Thursday, July 31, 2003
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.
"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!
posted by Eric at 08:52 PM
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.
posted by Eric at 02:50 PM
Ancient and modern values in Iowa
Here's a view of the Iowa State Capitol with my favorite gas station in front.
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!
posted by Eric at 04:58 AM
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
I am near Toledo, Ohio, right now, and I am "connected" to the Internet at a breathtaking speed of 12.0 Kbps! I think it is unlikely that any blogging will get done, but I am willing to try.
Let's just call this an experiment. I want to be able to say I sent something from Toledo.
My favorite song, "Every Day of the Week," was by an Ohio group, The Students, in 1957. Heard it on the way into Cleveland. Ghosts! A guy named Prez Tyrus founded the group, which had only that moderate hit, and then their falsetto singer landed in prison on a heroin charge. Typical American tragedy. Their tune from "Every Day of the Week" was later stolen and used by white boys as "The Bristol Stomp."
Now the connection is 4.8. Ready for a miracle?
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
"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.
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.)
I must note that I do not deserve the credit for this post, which was largely prompted -- even largely written -- by my dear friend Justin Case. I only hope that you are reading this Justin! Here it is, a full seven months later, and your work has been noticed by the guy you used to call me about and tell me to read when I never imagined that I'd be blogging! It's deeply moving to me, and I just wish there was some way to persuade you to join this blog seriously as a co-contributor (if not co-conspirator!)
UPDATE: I just learned that Timothy Noah was kind enough to link to this post. My deepest thanks to him, and a big welcome to all visitors from Slate!
One last thing. Joan Quigley I am not. But.... any readers with an interest in an offbeat, occultish look at Dr. Kass can read about his planets here. More to come.
Welcome all! And many thanks again, Glenn Reynolds!
MORE: In the interests of continued bad taste, I have posted Part II of my astrological analysis of Leon Kass, which you can read here.
UPDATE (10/22/05): Justin reacts to Dr. Kass's most recent musings on marriage.
And it's all made me wonder. . .
Might it be time to consider the destigmatization of footbinding?
UPDATE (06/21/06): My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post again, in a humorous discussion of Christine Rosen.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO HOME
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 http://classicalvalues.com 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.)
posted by Eric at 01:56 PM
Monday, July 28, 2003
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.
Does that mean the hard drive committed suicide too?
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.
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.
Even Boris Badenov could have done a better job!
posted by Eric at 05:57 AM
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.)
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.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.)
posted by Eric at 02:22 AM
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.
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.)
posted by Eric at 01:11 AM
Sunday, July 27, 2003
Do words of war come with rules?
War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means."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,(http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_preparewar.htm).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.
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.
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.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).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.]Cool! Now I think I'll paraphrase it:
FEC, FCC, this is war! So blow it out your ass!
posted by Eric at 06:13 PM
Saturday, July 26, 2003
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.
mtpolitics.net: 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!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!
The peace plan is WORKING! Let's give it a chance!
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!
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."
UPDATE: Just before I placed this 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 http://imao.us/.
How is that for generosity? Instant peace and understanding!
WHO COULD ASK FOR MORE?
PEACE: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND!
I just read that if I use Internet Explorer I can add links without having to encode them manually! Instead, I can use command keys -- NO MOUSE -- like right now I'll use Cntrl+Shift+A to create a link he who must be appeased: IMAO. Or THIS one and this one to Instapundit.
Or, I can underline if I do this.
Or make it bold if I do this.
Or I can underline things.
Now. let's see whether that works.
It helps to read the Movable Type instructions, doesn't it?
First post using Internet Explorer. I hate to abandon my beloved Netscape, but this feature is irresistible.
posted by Eric at 03:30 PM
WINNING THROUGH PEACE UPDATE:
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 http://imao.us/.
How is that for generosity? Instant peace and understanding!
WHO COULD ASK FOR MORE?
PEACE: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND!
posted by Eric at 11:05 AM
Friday, July 25, 2003
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 CiceroGlenn 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, 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
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."
Making them stop
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.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.
posted by Eric at 11:22 PM
Do you suppose there are any Messerschmitts here?
posted by Eric at 06:40 PM
Insta WHAT? You didn't
I second the nomination.
posted by Eric at 02:27 PM
A Holistic Cure
For years, Uday Hussein suffered from erectile dysfunction.
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.)
posted by Eric at 01:53 PM
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Earlier I said that if you talk about Vincent Foster, you don't get invited to cool parties.
Check out the house in this essay ("Ardrossan"):
I went to a funeral reception there and I was just so blown away that there is still a place like that with a member of the family still living right there. The host was Robert Montgomery Scott, and he showed me around. The paintings on the wall go all the way back to a huge painting of Sir John Scott in the 17th Century. It's just a few minutes away from me, and is the largest mass of land by far in this area -- a gigantic, 750 acre sprawling estate -- completely surrounded on all sides by densely populated suburbia. I explained to a friend that it is not so much how the "other half lives" but rather, how they "lived." This is true Gone-with-the-Wind stuff -- a totally doomed anachronism, a bizarrely surviving freak reminder of another place, another time. The house is like a British Georgian Mansion -- huge, haunted, filled with antiques and once-favorite rooms where long-forgotten society matrons held court. I had thought the Merriam and Pew places were the last of them, but this one takes the cake.
I hate to say it, but when the present owner dies, that era ends. And I mean REALLY ends. It is horrible to contemplate; here is a recent local story on the place.
Still not sure what this has to do with Classical Values. (Revival angle, maybe.) Just testing....
And actually, you can get away with talking about Vincent Foster at places like that. Such eccentricities are tolerated.
Not for long!
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Catching up with the
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,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.
posted by Eric at 03:29 PM
Frankincense, sausage offerings, and
Si vis pacem, para bellum: If you wish for peace, prepare for war.
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:
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.
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 http://imao.us/, 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 http://imao.us/ 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.
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:
FrankensteinBut 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!
"To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making."How much more frankly political can I get than the above link to Bismarck?
posted by Eric at 11:48 AM
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
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:
....an 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?
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.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.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.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!)
posted by Eric at 03:36 PM
Monday, July 21, 2003
Eyes Only! This post
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.
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!
posted by Eric at 04:27 PM
posted by Eric at 08:33 AM
Sunday, July 20, 2003
Prelude to war….in a
Accurate scholarship can Unearth the whole offence From Luther until now That has driven a culture mad,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.
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."
GOOD LORD! I CAN'T PUBLISH THIS IN A FAMILY WEB SITE!
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?
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.
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?
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.
posted by Eric at 07:11 PM
In Whose Image? Let
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.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!"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.
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.
NOTICE TO ALL VISITORS
I am in the process of moving my blog from blogspot to Hosting Matters. There will be some inconvenience, which I hope will be minimal. As of right now, http://classicalvalues.com is temporarily DOWN, but you will still be able to get here by using http://classicalvalues.blogspot.com. In another few days, that too will be engulfed and devoured by the new site.
Please keep coming back! This blog will be better, look better, and (hopefully) everything will be more efficient. Who knows, maybe I'll get to add comments so you can all yell at me!
posted by Eric at 12:14 AM
Saturday, July 19, 2003
Balance? Having been tested
Having been tested and found to be a liberal asshole, I am relieved to find a ray of hope. I like to think of myself as a Classical liberal (definitely not liberal by modern standards). Now comes Victor Davis Hanson on Classical Values (not my blog, just the concept, which I like to capitalize):
The Greeks were fascinated with the need to adhere to the mean (to meson). The idea became commonplace that there was a sort of natural equilibrium in things that tended to pull events, emotions, and people themselves back to the center, away from both hubris and inaction.
I like that, and I appreciate Mr. Hanson's praise of the ancients.
The way some conservatives routinely smear the ancients, it is refreshing to see one highly respected conservative praise them.
posted by Eric at 07:16 PM
War in our time?
How horrible, fantastic, incredible, it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing! I would not hesitate to pay even a third visit to Germany, if I thought it would do any good.Now that I have established my right to be wrong, I can begin my wrongheaded freefall into my private liberal hell.
Liberals have just as much right to be wrong as conservatives do, but they are so much better at it that many people think they're right. So do they.
I say this even though I confess to being a Classical liberal. And considering some of the things I read, sometimes I wonder whether I am a real liberal.
That fact alone militates very much in Dean's favor. If Sarah Brady is against something, I tend to feel that I should be for it. So, am I now a liberal?
Well, if THAT didn't convince you that I am a liberal, then how about the latest test I took, which makes me look not only like a liberal, but like a despicable fool!
Link to test courtesy of Hondonius Aurelius (not sure if he's related to Marcus…).
So, thanks to these warning signs, I am deeply, deeply worried that I am a liberal -- or at least developing liberal tendencies.
But, as if that wasn't bad enough, I recently discovered that I am also an asshole!
I sure am glad Frank J. has called it off! (And more than anything, I hope the intel is accurate.)
Because history shows that liberal assclowns have a very poor track record of preventing wars. Where would that have left me?
I would have been on both sides in this war, which means I'd have been sawed in two. Instapundit linked to me, and IMAO also linked to me, even complimenting me on my age. I was also placed in Frank's Peace Gallery. (That's for "Peace in our time" isn't it?)
This made me feel doubly honored, and duty bound to stop this awful war.
Glad I don't have to.
posted by Eric at 05:55 PM
Wrong by right
Is there a right to be wrong?
This question is often posed by philosophers, some of whom maintain that there is no such right, usually because of the duty to the good to which all men must aspire. Certainly, there is no moral right to be wrong, particularly if such a state of wrongness is grounded in a deliberately sophistic mindset. An example of this would be a deliberate insistence (by a person who obviously knew better) that the earth is flat, or that the Holocaust never occurred.
But is there a legal right to insist -- quite deliberately wrongly -- that the earth is flat? Of course there is! That is the essence of freedom, notwithstanding the protestations of some moralists. It might be absurdly wrongheaded, but there is still a legal right to be deliberately wrong.
It follows necessarily that there is also a right to be mistakenly wrong, whether one knows one is mistaken or not.
In a piece titled "Hey, It Was Consensual Adult Sex--What's the Big Deal?"Clayton Cramer argues that homosexual sex followed by murder followed by cannibalism is analogous to consensual sex without the ghoulish sequelae. To me, that's a little like saying that permitting the elderly to drive countenances this, which it doesn't.
(Not to blame conservatives any more than liberals for it, but quite frankly, I am sick of the growing national trend of punishing the good for the actions of the bad. I can't have a gun or a pit bull or a cell phone in my car because bad people shoot people and sic their pit bulls on people and run over them while they talk on cell phones? Our supposedly free country is being transformed into a vast national kindergarten.)
Consent, by the way, should never be allowed as a defense to a charge of murder, for solid public policy reasons. The victim is by definition dead, and is unable to be a witness, and even if one had his signed agreement and a video of him agreeing to be murdered, there is no way to know that this was not coerced.
Mr. Cramer has as much right legally to his opinion as I do, though. This is not moral relativism, because the moral value of his argument is not a legal matter, nor should it be.
Plenty of immoral behavior is legal, though, and being wrong in one's opinions, thoughts, or conclusions is only one example. Were society to make it illegal to be wrong, we would have no freedom. That is because there is no universally agreed upon standard of what is wrong. There never has been and there never will be. I tend to agree with the ancients, who believed that good men want to do good, but that does not settle the argument, because it is perfectly possible for two men of good will to disagree completely. What is tyrannical is when one man demands obedience to his opinion. The number makes no difference; 100 million people demanding obedience to their opinions is equally tyrannical.
The right to be wrong is a cornerstone of freedom. Without it, we would all be at the mercy of those who have enough power to declare themselves "right" and criminalize disagreement. I say this as I freely admit that having the wrong opinions can be a form of immorality. Thus, in this instance I think immorality should be legal.
To say otherwise would, in my view, be immoral.
(Why is it that I don't think those who disagree would allow me the same latitude I allow them? If only the Golden Rule worked both ways!)
Friday, July 18, 2003
Quote of the day
"I just let people assume. Its not my fault their assumptions aren't always accurate."From this site via AgendaBender -- who also displays his artistic contribution to the war effort. AAAAGENDABENDER HU AKHBAR!
I could use the above quote as a starting point for a very lengthy rant. But not tonight.
posted by Eric at 11:26 PM
New Emanations, Old Penumbras?
Be not afraid of any man, no matter what his size. When danger threatens, call on me, and I will equalize.Nobody likes new ideas, but I want to raise a legal question and I can't find much law in support of my position.
I was practicing law the last time this happened. I was arguing a novel position in the Alameda County Superior Court, and my opponent slammed me viciously, saying, "Your Honor, Mr. Scheie cannot cite a SINGLE CASE for his position." Humiliated, I spent much of the night in the law library, until I finally found a case, which was right on point!
The court had given both of us another day to do some more research, and I felt quite proud of myself for having found a case. But do you think my opponent was happy at my legal breakthrough? Hell no! When I cited the case, he promptly sneered, "Your Honor, that is just ONE CASE!" (He had found nothing to rebut my position, so my clients won.)
Inconsistencies bother the hell out of me, and I cannot understand the mentality of people who on the one hand believe in a vastly expanded "zone of privacy" -- from Griswold v. Connecticut (contraception) to Roe v. Wade (abortion) and on through to Lawrence v. Texas (sodomy) -- but who think there is no right to possess firearms within that same zone.
There is said to be a "penumbra" emanating from various portions of the Constitution, or even deriving from the concept of freedom itself. Emanations from this penumbra, says the court, give us the right to privacy in our homes which has been expanded over the years, ultimately to the point where states have lost the right to restrict it.
It seems that in general, conservatives tend to dislike the expansion of privacy to deny states' rights, while liberals are all for it. Are they? Is privacy is now the law of the land?
If the right to privacy, deriving as it does from the common law notion that a man's home is his castle, does not include the right to defend it, then of what value is such a right? Is it privacy at all? If, in the name of privacy, a woman is allowed to have an abortion, if contraceptives and sodomy are allowed in the home, it does not take much imagination to see that privacy must also allow guns in the home. Furthermore the Second Amendment recognized that the right to keep and bear arms "shall not be infringed." Retroactive by implication, the language makes clear that the right to keep and bear arms not only predated Griswold, Roe, and Lawrence, it predated the Constitution itself. I submit that the right to be armed is at the essence of privacy and of freedom -- part of that core bundle of rights from which all penumbra emanate -- whether the courts have said so or not.
But wait! Hold on, your Honor! I have found a case!
Just one case (and a dissent within the penumbra of the case at that), but it's still a case! Here is the citation:
QUILICI v. VILLAGE OF MORTON GROVE, 695 F.2d 261 (7th Cir. 1982):
[N]othing could be more fundamental to the "concept of ordered liberty" than the basic right of an individual, within the confines of the criminal law, to protect his home and family from unlawful and dangerous intrusions.Bear in mind, this is the dissenting opinion. (If you like, you can read the poorly reasoned majority opinion here.)
There may be more cases discussing the Second Amendment in a privacy context, but I think the above supplies at least a good starting point. Dissenting opinion or not, I think it's brilliant. The fact that it is twenty years older than Lawrence's expansion of the privacy penumbra is actually an argument in its favor: yesterday's dissent should be the law of the land today (an oft-recurring legal theme).
My question is quite simple: Might Lawrence have breathed new, unanticipated, life into the Second Amendment? If liberals will not admit this, then what does that say about their consistency? Likewise, if conservative purists cannot stomach citing Lawrence to support the Second Amendment, maybe some gay gun think tank could come along and argue in the alternative.
Here is my question to them: How does it harm the Second Amendment to claim that Lawrence has breathed new life into it? (Might Lawrence have even strengthened the Second Amendment?)
Legally, it is sometimes a good idea to argue theories in the alternative. I see no reason to establish a division between Second Amendment supporters and right-to-privacy supporters. They should be able to work together when they find common ground, and complement each other's efforts.
No matter what you're allowed do inside your home, it ain't much of a castle if you can't defend it!
URGENT UPDATE: I posted
I posted this yesterday, but there may still be people coming here from Instapundit's link.
If so, please read this before you do anything else.
To anyone who is here today because of Glenn Reynolds' link, I would rather have you immediately visit my blogfather's home page, scroll down on the left hand column to the picture of the cats, and help him out.
Please do that rather than get distracted here. (Not that I don't want you to read my blog, but Jeff is in dire straits right now. As I said earlier, I wouldn't be blogging but for his help.)
posted by Eric at 12:31 AM
Legalize WHAT? (Permissiveness can
Does that mean WATER may become legal again?
I kid you not!
Yes, dear friends, pure, simple, water is yet another casualty of the War on Drugs. (Biden discovered that the kids like to drink the notorious substance when they get high on Ecstacy and work up a sweat dancing, so his bill treats water as "drug paraphernalia.")
But if we're lucky, night club owners just might be allowed to turn the bathroom faucets back on! Or even (gasp) sell bottled water!
Talk about going soft on the war on drugs! And just when we were winning?
In an earlier blog, I said that I never thought I would see the day when I would have to advocate such a thing as this -- and I will dare to advocate it again right here:
End the Culture War now. Restore Classical Values.Where else can you find a free country which passes legislation declaring war on: speech, association, and.... on WATER?
"The Drug War must be fought on all fronts."
Even the, er, water front?
(Or, to pinch a favorite phrase from a favorite blogger Don Watkins, "No, seriously.")
posted by Eric at 12:18 AM
Thursday, July 17, 2003
A Good Archetype The
The Arch of the Minneapolis Train Station (featured in today's Bleat) reminded me of that gaping hole left by the savage destruction of the Twin Towers New York, and the nagging problem of what to put in it. While Lileks is not happy with the pointless nature of the Minneapolis arch (nor with the fact that a perfectly good street was destroyed in the bargain), he's nonetheless impressed by the grandeur of the thing:
It’s huge. My GOD it’s huge. The arches - which serve no function; they're purely decorative - are meant to echo the Stone Arch Bridge, an historic railroad structure that’s now a pedestrian walkway, and part of the extraordinary new riverfront redevelopment. It’s lovely, and it’s impressive, but for heaven’s sake look at the SIZE of that thing.I can certainly see Lileks' point about the pointlessness of arches which serve no function, and the Minneapolis arch array is a bit, er, modernistic for my tastes.
But what about majestic arches that do serve a function? What is function, anyway? While an arch like the one in today's Bleat would seem to elevate form over function, if we look at the history of single, standing arches, their form often IS their function -- provided, of course, that the function is the representation of an important idea.
A good discussion of Roman arches (with nice links) can be found here
Roman arches were huge, and like the arches featured by Lileks, not intended to be functional in the sense of going anywhere, but unlike the latter the Roman arches were there to make an important statement, in a majestically imposing, esthetically pleasing way.
If the French can celebrate their victories and memorialize their dead, why can't we?
In my earlier blog on the subject, I complained about the demoralizing aspect of that gaping hole, and, noting New York's incredibly rich Classical architectural heritage, proposed a Classical solution. Admittedly, my satirical suggestion of reproducing the Colosseum and holding a series of victory games will never be on the Republican or Democrat agenda. But still, I am genuinely surprised that not one architect has considered the importance of having at least a Classical element. This makes no sense to me, as the history of the city, its architecture, and the nature of the events of September 11 evoke one theme:
LEST WE FORGET
Something is called for which will meet the test of time. The image of the arch (whether triumphal or commemorative) will do that. Literally, they span human history.
They don't take up much space, especially when you consider that the World Trade Center area covers sixteen acres.
And, considering that the preexisting nature of the demolition, we don't have to tear down a perfectly good street in Minneapolis to build one.
posted by Eric at 04:44 PM
Are You A NERD?
This is the FOURTH one of these silly online tests I have taken. The first one said I was a wolf, the second gave my blog a very lame rating of only PG-13, the third said I was going to the Seventh Level of Hell, and now I am told that I am only 24% nerd. A quarter nerd? I would have thought I'd done better than that. (After all, some of my best friends are nerds.)
I don't like the word "Geek" -- as it is often confused with "Greek." This causes all kinds of confusion, especially with the young and impressionable...
As a matter of fact, I am not all that comfortable with "NERD" at this site. It looks too much like "NERO" and could also cause confusion. I mean, if I said
NERD FIDDLED WHILE ROME BURNEDwouldn't you be confused too?
(Link courtesy of Common Sense and Wonder.)
posted by Eric at 09:37 AM
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
A Deadly Silence Arthur
Arthur Silber has taken on war advocates for not acknowledging the human costs of the policies they advocate:
I find it reprehensible that these people seemingly addicted to war cannot even take a few minutes to acknowledge the terrible costs incurred by those people their policies have placed in harm's way -- particularly when the greatest danger they themselves face is a broken fingernail as they type their endlessly hawkish posts on their keyboards (urging us on to Saudi Arabia, or Syria, or Iran, or North Korea), safe in their comfortable, danger-free middle or upper-middle-class homes.Arthur has a good point here, no question about it.
I don't think I am addicted to war (I don't know whether I fit into the "war blogger" category or not), but I never forget what others have to face. Many face death. Still more face serious life-threatening injuries often disabling them for life.
Even those lucky enough never to be wounded or killed face a daily battle with the elements unimaginable to guys like me, who suffer little more than occasional mouse-related carpal issues.
Here's just one example, from last week (it is long, but worth the read, particularly for those armchair warriors who never think about the consequences of policies they advocate):
Friday, July 11, 2003
I can't read something like that (much less read about deaths) and not be deeply affected by it. I am particularly sensitive for two reasons. First, I wanted to serve in the military myself (and spoke to recruiters at two different times in my life), but I never did, primarily because, I figured, the gay issue would come up sooner or later in the course of a background check. I am outspoken, and have had innumerable associates, friends, and legal clients who have been, hmmm, how should I put this? far more outspoken than I, and who certainly ranked high in the FBI's hall of subversive fame. (Don't expect me to name names, either.) I would have been outed, regardless of whether I asked or told. Anyway, the issue of military service for homosexuals has been a sore spot for me, one which I blogged about recently.
The second reason I am sensitive about the fatal consequences policies can have is that I watched so many of my friends die of AIDS, and I blamed myself because I had (at least so I was told) advocated a lifestyle (if not that, then at least advocacy of a particular form of love) which had killed them. Rationally, love is not the same thing as war, but death is death, and the dead are dead. AIDS did kill more Americans than died in Vietnam. Rationally, I don't think I am responsible for the deaths of either group, but I am a human being, with the usual human feelings, which are not always rational. I will always feel guilty because my friends died and I did not. (I watched moral conservatives and the gay movement blaming each other for AIDS deaths. Regardless of blame, I still suffered.)
Anyway, Arthur is right about denial. Denial of the reality of war is dishonest and immoral. War supporters who ignore the constantly-mounting casualties, while they may not be responsible for them, should take some time to acknowledge war's terrible costs.
There is no better soldier in the country than this guy, who would be the last person to ever deny the horrible realities of war. His site is well worth a visit, as a reminder.
posted by Eric at 04:52 PM
The "dumb" Mr. Bush?
Are Democrats stampeding into an ambush?
Former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force Jack Kelly, (also former Green Beret, and national security writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) delivers the following warning:
….Democrats can dig themselves into a deep hole if they make extravagant antiwar and anti-Bush statements now that prove false later.Might it be true that the Bush administration has more evidence about WMDs than they let on?
If so, then the Democrats (and the left in general) have seriously underestimated a popular Republican president.
It wouldn't be the first time.
the president’s accusers may soon have to eat their words. A growing number of sources demonstrate President Bush’s words were accurate and based on intelligence that originated . . . with the French.It is not my purpose here to defend Bush. (As a libertarian, I am highly suspicious and distrustful of both parties.) Rather, I am wondering whether his attackers -- blinded by an all-consuming hatred of Bush -- (how many times have they said this was "worse than Watergate"?) will spend the next two or so years trapped in an ambush they thought they had laid.
Who is really being ambushed? Maybe the Democrats could ask this guy.
(As to long term political fallout, is this merely a tar baby? Or might it be more on the level of mass extinction?)
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Disturbing thoughts I sincerely
Are words like "privatization" and "competitive sourcing" becoming code language for increased entanglement between big government and big business? Leading Objectivist scholar Arthur Silber has a very interesting post on the subject. It is long, but worth reading carefully.
Leave aside for the moment your particular opinion about the advisability (or lack thereof) of any of these particular policies, and the very obvious political bias which informs this presentation, and focus instead on the general phenomenon: the blurring of the distinction between the public and private spheres, and the manner in which business and government become indistinguishable from one another.This is very disturbing, certainly by any informed libertarian standard. As I have said before, I do not like the use of language to manipulate people -- especially where well-meaning libertarians might be hoodwinked into supporting the antithesis of what they want.
One of the things I learned in Berkeley is that if you make things complicated enough, and stultifying enough, your enemies will be exhausted, and ordinary citizens will never figure out what you're doing. In this case, I worry that libertarians (especially the live-and-let-live, small "l" variety like yours truly) will never realize what is going on, instead accepting the assurances that government is being made smaller by "privatization." If the reverse is going on -- a major power grab by a new government and big business nexus -- the citizens should at least know about it.
As a free market advocate, I wouldn't want to be forced to become "anti-business!"
Most of all, I hope small businesses aren't being given the shaft.
posted by Eric at 07:41 PM
The Ultimate Ad Somebody
Somebody has finally figured it all out.
Stream and scream!
Jeez, do I really have to put all those links in just to avoid plagiarizing what I really didn't plagiarize?
posted by Eric at 03:23 PM
URGENT: PLEASE HELP MY
I haven't been blogging all that long, and the last thing I would do would be to ask for money. Not that I oppose the free market system, but blogging is largely an idea sharing network which operates as an alternative to the commercialized information infrastructure, and I see a genuine sense of community among bloggers which depends on integrity -- something money can't buy.
That does not mean bloggers should not take care of each other and help each other out on a voluntary basis. There have been a number of stories about some of the big bloggers raising hundreds of thousands of dollars by asking for money, and as a libertarian I do not oppose that.
But my blogfather really, really needs money, and I am deadly serious. He hasn't raised much, and I have sent him what I could.
He is on the verge of bankruptcy and cannot pay his medical and dental bills. (Bankruptcy is one of the worst things that can happen to you -- and I speak from personal experience.)
Anyone who has enjoyed anything I have written has Jeff to thank for it, because he encouraged me and blogfathered me when I had zero hits, zero links, and not much of an idea what I was doing. Jeff has been a longtime asset to the blogosphere, a credit to the Second Amendment, and an inspiration to all homosexuals seeking self respect (especially the right to think independently, which is the essence of human dignity).
Please go to Jeff's blog, and scroll down to the picture of the cats. Click on that, and you can contribute via Paypal.
posted by Eric at 10:47 AM
Now you see it,
Years of news stories do not provide evidence?
Late last week, Glenn Reynolds linked to this article by his former employer, Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, described as "a lifelong Democrat and a man of unimpeachable integrity." Then yesterday, Instapundit offered plenty of links to stories about the connection between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Particularly interesting were the old stories, documenting al Qaeda links from 1999.
This was shortly followed by this link -- to a huge pile of news stories documenting Osama bin Laden's Iraqi connections. Of course, most of the reports were before Bush was in the White House.
This morning, the Weekly Standard called the Instapundit "indispensable". The Standard goes on to report links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda going back to 1998.
What I want to know, what happened to all these old news stories? Was Saddam Hussein's slate wiped clean once Bush was elected? For more than six months, I have been reading -- over and over again -- that there are "absolutely" no links or connections between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
Old news vanished.
I don't think the problem is so much a short public memory span, so much as it is one of the mainstream media simply not reporting news -- new stories are ignored while old stories disappear.
Either way, Glenn Reynolds is indispensable!
posted by Eric at 08:12 AM
Monday, July 14, 2003
From guilt to innocence
Ah, the good old days. Before the War.
There is no experience like the feelings of nostalgia that can sneak up on you when you take a lazy Sunday drive in the country, in a pre-war automobile.
Which war is that, you ask?
Let's see.... That would have been the War to End All Wars, as the car I was riding in was made in 1913. A 1913 Buick Model 25 Touring Car, restored by a Buick dealer in the still good old days of the early 1960s. This car is a fully drivable restoration, not one of those fussy museum pieces you'd be afraid to take out on the road. When the dealership had it restored, it wasn't much older than a car sold by the dealership in the early 60s would be now. Gives you some perspective on time.
In 1913 my father was four years old. Drugs -- marijuana, cocaine, heroin, you name it -- were all completely legal in this country, and available without prescription. World War I had not started, although the "winds of war" were blowing then, as they always are. And that 1913 Buick was on the road clattering along, lurching through the gears, at a top speed of about 40. Amazing that no one had thought of valve covers; you have to lubricate the push and rocker assemblies manually with a little oil can before each trip. Park the car and oil drips on the ground. To start the engine, you must cup your hand, thumb backwards, on the underside of the crank, then give it a yank upwards, making sure to pull back your hand when it engages. Otherwise, you can break your hand or dislocate your thumb if the crank kicks back. I rode in the open back seat, which had a carriage feel to it. The crude suspension and mechanical brakes made the ride distinctly rougher than any car today, and I was reminded of riding in a World War II Willis Jeep. Because of the open valves and primitive exhaust system, the engine made a noise which at first sounded a bit like a diesel, but listening more closely I could hear little puffing and hissing noises, of the sort you hear in an old two stroke farm engine.
If you want to hear the engine sound, you can. Simply go to this web page, and click on 1913 Buick. It is the exact same sound I heard yesterday.
The world was still a pretty innocent place when that car was made, and it wasn't all that long ago.
posted by Eric at 11:43 PM
Once again, I stand
Mike Silverman posted this test, and I just took it. In the interests of fairness, I think I should disclose that I am a very bad person, even though I am not.
I am NOT a lustful, prodigal, avaricious, wrathful, gloomy, violent, fraudulent, malicious panderer!
What I cannot understand is why it says that I am violent, because I am a very gentle person, neither violent nor bad tempered in any way. Nor am I prone to even the slightest dishonesty or malice. Why, I wouldn't even engage in the mildest exaggeration!
So, just wait till I get my hands on the bastards who designed this test! I hereby sentence them to die the same miserable death I promised the awful spammers!
Test designers, your fate awaits!
Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test
posted by Eric at 11:17 PM
Is this a matter
Why the constant need to come up with new, exclusive, elitist terms designed to make like-minded people feel better about themselves at the expense of others?
Sure, it's fun to be bright! That's because if you're bright, others are by definition dim. Dim is of course an alliterative synonym for dumb (itself an invitation to further political alliteration -- "dumb, dumber, dubya…").
Why the sudden display of militant triumphalism of the bright? I don't know, but I am a tad suspicious. I don't like manipulation of language for concealed political ends. Not to defend the obviously "dumb" (and certainly not "bright") Mr. Bush, but there is something just ever so more than slightly evocative of a political aroma here. "Bright" being released as an adjective right now just feels, well, political. I can't prove political intent (and, of course, the brights claim to be above politics), but I dislike being manipulated by words, and I refuse to hang my head in shame if and when the Bright People take over The World.
If they keep pushing this nonsense, I'll just call myself a "blight."
Sins of the flesh....
Now that's a new one. (Again, thanks to Instapundit.)
Read all about it here.
Really now, I thought I'd heard everything. Remember the good old days, when cannibalism used to be a charge only leveled at pagans? Remember "heathen cannibals"? How times change!
For years, guys like Robertson have scolded, heckled, hectored, and hounded perfectly reasonable people with endless charges of "moral relativism." And now, they are supporting cannibals -- as long as they're Baptist cannibals.
So how come they won't support Baptist homosexuals, anyway?
Reynolds also links to a very astute blogger who proposes simply ignoring Pat Robertson from now on.
Does that mean he's dead meat?
Can he be "cured?"
LIBERAL UPDATE: In the interest of fairness, it should be noted that the Reverend Jesse Jackson also supports the Baptist Cannibal. (Also, "It is possible that either, or both, of these men were duped.")
So I guess I should be more forgiving, and chalk it all up to just another matter of taste.
posted by Eric at 03:07 PM
Sunday, July 13, 2003
States' Rights for Me,
What the hell happened to "states' rights?" asks Arthur Silber. A good question, and one which I've blogged about before. As Arthur says,
conservatives only use that doctrine when it gives them the result they want. When it doesn't, forget about it, and let's federalize everything.
That's why I found it so difficult to go along with the argument many conservatives were making in Lawrence v. Texas. They do not apply the doctrine of states' rights consistently. As I posted earlier:
many conservatives are all for states rights when a state is trying to take away freedom, but let that same state dare attempt to expand freedom (as in the case of liberalized marijuana laws), and they'll goose step all over everyone in the name of federal supremacy.Well, it didn't take long for another piece of evidence to appear, did it? The ink on Lawrence v. Texas is barely dry! And the issue? Medical marijuana, what else?
Worse yet, Arthur makes the point that they compound this hypocrisy with an even greater hypocrisy, by demanding the courts step in and enforce their version of the Culture War:
But the hypocrisy of Bush and his gang is even worse. What about those voter initiatives that approved decriminalizing marijuana use for medical purposes? Well, we can't have that, the people expressing their will by "democratic" means. So let's use the courts to get the result we want -- which is precisely the charge that all the conservatives made about the recent Supreme Court sodomy decision, for example.Anyway, read Arthur's post, and this story, and then weep.
Don't expect the conservatives to whine and complain about the federal government stomping all over the rights of states, and using the courts to enforce the Culture War. Such overreaching is just fine -- but only when they happen to like the result.
One thing I have learned: if you believe in principles, stay the hell out of politics. (You might try blogging instead.)
posted by Eric at 06:25 AM
Saturday, July 12, 2003
URGENT UPDATE AND NOTICE
I, Eric Scheie, do not support the Orange Order in any way, shape or form. Whether William of Orange was gay (or homosexual, or whatever you might want to call him) is not relevant to the Orange Order or my opinions of that organization. My purpose here is to poke fun at hatred in general, and move the world towards tolerance. Satire is one tool I use, so please take that into account. If anyone was offended, I suggest you reread this piece, and, please, think.
Remember, please read the following with caution.... And try to keep an open mind.
Orange you glad today's your anniversary?
Poor croppies you know that your sentence has come, When you hear the dread sound of the Protestant drum! In memory of William we hoisted his flag, And soon the bright Orange put down the green rag!
I wonder whether I'll get to see the July 12 reenactors marching today. July 12 always makes me think about the rewriting of history -- a fascinating topic, because there is so much to rewrite, and in so many ways. (And that is without ever departing from the truth.)
It is natural for people to not want others to know about anything which makes them look bad, the Greeks being no exception. Let me contrast the attitude of two modern tour guides -- one Greek, one Turkish -- towards ancient history.
When I visited Corinth, the Greek guide there was not happy with my even mentioning the rampant sexuality of Corinth -- which no doubt played quite a role in Paul's dicta condemning it. (I'll respect your intelligence and my time, so I won't bother to cite Corinthians here.) But the Greek guide was not worried about Paul; rather she was concerned about anything being said which might make anyone -- in any way -- think less of the Greeks.
No such problem in Ephesus (an ancient city located in Turkey)! The Turkish guide was more than delighted, and in fact went out of his way to dwell at length upon such juicy topics as Hadrian's relationship with Antinous (which, as he took delight in stressing, was wholly in accord with Plato and Socrates' teachings).
If the Greeks ran Ephesus today, I have no doubt that the guides would tell a very different story.
These guides reminded me of a very conservative friend's outrage when I commented upon the modern-ness of regular bathing, and the simple yet unavoidable fact that some of our favorite founding fathers went for very long periods between baths. He immediately saw a plot to make them look bad, even though I made clear that I thought no less of any of them. Same thing with Benjamin Franklin's illegitimate kids; he said that was a lie.
Can we expect any less from the Greeks?
And to think that I am so naïve as to imagine that I can wave my magic wand and the entire establishment will correct Watergate history?
In this blog I have discussed religion, as well as antihomosexual bias in general, but there is something much deeper, a raw nerve rooted in our history and in our particular military tradition, geopolitical in nature.
Whenever there is a war, and one entity "wins" over another, there is always a deal to be made if the two sides are to live in peace. The subjugation of an enemy is never without costs to both sides. Where there are cultural divisions, both sides, like it or not, tend to be changed, sometimes willingly, and sometimes kicking and screaming, but never unaffected. We have seen this in countless contexts over the millenia. From Alexander the Great's aping of his conquered Greek subjects, to the Romans shameless cultural borrowing from the Etruscans, Greeks, and Egyptians, there is a pattern of endless repetition of this simple formula. It runs in my gene pool, and the argument could be made that it is evident in the style of my personal emotional, creative and destructive patterns. I am about one half Celtic (one fourth Scottish and one fourth Welsh) and one half Teutonic (Norwegian and German in roughly equal parts.) My ancestors pillaged, killed, plundered and conquered each other for a very long time, ultimately leading back to prehistory. I feel and sense the various aspects of these peoples, and I feel very fortunate to have genetic material rooted as it is in the conflicts between such gifted races. Ironically, tragically (in the truest sense of the word), all of this warfare combines to strengthen the races, much as the Nazi regime's defeat helped give birth to Israel, and the Viking occupation of Ireland gave rise to Brian Boru and Irish nationality.
One of the methods commonly used by a "conquering" people (I use the term in quotes for often the conquered become a Trojan horse, when the right opportunity arises, as the Romans found when their legions were filled with the "blue eyed devils"!) is the principle of co-opting the conquered. Anyone who has read Machiavelli will know that this is often in the best interest of everyone, but a little something is always lost, just as virginity, once lost, can never be regained. The Romans had a lot of trouble with the Celts, and the issue was still unresolved when the western empire fell to invading Germanic tribes. So the conflict persisted with the Church becoming a vestige of Roman rule (except in Ireland which escaped Roman rule and is thereby "purer") Yet paradoxically, the Celts tended to cling to the original conquering Church when it, in turn became threatened by Protestantism, an early Germanic "invasion". In England the issue became somewhat confused, and for a time in Scotland there was a three way split between the Catholic Church, and the British Church of England, and the Scots' own brand of Protestantism. The ultimate and ironic hyperextension of this principle was the introduction of Celtic (but Presbyterian) Scots into Ireland as Britain's proxy soldiers, so today we still have Celts fighting each other when both groups are victims of a long since forgotten divide and conquer shell game played by the British. One man, Wolfe Tone, saw through this (Rising of 1798) and the British put his movement down with ferocity exceeding that meted out to any other British colonial rebellion. (They selected just the right man for this vicious job -- General Cornwallis, still smarting from his humiliating defeat at the hands of our forefathers. The Irish paid dearly for our victory!) The interesting thing about the Scots is that since the British never fully subdued them culturally (they couldn't enforce even the ban on kilts, which carried the death penalty) they made a classic deal: Join our military and keep your cultural eccentricities (the Scottish regiments were strictly segregated) and we'll all be happy. It worked quite well, for it gave the Scots a legal outlet for their crazed brand of militarism, and they were an absolutely quintessential cornerstone of modern British military history. Today there is no longer much use for brave young Scots, and Scotland has (at least so I'm told) one of the highest rates of heroin addiction in the U.K.
A deal was also made to keep the Welsh quiet, drunk, and digging in the mines. They were incorporated into the Royal Family itself with the somewhat strained "Prince of Wales" concept. In Scotland this was also done by getting a Scottish king on the British throne, and then declaring Scotland part of this "union". Note that since 1296 every British monarch has been crowned whilst sitting on the "Stone of Scone", a.k.a. "Stone of Destiny". That very stone was stolen from the Scots who had also used it for coronations, but they had stolen it even earlier from the Picts! (The Scots were, of course, early IRISH, Christian invaders who conquered the Picts.) Aren't we a quarrelsome lot? As recently as 1950, the stone was recaptured by some kooky Scottish nationalists. Those Teutonic bastards haven't won yet, have they? Has anyone? Last I looked, the damned Teutonists had given the Stone of Scone back. I think that's as it should be.
This historical background will hopefully give a little insight into my point. We as a nation also fought a war and then made a deal with the conquered, similar to what England did with Scots, although the Civil War (or should I more tolerantly say the War Between The States?) was far more costly. The cornerstone of the deal we made as a new nation was the pedestalized enshrinement of Southern manhood (and all associated sacred cows) as the backbone of the U.S. military. This deal is not written, and it is not legally enforceable. It is simply the acknowledgment of a covenant collectively born in the blood, gratitude, and guilt of an entire nation, but it is still a deal. Southern men have more than lived up to (and died for) their side of the bargain! No examples are needed. A more controversial topic is whether the Scottish cross of Saint Andrew should be allowed to live on in the United States -- in the form of the Confederate Battle Flag.
I have spent a great deal of time in the South in my lifetime, and I know that old ways die hard. I remember that as recently as 1994, an interracial couple who sell at gun shows had a pretty bad time of it at a show in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and I understand why. They wouldn't draw a glance in most places these days. (On the subject of "old ways" I would venture that if the good citizens of Spartanburg studied their military history, they might have picked a different name for their fair city!)
There is a popular bumpersticker against gays in the military -- a cartoon depicting two little stick figures. One figure, smiling, is anally penetrating the other, bent over, frowning figure, and superimposed over the scene was a red no-smoking-style circle and slash. I hate to make light of this, but they've got the picture bass-ackwards if they think it's the homo who's smiling and the hetero who's frowning. Ask any homo who's been in the joint. But I think that we should be careful about the mixing of gays and straights in the military for this very reason. Ours is not a culture which can honestly understand facultative as opposed to instinctive homosexuality. Most people just don't get it, in particular the often self-serving gay rights movement. I disagree with the common notion that everyone who has a homosexual encounter is a homosexual, but the left and the right enjoy buying into it. Straight prison inmates can "choose" homosexuality. Their targets usually cannot. Just go next door to Mexico, and you will see homosexuals routinely used as a sexual outlet by young unmarried straight guys who have absolutely no concomitant loss of masculinity, because they would rather have a woman. What does it matter to them if the homosexual would not? (This is a phenomenon called "trade" in the United States, and, except for limited cases of street prostitution, for the most part it has fallen victim to mindless identity politics.)
So, for starters, there is a distorted view of homosexuals as rapists. To the extent that anyone applies this view to the issue of gays in the military such a view is utterly bogus. Further, rape is rape, and is unacceptable human behavior regardless of sexuality. I have seen no epidemic of rape in the military, even with women added to the picture, so the spectacle of homosexual rape is an utter red herring especially were homosexuals allowed to serve a segregated setting where all sexual conduct could be easily governed by an elaborate system of militarily logical rules, as was done in the past. (The latter is NOT a proposal to replace "DON'T ASK DON'T TELL," or to do anything else; it is merely a politically irresponsible remark.)
But that bumper sticker is evidence of a feeling of being raped -- at least, that's my thesis. The South was defeated, and had to swallow its pride, and more important, a consequent loss of manhood. The way they got it back was by becoming the closest thing we have to national soldier caste. Bear in mind also that until a couple of weeks ago homosexual relations were still illegal in almost all of the former Confederate states. To suddenly decree that homosexuals must be counted within their ranks amounts to an all-out, treasonous assault on the last bastion of Southern manhood: in this case (at least it is so perceived) SOUTHERN MANHOOD ITSELF!!
I care about this stumbling block, and that is why I am going to such great lengths to blog about it, because I think it will not go away easily. It has been my experience that the best way to deal with emotionally laden issues is with simple, fearless honesty.
There is the further issue of cultural shock. Homosexuals are perceived as Northern, urban, whiny, effeminate, and definitely UN-military from a Southern military caste perspective. Many homosexuals are just those things, and probably would not get through basic training, nor would they want to. They HATE actual gays in the military! And I can tell you, the feeling is mutual.
So, we have an unwritten gentlemen's agreement handed down by our forefathers without much relevance to the modern age. Traditions die hard. The only solution to all of this emotion is rational thought. It starts at the level of the very discussion of an issue which was not easily mentionable even twenty years ago, but which is now middle American table talk. My biggest question is, once the shock value recedes, why are real men so worried about the sexuality of others? Surely they don't really fear rape by homosexuals. If they do, they are being genuinely silly and childish. And if the fear is that others will think them homosexual if there are (and there are!) gays in the military, that fear is ludicrous. There are already many sneering people out there (gay and straight) who feel that those who most viscerally oppose gays in the military are themselves hiding something. I do not happen to be one of them. I simply feel that there has not been enough honesty, and that has led to a gigantic chasm of distrust on both sides.
Lastly, we come to the religious angle. As I said, I think the primary raw nerve involves sublimated Confederate rage, but religion is also a powerful factor. The problem is that it is not being applied evenhandedly. Fornicators, blasphemers, atheists, abortionists, Satanic cultists, even Nazis are all free to join the U.S. military. So the obsession with the homos is obviously much more than merely religious. Theologically, homosexuality simply doesn't rank as high on the sin list as where the shrill Savonarolists claim it belongs. And they had best remember well two things. One, this is a secular society, containing many religious variations, and it is not supposed to allow any one version to dictate governmental policy, especially military policy. Of all things in our country which must by their nature remain secular, it is most of all the military, for it asks people to die, and nothing is more deserving of utmost respect and acceptance than the particular religious views of a young person facing death in battle. From a military perspective (and from the Classical Values perspective) the virtue of patriotism trumps any particular religious dogma. Second, all people who can recognize reality must remember that each one of us is considered, by the majority of the people in the world, to be headed for hell for the very failure to follow the tenets of opposing religious doctrines. I don't care what (if any) religious views one has; the earth's other religions clearly earmark all nonbelievers as EXCLUDED!! The Ayatollah, the Pope, the Hindu Fakir, the Generic Reverend Sunday, Rabbi Schneerson, Reverend Farrakhan (partial list -- I hope readers will understand) by their own admission are not going to the same place, nor are their followers! Hell must be pretty full by now. Wait just a minute...
They can't keep the homos out of hell, can they? I demand inclusion!
Turning now from hell in the afterlife to those who prefer hell in the here and now, I would like to examine objections which I increasingly hear on the left, including the gay movement. I have had more occasion than most people to listen to views on gays in the military, but the more I tried to discuss workable military policies toward gays, the more I kept running into a visceral antipathy towards the military from the very people who were the most gung ho on the issue of gays in the military. I couldn't but suspect that many of them only wanted gays in the military as a way of hurting the military. They recoil in horror at the prospect of making it help the military. In another blog, I discussed my experience with "Gay Guns" in the 1982 San Francisco Lesbian Gay Parade. We were accused of "joining the enemy" by idiots who somehow feel that homosexuality equals pacifism. There is also a fear in some quarters that homosexuals -- armed or otherwise -- represent a throwback to Paganism, with all of its dangerous excesses. After all, look what armed, militaristic homosexuals did in Germany in the 20's and 30's. The wild energy which can be released scares people. My only response is to say that any link between homosexuals and Nazi Germany falls when we look at what Hitler did to them, beginning with Ernst Roehm. Just because some homosexuals helped put Hitler in does not make them any guiltier than the other, heterosexual 95%! Germany was Germany; this is America.
But the argument is often made that homosexuality is evocative of Paganism. Those Celts (and Romans, and Greeks) were pretty wild sexually, and homosexuality was definitely part of the picture. Saint Paul's strict Pharisaic background was very intolerant of sexuality in general, and his reaction to Pagan sexual practices led, in my opinion, to an improper grafting of his own beliefs onto the early Church. (The Galatians were early Celts living in Turkey.) That is another topic, but as to Celtic behavior, for alternative contemporary opinions to Saint Paul's horrified reactions, read Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and (even earlier) Aristotle on the Celts. That last one's a bit fuzzy, so here's an exact cite for the occasional pendant who might stumble into this blog:
… among the Kelts and other peoples among whom male homosexuality is openly approved.(And despite what some of the mean spirited modern moralists have said about the man, Aristotle was actually pretty cool.)
But even if homosexuality was a common Pagan practice, how is that an argument against gays in the military? If anything, it is an argument in favor, as history demonstrates.
Back to square Orange. It ain't about Anita Bryant anymore. And it isn't just about terrorism.
This pro-Orange essay cites with approval a letter from a woman who derides the double standard of allowing huge gay parades, but not "Protestant" (Orange) parades.
This newspaper article features a photo of a bloodied Iranian protester which continues to circulate in today's news items (even though the photograph was taken in 2000). But more interesting is that between the Iranian crackdown and another news announcement of a crackdown on Orange Parades, we find a curiously incongruous story of a big Gay march in Rome (between 70,000 and 400,000 marched past the ancient amphitheater and the Vatican).
I don't believe in rewriting history, but I did find this oddity about the oddly tolerant William of Orange. As I have warned in my blog before, there are serious problems in judging the past by modern standards, but when people get this silly about celebrating what occurred 313 years ago, why can't a little whimsical historical mischief be indulged?
Then there's this offhand remark, by a gay Dutchman:
Orange harks back to William of Orange, a good gay Hollander like myself. But it's also the color of the juice that anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant used to sell.Funny, because I thought he stole my idea. Must be the mischievous doppelganger effect. (Swear to God I wrote about Anita and Oranges before I found his quote, but who cares. This is not plagiarism; it's color coordination!)
Some of these colors all run together after awhile….
But please, no rainbows! I'm with Judy Garland on that issue. Her daughter, Liza Minelli:
was in the ladies room with her mother when she was about 14 and this drunk lady came in and started saying: "Oh, Judy, whatever happens, never forget the rainbow." And Judy said, exiting grandly, "Madame, how could I forget the rainbow, I've got rainbows up my ass."I'll stick with the colors we've got.
posted by Eric at 01:06 PM
"Third" Way or "Fourth"
This statement -- from Bill Clinton to Tony Blair -- appeared in today's Drudge Report:
"I say to you there's a fourth way out there. It's not a do nothing conservatism, it's an aggressive pro-change conservatism.Bill Clinton claims he is a champion of the "Third Way."
Watch out for the definers. Define and conquer is their game.
Friday, July 11, 2003
First Chastity Belts, then
WAIT! Before any of you dear readers venture out for the weekend, read this....
[H]e first felt pain in his abdomen almost a month ago. And then he saw the flies intermittently coming out of his penis.See what can happen when you forget to keep your flies zipped?
posted by Eric at 05:36 PM
Blogger's Itch Agenda Bender,
Agenda Bender, a true genius of the Blogosphere (not just me talking; he was described by Colby Cosh as "one of about five or six hitherto undiscovered genuine American geniuses that have been unearthed by the emergence of blogotopia"), posts this from his vacation site, where he is forced to use a wood-burning PC:
I am otherwise covered in mosquito bites and can attest to the luxurious truth that the scratched-itch region of the brain lies in sacred proximity to orgasm central.
He's right, because I had exactly the same experience with poison ivy. (You can avoid scratching by applying hot air from an electric hair dryer -- and believe me, this really hits the itchy orgasm neurons.)
Luxurious truths! I love it. And I barely scratched the surface.
If you're itching for more, you'd better read the world's most dangerously wicked social satirist, Agenda Bender.
posted by Eric at 12:22 PM
Thursday, July 10, 2003
Fire me for writing
Hey what's with this O'Reilly guy anyway? Why doesn't he like bloggers?
Satirically helping myself to a Victorian expression (after all I work for no one), I called O'Reilly a "white slaver" in a previous post, because he helped the Saudis get away with kidnapping two American girls. He is hoping that this story will go away, so if you have not done so already, be sure to read it (and please check out the links).
He can't fire us all!
posted by Eric at 10:53 PM
The high cost of private morality (a classic case of confused values....)
A friend recently asked my opinion about this ebay item (if you hurry you can still see it while the pictures are up) -- an apparently authentic Victorian chastity belt. He was rightly suspicious, because he assumed things like this had gone out of fashion in the Middle Ages (where, I guess, things like that belong).
I know, I know, this is hardly a "Classical Value." (The closest thing the Romans had was the Fibula -- not a chastity belt but a toga fastener which gave later Medieval prudes the idea.)
Nor is the ebay item a good value, by any standard. My immediate concern was the ridiculous price: the wretched thing sold for over $500.00. I hate to see friends get ripped off, so I did a little research, and found a more "modest" reproduction -- at a far more reasonable price.
Here it is! A nice deal for any parent or husband who wants the best value in "blocking hardware" to be found anywhere in any store that I know of. I sent the URL to my friend immediately, not to butt into his business, but because I worry that he is wasting money on frivolous items he will never use -- the genuine Victorian chastity belt being a perfect example. The modern reproduction is the way to go. Plus, the reproduction is more strictly "TRADITIONAL" -- as I will soon explain.
(So much for my "value judgment.") But economic issues did not end my inquiry, because my friend raised another point about the distinction between devices available in the respective Medieval and Victorian marketplaces. Not that he is intending to use the thing, but he expressed concern about the mechanics of taking a dump. Indeed, if you look closely at the monstrous ebay contraption, there is no opening to speak of in the anal area. Instead, there are a few holes through which a girl under suspicion might have been barely able to wiggle a turd, but only if she shifted her already tortured derriere to an insufferable degree. And I stress "might"; I wouldn't want to try it, especially if I had the frequency which must result from eating the food in the days before such things as refrigeration and running water.
I thought about this problem, and I realized that the designer of the Victorian chastity belt was in one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situations. The problem, of course, is obvious from the laws of physics. To allow egress is to allow ingress. And, considering that the Victorians were the sort of people whose sensibilities were offended by things like uncovered table legs (see this article), I think it is fair to conclude that they would have wanted to skirt (sorry!) the anal issue entirely.
But what about the call of nature, you ask? Isn't it a stretch to thwart one of nature's laws in order to prevent a violation of nature's laws?
Not so fast! This is a bit complicated, and I will try to explain.
Take a look at this more, er, "classical" Medieval chastity belt. Clearly, the designers anticipated the problems of both ingress and egress. Instead of concocting a fanciful array of fluted iron shapes (which must have chafed unwashed private areas something awful), they had two simple holes -- the smaller one in front and the larger one in the rear. BOTH feature "one-way" spikes pointing outward, in a similar manner to modern urban parking garage treadles. You can drive it out, but you can't drive it in. (Again, I am sorry to have to engage in such circumspect language, but I am trying to live up to my PG-13 rating.)
I hate to say this, but clearly, the Medieval chastity belt designers were more realistic, and more humane. If I had to wear one, I would go for the strictly "traditional" value.
There I go -- upholding traditional values.
What is coming over me, anyway?
Wednesday, July 9, 2003
Patient answers As I
NO STRANGERS -- JUST LUNATICS I HAVEN'T MET YET. The Ole Perfesser links to this story at something called Classical Values. Oh God, I said when I first spied the masthead, please let it be a joke. Alas, it wasn't. The proprietior is a gay guy who spends most of his Lawrence v. Texas post talking about how great states' rights are. Elsewhere he states: "My life has been largely wasted opposing fanaticism. This does not mean I have no opinions."
I am glad to expand anyone's horizon, and I really don't mind being called a lunatic (I even call myself a nut), but I think this guy misrepresents my views on states rights. In the post which so upsets Mr. Edroso, I criticized conservatives for their double standard on states rights:
[they're] all for states rights when a state is trying to take away freedom, but let that same state dare attempt to expand freedom (as in the case of liberalized marijuana laws), and they'll goose step all over everyone in the name of federal supremacy.
Hardly a ringing endorsement of states rights. But then I explained my own position:
I like states rights. I just don't think that an expansive reading of the doctrine should give any government -- state, federal or local -- the right to force me to go to the back of the bus, or to force open the door to my bedroom.
For this pitifully weak endorsement, I am accused of spending "most of [my] Lawrence v. Texas post talking about how great states' rights are"?
While I thank Mr. Edroso for crediting me with the honor, I think conservatives who champion states rights can find a better spokesman than me.
The poor man obviously fails to see my humor. Not only doesn't he appreciate the tongue-in-cheek aspect of the "Classical Values" blog name, but he didn't bother to read my sarcastic aside about states rights in a hypothetical case against Jesus Christ:
shouldn't it be up to the states to punish such things as healing on the Sabbath, wandering or strolling from place to place without apparent business, or aiding and abetting accused prostitutes?I am new, but I am learning. I had thought the satire in the above was quite obvious. Obviously, I didn't make it obvious enough.
Obviously, I'll have to work on being more obvious.
One Edroso complaint has me baffled completely. I am charged with not mentioning a crucial piece of evidence:
"how Fox got in on the scheme."
He's right, of course. I missed that completely. How did Fox get in on the Savage scheme?
Last I looked, Savage's show was syndicated from KSFO (a Disney-owned station), and he also worked for MSNBC, which just fired him. His syndicated show is carried on hundreds of stations around the country. How Fox? How MSNBC? How the hell am I to know? Am I supposed to ask each station? Please tell me, someone, how did Fox get into this scheme? I thought they only hired real conservatives. Were they duped? Am I helping to cover up for Fox? Does this mean Savage is an honest conservative after all? I need to know!
Either I suck as a fact finder or I'm not the only lunatic patient in the blog asylum.
More patients needed?
posted by Eric at 08:44 PM
More Savage conservatism In
In yet another remarkable twist in the story, Michael Savage, instead of facing up to his own remarks, is blaming another radio show for them. He now claims that the man he called a sodomite and whom he hoped would get AIDS was put up to it by or somehow working for the Don and Mike Show.
But even if this is true, how does it change the nature of Savage's remarks?
Let's see… it's OK to call someone a sodomite and tell him to go die of AIDS if it turns out he works for another radio show? (Please explain, someone… anyone!)
In any case, Don and Mike deny involvement. Here is Don and Mike's answer (you have to scroll down and click on the article, and I am not sure how long it will be there):
The Westwood One duo insisted during their Tuesday afternoon show that they didn't know the caller who phoned in to Savage's MSNBC show and who mentioned their names. Don Geronimo said he'd never even heard of Savage before his firing from MSNBC, and Mike O'Meara added that Savage "needs to make this go away as soon as possible. The more he keeps dwelling on us setting up a caller, the more we're going to have to come in here and talk about it." Geronimo noted that what's upsetting him is the association of Savage's comments with his and O'Meara's show. "There is a story in the national press about a stupid disc jockey wishing AIDS and sodomy on someone, and in a roundabout way — which really isn't roundabout — the disc jockey who did it is blaming us for it," Geronimo said. "That's my problem."
Hmmm. I thought conservatives believed in things like taking personal responsibility for one's actions instead of blaming others. Oh well.
Does this mean Savage isn't a conservative? (Or is that a rhetorical question?)
posted by Eric at 07:22 PM
The real Michael Savage?
I was fascinated to read this post from Clayton Cramer (a conservative supporter of sodomy laws) which raised even more questions about Michael Savage.
Cramer disdains the fact that Savage's anti-homosexual remarks got more play than his blatant racism (which Cramer attributes to "the relative acceptability of racism vs. "homophobia" to the mainstream media"), but the following remark really got my attention (please remember, this is a moral conservative talking):
I can't say that I ever listened to him for more than about ten minutes, because I found him too irritating. He was to conservatism what Michael Moore is to intelligent leftist analysis.
Then I received an email from a man in the talk radio business (whose name I will omit because I don't think I should use source names without permission -- although I will say it's NOT from G. Gordon Liddy), expressing a similar view:
Today, I'm a talk host on a station that carries Savage. He is tremendously popular and, I believe, he's tremendously dangerous to conservatism, in part because it's clear he's not being honest. He doesn't mean the stuff he says, he's just playing the part of the "bigot next door," saying "what people are thinking," as his promos claim...if those people are members of the KKK.
What the hell is going on with this man, and why haven't these questions been asked by any of the responsible voices in the mainstream media?
Another email to me stated:
"Liddy wasn't taken off the air for any more nefarious reason than that his numbers weren't high enough and Michael Savage's obviously were."The writer's assumption -- though sorely mistaken -- reminded me of a very troubling fact: G. Gordon Liddy had an established national audience and a local audience in San Francisco, while J. Paul Emerson and Michael Savage were new, and virtually unknown -- yet deliberately, strangely, promoted by Disney. The last time I looked, Disney was no champion of conservative causes -- certainly not far right, John Birch society ones. I have distrusted Savage and the people involved in his career from its beginning. I think he is bad for the cause he claims to represent as well as bad for the country.
Now, the possibility does exist that Savage has done so much damage to the cause of anti-gay bigotry that I should just shut up and gloat. So why am I complaining? Because I cannot stand such dishonest media manipulation. It's one of the reasons I took up blogging. I believe that the only way to keep these people honest is for ordinary people to take the medium into their own hands. Outfits like Disney, ABC, or MSNBC should not be allowed to get away with fraud. There is something utterly creepy about a fake media "homophobe." (Frankly, the concept is a lot creepier than a real homophobe, honestly stating what he really believes.)
Once again, I cannot prove my suspicions, but I think it is almost foolish not to examine the possibility of Savage being a secret poseur, deliberately undermining and discrediting the people who imagine he is on their side.
Then again, he might just be an ordinary demagogue without any principles whatsoever. But all these coincidences bother me. Police detectives usually begin any investigation with the question, "Who benefits?"
A note to all
Thank you for visiting this site!
I am a 48 year old longtime gay activist (who disagrees with many of the premises of the "gay movement"), a Second Amendment supporter, Deadhead, pit bull breeder, a (gulp) lawyer in recovery, and in general, a freethinking nut, and I thank you for visiting this blog. I started my blog a year ago, but abandoned it because I wishfully imagined that we had entered a new era of tolerance. However, the recent fussing this Spring over the preservation of sodomy laws made me decide to take my blog more seriously -- if in a satirical manner as originally intended. (So I have only been blogging seriously since May 16, 2003.)
I tend to be skeptical of all "isms" because no matter how expansive or how beautifully sublime any system of thought or philosophy might be, once the tenets are laid down, vested interests tend to evolve which stultify further growth. That said, I try to be open-minded and tolerant of every view except extreme intolerance. (Threatening to imprison me for failing to conform my life to particular interpretations of religious texts is one form of extreme intolerance.)
I think history should be respected, but examined carefully. I like Western Civilization, and much as I distrust religious excesses, a central thesis of this blog is that we should be careful not to throw the Classical "baby" out with the Traditional "bathwater."
posted by Eric at 03:17 PM
The "Gate" opens in
Today, July 9, is a big, big day in Iran. Not only is this the day designated for the general strike, but its historical importance cannot be underestimated. The "Bab" (Farsi for "Gate") was martyred on this date in 1850, but his revolutionary ideas cannot be kept down.
To understand why July 9 is such a big deal, this wonderful Tennessee news item I found will get you started.
I blogged about this before, here, and if you didn't read it, please do, as it contains more good links.
I think this is an important enough issue that I am taking advantage of the increased traffic caused by Glenn Reynolds' very generous recent link to my post on Michael Savage by staying up late and repeating myself a little.
Persia is a proud and ancient culture of people who want to help lead the civilized world, not retard it. They are sick and tired of being under the yoke of Medieval mullahs, and they deserve our support, our love, and a better understanding and appreciation of Persia's place in the history of civilization.
Religious tolerance is not new in Persia. It happened before and it will happen again.
It may be happening right now.
UPDATE: Not so fast! Instapundit reports that the big strike has been canceled.
I agree that success through patience is far preferable to another Tiananmen-style slaughter. If Iranians can topple the Medieval mullahocracy without a bloodbath, their country will be a better place for it. So will the world.
posted by Eric at 01:31 AM
Tuesday, July 8, 2003
Strongly Cautioning My Inner
It's a hell of a thing to look at your blog the day after you've shared your inner angst with a bunch of strangers.
I don't know whether it is a good idea for me to read my own blog. I am not sure how to rate myself, so I took an official blog ratings test which I found at Dean's World.
Here's my rating:
Gee, I thought I was a little racier than that. I feel less guilty already now that I know I couldn't possibly be offending anyone. I mean, come on! PG-13 !
That's kids' stuff!
posted by Eric at 03:19 PM
The Suspicious Rise Of Michael Savage
Please brace yourselves, because this post will sound a bit crazy. But I have to say it, and it's personal. Earlier today, while in the middle of writing the last post in which I mentioned Watergate and my history with G. Gordon Liddy (a good human being and a dear friend despite all the stuff leftists say about him), I was greeted with the news that Michael Savage, a demagogic bigot I have loathed for years, was fired for calling a gay man a "sodomite" and saying that he hoped he'd die of AIDS.
I witnessed firsthand the rise of that son of a bitch. And now -- I hope -- I am witnessing his fall. Because the paranoid side of me fears that some of my actions might have helped launch Michael Savage's suspicious career in San Francisco in 1994, I can't remain silent.
This is a tough story to blog, and I apologize for what I am sure will be a lengthy rant, but this is personal, and I'm a witness.
Let me start with some background. I saw G. Gordon Liddy for the first time when he debated Timothy Leary in 1979 on the UC Berkeley campus. While I was more inclined at the time to be a fan of Leary, I had rather liked Liddy's spunky bravery, and had enjoyed watching him telling all three branches of the federal government to fuck off during the Watergate era. (Little did he know then that far from protecting Nixon, he was unwittingly assisting a domestic coup d'état.) Anyway, Liddy won me over at the debate even though I disagreed with him on a variety of issues (as I do now). The guy was simply a class act, a good debater, and most of all, a gentleman. I loved Liddy's book Will, which contains excellent advice on dealing with life's adversities, and explains his defiance of the state, the left, and Judge John Sirica, whose 20 year sentence of Liddy (for a first time non-residential burglary) was described by no less an authority than historian Paul Johnson as an "act of judicial terrorism."
The ancients would have been proud of Liddy, himself an admirer of the ancients. I admired him then, and I admire him now. Whether I agreed with all his opinions was completely beside the point.
Fast forward in my life to 1993. In a state of total despair, I had decided to kill myself. My lover John was dying of AIDS, and my previous lover had already died. I was on Methadone, drinking heavily, and had decided that once John died I would be free to kill myself. One day, on my way to the Methadone clinic, I happened to see a billboard advertising Liddy's radio show, which I did not know even existed. Reading Will and seeing Liddy speak years before had become a distant memory by then, but his show soon captured my imagination, and actually helped me decide against suicide.
It is a complicated story, but Liddy's vibrancy in the face of despair, and his zest for life convinced me that it would be ridiculous to surrender my life and die. I truly, consciously, wanted to die until Liddy's philosophy activated something which made me stop and think logically. I realized that my very desire and ability to kill myself was, literally, the conquest of the fear of death. Now, if you reason logically, why fear life if you do not fear death? I realize that this might not make sense for many potential suicides, but I have always been a logical person, and my refusal to continue living was grounded in a logical desire not to go on living in a world of continual death! If you can't beat death, I reasoned, why not join it? I wanted to be with my friends. Liddy's cold but compassionate logic made me realize that this would be a stupid move for me to make. Not that I ever asked him or anyone else for help, for that is not my style. It just sunk in. I'll never forget a letter he read from a man facing prison. His wife had left him, his kids had changed their names, he was to go into custody soon, and he despaired, "I am a broken man!" Liddy's advice -- that he simply "get over the "broken man" stuff. No one can break you but you!" -- struck me like a bolt of lightning. I simply picked myself up, and if I hadn't I would not be alive to blog today.
(Pretty heavy stuff, and not easy to discuss, but isn't that as good a reason as any to blog?)
Not long after deciding to live, I got into a disagreement with Liddy about gays in the military -- something I continue to disagree with him about quite strongly. He took the time to read my faxes, put me on the air and couldn't have been more polite. (Something of which Michael Savage types are simply incapable.) Having read about Watergate, I was overwhelmed with a gut feeling that he had been treated unfairly and deserved a pardon. How could I, as a gay Clinton voter (and lifelong registered Democrat) do any less than ask a president I helped put in office for simple justice for a man who had helped me a great deal?
I wrote to President Clinton in April of 1994, strongly urging that he grant a presidential pardon of Liddy. A few months later, G. Gordon Liddy was summarily yanked off the air in San Francisco, along with libertarian Gene Burns (another real gentleman who'd been kind enough to put me on the air). Their ultimate replacements were -- guess who? -- two hitherto unknown local San Francisco novices, Michael Savage and J. Paul Emerson. I listened as these slimy people advocated things like a nuclear blast to clean out San Francisco's Castro District, and I wondered, "Hmmm… Does someone here have a plan to discredit the right wing?" To this day I believe they were agent provocateurs -- deliberately inflammatory poseurs masquerading as conservatives. I was absolutely certain that Emerson was an agent provocateur, and told as many people as I could. After an outburst not unlike the latest one from Savage, he was fired from the San Francisco airwaves, moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, and simply disappeared from public sight.
While I can't prove Savage is an agent provocateur, it certainly looked like it to me for many years. And it looks like it right now, too. As my blogfather observed today:
Discount Blogger sums it up perfectly at this post:
If Savage is doing such a great job of making conservatives look bad, well, is it unreasonable to ask just who the hell he's working for?
To me Michael Savage is more than just a bigoted radio hatemonger. I take him as a personal insult. I worry that he is an agent provocateur. I hope nothing I did helped launch him. (But I am often haunted by FDR's warnings that there are no coincidences in politics....)
Most of all, I hope he's gone for good.
UPDATE (01/08/05): I'm stunned and tickled pink to see that this older post has been InstaLanched again (in he context of Michael Savage's cruel remarks about tsunumi aid). I'm really honored that Glenn Reynolds thinks highly enough of it to link it twice. Welcome all InstaPundit readers, and thank you, Glenn!
Monday, July 7, 2003
Enemies In Need, Indeed
More on fanaticism.
Radical fundamentalists often strike me as insecure people who use fanaticism to bolster an unacknowledged lack of confidence in their beliefs. Sometimes I see atheists behaving the same way.
Personal attacks mischaracterizing those who disagree are all too common; atheists characterize people who refuse to solemnly assert atheism as "religious" while fundamentalists call anyone not sharing their fundamentalist philosophy an "atheist."
What is behind this insecurity? Whenever you state an absolute belief in something that is almost by definition unknowable, you're biting off more than you can chew. Chutzpah -- in the form of fanaticism -- is oftentimes the best way to conceal massive insecurity. Fundamentalists and atheists share an absolutist view of things which, while it may be charming to others and comforting to them, is often precisely this sort of cover.
That said, I want to come to the defense of atheists, for they are generally braver and more honest than fundamentalists. They reject the need for the security which a belief in God offers, and they are willing to face a certain and absolute death. This takes quite a bit of bravery. Religious people are often motivated by fear of death. People want answers and they do not want to die. Atheists fear death too, but they face it without the comfort of religion, which is braver. I have more respect for an honest atheist who accepts his ultimate nothingness than someone who subscribes falsely to a religion simply because he is afraid to die.
Motivations behind belief systems, of course, have nothing to do with truth. Whether there is a god has nothing to do with the motivations of believers, and whether the human soul simply enters a vast nothingness has nothing to do with why an atheist wants to believe that.
Hey don't look at me to prove or negate God, or gods, or infinite spirituality!
That ain't my job!
I wouldn't tell you even if I thought I did know. Asserting that kind of stuff only leads to trouble. Too many people get all pissed off and kill each other that way.
What does bothers me right now is the ferocity and hatred being exhibited by people claiming to follow one ancient Jewish rabbi who came along, tried to moderate some of the harshness of the Mosaic Law, and was executed for his efforts. I cannot claim to be a witness to anything, but taking what I have read at its face value, he was a good man.
Why the hell are radical fundamentalists determined to make Jesus Christ out to be a bigot on the level of, say, Mohammad? (I am not saying Mohammad WAS a bigot, mind you, because I don't know, but many of his followers behave as if he was.)
At the center of the sodomy debate are Medieval interpretations of Mosaic Law, which was originally intended to govern the ancient Jews. Sodomy was condemned along with a variety of other things, including breaking the Sabbath, talking back to parents, astrology, screwing around with menstruating women, wearing the wrong hair styles, and so on.
How is it that the followers of an early rabbi who wanted to simplify the law managed to reinterpret that law not only to govern non-Hebrews, but in such a way that it is enforced more harshly than the way the Jews themselves enforce it?
Will someone tell me the logic behind this?
Another thing which bugs me: How is it that "fundamentalists" get to pick and choose so that homosexuality becomes the most important principle of Mosaic Law? What about breaking the Sabbath, cursing one's parents, or practicing sorcery? The only logically consistent fundamentalists I know of are the followers of R.J. Rushdoony, who called for the execution of not only homosexuals, but liars, drunkards, sorcerers, and children who curse their parents.
Why do the others, the pickers and choosers, focus upon homosexuality? They are insisting right now that God will punish the entire country because of the actions of six members of the Supreme Court. Remarkable, really. I don't know what to make of it. Certainly, there is no way to reason with these people.
Not to be outdone, the atheists have come up with a new label for themselves: bright. (The implication is that all who disagree with them are dumb.)
Why this need to be better than others? To be saved, more worthy, brighter?
This apparent insecurity is making me feel insecure.
What's making me feel even more insecure is the need to divide the world into only two camps: ATHEIST versus RELIGIOUS. "Religious" is coming to mean "fundamentalist" as is the word "Christian." When I was a kid, fundamentalists were simply one particular, kooky, variety.
I hope they're not working in an unholy alliance with each other. That would be almost as bad as collusion between fundamentalists and gay activists.
It must be comforting to divide the world into those who agree with you and those who are your sworn enemies.
If I refuse to do that, whose enemy am I?
Fanatics tend towards what Marx and Hegel called the dialectical struggle. Thus, while they always oppose with a special passion those fanatics on the other side, they regard them as kindred spirits -- much the same way that soldiers engaged in protracted battles tend to understand (and even admire) their mortal enemies -- sometimes even more than they admire the peacemakers and bureaucrats who end up in charge after the cessation of hostilities. The world is an easier place when it can be divided into two camps: you and the enemy, and of course the goal of every fanatic is to somehow force everyone into either being "with us or against us" -- meaning that the slightest disagreement can land you in the enemy camp -- regardless of how you might feel about the enemy.
Ann Coulter will serve nicely as an example, and at the outset, let me say that for the most part I agree with much of what she says about Communism and the supporters of that wretched, evil, and failed ideology. Doubtless all Communists will now consider Ann Coulter to be the Devil Incarnate. Many liberals will too, as they have fallen into the line of Ms. Coulter's withering fire. Her objection to liberals -- that they enabled Communism -- is well founded. But to say that this makes all liberals traitors is as unreasonable as the claim that all of Weimar Germany's political leaders were traitors to their country for cooperating with (or at least acknowledging the superiority and inevitability of) the forces which had defeated Germany in World War I.
I am fascinated by the fact that genuine fanatics -- and real ideologues in general -- detest pragmatists and compromisers even more than their ideological enemies. Perhaps this is because the pragmatists are so often the ones who end up holding power; perhaps there are other reasons. In a recent post, Ms. Coulter lists five much-maligned figures: Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, Whittaker Chambers and Ronald Reagan -- all those men "who did the most to defend our freedom in the last century."
For a moment, I was taken aback, because I never thought I would see Richard Nixon, true pragmatist that he was, fiercely defended by such a staunch ideologue as Ann Coulter. But then I read the piece, and saw that Nixon was barely mentioned. The right wing does not like Richard Nixon, because he was the author of détente with Russia, normalized relations with China, and ended the Vietnam War. Watergate is an uncomfortable issue with them too.
Nixon was so bitterly hated by fanatics of both sides that I naturally find myself attracted to him. When I discovered that he was brought down by hidden skullduggery never made known by the major media, I naturally assumed that "the left" was behind it all. It took years for it to sink in that Nixon was a victim of collusion between fanatics of the right and the left working together. That in bringing down Nixon, they had established a new power elite which upped the ante and pushed this country much closer to a real Culture War instead of the cute media variety characterized by long hair, patchouli oil, and bellbottoms. Everything was henceforth to be politicized.
I came to realize that Nixon was indeed brought down by the forces of the Culture War -- much to this country's detriment. A new and ugly spirit took over, transforming America into a land of media heroes and villains, liberals and conservatives. And not old style liberals and conservatives, but newer, meaner, infinitely more in-your-face, ad hominem, varieties. "You're either with us or against us!"
Nixon's Great Silent Majority (which tends now towards live-and-let-live libertarianism with a small "l") has been sitting out the elections since. They are not fiercely partisan "McGovern Democrats" for Hillary Clinton nor are they the "Moral Majority" ushered in by right wing ideologues.
My life has been largely wasted opposing fanaticism. This does not mean I have no opinions. I did what little I could to persuade Big Media to take a second look at Watergate, and I tried to get a pardon for the much-hated, much-stereotyped G. Gordon Liddy. If fanatics attack something, I feel obligated to examine it closely. Maybe I'll defend it. Likewise, if they promote something, I'll also feel skeptical.
As Glenn Reynolds points out, President Bush is now attracting favorable attention from left-leaning types who ought to know better than defending an evil Republican. Liberals generally hate him, but these days so do many conservatives. His efforts to fight AIDS in Africa is seen as too altruistic (something which hasn't earned him too many points with Objectivists, either).
It's funny that Bush's behavior here hasn't gotten more attention from mainstream media. I guess it's because it doesn't fit the heartless-Republican stereotype.
Bush had better watch out, because if he keeps this up, he'll win by a Nixonian landslide, and fanatics of all stripes will be out to get him.
Nixon, clever politician that he was, was so preoccupied with his enemies on the left that he failed to anticipate the fatal course of events which would be set in motion by his "friends."
Paranoid, but not paranoid enough...
(Et tu, Brute?)
posted by Eric at 11:53 PM
Hadrian hits Madison Avenue!
Thanks to this tip from the esteemed I. Punditus (whose all-knowing, all-seeing eyes miss nothing), I just discovered that the multinational corporate giant Pitney Bowes is using one of Rome's best emperors, Hadrian, in a New York Times ad.
I like it so much that I have to display the image here. (It's a rotating ad which has already been replaced by a Toyota ad which does not feature Hadrian.)
Wow. Talk about Classical Values!
Any idea what Hadrian would drive?
posted by Eric at 01:46 PM
Sunday, July 6, 2003
Dead to Rights I'm
I want to thank my blogfather Jeff as well as Don Watkins for mentioning me even while I wasn't there. I am still trying to get caught up with my blog reading, because I make it a daily habit to read every new post by each link in my blogroll every day, and a lot gets said in an entire week.
A lot has been said about Lawrence v. Texas, too. Tactically, I still think it would have been better to get rid of sodomy laws state by state, because that would have been a more democratic, more final, victory. The sodomy laws were ultimately doomed, but the fundamentalists will now falsely claim that the "good moral Christian people of this land" were stepped on by a totalitarian Big Brother Supreme Court. They will never shut up about it, and there will be much to blog about. Read Don Watkins' very thorough fisking of Cal Thomas. (I am feeling too magnanimous to remind anyone of the pre-911 love affair many of the moral conservatives were having with Islamic fundamentalism. They'd better be nice too, or I might start remembering a few morsels....)
Read this chilling account of precisely such a federal railroading -- of individual rights, states rights, and local rights. Never mind that California's voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996. The jury wasn't allowed even to hear about it!
(Similar laws were passed by voters in Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Oregon and Washington.)
Problem is, I like states rights. I just don't think that an expansive reading of the doctrine should give any government -- state, federal or local -- the right to force me to go to the back of the bus, or to force open the door to my bedroom.
I wish people would remember that government force does not always come in the form of Bull Connor or John Ashcroft, though. Government force can masquerade as an altruistic concern over the very rights many of my friends demand -- so dressed up in human rights or domestic rights drag as to be unrecognizable. A couple of weeks ago, I expressed reservations about the wisdom of inviting the government enforcement mechanism (and the long arm of the law) into a lifestyle which has long been invisible on the radar screen.
This is from the latest Reason Magazine:
What do you do after you've won one of the most important Supreme Court cases in decades and shoved the state, kicking and screaming, out of your bedroom? Apparently, you beg the government to walk right back in. "The Marriage Revolution" has arrived, and homosexuals are the unlikely heroes of the quest to revive a fading institution.
Once again, I ask, what if you don't want anything to do with marriage? "Rights" which entail responsibilities always come with strings attached. Social security is a hell of a "right."
But just try to opt out of it.
I blogged about these concerns before and I am just as worried now about the state's foot in the door. A recent post in Samizdata made me think some more about the infinite expansion of law and bureaucracy to regulate anyone and everyone, in this case in the name of protecting everyone from "domestic violence":
The government’s war against men is now plumbing ever more astonishing depths. On Radio Four’s Today programme yesterday, the Home Secretary David Blunkett could scarcely wait to boast of new proposals to deal with domestic violence.
Sure, that's over there in England, you might say. Here we have rights.
Really? What about federal gun control laws which take away your Second Amendment rights on the merest accusation by an aggrieved "domestic partner?" As the law stands, a woman need only ask for a restraining order and, as if by magic, her partner loses his Second Amendment rights. Read about it here. (In that case, a woman simply complained that her husband had verbally threatened her boyfriend, an allegation which automatically criminalized any gun ownership by her husband.)
Will homosexuals be allowed to opt out? I doubt it. In fact, based on my personal experience with gay activists around the gun issue, I can state with confidence that far too many homosexuals fear and loathe firearms as it is. Given an opportunity to disarm a gun-owning lover by simply filling out the correct legal form, many a vengeful politically correct ex would jump at the opportunity.
posted by Eric at 03:53 PM
[another blogger "BIG POST ERROR"
[another blogger "BIG POST ERROR" forced me to continue this from the above post]
I am delighted to see two esteemed scholars from the libertarian camp endorse the idea of simply privatizing marriage. Arthur Silber presents a logically unassailable argument for marriage privatization, and Reason magazine cited David Boaz' similar idea.
Catching up with Arthur Silber, I found myself also drawn to a most unpleasant analysis of the sodomy law issue, by a guy who thinks that the government ought to persecute and lock up homosexuals for -- get this -- being too "pagan":
Although sodomy laws often did apply to members of both sexes and to married couples, the Christian religion has always stigmatized homosexuality—not just behavior but the inclination—as evil and unnatural. It is true that even in the most rigorous Christian societies, a distinction can be (and should be) drawn between sin and crime. Pride, envy, and disloyalty may be more sinful than adultery and homicide, but the former are typically ignored, while the latter are punished severely, often capitally. Most Christian societies, however, have punished notorious cases of homosexuality with rigor, partly out of a desire to extirpate a vice so closely connected with paganism and partly in order to discourage homosexuals from recruiting young men and destroying, so it is believed, their chances of salvation.
States rights my ass! This guy is talking -- right here in modern enlightened America -- about the right of "Christians" to persecute "pagans!"
Few things have so raised my Classical hackles as this nonsense (or given me a better reason to have taken up blogging). Why, the guy wants to rid us of dangerous Renaissance and Enlightenment thinking, and he says so. All that he loves was "undermined by political dreamers during the Renaissance and Enlightenment."
Christians don’t have the time and resources to police the neopagans. We can, however, take care of our own business. This means restoring marriage to its proper place and stigmatizing divorce, adultery, and fornication as anti-Christian practices we shall not tolerate in our communities. If we belong to a church that condemns homosexuality, we can make sure that there are no openly “gay” pastors, including gay pastors who claim to be celibate. If you belong to a tolerant denomination, you can find another church. Today.
All hail the Bigot God of Intolerance?
How dare this guy speak in the name of all Christians, anyway? And in the name of a reform rabbi who preached tolerance? I am beginning to wonder, if the guy they claim to follow really did return to earth, whether he wouldn't be put to death by all these worshipers of the Bigot God of September 11.
(Well, shouldn't it be up to the states to punish such things as healing on the Sabbath, wandering or strolling from place to place without apparent business, or aiding and abetting accused prostitutes?)
posted by Eric at 03:46 PM
Friday, July 4, 2003
posted by Eric at 09:58 PM
Thursday, July 3, 2003
Sea Me Blog This
This is a wild experiment, and I don't know whether it will work, but I am at sea on that diving trip and until today I couldn't get this satellite rig to open blogger.com.
Now that I have a moment of opportunity, I am going to attempt a post, for better or worse. No editing allowed, obviously. (The guy who runs this system said to tell you he is sorry!)
Anyone still checking in here, THANK YOU for doing so. I will be back this Sunday July 6. Until then, please go and spend some time at my blogfather's site. He wrote a piece about his dead cat which I had planned to comment upon. Find it and read it, because it is another piece of evidence for phenomena often called "supernatural" but which we simply are unable to measure scientifically. (So far....)
Yesterday I visited the wreck of the famous "Oro Verde" off Grand Cayman Island. Watched a sea turtle battling a pesky angel fish over a coral stalk which the turtle rightfully owned, for he had done all the work in tearing it free. (Amazing how loud were the noises made by the turtle's crunching and scraping beak.)
Then I got bitten from behind on the finger by an angry black fish.
No sign of the lost Altlantis Civilization so far. Wish I could impart a lesson in Classical Values from under the sea, but I'm afraid not. The turtle versus the fish is about as Aesopean as I can get. (Perhaps it is a lesson in Natural Objectivism....)
There! Let's see what happens to this post.....
posted by Eric at 02:47 PM
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