Connect these dots

Two unrelated news items that actually are related:

Some airports are planning on going back to private security screeners.  The private firms, which already operate in some airports, would still have to follow TSA procedures, including the use of scanners and pat-downs.  But they are said to be more effective because they can more easily get rid of incompetent employees than the TSA.

The reason Wikileaks was able to get access to all of those government secrets in one place was due to a program called Net-Centric Diplomacy.  It was designed to allow different agencies to have access to a common pool of intelligence data.  The problem is, it grew far beyond anyone’s ability to handle it.

What do these two stories have in common?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Private enterprise = trim and nimble (of necessity)

    Government = large, lumbering and expanding (inevitably)

  • Pete

    Private enterprise = trim and nimble (of necessity)

    Government = large, lumbering and expanding (inevitably)

  • Tom Hering

    “What do these two stories have in common?”

    An overreaction to 9/11.

  • Tom Hering

    “What do these two stories have in common?”

    An overreaction to 9/11.

  • Booklover

    Agencies need to employ the successful method that private detectives always have–intelligent profiling.

    When the mother of four young sons finds the cookie jar empty, she looks for the tad with crumbs on his fingers. She does not need to blanket the neighborhood.

    “Profiling–the extrapolation of information about something, based on *known qualities*.”

  • Booklover

    Agencies need to employ the successful method that private detectives always have–intelligent profiling.

    When the mother of four young sons finds the cookie jar empty, she looks for the tad with crumbs on his fingers. She does not need to blanket the neighborhood.

    “Profiling–the extrapolation of information about something, based on *known qualities*.”

  • WebMonk

    I don’t know where the WaPo got “Net-Centric Diplomacy” for the name of the system from which the latest sensational Wikileaks came. Maybe that’s a name for a diplomatic procedure that uses the security system that holds the documents.

    I would have thought the WaPo would have done better after having done their big Secrets series a while back.

    It’s possible that images that need to be saved from the airport scanners (and yes, some can be saved and in fact must be saved, contrary to TSA announcements) might be saved on the ****net.

  • WebMonk

    I don’t know where the WaPo got “Net-Centric Diplomacy” for the name of the system from which the latest sensational Wikileaks came. Maybe that’s a name for a diplomatic procedure that uses the security system that holds the documents.

    I would have thought the WaPo would have done better after having done their big Secrets series a while back.

    It’s possible that images that need to be saved from the airport scanners (and yes, some can be saved and in fact must be saved, contrary to TSA announcements) might be saved on the ****net.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    The thing that these two stories have in common is that, in the name of “security” we were willing to let the government know and expose our privacy and secrecy.

    But now we’re having second thoughts, as we realize the consequences of fearing, loving and trusting in Government above all things.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    The thing that these two stories have in common is that, in the name of “security” we were willing to let the government know and expose our privacy and secrecy.

    But now we’re having second thoughts, as we realize the consequences of fearing, loving and trusting in Government above all things.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Given the title of this post, both stories are about connecting dots, over which there was much hand wringing for not doing immediately after 9-11. And so, we’ve manufactured a bunch of mostly irrelevant dots to connect and let everybody connect them indiscriminately. What we got was a horrible scribble instead of a useful picture of what our threats actually are.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Given the title of this post, both stories are about connecting dots, over which there was much hand wringing for not doing immediately after 9-11. And so, we’ve manufactured a bunch of mostly irrelevant dots to connect and let everybody connect them indiscriminately. What we got was a horrible scribble instead of a useful picture of what our threats actually are.

  • collie

    One corrupt employee a little higher up in the ranks of a huge agency such as TSA can do enormous harm to airport security nation wide by not passing along important information about potential security breaches. So maybe the airports never get the message about a potential danger and it makes no difference how many total TSA agents there are, if the pipeline is broken at the top end.

  • collie

    One corrupt employee a little higher up in the ranks of a huge agency such as TSA can do enormous harm to airport security nation wide by not passing along important information about potential security breaches. So maybe the airports never get the message about a potential danger and it makes no difference how many total TSA agents there are, if the pipeline is broken at the top end.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    “What do these two stories have in common?” They’re both initiatives created by the Bysh administration?

    Somehow, I bet that wasn’t the answer you were looking for.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    “What do these two stories have in common?” They’re both initiatives created by the Bysh administration?

    Somehow, I bet that wasn’t the answer you were looking for.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Ah, typing on an iPhone. That was supposed to be “Bush”, of course.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Ah, typing on an iPhone. That was supposed to be “Bush”, of course.

  • collie

    well, that’s a relief, tODD! Your spelling and grammar is usually perfect, so I just thought it was another political joke I didn’t get. :-)

  • collie

    well, that’s a relief, tODD! Your spelling and grammar is usually perfect, so I just thought it was another political joke I didn’t get. :-)

  • Abby

    “it grew far beyond anyone’s ability to handle it”=”incompetent employees”?

  • Abby

    “it grew far beyond anyone’s ability to handle it”=”incompetent employees”?

  • DonS

    Not many thought it was a good idea to create the TSA, and to establish a new federal employee bureaucracy to staff airport security functions. Fortunately, wiser heads must have inserted this opt-out provision into the bill, and it seems likely that, ultimately, most airports will opt out. The idea of centralizing intelligence makes sense at first blush. However, as one who had a clearance and worked for a defense contractor for a number of years, standard policy is that you are not automatically entitled to know classified information just because you have a clearance to that level. In addition to being cleared, you must also have a need to know the information. There are important reasons why information is restricted to “need to know” — the wider it is disseminated the better the chance it will be leaked.

    It seems far wiser to have a small committee of highly cleared and trusted individuals from various agencies who can act as a clearinghouse for sharing information, rather than just putting together a database that anyone with a password can access.

    The common thread between these two seemingly unconnected items is that their eventual failure should have been totally predictable.

  • DonS

    Not many thought it was a good idea to create the TSA, and to establish a new federal employee bureaucracy to staff airport security functions. Fortunately, wiser heads must have inserted this opt-out provision into the bill, and it seems likely that, ultimately, most airports will opt out. The idea of centralizing intelligence makes sense at first blush. However, as one who had a clearance and worked for a defense contractor for a number of years, standard policy is that you are not automatically entitled to know classified information just because you have a clearance to that level. In addition to being cleared, you must also have a need to know the information. There are important reasons why information is restricted to “need to know” — the wider it is disseminated the better the chance it will be leaked.

    It seems far wiser to have a small committee of highly cleared and trusted individuals from various agencies who can act as a clearinghouse for sharing information, rather than just putting together a database that anyone with a password can access.

    The common thread between these two seemingly unconnected items is that their eventual failure should have been totally predictable.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@4), did you Google “Net-Centric Diplomacy”? I did, and I found this page on the Defense Technical Information Center regarding the “Horizontal Fusion” initiative, which says

    Department of State: Net-Centric Diplomacy

    Net-Centric Diplomacy is an initiative aimed at enhancing warfighters’ ability to gain situational understanding about adversaries and their operating environment by providing a full range of diplomatic reporting from worldwide posts to the collateral space, provided upon demand via net-centric DoD information services accessible through the MARS portal.

    So do you still think that’s the wrong name? And if so, what name do you think is better?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@4), did you Google “Net-Centric Diplomacy”? I did, and I found this page on the Defense Technical Information Center regarding the “Horizontal Fusion” initiative, which says

    Department of State: Net-Centric Diplomacy

    Net-Centric Diplomacy is an initiative aimed at enhancing warfighters’ ability to gain situational understanding about adversaries and their operating environment by providing a full range of diplomatic reporting from worldwide posts to the collateral space, provided upon demand via net-centric DoD information services accessible through the MARS portal.

    So do you still think that’s the wrong name? And if so, what name do you think is better?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@12), “Not many thought it was a good idea to create the TSA, and to establish a new federal employee bureaucracy to staff airport security functions.”

    So … it just happened … by accident? Even though most everyone agreed with you from the start that it was a bad idea? Huh.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@12), “Not many thought it was a good idea to create the TSA, and to establish a new federal employee bureaucracy to staff airport security functions.”

    So … it just happened … by accident? Even though most everyone agreed with you from the start that it was a bad idea? Huh.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 14: Yes, I probably worded that poorly. It would better read “Many thought it was NOT a good idea to create the TSA, …”

    I was one of them.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 14: Yes, I probably worded that poorly. It would better read “Many thought it was NOT a good idea to create the TSA, …”

    I was one of them.

  • Porcell

    The TSA was necessary, though it would have been better to privatize it from the start. Clearly it has already become a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy. So what else is new?

    As to the WikiLeaks fiasco, a mere gay Army private with a large grudge leaked the stuff. The Army will prosecute him and tighten up its distribution of intelligence, though it doesn’t have the guts to prosecute the liberal media that has

    Both issues have been blown way out of proportion.

  • Porcell

    The TSA was necessary, though it would have been better to privatize it from the start. Clearly it has already become a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy. So what else is new?

    As to the WikiLeaks fiasco, a mere gay Army private with a large grudge leaked the stuff. The Army will prosecute him and tighten up its distribution of intelligence, though it doesn’t have the guts to prosecute the liberal media that has

    Both issues have been blown way out of proportion.

  • Porcell

    In the above I meant to say that the government lacks the guts to prosecute the liberal media that has publicized material that has compromised vital American interests.

  • Porcell

    In the above I meant to say that the government lacks the guts to prosecute the liberal media that has publicized material that has compromised vital American interests.

  • trotk

    I would call you on the phrase, “a mere gay Army private,” by pointing out that the fact that he was gay has nothing to do with how we should judge his action, but it wouldn’t be worth the time it took to type, because I know that you insist that we should judge each others’ actions and opinions by their personal background.

    In case you are willing to listen, the basic argument goes as follows:
    A person’s actions or beliefs are right or wrong regardless of who they are, where they are from, or any other aspect of their being. To judge an action or belief by the person committing it is to judge the person, not the action of belief.

    In terms of blowing these issues out of proportion, you have had plenty to add to the conversation, thus you are culpable for this as we are. But if these actions are treasonous and put American lives at stake, as you maintain, then they haven’t been blown out of proportion.

  • trotk

    I would call you on the phrase, “a mere gay Army private,” by pointing out that the fact that he was gay has nothing to do with how we should judge his action, but it wouldn’t be worth the time it took to type, because I know that you insist that we should judge each others’ actions and opinions by their personal background.

    In case you are willing to listen, the basic argument goes as follows:
    A person’s actions or beliefs are right or wrong regardless of who they are, where they are from, or any other aspect of their being. To judge an action or belief by the person committing it is to judge the person, not the action of belief.

    In terms of blowing these issues out of proportion, you have had plenty to add to the conversation, thus you are culpable for this as we are. But if these actions are treasonous and put American lives at stake, as you maintain, then they haven’t been blown out of proportion.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The TSA was necessary, though it would have been better to privatize it from the start” (@16). Then in what sense was the TSA “necessary”?

    Imagine I’d said that the SSA was also necessary, though it should have involved private savings accounts. I wouldn’t have been talking about the SSA, would I? So what part of the TSA are you lauding, Porcell?

    As to the phrase “mere gay Army private”, one wonders to which of the three latter words you were applying the word “mere”.

    And as to your claim that the Army “doesn’t have the guts to prosecute the liberal media that has publicized material that has compromised vital American interests”, according to what law do you think the Army should have done so, assuming they possessed cojones in the size and quality of a straight Marine officer?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The TSA was necessary, though it would have been better to privatize it from the start” (@16). Then in what sense was the TSA “necessary”?

    Imagine I’d said that the SSA was also necessary, though it should have involved private savings accounts. I wouldn’t have been talking about the SSA, would I? So what part of the TSA are you lauding, Porcell?

    As to the phrase “mere gay Army private”, one wonders to which of the three latter words you were applying the word “mere”.

    And as to your claim that the Army “doesn’t have the guts to prosecute the liberal media that has publicized material that has compromised vital American interests”, according to what law do you think the Army should have done so, assuming they possessed cojones in the size and quality of a straight Marine officer?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And pooh, Trotk (@18) beat me to it, but I’ll go him one further by bothering to dig up particular quotes in which someone (not naming names) appears to have blown the WikiLeaks story “way out of proportion”:

    “We should take the White House National Security Advisor at his word that these leaks of Secret documents not only put the lives of Americans and their partners at risk, but also threaten national security.”[1]

    “Sen. Lieberman has this issue nailed. He writes, ‘The disclosure of tens of thousands of classified documents on the Afghanistan war is profoundly irresponsible and harmful to our national security.’ … Those on this thread who take this issue lightly are dead wrong.”[2]

    “American diplomats will find it at best difficult to have frank discussions in the future. … PFC Manning is involved with very serious treason; this fellow Asange, who regards America as an evil nation, is involved in a concerted attack of American interests. Both of these men ought to be dealt with severely. In a better time these people would at this point be history.”[3]

    “Your view that after a bit of contriteness diplomacy will return to normal is rather dubious. It will take a long time for the damage of these leaks to be repaired.”[4]

    “The evidence so far suggests that PFC Manning is involved with treason and Asange with espionage under USC 793. Note that the WSJ had the good sense to not touch these documents and that the NYT arrogantly took upon itself to publish information seriously harmful to vital American interests. The usual suspects on this blog seem delighted that the country has been harmed by this episode.”[5]

    “I should say that Manning’s leaks involved the treasonable act of aid and comfort to our jihadi enemies.”[6]

    “In a less politically correct world Asange would have been taken out by the CIA long ago.”[7]

    “Asange by publicizing these documents has already caused the lives of Iraqi and Afghani informers to be placed in serious jeopardy. Intelligence from foreign sources is crucial in wartime. It is rather likely that as a result of Asange’s nefarious activity, the lives of American warriors are at risk. The CIA has a legal right to deal severely with such scum as Asange, though, following the political winds it is properly reluctant to do so.”[8]

    “Short of taking out Asange, it would be salutary to eliminate his means of communication, which is technically doable.”[9]

    “The left is making light of what Thiessen and others regard as a legitimate national security issue.”[10]

    My, my, my. So much blowing out of proportion!

    [1]geneveith.com/2010/07/26/no-more-secrets-2/#comment-86783
    [2]geneveith.com/2010/07/26/no-more-secrets-2/#comment-86848
    [3]geneveith.com/2010/11/30/diplomatic-catastrophe/#comment-99176
    [4]geneveith.com/2010/11/30/diplomatic-catastrophe/#comment-99179
    [5]geneveith.com/2010/11/30/diplomatic-catastrophe/#comment-99249
    [6]geneveith.com/2010/11/30/diplomatic-catastrophe/#comment-99283
    [7]geneveith.com/2010/12/07/wikileaks-head-as-james-bond-villain/#comment-99936
    [8]geneveith.com/2010/12/07/wikileaks-head-as-james-bond-villain/#comment-99942
    [9]geneveith.com/2010/12/07/wikileaks-head-as-james-bond-villain/#comment-99972
    [10]geneveith.com/2010/12/07/wikileaks-head-as-james-bond-villain/#comment-99994

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And pooh, Trotk (@18) beat me to it, but I’ll go him one further by bothering to dig up particular quotes in which someone (not naming names) appears to have blown the WikiLeaks story “way out of proportion”:

    “We should take the White House National Security Advisor at his word that these leaks of Secret documents not only put the lives of Americans and their partners at risk, but also threaten national security.”[1]

    “Sen. Lieberman has this issue nailed. He writes, ‘The disclosure of tens of thousands of classified documents on the Afghanistan war is profoundly irresponsible and harmful to our national security.’ … Those on this thread who take this issue lightly are dead wrong.”[2]

    “American diplomats will find it at best difficult to have frank discussions in the future. … PFC Manning is involved with very serious treason; this fellow Asange, who regards America as an evil nation, is involved in a concerted attack of American interests. Both of these men ought to be dealt with severely. In a better time these people would at this point be history.”[3]

    “Your view that after a bit of contriteness diplomacy will return to normal is rather dubious. It will take a long time for the damage of these leaks to be repaired.”[4]

    “The evidence so far suggests that PFC Manning is involved with treason and Asange with espionage under USC 793. Note that the WSJ had the good sense to not touch these documents and that the NYT arrogantly took upon itself to publish information seriously harmful to vital American interests. The usual suspects on this blog seem delighted that the country has been harmed by this episode.”[5]

    “I should say that Manning’s leaks involved the treasonable act of aid and comfort to our jihadi enemies.”[6]

    “In a less politically correct world Asange would have been taken out by the CIA long ago.”[7]

    “Asange by publicizing these documents has already caused the lives of Iraqi and Afghani informers to be placed in serious jeopardy. Intelligence from foreign sources is crucial in wartime. It is rather likely that as a result of Asange’s nefarious activity, the lives of American warriors are at risk. The CIA has a legal right to deal severely with such scum as Asange, though, following the political winds it is properly reluctant to do so.”[8]

    “Short of taking out Asange, it would be salutary to eliminate his means of communication, which is technically doable.”[9]

    “The left is making light of what Thiessen and others regard as a legitimate national security issue.”[10]

    My, my, my. So much blowing out of proportion!

    [1]geneveith.com/2010/07/26/no-more-secrets-2/#comment-86783
    [2]geneveith.com/2010/07/26/no-more-secrets-2/#comment-86848
    [3]geneveith.com/2010/11/30/diplomatic-catastrophe/#comment-99176
    [4]geneveith.com/2010/11/30/diplomatic-catastrophe/#comment-99179
    [5]geneveith.com/2010/11/30/diplomatic-catastrophe/#comment-99249
    [6]geneveith.com/2010/11/30/diplomatic-catastrophe/#comment-99283
    [7]geneveith.com/2010/12/07/wikileaks-head-as-james-bond-villain/#comment-99936
    [8]geneveith.com/2010/12/07/wikileaks-head-as-james-bond-villain/#comment-99942
    [9]geneveith.com/2010/12/07/wikileaks-head-as-james-bond-villain/#comment-99972
    [10]geneveith.com/2010/12/07/wikileaks-head-as-james-bond-villain/#comment-99994

  • trotk

    tODD, I hoped you would step in, given your facility with searching past posts. I know I could learn the steps, but as soon as someone starts explaining how to search a blog for particular comments (like you have on several occasions), my mind starts wandering. Thanks for gathering the evidence.

  • trotk

    tODD, I hoped you would step in, given your facility with searching past posts. I know I could learn the steps, but as soon as someone starts explaining how to search a blog for particular comments (like you have on several occasions), my mind starts wandering. Thanks for gathering the evidence.

  • trotk

    Actually, tODD, reading back through the comments you brought to light at 20 remind me how serious this issue is. I get frustrated when I hear people say that the issue has been blown out of proportion. Now if I could add the emoticon of an obnoxious, sarcastic face, I would.

  • trotk

    Actually, tODD, reading back through the comments you brought to light at 20 remind me how serious this issue is. I get frustrated when I hear people say that the issue has been blown out of proportion. Now if I could add the emoticon of an obnoxious, sarcastic face, I would.

  • Porcell

    Todd, your rather Germanic obsession with my posts is amusing and revealing.

  • Porcell

    Todd, your rather Germanic obsession with my posts is amusing and revealing.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Porcell (@23), I can’t tell if (1) someone has hacked into your account in order to mock your style of commenting, (2) you have decided yourself to mock your own past line of argument in which ideas are evaluated by who is making them and their demographic qualities, or, and I really hope it isn’t this last one (3) you were being serious.

    I mean, mad props and all for working out that my last name is “Germanic” — even if you don’t know the actual percentage of my heritage that this actually indicates, not that math, much less logic, is at the root of your ridiculous notion.

    But how is my “obsession” “revealing”? Does it “reveal” that I actually care about consistency, and not flippantly taking whatever position serves me in any particular instance of bloviating? Maybe?

    Anyhow, I doubt it was my “obsession” that caused you to write all those past comments you now so quickly disavow. Your issue is with Past Peter, not me.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Porcell (@23), I can’t tell if (1) someone has hacked into your account in order to mock your style of commenting, (2) you have decided yourself to mock your own past line of argument in which ideas are evaluated by who is making them and their demographic qualities, or, and I really hope it isn’t this last one (3) you were being serious.

    I mean, mad props and all for working out that my last name is “Germanic” — even if you don’t know the actual percentage of my heritage that this actually indicates, not that math, much less logic, is at the root of your ridiculous notion.

    But how is my “obsession” “revealing”? Does it “reveal” that I actually care about consistency, and not flippantly taking whatever position serves me in any particular instance of bloviating? Maybe?

    Anyhow, I doubt it was my “obsession” that caused you to write all those past comments you now so quickly disavow. Your issue is with Past Peter, not me.

  • Dan Kempin

    So what DO these stories have in common, Dr. Veith?

  • Dan Kempin

    So what DO these stories have in common, Dr. Veith?

  • Porcell

    Todd,at 24, One carefully crafted sentence could have easily proved the contradiction between my statement regarding proportion that contradicted earlier statements. My remark at 23 referred to your obsessive 10 footnote excrescence at 20.

  • Porcell

    Todd,at 24, One carefully crafted sentence could have easily proved the contradiction between my statement regarding proportion that contradicted earlier statements. My remark at 23 referred to your obsessive 10 footnote excrescence at 20.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@26), if I believed that “one carefully crafted sentence” would be enough to convince you of your internal contradictions, trust me, I would save my effort.

    As for the “excrescence”, it is all yours. I merely compiled it for you.

    And, as you so often do, you have chosen to ignore the actual debate in favor of accusing me of being “obsessed”. Better to abandon all logic (such as it was) and focus on ad hominem attacks, rather than engage the argument, eh?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@26), if I believed that “one carefully crafted sentence” would be enough to convince you of your internal contradictions, trust me, I would save my effort.

    As for the “excrescence”, it is all yours. I merely compiled it for you.

    And, as you so often do, you have chosen to ignore the actual debate in favor of accusing me of being “obsessed”. Better to abandon all logic (such as it was) and focus on ad hominem attacks, rather than engage the argument, eh?

  • Cincinnatus

    Yeah, tODD. Turn down your Teutonic obsession with footnotes. We all know who else had a predilection for footnotes, don’t we?

    Now that I’ve validated Godwin’s law, I’d like to point out that Porcell, for the first time ever, has, in his insult at 26, included a concession. Truly an historic occasion.

  • Cincinnatus

    Yeah, tODD. Turn down your Teutonic obsession with footnotes. We all know who else had a predilection for footnotes, don’t we?

    Now that I’ve validated Godwin’s law, I’d like to point out that Porcell, for the first time ever, has, in his insult at 26, included a concession. Truly an historic occasion.

  • Porcell

    Right, Cinci, that came hard. I was taught by a college debating coach to avoid concessions and once was severely criticized for making one. His view, that I have found to be excellent, is that one lets others judge you and confess, if necessary, to your maker.

  • Porcell

    Right, Cinci, that came hard. I was taught by a college debating coach to avoid concessions and once was severely criticized for making one. His view, that I have found to be excellent, is that one lets others judge you and confess, if necessary, to your maker.

  • Cincinnatus

    Ah, so we’re debaters, not seeking a dialectical progress toward an agreement upon the truth of a given matter, but rather a competition, a zero-sum game with a single winner. Rhetoric vs. dialectic/elenchic, speech vs. dialogue, sophistry vs. philosophy, etc. Socrates would be disappointed.

    I must say that it does explain much about your “style” on this blog–you know, the style that justifiably infuriates and annoys so many readers and interlocutors. The near-absolute avoidance of concession is, to be frank, a stupid principle. Debate is a sport; this is a dialogue. Accordingly, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever consciously to maintain (at least publicly) opinions you know to be errant.

  • Cincinnatus

    Ah, so we’re debaters, not seeking a dialectical progress toward an agreement upon the truth of a given matter, but rather a competition, a zero-sum game with a single winner. Rhetoric vs. dialectic/elenchic, speech vs. dialogue, sophistry vs. philosophy, etc. Socrates would be disappointed.

    I must say that it does explain much about your “style” on this blog–you know, the style that justifiably infuriates and annoys so many readers and interlocutors. The near-absolute avoidance of concession is, to be frank, a stupid principle. Debate is a sport; this is a dialogue. Accordingly, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever consciously to maintain (at least publicly) opinions you know to be errant.

  • trotk

    Wow. Cincinnatus has spoken well. Take him to heart, Peter.

    Cincinnatus, I would add that we can do our children and students a valuable service by teaching them that the end goal of debate and argumentation should be truth, not victory, so that they don’t fall into Peter’s trap.

  • trotk

    Wow. Cincinnatus has spoken well. Take him to heart, Peter.

    Cincinnatus, I would add that we can do our children and students a valuable service by teaching them that the end goal of debate and argumentation should be truth, not victory, so that they don’t fall into Peter’s trap.

  • Porcell

    Cinci: Ah, so we’re debaters, not seeking a dialectical progress toward an agreement upon the truth of a given matter, but rather a competition, a zero-sum game with a single winner.

    If you think the Cranach blog is about some sort of Socratic ideal of dialectical progress, you’re dreaming. It is mainly about usually fallen men and women scoring debating points, however dripping with faux Christian rhetoric. About the only fair debater on this blog is Veith.

    I should be glad to be Socratic when the rest of the assorted characters, especially Todd, on this blog evince a modicum of evidence of being so inclined. Another point that my debating coach strenuously averred is that is that one needs to be confidently assertive in debate even when on possibly shaky ground.

  • Porcell

    Cinci: Ah, so we’re debaters, not seeking a dialectical progress toward an agreement upon the truth of a given matter, but rather a competition, a zero-sum game with a single winner.

    If you think the Cranach blog is about some sort of Socratic ideal of dialectical progress, you’re dreaming. It is mainly about usually fallen men and women scoring debating points, however dripping with faux Christian rhetoric. About the only fair debater on this blog is Veith.

    I should be glad to be Socratic when the rest of the assorted characters, especially Todd, on this blog evince a modicum of evidence of being so inclined. Another point that my debating coach strenuously averred is that is that one needs to be confidently assertive in debate even when on possibly shaky ground.

  • trotk

    Peter, now we know how you view it.

    I can’t speak for others, but I would rather be proven wrong and learn something from it than score debating points that are dripping with faux Christian rhetoric.

    I believe, though, that most people here who argue passionately for something do so because they believe it, not because they are trying to score points.

  • trotk

    Peter, now we know how you view it.

    I can’t speak for others, but I would rather be proven wrong and learn something from it than score debating points that are dripping with faux Christian rhetoric.

    I believe, though, that most people here who argue passionately for something do so because they believe it, not because they are trying to score points.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So, am I to understand, Peter (@29, 32) that you were advised, when talking to other people, to fake it when you don’t have a clue, and never admit you’re wrong, no matter what? Are you sure this wasn’t advice from a political science professor ha ha ha?

    No, really, that’s horrible advice — especially when divorced from a formal debating context — and I have no idea why you consider it “excellent”. How can that be anything but a prescription for self-delusion? Indeed, I can’t see how you’ll end up fooling anyone except yourself by following those tips.

    It does make a whole lot of sense out of your past comments, though. I remember one thread in particular where you tried to convince everyone that you knew something about the Internet, computer security, and legislation regarding the same. But all you did was make clear to everyone (except you) that you didn’t know what you were talking about, on all three fronts. You trashed your own reputation (at the very least, on that topic), even while you apparently thought you were building it up.

    To never admit that you are wrong (especially when you’re bluffing in the first place) is to convince everyone else who already knows you’re wrong that not only do you not know, but you don’t know that you don’t know, and nor do you care to find out. How is that of any value to you? Don’t you want people to think that you’re capable of learning? To say nothing of the ability to actually influence people?

    “If you think the Cranach blog is about some sort of Socratic ideal of dialectical progress, you’re dreaming.” I’m sure that this statement is true — for you, sadly. But I’m pretty certain that many others have actually learned and even changed their minds, based on discussions from this blog. I have. I will admit that I am not given to suddenly changing my mind, but rather must have old opinions chiseled away — and, as such, am unlikely at any given point to say, “you are right, I was wrong”, but rather to notice one day that I am more inclined to the way of thinking of someone with which I used to disagree. Still, I have definitely trended more rightward (or at least libertarian) since I engaged in this blog. Not that I expect you to believe that, as it would mean you have one less epithet to mindlessly label me with. But there it is, all the same.

    I don’t know who you think is “dripping with faux Christian rhetoric” here. I speak about my faith in all sincerity here — indeed, it is the one topic I am least inclined to get snarky on, though being the sinful man I am, I sometimes do that, as well. I can’t think of anyone else who could be so crassly accused of such rhetoric, either, and it occurs to me that perhaps you are the one tossing out “faux Christian rhetoric”, which is why you assume that others do, too. Harsh? Perhaps, but I will note in passing your use of the phrase (@32) “usually fallen men and women” (“usually”?!) as well as the idea you consider “excellent” to “confess, if necessary, to your maker” (“if necessary”?!). Maybe such rhetoric isn’t “faux”, but it certainly is theologically problematic.

    And saying that “the only fair debater on this blog is Veith” rings a little odd, since Veith almost never actually engages in the conversation as such — he mainly brings a topic to our attention and then frames it with interesting questions or observations. He doesn’t, as such, “debate” — that is to say, respond to your comments. I mean, there was that one time he said, “Porcell, please don’t make my readers want to leave”, but I doubt that’s what you had in mind.

    Anyhow, sorry that you’ve decided to opt out of the best feature of this blog — that is, the conversation. By which I mean real, true, actual conversation, with the occasional learning something, and not just huffing and bluffing.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So, am I to understand, Peter (@29, 32) that you were advised, when talking to other people, to fake it when you don’t have a clue, and never admit you’re wrong, no matter what? Are you sure this wasn’t advice from a political science professor ha ha ha?

    No, really, that’s horrible advice — especially when divorced from a formal debating context — and I have no idea why you consider it “excellent”. How can that be anything but a prescription for self-delusion? Indeed, I can’t see how you’ll end up fooling anyone except yourself by following those tips.

    It does make a whole lot of sense out of your past comments, though. I remember one thread in particular where you tried to convince everyone that you knew something about the Internet, computer security, and legislation regarding the same. But all you did was make clear to everyone (except you) that you didn’t know what you were talking about, on all three fronts. You trashed your own reputation (at the very least, on that topic), even while you apparently thought you were building it up.

    To never admit that you are wrong (especially when you’re bluffing in the first place) is to convince everyone else who already knows you’re wrong that not only do you not know, but you don’t know that you don’t know, and nor do you care to find out. How is that of any value to you? Don’t you want people to think that you’re capable of learning? To say nothing of the ability to actually influence people?

    “If you think the Cranach blog is about some sort of Socratic ideal of dialectical progress, you’re dreaming.” I’m sure that this statement is true — for you, sadly. But I’m pretty certain that many others have actually learned and even changed their minds, based on discussions from this blog. I have. I will admit that I am not given to suddenly changing my mind, but rather must have old opinions chiseled away — and, as such, am unlikely at any given point to say, “you are right, I was wrong”, but rather to notice one day that I am more inclined to the way of thinking of someone with which I used to disagree. Still, I have definitely trended more rightward (or at least libertarian) since I engaged in this blog. Not that I expect you to believe that, as it would mean you have one less epithet to mindlessly label me with. But there it is, all the same.

    I don’t know who you think is “dripping with faux Christian rhetoric” here. I speak about my faith in all sincerity here — indeed, it is the one topic I am least inclined to get snarky on, though being the sinful man I am, I sometimes do that, as well. I can’t think of anyone else who could be so crassly accused of such rhetoric, either, and it occurs to me that perhaps you are the one tossing out “faux Christian rhetoric”, which is why you assume that others do, too. Harsh? Perhaps, but I will note in passing your use of the phrase (@32) “usually fallen men and women” (“usually”?!) as well as the idea you consider “excellent” to “confess, if necessary, to your maker” (“if necessary”?!). Maybe such rhetoric isn’t “faux”, but it certainly is theologically problematic.

    And saying that “the only fair debater on this blog is Veith” rings a little odd, since Veith almost never actually engages in the conversation as such — he mainly brings a topic to our attention and then frames it with interesting questions or observations. He doesn’t, as such, “debate” — that is to say, respond to your comments. I mean, there was that one time he said, “Porcell, please don’t make my readers want to leave”, but I doubt that’s what you had in mind.

    Anyhow, sorry that you’ve decided to opt out of the best feature of this blog — that is, the conversation. By which I mean real, true, actual conversation, with the occasional learning something, and not just huffing and bluffing.

  • Porcell

    Todd: Anyhow, sorry that you’ve decided to opt out of the best feature of this blog — that is, the conversation. By which I mean real, true, actual conversation, with the occasional learning something, and not just huffing and bluffing.

    Truth to tell, if anyone on this blogsite engages in solipsistic monologue, it would be you. When you aver, I have. I will admit that I am not given to suddenly changing my mind,… you understate the case.

    Your claim to have learned from this blog and become somewhat libertarian is laughable. You are in fact a rather perfect example of an ideological liberal mind. You have decided that essentially conservatives are ignoramuses and righteously appointed yourself as an enlightened critic of their views, to say nothing of obsessive, boring footnotes.

  • Porcell

    Todd: Anyhow, sorry that you’ve decided to opt out of the best feature of this blog — that is, the conversation. By which I mean real, true, actual conversation, with the occasional learning something, and not just huffing and bluffing.

    Truth to tell, if anyone on this blogsite engages in solipsistic monologue, it would be you. When you aver, I have. I will admit that I am not given to suddenly changing my mind,… you understate the case.

    Your claim to have learned from this blog and become somewhat libertarian is laughable. You are in fact a rather perfect example of an ideological liberal mind. You have decided that essentially conservatives are ignoramuses and righteously appointed yourself as an enlightened critic of their views, to say nothing of obsessive, boring footnotes.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@35), your last paragraph is, lamentably, a perfect example of your now-explicit style here: make things up even if you don’t know what you’re talking about, and never admit you’re wrong.

    What can I say? You won’t believe my own statements about myself. You honestly believe you can tell me what I have “decided” in spite of what I state. Of course, this is your shtick — you frequently tell us what other people “well understand”, even if your claims of what they understand sound suspiciously more like what you think than what they’re actually saying. So it is with me, as well, I guess.

    But at least the pressure is off me. You won’t believe anything different about me than what you long ago concluded, no matter what I say. You think you have me all figured out. Of course, I know you’re wrong, and that you’re up-crap-making — I’m certain many others here, with whom I’ve engaged in productive dialog, are aware of it, too.

    And you slander the conservatives on this blog who are capable of making well-reasoned arguments, constructively dialoging with those coming from different ideological directions and even — gasp! — conceding points from time to time (and having points conceded to them, as well). They are not ignoramuses, nor do I believe them to be. And I’m pretty certain they know that, from our conversations.

    Finally, as to your obsession with labeling me obsessive, I will offer a truce: stop saying so many ridiculous things on this blog, and I will stop cataloging them for you in convenient list form.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@35), your last paragraph is, lamentably, a perfect example of your now-explicit style here: make things up even if you don’t know what you’re talking about, and never admit you’re wrong.

    What can I say? You won’t believe my own statements about myself. You honestly believe you can tell me what I have “decided” in spite of what I state. Of course, this is your shtick — you frequently tell us what other people “well understand”, even if your claims of what they understand sound suspiciously more like what you think than what they’re actually saying. So it is with me, as well, I guess.

    But at least the pressure is off me. You won’t believe anything different about me than what you long ago concluded, no matter what I say. You think you have me all figured out. Of course, I know you’re wrong, and that you’re up-crap-making — I’m certain many others here, with whom I’ve engaged in productive dialog, are aware of it, too.

    And you slander the conservatives on this blog who are capable of making well-reasoned arguments, constructively dialoging with those coming from different ideological directions and even — gasp! — conceding points from time to time (and having points conceded to them, as well). They are not ignoramuses, nor do I believe them to be. And I’m pretty certain they know that, from our conversations.

    Finally, as to your obsession with labeling me obsessive, I will offer a truce: stop saying so many ridiculous things on this blog, and I will stop cataloging them for you in convenient list form.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I stand by the truth that last paragraph. Your problem is an incapability of seeing yourself as the ideological liberal that you are, along with a tendency to slander those who oppose your views, with or without a parade of inane distinctly Germanic footnotes.

  • Porcell

    Todd, I stand by the truth that last paragraph. Your problem is an incapability of seeing yourself as the ideological liberal that you are, along with a tendency to slander those who oppose your views, with or without a parade of inane distinctly Germanic footnotes.

  • Stephen

    Is that a picture of Alexander Hamilton Porcell?

  • Stephen

    Is that a picture of Alexander Hamilton Porcell?

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell@37:

    Your latest comment demonstrates everything of which we’ve accused you.

    Additional questions: Do you know what “slander” actually means? I think you do not, because though I quite frequently disagree with tODD, and though I have accordingly often been on the receiving end of his potent critiques, I have never witnessed him “slandering” me or anyone else on this thread. And even if he did, you, Mr. Pot, may wish to introduce yourself to Mr. Kettle. Furthermore, I think you lack a distinct conception of the term “ideological.” Ideologues are seldom prepared to engage in thoughtful debates employing statistics and evidence, and they are even less likely to concede any kind of alteration in their ideological presuppositions–as tODD has done in this very thread! Meanwhile, pots, kettles, etc., on your part.

    Finally–and I realize I shouldn’t even ask this–but what, pray tell, is “Germanic” about footnotes? Aside from your proclivity to evaluate, critique, and dismiss commenters solely on the basis of the ethnic origin of their last names, your ascription of “footnotes” to “Germans” is baffling and, well, to be honest quite funny. While Hegel and Heidegger did enjoy their footnotes, so do quite a lot of Frenchmen I’ve read. But you’re pushing the analysis further. Not only do Germans use lots of footnotes, but identifying this “trait” is, for you, some kind of insult–nay, a reflection upon the writer’s character! I’d like to hear more about this. Why are footnotes problematic and Germanic, and what, exactly, do they tell us about tODD’s flaws of character? Inquiring minds, etc.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell@37:

    Your latest comment demonstrates everything of which we’ve accused you.

    Additional questions: Do you know what “slander” actually means? I think you do not, because though I quite frequently disagree with tODD, and though I have accordingly often been on the receiving end of his potent critiques, I have never witnessed him “slandering” me or anyone else on this thread. And even if he did, you, Mr. Pot, may wish to introduce yourself to Mr. Kettle. Furthermore, I think you lack a distinct conception of the term “ideological.” Ideologues are seldom prepared to engage in thoughtful debates employing statistics and evidence, and they are even less likely to concede any kind of alteration in their ideological presuppositions–as tODD has done in this very thread! Meanwhile, pots, kettles, etc., on your part.

    Finally–and I realize I shouldn’t even ask this–but what, pray tell, is “Germanic” about footnotes? Aside from your proclivity to evaluate, critique, and dismiss commenters solely on the basis of the ethnic origin of their last names, your ascription of “footnotes” to “Germans” is baffling and, well, to be honest quite funny. While Hegel and Heidegger did enjoy their footnotes, so do quite a lot of Frenchmen I’ve read. But you’re pushing the analysis further. Not only do Germans use lots of footnotes, but identifying this “trait” is, for you, some kind of insult–nay, a reflection upon the writer’s character! I’d like to hear more about this. Why are footnotes problematic and Germanic, and what, exactly, do they tell us about tODD’s flaws of character? Inquiring minds, etc.

  • Porcell

    Cinci, By and large, however sharp our differences, I’ve been able to conduct a civil debate with you and most others on this blog, as you rarely attack me as a person. In a long career in business, church, community, and family relations, I have enjoyed excellent personal relations with those who differ with my views. In the case of Todd, he often, especially when cornered in debate, sallies forth with discourteous ad hominem slings and arrows. Having been taught in the Marines to resolutely face known enemies, I don’t hesitate to deal hard with him.

    As to the issue of footnotes, I’m well aware of their proportionate use, though in college I was taught to avoid an overuse of them, something that more than one teacher termed a Germanic parade of self-serving footnotes. That might have been what you at 28 were getting at with your remark, Yeah, tODD. Turn down your Teutonic obsession with footnotes. We all know who else had a predilection for footnotes, don’t we?

  • Porcell

    Cinci, By and large, however sharp our differences, I’ve been able to conduct a civil debate with you and most others on this blog, as you rarely attack me as a person. In a long career in business, church, community, and family relations, I have enjoyed excellent personal relations with those who differ with my views. In the case of Todd, he often, especially when cornered in debate, sallies forth with discourteous ad hominem slings and arrows. Having been taught in the Marines to resolutely face known enemies, I don’t hesitate to deal hard with him.

    As to the issue of footnotes, I’m well aware of their proportionate use, though in college I was taught to avoid an overuse of them, something that more than one teacher termed a Germanic parade of self-serving footnotes. That might have been what you at 28 were getting at with your remark, Yeah, tODD. Turn down your Teutonic obsession with footnotes. We all know who else had a predilection for footnotes, don’t we?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@370, “Todd, I stand by the truth that last paragraph.” Of course you do. You’ve already admitted that your strategy here is to never admit when you’re wrong, even when it’s obvious to everyone else that you are, and even when you finally figure it out for yourself. Telling me you stand by your last ridiculous claim is just evidence of your admitted strategy. Which, you’ll note, means that the rest of us are now left to guess, when you make a claim, as to whether you already know that you’re wrong. We know you won’t admit it. Do you see how this strategy of yours only diminishes your standing here, and prevents you from learning anything, much less convincing others who disagree with you?

    Your problem is an incapability of seeing yourself as the ideological liberal that you are, along with a tendency to slander those who oppose your views, with or without a parade of inane distinctly Germanic footnotes.

    Blah blah blah. Do you really think you’re going to convince me that you know better than I do what I think? Yes, I have more than a few liberal stances, but your caricature of me is so unfamiliar, and so obviously driven by your personal issues with me, that it can’t possibly be serious. And maybe you know that. But, of course, there’s a great chance that you’re bluffing and won’t admit it. What an excellent strategy!

    As to “those who oppose my views”, as Cincinnatus has already pointed out, at least in his case, I do not slander them all. This blog is populated with people with whom I do not agree on at least one — and often quite more — issue, or even fundamental philosophy. I respect the great majority of these people, and have often engaged in constructive, reasonable dialog with them. I know you won’t believe me, so I will name names just to prove you wrong, even if you’ll never admit it. Cincinnatus, DonS, Dan Kempin, Joe, Kerner, Another Kerner, FWS, Bror, WebMonk, Kirk, Tom Hering, Dr. Veith, SG. Those are just off the top of my head. (No offense to someone out there if you qualify but I forgot you.)

    The problem here, to be quite blunt, is that I rarely respect the arguments that you make — typically because they are full of the bluffing to which you have already admitted, and futher colored by the arrogance that comes from one who will not admit when he is wrong, to which you have also admitted. On top of that, you write like you think finding the most obscure or polysyllabic synonym in the thesaurus for any given word will make you sound smarter, even if it makes your sentences incredibly awkward.

    You want to take my attitude towards your comments and tell me that it applies to all those people whose comments I consider thoughtful, or at least reasonable, because then I would be this awful, horrible PC/liberal/nihilist/statist/moralist/pick-a-label-out-of-a-hat-ist troll whose points you can safely ignore when they are directed at your comments. I’m sorry, but I respect all those aforementioned people (and those not aforementioned) too much to let you lump then in with you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell said (@370, “Todd, I stand by the truth that last paragraph.” Of course you do. You’ve already admitted that your strategy here is to never admit when you’re wrong, even when it’s obvious to everyone else that you are, and even when you finally figure it out for yourself. Telling me you stand by your last ridiculous claim is just evidence of your admitted strategy. Which, you’ll note, means that the rest of us are now left to guess, when you make a claim, as to whether you already know that you’re wrong. We know you won’t admit it. Do you see how this strategy of yours only diminishes your standing here, and prevents you from learning anything, much less convincing others who disagree with you?

    Your problem is an incapability of seeing yourself as the ideological liberal that you are, along with a tendency to slander those who oppose your views, with or without a parade of inane distinctly Germanic footnotes.

    Blah blah blah. Do you really think you’re going to convince me that you know better than I do what I think? Yes, I have more than a few liberal stances, but your caricature of me is so unfamiliar, and so obviously driven by your personal issues with me, that it can’t possibly be serious. And maybe you know that. But, of course, there’s a great chance that you’re bluffing and won’t admit it. What an excellent strategy!

    As to “those who oppose my views”, as Cincinnatus has already pointed out, at least in his case, I do not slander them all. This blog is populated with people with whom I do not agree on at least one — and often quite more — issue, or even fundamental philosophy. I respect the great majority of these people, and have often engaged in constructive, reasonable dialog with them. I know you won’t believe me, so I will name names just to prove you wrong, even if you’ll never admit it. Cincinnatus, DonS, Dan Kempin, Joe, Kerner, Another Kerner, FWS, Bror, WebMonk, Kirk, Tom Hering, Dr. Veith, SG. Those are just off the top of my head. (No offense to someone out there if you qualify but I forgot you.)

    The problem here, to be quite blunt, is that I rarely respect the arguments that you make — typically because they are full of the bluffing to which you have already admitted, and futher colored by the arrogance that comes from one who will not admit when he is wrong, to which you have also admitted. On top of that, you write like you think finding the most obscure or polysyllabic synonym in the thesaurus for any given word will make you sound smarter, even if it makes your sentences incredibly awkward.

    You want to take my attitude towards your comments and tell me that it applies to all those people whose comments I consider thoughtful, or at least reasonable, because then I would be this awful, horrible PC/liberal/nihilist/statist/moralist/pick-a-label-out-of-a-hat-ist troll whose points you can safely ignore when they are directed at your comments. I’m sorry, but I respect all those aforementioned people (and those not aforementioned) too much to let you lump then in with you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@40) said to Cincinnatus, “I’ve been able to conduct a civil debate with you and most others on this blog, as you rarely attack me as a person.” Are you kidding me, Peter? Are you kidding? You … you, of all people, are now going to complain about others attacking you as a person? Did you not even read the parts where Cincinnatus talked about kitchenware (@39) and wonder what he was talking about? You, who routinely attack me as a person with all variety of ridiculous, frequently conflicting, labels? You who, in this very thread, have attacked me personally by criticizing something I did as typical of the ethnicity of my surname? Doesn’t this get embarrassing for you, at some point? You, who suggest that the validity of an argument can be evaluated merely by knowing the ethnicity of its arguer … are now going to shed a quiet tear over “ad hominem slings and arrows”? Wouldn’t it just save you time to write “I don’t like Todd, and I’m also a giant hypocrite”? Like, for every reply to me?

    And yes, calling you a hypocrite is, in fact, technically ad hominem. And yet, accurate all the same. Because it is your person that we are discussing here, not (at least now) your argument, as you don’t appear to actually have one. So ad hominems all around, then, shall we?

    “Having been taught in the Marines to resolutely face known enemies, I don’t hesitate to deal hard with him.” Peter, I know you think that sounds remarkably butch, but, do you honestly think it’s impressing anyone else? And what is your deal with taking lessons you supposedly learned in your past and applying them in contexts in which they do not work? We’re no more at war than we are having a formal debate. In real life, when you “deal hard” with a “known enemy”, you just admit that he’s got your hackles up, that he’s gotten under your skin, that he’s pricked you and now you’re bleeding. And you don’t sound tough at all. One would have thought that you would have learned in the Marines to know when to pick your battles, to take your lumps without whining. Those would have been more useful lessons to have learned. Oh, to dream.

    “In college I was taught to avoid an overuse of” footnotes. Indeed. It would appear that everything you do can be blamed on a lesson you learned in college (or the Marines). Making one wonder if, in fact, you have learned anything in the several decades since. Like, perhaps, how those lessons pan out in real life, and how effective they are.

    “That might have been what you at 28 were getting at with your remark.” Dear me. Can you really not see that Cincinnatus was mocking your obsession with ethnically-derived validity (@28)? And even if you didn’t, wasn’t it made all the more obvious when he said (@39), “your ascription of ‘footnotes’ to ‘Germans’ is baffling and, well, to be honest quite funny”? This is the self-delusion to which I have been referring, fed by your two-pronged bluff-and-deny strategy. (I mean, Cincinnatus can speak for himself, but I thought it was pretty obvious from what he said.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@40) said to Cincinnatus, “I’ve been able to conduct a civil debate with you and most others on this blog, as you rarely attack me as a person.” Are you kidding me, Peter? Are you kidding? You … you, of all people, are now going to complain about others attacking you as a person? Did you not even read the parts where Cincinnatus talked about kitchenware (@39) and wonder what he was talking about? You, who routinely attack me as a person with all variety of ridiculous, frequently conflicting, labels? You who, in this very thread, have attacked me personally by criticizing something I did as typical of the ethnicity of my surname? Doesn’t this get embarrassing for you, at some point? You, who suggest that the validity of an argument can be evaluated merely by knowing the ethnicity of its arguer … are now going to shed a quiet tear over “ad hominem slings and arrows”? Wouldn’t it just save you time to write “I don’t like Todd, and I’m also a giant hypocrite”? Like, for every reply to me?

    And yes, calling you a hypocrite is, in fact, technically ad hominem. And yet, accurate all the same. Because it is your person that we are discussing here, not (at least now) your argument, as you don’t appear to actually have one. So ad hominems all around, then, shall we?

    “Having been taught in the Marines to resolutely face known enemies, I don’t hesitate to deal hard with him.” Peter, I know you think that sounds remarkably butch, but, do you honestly think it’s impressing anyone else? And what is your deal with taking lessons you supposedly learned in your past and applying them in contexts in which they do not work? We’re no more at war than we are having a formal debate. In real life, when you “deal hard” with a “known enemy”, you just admit that he’s got your hackles up, that he’s gotten under your skin, that he’s pricked you and now you’re bleeding. And you don’t sound tough at all. One would have thought that you would have learned in the Marines to know when to pick your battles, to take your lumps without whining. Those would have been more useful lessons to have learned. Oh, to dream.

    “In college I was taught to avoid an overuse of” footnotes. Indeed. It would appear that everything you do can be blamed on a lesson you learned in college (or the Marines). Making one wonder if, in fact, you have learned anything in the several decades since. Like, perhaps, how those lessons pan out in real life, and how effective they are.

    “That might have been what you at 28 were getting at with your remark.” Dear me. Can you really not see that Cincinnatus was mocking your obsession with ethnically-derived validity (@28)? And even if you didn’t, wasn’t it made all the more obvious when he said (@39), “your ascription of ‘footnotes’ to ‘Germans’ is baffling and, well, to be honest quite funny”? This is the self-delusion to which I have been referring, fed by your two-pronged bluff-and-deny strategy. (I mean, Cincinnatus can speak for himself, but I thought it was pretty obvious from what he said.)

  • Stephen

    Yesterday I stumbled upon a book (I left it on my desk at work or I would quote it here) that contains all the letters between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton leading up to their duel, as well as other documents surrounding the event; funeral orations, testimony of friends, legal briefs and other such historical documentation surrounding Hamilton’s demise.

    A few things struck me about it all. As was somewhat common back then it seems, Hamilton had engaged in some pretty over-the-top and petty character attacks on the VP who demanded retraction. When these were not forthcoming after several tries, which seemed only to increase Hamilton’s delight in making more outrageous statements to upset Burr, the Vice President challenged him to a duel.

    Outlawed in the surrounding states but still legal in New Jersey they met there. By some accounts, it seems Hamilton, the man who crafted most of the Federalist Papers with James Madison, tried to “cheat” and set his pistol with a hair trigger. The plan backfired and his pistol went off a little haphazardly. Burr fired second and mortally wounded him. The account suggests Burr actually reacted with astonishment and remorse before his second entreated him to flee.

    It took Hamilton a day to die. One account documented in a letter of a close friend held me absolutely rapt. It was of Hamilton’s confession of faith in Jesus Christ. According to this friend, Hamilton confessed his faith in Jesus for his salvation. That is to say that Hamilton seems to have understood that judgment for his life lay in the hands of Jesus, and he recounts verbatim what was said (again, I wish I had the book here now). However, the friend makes no mention of him asking for any specific forgiveness of sins as I recall, just that he confessed Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

    Reading the story through the correspondence reminded me of blog comments and posts. The language they used in those days was, how shall I say, “evocative” of certain posts I have read here that attend a particular avatar of an 18th c. sort. That kind of language worked so well back then, but injecting it here just sounds forced and pretentious. Lest I be accused of piling on here (and I suppose I am) I too take a certain umbrage with the repeated reference to tODD’s Germanic surname. What gives? It’s disturbing and needs to be called out.

    Porcell, I’d say you have a lead ball in your rib cage and you are bleeding. Smart as you think you are, you’ve tried to cheat at this duel. Pretending to speak “as if” you know what you are saying does not fool quite a lot of people, who can see that you obviously don’t know what you are saying. Look for someone you still count as a friend. Perhaps you could choose the better part and actually confess at least to some small sin and win back some measure of integrity. People do not owe you any forgiveness at all. But God promises it.

    “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his very soul?”

    Too bad we can’t ask that smart mouth Alexander Hamilton. From what I read, he died in his arrogance.

  • Stephen

    Yesterday I stumbled upon a book (I left it on my desk at work or I would quote it here) that contains all the letters between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton leading up to their duel, as well as other documents surrounding the event; funeral orations, testimony of friends, legal briefs and other such historical documentation surrounding Hamilton’s demise.

    A few things struck me about it all. As was somewhat common back then it seems, Hamilton had engaged in some pretty over-the-top and petty character attacks on the VP who demanded retraction. When these were not forthcoming after several tries, which seemed only to increase Hamilton’s delight in making more outrageous statements to upset Burr, the Vice President challenged him to a duel.

    Outlawed in the surrounding states but still legal in New Jersey they met there. By some accounts, it seems Hamilton, the man who crafted most of the Federalist Papers with James Madison, tried to “cheat” and set his pistol with a hair trigger. The plan backfired and his pistol went off a little haphazardly. Burr fired second and mortally wounded him. The account suggests Burr actually reacted with astonishment and remorse before his second entreated him to flee.

    It took Hamilton a day to die. One account documented in a letter of a close friend held me absolutely rapt. It was of Hamilton’s confession of faith in Jesus Christ. According to this friend, Hamilton confessed his faith in Jesus for his salvation. That is to say that Hamilton seems to have understood that judgment for his life lay in the hands of Jesus, and he recounts verbatim what was said (again, I wish I had the book here now). However, the friend makes no mention of him asking for any specific forgiveness of sins as I recall, just that he confessed Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

    Reading the story through the correspondence reminded me of blog comments and posts. The language they used in those days was, how shall I say, “evocative” of certain posts I have read here that attend a particular avatar of an 18th c. sort. That kind of language worked so well back then, but injecting it here just sounds forced and pretentious. Lest I be accused of piling on here (and I suppose I am) I too take a certain umbrage with the repeated reference to tODD’s Germanic surname. What gives? It’s disturbing and needs to be called out.

    Porcell, I’d say you have a lead ball in your rib cage and you are bleeding. Smart as you think you are, you’ve tried to cheat at this duel. Pretending to speak “as if” you know what you are saying does not fool quite a lot of people, who can see that you obviously don’t know what you are saying. Look for someone you still count as a friend. Perhaps you could choose the better part and actually confess at least to some small sin and win back some measure of integrity. People do not owe you any forgiveness at all. But God promises it.

    “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his very soul?”

    Too bad we can’t ask that smart mouth Alexander Hamilton. From what I read, he died in his arrogance.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at 41-42, don’t kid yourself; aside from you, I have no serious problem with any other member of this blog-site. I stand by my remark to Cincinnatus that, especially when cornered in debate, you often resort to ad hominem slings and arrows. The most conspicuous example of this is, when I make some telling point about the Catholic Church, you characteristically in personal terms attack me for not joining that church. Plenty of serious Protestants, including the Lutheran theologians Carl Braaten and Carl Piepkorn, have had high respect for the Catholic Church and wish to engage that church ecumenically, while not crossing the Tiber.

    My intention in the future is to refrain from engaging you, lex talionis, at the personal level, while not hesitating to call attention to any of your argumentum ad hominem remarks. Marines and college debaters, to say nothing of Christians, are taught to, however tempting, avoid personal animosity when dealing with opponents. If you should keep the conversation civilized, you shall have no problem with me. For past sin of my own in this direction, I apologize.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at 41-42, don’t kid yourself; aside from you, I have no serious problem with any other member of this blog-site. I stand by my remark to Cincinnatus that, especially when cornered in debate, you often resort to ad hominem slings and arrows. The most conspicuous example of this is, when I make some telling point about the Catholic Church, you characteristically in personal terms attack me for not joining that church. Plenty of serious Protestants, including the Lutheran theologians Carl Braaten and Carl Piepkorn, have had high respect for the Catholic Church and wish to engage that church ecumenically, while not crossing the Tiber.

    My intention in the future is to refrain from engaging you, lex talionis, at the personal level, while not hesitating to call attention to any of your argumentum ad hominem remarks. Marines and college debaters, to say nothing of Christians, are taught to, however tempting, avoid personal animosity when dealing with opponents. If you should keep the conversation civilized, you shall have no problem with me. For past sin of my own in this direction, I apologize.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@44), I’m going to ignore your first paragraph entirely so that I can instead focus on the second.

    I accept your apology, and I forgive you. Inspired by your graciousness, I also apologize for when my words have gone beyond a constructive, loving intent.

    I look forward to discussions that will focus on the issues at hand.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@44), I’m going to ignore your first paragraph entirely so that I can instead focus on the second.

    I accept your apology, and I forgive you. Inspired by your graciousness, I also apologize for when my words have gone beyond a constructive, loving intent.

    I look forward to discussions that will focus on the issues at hand.

  • Booklover

    Todd and Porcell, I love it.

    Now if the two of you could get Dr. Veith to answer the original question posed in the post above, that would be great!!

  • Booklover

    Todd and Porcell, I love it.

    Now if the two of you could get Dr. Veith to answer the original question posed in the post above, that would be great!!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Here are the dots I connected: Just after the 9/11 attacks, we all panicked. As a result, we consolidated our intelligence, and put airport security into government hands with the TSA. Some people had the temerity to say that consolidating our intelligence under one super-agency and its Czar would have the effect of just creating another massive unresponsive bureaucracy. The same was said about airport security. Both predictions seem to have come to pass.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Here are the dots I connected: Just after the 9/11 attacks, we all panicked. As a result, we consolidated our intelligence, and put airport security into government hands with the TSA. Some people had the temerity to say that consolidating our intelligence under one super-agency and its Czar would have the effect of just creating another massive unresponsive bureaucracy. The same was said about airport security. Both predictions seem to have come to pass.


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