A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship.
But it is not this day.
An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down.
But it is not this day.
This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you, stand, Men of the West!
To summarize Hayden’s op-ed, it is just to kill Moussaoui, but we should spare him – lest we “diminish our own humanity.” By sparing him, we can “transcend evil and “prevail with reason and justice.”
So by doing injustice, we become more human, more reasonable, and more just? Clearly, emotion, not reasoned argument, drives Hayden’s op-ed.
Moussaoui deserves either life or death – either way, we ought to give him what he deserves. On the other, we can spare his life, regardless of his deserts. We are but men, able to give justice or mercy – but not both.
What is interesting about Hayden’s op-ed is that she wants us to transcend evil. I say transcendence leaves no possibility of triumph over evil. The existence of evil demands eternal vigilance and occasional violence. We must confront evil, challenge it face to face if good is to prevail. And to confront means not to transcend.
If we take Hayden’s advice and attempt to transcend or distance ourselves from evil, we allow evil to keep its present sphere of influence. The painful events of September the 11th should have taught us that evil, ever ambitious, is never content to keep to itself but seeks to wreak havoc as far as it can reach.
Hayden’s op-ed ultimately amounts to a call for good men to do nothing. She calls Moussaoui’s deeds an “outrageous violation against mankind.” Certainly minor offenses often call for magnanimity, but to an outrageous violation, mankind must strike back. To strike back is more than mere vengeance – it is an assertion of worth. For if mankind refuses to assert its worth, who will assert it for us?
Rather than diminishing our humanity, bringing Moussaoui to justice would preserve it. Like it or now, terrorists are still human and therefore our equals. Equality demands justice (remember that tyranny is sometimes merciful but never just). This means that we make each terrorist pay for his crimes and try to educate terrorists everywhere of their injustice. There is no room for transcendence if we are to remain truly human.
Dorothy posted this at 3:06 PM CDT on Friday, March 31st, 2006 as Philosophy
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Cloaked in the rationalization of carrying forth the will of God, the terrorists let their fear and hatred consume their last ounce of humanity. Let us not follow in their footsteps.Let us instead distance ourselves from the evil wrapped in their warped behavior.
This is an example of the Reverse Mussolini Fallacy, which Eugene Volokh describes as such:
The Mussolini Fallacy is believing that, because Mussolini made the trains run on time (if he did), that excuses his other acts. The Reverse Mussolini Fallacy is believing that, because Mussolini made the trains run on time, making the trains run on time is bad.
Exactly to what degree should we refrain from doing what the terrorists do? Should I eat my lamb with ketchup because they eat their lamb with mint jelly? Should we allow same-sex marriage because they don’t? Or is this rule restricted to the particulars that make them terrorists. They use guns and bombs, perhaps we should stop. Is murdering civilians wrong only because they do it?
Justice is giving each man his due, and injustice consists not just in punishing the innocent, but also in not properly punishing the guilty. To accept that Zac Moussaoui deserves death but then not to kill him–in a system that allows him to be executed–is an injustice. It’s a sort of moral cowardice to hold back justice; either be honest and state that Moussaoui doesn’t deserve to die, or kill him.
Even the very wise man cannot see all ends, but the just man sees that his limited knowledge does not excuse him from action. We know–know–that Moussaoui collaborated with Al Qaeda. We have his word that he had enough information to have stopped the 9/11 attacks, and he willfully chose to keep that information secret, knowing that revealing it probably would save lives. This is not a question of limited knowledge, it is now merely a matter of stepping up and delivering justice.
Apollo posted this at 1:04 PM CDT on Friday, March 31st, 2006 as Nerdom, Philosophy
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Many quotes from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings have stuck with me, but perhaps the one that has stuck with me the longest comes from Gandalf’s talk with Frodo about Gollum:
“Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.”
I caught echoes of that today in Elizabeth Hayden’s op-ed today:
Does Zacarious Moussaoui deserve the death penalty? Absolutely. He participated in a heinous, premeditated plot to use aircraft as weapons to bring destruction to America. Arrested on visa violations, he was not given the opportunity to carry out his plan, but on September 11, 2001, at 9:03 a.m. his brothers in terrorism destroyed the family I had.
But there is a more important question: Should Moussaoui receive the death penalty? Absolutely not. Although Moussaoui deserves to die, the people of the United States should not impose the death penalty upon him. My concern is not so much with Moussaoui. My concern is with the 9/11 survivors, the families and friends of the victims, and the people of our nation.
As always, read the whole thing.
Hubbard posted this at 9:29 AM CDT on Friday, March 31st, 2006 as Faith, Philosophy, Those Wacky Foreigners
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…comes this special report from CNN.
Among other things, the legislation would make it a crime to be in this country illegally.
Tom posted this at 1:54 AM CDT on Friday, March 31st, 2006 as Politics and the English Language
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Reading through the comments over at Sexier than Bismark, I started thinking about the purpose of sports in college. Something has gone quite wrong with sports in general, not just at Duke, and I think it’s worth puzzling out how we got here. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on men, not because women aren’t natural athletes (many are) or because women lack problems, but rather because sports hold a much different place in the male mind than in the female.
Allowing competitive athletics in college was controversial. The very earliest schools of learning, coming from the Middle Ages, were seminaries; no football recruiters here. When later college presidents decided to allow athletics, they believed that sports were a means to an end: making young men gentlemen, making young men good. It’s a much more complicated process than some people think.
First, we need a man. The Catholic Church once decreed adulthood at age 7; in today’s society, quite a few children become adolescents at age 7 and never really reach adulthood. Some will be happy so long as they have their videogames; others will spend their lives resentful; still others will go to college and become the neuters that abound in [insert designated victim group here] studies majors. Sports, with their physical exertion and mental discipline, are a way of channeling competitiveness in a healthy way. It isn’t easy to learn that life, like the game, isn’t all about you. Selfish ball-hogging hurts the team, so you learn to focus on what the people around you are doing. The bonds between teammates are very similar to the bonds between soldiers (perhaps explaining why people who are hostile to one are frequently hostile to the other).
Second, we need decency. We need to teach honor and fair play. Grace is both an attribute of the body and an attribute of the soul. Sports should ideally cultivate them both.
The trouble today comes from forgetting that sports were a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Some coaches will tell certain players, “You’re here at this school because I’ve got clout with the admissions office.” Others are less direct, but when the goal of a sports team is simply to win, the second objective–becoming a GENTLEman–is lost. To be a gentleman is to be honorable in defeat, gracious in victory, to be upstanding, and to accept consequences. To E.M. Forster’s corrupt epigram, “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country,” the gentleman should respond: “I hope to do what is right–so if my friends are in the wrong, I hope I have the character to do right.” Today’s sports teams seem to have gone the Forster route.
In a sense, corrupted sports are worse than no sports at all. Men without chests are bad enough, but when they’ve bonded and know how to work and stick together, they’re infinitely more dangerous to society. I wonder if there’s a connection between the corruption of sports and the corrupt soldiers we’ve seen at Abu Ghraib and other places.
As regards the Duke Lacrosse team, I hope the rape allegations are false. But if they are true, I feel that the team as a whole should be punished more severely than simply being taken out of the season; that nobody has confessed means that everyone should be considered an accomplice.
Hubbard posted this at 11:28 PM CDT on Thursday, March 30th, 2006 as Philosophy
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While I’m a big fan of monitoring (if not always enjoying) pop culture, I’m always behind on music. I’ve just started listening to Kelly Clarkson’s album, Breakaway, and I must say I’m impressed. Not long ago, in that nauseating Britney-Christina-Backstreet Boys-N’Sync period, many people (including me) despaired at the music the new generation might produce. Listening to the radio now, it’s come a long way. I think it’s looking now like that sugar-pop phase was largely a product of marketing to immature high schools, but now as we grow older our music gets better.
Clarkson and I are both members of the high school class of 2000, the vanguard of the much-heralded Millenial generation. We could do much worse than her as our first mature star. One song, Because of You, struck me as particularly worthwhile. I confess, I seldom listen to lyrics when I listen to the radio. I’d caught the “because of you” lines in the song, but not much more, and presumed it was some love ballad. Instead I found the most poingant and accurate potrayal of a divorce child I’ve read. Many people complain that such children don’t get love, or are economically disadvantaged, or don’t have good role models. That might be, but the most important thing that comes from a child’s early years is a sense of security and continuity, a belief that someone is there to make it alright. When parents seperate during those early years, or spend their time arguing, children don’t develop that. They see it as their job to make their parents feel better, rather than visa versa. An overly-cautious maturity develops at an early age. Clarkson–whose parents split when she was 6 and who wrote these lyrics at 16–captures the effect:
Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid
It’s going to be interesting to see the effects of divorce on Millenials. One of the more interesting polls about us is that we are much more likely to blame problems on selfishness than were the Gen Xers and Boomers. Divorce, when there are children, can be a very selfish endeavor on the part of the parents, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Clarkson note this:
I watched you die
I heard you cry every night in your sleep
I was so young
You should have known better than to lean on me
You never thought of anyone else
You just saw your pain
The sense of personal responsibility that seems to be developing among Millenials is compared to the World War II generation, and a complete reversal of the Boomers. While many people debate the political impact of generational differences, I think the more likely difference will be in family life. We’ve now had a good 40 years to evaluate the self-centered attitude brought in by the Boomers and continued by the Gen Xers. Many of us have emotional scars as a result of that attitude, the rest of us have seen those scars on others. Clarkson wrote Because of You as a response to her parents, but it might turn out as an accurate statement of one generation’s sentiment toward its predecessors.
Apollo posted this at 2:13 PM CDT on Thursday, March 30th, 2006 as Ourselves
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One of the worst meme’s of recent years is that Karl Rove is singlehandedly responsible for the acrid state of our politics. To hear some lefties, Washington was as pure as the wind driven snow, full of people who worked together for the common good, until Fartblossom came along; now sons are killing their fathers and marrying their mothers, and frogs rain from the sky every third Friday and twice each Tuesday. It’s all sorta like a porn movie where the actress pretends to be an unsuspecting virgin, or one of those movies where Tim Robbins pretends to be a conservative–perhaps an interesting fantasy, but it doesn’t really pass the laugh test.
For today’s installment of “Karl Rove Made Me Do It,” see David Ignatius in the Post:
The experience of being out of power and being the targets of Karl Rove’s relentless attacks has made the Democrats a tougher and more cynical party. They think more about winning than about governing.
You hear that–Karl Rove made Ted Kennedy/Charles Schumer/Hillary Clinton cynical!
There are few things less believable than anti-attack rhetoric in politics. If attacks were baseless, no one would believe them. Americans aren’t dumb. If Karl Rove’s next attack was that “The Democrats are going to give Maine to Canada,” no one would believe him. The “weak on defense” attack worked so well against John Kerry because it was true. Perhaps the most successful attacks the Republicans have made against Democrats these last five years is that they have no agenda. Now we’re to believe that they have no agenda because of Karl Rove’s attacks?
Meanwhile, America is struggling with big problems, from Iraq to immigration. Will Democrats help the Bush administration find solutions? In the age of Karl Rove, are you kidding?
Now if you have an agenda, and attacks against that agenda gain traction, maybe you should consider that people don’t like your agenda. Perhaps you should pick a more popular agenda. Instead, the Democrats consistently offer nothing and blame it all on Karl Rove. Lovely, but you still can’t beat something with nothing.
If the Republicans retain a majority of both houses this election, George Bush will have been president for 8 years, gaining seats in both houses in a midterm election and at his reelection (perhaps for a second midterm?). He will have had 6 continuous years of one party rule. When the Democrats did that in the ’60s (although not with the same president) and the ’30s-’40s, they did it because they were popular. If the Republicans do it now, it will be purely because of Democratic ineptness and unpopularity.
Apollo posted this at 1:53 PM CDT on Wednesday, March 29th, 2006 as Politics
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Your last two posts were excellent have greatly clarified your opinion. While I whole-heartedly approve of your analysis of Sullivan’s and Fukyama’s positions, I would like to expand and defend Jamie’s stance, as I share it.
You seem to believe that the war was worth fighting then, and it’s worth fighting now, although you disagree with how it’s being fought. I don’t have much beef with this position, although I see it as a prime example of making the perfect the enemy of the good. Every war is fought incompetently; it is the side that makes the fewest blunders that wins. Fortunately, the other side is incomprehensively backwards, so we’ve got a pretty good chance here.
“Shit Happens” is a legitimate retort to some, but not all, criticism. “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good” wouldn’t merely fall on deaf ears to the survivors of Cannae or Isandlwana, but probably earn you a gladius or bayonet to the gut.
When I was a ROTC cadet, we ended every tactical training excerise with an After Action Review, where the entire squad sat down together with the evulator and discussed how the mission went. Sometimes a mission failed (or suceeded in spite of) factors beyond the control of the squad leader and the squad. Other times, the mission failed (or barely suceeded in spite of) the incompetancy of the squad or its squad leader. Generally, it was some combination of the two.
Bush detractors blame every problem and setback on President Bush, which is entirely unfair; there are, after all, people shooting back at us. But what I hear from many Bush apologists–and sometimes from you, Apollo–is the attitude that all setbacks can be dismissed with the “Shit Happens” defense: war is imperfect, stop your whining, you’re only encouraging the enemy. This is not a constructive or a very wise attitude.
I second Jamie by saying that President Bush doesn’t understand that not all of those who critique him are against him.
Tom posted this at 6:21 PM CDT on Tuesday, March 28th, 2006 as Iraq
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If I may add a bit to my previous post, I think it’s worth considering the probability of a premature withdrawal from Iraq. As I said, I think this is the only way the Jihadists can win, and I think it’s an outcome we should avoid at all costs.
In truth, I don’t think a premature withdrawal is likely. Whatever the president’s flaws may be—and they are legion—he is the ideal president for this war because he will never, ever, give up. His obstinacy is the supreme virtue in this sort of war, because it puts us in a position where we cannot lose. So long as Iraq can get on its feet by January, 2009 (which looks likely), everything will be fine—or, to express it more accurately in the words of Walter Sobchak, nothing is fucked. The chance for loss occurs if Iraq can’t get on its feet by then.
I still don’t think it likely. War support has bottomed out at around 40%. That 35-40% is people like me who think we must see this through to the end, and, no matter how dissatisfied we are with particular “management” decisions, will not waiver. Because nearly all of us are Republicans, it will be nearly impossible for a pro-withdrawal candidate to win the ’08 Republican nomination. If we’re still in Iraq and it’s still a shooting war, a pro-withdrawal candidate will almost certainly win the Democratic nomination.
The election then becomes a battle for the Republican (Giulliani, McCain, Romney, or Rice), to win over 10-15% of the electorate. I have a hard time imagining that, on the pro-withdrawal side, there isn’t 1 out of 6 who, in a presidential campaign, can’t be made to see what an unmitigated disaster for America and the world a withdrawal would be.
Still, even if I think a premature withdrawal is unlikely, I think it is unwise to tempt fate. There will be plenty of time for finger pointing once the appropriate time for withdrawal arrives and we leave the Iraqis standing on their own two feet.
Apollo posted this at 11:12 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 28th, 2006 as George Bush Rules!, Iraq
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Apollo – what Bush, and you apparently, continue to fail to understand is that one can still be pro-war, still want the best outcome in Iraq – and yet not agree with the way that war is being waged at this time.
Two quick points that color everything I say about Iraq. It strikes me that there is exactly one way we can lose Iraq, to withdraw too soon. We can outfight the Jihadists, and, with a little bit of backbone, we can outlast them. The only conceivable way they turn Iraq into a full-blown civil war is for us to leave now. So long as we give them enough time to get a running start, Iraqi democracy will wind up flawed, but still far and away the best government in the Arab world. The second point is that I want very much for the Iraqi project to succeed, and I see American defeat in Iraq as being vastly worse than was the American defeat in Vietnam. We are but at the beginning of this conflict, and if we can deny them victory now it will be much shorter and much easier than if they actually succeed in this goal. A blow to American prestige in the face of growing militancy from Iran, North Korea, and China—not to mention Russia’s gradual reversion to militant dictatorship—would be devastating.
There are three variations of the “My perfect war, your broken peace” line of argument. You seem to believe that the war was worth fighting then, and it’s worth fighting now, although you disagree with how it’s being fought. I don’t have much beef with this position, although I see it as a prime example of making the perfect the enemy of the good. Every war is fought incompetently; it is the side that makes the fewest blunders that wins. Fortunately, the other side is incomprehensively backwards, so we’ve got a pretty good chance here.
The second variation is to say, “If I had known then what I know now, I would have opposed the war.” This seems to be the position of The Only True Conservative™, Andrew Sullivan. I think this position is harmful because its main effect is to give succor to those who want us out now, and I fail to see how it is helpful, beyond pointing out Sullivan thinks he’s smarter than the people in charge. It is a logically silly position because it poses as historical judgment in the middle of an event; we cannot now know whether any given action is going to prove successful in the long run. For instance, Sullivan supported the war, but says if he had known then what he knows now, he wouldn’t have. But what if, in ten years, Iraq is a liberal democracy and has sparked a democratic revolution across the Arab world that has significantly lowered anti-American sentiment. Would he support the war now if he knew what he will know then? This problem of knowledge and time can be debilitating to some men; fortunately we have men of action like the current president. At some point in time, you have to quit second (or two-hundredth) guessing yourself and act.
But what if instead we leave and Iraq becomes a festering sore for the next fifty years, exporting terror to its neighbors and America. What good would it then do for me to say, “Gee, I wish I’d known this would have happened in 2003; I would have opposed the war.”? Well no shit. I’m sure Hitler wished he could reconsider the whole “invading Russia” thing. And I wish I had a tree that grew $50 bills for leaves. It would be super spiffy if we could perfectly predict the future, but we can’t. It might provide some sort of esoteric satisfaction to make the sort of statements Sullivan makes, but in the short run its practical effect is to embolden those who would lead us to the only action—premature withdrawal—that can cause defeat. It makes more likely the negative outcome he professes not to want.
The third variation is to say, “I supported the war then, but I now see that the theory behind it was wrong, so I now oppose it.” This is Fukuyama’s position, and it’s the worst of the three because offers no realistic alternative. At least Sullivan seems to still have good wishes for the Iraq enterprise, even if his words contribute more to failure than success. Fukuyama seems to think the whole thing lost, and to already be looking forward to the post-Iraq retrenching. He has abandoned a project he once supported because it’s run into short-term snags that he thinks are, in the long-run, fatal flaws. Rather than wait it out and see what happens in the long-run (at this point, three years, into the Civil War, Grant was bogged down in the East, Sherman was in a quagmire in Georgia, and Lincoln was expecting to lose his bid for reelection to the appeaser McClellan; the Union was objectively winning the war, but was closer to defeat than at any other time), he abandons it altogether. Fukuyama has shown himself to have no serious faith in his convictions, a feckless thinker who puts his own intellectual curiosity ahead of the common good. That’s fine for a normal sideline philosopher, but I can’t help thinking that once you enter the realm of public intellectual, you give up some of your intellectual freedom and must consider the effects of your words. Fukuyama wants his words to have serious influence over policy-makers, but he also wants to be able to change his opinion at his own leisure. This is dangerous.
In short, I understand the distinction you’re making, Jamie, I just question its utility.
Apollo posted this at 10:22 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 28th, 2006 as Conservatism, Iraq
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One of the facts that keeps getting repeated in the MSM echo-chamber is that U.S. support for Israel is responsible for Muslim and Arab emnity towards the West. After all if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes fact right? (The intellectuals in the media don’t really care that they share this belief with one Osama bin Laden).
Well all of us Snarky Bastards know this isn’t true – but its still nice to see it put together in such a well written article.
Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is.
The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel.
The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel.
The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel.
Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered his own people because of Israel.
Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60′s because of Israel.
Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel.
The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing to do with Israel.
The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on.
The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel had joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine had existed for 100 years.
Hat tip: Biggles.
Jamie posted this at 2:24 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 28th, 2006 as Another Great Victory For Jihad
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But….but…there’s no EVIDENCE of evolution. It’s just a THEORY. No one can show the connection between Apes and Man.
“Missing Link” Human Skull Found in Africa, Scientists Say
March 27, 2006
Scientists working in Africa have discovered a Stone Age skull that could be a link between the extinct Homo erectus species and modern humans.
The face and cranium of the fossil have features found in both early and modern human species. The skull is believed to be between 250,000 and 500,000 years old.
“[This skull] shows the continuity of the evolutionary record, so in that sense it is a link [between Homo erectus and modern humans],” said Scott Simpson, a paleontologist from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio.
Move along. Nothing to see here. The Earth is just 5000 years old. *shhh* Quick call the fundies in the Whitehouse and have this squashed.
Jamie posted this at 2:16 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 28th, 2006 as Science!
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Charles Krauthammer has an entire column on Francis Fukuyama seriously misquoting him. Of course, he’s Charles Krauthammer, so he makes it better than that; his attack on Fukuyama at the end–that Fukuyama’s critique boils down to griping without a worthwhile alternative–is important. It was the second point I meant to make a month or so ago whenever Fukuyama published his pre-book essay, and that Christopher Hitchens made much better than could I.
I’ve little patience for former pro-war types like Fukuyama–Tom Paine’s phrase “sunshine soldier” comes to mind–and I no longer think he should qualify as an “intellectual.” His “End of History” was influential for it’s day; I never read it until after 9/11, so needless to say I found it unpersuasive, but, I’d like to think, for reasons outside of it’s outdatedness. I’ve read a few other things by him, and I was always slightly distressed that he was considered something of a leading light for conservatives. It’s good that he’s now moved himself out of the movement (I think going ga-ga for the “soft power” routine puts you well out of the mainstream of conservative foreign policy thought). I just wish that instead of “Former neocon leader attacks the war,” the headline would have been, “Shoddy thinker still thinking shoddily.”
Apollo posted this at 12:35 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 28th, 2006 as Conservatism, Iraq, Kraut-hammered
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The misanthrope was walking in Lafayette Park, near the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, when he noticed a father, harried as only a tired tourist can be, half-dragging his son along. Both seemed ready for bed, though one was snappish and growling, while the other was resigned to being pulled along. A voice behind the misanthrope said, “Si monumentum requiris, circumspice!” Read the rest of this entry »
Hubbard posted this at 10:31 PM CDT on Monday, March 27th, 2006 as Devil and Misanthrope
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“Family kept Loney’s homosexuality quiet, feared actions of Iraqi captors”
Doug Pritchard says the family feared Loney might come to harm at the hands of his Iraqi captors had they known he was gay. Pritchard says it likely wouldn’t have helped if Loney’s partner, Dan Hunt, had come forward with public pleas for his release.
Yes, but can you imagine what would have happened if the Americans found out?
Tom posted this at 5:04 PM CDT on Monday, March 27th, 2006 as Another Great Victory For Jihad
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