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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Near-Run Thing

To quote the Duke of Wellington (who was speaking of Waterloo), last night's Auburn game against the South Carolina Gamecocks was "a near-run thing."

It went down to the last play, when the Gamecocks were denied a fourth-down effort to tie the game from the Auburn six yard line.

This should have been a slaughter. As it was, it was far too close for comfort.


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Christian Carnival CXLI and Dissing Reason

The latest Christian Carnival is up at A Penitent Blogger. Lots of good stuff this week.

This entry at Pseudo-Polymath caught my attention, becuase I agree with much that Pope Benedict said in his important Regensburg speech, I find some of Pseudo's arguments cogent also:

Why should anyone wish God to be amenable to reason or even reasonable. It flies in the face of experience. Men at science are at their best when reason is set aside. Consider for example the following, Einstein didn’t arrive at GR via reason … but by an intellectual leap. This leap was followed then, by Mathematical aesthetic. It was a beautiful theory. Reason then does the dirty work of validating the theory. Furthermore, consider marriage. Marriage is rarely reasonable and reason certainly is not (or most emphatically should not be the only part of our person employed to validate our choice in seeking matrimony

He's exactly right. Special relativity came to Einstein in an intuitive leap, by the great scientist's own admission, and he stuck to the idea that relativity could yield a unified field theory all his life, even in the face of contrary evidence from quantum mechanics, simply because he thought his construct "beautiful." And it is. The mess that is quantum physics came about purely based on inductive reasoning.

Arthur Koestler explored the origin of ideas and intuition in general very well in The Act of Creation more than a generation ago. I find a lot of reasonable and emotional appeal in these arguments, but do beleive reason plays a vital role in the life of faith, exactly as Benedict posits.

How to reconcile the two? I haven't figured that one out yet; but I don't feel too bad -- no one else has either...


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Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Keen Eye for the Weakness of Strangers

Fouad Ajami weighs in on the National Intelligence Estimate:

Islamic terror did not wait on the Iraq war. The assertion that Islamic terrorism has "metastasized and spread across the globe" because of Iraq takes at face value what the jihadists themselves proclaim. It would stand to reason that their Web sites, and the audiotapes of their leaders, would trumpet their attachment to the cause of Iraq. It is inevitable that American analysts glued to jihadist cyberspace, and lacking intimate knowledge of Arab ways, would take the jihadists at their word. But Islamic radicals have not lacked for grievances. The anti-Americanism and antimodernism that brought them onto American soil five years ago predated Iraq. For the good part of two decades, jihadist terror blew at will, driven by the conviction in the lands of Islam and its diaspora communities that America was a pampered land with little zeal for bloody struggles.

The declassified portions of the NIE are not particularly profound in the reading of Islamism. Their sociologese is of a piece with a big body of writing on Islamist movements—that the resentments of these movements arise out of "anger, humiliation and a sense of powerlessness" in the face of the West. I dare guess that were Ayman al-Zawahiri to make his way through this report, he would marvel at the naïveté of those who set out to read him and his fellow warriors of the faith. Ayoob al-Masri (Zarqawi's successor in Iraq) would not find himself and his phobias and his will to power in this "infidel document." …

We needn't give credence to the assertion of President Bush—that the jihadists would turn up in our cities if we pulled up stakes from Baghdad —to recognize that a terrible price would be paid were we to opt for a hasty and unseemly withdrawal from Iraq. This is a region with a keen eye for the weakness of strangers.


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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Meanwhile, In the War on Jihad...

While Dubya fetes the Presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the anti-jihad cause has suffered a little-heralded, but sweeping defeat on President Musharraf's home turf:

Three weeks ago, Pakistan signed the terms of the Waziristan Accord with the northern region of its country called North Waziristan. It was, effectively, the terms of surrender by Pakistan to the Taliban and al Qaeda, which dominate North Waziristan. Pakistan has negotiated a separate peace -- the eternal danger to any wartime alliance.

According to intelligence sources cited by The Fourth Rail and other sources above, the Accord includes: (1) Pakistan to abandon its garrisons in Waziristan, (2) Pakistan military to not operate in or monitor actions in the region, (3) Pakistan to turn over weapons to Waziris, (4) Taliban and al Qaeda to set up a Mujahideen council to administer the region, (5) region to be called "The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan, (6) unknown but substantial amount of money paid by Pakistan to the Taliban, (7) al Qaeda and other jihadis to be allowed to stay in region, (8) 2,500 foreign fighters linked to al Qaeda and Taliban released by Pakistan from their prisons (this fact also confirmed by London's Daily Telegraph), and (9) Taliban to refrain from violence in Pakistan only; the agreement does not stipulate refraining from violence in Afghanistan.

According to an intelligence source cited in the Weekly Standard, the gains we have made in that part of the world in the past five years were "reversed in mere weeks with the loss of Waziristan and the release of 2,500 fighters."

Every advancement of the enemy's cause moves the world one step closer to a real, all-out world war -- one step closer to one of two outcomes I fear equally: either surrender of the West and all the world ruled by shari'a or hundreds of thousands of Western dead and half a billion smoking meat hunks being picked apart by vultures from Morrocco to Indonesia.

By slow degrees, things are getting worse.


Update 27 Sep 06
: Max Boot has an excellent column, published in the LA Times, in which he comes to the same conclusions I have regarding islam. His words contain a warning, too:

EVER SINCE 9/11, a dark view of Islam has been gaining currency on what might be called the Western street. This view holds that, contrary to the protestations of our political leaders — who claim that acts of terrorism are being carried out by a minority of extremists — the real problem lies with Islam itself. In this interpretation, Islam is not a religion of peace but of war, and its 1.2 billion adherents will never rest until all of humanity is either converted, subjugated or simply annihilated.

Right. Our patience is not infinite and someday islam may provoke the deadly ire of the "Western Street."

Update 27 Sep 06: And then there's this. Another victory for global jihad:

An opera company in Berlin has cancelled a Mozart production of his work Idomeneo fearing a scene in which the prophet Mohammed's decapitated head is rolled on stage could trigger an Islamic backlash.

The decision by the Deutsche Oper, one of the world's most celebrated opera houses, shows how deep-rooted the fears now are in Europe's artistic community about offending Muslim sensibilities.

Western Europe is already cringing in submission, just as they did before Hitler's aggression. Millions will die eventually because of their cowardice now.

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Low Intelligence

The National Intelligence Estimate -- well, it's key conclusions, actually -- has been released and I have read most of it. Glenn Reynolds sums it up aptly:

While we should fire the leakers on general principles, we should probably also fire whoever wrote this -- for producing a meaningless document full of empty bureaucratic twaddle. If the jihadists win, they'll have more prestige! And they will probably use the internets! Do tell. Jesus Christ, if this is the quality of intelligence we're getting, no wonder we haven't won yet.

I have worked extensively in the past with CIA-based federated intelligence products and this is what I have come to expect. The CIA itself is a haven for leftist dilettantes with too much education in the humanities and not enough field experience. The Operations division despises the Analysis division, and rightly so. OF course today, all the attention (and all the money) goes to Analysis. And this is the kind of krep we get, especially when the analysis seeks to represent a consensus of the intelligence community.

Though far from perfect, military intelligence organizations function far more professionally. Were I king for a day, I would abolish the CIA and start over from scratch, basing the new organization on key cadres from the military.


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Monday, September 25, 2006

Not Much To Report

I haven't written a post in over a week....
There just isn't that much to report. The UN again proved itself a useless body that should be disbanded or moved to Zimbabwe, where its concepts of conscience, freedom, and the rule of law might find a more simpatico home than in the United States.
President of the Islamic Republic, Mahmoud Amidinjad (which means Hairy Monkey-Lover in Farsi) appealed to peace, liberty, the girl scouts, little fuzzy bunnies, freedom, and liberty an otherwise unnotable speech before that august body. He's for all those things. George Bush is against them, apparently, and is moving the world further away from realizing a utopia consisting of them by wanting to prevent Iran from building Peaceful Thermonuclear Weapons.

The next day, Hugo Chavez (which means 'portly but discerning scourge of evil' in an obscure Amazonian dialect) pronounced that the devil had been in the UN General Assembly chamber the day before and the he could still discern the smell of sulpher. Contrary to common sense, he was not referring to that billionarire who has scarferred billions from UN coffers and profitted from international slave trade, Kofi Anan. No -- as will come as no surprise to readers of Daily Kos -- he meant George Bush again. Dubya Gibbon wants to rule the world, you see, and that interferes with Chavez' intentions to do the same...thus Dubya is evil incarnate.

Over in Lebanon, Hezbollah (which means "Party of Heavenly but Slightly Hairy Virgins" in ungrammatical Arabic) held a celebration of victory over Israel, in which Chief Speechifier Hasan Nasrallah proclaimed that the peace-loving, girl-scout-supporting, islamic lovers of peace and freedom had no cause to worry because Hezbollah still had twenty thousand missiles with which to rain down peace, security, and liberty on Israeli grocery shoppers and schoolchildren.

Meanwhile, our "spy agencies," which gave us such pertinent warning of 9/11, have said that the invasion of Iraq has increased radical jihadis' level of violence, not diminished it. Yes, I think they're right: only a few million Americans would have died in attacks subsequent to 9/11, versus the thousands of innocent Iraqis who have died in that campaign. A more than equitable exchange from the point of view of the American Left. I'm sure they hope that those Americans killed would have been mostly Republican voters -- you know, the ones with jobs...

Also meanwhile, the Pope surrendered to muslim pressure and recanted his comments concerning islam, inviting muslim clerics to the Vatican so he could show them how much he'd like to kow-tow to their demands for submission. Heaven forfend anyone in the West would actually stand up for the religion and culture that brought mankind up from the slime and degradation of a permanent dark age...

No, the only thing of note in the last week was publication of Christian Carnival CXL, but I'm in no mood to quote from it at present...


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Friday, September 15, 2006

Reason and the Logos

I knew I liked this guy.

The Pope delivered a speech at the University of Regensburg (where he used to teach) earlier this week that has done two very good things:

1) It has expressed the necessary union of reason (particularly as what we consider the Greek tradition) and faith as underpinnings of Western Civilization and integral to a mature understanding of faith. He's put this about as well as it's ever been put.

2) He's pissed off every muslim in the world, for buried in the text is a veiled reference to islam as an example of religion devoid of reason. He even quoted medeival Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologos, who said with "startling brusqueness," "show me just what mohammed brought that was new, and there you find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The full text of Benedict's speech is here.

The islamic world has reacted in the manner we've come to expect: riots, threats, burnings, screaming, denunciations, the pulling of hair and the gnashing of teeth... The usual.

The Vatican has done the PC thing and said His High Magnificent Glorious Holiness didn't intend to offend any muslims. Bullshit. The meaning of the quote, and some of his thinking on the true nature of islam, are clear from the context of the speech. He aligns himself squarely against both islamic fundamentalism and modern secular humanism.

And he's right to do so. Read the whole speech.


Update 18 Sep 06
: I wrote too soon. The Pope is backtracking and apologizing for his remarks as the muslim world responds with riots and nun-murdering:

"I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims," the pope said.

"I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address in its totality was and is an invitatino to frank and sincere dialogue," he added.

At least it was, "I'm sorry for the reaction," not, "I'm sorry for my remarks." Still, "appease"-ing is exactly what he is doing, just as Neville Chamberlain sought to appease Hitler.

When is the West going to stop apologizing and get down to the serious and necesary business of ideological war with militant islam?

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years On

I was certainly cutting a very undignified pose when I first heard of the 9/11 attacks. I was Operations Officer of the Ops Support Squadron at Laughlin AFB, right along the Texas-Mexico border, and the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Commander was scheduled to fly into Laughlin that morning in a brand-new T-6 Texan II trainer that he was getting a chance to joy-ride for the first time (with the help of a seeing-eye instructor pilot, of course). My Ops Group Commander (OG) -- a good guy, mind; one I'm still in contact with, but a little high-strung that morning due to the visit -- was having me, my Chief of Airfield Manangement (a retired CMSgt with 15 years post-active duty time mananging airfields), and any bodies that could be spared from base ops pulling tiny fragments of weed and grass from cracks in the cement near the "red carpet" painted on the concrete outside base ops, where the AETC/CC would park. The OG was marching about, pointing out where "my" grounds-keepers (Mexican contractors, actually) had failed to make the tarmac sufficiently Ship-Shape and Bristol-Fashion, making us pull the weeds by hand, as a form of punishment I suppose. In other words, just another day of typical Air Force bullshit.

A call from the tower ground controller came over the OG's 'brick:' "Sir, you need to come inside." The OG made certain that we would continue our endeavors and he ducked inside base ops. He talked to the dispatcher, then got on a land-line. He talked for a short time and then came back out to the red carpet: "Forget that shit and come here." We went inside and saw what was happening on the brand-new flat-screen we'd bought to show weather data, now tuned to Fox News. The second plane had just hit the WTC, so we knew it was an attack. That made it a little after 0830 local. The AETC/CC was airborne and due in at 0900. The OG said, "go get Max (my boss, the Ops Support Squadron Commander). This is going to be a cluster-...."

It was. I ran across the street from base ops to the squadron's offices. I started, "Max..." He said, "I know." The squadron's exec, a young lady Captain usually known for her unperturbability, was crying. I said foolishly, "there could be fifty thousand dead! My God!" Max said, "let's get the General on the ground, then we can worry about this." We headed back to base ops.

The CSAF arrived without incident, but air traffic was shut down nation-wide and the borders were put on the highest level of alert. Several airborne military aircraft were diverted into Laughlin. We had to arrange a staff car and drive the AETC/CC back to San Antonio. The latter barely spoke to the Wing and OG/CCs; he was tied up on his cell trying to sort out what was happening command-wide. My wife went to a memorial service in Del Rio and got caught in the traffic jam that followed the order for everyone assigned to the base to report to their work stations (a "full recall"). Another cluster-.... What a target the traffic jam outside the base front gate would have made, had our muslim brothers but known.

Sorting all of this out and getting KAHN and the kids back on base (all the schools let out, too) occupied the better part of the day. The wife/kids situation worried me more than anything else.

Once all the aircraft were parked and the squadron had reported, it got very quiet. We sat and watched the replays. We all had time to reflect. Everyone knew who was behind the attacks. My reaction was anger. I remember saying then, "it's finally happened; the next campaign in the war that started in 632 (or thereabouts). I knew it was only a matter of time before they succeeded." (Everyone had expected The Big One on 31 Dec 99.) I was in a "let no stone remain standing upon another" mood. Most of the rest of the squadron was somber. Many cried. Many began to worry about the fate of friends in the Pentagon, or in the campaigns that we all knew would be coming soon. Several, including me, said, "good; now we finally have an excuse to take out Iraq and the Taliban and get this lobbing cruise missiles at empty camps bullshit over with." No one of our senior officers (myself included) had any doubts as to where this would all lead next for us. Those who'd reflected on the nature of what had happened in the years leading up to 9/11 were not surprised at all. We expected it in some form at some time and it was obvious to us that the unfinished job we left in Iraq in '91 had contributed to the enemy's hubris in making these latest attacks, even if no one could prove material connections, as had our tepid aspirin-factory bombing responses to other provocations in the intervening years.

This didn't make us unusually prescient. The patterns were just obvious to anyone who followed military and foreign policy matters in the previous decade. That is, most of the senior officers at my base, anyway. Me? I would have had the Saudi Royal Family roasted in napalm after the Cole bombing, just to "encourage the others." I even remember quoting Hobbes "war of all against all" comment, as I have many times in the five years since, concerning the The War.

Not all got it, however. Hugh Hewitt relates part of his morning:

AROUND 9:45, MY COLLEAGUE who was scheduled to join me at [a] meeting at the Hancock called and chirped an upbeat sing-songy “Good morning!”

“Hi,” I responded.

Maintaining his annoying good cheer, he inquired, “How ya doin’!”

Slightly annoyed and a little emotional, I said, “You must not know what’s going on today.” He told me he did, but he said it was happening in New York and then immediately asked me where we should meet at the Hancock Tower.

Honestly, I couldn’t believe my ears. This was a highly intelligent man on the other end of the line. I told him, “Don’t you understand – America is under attack.” He responded by condescendingly telling me that two buildings were under attack. I told him I didn’t want to argue with him. Obviously it was an inopportune time to go to a top floor of a major city’s most prominent high rise, but whether or not we agreed wasn’t really material. Every high rise in America would be officially evacuating itself within the hour, I told him. Even if we wanted to attend the meeting, it wouldn’t be an option available to us.

It was the first time I dealt with someone who just didn’t get what 9/11 meant. It wouldn’t be the last.

Yep. I'd guess well over half of America still doesn't get it and about 80% of the rest of Western Civilization not only doens't care or believe it's at war, but is openly hsotile to the only two nations carrying our banners forth into battle: the US and UK.

Another astute observer, daughter of a prominent blogger, was in third grade when the attacks happened and is approaching high school now. Commenting on conclusions she's come to since 9/11, she sums up the first night of the 9/11 docu-drama very well indeed:

"Liberals," she said, presumably referring to her endlessly politically correct private school (the same National Cathedral [School] that hosted ex-president Khatami last week), "always want to tell you what to do and what to think, but then they don't even keep you safe."

Democratic Party politicians might want to reflect on that awhile. They think of themselves as defenders of freedom, protectors of civil liberties. To my daughter, however, they are merely authoritarians who tell you what to think, but then, when push comes to shove, these liberal authoritarians don't even protect you from existential risk. In my thirteen year old child's political imagination, smoke from the burning Pentagon and the wreckage of the plane continues to rise. Does it in yours? Does it in theirs?

It does indeed and it always will.

I'll write at greater length later about how I (truly) fear this will all end. In the meantime, reflect on what 9/11 and our five-year response to it really mean. I'll post any responses as updates.


Update 11 Sep 06
: Karl of Noneya, who corresponded last week, leaves the following comment:

I blogged on a similar topic today, although the military angle of your post was interesting to read. I am glad that some people realize that there's still a war going on out there and we need to finish it from our side. The enemy is certainly willing to finish it from theirs.

Yes. The enemy certainly realizes there's a war on. They have have an overhwleming incentive to continue trying to "impose effects" (as we say in MilSpeak these days) worse than those of 9/11 and their state sponsors (Iran, Syria, et al) have a similar incentive, since a distant, evil foreign foe keeps local minds off of troubles that might mean revolution at home. (Admidhinijad, for all his bluster, has significant prolems at home; not a very stable poltical situation). So...they'll keep trying, and every success, however small, will rally more of the muslim world behind them and further weaken Western resolve.

As a Christian, however, what I most fear is that the enemy will succeed someday beyond their wildest dreams and tens, or hundreds or thousands, or millions will die here. Then we'll get pissed. Then all the academic types, the hug-a-tree ideological squishy-dolls, and the Democratic fops and courtiers will be brushed aside as the West (led by Red America) finally decides to take an Old Testament view of islam. Then tens or hundreds of millions will die, and those who live will rock back and forth on their knees from their caves and hovels, scraping their sores with broken shells as they try to suckle their dying babies, screaming, "NO MORE! NO MORE!"

Let me make this clear: I DON'T want this to happen. This is an outcome almost as bad as our abject surrender to radical islam. But I'm enough of a student of general and military history to realize that this probably is what the future holds. Who knows; maybe it will betoken the final battle and the end of the age. I'm skeptical of all apololyptic talk, however.

Yes; some of us still realize there's a war on. Some of us also think that failure now, in the war we're in, will mean a much worse war later. How many times in human history have we repeated this mistake?

Thanks for writing back!


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Friday, September 08, 2006

(Not So) Rare Good Form

James Lileks was even more spot-on than usual this morning, tackling the media-spawned miasma of pessimism and Concerned Long-Facedness as well as several specific late manifestations of same. First, on the Dem's late hair-pulling exercise over the upcoming ABC / Disney Path to 9/11 mini-series:

I probably won't watch the ABC movie, because it's been edited to conform to the complaints of complainers and reflect the fact that the MinProd chocorations were always 15 grams, not 20.

I don't think this is the "veiled threat" some are calling it, because there's no way on earth the Democrats would introduce legislation to strip Disney of its broadcast license. It's like threatening to interrupt the broadcast with winged monkeys. Disney lawyers would say, correctly, well, you and what army of winged monkeys? But I don't recall Congress getting so deeply involved in the content of a specific television show before. Chilling effect? Heck no, not if the result is the truth. And who can possibly be against the truth?

Well, the Clintons, for one, who are behind this blatant attempt at censorship. He's right that it will never fly (so to speak), but just the attempt itself betokens the power of the Clintons. They want the MSM to keep bleating, "Nineeleven was all Chimpler-Macaque's fault. There's no blame to throw around, Mr and Mrs America -- it's landed already." 9/11 had NOTHING to do with the fact that the Previous Administration was busy throwing an eight-year pot-smokey bender, renting out the White House, and getting its collective wick shagged (or carpet chewed, as the case may be) by sorority-aged courtiers, while every maggot-bearded islamo-Rasputin in the world plotted killing Americans with zombie-stare fanaticism. No, sir. Nothing at all...

Lileks goes on to tackle the Establishment Media's attitude in general:

While working and doing various things the other day, I lent an ear to the radio. The morning host was talking about pessimism, and how he's sick of it. Sick! I agreed. It's not just specific pessimism about specific issues, which is sometimes apt and wise, but the overall glumness you get from the news media. Of course, you can find glumness anywhere. Swaths of the right are pessimistic about America because immigration will result in the national anthem sung in Toltec by 2018, and chunks of the left are pessimistic because Chimpy McDiebold may serve out his term without impeachment or interment. Everyone's glum about something. But I listen to the news on the radio every hour on the hour, and it makes me want to saw ditches into my wrists. It's the needling worrisome hectoring tone of the newscasters that annoys me. There's a a woman who handles the morning shift on ABC; she emotes every syllable, infusing them with a sense of impending disaster, and then she hands it off to Vic Ratnor, who likewise leans into every phoneme with worried urgency, regardless of whether it's an oil shortage (which could rekindle inflation!), a discovery of a new oil field (which could cost billions to exploit!) or a study on the effect of global warming on popsicles (which could stain the rug!) The two of them could make a flooded antihill sound like the end of the Republic.

The news is never good. If the economy's up, there's an expert on hand from the Institute of the Possible Downside warning about unforseen pressure on the bond market, softening housing, hardening tensions, turgid wage growth, and explosive release of inflationary pressures. Have a cigarette. Was it bad for you?

TV news gives me the same impression, which is why I avoid it. All those earnest faces. Good evening, we're deeply concerned, and powerless to do anything about it. Although we hope you infer from our brows the need to contact someone, and urge action on this issue. Now here's a baby giraffe.

The formulation seems simple: The continued existence of problems at this late date in human history implies that we're regressing. We're screwing up, we've lost it, and we wander confused amongst the morass of the malaise and vice versa. Hard times, brother. Hard times. I'm not saying they should pretend we live in the Republic of Happy Bunnies Who Pee Champagne, but for God's sake, sometimes you'd think the bread lines snaked from the Hoovervilles to the soup kitchens again. I'm probably confusing the sugar-coated recollections of early youth with actual history, but I grew up with a sense of optimism and confidence in the country. That really makes me sound like Mr. McFartus shakin' a whittlin' stick at the jaunty-hatted younguns, I know. But the icons in my dim early youth, either by absence or presence, were JFK and Humphrey. They weren't defeatists, and they didn't give off that rank stink of anger.

Amen, brother! Of course, I've always been a Mr McFartus (just ask my daughters what my bedroom smells like) and 'm durn proud -- proud, I say -- to admit it. I'm a bit more ideologically jaundiced than Mr Lileks, of course: I grew up in Washington; he only worked there for a couple of years. The political climate in the Imperial Capital has never been any different (at least in my lifetime). It's just that the area's pervasive cynicism and/or New York's hauteur hadn't leached out to the rest of the country (outside a few blue-parenthisis enclaves) until the last few decades. The rest of America was healthy and happy, thank you, even if everyone in the smoke-filled rooms and fern-bar coffee houses was Appropriately Glum and Concerned. This has been building for some time. If you don't believe me, read Tom Wolfe's stuff from the 70's. (Like this.) He said many of the same things. The media's attitide goes a long way toward explaining why I live where I do and Lileks lives where he does (the Midwest).

Here's Lileks' brilliant summing up:

The iPod just kicked on that fine messy song “Tubthumping.” I get knocked down. But I get up again. I get knocked down. But I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down. That's the spirit, ya commie buskers! I don’t listen to that song and wonder “what has he done to get knocked down?” I salute the boozed-up shouting chanty brio of the sentiment, which is the distant cousin of Cagney snapping of "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy." Really. Chest out, chin high, eyes bright, up yours if you're heart can't find the tinder to shout hoorah. Look: there’s always a place for the bitchers, the carpers, the griefers, the snipers, the angry marginal sorts flinging poo from the cages of their own beliefs. But it’s not the pessimists who will save the West. It’ll be those who believe the West is worth saving, and not because it is the least horrible option whose defense must be prefaced with endless apologies, but because it really is the best hope we have. Would you rather be a libertarian in China? A Christian in Sudan? A Zoroastran in Iran? A lesbian in Saudi Arabia?

But - but we supported the Shah, and -

Yes. Interesting how supporters of the Shah didn't storm our embassies or wage a 30 year Death-to-America campaign after we cut the Shah loose. Reset the hands. We can argue about all manner of strategies now, but there's one division that counts more than any other, and it’s fundamental and pervasive. Pessimism or optimism.One’s very satisfying. The other’s hard. I’d say we don’t have any choice, but we do, and that choice may undo us yet.

May, I said. I’m naturally pessimistic, and I hate it, and fight it. Cautious optimism: methadone for cynics.

"Flinging poo from the cages of their own beliefs." Wonderful. It's why I read him, folks.


Update 8 Sep 06
: On the Clintonista Star Chamber's efforts to repeal freedom of the press through the offices of Harry Reid, et al, centrist pundit Glenn Reynolds has it right:

By making a big noise over this film, the Clinton people are implicitly disavowing the "pass" they've enjoyed, and in the process inviting more, rather than less, scrutiny of that Administration's antiterror record, which strikes me as very unwise, politically.

Update 11 Sep 06: Saw the first night. Why the fuss? The show flings poo around all over the place. No one escapes blame, which seems about right to me...

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A REALLY GOOD Christian Carnival!

Okay, I'm not late in posting this for once -- mainly because it's a really good one. It's up at From the Anchor Hold, a blog I've begun reading after several good referrals from other blogs.

Okay again, I'm just writing that this CC is special because I have a post in it. Yes, after long hiatus, I am finally submitting to some other venues again.

Those who read this blog regularly (both of you!) will already have seen the conversation between me and correspondent Izmud, but perhaps some other readers will weigh in on this topic now. It's one of great interest to me.

There is more to like than just my sterling prose, however. I would have liked to have read Adam's Blog on the gunpoint conversion of two journalists last week, but Adam has his spam filter set to block any referring links. Umm....kinda defeats the purpose of posting, bro...

Thanks to Diane at Crossroads, I now know what theological niche I fit into: I'm an Arvinianist. That's one who holds to some elements of TULIP Calvinism / Baptism as well as some of the doctrines of Armininius / Methodism. I still heartily believe in the T in TULIP, for example: total depravity. I don't know how anyone can look around the world (or just the morning paper) an not be convinced that mankind is uttterly damned without God's call to grace. On the other hand, I also believe wholeheartedly in conditional election, unlimited atonement, and resistable grace. I believe belief is a constant conversation with God; sometimes He takes a more TULIPish stance toward us, but ultimately I think He allows those who consciously reject Him to go the their fate. Does it really matter? I don't think Jesus checks our doctrine at the gate. His was are inscrutable and we will never know in this life why some called will come and others will not and thus whom He will choose as His own. I do believe He wants us all, however, and is heartbroken over everyone who resists His grace. Anyway, read the whole post for more of the story...

For those who may wind up here due to the CC link, I apologize for the light, sporadic blogging. I am heavily into the editing phase of the latest book I'm working on (Department of Defense Joint Targeting, if you must know) and just haven't had much time for recreational writing. It's good to get back into a CC.

Cheers all,


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