Eric Raymond has a four-part series, of which this is the latest chapter.
His position is clear; this is war, and the war is inevitibly built into the structure of Islamic society. This is a pretty clear Bernard Lewis/ Samuel Huntington position, and I agree with him more than a little.
But personally, I’m not ready to give up on peaceful outcomes yet, and I’m not knowledgeable enough to be sure that this is the ‘Clash of the Civilizations’.
But it won’t hurt for us to prepare for war while we try and reach peace, and in this chapter, I think he’s spot-on in stating that diplomacy means very different things to the Arab world and to us, and that a clear-eyed understanding of that difference (which may or may not be the one he outlines) is the only way to practice real diplomacy and avoid war.


From today’s LA Times (intrusive registration required, or just use ‘laexaminer’/’laexaminer’): 20 Settlements Will Be Razed. It sure would have been smart if they had explained that they were being razed because they were illegal, even under Israeli law, and not just that they were because of ‘the difficulty of protecting them’.
But sometimes people do the right things for the wrong reason. The outcomes are often good anyway.


I’m always proud of macho guys who aren’t afraid to show their sensitive side. Mike Hendrix, over at Cold Fury, exposes his inner show-tune lover.
Mike…here in Ellay, that would place you in a … certain … demographic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…(a TV reference!!)
Personally, I’m a big Sondheim fan, what can I say.


In today’s Mercury News: Davis at center of international treaty dispute:

A special global trade panel is weighing a precedent-setting proposition: Did Davis break international law by banning MTBE after accepting legal campaign donations from a company pushing an alternate gasoline additive?
That is the argument being made by Methanex, a Canadian company that produces a key ingredient in MTBE. Methanex contends that Davis violated global trade rules by banning MTBE after holding a secret meeting with Archer Daniels Midland executives and collecting $200,000 from officials with the company that produces ethanol, a clean air alternative to MTBE.

From what I have been told, the environmental (leaching) issues with MTBE are real. Why does this leave me with the feeling that it didn’t matter until there was a contributor for whom it was an issue?


Earlier, I noted that I wasn’t happy with either the inclusion of “under God” into the Pledge, or with the court decision that maybe-kinda struck it. I got comments, both from people who felt they had been scorned and abused as children because they wouldn’t say it and from parents who wanted to spare their children from such opprobrium.
I thought about it a bit while driving the Boyyz around this afternoon, and talking to them came to the conclusion that, basically, I was right. Here’s the deal:
Dealing with other people requires a certain flexibility. They don’t know what you know, believe what you believe, or feel what you feel. The entire problem of politics is how to engage people and keep them engaged in some common purpose, even one as minor as obeying traffic signals.
I’m not Jewish; but when I go to a Jewish wedding or funeral, I wear a yarmulke. Why? Out of politeness. Out of a willingness to respect the beliefs of others.
But, you say, that’s exactly what the Pledge doesn’t do! It doesn’t respect my beliefs!
And that’s the key, isn’t it? On one hand, my desire is to respect the beliefs of others, where it doesn’t materially affect me and regardless of my own beliefs in the matter. On the other, your complaint is an overwhelming desire that your beliefs be respected, no matter how trivial the violation, regardless of the impact on yourself or others.
Look, we’re not talking about material affect, about racist exclusion…about fighting to give your kid opportunity or dignity. And, in part, it’s this conflation of hurt feelings with Jim Crow or the Holocaust that is driving me nuts.
And in the other part, I think that including the ‘under God’ clause was an embarrassing artifact of late 50’s cultural rigidity. I’d like to see it removed. But I’d like to see it removed via a process which doesn’t drive a further wedge between the folks in the U.S. who are clinging to the symbols of a nonexistent former consensus, and those who feel alienated from that consensus.
We’re at a point in our history when we need to find the threads that bind us into a nation and a polity. Sadly, ‘win at any cost’ politicians (c.f. Gray ‘SkyBox’ Davis), and culture warriors of one stripe or another are happy to drive wedges, if they believe the fractures serve their short-term political interests.
And we’re at a point in our political history that’s been made by single-issue warriors…for and against development, for and against abortion, for and against parks for dogs…and damn those on the other side of the issue.
I had the unique opportunity to have dinner once with then-State Senator John Schmitz. He was a genuine John Birch society member, elected from Orange County, who lost his office when it was discovered that his mistress had sexually abused their sons. (His daughter is also Mary Kay Le Tourneau, so I’ll take as a given that the family had…issues…). He was still in the Senate, and made a comment that I’ve always remembered:

When Moscone ran the Senate, he and I used to fight hammer and tongs all day, then go out and have drinks over dinner and laugh about it. We differed on where we wanted the boat to go, but we recognized that we were in the same boat. These new guys would gladly sink the boat rather then compromise.

And that’s why I think the decision was stupid, and why the forces behind it…the Church of My Wounded Feelings…and their soldiers, the Warrior Cult of the Single Issue…are incredibly destructive. And right now, we don’t have the time for it.
My sons don’t go to church, because I’ve never gone to church (at one point, one of my exes went to what I jokingly called “The Church of the Sandinista” in Ocean Park, but I thought Jim Conn was a good guy, so I’ll cut them some slack). I don’t think they are abused by being asked to say “under God” in the Pledge, and when they ask me about it (each one has, either in kindergarten or first grade) I tell them the truth; that some people who believed in God a lot asked to have it added to the pledge, and got the President to add it. And that they will; have to make up their own minds about whether to say it or whether to believe in God when they are older. But that this is how they do it in their school, and when I’m in a similar situation I say it, while thinking about all the people who do believe in God, and how cool it is that we all get to believe whatever we want in this society. But they get to decide.
If they told me they were being teased about it, I’d ask them how it differs from all the other things kids get teased for – childhood is a vicious time – and talk to them about how to respond in a way that protects themselves emotionally without becoming the bullies they are afraid of.
Somehow this whole thing reeks of the kind of pecksniffery that wants to ban tag and dodgeball. It’s the same kind of thinking that bans Nativity scenes or menorahs from public buildings, and worries more about changing the names of sports teams than about bringing people along to actually change the world.


Just went over to Amazon, and realized that I have links to them and should check and see…wow!! I’ve made $5.85!! I can’t quite justify this to the bank holding the mortgage as real work, but that’s still kinda cool. And we’ve had about 8,800 unique visitors to date; at this rate, we’ll hit 10,000 next weekend, in time for the two-month anniversary. That’s really exciting…
And mostly, it’s the 500-some emails that I’ve received; I’ve definitely met and corresponded with some good folks.
Let’s see what the next two months holds.
I don’t know how other folks do it, but I have a Word document with notes for blogs that I keep updating. Here’s the list (I make no promises about what I’m actually going to write about!):
– Finish Shooting and Mindfulness
– Fine-Grained Politics (what I called ‘Little League’ politics)
– redo 4th Generation Liberalism re Public Health and Education
– Bourgeois vs. BoBo values
– Gun Regulation
– Workable Cities
…and current events (especially when Skybox Davis does something stupid).
Work calls.


In this week’s L.A. Weekly (I was looking for a plastic surgeon, outcall escort, and a restaurant for dinner Saturday night…), Marc Cooper, no friend of the Republican party, goes after our education first, second and third Governor Skybox.
A sample:

But on the moral test of his own administration, the governor simply flunks out. Davis’ response to the lawsuit has been to stonewall the issue, prolong the case, run up a gigantic legal tab to the benefit of some of his powerhouse campaign contributors, and allow little Johnny to twist slowly, slowly in the wind.
For anyone who doubts the state of our schools, I recommend a review of a recent Harris survey of California public school teachers, which can be found on the Web at Of 6 million public school students in the state, 19 percent attend schools where at least a fifth of the teachers are uncredentialed, 32 percent go to schools without enough textbooks to be taken home for study, and 32 percent find classrooms either uncomfortably hot or cold. A million students deal with closed or non-working bathrooms, and nearly 2 million California students share classrooms with roaches, mice or rats.

Maybe it’s all a plot to get us to vote for vouchers? Woodchipper, anyone?


No, it’s not about the vodka…I’m told by people who drink that stuff that Grey Goose is better…it’s about the kind of personal philosophical rigidity that I’ll argue can lead to all kinds of bad things…from terrorism to gridlock.
Demosthenes has a great post today on it, using a graphic-novel series called the ‘Watchmen’ (I’ve got limited knowledge of these, although after reading ‘From Hell’ on the recommendation of a friend, I’ll be looking at more).
I’ll suggest that this is a part of the same Romantic rejection of the ‘bourgeois’ values of moderation, compromise, and community that I discuss when I talked about the Isiah Berlin book ‘The Roots of Romanticism’