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barstool philosopher,
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but never a Monday morning quarterback

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Saturday, October 13, 2001
Is this the Right Message
I know, I know, this story is from Sep 19, but I had other things on my mind then. I still wish I could re-enlist...

Why Do I Hate Unions?
It's not all the things cited in this S.F. Chronicle editorial that get my knickers in a knot with unions.... actually, wait a minute... yep, that's it - those are the things that I hate about unions.

Note: I don't hate the idea of unions - I just hate the "thuggery" that takes place in unions. What began as a means to protect low wage labor from turn-of-the-century industrialists, now is a force that has outlived its usefulness. I don't want a third party negotiating my wages - that should be between me and my employer. In some skill areas it's impossible to get a good paying job unless you belong to a union: not because employers wouldn't pay a fair wage, but because unions are ubiquitous in the industry. Unions excercise a form of monopoly in the labor market that is just as malisciously harmful to consumers and businesses as any other monopoly, but the worst part is that union thuggery hurts the idea of "the union" most.

Vitriolic Vidia?
Sir Vidia has a good point to make about militant Islamic nationalists who also happen to be anachronists, but when he says:

The story of Pakistan is a terror story actually. It started with a poet who thought that Muslims were so highly evolved that they should have a special place in India for themselves.

This wish to sift countries of unnecessary and irrelevant populations is terrible and this is exactly what happened in Pakistan.

I just feel the need to respond - militant Hindu nationalists are just as bad. Naipaul could have picked an example that was less suspect... 'nuff said...

Preaching to the Mass Audience
This letter from today's Washington Post expresses exactly how I feel about that "The West Wing" episode:

Tom Shales's Oct. 5 column contradicted everything that the Oct. 3 episode of "The West Wing" was fighting for: an open-minded, intelligent dialogue....

Shales says that fighting terrorism, not fighting discrimination, should be our goal. "Viewers of MTV, for instance, have heard more condemnation of discrimination than of terrorism itself," he writes. To that I say, "About darn time!" Terrorism does not need public condemnation; everybody already knows that it's bad. Discrimination, on the other hand, happens everywhere, every day. I cannot actively fight terrorism; that's why I pay my taxes and support the men and women in our military (God bless them). But I can actively fight discrimination. I can think about other people's feelings. I can stand up to the guy on the
Metro who says to the lady, "How can you do this?" -- just because she is dressed modestly and her hair is covered. I can engage in discussions, and be educated, and express my opinion, and listen to the opinions of others.

Just like on "The West Wing."

I agree with everything the writer said! It's not Hollywood's job to fight the war, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with a morality play - at least the show didn't engage in all the hysteria that's evident in other places...

Is He, or Is He Not?
I was pondering the problem that presents itself when people claim to be what they aren't. Specifically, were the terrorists who murdered 6,000 innocent people on Sep 11 Muslim, or not? Muslim clerics found it hard to believe that the terrorists were Muslim: sounds an awful lot like denial, doesn't it? Were the clerics simply being absurd?

No, they weren't - not technically! What they were faced with was an absurdity. That the terrorists could do what they did is incongruous with the claim of being a Muslim. This may seem far-fetched, but it's perfectly reasonable - we have a similar problem in Christianity. In the canons of the Roman Catholic Church we have codified what it means to be "Catholic", and if you don't meet those conditions, then you aren't (excommunication isn't only a formal process, it may also happen ipso facto under certain circumstances). Call youself whatever you want to call yourself, it doesn't make it so.

Or, maybe they were just denying, I don't know. I'll grant that at face value the statement was inane.

Is there a point to the above? There may be, but for now I just wanted to offer a possible rationale for the seemingly absurd statement...

Be Afeared, Be Very Afeared
Glenn Reynolds oughta see this story from The Washington Post:

"We got a call about a suspicious package with wires sticking out of it," said Jim Rice, supervisor of the FBI's National Capital Response Squad, the multi-agency task force that has been tracking dozens of reported explosive and biological threats since Sunday, when bombing began in Afghanistan. "That was because it was a package of wire. Another one was a mysterious, heavy envelope with Arabic writing on it mailed to an apartment building. It wasn't Arabic script, just bad handwriting, and it was outgoing, not incoming."(emphasis added)

Are we getting paranoid? I stopped at a CVS yesterday to buy a pack if ciggs. While I was there, one of the employess was trying to figure out "whose bookbag is this". I could've ran outa there in fear, but I needed my ciggs - life must go on...

I Want My MTV
GRRR... My local cable provider, Comcast, switched the channel lineup. Where's my History Channel, my C-SPAN, my CNN... and what happened to WNVC (OK, that's not Comcast's fault, but I still can't find it: I'll miss all those foreign detective. shows - Inspector Magret is the best!). I guess I'll just have to print out the channel guide and memorize the damned thing all over again...

Today is my birthday, so expect less posts than usual. To make up for this circumstance I have decided to post an original essay. I'm hoping to publish more original essays to supplement my commentary on other work. Enjoy!...


Islam and the West - How Did We Get Here

by Anthony Adragna

OK, the militants may claim a valid grievance on behalf of dispossesed Palestinians, but that's only ancillary to the real goal. The real goal is to expel all non-Muslims from the places that a) Muslims revere, and b) Muslims consider their land. The militant fundamentalists want to be able to live their lives in these lands free of any corruption from non-Muslim ways - the corruption that they're talking about is our way of life. What bin Laden wants is us out of Saudi Arabia, he wants us to leave Iraq alone, he wants the Egyptians and other North Africans to stop playing footsies with us, and he wants the Jews out of Israel. Anybody that thinks these militants will settle for "peace" with us is, to be polite, naive (n.b. as early as the Afghan war against Russia, while the U.S. was helping Muslims hold back the "Evil Empire", bin Laden had marked the U.S. as a target, simply for having a presence in the region).

Mohammed spoke figuratively of bringing the Arabs to Jeruselem, the center of monotheism and the home of Judaism & Christianity. Mohammed did believe that Islam would supplant the other two traditions, but he wasn't particularly interested in Islamic hegemony "by the sword" - he was mostly interested in bringing some "moral order" to his fellow Arabs. He believed that he was the prohpet that God sent to the Arabs so that they could have the same thing that Jews & Christians had. What Mohammed sought to supplant was the paganism of Arabs, not the monotheism of the middle east. Does Mohammed find fault with the other two? Yes, but he never argues that Christians and Jews must convert. The "erroneous and inferior" are in regards to the scriptures and traditions, which he believed were corrupted by change. It's a bit of a stretch to argue that Mohammed sought Islamic hegemony through armed conflict in the realm of monotheism - that idea came after Mohammed's death. The militant fundamentalists don't see it that way - they, like Christian fundamentalists, read a literal truth into the most poetic imagery.

Mohammed died at Medina in 632. By that time he had only managed to unite the Arabian peninsula. OK, he spread Islam throughout Arabia, now here's the context - he started out actually preaching and teaching Islam to his fellow Arabs in a peaceful manner, but the persecutions against him and his followers became progressively aggressive. That Islam's triumph over paganism was achieved by the sword was a function of the fact that hostilities had been initiated by the Meccans. Who knows what would have happened had the early Muslims not been persecuted? Of course, the point is mooted by what his succesors did, but putting the onus solely on Mohammed is a stretch.

Religiously motivated hatred, such as anti-semitism, doesn't come from God, it comes from man. I would no more claim that God is the source of anti-semitism than I would claim Jews worship a different God than me. Such claims are founded on historic animosities, and ingorance, not on truth. The fact that Jews, Christians, and Muslims, buy into all of the usual vitriolic arguments is why all the hateful things happen. But, who started it? Is the west fighting a 1000 year old battle against Islam?

Here's the dirty little secret - the " 1000 year old battle" is against brigands and terrorists. The First Crusade was a direct response to the waylaying of pilgrims. Now, I'm not naive, there were political considerations that very well most probably would have have lead to war anyway. I can't, however, ignore the relevence of this parallel between bin Ladens al-Qaeda and the Seljuk Turks, which points to a noteworthy irony - a Turk by the name of Atatürk abolished the caliphate in favor of a modern republic.

Politics+religion+thuggery is how we got here today - bin Laden is nothing more than a thug who's co-opted Middle East political issues and Islam to meet his own goals. It's Pope Urban and the Seljuk Turks all over again, but this time we know who the real enemy is: thugs who happen to be Muslim not Muslim Thugs.

(The writer is a Roman Catholic who attended seminary at St. Joseph's College in Mt. View, Ca - he didn't complete his education, but he remembers Fr. Mo's history lectures)

Friday, October 12, 2001
What Type Of Analysis?
Louis Rukeyser's interesting opening commentary on this week's WALL $TREET WEEK (you'll need RealPlayer) is worth a listen - Louis seems to think that America needs some "couch time". I've observed the same thing that he does, but it started before Sep 11, that's why rate cuts by the Fed haven't worked.

State Supported Terrorism?
No! Vice President Cheney makes the point on tonights NewsHour that Afghanistan isn't a state that supports terrorism - it's a terrorist supported state. He also admits that not only did nobody expect what happened on Sep 11, but the country was still thinking of terrorism as something that happens "over there" - he says this only after mildly criticizing the Clinton administration's failure to deal with bin Laden (actually, he said that he wasn't being critical, which is a backhanded way of being critical). OK, if nobody was really expecting it, and Clinton did try to get bin Laden, then what's the point of the "blame game"? I guess partisanship isn't totally dead... and amateur pundits sometimes can scoop the professionals.

I'll post the link to the transcript when it becomes available... and here it is.

Clinton Is At Fault
I love it! Ender, one of my fellow "Star Posters" at Slate, says this:

(excerpt)Since Clinton was responsible for the economic boom of the 90s, I think it is only fair to lay blame squarely at his feet. If only we had reelected Bush Sr. and America had been allowed to slip into recession like we are today under Bush Jr., none of this would have happened.

He's being funny, of course - pushing the inanity to it's absurd limits. See the whole post here.

Missing A Point, And Making A Moot One
This letter from today's Wasington Post caught my eye:

George P. Fletcher wrote, "If the United States lands troops in a country for the exclusive purpose of locating and uprooting terrorist cells, there is no sound reason for indigenous armies to resist us, unless, of course, the local government wishes to support the right of terrorists to organize on its territory."

Now switch the United States with any other country in the world and have that country's military forces landing in Kansas.

Would Mr. Fletcher or any other American still agree with his statement?

Fletcher's piece confuses "vengence" with "justice". The point of a "Just War" is to restore the "moral order", the "interest of victims" is what "vengence" is about. Fletcher doesn't like commingling justice with war - I think he's being silly. I have an even bigger problem with his assertion that wars should be simply about "policy objectives". We've been down that road before (can anybody say mujahadeen? A war by proxy is still a war). OK, policy objectives are important, but the U.S. must justify it's actions by means other than "it's our policy". I think that Mr. Bush's handling of the situation is just about right.

My problem with the letter is that it carries forward the fallacy in Fletcher's argument. Sure, it's a valid point in theory, but the Taliban isn't the legitimate government of Afghanistan. We're there with the support of the government in the north (recognized at the UN and our State Department) acting in compliance with the UN Charter and Security Council resolutions - the point is moot.

What is Normal?
Michael Kinsley asks, "How should New Yorkers deal with their surplus of civility? ". He concludes:

Once you start acting nice, day after normal day, it surely becomes a habit that is harder to break when tested by an extraordinary day. Grouchy old New York responded so nobly on Sept. 11. Just think what might have happened if New Yorkers had been nice already.

Don't worry, Mike! I don't think that there's any chance of New York morphing into Seattle-on-the-Hudson. My intuition is that New Yorkers have decided to save up their energy for something more productive - maybe a trial of bin Laden in a New York venue would offer a good vent (not likely to happen, but I'd love for New Yorkers to get that chance).

Here's a really Dante-esque punishment: give him the death penalty (of course), but have Pataki stay the execution after bin Laden is already strapped down; reschedule the execution for the next day, and repeat the process. We could drag it out for years...

More Presidential Precedents...
Not only is Mr. Bush "Churchillian", E.J. Dionne Jr. resurrects the oft (early in the administration) made parallel with Eisenhower:

Eisenhower, especially on the foreign policy issues that confronted him in the early days of the Cold War, governed comfortably with Democratic congressional leaders. At times, Ike even relied on Democratic votes to get his way when more conservative Republicans would not give him what he wanted.

I admit that this is a more apt comparison. Churchill's "government of national unity" was a very different creature from what existed prior to its formation. Though the focus inside the Beltway has changed, it's still the same administration, congress, and domestic issues that were here before Sep, 11. Mr. Bush's challenge is to maintain not just the international coalition, but the domestic coalition as well - I don't think he'll have too much difficulty.

Thursday, October 11, 2001
Just Change The Channel
The "coded message" issue reminds me of that scene from "The Longest Day" where the elderly Maquis member hears "Jean has a long moustache" on his radio, then goes running out to prepare for the invasion. OK, it's not so far-fetched, but I'm sure that bin Laden has other methods.

I don't even see how limiting the airing of his message on U.S. networks has any real impact - Al-Jazeera reaches all of bin Laden's target audience (except the U.S. "peace movement", and they're clueless anyway - can we find our own asses with two hands, a flashlight, and a roadmap?).

Update: here's one for the "Psycholigical Warfare" guys: a reader at Slate just suggested to me that we "edit" (wink) bin Laden's tapes, then broadcast them...

Americans Will Do Anything For Money?
Well, a certain Saudi Prince can go home and tell his brethren that we can't be bought. If he thought that US$10MM - ostensibly for the victims fund - would buy a change in U.S. policy, he just don't know us.

Y'all Ain't Got Nothin to Say?

585 hits so far! I know that people are reading - whaddya think? Good, bad, I don't care - just tell me what you think. Believe me, if I thought you sucked I'd say so.

Blame Osama's Mama
Am I the only person tired of all the analysis into "who's at fault"? It is Clinton's fault for not having bin Laden arrested by the Sudanese in '96? Is it Bush's fault for seeming to be less concerned about the plight of Palestinians? Is it Attaturk's fault for doing away with the "Caliphate"? You know, this "blame game" is pretty inane. How far back are we willing to go to identify the cause of bin Laden's wretchedness? I say that it's all because he didn't get enough attention when he was a child...

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again
Everybody's favorite Supreme Court reporter (well, mine anyway), Dahlia Lithwick, asks "What sort of case could be made against Osama Bin Laden in a Taliban court?" As usual, Dahlia gives us some good background on the case, procedure, rules of evidence, etc., and even gives us an intro into sharia. She concludes:

... if the Taliban applied the same evidentiary standards against Bin Laden that they have used against the Christian missionaries? He'd hang by nightfall—that is, so long as Mullah Mohammad Omar concurred

We have a history of presenting evidence to the Taliban - Dahlia alludes to the case, but doesn't give us the history. Here's an excerpt from an Oct 18,1998 New York Times story by Judith Miller and James Risen:

After Taliban officials repeatedly said they would consider turning over Mr. bin Laden if they were presented with evidence against him, Arab officials familiar with the matter say that Prince Turki presented evidence to the Taliban of Mr. bin Laden's involvement in terrorism, but it made no difference. Evidence was also presented by Bill Richardson, former chief delegate to the United Nations, when he visited Afghanistan earlier this year.
(I can't link to the story, I retrieved it from Lexis)

This was after the U.S. embassy bombings in east Africa. We have the problem of the rule of evidence under both Islamic law and Afghan tribal code - we have compelling evidence, but no eyewitness to bin Laden's direct involvement.

And, there's Mullah Omar's unequivocal proclamation that he would rather see Afghanistan bombed into ruin (can the place be any more destitute?) rather than hand over bin Laden. Does anybody honestly believe that the Taliban is interested in any notion of justice - western or otherwise?

No "Peace" Without "Security"...
That's a line that we've heard many times from Israelis, and it got me thinking about why translations of bin Laden's statement disagree on whether he said "peace" or "security". I don't read Arabic (or even speak Arabic), but I do have enough familiarity with languages to know that words sometimes have connotations that are missed in translation. Is there a word in Arabic that means both "peace" and "security" (you know, like "Aloha" means "hello" and "goodbye", and whatever else Hawaiins want it to mean).

Here's the best answer I could come up with - NO! ."Salaam" means "peace", and the closest I could get to a word for "security" is "amaan", which means "safety".

I'm very confident that the AP's translation is correct, and Reuters et al are just playing games.

An Australian Responds
Reader Russell LESLIE eases my mind:

I do enjoy your blog, but you shouldn't be too hard on
Australian college students - in general they are
slightly less anti-American than many American college

As to the matter of presumption - Australians do have
a tendency to pay their debts. In the last fifty
years the US has invited us to help out in Korea,
Vietnam (and, sort of, Laos) and in the Gulf War - we
have not shirked at putting some of our bodies in
harms way along with yours.

When you were attacked it was generally accepted here
that if you were at war then so were we.

I don't mean to be too hard on anybody - I just get a bit hyperbolic sometimes : ) I did recently have an email exchange with somebody at an Australian university, and all I got out of the dialogue was more frustration.

I also didn't mean to imply that Australians in general don't "pay their debts": I was merely pointing out that Prof. Reynold's observation has broader application.

My apologies to any Australians who might have took offense...

I Love Onions
An undisputable sign that the economy is in the dumps, this story urges us to "purchase dildos."

I do love good humor

One Month Later
Has the world changed? This story from Guardian Unlimited asks "23 eminent figures". In the fine old tradition of blaming the U.S. for all of the world's ills, Lynne Segal ( professor of psychology and gender studies at Birkbeck college, London) had this to say:

It is almost always the unintended consequences that matter. After Sept 11th the world is the same, only more so. True, there may be some US realignments in the Middle East, widening cracks for discussing the injustices perpetrated on Palestinians. Secular forces in Iran may be strengthened. But overall, the relentless reassertion of US global dominance, the world in its wake, is ubiquitous. Dissenting voices are vigorously proscribed "anti-American", even those of Americans expressing egalitarian sentiments long nurtured, forever assaulted, in the USA.

The revitalised hegemony of existing corporate capitalism, its headquarters in New York, its chief lieutenants in London, was compellingly distilled in Blair's Brighton peroration. Every illusion of an unchallenged world order rolled out. Blair promised that He, and His kind, would eliminate the global inequalities they are even now so ineluctably entrenching. The "power of [his] community" will prevail: the very community which has not even time to nod to its neighbour, as the working day lengthens and genuinely democratic forums fade away.

I think she needs a little "couch time". It's not "hegemony of existing corporate capitalism" that bothers bin Laden - he's both a capitalist, and a hegemon. What bothers bin Laden is that the West allows women like Lynne Segal to roam around outside of the house. She has the right to her own opinion, even if she's just plain ole wrong...

... and More DC Road Closures
Police Bar Most Buses And Trucks Near Capitol - the U.S. Capitol Police, that is. I understand the need for caution, but banning tour buses seems a bit extreme (Metrobuses are still permitted). Besides, I didn't see anything about banning tour buses on 1st Street SE - the street that seperates the Capitol from the Supreme Court...

What Does Woodward Know?

Maybe Bob knows more than I do, but his current front page story, "Bin Laden Said to 'Own' The Taliban", sure isn't news to me. OK, he gives details to confirm my earlier assertion about the link between bin Laden and the Taliban - "their 'pure Islamic Emirate' is bin Laden's 'caliphate' in trial size." I figured it out without the benefit of "sensitive information", so it must not be too much of a puzzle. Let's see, bin Laden returns to Afghanistan in 1996, the Taliban takes Kabul in September of the same year: coincidence? I don't think so!

By the way, this story is probably exactly what Bob would have written before "negotiations" with the administration, anyway.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001
They Do Try Our Patience
InstaPundit notes:
But, you know, the knowledge that people presume upon us like this, under circumstances where they would certainly not return the favor if positions were reversed, is one reason Americans sometimes show a degree of exasperation that others sometimes read, not quite correctly, as arrogance.

My sentiment exactly. But, you know, it's not just our foes who "presume upon us" - try talking to an Australian college student lately? I visited Brisbane, Australia in December of 1987, at Christmas time. I was having a wonderful time - until I started talking to some college students (they were upset about a nuclear powered/armed U.S. Naval warship anchored outside of their city). I spent Christmas on the Gold Coast with a very generous family - didn't wonder once what it would be like if Imperial Japan had won that war.

Why "QuasiPundit"?

Why Quasimodo? OK, I don't do this for a living - I do it for the love of it (not that I would mind getting paid to do something that I love).

That's me - quasi-pundit, barstool philosopher, backseat driver...

On This Day IN 1965
William is celebrating his birthday today. Who's William? William is my bestest friend (I'm not just saying that because he's bigger than me). I've felt bad all day long because he woke up on his day off to drive me to the Metro station, and I still haven't wished him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I hope this makes up for it (it won't, but I'll just slink off to my room in shame).

Luv ya, Will

p.s. that dog is so your's

QuasiPundit's First "Correction"
Reader Ed Graham replies:
"Bush was not upset about the WP story disclosing that intelligence
briefers informed Congress there was a "100 percent" chance of a second
terrorist attack. He was upset about other, apparently much more sensitive,
information that was leaked to the WP. After negotiations with the
Administration, the WP agreed not to publish that information. CNN reported
this last night and Fred Barnes alludes to it today in the Weekly Standard Online"

OK, I agree with Ed and Fred. I didn't mean to imply that Congress has an
unlimited "need to know" (n.b. here I was critical of Congress, though it's not apparent in the excerpt below). I had a "Top Secret" clearance when I was in the Navy, but I only got to see what I needed to see in order to do my job. The President has a prerogative to withhold sensitive information, but Congress has a job to do, too. Of course, we don't know how sensitive the leaked information is, which is why I conceded the point - I'll repeat my concession: " Ah hell, I'm probably still overreacting..."

News That's Too True To Be Good
I know why The National Enquirer has yet to publish the in-house anthrax story - it's serious news. Now, if it had been a hoax, then they would be running with it. I'm sorry, but I don't have time for the tabloids. Am I being too critical? You tell me - anybody who would publish a story titled 'I DATED A TERRORIST' -- HIJACKER'S GIRLFRIEND: HER INCREDIBLE STORY (link is to image of Enquirer's current print cover) doesn't get my attention.

That's Entertainment?
I really don't mean to sound unAmerican, but I never thought that Bob Hope was all that funny. Of course, I'm of a different generation from when my father was in the Navy (WWII), so my opinion doesn't really count. Now, we get " 'danke schoen' frontman Wayne" Newton - someone who I find particularly unentertaining, and I'm sure that I speak unanimously for my generation in this regard. The last time I was in the North Arabian Sea, reflagging Kuwaiti tankers, the thing that we wanted most was cold beer (we did get one can warm Coors, or Michelobe, or some such undrinkable swill after we had been at sea for a certain amount of time).

Let's see... warm beer v. Wayne Newton - OH NO, its' warm beer and Wayne Newton.. I'd still re-enlist if the Navy would have me, unfortunately I've been out of the service for 13 years, and I turn 37 this coming Saturday. I'll just have to be content with doing what I can from here...

Tell off QuasiPundit!
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What does Congress "Need to Know"?

On Sep 21 I posed this question in Slate's Fray -
"Office of Homeland Security" - Good Idea? . Here's an excerpt:

"Maybe my concern is an overreaction to the image that this proposal evokes - replace "Homeland" with "State", and "Office" with "Committee", and you get the picture. Combine this development with the establishment of a "Homeland Defense Force", ostensibly engaged in preparing defenses against future attacks, but just as capable of being used as a "security force", and the concern deepens.

Who's overreacting here - me or our government? I hope it's just me... "

Now it seems that I may not be the one overreacting, at least according to this Washington Post story. The second paragraph reads:

"Members from both parties objected strongly to Bush's highly unusual step of ordering that briefings with sensitive information be limited to eight of the 535 members of Congress. The memo cuts off numerous lawmakers cleared to receive classified information; it was signed by Bush on Friday following a report in The Washington Post that intelligence officials told lawmakers there was a '100 percent' likelihood of further terrorist strikes.'"

OK, what is so secret about the news that there's a "'100 percent' likelihood of further terrorist strikes." In fact, it's not even news - Everybody knows.

Hmmm... security, homeland, and now secrecy... Ah hell, I'm probably still overreacting...

Tuesday, October 09, 2001
Stay Away From Public Transit?
Well, I'm not scared, but I remember the drill on bio-warfare when I was in the Navy. I ride DC Metrorail's Green line between West Hyattsville and Archives-Navy Memorial twice a day, and lately my roommates have been urging me to ride the bus all the way into work - NAH. Um, this anthrax scare story got me thinking again....

I still say no, stiff upper lip and all that... besides, all of the buses stop at rail stations along their routes.

Who You Callin' Queer?
As usual, I checked my email immediately upon arriving home, and guess what I found? Well, along with a few kind words from fellow Fraysters (thanks WillV and kit : ), I also got a copy of an article from Zmagazine (not mailed to me personally, just one of those listserve thingies). The article, titled "The Problem of Gay Soldiers", by Zmager Michael Bronski, is another in a continuing rant against we in the GLBT community who don't toe the line (sorry folks - it's "toe", not "tow") on the "Gay Agenda". This time, our proud spokesman calls us "uncritical and unthinking" patriots "in no position to critique or criticize U.S. foreign or militarist policy today." I couldn't find the article on their site, but here's the concluding paragraph:

"It would be both important and vital for gay and lesbian rights
organizations to have a place in what a cohesive progressive response to
the imminent changes in the foreign and military responses of the U.S.
in the next weeks. This will be impossible, however, unless they cast
off the cloak of knee-jerk patriotism
they have assumed for more than
two decades. At this point in time gay and lesbian legal groups should
be planning to supply draft counselors, not celebrating the alleged
suspension of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. They should be producing posters
saying "Boys Say Yes to Boys Who Say No." They should be thinking of
every conceivable means to avoid body bags not promoting urging young
gay bodies to go to war. As a poster at the 1997 Gay Rights March on
Washington proclaimed. "The Problem isn't Gay Soldiers. The Problem is
Dead Soldiers."(emphasis added)

OK, my "knee jerk reaction" is that Bronski's just stupid. As a gay ex-service member I'd love to punch Bronski right in the mouth. But, you see, there are those of us American citizens, gay and straight, who swore to defend something greater than our own selves - I'm talking about Bronski's right to be so damned wrong. Now I know how Andrew Sullivan feels, and I'm left of Michael Kinsley...

Society for unCreative Anachronism
Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Institute, in Warring Against Modernity (, writes that we're in a "new phase in a long struggle in which tribalists and fundamentalists have indentified cosmopolitanism and modernity as their archenemy." I have to agree - this isn't about religion, civilization, or culture: it's about anachronists who long for the "old order". I don't mind anachronisms., as long as I'm not expected to participate. And that's the crux of our problem with the Taliban: their "pure Islamic Emirate" is bin Laden's "caliphate" in trial size.

The only thing that I take exception with is the last paragraph:
"Some Islamic leaders are tepid in their support for us, both because they remain uncertain whether we will pursue terrorism in a manner that will contribute to such a clash and because, as modernizers themselves, they are wary of becoming targets. We need to go further to make clear that their religion is not our enemy. One way to do this is by seeking support from the United Nations Security Council for our military action. This time we need not fear that any of the council's permanent members will obstruct action. Many Islamic states could join the struggle more wholeheartedly if it took place under the authority of the world body, and fellow travelers of the terrorists would have more difficulty in whipping up the anti-Americanism on which they thrive."

I'm not sure what Neier means by "some" - the leader who should be least tepid, King Fahd, is certainly no "modernizer". At the same time, Jordan's King Abdullah is in the most precarious place for a Muslim - modernist or otherwise - yet he and his government have found a way to lend full backing to U.S.-led strikes against Afghanistan . As for Neier's call for Security council action: I thought that was what SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1373 ( 2001) was all about. Hmmm...

Monday, October 08, 2001
Taliban Whipped by Forces of Permisiveness
Glenn Reynolds excerpts a "rant" by PatrickRuffini urging us to allow "ourselves a little more of the social permissiveness they hate" as a way to "thumb our noses at the terrorists." I like the idea - I'll do Ruffini one better. Hey, Osama, we have a "don't ask don't tell" policy in our military - who's the weakling now?

Another PM Speaks, And He's Sounding Like Bush
I've been saying since the Bush-Putin "soul sharing" summit that Mr. Bush was sounding positively "Churchillian". See Churchillian Defiance by Inigo Thomas

In Sha' Allah v. bin Laden the megalomaniac

A read of bin Ladens taped remarks are informative for what's not on them - his own submission to the will of Allah. Muslims may correct me, my understanding is that all things in Islam are subject to the will of Allah, but bin Laden seems to assert that Allah is looking out for what bin Laden wills. Bin Laden says "may God" do things, and swears an oath "by God", but never uses the formula "if God wills". Sounds like a megalomaniac to me.

If I read bin Laden correctly, then what he "says" in specific is of no consequence - the Palestine problem could go away today and he'll just find another angle. If he's as charismatic as he is reported to be, and a megalomaniac, then any issue which can be even remotely cited as an "offense against Islam" draws him support.