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September 11, 2008

War of Words

Thursday, September 11th 2008, 4 a.m. I sit staring at my monitor as I have nearly every day since that brilliant morning which continues its nauseating free fall through our collective subconscious. This is merely one of many ways my life forked as I fiddled absentmindedly with the radio dial on my way to work that day.

I wasn't really listening to the news. What I really wanted to hear was music - something loud and fast, with plenty of bass and a memorable back beat: the kind that gets inside your head and makes you feel, momentarily, like you're sixteen again and can take on the whole world single-handed, armed with nothing more than a stick of peppermint chewing gum and a disreputable looking tube of Maybelline UltraLash mascara in Black/brown.

Something to get my pulse pounding and my adrenaline pumping.

What I got was the Twin Towers falling and the end of my safe, familiar existence. That, and the news that a plane had plowed into the Pentagon where my husband, the love of my life since my senior year in high school, went to work every day. From the ninth floor window of my office building in northern Virginia I could see acrid smoke spiraling upward from the horizon of my dreams.

We were supposed to retire.

That was the way life was supposed to unfold: a little house in the woods just big enough for the two of us, the chance to finally control our own lives after more than two decades of constant moving and military life. No more 12-15 hour work days and year long separations. Grad school for me and probably for him. We'd talked and dreamed about it for years. So many things came crashing down to earth along with those planes, all over America. Dreams. Plans. Sometimes a family's entire life savings. We were the lucky ones, in so many ways.

I didn't lose a loved one that day, though I came close. Too close. Close enough to appreciate how bad it could have been. Perhaps that why I never understood the bitterness, the anger I read later in newspapers, heard on the evening news, mostly from those who didn't seem to have suffered any direct loss at all. I suppose I never saw the point.

Things change. Life deals us odd twists and turns we didn't anticipate. You adjust, move on. What other choice do you have? In my snarkier moments I've often imagined the whole thing as a particularly bad country song. That could be convenient for do-overs. What happens if you play the whole thing backwards? It could be like the old joke: you find out your woman didn't really cheat on you, your pickup starts running again, the factory starts hiring again, your dawg comes back....

Maybe the whole nightmare never happens.

Tonight, the moon came out, it was nearly full.
Way down here on earth, I could feel it's pull.
The weight of gravity or just the lure of life,
Made me want to leave my only home tonight
Now I'm just wonderin' how we know where we belong.
Is it in a photograph, or a dashboard poet's song?
Will I have missed my chance to right some ancient wrong,
Should I find myself between here and gone

That is where America seems to be, seven years after 9/11: poised between a past we can never go back to and a future none of us can agree upon. More than anything else the nation has come to resemble an old married couple treading delicately on the eggshell thin remnants of an illusion no one wants to see irreparably shattered. Even the most innocent topics of conversation provoke the same tired arguments we’ve had a million times and with each repetition the eruptions become more savage; our barely healed wounds more sensitive. Ancient grievances are dredged up, hurled at each other impotently and ultimately cast aside when it becomes obvious there will be no closure this time, either:

I could grab my keys, clear out in my truck,
With every saint on board bringing me their luck.
And' I could drive too fast, like a midnight sleeve,
As if there was a way to outrun the grief.
Now I'm just wondering how we know where we belong.
In a song that's left behind in the dream I couldn't wake from.
Could I have felt the brush of a soul that's passing on,
Somewhere in between here and gone

Who owns the truth? Where is that bright line between fact and opinion, between the subtle shadings of political bias and honest allowances for the right of different people to weigh the same facts according to their value systems and come to a different conclusion? And by what right do today’s post 9/11 shrill anger merchants claim lay exclusive claim to what is “obviously true”?

John McCain was not offended when Barack Obama described McCain’s policy agenda as putting “lipstick on a pig.” I can’t prove that, but it seems so obvious to me that it’s more like a fact than an opinion. Nor could McCain possibly have thought that Obama was calling McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, a pig, since Obama didn’t even mention Palin. If Obama had even thought that his words would be misinterpreted as calling Palin a pig, he wouldn’t have said them. That also seems obvious. The whole controversy is ginned up, a fraud, a lie. All obvious.

How obvious can a thing be which can (obviously) never be proven one way or another?

Do Americans feel no shame anymore to substitute their personal political opinions for objectively provable fact and, upon such untenable grounds, impugn the integrity of another human being? Apparently not. That Andrew Sullivan should do so is no longer surprising, but the sheer triviality of the issue that finally sends him careening off the deep end is almost laughable:

For me, this surreal moment - like the entire surrealism of the past ten days - is not really about Sarah Palin or Barack Obama or pigs or fish or lipstick. It's about John McCain. The one thing I always thought I knew about him is that he is a decent and honest person. When he knows, as every sane person must, that Obama did not in any conceivable sense mean that Sarah Palin is a pig, what did he do? Did he come out and say so and end this charade? Or did he acquiesce in and thereby enable the mindless Rovianism that is now the core feature of his campaign?

So far, he has let us all down. My guess is he will continue to do so. And that decision, for my part, ends whatever respect I once had for him. On core moral issues, where this man knew what the right thing was, and had to pick between good and evil, he chose evil.

Dear God in heaven. In Afghanistan men are fighting and dying, but what has really wounded darling Andrew’s delicate moral sensibilities is one politician’s overreaction to a badly timed joke about lipstick on a pig? This outrage, this welling up of righteous indignation from a man who, in all seriousness, spent last week gleefully shopping juicy but utterly unfounded gossip that Sarah Palin tried to murder her own child in the womb.

We have become an unserious nation. A childish and ungrateful one: peevish and cruel and grasping. The kind of nation that somehow believes simple political disagreement justifies the kind of personal "demonization" we claim to oppose; the kind of people who will use any convenient excuse as a weapon to beat our opponents senseless; where those we disagree with are "freaks" and "sycophants" and "liars"; where nearly every sentence drips with venom:

...what is already apparent is that John McCain is running the sleaziest, most dishonest and race-baiting campaign of our lifetimes. So let's stopped being shocked and awed by every new example of it. It is undignified. What can we do? We've got a dangerously reckless contender for the presidency and a vice presidential candidate who distinguished her self by abuse of office even on the comparatively small political stage of Alaska. They've both embraced a level of dishonesty that disqualifies them for high office.

What upset Mr. Marshall? This ad, claiming Barack Obama supported an Illinois bill (which, by the way, did not gain enough votes to pass) mandating sex education for Kindergarteners. Now reasonable people can and do disagree upon the need for 5 year olds to have any sex education whatsoever, up to and including 'inappropriate touching', from the public school system. We have all read the idiotic stories about children screaming "abuse" after another adult or child had the temerity to hug them. It would seem, since this bill never passed the Illinois legislature, that Mr. Obama was in the minority regarding the need for this critical service. However, one would never know this from reading TPM Cafe. No discussion, nor deviation from the Official Approved Party Truth, is allowed lest one be branded a LIAR, SYCOPHANT, FREAK, PEDOPHILE LOVER and most importantly DISHONORABLE PERSON. The actual language of the bill was rather more ambiguous than as presented by Mr. Obama's spokesmen, leaving considerable doubt as to what would have happened in individual classrooms had the measure passed.

So: hardly a cut and dried situation, contra Josh Marshall; but one which reasonable Americans of opposing political persuasions might see quite differently without being called "liars" and "freaks" sans a single shred of human decency.

How did we get to this pass?

Of all the losses I lay at the door of 9/11, I lay this bitter division, this burning rancor, the loss of the fundamental trust that possibly – just possibly – our fellow Americans may disagree with us and still love this nation; still be good people, still want what is best for her. As an intelligent, well read and informed, college educated, open minded woman who passionately supports the Bush administration and the war on terror, I grieve when I read things like this:

I assume John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential partner in a fit of pique because the Republican money men refused to let him have the stuffed male shirt he really wanted. She added nothing to the ticket that the Republicans didn't already have sewn up, the white trash vote, the demographic that sullies America's name inside and outside its borders yet has such a curious appeal for the right.

So why do it?

It's possible that Republican men, sexual inadequates that they are, really believe that women will vote for a woman just because she's a woman. They're unfamiliar with our true natures. Do they think vaginas call out to each other in the jungle night?

Wow. Got contempt? I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I grieve when I’m not helpless with laughter.

Heather darlin’. I have no idea about you but the last time my vagina called out in the night I believe it was saying, “Lord, have mercy!” Perhaps you ought to try one of those Republican men, sexual inadequates though you may think them. You might find your mood vastly improved. At the very least, you’d laugh once in a while:

I don’t know what “violently rich” means, except that it certain sounds bad – like you walked up to Tony Rezco and punched him until a nice house deal fell out of his pockets – but yes, most Americans want to be rich, at least as rich as Obama, and there is nothing wrong with this. Most don’t have the book-deal / Chicago machine option, so they either play the lottery and plug away at their jobs, or they try to improve their station by the usual means. It is a dearly held American notion that you can do better than you’re doing.

Even in broken Kansas.

Because her contract apparently requires her to end with a pop-culture review gracelessly yoked to whatever hobby horse she rode into town this week, she ends:

Mad Men is scaring me (AMC on Sunday nights). What has Matthew Weiner, a writer from The Sopranos, created, a period soap opera about reality and façade or a horror series on a localized war between men and women? Was Episode 6 of Season 2 a costume drama about the Madonna/whore complex or the operatic rendition of one simple thing, human cruelty?

Or maybe I'm seeing too much into it and it's just a sexed-up version of the Republican convention.

Of course it scares her. Everything outside the tight, airless bubble in which she lives scares her, from those yellin’ knocked-up hillbilly wimen to the menfolk who love ‘em, from the crazy furrin-doubting Murcans who bring up their heads from the trough only to bark for ‘nuther servin; of Freedom Fries, from the ghastly sight of people with different opinions on TV to the general roar of approval for someone who doesn’t perfect the art of licking the boots of the anointed leaders while pulling her wallet of our her purse and handing over whatever the state demands. Of course she’s scared. People like her are always scared. It’s a lonely world when you’re just so damned right and everyone else is so stupid.

That’s why God made cats.

I think this is what gets me about these folks: the vast, humorless wasteland. There is no joy there, only contempt and fear for whatever they don’t agree with and can’t understand.

The thing is, I don’t agree with Barack Obama and I certainly hope he doesn’t get elected President because I think he’s defiantly, tragically, and – yes – stupidly naïve and wrong on so many issues I care about. But I’m not afraid of him and I don’t think he’s the anti-Christ. This country can survive even him. God help me if I ever come unglued like this, if I ever let my life become dominated by fear and anger, if I make up silly labels for my neighbors, like “Christianists”; if I begin looking down my nose at those who disagree with me.

Because that is no way to live.

We – on both sides – are letting ourselves be controlled by our emotions. Neither Sarah Palin nor Barack Obama is the answer to the truly enormous problems that divide us as a nation, and we cannot project all our cares onto their all too human backs. This election is unusual because for the first time I can remember we have four candidates who, by conventional standards, have few of the usual qualifications for office.

I think that’s a sign. It’s a sign of anomie, very much like what this nation experienced after World War I; of fatigue and disenchantment with forces we don’t fully understand; with too many factors that defy our attempts to analyze or explain them rationally. And so we fall back on something we think we can trust: our intuition, our gut instincts. We want leaders who are like us. We want someone we think we can trust to make the right decisions.

The details are less important.

I’m not so sure that’s as foolhardy a proposition as it’s being made out to be. If 9/11 and the war that followed taught us anything, they taught us that people are predictable. We make the same stupid mistakes over and over again because although circumstances may mutate in a million unpredictable ways, human nature never quite does, does it? And so we can make all the plans we want, we can have what we think are bullet proof principles, but as the old saying goes, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

We adapt and overcome. And then we get up the next morning and do it all over again. I'm not sure there has ever been anyone so wise, so foresighted, so good at organization or gaining the cooperation of all branches of government that he or she would be able to prevent many of the problems we've watched unfold over the past seven years. And I'm not sure there is any system capable of overcoming the sheer brute force of human stupidity. We learn by trial and error.

In that kind of situation, maybe it's not so "dumb" to go with your gut; to pick a leader whose character inspires confidence.

Oddly the parties seem to have flip-flopped. In response to a complex and rapidly changing situation we don't fully understand and can't control, the so-called “elitist” Republicans have put up a populist ticket and the erstwhile party of the common man are squealing like stuck pigs about erudition and education and intelligence and advanced degrees. What I think this is really about, however, is trust.

9/11 shook us to the core and people responded differently to that threat. Some just want it to go away – never to be mentioned. Some think the threat must be met aggressively lest another tragedy occur. I am often unable to tell the supposed fear-mongering of those who do their level best to make us fear our own government from that of those who remind us that there truly are people out there who have sworn to keep attacking us until we our cities go down in flames. So who are the real fear mongers? The ones who remind us we’ve been attacked by violent extremists or the ones who constantly promote fear and suspicion of our own government and military?

I have spent the last week or so talking, over email, with an old friend from high school.

A Democrat. We don’t agree about the Bush administration, or the war on terror. But the discussion has been remarkably civil and informative. I can’t help but think that there is hope for this nation in ordinary people, people of good will, people not too invested in the political process. These are the people who gave us our Constitution, Declaration, and founding documents. They were not seasoned pros, but talented amateurs.

On the seventh anniversary of 9.11, let us make a promise to the dead: all those who died on that awful day and all those who have died since then, trying to ensure that such an awful day need never come again. Let’s stop screeching at each other and start listening. Stop the insults and the hating. Start the conversation anew, and in our inside voices this time.

Perhaps then, the healing can finally begin.

Posted by Cassandra at September 11, 2008 07:48 AM

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We got to this pass by not keeping the boundaries defined and distinct.

Posted by: Cricket at September 11, 2008 11:17 AM

Heartstopping, and while I can't wait for the next installment, this stands alone as a prose haiku of the human condition. Or something. :-)

Posted by: Sissy Willis at September 11, 2008 11:19 AM

"How obvious can a thing be, which can (obviously) never be proven one way or another?"

At first and very long ago, I assumed that the Left differed from us on an axiomatic basis; shortly thereafter, I was forced to conclude that the absence (in fact, the outright avoidance) of valid logical process rendered axioms superfluous.

"How did we get to this pass?"

The Left is seeking desperately to close the deal, to put us past the point-of-no-return before the welfare state edifice collapses and exposes the whole charade. If the fat, dumb and happy ever really awaken to this, the Left is sunk for another generation or two. Thus, the symptoms of that desperation.

The obscenity of 9/11 made the fat, dumb and happy, en masse, just a bit more aware of the fragility of fundamentally important things.

I could say "God bless you who stand in front", but I know that He already has. For what it's worth, you have mine as well.

Posted by: socialism_is_error at September 11, 2008 12:18 PM

The attacks on Sen. McCain's honor that bother you arise from the fact that honor is McCain's strongest point. It is the one ground on which Sen. Obama simply cannot compete at all.

"To honor" is to sacrifice something of yourself or your own in favor of some greater thing, ideal or purpose. Honor is the quality of a man who does that: who fights for things better than himself, bigger than himself, who sacrifices for those things, who will even die before letting those things fall.

McCain is the most honorable man to run for the office of the Presidency since at least Sen. Dole. Obama has no honor at all: there is nothing he has ever fought for that mattered more to him than himself, no principle and no quality that he has not set aside in self advancement.

This is the one place where there is just no argument: one can talk about whether judgment is more important than experience, and if so whether Sen. Obama has shown any notable judgment; one can talk about youth v. age, or the merits of this policy over that one. Yet it is clear that McCain is a man of honor, and Obama never was.

Thus, the #1 talking point for everyone who is an Obama supporter between now and the election has to be to attack McCain's honor. It is the single greatest obstacle to the victory of their man; and therefore it must be torn down, on any pretext, for any reason, using any tool that can be forced to the task.

Posted by: Grim at September 11, 2008 12:26 PM

This, really, is why I've said that I like the Rev. Mr. Wright more than the man he helped turn into a Senator; why I like even Bill Ayers more. At least they stand for something, and I know what it is. We can fight honestly: honorably.

I don't have a problem with hating people who disagree. I have a number of friends on the Left; more, who aren't necessarily of the Left but are Obama supporters for reasons of shared heritage; still others who are dear friends, who simply can't understand the rural life and look on America's cowboy past with dismay and distrust; and others, who are not friends but friendly sparring partners. There's respect to go around.

I'll have more to say about the partisan stuff tomorrow. I won't be blogging about it today, though. Tomorrow will be soon enough to talk about it more.

Posted by: Grim at September 11, 2008 12:34 PM

Well, my old friend chided me gently the other night for still (after all these years) being an idealist :p

That probably doesn't surprise any of you. I think the best of people, but it's because I know what they are capable of, both for better and for worse.

I don't expect them to live up to the best all the time, but by the same token, I know damned well they can do better because I've seen them do it, and I won't stop trying to get them (gently) to remember their better natures.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 11, 2008 01:12 PM

There are so many people to remember from that awful day. Here's one. There are several good sites, including www.rickrescorla.com, but this is a good starting place:

Rick Rescorla, Hero of September 11, 2001

One of the reasons we remember Pearl Harbor and the WTC is so we can try to not let it happen again; so we can tell our children what happened. (Especially true these days when their teachers are giving them an "alternate history" view of things.)

Once again, you write a great essay.

Posted by: ZZMike at September 11, 2008 01:26 PM

I wonder if you have the decline in to incivility correct. Frankly, I think politics in this country has always been a hardball, raucous, partisan affair. We look back with some incredibly powerful rose-colored glasses; it's human nature.

And even so, the country has survived. I think that is cause for a little optimism, when our psyches grow weary of the hue and cry of political civil wars.

Posted by: ruralcouonsel at September 11, 2008 01:46 PM

You could be right.

I don't forget that even before 9/11, Bush was hated. I've reminded people many times that those who say he 'squandered' some illusory national goodwill are overlooking the rancor than followed the 2000 election.

But although I remember things being bad on the fringes, what bothers me is what I'm seeing closer to the center: the tendency for people to put down anyone who disagrees with them. For instance I know a lot of folks who have to listen to people go on and on at work about the administration and how anyone who supports it is a drooling moron or a soulless criminal. Yet these are the same folks who have the nerve to speak of a chill wind of oppression, and fear mongering?

How do they think their behavior comes across to those who work for them? This is mainstream stuff nowadays. That is different. I don't recall that, pre-9/11.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 11, 2008 01:59 PM

And Keith Olbermann.

What phenomenon has there ever been on TV like Keith Olbermann?

That is unprecedented.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 11, 2008 02:00 PM

I can't remember ever in my lifetime having a major network pundit or anchor saying on air, "Mr. President shut the hell up."

I don't remember, ever in my lifetime, an entertainer or public figure offering the kind of public rudeness and crudeness we saw from Steven Colbert recently, or Whoopi Goldberg. These are people who refuse to conform to ordinary rules of human restraint in public.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 11, 2008 02:04 PM

The state of informed debate is in the toilet, see the email I just sent your way.

Posted by: Frodo at September 11, 2008 02:37 PM

Well Cass, on TV, not anyone that comes to mind, w.r.t. Olbermann.

But in the 30's there was Father Coughlin on radio, and before that it was H.L. Mencken in print. He was tough, just more erudite than the somewhat off-planet Olbermann. And the Democrat-left thinks the same of Limbaugh and other "right-wing haters" on talk radio.

And the press was brutal toward Lincoln during the Civil War.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 11, 2008 03:10 PM

I can't remember ever in my lifetime having a major network pundit or anchor saying on air, "Mr. President shut the hell up."

I had to Google this. I've never listened to Keith Obermann. After reading the transcript I'm not planning to start. Were there any repercussions from his employer?

Posted by: RonF at September 11, 2008 03:13 PM

Words are powerful stuff. There are few written in American history that were nobler than these. They work as well now as then.

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." A. Lincoln, 2nd Inaugural Address.

Of course, about 5 weeks later some psychopath murdered Lincoln, so what about those words?

And still today, +140 years on, people are still arguing about the Civil War, or as some of our Southern friends call it, "The War of Northern Aggression".

We're just going to have to live with what we can't rise above.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 11, 2008 03:18 PM

We're just going to have to live with what we can't rise above.


You *do* trust me!

Posted by: Princess Leia in a ... oh nevermind at September 11, 2008 05:40 PM

I hate this day, and I always will. But that's only because I remember it, and I need to always, and I can never stop hating those that made me hate this day.

Posted by: spd rdr at September 11, 2008 09:27 PM

100% with you on that Mr. Rdr.

Posted by: bthun at September 11, 2008 10:57 PM

When people are too invested in their political issues, to the extent that they are having dreams about Sarah Palin, civility is no longer a standard worth much to them.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 11, 2008 11:32 PM

Yet these are the same folks who have the nerve to speak of a chill wind of oppression, and fear mongering?

How do they think their behavior comes across to those who work for them? This is mainstream stuff nowadays.

Look at it from their viewpoint. In order to fight the corruption and taint of people like Bush, you have to get motivated, passionate, and convinced of the justice and righteousness of your cause. You have to have faith, and faith isn't about reasons so much as it is an existential need.

After all, if you believe, as they believe, that Bush's power comes from his conviction in God and in exploiting people via Haliburton, terrorism, Iraq war, WMDs, lies, and what not, wouldn't you also adopt Bush's methods because you believe they work? Wouldn't you adopt them, to become as bad if not worse than your enemy, in order to defeat your enemy? So long as your cause is just, does it really matter what you do when it is necessary?

As for the idea that there is corruption in the Democrat party or hypocrisy or some such, some Democrats may agree on this score, Cass. But their view is most probably that you cannot fight corruption by destabilizing the unity and the rule of law of America. You cannot fight the internal corruption of the political system by fragmenting the unity of the Democrat party, who is out to ultimately reform Washington.

There's plenty of independents that see the Democrats in this light.

The rule of law, meaning the institutional conservation and status quo, is more important than the individual injustices at work in the Democrat party. Such things as GitMO, thus, become more of a danger than Democrat Congressmen or Senators using their power to get money and influence.

As for the belief concerning that America is made stronger through bipartisan support, with the same standards applied to Republicans and Democrats, that runs into a curious little problem as well, Cass, to most Democrats. For most Democrats believe that the way to get the truth, via the tools of speech and debate, is to cheat and eradicate hate speech and specific speech that are inconveniently corrupt and full of darkness and despair/hate. How can you have the same standards and achieve justice, when your standards say that certain words are evil and will ultimately lead to human misery, period? And when one party, like the GOP, wants to use those words and those forbidden definitions and you, as a Democrat, do not, where then will bipartisanship come in? When both sides say they believe in the First Amendment, but the Democrats believe that the First Amendment is backed up by politically correct government decisions concerning correct thoughts and meanings in the English language?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 11, 2008 11:42 PM

There was only ever two philosophies by which you could choose to accomplish your goals of a better world.

You could either allow people to exercise the free will given unto them by God, their creator, or you could protect people from their own dark desires and temptations.

The former means that people will ultimately choose to believe that God doesn't exist, that they don't even have free will, that following totalitarian systems of thought is a Good Thing tm. The latter means that people will do things your way, but only your way.

Yet, the former is only the option that could ever create a better world. The latter option is nothing but a temporary patch, if at that.

A dictatorship is only as strong as the dictator. Given the fact that brilliance and good rulership traits don't get passed on genetically, that means it's a weak link that's going to get broken, often.

A republic and democracy bases its strength upon the people. The weak link is the individual beliefs and actions of the people. But since there are a bunch of individuals amongst the "people", negative actions tend to get diluted by positive actions, right actions dilute the effects of negative actions. No one person can destroy the system by doing something "wrong", thus there is no need to drastically curtail people's ability to choose simply because they would have the power to destroy the system.

However, many people choose to value control, intimidation, and force over persuasion, convincing, and conversing with individuals. Look at the treatment dished out to Michelle Malkin, Matt Sanchez, Sarah Palin, and many many others. Are their individual free wills and actions valued for their own sake? Are the mistakes and choices they are said to have made, seen in the correct cosmic perspective or are they seen as Doomsday signs of eternal damnation and misery for all of Earth's children?

How much can you justify when you believe the action and beliefs of a single individual can doom the entire world to terror, death, murder, chaos, and misery? Can you justify hate? Can you justify atrocities? Can you justify passion, lies, and cruelty? Surely, at least, you can justify stripping the free will away from an individual if the potential and actual consequences of their actions can have such a drastic effect.

This is the fundamental difference: the fundamental choice people have to make between recognizing that good can only come from enforcing people's freedom of conscience and will. To choose anything else, you would have to adopt the philosophy of terror, intimidation, and force. Why? Because when you cannot trust people's free will, their conscience, and their actions to do the right thing, in aggregate if not in each case, then your only choice becomes ensuring that they make the right decisions, if only to save them from themselves. And what would be the right decision? Why, the one you believe to be correct.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 11, 2008 11:57 PM

Obama will make you all into better people, whether you want it or not. He will make you care, and in doing so, he will make the world better.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 11, 2008 11:59 PM

The belief of people in making a better world is no different than that held by the US Marines, the US Army, the US Special Forces "De Oppresso Liber", or any other institution and organization focused on the principles of classical liberalism to remake our world into a better place.

The difference is in a mother drowning her children because that is the only way to end the pain and send them to a better place and a mother that seeks to protect her children by teaching them the difference between right and wrong, teaching them to learn from their mistakes in order to make better ones in the future, and to trust in their faith and in them selves when they are hurt by the world.

The former is a mother who protects her children quite satisfactory. The latter is a mother that seeks to protect her children by allowing her children to make it or not based upon the free will of that child, now grown.

The former is certain, the latter is not. For the latter is no perfect, and in being not perfect, it becomes the only choice of making things better. For certain and perfect things can never become better.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 12, 2008 12:04 AM

Most people in America like to go on about the Crusades and the horror of religious wars. The ironic thing is that they have no idea what the core issues and conflicts of those eras were about. For they obviously have not connected the events of the past with their own actions in today's political world. It would be impossible for a person to abhor religious wars, yet continue to further the exact philosophy which was at the center of all the bigotry, prejudice ,and violence between different religious sects in Christianity's history, if that person truly realized and was self-aware of the connection. But they are not.

They keep such issues in separate compartments: forever disconnected from the other.

Traumatic events like 9/11 can make connections that people refuse to consciously make. Then again, such events can also make people even more motivated into keeping their little boxes separate.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 12, 2008 12:10 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 09/12/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at September 12, 2008 11:26 AM