. Unbelievably cool graphics; wild imagination! W(h)ine Country: This blog always makes me homesick for California, especially the political ways of "the Left Coast." Inside dirt aplenty to be found here! The Imperialist Dog: Nice enough to link to me despite disagreeing with me. Masterfully logical blog! Loco Parentis: Katie Granju inspired me to write a post about something of which I am completely ignorant: parenting! She is a distinguished author great blog. Truly honored to be linked to this distinguished Canadian journalist and blogger. Just reading his blog is a lesson in how to write well, and in common-sense libertarianism. Both are things of which this country needs more! Impearls: Brilliant blog, simply brilliant; I really think Mr. McNeil knows more about Classical Values than I do! Science, religion, culture, art; go read his post on "Benjamin Franklin and WMD" right now! Red Letter Day I know I have mentioned Mike Silverman before, but I am not sure I was linked then. Either way, Mike has been a favorite from the beginning, and always will be. Except for possibly my blogfather, no other blogger combines rugged individualism, humor, gay politics, and support for Israel like Mike. A daily must-read!
OK, OK, I know I can't do them justice, but the above all join the ones I have previously posted as the best blogs on the Internet! Now, go back to the beginning of the list, and visit each blog! -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/26/2003 11:05:00 AM ----- BODY:
WINNING THROUGH PEACE UPDATE: As I was busily moving the peace entry into my blog's new home (into which I still haven't fully moved), I discovered that the peace-loving Glenn Reynolds has graciously offered IMAO the olive branch -- and given us at Classical Values a new link idea: the word "who" may henceforth be linked to How is that for generosity? Instant peace and understanding! WHO COULD ASK FOR MORE? PEACE: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/25/2003 06:59:00 PM ----- BODY:
The peace plan is WORKING! Let's give it a chance! I am shocked and stunned. Someone does not like the Classical Values Peace Plan©! I have said before that I would try to answer all criticism, and much as it pains me, this is no exception. Let me tell you, it is not easy to wake up in the morning to find yourself the victim of a right-wing smear campaign attempting to link you to Neville Chamberlain! The comparison is very unfair, and hurtful to my self-esteem. Neville Chamberlain's situation was very complicated, and not easily stereotyped by means of such glib, mean-spirited one-liners. True, his plan may be called appeasement today, but it was never given a real chance to work because of a climate of jingoism and imperialism which clouded the minds of the time, poisoned the wells of human love and understanding, and made it impossible for human beings to open up to each other and begin the New Era of peace and understanding which I believe is upon us now -- if only we would let it evolve! The claim is often made that "appeasement never works." Well, since I floated the Classical Values Peace Plan©, there has not been one shot fired in anger by IMAO. Frank J. has had time to find out about the peace plan, and he is obviously thinking it over carefully. Because in my heart I know that all men are good, and all men want to be good, I believe in Frank's ultimate goodwill. He would never knowingly start a war of aggression -- certainly not if his point of view is thoroughly taken into account, his grievances carefully listened to, and his reasonable demands met. What Frank wants is not much different, after all, from what we all want. We all want hits, and we all want recognition, and we all tend to resent that the bigger and stronger tend to get their way in a world which often forgets the human dynamics of interpersonal interaction. Frank must be terrified and perplexed by the numerous concerns, motivations and options before him. Given time, I am confident that he will do the right thing, and peace will prevail. The world must of course be made to understand and empathize with the enormity of the personal injustices Frank has suffered -- doubtless more than his fair share of the usual thousand slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune! Frank! We hear you! Frank! We care! We know that you are a valid, sensitive, concerned human being, wanting desperately to make contact in a cruel and insensitive world! WE FEELYOUR PAIN, FRANK! GIVE PEACE A CHANCE! Certainly, once Frank knows that others have put themselves in his position, and understood his concerns, I am confident he will vote for peace -- especially when he learns that some of the finest minds in Norway are already dropping hints in Nobel Prize circles about "Frank J. -- man of PEACE." Let's continue to lock arms while we link for peace. -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/25/2003 02:27:00 PM ----- BODY:
Insta WHAT? You didn't hear it here first I second the nomination. That's FOR PRESIDENT, of course.... (you'll have to scroll down at my blogfather's blog.) But, as Tim Sandefur reminded me today, there remains the Rubicon issue. -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/24/2003 11:08:00 PM ----- BODY:
Kassical Values -- Quotations from Chairman Kass
"Nihil tam absurde dici potest, quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum." [Nothing can be said that is so absurd that it has not been said by some philosopher.] - Marcus Tullius Cicero
Glenn Reynolds (bless his heart) seemed to be attempting the impossible earlier today when he tried to make sense of (President's Council on Bioethics Chairman) Leon Kass. Noting (via Eugene Volokh) that Dr. Kass's 1978 sky-is-falling "fears about in vitro fertilization didn't exactly pan out," Instapundit asks,
So why are we listening to him now on cloning? Well, "we" aren't. But the White House, sadly, is.
Well, I am just a mere me! In logic, I am no more of a "we" than is Kass. And so I cannot promise that I (much less you or we) will make sense out of Leon Kass here. But I do have this really cool, incredibly patient research assistant who has gone to a great deal of trouble to actually sit down and painstakingly read through a book by Leon Kass: Toward A More Natural Science (Free Press Division, MacMillan, 1985). Without Justin's help, tonight's collection would have been impossible, because I assure you that reading through the works of Chairman Kass is not the way I want to spend my evenings. (Alas, poor Justin! I'll tip him well.) I don't know what to make of this guy who sits in judgment of science and technology and speaks for "us" as Chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics. His ruminations for the most part strike me as, simply, assertions. In fairness, you would have to sit down and read his books in their entirety. But in fairness, I could say the same thing about Noam Chomsky. But who the hell wants to sit down and read Noam Chomsky OR Leon Kass? Anyway, Glenn Reynolds was right to zero in on the "we" problem -- because Kass has spent a huge amount of of time telling us what "we" are to think. I am assuming that "you" want to know what "we" think, just as much as I do, so I hereby present for you, "The Justin Case Collection of Quotations from Chairman Kass." Here, then, is what we think (all quotes and page numbers reference Toward A More Natural Science): "What about the changing mores of marriage, divorce, single parent families and sexual behavior? Do we applaud these changes? Do we want to contribute further to this confusion of thought, identity and practice?" 113 "Our society is dangerously close to losing its grip on the meaning of some fundamental aspects of human existence." 113 "A second mortal danger is contained in the now popular notion that a person has a right over his body, a right that allows him to do what ever he wants to it or with it. Civil libertarians may applaud such a notion, as an arguably logical expansion of the right of privacy, of the right to be free from unwanted or offensive touchings. But for a physician, the idea must be unacceptable." 198 "My approach is deliberately simple, but I hope not thereby simple-minded." 213 "Not every lost cause deserves to lose." 228 "The question, admittedly complex, is whether in opting for abortion a woman is doing injustice to herself as a woman, contradicting her generative nature." 235 "Even in my medical days, well before I acquired philosophical interests in these matters, I found the disappearance of a human life from a human body to be a simply incomprehensible occurrence. For this reason, I always disliked the autopsy room, where confident pathologists gave anatomical or physiological explanations, adequate to their limited purpose, that only increased my bewilderment regarding the questions that most troubled me: what happened to my patient? What was responsible for his extinction?" 279 "Withering is nature's preparation for death, for the one who dies and for the ones who look upon him." 307 "Could longer, healthier life be less satisfying? How could it be, if life is good and death is bad? Perhaps the simple view is in error. Perhaps mortality is not simply an evil, perhaps it is even a blessing -- not only for the welfare of the community, but even for us as individuals." 307 "It seems to be as the poet says: 'we move and ever spend our lives amid the same things, and not by any length of life is any new pleasure hammered out.' " 309 (thus dares Kass characterize the poet Lucretius!) "The human soul yearns for, longs for, aspires to some condition, some state, some goal toward which our earthly activities are directed but which cannot be attained during earthly life." 312 "….Simply to covet a prolonged lifespan for ourselves is both a sign and a cause of our failure to open ourselves to this -- or any higher purpose. … For the desire to prolong youthfulness is not only a childish desire to eat ones life and keep it; it is also an expression of a childish and narcissistic wish incompatible with devotion to posterity. It seeks an endless present, isolated from anything truly eternal, and severed from any true continuity with past and future. It is in principle hostile to children, because children, those who come after, are those who will take one's place; they are life's answer to mortality, and their presence in one's house is a constant reminder that one no longer belongs to the future generation. One cannot pursue youthfulness of oneself and remain faithful to the spirit and meaning of perpetuation. … If our children are to flower, we need to sow them well and nurture them…. But if they are truly to flower, we must go to seed; we must wither and give ground." 316 "After a while, no matter how healthy we are, no matter how respected and well-placed we are socially, most of us cease to look upon the world with fresh eyes…. In many ways, perhaps in the most profound ways, most of us go to sleep long before our deaths." 317 "We stand most upright when we gladly bow our heads." 348 Whew! I'm almost done -- but let me note that while I don't normally allow others do to my work for me, I made an exception here, because I am upgrading to Movable Type pretty soon, and if I get favorable comments on the quality of Justin's research, I might be able to stroke his ego enough to get him to start logging in as a contributor. (He is, unfortunately, very shy, and will have to be dragged into this kicking and screaming.) Aaahhhh... the best for last! It's time for dessert! This final quote I had to find myself, but only after Justin assured me that while it wasn't in the above book it was too good to leave out. Here's Kass on that fiendishly decadent American invention -- the (gasp) ice cream cone:
Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone... This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if WE feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior."
Public gastronomical displays as shameful? And Kass claims to love the ancients? Has he ever heard of Roman banquets? Epicureans? The Bacchanalia? That's enough for me, folks. I'm outa here! This is scary. I'll close this nonsense with a quote from Queen Victoria.
"WE are not amused."
-------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/24/2003 03:14:00 PM ----- BODY:
Making them stop Here's something I like: Glenn Reynolds linked to this Wall Street Journal op-ed by blogger Steven Den Beste. Not only do I like seeing bloggers go "hard copy," I liked his words:
We are not doing this out of altruism. We are not trying to give them a liberalized Western democracy because we're evangelistic liberal democrats (with both liberal and democrat taking historical meanings). We are bringing reform to Iraq out of narrow self-interest. We have to foster reform in the Arab/Muslim world because it's the only real way in the long run to make them stop trying to kill us. So why did George W. Bush and Tony Blair, in making the case for war, put so much emphasis on U.N. resolutions and weapons of mass destruction? Honesty and plain speaking are not virtues for politicians and diplomats. If either Mr. Bush or Mr. Blair had said what I did, it would have hit the fan big-time. Making clear a year ago that this was our true agenda would have virtually guaranteed that it would fail. Among other things, it would have caused all of the brutal dictators and corrupt monarchs in the region to unite with Saddam against us, and would have made the invasion impossible. But now the die is cast, and said brutal dictators and corrupt monarchs no longer have the ability to stop the future.
Make them stop trying to kill us! I can relate to that, and there is nothing altruistic about it. I can understand that people might disagree over how to go about this war, or over the direction of United States foreign policy. But those who cannot understand the basic, bottom-line here -- that we have to stop those who are trying to kill us -- carry pacifism to the point of suicide. If you want suicide, fine; just don't inflict it on me, because I ruled it out a decade ago. Might as well argue that I have no right to defend my home. Ludicrous as that sounds, in England they are doing just that. Tony Martin dared to defend himself, and for that he is in prison. Another read-and-weep (and hope it doesn't happen here) story. Many people here in the U.S. would do the same thing. There is a strong movement against self defense, and it frequently takes the form of gun control. (I will spare my readers any links to the type of sites which advocate taking away the right to self defense. Besides, looking up such trash puts me in a horrible mood.) Self defense is a Classical Value. The "evil, decadent Romans" so often condemned by the moralizers engaged in that so-called "decadent" conduct for many hundreds of years. It wasn't until they lost the ability to defend themselves that Rome fell. Whether by an individual or by a nation, the refusal to defend yourself is true decadence. Definitely NOT a Classical Value. -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/24/2003 02:39:00 PM ----- BODY:
A Holistic Cure For years, Uday Hussein suffered from erectile dysfunction. No more. No matter how you look at it, he is now permanently cured. It's a condition known as "stiff." The treatment was more expensive than Viagra, but I think it was worth it. (Link to post-treatment photograph courtesy of Mike Silverman.) -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/23/2003 03:29:00 PM ----- BODY:
Catching up with the Classics Sometimes I get so caught up in current events (and distracted by immature ideas about peace) that I forget all about Classical Values. Now I see that while I was doing that, one of the most recent bloggers to link to me, Tim Sandefur has been doing a better job of citing the classical authors than I am:
“If she enquires the names of conquer’d kings, Of mountains, rivers, and of hidden springs, Answer to all thou know’st; and if need be, Of things unknown seem to speak knowingly: This is Euphrates, crown’d with reeds; and there Flows the swift Tigris, with his sea-green hair. Invent new names of things unknown before: Call this Armenia, that the Caspian shore; Call this a Mede, and that a Parthian youth; Talk probably,—no matter for the truth.”
That's Ovid on love. The Romans were quite free and unrestrained in matters of love, and in many ways their attitudes toward love and their attitudes toward war were analogous. They tended not to mix modern morality with either. I love Ovid -- who was of course censored in ancient times, in Renaissance times, and in more recent times.
The Roman poet Ovid was banished from Rome for writing Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love). He died in exile in Greece eight years later. All Ovid's works were burned by Savonarola in Florence in 1497, and an English translation of Ars Amatoria was banned by U.S. Customs in 1928.
Ovid has been put him on stamps too. Wish I had one. In another post, Tim speculated about the bust in the upper right hand corner of my blog -- making a remark which continues to crack me up:
I think it’s cool how he found a Greco-Roman bust of Micky Dolenz.
There are a number of images of Antinous floating around on the Internet, but I think mine is better than any of them. More, er, contemporary looking. But still Classical. The tie-in to Mickey Dolenz clinched it for me. Tim Sandefur, by the way, has distinguished himself as a journalist, attorney, and political gadfly, and I am delighted to report that he similarly excels as a Classical scholar. -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/23/2003 11:48:00 AM ----- BODY:
Frankincense, sausage offerings, and other LINKS for PEACE
Si vis pacem, para bellum: If you wish for peace, prepare for war. Cicero
Much as I try to practice the Classical Values, I can't keep up with the kids these days. I really can't. This Frank J. stuff, frankly, is beyond me. Last night I saw that someone had written Frank a long, lovely frankophile sonnet (entitled "Gratuitous Pandering for Linkage, a Sonnet to Frank J.") consisting of some of the most extravagant sycophancy I have ever seen. Frankly, I think the sonnet would impress even the most decadent and cynical Roman emperor. Here, in the interest of complete accuracy (and in furtherance of the Classical Values Peace Plan ©), is the whole thing:

If there were but one perfect site,
A treasure to beguile with prose,
humor, irony, unfair blows,
then here my browser would alight
for funny potshots from the right:
There is none but IMAO's
for reading while your laughter grows
and bringing forth of pure delight.

Sound the applause - sound the alarm!
Let no more puppies instablend,
but only monkeys come to harm.
Buck the Marine will us defend.
Rumsfeld, Chomps and Condi charm
and foes of freedom meet their end.

Whew! This guy's more slick than William Shakespeare -- who couldn't possibly have done that! But the people I worry for are the innocent young kids who so admire Frank that they are willing to do anything to get links -- so they can get ahead in blogging. They are being herded into packs and readied for war. I have complained about the human waste involved, and begged, implored Frank to stop. His response? Well, I got a mention (and I am grateful for the hits Frank), but -- my goal remains PEACE IN OUR TIME. Frank's comment -- "madness is all I got" -- seems to underscore the problem. And ominously, his enemies list grows. In short, something must done to appease Frank. Otherwise, I fear that HEADS will roll! Please, Frank, try a new slogan! Not "INSTAPUNDO DELENDA EST" but PAX POTIOR BELLO!!! Here is what I propose as a peace solution. What Frank really wanted -- what really started this war -- is hits. Originally, Frank was angry because Glenn Reynolds failed to link to him directly as Frank had demanded. Instead, Frank felt ridiculed. Well, I have a plan. A dream for a lasting PAX BLOGIORUM! Now, I don't know whether what I am proposing is a breach of blog ethics (I have only been blogging for two months and, quite frankly, I have never been noted for my ethics anyway, so how would I know, and if I did know how would I care?) To be frank about it, I thought, well, frankly, if Frank wants hits, if all of his allies just started franking their blogs and every time the word "frank" appears in any context (even as a part of a larger word, like "Frankish") they could put a link to, then maybe, just maybe, Frank would be appeased for a time, and the war at least postponed. My tentative peace/ceasefire plan (and you don't have to be a genius and write syrupy sonnets to do this): Just frank the hell out of your blog. If everyone put the word "frank" with a link to each time the word frank appeared, then technorati and truthlaidbear would have alltime new records, Frank's hits would exceed anything in blog history, and war might be averted. It really doesn't matter whether you even spell frank's name right. Some Guy called him Frnak and who cares? As long as the link is there Frnak will get the hits he wants. Frnak? What the hell kind of a frankensteinian name is that anyway? There are ethical considerations, and let me give an example of a line which should not be crossed. I think it is perfectly acceptable to be creative and insert a link to "frank" every time the name or word appears. You could even offer a reading list:
Frankenstein Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Diary of Anne Frank Dune, by Frank Herbert Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, by Al Franken Etc.
But don't just post a gigantic list consisting of the word "frank." That would be an abuse of the system. Link ethically! Link politically! Link locally! Link globally! Link for peace! Come to think of it, isn't frank another word for "link"? And, to take this a step further, are not such links both the essence of politics and the essence of frank link sausage manufacturing? This is not my opinion, but a long tradition:
"To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making." Otto von Bismarck
How much more frankly political can I get than the above link to Bismarck? -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/22/2003 03:36:00 PM ----- BODY:
Think Globally, Blog Locally! Idi Amin died recently -- in Saudi Arabia. Where else? I have seen very little about this monster cannibal -- the "Butcher of Africa" (also notorious for his comradely sponsorship of terrorism at the Entebbe airport), reported anywhere except by blogs like Mike Silverman and Little Green Footballs. What made Idi Amin such a welcome guest of our "ally" Saudi Arabia for so many years? I mean, they're so jaded that I don't think mere cannibalism and mass murder of Ugandans would particularly give the Saudis a hard-on for the guy. Do you think maybe his torture murder of an elderly Israeli woman named Dora Bloch might have had anything to do with it? Not that she matters to anyone in the mainstream press, but here is an account of that poor woman's death: Israeli commando team storms the plane and frees all of the hostages, she had been transported earlier to a hospital. When the hostages were rescued, an angry Ugandan president, Idi Amin, reportedly showed up at the hospital to personally strangle her with his bare hands.
Dora Bloch's murderer (and the murderer of millions of his countrymen) spent his Golden Years happily ensconced in Saudi luxury. With my gas pump money? How is it that Saudi Arabia is able to avoid scrutiny in the mainstream press? I don't know, but God bless the bloggers! Today Glenn Reynolds took time away from his vacation to remind everyone that the Saudi-September 11 "connection still isn't getting enough attention":
Saudi Arabia was deeply implicated in the attacks of September 11. A close associate of the al-Qa'eda hijackers, Omar al-Bayoumi, is alleged to have been working as a Saudi agent, operating from the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles. The Bush administration has censored an entire section from the report, detailing the Saudi role in the events leading up to the attacks.
Censorship. Isn't that a close relative of cover-up? Lest anyone get the wrong idea here, I am not one of these kooks who maintains Bush knew all about the attacks in advance, or that this is all part of the Great Plot by the Globalist Trilateral Skull and Bones Commission to rule the world. There were good reasons for our alliance with Saudi Arabia, as the Telegraph pointed out:
During the Cold War and even later, Soviet-backed secular Arab nationalists, from Nasser and Gaddafi to Saddam and Arafat, posed a greater threat to the West than militant Islam. Saudi Arabia, the richest and longest-established of the Arab states, was treated as a valued ally. American and European governments, accustomed to cordial relations with the Saudis, turned a blind eye to its state religion. Only after the September 11 attacks did the global extent of the Wahhabi menace become clear. From Algeria to Bali, from Tunis to Tel Aviv, from Moscow to Riyadh, Islamist suicide bombers left a bloody trail behind them. In the background lurked the shadowy network of Wahhabi influence.
That is a pretty accurate assessment. So why do we have to go to England to get it? Why does Glenn Reynolds have to take time out of his vacation to make sure? During World War II, the U.S. was allied with Stalin. Once his evil designs were crystal clear, the Soviet Union was recognized and dealt with as the dangerous enemy they were. What's the deal with the Saudis? My local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer relegated the important story to the inner pages, assigning a new spin: whether or not the knowledge of Saudi involvement could have stopped the attacks.
The informant also may have been introduced to Hani Hanjour, who U.S. officials believe piloted that hijacked plane. Blacked out in the report is a 28-page section that the officials say criticizes Saudi Arabia's government and details its lack of interest in tackling Muslim extremism. The report finds no single piece of intelligence or information that could have stopped the attacks, stating at one point: "The joint inquiry did not uncover a smoking gun."
But the issue is not that kind of "smoking gun"! The issue which is being buried here is our betrayal by an ally. Whether we knew about it in advance, well, that's like asking whether FDR should have known about Stalin's expansionist plans. The point is, the bastards are our enemy, and THAT is what's being covered up. Only a tiny minority of American citizens (100,000 or so who read Glenn Reynolds link to the Telegraph) are able to read the following words:
"Saudi Arabia was deeply implicated in the attacks of September 11."
The rest of us have to fend for ourselves, victims of government whitewashed journalism which will not dare tell us the truth about our enemies, instead mischaracterizing malicious Saudi treachery as Saudi (are you ready?)
"lack of interest"
Technically true. I guess the Russians displayed a similar lack of interest in stopping the actions of their agents during the Cold War. Idi Amin showed a lack of interest in the few years Dora Bloch might have still had left to live. "Blame to go around," says Democrat Roemer. (Would it be too reckless to characterize that remark as "understatement?") Read the whole thing (if indeed this sordid little driblet of censored pabulum can be called a "whole thing") -- and weep.
A side note: I am sorry if I bored anyone by carrying on about Idi Amin, who, as a non-issue, does not deserve top-level coverage anywhere. But during the original Operation Desert Storm back in 1990, I wrote an emotional letter to the Saudi government about how I as an American taxpayer was upset that they sponsored Idi Amin. No reply yet! (And knowledgeable friends told me at the time that all I would get for my efforts would probably be a place on some official list of troublemakers. But as I keep saying, the First Amendment is a good form of exercise!) -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/21/2003 04:27:00 PM ----- BODY:
Eyes Only! This post will self destruct in 60 seconds! Glenn Reynolds links to this report about possible secret involvement -- by Saudi government operatives -- with the September 11 hijackers:
The report is sure to reignite questions about whether some Saudi officials were secretly monitoring the hijackers—or even facilitating their conduct. Questions about the Saudi role arose repeatedly during last year’s joint House-Senate intelligence-committees inquiry. But the Bush administration has refused to declassify many key passages of the committees’ findings. A 28-page section of the report dealing with the Saudis and other foreign governments will be deleted. “They are protecting a foreign government,” charged Sen. Bob Graham, who oversaw the inquiry.
Don't you just love government cover-ups? If in fact the Bush administration is protecting the Saudi government, then what are the implications? This is not my speculation, but a question begging to be answered by a series of events: Price Bandar's close relationship with the White House; the spiriting away of bin Laden family members before they could be questioned; and (most suspicious of all in my humble opinion) the role of Saudi Intelligence Chief Turki al Faisal -- who retired from his post just weeks before September 11. Arthur Silber is someone I have cited many times in this blog, and with whom I sometimes do not want to agree, because his conclusions are so deeply disturbing. But regardless of whether I or anyone else agrees with him, his analytical skills are only exceeded by his impeccable integrity. Might Arthur be right about the following?
The roots of that foreign policy have now produced an enormous plant -- one with lengthy tendrils which reach into every corner of our domestic economy, and which simultaneously reach overseas to almost every corner of the globe. The very nature of this international corporate statism profoundly distorts everything it touches: an accurate assessment of genuine threats to our security; a determination of the most efficient, and least intrusive, methods of eliminating those threats; and the overall health of our economy, to name just a few.
I'll go one further and pose the following question: Was September 11 a case of the chickens ("the roots of that foreign policy") coming home to roost? Or, were we simply betrayed by an ally? If the latter is the case (as I would like to believe it is), then WHY THE HELL ARE THEY COVERING IT UP? Then there's Don Watkins echoing similar thoughts on the same subject. Watkins concludes:
Here's what bugs me. Do you think Bush would have covered up this information if it was about Iraq? I mean, Jesus, we just went to war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and here's our own government protecting a country which very well might have had something to do with 9/11. How's that for consistency? If the American people really ever did have a right to know something it is this. I hope someone with some goddamn integrity leaks those missing pages.
Before anyone dismisses this as antiwar leftism, remember that Don Watkins devoted a great deal of time to disagreeing with Arthur Silber -- specifically on war issues. But if these views are insufficiently conservative for your tastes, how about Michelle Malkin? (Link courtesy of Arthur Silber.) Or how about the ultraliberal WorldNetDaily? On a practical note, the cover-up is failing, and Liberia isn't a big enough tail to wag. The only thing to do is to release the report and level with the American people. If American voters think the government is covering up involvement by Saudi government operatives, I don't want to think about what they might be ready to do.
On the other hand.... Government cover-ups sometimes can work, if they are bipartisan in nature, and if the government and the media work hand in hand. Just for fun, read this remarkable story. And just in case that doesn't jumpstart your curiosity, read this (spend some time reading through the documents; it's incredibly rich and I am not supposed to talk about it). If that only whetted your appetite, by all means check out this too. What I am quite deliberately daring to talk about here is Vincent Foster. He was Bill Clinton's White House Counsel, who was found shot to death exactly ten years ago today. I am not talking about the unmentionable Mr. Foster because I am trying to shock you, my un-shockable readers. (I know you can take it or you wouldn't be here.) I want to make an important point about the nature of cover-ups. They can work if they are bipartisan in nature and the media cooperate fully. The Vincent Foster case ought to outrage the public, but it cannot get its foot in the door because -- well, how do I put this? If you talk about Vincent Foster, or ask questions like "What happened to Vincent Foster's hard drive?" you will never be invited to the really cool parties, you won't get promoted to any position of responsibility, and intelligent sophistos everywhere will roll their eyes knowingly at each other. You will be considered either an outright mental case, or at the very least, a pathetic right wing conspiracy theorist kook. (Never mind whether a murder is being covered up at the highest levels; let's think about our social status, and what other people might think.) That's why I never discuss the Vincent Foster story at elite cocktail parties. I know better. I first heard about the story ten years ago, and I watched as the cover-up forces -- people who really know how to snub a guy -- deliberately, systematically spun the story way out into the Outer Limits of the First Amendment. Forget completely about whether the official story stinks to high hell; Vincent Foster has been placed in the same league as the Globalist UN Bilderbergers plot, the old fluoride-in-the-water, Council on Foreign Relations, homos-are-taking-over-the-world bullshit. (And people who believe in such things are the only ones whose laughable social standing grants them permission to talk about Vincent Foster.) I never talk about Vincent Foster anymore. I swear I don't. And if perchance I am at one of those elitist parties, if anyone were to ask me about what I just said in this blog, I'd ask "Where's your sense of humor? What's wrong with asking questions about a little murder, or what happened to the victim's hard drive?" It's all in fun. As I said yesterday, the First Amendment is just an exercise. Nothing to ruin your social standing over! -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/20/2003 07:11:00 PM ----- BODY:
Prelude to war….in a world gone mad
Accurate scholarship can Unearth the whole offence From Luther until now That has driven a culture mad, Find what occurred at Linz, What huge imago (sic) made A psychopathic god: I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return. -- W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939
With a heavy heart, I must once again admit that I was wrong. I jumped the gun -- not in declaring war, but in declaring peace. "PEACE IN OUR TIME," I said. Well, now it seems a more appropriate slogan should be PIECE IN OUR TIME. With an ominous sense of foreboding, I forced myself to read Frank J. this morning. My heart grew still for a moment, for I realized that the war I had just declared averted is now inevitable. The only positive thing I can say is that this could be the blog war to end all blog wars. Much like World War One, Blog War One seems to have been triggered by series of small, otherwise irrelevant incidents. No one knows or cares much about Archduke Ferdinand (just as people in the real world couldn't care less about the ingredients a man puts in his blender drinks) but such otherwise trivial incidents activate automatic pacts (now posts) which force countries (now bloggers) to line up on one side or the other -- without much regard to national interests. If you think my analogy about the lining up of alliances is flawed, check this out. Absolutely chilling. Even now, I am not at all sure that the good and kindly Professor Reynolds realizes the serious nature of the problem. His link to IMAO no longer goes to that nice young man; it goes to this, this thing. On top of that, there's this post. As for Mr. Wizbang, his remark can only be described as, well, ominous: "I'm fortifying my defenses for the expected counter attack." Not even Andrew Sullivan will be able to escape this war unscathed. Already Frank J. has mentioned ugly rumors about disgusting sexual practices shared by -- GOOD LORD! I CAN'T PUBLISH THIS IN A FAMILY WEB SITE! Can all of this really be happening? I feel like sitting down and weeping over the human waste. OH THE HUMANITY! What a terrible shame it would be to launch a long, bloody, costly, divisive war -- a war pitting blogger against blogger, grinding up and destroying valuable men and resources, and to what end? To turn us all into blog fodder? War! The horror! The horror! But if I must defend myself, defend myself I will. I found another test from Hondonius Aurelius, who said (and I quote):
I hope Frank J. would be proud.
Results? You are old school. Fat Sheriff Deputies fancy you. Reliable but not too practical.
Smith & Wessen .44 Magnum. You are old school. Fat
Sheriff Deputies fancy you. Reliable but not
too practical.

What handgun are you?
brought to you by Quizilla You know, I might be "old school" (after all this blog is about Classical Values, notwithstanding my satire), but does this test really have to tell me that "Fat Sheriff Deputies" fancy me? Yeccch! But let's get serious. War is a grimly serious business. Notwithstanding my willingness to defend my home and my castle, I nonetheless feel it is my sacred duty to make one last impassioned plea. Please, please.... STOP THE WAR! I conclude by quoting from whence I started:
We must love one another or die. Defenseless under the night Our world in stupor lies; Yet, dotted everywhere, Ironic points of light Flash out wherever the Just Exchange their messages: May I, composed like them Of Eros and of dust, Beleaguered by the same Negation and despair, Show an affirming flame.
Further your affiant saith not. -------- AUTHOR: Eric DATE: 7/20/2003 02:48:00 PM ----- BODY:
In Whose Image? Let me remind readers of the test I took last night which called me an atheist. If only life were that easy! And life can be made almost that easy, if you simply turn off all inquiry into the nature of stuff, and either accept someone else's beliefs about God (regardless of what you think), or simply declare that you are an atheist, and thereby bypass detailed religious arguments (again, regardless of what you think). That would be a lot easier than grappling with stuff which is guaranteed to piss people off. I have found that even talking about the history of religion is enough to piss off numerous people, without even speculating about one's personal beliefs. Anyway, for today I will try to stick with religious history. My beliefs (if any) are irrelevant, but I have just as much right to speculate about why others believe what they do as to speculate why people might have voted for Clinton or Bush. (Glad we have the First Amendment, folks. This ain't Saudi Arabia yet. But I do believe that the First Amendment is a tool for freedom which requires constant maintenance, a set of muscles which must be regularly exercised. If you don't use it, you lose it!) Earlier I asked whether man has the right to be wrong. Now I wish to examine theoretically whether God (or the gods) are entitled to the same right. At the outset, I would note that on the issue of fallibility, the ancient gods win hands down. Here's Roger L. Simon reflecting eloquently on the Kobe Bryant affair:
[M]aybe this is a good thing for us, if not for him. We don't need to make athletes, even ones who can speak Italian in the middle of a three-sixty dunk, into heroes. In fact we don't need to make anyone into heroes. We're all just human and that's it. The whole idea of role models is, well, kind of pathetic. No one can live up to it.... Still, I have to admit I am hugely depressed by the whole thing. Watching Kobe was always a joy, a pleasure to see what the human body could do. The Greeks had it better. They knew we were all fallible and they made their gods that way. Note: Anyone who hasn't done so already should buy Roger Simon's new thriller, a terrifying new twist on "media terrorism."
I agree completely. I never liked the idea of role models either. Nor do I care much for super-authoritarianism. Humanistic or humanized gods therefore appeal to me. Might it be that this tension -- between authoritarian gods and the more human variety -- contributed to the appeal of Christianity? (After all, what better way to humanize a god than by making him a man?) Or did the old original Jehovah have human qualities? You wouldn't know it from the way the fundamentalist fanatics talk, but Alan Dershowitz, a Biblical scholar as well as a legal scholar, maintains that back in the old days, the original God of the Torah not only invited arguments, but that followers are obligated to argue with God:
Using examples, Mr. Dershowitz contends the Bible is a book for the ages. He points to a surprising range of people who invite us to argue with the Bible. Mr. Dershowitz tells why he believes we all have an obligation to argue with God. Mr. Dershowitz suggests that the God of Genesis is an imperfect god.
Once again, I see at least tentative confirmation of one of my theses. The original God of the Hebrews -- from which modern Christianity and Islam evolved -- might not have been quite the monster which some of today's fundamentalist bigots claim he was. At least, not to the ancient Jews. If ancient Jews worshiped a humanistic God, why has that been suppressed? And who suppressed it? I can't speak for the followers of Muhammad, but from what I've seen of Christianity, nothing in the teachings of Jesus Christ would transform the god of the Hebrews into the bigoted monster behind September 11. Might a small minority of people be projecting their insecurities? What puzzles me the most about radical "Christian" fundamentalism is how such a doctrine could evolve when it is in such clear contrast to the personality and teachings of Jesus Christ. I have to suspect that some of these folks (especially the men) either hate the real Jesus, or are very uneasy about him and therefore want him recast in a more violent, more "manly" vein. In that regard, the following quote comes to mind:
Jesus was not a sissy!" -- Jerry Falwell
Similarly, a young self-styled "Pagan" who hates homosexuals once told me, "Jesus was a faggot!" (At the time I really didn't know how to respond.) A stubborn problem for some people is that the pure essence of the loving, compassionate, forgiving, turn-the-other-cheek, Jesus is just not something with which they can identify. Might some followers therefore have a major psychological need to transform Christianity into what they deem a "real man's" religion? This is not logical. But then, neither is pick-and-choose fundamentalism, because there is nothing literal about such selective interpretations of the Bible. They are looking for what they want. If these people want to create their own version of intolerant, brutal Christianity, that is their First Amendment right. However, I think they are biting off more than they can chew when they attempt to claim it is the only Christianity. What if the Rapture really occurred, and they were left behind? What then? How can they be so sure of their predestination? Let's move from Falwell's sissy concerns to Saint Sebastian, a favorite theme in Renaissance art. There must have been hundreds if not thousands of versions of that particular martyrdom. Here are some typical examples. For more Sebastian iconography and its interpretation over the years, see this. Much has been made of the choice of Sebastian (favorite of the Emperor Diocletian) as a homo-erotic theme by furtively closeted Renaissance artists. This, I think, is more of a commentary on Renaissance or even modern culture than Roman culture, as once again the Romans did not think in such terms. But then, religious themes have always been used as a "cover" for various works of art which might otherwise have generated controversy. (Cf. Bosch, Bruegel, et al.) In the film "Carrie," Saint Sebastian was featured as a statue in Sissy Spacek's prayer closet. Carrie's fiercely fundamentalist mom ended up pinioned by knives in almost exactly the same position, echoing a theme of Saint Sebastian as a sort of protest saint (if such things are possible). Protest saint or not, I see little evidence that Protestants ever cared much for Sebastian; I would not be surprised if Sebastian played a part in the development of Calvinist austerity. Wow. I really ought to do more research, because the above turns out to be more than my own speculation. Seriously, I just learned that indeed, the Calvinists didn't much care for Sebastian. When they found Saint Sebastian's shrine, they trashed his bones, throwing them into a watery ditch! Similar fates were meted out to Rasputin by the Commies, and to Buddhist statues by the Taliban. Now, if certain Christians are so dissatisfied with what appears to be too much traditional tolerance -- whether by early Hebrews, by Jesus himself, or by his early followers, then what are the implications vis-à-vis Islam? Might some of them have been similarly outraged over the idea of religious tolerance? Might some of them have wanted to come up with more of a "real man's" religion. Does that mean religion is a popularity contest? Or, in blogger language, how many hits are generated by God the Bigot as opposed to God the Compassionate? Bigotry, while never boring (and certain to generate hits) is not my idea of perfection. But then, doesn't that mean we've come full circle in this discussion? If bigotry is a human failing, and if failed human beings have attempted to project that onto God, then isn’t that another example of projecting human frailties onto a deity? Surely, the people who do that ought not object to dissenting views of God. Who gets to argue these things, and who gets to determine whether God is right, or which gods are right? (And I still haven't answered the more perplexing question about whether God has a right to be wrong.) Greek, Roman, or Hebrew, the ancient gods left some room for doubt -- something I think is healthy. --------