Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Come On. He's Just A Kid

Recently, Mrs. Sarah Palin's email was "hacked" and the contents of her email account was disclosed publicly. This is a violation of law and the perpetrator of this crime is suspected to be Mr. David Kernell, a student at the University of Tennessee and the son of an elected official. Though Mr. Kernell remains innocent until proven guilty, the case against him seems strong enough to move the press to opine that the perpetrator is just a kid. The presumption is that youthful exuberance and bad judgment should excuse this act as a childish prank.

Though I am inclined toward mercy in most cases, I note that Mr. Kernell is old enough to serve in the military. At this moment, US servicemen are operating SIGINT listening posts around the world monitoring the communications of America's enemies. These servicemen are not older than Mr. Kernell (though they may be more mature). When telephone calls between foreign nationals were routed through switches located in the US, the NSA sought to intercept them using personnel no older than Mr. Kernell. This caused a great deal of angry discussion about the legality of doing so. Had any of these intercept operators disclosed the contents of these communications, they'd soon find lodging in a federal penitentiary.

Mr. G. Gordon Liddy knows something of federal penitentiaries. He was lodged therein after doing the 1970s equivalent of Mr. Kernell's hacking, bugging a telephone. If Mr. Kernell is found guilty, but only gets a wrist-slap would this give a green light to a Renaissance of Watergate-style political black ops? Worse, if the seriousness of the infraction does not rise to the level of prosecution, political operatives will take this as license to invade anyone's privacy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Carly, You're So Vain

You probably think this essay is about you.

One of the sources of unease I've felt with the Republican Presidential candidate this season has been his association with Carly Fiorina. I don't know Ms. Fiorina and have supposed she's a nice person. However, I've noticed that the quality of Hewlett Packard has declined markedly in the last few years. When HP bought out Compaq it didn't seem like a smart move to me, but I'm far enough removed that I had no basis for that opinion.

Then there was a huge fight within HP over Ms. Fiorina's leadership. The last I'd heard of her was her forced eviction from the company. Of course, a lot of damage was already done and someone else had to clean up after. I had supposed that would be the last I'd hear from Ms. Fiorina.

So, when Ms. Fiorina insinuated herself into the McCain Campaign as some kind of economics guru, I felt a vague discomfort. Her involvement seemed like a bad move, but I couldn't definitively say why.

Yesterday I discovered why. You have to have very poor business judgment to say that your boss is unqualified to run a business. After all, he made the business decision to hire you.

This creates one of those rare situations where we can know something certainly: Either Mr. McCain is unqualified to run a business and his hiring decision of Ms. Fiorina validates that decision (making her stupid) OR Mr. McCain is indeed qualified to run a business whereupon Ms. Fiorina's assertions are false (making her a liar). We do not know whether Mr. McCain is qualified or not, but we do know Ms. Fiorina is either stupid or a liar. Hence we conclude that HP was correct to remove Ms. Fiorina from leadership.

Update: It appears that a businessman who is considerably more successful than Ms. Fiorina would be willing to hire either Mr. McCain or Mrs. Palin to run a business. It should be noted that Mr. Romney's business experience is more apropos to gauging fitness to run a business than Ms. Fiorina. This further vindicates the opinion of the HP board that fired her. Why yes, this does speak ill of Mr. McCain's judgment to associate himself with Ms. Fiorina.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

With Apologies to Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be Sarah Palin!

Two Sorts Of Feminism

I just read this article describing a speech by Newt Gingrich. According to the Washington Times:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Friday that Sarah Palin represents a "threat" to modern feminism and to Democrat Barack Obama's quest for the presidency, and that is why the "elite media" is trying to tear her down.

"Governor Palin violates every norm they have: she is tough, she is smart, she is articulate, she is happy, she has five kids, she has a very hardworking husband who is a union member, she is an NRA life member, she actually goes to church and prays. The list just gets worse," he said.

Perhaps I'm quibbling semantics, but when you make a woman the 2nd banana of the most powerful country in the world, you're not undermining girl power. This is hardly a blow to women or a threat to women's rights. To the contrary, Mrs. Palin is poised to become the personification of equality between the sexes. I'd rather vote for her for President than for Veep.

If you let the girl drive, she has the steering wheel and she gets to decide which way she turns. This is feminism by definition. In this sense Mr. Gingrich's assertion that Mrs. Palin is a threat to feminism is wrong.

But there is a difference between feminism by definition and feminism by tradition and convention. (By this I mean conventions and traditions that have been adopted only since the early 1970s.) Traditionally and conventionally feminism started with bra burning and eschewing cosmetics. Traditional and conventional feminism regards the unplanned pregnancy as a curse and children as a punishment. This form of feminism is typified by the spinster scold. The sort of person Rush Limbaugh calls the feminazi.

In this second sense Mr. Gingrich is right, Mrs. Palin is a threat to traditional/conventional feminism. I suspect that after five children she doesn't share Catharine MacKinnon's notion that all consensual sex between husband and wife is rape. Mrs. Palin has demonstrated her pro-life convictions when she gave birth to a disabled child and when her daughter got "in trouble." Both "problems" are easily be solved by abortion.

It is a sham to claim that women should be empowered, but then require every woman to toe the Democrat party line and/or the radicalized agenda of a self-appointed elite of Womon's Studies professors.

A persistent slander that has been heaped upon Conservatives by traditional/conventional feminists is that we hate women. No, we hate some policy aims of some women. Ask any Conservative if he'd vote for Margaret Thatcher and the answer would be YES!!!

Some traditional/conventional feminists who realize that any power placed in Sarah Palin's hands would undermine their policy aims are now claiming that Mrs. Palin is not a woman. She can't be: she is a mother, and men find her attractive.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Astroturfing The Insubstantial

I just saw this on National Review.

When several liberal bloggers all choose to spotlight one particular news report by an Alaska CBS affiliate, one begins to wonder if we're seeing a coordinated message. Adding to Dean's observation, it sure is strange the way the liberal blogs all spotlight the same obscure story at the same time, huh?

I think it is significant because I've been thinking about the contrasting warfighting strategies of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain. Astroturfing is nothing new and I suppose it is not unique to Mr. Obama's campaign. Francis Schaeffer once said that you shouldn't ascribe to a conspiracy the coordinated actions of a bunch of people who are all in lockstep as far as their worldviews are concerned. Thus, a few people can easily receive and forward the same choice tips that exactly fits their mental picture of the world.

Nevertheless, it appears that there are two or three channels of negative information coming from the Obama campaign about Mrs. Palin. The first is directly from the campaign and it mentions all the things a liberal Democrat would dislike about a conservative Republican. As such it's a fairly straightforward matter of attack and wholly cricket. But then there are the less-than-direct attacks which are troublesome. The rather childish, petulant insults like discussing Hillary with middle finger extended or referring to lipstick-wearing pigs are really beneficial for the window into Mr. Obama's character that they provide. I was upset yesterday, but today I'm grateful for this disclosure.

However, the astroturfing is troublesome. If you've a story you can't shop, or that would generate significant blowback, you can release it to your fellow-travelers and count on them to muddy the waters. Consider former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, who announced his opposition to Mrs. Palin on the basis of a demonstrably false story about book-banning in a public library. I think Mr. Koch should oppose Mrs. Palin according to his beliefs and values, but he ought not support his decision upon a falsehood. I don't think Mr. Koch even knew he was deceived until long after the fact.

We've got to have a grasp on reality if we're to function in this world. When lies are your stock-in-trade, I think it distances you from reality. This may yield some short-team pleasantness, but it can be long-term harmful. And if you overdose on lies, you have blowback that can kill you.

Now, it appears that the Obama campaign believes that one can make a negative impression about Mrs. Palin if a particular CBS affiliate's news story is aired, but they're afraid there's not enough substance to it. Fritz Mondale once said, "where's the beef," and the Obama team must not have sufficient faith in this line of attack to man up and put it out there directly. Mrs. Palin had no problem directly attacking Mr. Obama in her convention speech. Why are her Democrat opponents not similarly direct?

If you punch me in the nose, I'll hate you but I'll respect you. Conversely, if you try to stab me in the back, I'll both hate and disrespect you. Mr. Obama has never faced big-league pitching and it shows.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Steven Quincy Urkel for President?

Mr. Barak Obama said that when you put lipstick on a pig, its still a pig. Now, any one of the 40 million people who saw the Republican Vice Presidential acceptance speech recalls the joke about how a hockey mom differs from a pit bull. (Yes, he also deniably called Mr. McCain an old fish, but I'm not on about that.)

It does not require the intelligence commonly claimed by a Democrat candidate for national office to connect the lipstick allusions. Isn't that clever? Mr. Obama didn't actually call Mrs. Palin a pig. Haw haw haw. When someone complains about the attack tomorrow, he'll deny it and everyone who doesn't accept this will look petty. Mr. Obama flipped the bird at Mrs. Clinton earlier this year in a similarly deniable fashion. It must have taken the brain the size of a planet to come up with that trick.

Or a sixth grader. You know, the guy you eventually got fed up with and gave a wedgie to. There's a word for this: passive-aggression. It's what gelded males do around females who have cowed them. It's the standard operating procedure for men without chests.

When Mrs. Palin went after Mr. Obama in her acceptance speech, she manfully launched a frontal attack. There were no childish petty snipes she might deny the next day. There was an arrogance in her sarcasm, not unlike that of Mr. Mohamed Ali who really was the greatest. (Mr. Obama has the arrogance of the Emperor/Messiah with no clothes. He has everyone in the Washington DC Beltway convinced that his hopey/changey/whatever is just so marvelous that only provincial bumpkins doubt its substance.)

When Mrs. Palin pointed out that someone has to have an awfully thin resume to count such a bogus gig as "community organizer," Mr. Obama whimpered the next day that the mean girl was hitting him: She used... sarcasm. She knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and… satire. She was vicious. In this world there are producers and there are consumers. Community organizers are not producers. Look at all the jobs Mr. Obama didn't create in his community. Someone has said that "Jesus was a community organizer." My Bible says he was a carpenter.

Contrast this with snippy, mincing references to pigs and lipstick. Or a thousand astroturfed smears about Mrs. Palin and her family by anonymous bloggers whose IPs track back to Democrat operatives. Yeah, that's the kind of guy we want standing up to America's enemies. That'll scare them.

When I vote for a black guy President he's gonna be John Shaft, not Steve Urkel.

Update: I suppose that passive-aggression is altogether fitting to a disciple of Mr. Saul Alinsky. I happened upon this essay wherein this paragraph appears:

His creed was set out in his book ‘Rules for Radicals’ – a book he dedicated to Lucifer, whom he called the ‘first radical’. It was Alinsky for whom ‘change’ was his mantra. And by ‘change’, he meant a Marxist revolution achieved by slow, incremental, Machiavellian means which turned society inside out. This had to be done through systematic deception, winning the trust of the naively idealistic middle class by using the language of morality to conceal an agenda designed to destroy it. And the way to do this, he said, was through ‘people’s organisations’.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saul Alinsky vs John Boyd

Here's a lens through which to view the current political conflict. On one side is a fellow whose first job out of college was community organizer. On the other side is a fellow whose first job out of college was fighter pilot. Each appears to have brought this experience to the fight.

It is wrong to accuse Barak Obama of having no experience. He was a community organizer. I served on the board of a neighborhood association in the early 1980s and have met a few. However, my experience was insufficient to become acquainted with their guru, Saul Alinsky and his book Rules For Radicals. However, I now recognize the pattern of conflict followed by his disciples. I am confident that Mr. Obama learned Mr. Alinsky's lessons as well as did Mr. Obama's rival, Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Better, seeing as how both worked from the same playbook and Mr. Obama won.

Before that, Mr. Obama's greatest achievement was winning his Senate seat. He was quite lucky when the judge unsealed Mr. Ryan's divorce papers. Mr. Ryan was ahead in the polls at the time. But you make your luck and we'll never know exactly how this lucky break came about. Perhaps someone more familiar with Mr. Alinsky's book could say.

The other party is headed by a fellow I've written about in the past as mere media hoax. He was so out of touch with my wing of the party, so hostile toward the religious right, so prone to sell out Republican interests, and so quick to kowtow to the media elites that I thought it impossible that he could inspire loyalty in the Republican Party. Obviously, I was wrong.

Before Mr. McCain became a POW he was a fighter pilot. Fighter pilots kill Communists.

They did so over North Korea and over North Vietnam with lopsided kill-ratios thanks to the fighting doctrines taught by USAF Colonel John Boyd. The key notion in Mr. Boyd's way is the OODA loop. In any dogfight, each pilot must do the same four things: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. The participants in a dogfight will loop through these steps, and the winner invariably manages to "get inside the other guy's OODA loop." A fighter ace kills the other guy because when he's inside his OODA loop, the other guy is always responding to a stale situation. During the "Observe and Orient" steps the pilot forms a mental picture of reality. During the "Act" step the pilot changes reality. If I'm inside your OODA loop, I'm changing the situation faster than you can decide what to do that'll save yourself and/or kill me.

It is widely documented that Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and George Bush were all "misunderestimated" by their political opponents. Though I don't think Mr. Bush was or is a Conservative, each of these politicians were never understood by their political opponents. And each of these politicians managed to run rings around their adversaries. They each had this stealth shield spell of confusion that addled their enemies' wits. It's hard to Observe and Orient when your brain can't grok who your opponent is.

Since the Friday before Labor Day it appears that Mrs. Palin has transformed Barak Obama from Emperor/Messiah into Wyle E. Coyote, Sooooper Genius. Look at all the narrative attacks that have been spun about her and none have come close to touching her. Can this mean that someone is serially faking the drive-by media elites out of their jock-straps? Has Team McCain gotten inside Team Obama's OODA loop?

Maybe, and maybe it doesn't matter. Elections are zero-sum games, just like dogfights: one guy wins and one guy loses. Except in dogfights losing is usually much worse for your health. But elections are a form of politics and I don't know whether Mr. Alinky's tactics (which are native to politics) are more effective than Mr. Boyd's tactics.

Update: for a better analysis of Team McCain's fighting strategy go here. If you happen to agree with Mr. McMain's side, you need to get your head around this:

McCain's undoing of the elite, leftist media provides a universal lesson for contending with the Left. At base, the Left's ideology, whether relating to women's rights, human rights, academic inquiry or war and peace is not universal but tribal. Moreover, when the Left is challenged on any one of its signature issues, because it cannot actually make a case for the universal applicability or even logic of its views, it tends instead to embrace the politics of personal destruction while ignoring the obvious contradictions between its stated beliefs and actual behavior.

WHY things are this way have to do with the nature of post-modernism and its notion of truth and absolutes.

Another Update: Another OODA loop analysis of the current conflict.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Grace and Works and Gratitude

I've a friend who's a good Catholic. Last week he expressed curiosity about how Baptists and more generally Protestants stay on the straight-and-narrow. I failed to give a good answer and this is an attempt to put my understanding into words. Keep in mind that I'm not any ecclesiastical authority and whatever I say should be checked against scripture. Don't take my word for any of this. Check it out for yourself.

First off, I'm Reformed enough to think that God saves sinners. Sinners don't save themselves or accept any power-assist or make any leveraged deals for grace. My state outside grace is like a dead man completely incapable of doing anything acceptable to God. Some disagree, thinking there may be some unfallen spark of desire for God that must be fanned into flame. But I don't.

However, I believe that when a human presents to another human the good news of the gospel and calls upon a sinner (we're all sinners by birth) to repent & believe, God chooses to add his effectual call of the Holy Spirit to the message. Quite frankly, I believe every Christian starts his Christianity with a miracle of resurrection in a spiritual sense. Before that, everyone is disinterested in the God that Is and is anxious to either get away or substitute something he finds more acceptable.

When God goes "zot" like this, the sinner brings nothing to the transaction but his sin, his desire/promise to not-sin, and his belief that God will forgive him. Where I show I'm uber-Reformed is that I think the expressions of belief, the repentence, and the faith are all RESULTS of grace, not CAUSES of grace.

So, at this point my Catholic friend asks, "So, why do good after this?"

I was reminded of this question last Sunday. The preacher spoke of the merit of Christ and the imputation of his righteousness, his merit to the believer in exchange for the believer's sins. And after that we live in the power of Christ to do good.

I nudged my wife and whispered, "why?"

The answer I didn't give my Catholic friend, but that I did give my wife is "gratitude."

Gratitude is the only reason any Christian should ever do any good thing. Keep in mind two things, we've asked God to save us from our sins, which means we want to be rid of them. Second, God provides this grace free of charge and I think God is offended by any attempt to pay for it via religious activities. So, I've got this debt of gratitude that is infinite in extent. I'm not obligated to pay it off, but I think it is only fitting for a Christian to keep this in mind. When there's some little sacrifice I'm called upon to do, I compare it with the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf. It's only fitting to do what I can as an expression of gratitude.

I think that as long as I realize that nothing I'm doing is getting me to heaven, or keeping me in the boat, but that everything's in God's hands, there is no room for vanity. When Jesus spoke of the Pharisee and he Tax Collector and how they prayed, the Pharisee seems altogether too satisfied with his spiritual state. He's grateful for not being like the guy next to him, but the Christian's gratitude must run much deeper. We're all sinners, and just because I'm a nice guy right now, that doesn't mean all the bad things i did in the past are inoperative. There's more than the moral delta between Pharisee & Publican, there's the delta between absolute perfection as lived by Jesus and my own sinful state. I've got to remind myself how much I've been given to properly assess a fitting extent of gratitude toward Christ.

Why be good? Because it's the least I can do.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Another Day, Another Sarah Palin Spin

The mainstream media and Democrat operatives, as good post-modernists, cannot change the facts of the world, but they can frame those facts to suggest their preferred interpretation of them.

Fact: John McCain nominated Sarah Palin to be his running mate.

Spin Attempt #1: She's the second coming of Dan Quayle. Like Mr. Quayle, nobody who mattered knew her and she wasn't a regular on the Sunday thumb-sucker shows. And she can't be qualified, otherwise our masters in the Beltway would have lunched with her and would tell us so.

However, Mrs. Palin failed to cooperate by responding to bright lights like a deer in the headlights. (This might have something to do with her beauty pageant experience.)

Spin Attempt #2: She's trailer trash with too much hair, too many kids, and her youngest is probably the fruit of an incestuous union between her husband and her daughter.

The conspiracy theories to support the latter hypothesis utterly buggered belief and couldn't pass the laugh test. All they did was to make the extra-chromosome wing (Al Gore's words) of the Republican party, i.e. me, furious. (Why yes, I have gone back to calling myself a Republican.)

Spin Attempt #3: (whispered) She's a bad mother with an out-of-control 17-year old daughter, taking dangerous risks flying on airplanes (imagine that, airplanes) while pregnant, and doing G-d-knows-what in the Governor's office while she should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

This also failed because Democrats can't keep a straight face when they say a wommon's place is in the home. To add insult to injury, the Religious Right failed to drop her like a hot potatoe when they learned of daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

Spin Attempt #4: OK, Sarah Palin is beleaguered from all of the above and is really Thomas Eagleton, v2.0 and the Republicans will come to their senses and drop her from the ticket.

Then Mrs. Palin gave a speech that a lot of people watched (to find out what all the buzz was about). It's hard to maintain 37 million instances of the "who you going to believe, me or your lying eyes" narrative. Meanwhile, a lot of Republicans remembered how tasty red meat is and are now saying they'll vote for Sarah Palin and that guy with her.

Spin Attempt #5: [speaking of the messiah] Sarah Palin used... sarcasm. She knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. She was vicious.

Well, being the "attack dog" of the ticket is the main job responsibility of the Veep. Obambi was in her sights and she put lead on target.

This brings us to now.

Spin Attempt #6: Sarah Palin is Spiro T. Agnew v2.0. Given the poisoned atmosphere of recent rumor-mongering and hard-to-deny media-bias, she's going to make the campaign all about the press bias and Leave Obama Alone! Please, please, Leave Obama Alone! Leave Obama Alone! Call us nattering nabobs of negativity, please. Leave Obama Alone! Call us an effete corp of snobs. Leave Obama Alone! Please!

Here's a bit of meta-analysis. When the story changes each day, you don't have to pay much attention to it, or take it particularly seriously, because it'll be different tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I've got a suspicion that doesn't have sufficient data to support it. Mrs. Palin appears to have a track record of taking on powerful enemies and hanging tough against them. Something had to sustain her through the viciousness of this last week's attacks upon her family from the ends-justify-the-means left. You might call her an Iron Lady, but that title is currently held by Dame Margaret Thatcher. Don't take my word for it. Just keep your eyes open and we'll see.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Peggy Noonan's Got Some 'Splainin' To Do

This afternoon I read Ms. Peggy Noonan's essay touting the Republican line about Mr. McCain's Vice-Presidential selection of Mrs. Sarah Palin. However, her off-mike conversation with Mike Murphy and some MSNBC talking-head includes her uttering these words:

“It’s over… They went for this, excuse me, political bull**** about narratives. Every time Republicans do that… they blow it.”

With this in mind, consider what she wrote:

Because she jumbles up so many cultural categories, because she is a feminist not in the Yale Gender Studies sense but the How Do I Reload This Thang way, because she is a woman who in style, history, moxie and femininity is exactly like a normal American feminist and not an Abstract Theory feminist; because she wears makeup and heels and eats mooseburgers and is Alaska Tough, as Time magazine put it; because she is conservative, and pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life; and because conservatives can smell this sort of thing -- who is really one of them and who is not -- and will fight to the death for one of their beleaguered own; because of all of this she is a real and present danger to the American left, and to the Obama candidacy.

She could become a transformative political presence.

So they are going to have to kill her, and kill her quick.

And it's going to be brutal. It's already getting there.

I'm not too sure how to interpret Ms. Noonan's written opinions in light of her presumably candid remarks. Did she knowingly write something her audience would like to hear to provide some boob bait for the bubbas? Or should I instead take pains to recall that Ms. Noonan included herself in the class of people she describes here:

Let me say of myself and almost everyone I know in the press, all the chattering classes and political strategists and inside dopesters of the Amtrak Acela Line: We live in a bubble and have around us bubble people. We are Bubbleheads.

Bubbleheads. Yes. I think that best harmonizes the oral and written record.

Update: Ms. Noonan attempts to harmonize her written and spoken words here. Make of it what you will.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Democrats Without Chests

The Catholic journal "First Things" has news of recent statements by Democrat activists that give pause. Now, I would not think the remarks so significant had I not been on vacation this last weekend whereupon I had occasion to reread my copy of the C.S. Lewis novel, That Hideous Strength.

Civil discourse requires the interlocutors to put their partisan aims under something larger than themselves. The ancient Greeks of Plato's Dialogs thought that Reason, qua, Reason must be ultimate. Theists in general must put the will of God over their own will to power. Historically, American political conflicts have taken place within the framework of the Constitution. When that framework proved inadequate Civil War took a half-million lives on its battlefields.

We have recently seen low-life's who would have a hard time knowing which end the round comes out of a gun proclaiming their willingness to perpetrate any crime to bring about the "greater good" as they see it. Happily, all of the NRA members are on the other side of this debate. The First Things essay speaks of bloodshed. I don't think we've come to that.

I think that if someone publicly says that he believes the ends justify any means necessary, remember that this includes violating the Constitution, the Bible, the Koran, the laws of the land, and the rules of civil discourse. You should believe his every utterance to be a lie until someone you know to believe in absolutes confirms it and you ought to attach the maximum skepticism to it when you hear it repeated. The "big lie" theory depends upon it being repeated so widely that people lose track of its source.

That Hideous Strength is a story of how men without chests find themselves completely unprepared to handle evil. The antagonists start with things that seem good, but take this same "ends justify the means" approach. The result are a few lies to "cut the red tape" and those lies are doubled and tripled until all correspondence between words and reality is lost. What meaning is communicated grows more and more vague. In the climactic confrontation between N.I.C.E. and Merlin all meaning is lost.

There are no policy goals so valuable that lying about them is justified. There are no policy goals that destroying innocent people is justified. If you think otherwise, I will not trust you and we cannot have a civil discussion.