We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, August 29. 2007
Our News Junkie is away this week. I will try to hold the fort, with the help of our readers. He's in Rhode Island again, messing with boats.
England is Vanishing. Cal Thomas at RCP.
Why doctors are always late. DB says it's about money. Only partly, I think: how does one schedule for the unpredictable? Best bet is to get the first or second appt. of the morning before the schedule predictably unravels.
Prefers stress of Iraq to stress of Wall Street. Insty
How is this for a use of American jails? NYM. Sheesh.
Fred the Flirt. I am tiring of Fred. John likes him but isn't overly-impressed with his intensity. Almost everyone I know wants a new Reagan to reinvigorate the conservative message. The conservative message doesn't work unless it is delivered in an inspiring way because it is in opposition to a powerfully appealing delusion: that government is your caring parent (rather than a collection of crooked and half-crooked egomaniacs and oily opportunists, most of whom could never make it in the real world, who want to use my income to buy their jobs).
Which is worse? Read and vote. Classical Values. And quit tapping your damn feet.
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I have said this a thousand times to my friends ,if this [woman] becomes President it will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Where are all those postal workers when we need them to go postal.GOD and Baby JESUS help us all!!!!!
That photo is really of the electorate pondering the presidential campaign.
Defending Our Own Civilization
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/29/2007
Frontpage Interview's guest today is Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?.
FP: Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Spencer: Thanks, Jamie. I am a great admirer of your work and it is always good to talk with you.
FP: Likewise sir.
What inspired you to write this book?
Spencer: For six years now, almost invariably when I would talk about the elements of Islam that jihadists use to justify violence and make recruits among peaceful Muslims, people would respond by referring to violence in the Bible and the sins of Christianity. Over time I came to see that the all-pervasive sense of guilt and self-hatred that blankets the West in this age of the dominance of multiculturalism is the single greatest obstacle keeping us from meeting the ideological challenge that the jihadists present. Insofar as Westerners are ashamed of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and so many are, they will not defend it.
This is not a matter of faith. Whether or not one is Jewish or Christian, Judeo-Christian civilization has given the world numerous ideas of human rights that the jihadists directly challenge: freedom of conscience, the equality of dignity of men and women, equality of rights before the law for all, and more. Islamic Sharia offers a radically different model of society. We in the West need to recognize this and stand up for our own civilization, culture, and heritage. If we are too paralyzed by guilt and consumed with self-hatred to defend our own civilization, we certainly won't keep it.
FP: Ok, so let's build on these themes. Can you talk a bit about why the lib-Left wages war on Christianity and keeps quiet about Islam? This is a pathology in the context of Islamic jihadists being the real threat to free societies.
Spencer: Well, Jamie, this phenomenon is so all-pervasive that I thought it deserved book-length treatment. Ayaan Hirsi Ali said it well to a Leftist interviewer in Canada a few weeks ago: "You grew up with freedom, and so you think you can spit on freedom." They take it for granted, without realizing how severely it is imperiled. Would Leftists prefer to live in an Islamic society rather than in one that is or was Judeo-Christian? If they would, they will be, eventually, quite unpleasantly surprised: they will discover that many of the liberties they enjoyed were made possible by core assumptions of the Judeo-Christian civilization they helped to subvert, and that those liberties are not upheld under Islamic law.
Remainder of interview:
I first became a reader of Herbert Spencer long after my college days. I had a subscription to "The American Spectator" R. Emmett Tyrell's wonderful publication. In those early years of reading it it was in tabloid form and I saved every issue.
Tyrell's writers would mention Spencer so I started to look into this man. When I found out he was the one who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" I was hooked.
I mean Nobody I knew had even heard of the guy but they all knew who to give attribution to for that phrase...mores the pity...here's a bit to prime a mind or two. H
The Gospel of Relaxation
By CARL ROLLYSON
Think you know Herbert Spencer? Look him up in, say, "The Oxford Companion to Philosophy," and besides supplying his dates (1820–1903), the entry calls him an "English evolutionist, father of sociology, and self-appointed philosopher." Self-appointed, I suppose, because Spencer claimed he read few books, especially not those he disagreed with, explaining that they gave him a headache. A classic Victorian eccentric, he is probably best known for coining the phrase "survival of the fittest," a notion that greatly appealed to captains of industry such as Andrew Carnegie.
Mark Francis, in his iconoclastic, " Herbert Spencer and the Invention of Modern Life" ( Cornell University Press, 434 pages, $45), argues that the great man is not at all what he has been represented to be. The clinching scene of this intellectual biography is Spencer's appearance at Delmonico's, the famous New York City restaurant, where, on November 9, 1882, 200 of his admirers gathered to honor Spencer with a farewell banquet capping off his only American tour. Spencer told his American acolytes there was too much emphasis on the "gospel of work" — a direct blow to Carnegie and his ilk. Now it was time, he said, to emphasize the "gospel of relaxation."
(let me interject here that Aristotle agreed, claiming that the only reason man worked was to gain leisure..H)
The audience was in a state of shock, but Spencer was not attempting to be provocative. He had come to believe that overwork had ruined his own constitution, and that the evolutionary progress he believed in should lead to a world where people worked less and lived for pleasure, especially aesthetic enjoyment.
Looking ahead, Spencer saw an opportunity to level with sympathetic listeners. Or as Mr. Francis puts it, "Since he was addressing Americans, who he had mistakenly assumed liked to hear the truth, he had spoken more plainly than usual." Indeed, as the author painstakingly documents, Spencer was not a social Darwinist at all.
So why has Spencer been so poorly understood? His self-mocking irony, especially in his autobiography, has gone undetected by those who still read him, in the main social scientists not known for their sense of humor. Spencer's reputation, and the modern understanding of him, would have been quite different, Mr. Francis suggests, if literary critics had taken up the nuances of Spencer's prose. And it is hard to refute this point once one learns that Spencer's favorite reading was Lawrence Sterne's outrageously satirical "Tristram Shandy."
Although Mr. Francis does full justice to Spencer's ideas — indeed certain chapters turn into rather tedious rehearsals of 19th-century sociology, theology, and politics — Spencer the man is delightfully present when Mr. Francis provides subtle readings of Spencer's courtship of George Eliot, his love of playing with children, his hypochondria, and his penchant for hydropathy. Spencer was a kind of Prufrock figure, afraid to plumb his own emotions — he withdrew from Eliot, even though she was prepared to marry him. His autobiography was a kind of object lesson that implied, "Don't do as I have done." With women, in particular, Spencer the bachelor never had the strength to "force the moment to its crisis."
Although Spencer could have taken his place among the eminent Victorians ridiculed by Lytton Strachey, Mr. Francis presents a much more complex man, living long enough to recant many of his early, confident notions about the human psyche and its perfectibility.
Aside from the value of Mr. Francis's study as a fresh view of how Spencer's ideas developed, his book also represents an attack on the way academics have specialized knowledge, thus a disservice to someone as protean as Spencer. "Writing about Herbert Spencer had made me aware of the narrowness of academic disciplines," he notes in his preface. Without knowledge of Spencer's "authorial intentions," of the way he "lived his philosophy," his ideas, in themselves, seem "uninspired and disconnected."
Intellectual biography can be problematic because it makes for an awkward conflation of narrative and textual analysis, but in Mr. Francis's hands it becomes a rewarding re-creation of his subject and of the world from which he emerged.