January 5th, 2006

the mark

Another resolution I'll never keep...

...is to have all my existing books up on shelves before I add to the inventory. Over the last month I've picked up a few books as gifts or as impulsive purchases, which is beginning to make me think about my debit card in the same terms as my credit card, i.e. something to be locked up where I can't get at it so I don't constantly leak money from my checking account.

Be that as it may, here's what I've been looking at this past pair of fortnights.
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Speaking of impulsive purchases, I picked up DVDs of The Road to Perdition and Dark City at Wal-Mart and Best Buy respectively, and have added them to the stack of DVDs I really ought to watch one of these days when I get caught up on everything else. Which is to say you should look for the reviews sometime in the summer of 2007 after I finish my first year of teaching, if the current plans don't misfire.
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After Iraq, then what?

I've been mulling over this Mark Steyn column, republished today on the WSJ's OpinionJournal.com site, for a couple of days, and after reading Wretchard's take on it and GVDL's apocalyptic prognosis for the problem of Eurabia and the GWOT...and it all sounds familiar, really. I'm surprised the parallel didn't occur to either Wretchard or GVDL - they're men in my age group, old enough to remember the Cold War, after all.

I remember reading this sort of essay in the 1970s, especially in the years of the Carter Administration when it seemed like Invasion America might well be a useful simulation for the end of the Last War. People seemed to be locked into a dualistic view of the "long twilight stuggle" against the Soviet Union: either we surrender to them or go out in a suicidal blaze of glory. No one really thought we could actually win; the best that could be hoped for was to break even and prolong the game for another hand, another inning, a few more years. At which point Ronald Reagan showed up, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The big difference now, of course, is that the Islamofascists don't have the atomic arsenal the Chinese have, much less all the missiles possessed by the old USSR. They're also considerably more dispersed than the Soviets were. On the other hand, our means of selectively picking out and killing those who need it have gotten a lot better, and I daresay if 9/11 were to be repeated with any kind of WMD, the mullahs responsible would be dead in very short order without us having to incinerate an entire city to get at them. (I'm not sure the French and Germans would be quite so discriminating if push came to shove, but that's really not my problem.) All that aside, do I think we'd throw down and declare a new Crusade to drive the paynim forth from our City on a Hill? Probably not - but I think a lot of imams currently drawing their pay from the Saudis would be looking at hard time in Marion or the gas chamber, and a lot of other folks would find out what it's really like to be on the wrong side of the fence when America's at war. We tend to be awfully Jacksonian around these parts when we get pissed off, and the middle ground tends to disappear pretty quick.

UPDATE Father Fessio says on the Hugh Hewitt program that the Pope doesn't think Islam is capable of change. OTOH, His Holiness isn't swapping the Popemobile for a Leopard III just yet.