Saturday, December 10, 2005

Meeting the Challenge: George Bush Casts His Shadow on History

My school is trying to “re-discover” its heritage; develop some traditions related to our mascot – the Roman Lancer. My “part” is to present a lecture at each assembly. Rather a let down for most of the students, they escape class for a few minuets to hear a lecture from “old man ____.” The theme of this assembly was overcoming challenges. The most powerful presentation was the Downs syndrome student who stood alone in front of the 1,700 students and sang The Star Spangled Banner. The applause was deafening. Quite an act to follow, I did my best.

Scipio Afracanus: Citius, Altius, Fortuius

Excellence comes from meeting and overcoming challenges; the greater the challenge we overcome; the faster, higher, and stronger we become.

Among the greatest Roman Lancers produced in 1200 years of challenges was Scipio Afracanus.

On the Battle field at Zama where “the two most famous generals and two mightiest armies of the two wealthiest nations in the world advanced to battle, doomed either to crown or to destroy the many triumphs each had won in the past.” (Livy, pg.659) Scipio met his greatest challenge and proved himself faster, higher, and stronger. Defeating Hannibal to save Rome was not Scipio’s first challenge.

At age seventeen Scipio had saved his father’s life. The stricken general had been deserted on the battle field by allies who cut and ran at the approach of Hannibal. Scipio rushed into the chaos to carry his father to safety.

Two years later, when he was too young to officially stand in the ranks, Scipio saw the largest Roman Army ever assembled under one commander destroyed by Hannibal’s genius and the Fortune’s malice. Fifty thousand Roman soldiers were killed in a single day. Many of the patrician leaders, fearing Rome was lost, planned to flee Italy and abandon their city to Hannibal.

When word of their leaders’ desertion reached the desperate survivors they turned to Scipio, a boy of nineteen, and voted him commander by universal consent.

Scipio drew his sword and ran to the house were the mutineers were assembled. He cried “I swear with all the passion of my heart that I will never desert our country, or permit any other citizen of Rome to leave her in a lurch.” (pg. 153) These men of great power and influence, Generals, and Senators, were shamed by Scipio’s courage and determination. Taking him as their leader, they organized the retreat of the survivors. Their arrival at the city preempted surrender and saved Rome from destruction.

In twelve years of war there were few successes for Rome but Scipio’s reputation for leadership grew as he faced every challenge. At last he presented a daring plan to lead a Roman army to Africa and draw Hannibal from Italy. The Senate agreed.

But many Senators were jealous of Scipio. These men were willing to endanger Rome for political gain. They accused Scipio of looting the temple of Persephone in the city of Locri. As Scipio raised his armies, his Roman enemies brought ten Locrain envoys, to “make their appearance . . . dressed in filthy rags . . . they prostrated themselves before the consuls’ tribunal with pitiful cries and floods of tears.” Scipio’s enemies “accused him of having all the qualities which inevitably lead to the ruin of military discipline. . . So strong was party feeling for and against Scipio that there was not time that day for every senator to be given a chance to speak . . . much was said against the commander-in-chief himself – his dress and bearing were un-Roman, and not even soldierly; he strolled about the gymnasium in a Greek mantle and sandals, and wasted his time over books and physical exercise; his staff and friends were enjoying amenities . . . The discipline of the whole army had gone to the dogs . . . so that it was more of a menace to its friends than its enemies.” (pg.592)

The Senate sent officers to Sicily to relieve Scipio of command, but the officers went to Locri first and found that the accusations against Scipio were false. They went to his camp to see, “about Scipio’s dress and idleness and the lax discipline of his troops. The day after their arrival Scipio put both his land and naval forces though their paces . . . and such was their admiration for every detail in the grand total of what they saw that the officers were convinced that, if Scipio and his army could not defeat Carthage, assuredly nobody else could.” (pg 595)

Crossing the sea was difficult, beset by fog and storm. Scipio arrived to find that
his most powerful ally had betrayed him; his only supporter defeated in battle.

Two years of challenges followed. Scipio’s envoys to Carthage were rejected and
humiliated, his ships destroyed, and Hannibal returned to Africa. At last the battle was
joined. On that morning, Hannibal brought forth his powerful army supported with
eighty war elephants. “Factors which seemed trivial to recall . . . proved of great
importance at the time of action. The Roman war-cry was louder and more terrifying
because it was in unison, the Roman attack gained solidity as the men pressed on,” (pgs
661-662) and the discipline of the Roman legions allowed them to work together on the
battle field. Scipio was victorious.

At age 32, Scipio had become great by overcoming a multitude of challenges. He was
able to save his country and founded Roman greatness for hundreds of years.

It is easy to see the challenges of our lives as defeats, to be discouraged by the attacks of
Enemies, and lose faith. When challenges come, remember the example of that Great
Lancer, Scipio Afracanus, Citius, Altius, Fortuius.

***References are from Livy, The War With Hannibal, Penguin Books, 1972.

The parallels between Scipio and Bush II are obvious. It was rather enjoyable
for me to go beyond my usual 200 student reach to the full 1700 of our student body
with a message so important, and which so many of them got. George Bush’s greatness
will have far reaching consequences on the world; George Bush has stood against the
most difficult of challenges, foreign and domestic, and has done so well. His greatness
will be revealed in time. I just wanted to go on record.


Rumpole said...

Those who are truly great (i.e. the boy with Down Syndrome who sang the National Anthem, the two with Down Syndrome that I have at home) are unaware of their “challenges”. They only see opportunities.

If any of us had the chance to talk to the boy who sang the Anthem, I suggest that the conversation would be quite revealing. He would not tell you he was great because he sang the National Anthem in spite of his Down Syndrome. He would only revel in his success and in the pleasure he enjoyed by singing the Anthem.

My two love to swim. Of course they are not Olympians. They do, however, do quite well, considering the nature of their disabilities. But they don’t see it that way. They just like to swim. In their guileless state they do not consider the magnitude of the accomplishment. They do not wish to be remembered as children with Down Syndrome who can swim. The pure joy swimming brings is more than enough. It is truly inspiring to watch!

I remember near the end of his term how Clinton struggled mightily with his “legacy”. The mainstream media constantly asked “how will Clinton be remembered?” as they listed his non-existent accomplishments.

President Bush will have no such struggle. I don’t know the President personally, so I can only speculate, but I believe that his motives are correct. I don’t believe he has acted to serve his own desires. I believe he has acted according to his conscience to protect the nation that he serves.

President Bush will have no need to rewrite history and to write his “legacy”. As Lysis said, “His greatness will be revealed in time.”

Anonymous said...

"Meeting the Bias Challenge - Casting Your Own History"

Your elegant depiction of historical figures, vivid portaits of events and masterly use of language are a tough act to follow Lysis. I will do my best to make my own argument.

Titus Livius Livy (From The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.)

"59 B.C.–A.D. 17, Roman historian, b. Patavium (Padua), probably of noble family. He lived most of his life in Rome. The breadth of his education is apparent in his evident familiarity with the ancient Greek and Latin authors. . . Livy’s history reflects his admiration for the civilization of early Rome, and his belief that the importance of history was its applicability to contemporary life. As such he was a romantic, and not a scientific, historian. His sources included mainly the writings of previous authors, but he does not evaluate these sources critically. He chose what seemed to him most authentic and credible, and presented it with the enthusiasm of a patriot in the form of annals. Livy’s accuracy is often questionable; he ignored certain sources and had little practical knowledge of military affairs or the workings of politics. His reputation and popularity are based on his elegant portraits of historical figures, his vivid depictions of events, his freedom of expression, and his masterly style."

The parallels between Livy and our biased "old man _____" who writes this blog are obvious. It is rather enjoyable for me to point them out in hopes that so many should get them. Your ability to marshall good frothing rhetoric is not in question. Your accuracy, your ability to think critically about history, your adequate acknowledgement of sources that do not agree with you, and your knowledge of military affairs and the workings of politics are deeply questionable Lysis. It affects your arguments and the strength of any claims you make about history. It is a shame that the full 1,700 students of your school do not get such an important message before you lecture them. I just wanted to go on record. Perhaps some of them will read it here and think more critically about the source of their history.

Again, I will look forward to your next blog now Lysis, still with the sincere hope that you will provide us with a dedicated forum to exploring what can be done to make the effort in Iraq better. Excellence comes from meeting and overcoming challenges. Acknowledging that we can do better is a big challenge for you personally. The good conduct of the war in Iraq is one of the greatest challenges we have faced in generations. It deserves it's own topic.

Lysis said...

Rumpole – You cut right to the heart of greatness; it is the doing of great things in the face of great challenges. It is President Bush’s guileless pursuit of what is right that will write his page in history. His is not the way of self aggrandizing speeches ala Clinton nor attempts to redefine his persona ala Carter. I know there are those who will call your observations biased and unscientific. That will not annual their rectitude nor diminish the greatness of your children.

Anonymous – Thanks for writing in; for giving me a challenge to grow through. Like Livy’s critics, mine are eager to question my accuracy by impugning the level of my knowledge and critical evaluation of history WITHOUT providing any empirical evidence to “scientifically” support their attacks. It is a logical flaw that is not missed by my students.

I hope it comforts Anonymous to know that my students read these postings in the Agora very critically. They were particularly challenged by one Anonymous’ imputation of their intelligence a few weeks ago. They will not fail to see the connection between that Anonymous’ blind attack on them and this Anonymous’ attack on Livy and the “old man”.

As for the writings of Livy; our Classroom discussion begins with a lecture titled “Roman Legend and Character”. I begin by asking the student to relate the stories of Washington and his father’s Cherry Tree, (I usually digress to tell a rather clever joke about two boys and their father’s cliff top outhouse.) and Abraham Lincoln and the pennies he overcharged. We discuss the “historical” science of such legends. We then move on to the motives and lesson these stories convey. Then I ask the class to tell the story of Nathan Hale. Even after ten years in school, most of my students have never heard of this great “American” hero and the example of self sacrifice he set. Once we have related and been moved deeply by the Story of Nathan Hale, we go on to John Paul Jones. Again, I am almost always greeted by blank stares when I ask for someone to tell the tale. Then the history of America’s first great naval victory is related and the lesson of history learned. There follows a discussion on the agendas of historians, including those who disparage these stories for politically correct reasons. We then particularly discuss Livy’s motives and Roman Character. Then, fully aware of where they are headed, we enter the world Livy presents.

Anonymous, please take this chance, and this forum, to evaluate Livy’s story of Scipio with critical scientific determination. Do you claim that Scipio lost the battle of Zama? Are you implying his victory did not launch the Roman Empire? Do you have evidence that his “counted on” allies did not betray his hopes? Can you “prove” that Scipio did not raise and train an army in defense of Rome, or that he did not take that army to Africa? Perhaps you have evidence that Scipio was not attacked in the Senate, nor officers sent to arrest him. Perhaps you have scientific evidence that he was not appointed Commander in Chief while still in his twenties. Maybe you have a more credible source than Livy on the Victories of Hannibal or on Scipio’s actions after the Roman defeat. Maybe Rome fell to Hannibal after all!
I suggest that Anonymous attempt to discount huge hunks of history because they disagree with his political agenda is something which can be evaluated critically. Anonymous’ attacks from the “Orwellian Ministry of Truth” are most ineffectual against those who have the books in hand. Anonymous you attempt to chuck Livy down the “Memory Hole” to escape dealing with his ideas because they contradict present propaganda.


Anonymous, your efforts will amuse them. Thank you for lumping me in with Livy. I share his goal, though I have little hope of sharing his reach.

As for your call to explore “what can be done to make the war effort in Iraq better”, you have not been paying attention. This post is a cry to American’s to support the efforts of their hero’s and President Bush in fighting the war. This would make the war effort better. It must be as plan to the enemies of America today as it was to the enemies of Rome then, that we will not cut and run. As President Bush said, “we will not be defeated by terrorists and car bombers.” You seem not to have read the President’s plan for victory referenced in this web log, nor even the exerts posted here. Both President Bush and Senator Lieberman gave concrete steps in a plan to “do better” in Iraq. You have not commented on them. What is to be our scientific evaluation of your sincerity in claiming you want to discuss this topic?

In the Agora we have condemned those who would desert American for political gain. Making a call to abandoning this process of self afflicting wounds on America is a call to “make things in the war go better”. We have reminded all that challenges will come and that great leaders and great nations will meet them because they must be met. This call to greatness is my call to “do something better in the war in Iraq”. We have condemned Murtha for calling our military leaders liars and cowards. Getting him to stopping such shameless politicizing would help the war go better. We have condemned Kerry for calling for surrender and calling our heroes, terrorists; reminding all of the disastrous effect of listening to Kerry the last time he made these false claims. This call to stop giving aid and comfort to our terrorist enemies by supporting their clearly stated dream of creating another Vietnam is a call to “do something to make things in the war go better”. Here are the things that must be done: Saddam must be removed form power, Saddam must be tried in a fair court and his crimes revealed, courageous soldiers must destroy terrorists criminals, we must build an Iraqi military capable of defending freedom, we must support the development of a just constitution in Iraq, and support the election of a legitimate Iraqi government, we must build a real Iraqi infrastructure to support their growing economy, and finally we must support our President in the challenges of this conflict; giving up our political ambitions for the sake of the world. Scipio’s plan is the plan I suggest. What is yours Anonymous?

Dan Simpson said...

As I sat in my Theory of History class but four and a half short years ago, I found everything I had learned in history in the previous decade and a half + questioned.

We looked at why historians write what they do, and what influences their opinions, and points of view. It was an enlightening and interesting class.

At the end we came to an important point. Different points of view, or bias' cannot change what actually happened. If the worst most biased historian in the world wrote that Pearl Harbor was bombed, it would still be true. If the best, most critically acclaimed, and praised historian went off the deep end and threw his lot in with the holocaust deniers, it would not erase the actions of the Third Reich.

I would echo Lysis' question anonymous. Do you claim that Roman history occured differently in the story Lysis wrote? If so, who would you point to as proof. And, if you do have another historian to point to, what is it that proves to you that he, and not Livy, was the accurate historian.

Its an interesting thing about history, especially ancient history, we can only rely on what we can read. Who is to say what exactly happened in the mediterranean 1000+ years ago? I surely was not there. Could all the history that we have from ancient times be completely wrong? I guess it is possible.

I choose to question those that question. Why is it that we have in the last decade heard so much of the flaws and faults of men such as Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Lincoln. Is it because the historians of today are so much brighter and are able to delve where no man has gone before, I think not. Perhaps it is because when so much is already written there needs to be something new for someone to sell a 800 page book with. More likely in my estimation.

Could Livy have written his history with an eye to his love of Rome and his romantic theories of historical events, surely, but your attack, anonymous, falls far short.

We all seem to be blind to our own shortcomings. Case in point. You have been asked at least a dozen times to start in on the discussion you have so vehemently called for, you have refused every time. Your cries have become pitiable and empty. If your desires matched your rhetoric, you would have answered the questions posed to you, and joined in the discussion that you called for, and so many here are willing to have.

Unfortunately, you are like boxing a pillow, no matter how heavy the blow, no impression is truly made.

Anonymous said...

Lysis Posts:
"In the Agora *we*(really meaning I) have condemned those who would desert America for political gain.
*We* (I) have condemned Murtha
*We* (I) have condemned Kerry
*We* (The U. S.?)must build
an Iraqi military. . .
*We* (I) must support and
protest. . .

Pluralis Majestatis
("majestic plural")
is the plural pronoun where "we" is used to refer to one person alone. This is also known as the "royal we" or the "Victorian we" because it has usually been restricted to august personages such as monarchs, bishops, Popes, and university rectors. The reason behind the pluralis majestatis is the idea that a monarch or other high official always speaks for his or her people.

* It was said that United States Navy Admiral Hyman G. Rickover told an inappropriate subodinate that used the royal we: "Three groups are permitted that usage: pregnant women, royalty, and schizophrenics. Which one are you?" Similarly, Mark Twain extended this privilege to "people with tapeworms".

Lysis: You are "" not the Agora itself. Sorry, no coronation here -- must be one of the others!!!!

*Historical anecdote for Lysis' classes -- watch for future lessons kids.

lysis_verus said...

I enjoyed your Pro-Roman slanted history lesson, I enjoy Livy too. However, I'm sure the Carthaginians would take exception to your characterization of the general, but since they were all slaughtered, who cares what they thought right!?

Bush is the new Scipio Africanus!? And is he our 'great leader' ~or since we're going so Roman today~ Maximum Leader to usher in an new Imperial Age!? I thought our forefathers started a Revolutionary War to separate us *from* corrupt overreaching Imperium... now we're the Imperium

For you high school inmates a little forbidden French wisdom:
"Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose"
"The more things change, the more they stay the same"
I'm sure if you ask him, Lysis can tell you how the French basically financed the American Revolution against the British Crown.I'm sure he won't leave out the part that without French intervention, legitimacy and aid, the fledgling USA would never have survived... I'm sure he could tell you all about that. I dare you to ask him and I dare him to give a FACTUAL answer.

Back to Scipio Africanus:
Seriously Lysis did you actually preach/teach this opinion of yours to the assembled students? I would find that incredible, that your school principal would allow such naked Partisan Repugnantican pandering (even in your suburbia-bedroom-Republican community). Perhaps Utah is even more insane that it had appeared to me at first blush. Please tell me you left Bush out of the history lesson and kept your breathless history future casting in your own fevered mind. It's great that you can wrongly think that Bush is the greatest leader ever but I'm sure the 100,000 + dead Iraqi civilians would tend to disagree with you, but hey they're all dead so who cares what they might think. Preach away Lysis, but don't fool yourself about what you are doing: Indoctrination!!!

Of course, Bill O'Reilly started out as a High School history teacher so the sky's the limit for ol Lysis. See you on Fox, vastly improving your 'reach'!

Peace. Out! ~Verus

Anonymous said...

somebody left this poison by the well.... i've got it incase you were looking for it

Lysis said...

Anonymous – Thank you for instructing me on my apparent misuse of the pronoun “we”. Feel free to correct my spelling and grammar too, seeing as you are unwilling to deal with my arguments. Maybe Mark Twain or Admiral Rickover have some advice on “what can be done to make the effort in Iraq better”, or at least some critique on our (excuse me, my) suggestions posted above.

Oh by the way, on Rickover’s point – I have always gathered that the WE THE PEOPLE reference in the Constitution made all Americans royalty.

Not to be ungrateful, but I could suggest that my use of the word "we" in the post above referenced to the fact that “WE” - meaning all of us in the Agora - have been openly discussing these things together for thousands of words. These points seem to have been proven, no one has challenged them, so I was forced to assume that even the Anonymy had accepted them. I should have been more clear.

L.V. : To the Carthaginian "take" on the Punic Wars: I’m sure the Nazis would have had a different take on WWII were they the ones indoctrinating the world. Good thing, in both cases, that the winners who did right the history got the chance to do so. Realize that Hannibal had attacked Spain in violation of the treaty ending the first Punic War, and marched on Italy. In Italy he had pillaged and slaughtered for fifteen years. Scipio outlines the justification for the Roman response in his “last conference with Hannibal”. Scipio points out when negotiations would have worked, and how it was Hannibal’s perfidy that destroyed diplomatic solutions. I imagine Hitler would have struck a bargain as the Russians were rolling into Berlin – but perhaps it was too late then. I seem to recall Saddam wanting to negotiate when he was pulled out of his “spider hole.”

Bush as Scipio? – I hope so, but as for now, Bush is simply another leader meeting great challenges. Time will tell the truth about his stature in history.

As for Roman Imperium, several hundred years of world wide peace would be a great legacy for Bush II. It is my hope WE pull it off.

On French acts of courage and justice: my students are well aware of French support of the American Revolution, and French motives for offering it. They also know that the French soon executed the king, Louis XVI, who provided the aid which made America possible. My students are also taught that; after the French abandoned the principles of their Revolution, they bathed themselves in blood during the reign of Terror, plunged the world into war to setup Napoleon’s dream of world wide military conquest, and eventually chucked the whole project to crown Louis XVI’s little brother, Louis XVIII, king. The French should have paid a little more attention to the American Model; taken a lesson from history.

You can read my speech to the student body above, and under the title:

Scipio Afracanus: Citius, Altius, Fortuius.

No mention of Bush or Republicans.

That you equate a speech on “overcoming challenges and achieving greatness” to Republican pandering, is rather a compliment to Republicans. I suppose if I would have asked students to draw lessons from Benedict Arnold, you would have accused me of involving "some other" political party in my presentation.

I do NOT claim George Bush II to be the greatest leader ever. Time will tell on that count, but I do see the makings of greatness in his willingness to face the challenges of our times.

I suppose indoctrination is always a bad thing, (though preventing STD’s might be an exception) but I think it particularly pernicious when one is indoctrinating with lies. Your 100,000 + dead civilians killed by Americans in Iraq is completely concocted. Either you have been indoctrinated or are attempting to do so.

As for whom I might become: I think I would prefer being Livy to being Bill O’Reilly, but neither you nor I will get to make that choice. I will remain what I am, a seeker after truth, and I will wait patiently for you to present some.

Rumpole said...


Your “masterly use of language” is a tough act to follow! But you know me! I’ve got to give it a shot!

I think you missed Lysis’ biggest “Bushism”.

“Making the call to abandoning this process of self afflicting wounds on America is a call to ‘make things in the war go better’.”

What is a self afflicted wound? I think the term is SELF-INFLICTED! SHAME LYSIS!

What I most despise in a post from Lysis is his value of SUBSTANCE OVER SYMBOLISM! You certainly don’t have that problem, Anonymous!

Oh, how I long for the days of old, when we could listen to Clinton’s “masterly use of language” to an EMPTY CONCLUSION!

Lysis has directly answered your call as to “make things in the war go better.” Let me restate:

1. A cry to Americans to support their heroes (soldiers) and the President in fighting the war. We must make plain to the enemies of America that we will not cut and run.

2. Eliminate the rhetoric from Murtha and others for calling our leaders liars and cowards. Is the motive behind such rhetoric to win the war, or to politicize the war?

3. Cease calling our heroes terrorists. Democrats say that they support the troops, then Kerry (who has confessed to committing war crimes himself) makes such an implication. Does this help the war effort?

I guess President Bush should have spent more time trying to build a coalition of support within the U.S. government. That was going to be my fourth point. But wait, HE DID! As I have said before, Kerry, the Clintons, Biden, Kennedy, etc. all agreed on the course!

So that their can be no misunderstanding, I do not advocate stifling the debate. We are guaranteed our right to free speech. I’m just disappointed and amazed a political party would value its power over the freedom of a nation!

There you go, Anonymous. The beginnings of a “civil dialogue”. Will you contribute? Or (with my apologies to DannyBoy) will your cries continue to be “pitiable and empty”?

Lysis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lysis said...

Wow!! Rumpole – with you as editor, I just might reach the goals L. V. has set for me. Look out O’Reilly!!! I don’t think my Bushisms qualify me to compete with G.B. II, but L. V. might. May I suggest that America is afflicted by self inflicted wounds, but you got me on that one. I have trouble with effect and affect too, any suggestions?

Rumpole said...


I think the EFFECTS of the War in Iraq have AFFECTED Verus’ ability to count. The President estimated today that about 30,000 Iraqi’s had lost their lives. I mean no dishonor to the 30,000, but wasn’t it Carter that created the concept of double-digit inflation? I think this misrepresentation may be even more than that! Perhaps Anonymous could check the calculations!

Lysis said...

What must be emphasized to understand the significance of the “thirty thousand killed” figure, is that the majority of these have been murdered by terrorists and Saddamites. They have fallen fighting for their freedom NOT as collateral damage to the Coalition efforts to liberate Iraq. I honor them has heroes who have died to bring freedom to their nation and their decedents. This has long been the great and valued cause for which the precious blood of patriots has been shed.

Dan Simpson said...

It continues to amaze me how much L.V. thinks he knows that the regular high school history student does not. I had history from Lysis, three times if you count 'History through the Great Books'. I spent my time either listening and learning, or arguing and learning.

What you don't understand, as one who has never had Lysis as a teacher, is that he invites debate. More than any other teacher, professor, or educator of any kind he invites debate. I disagreed with him often, and agreed with him often. His classes were discussion, open and honest. Anyone was free to call him on the carpet for anything he had said.

The difference between that class and this blog is that there is no way to hold anyone accountable for their comments. You or anonymous can come in and make statements and leave, there is no way to make you answer questions, (This applies to everyone here, but I have never had trouble getting answers, whether I agreed with them or not, from any other member of the blog).

Anonymous does nothing but ignore my questions to him now. And you routinely do the same.

The French supporting American independence? Is this the new morsel of unknown history for the day? Do you seriously believe that Lysis doesn't teach such because of his political stances today?

I, for one, do not believe that Bush II will be considered in history as much more than a middling president, but it isn't for his handling of the war.

It is interesting, however, to look at how history does remember people. I think of FDR and look at how he is remembered. He is consistently put in the top 3 presidents ever, and yet (in my opinion) he did at least as much wrong, and made as many harmful errors, as he did right. But, at the end of the day, he lead the country through two horrible and simultaneous circumstances, and was able to do it admirably.

L.V. I would suggest that you quit condescending to Lysis' "captive high school students" as if they were idiots, (and the rest of us as well for that matter).

I have no problem with you pointing to historic points, I love history feel free, but please, don't pull the info from a seventh grade history text and pretend like you are the only one who has ever heard it.

Anonymous said...

Vegimatic here,

Here is a little bit of information that the Agora bunch might find interesting.

By Rowan Scarborough
December 13, 2005

"The Army has exceeded recruiting goals in the first two months of this fiscal year, reversing a trend that had some Iraq critics saying the armed services branch was "broken."
The Pentagon yesterday said the Army signed up 5,856 recruits in November, 5 percent above its goal. It previously announced the Army also exceeded its target in October, the first month of the 2006 fiscal year.
The Army has that hit its recruiting mark for six straight months, a promising development for the Bush administration. President Bush's critics had cited the Army's failure to achieve its recruiting goals in fiscal 2005 as proof that the war in Iraq is breaking the force. "

Memo to the White Flag Party:

Please Change your TALKING POINTS.

The ARMY is not Broken. Thank-you Representative Murta. (Member of the John Dean "Blue Man" kool-aid group)

So far you have not met your challenge of destroying GWB, yet he has met the challenge of the Economy and the war on Terrorism.

Chalk up one for Justice. Tookie has now discovered the answer to one of life's great questions. It there life after death? If not doesn't matter, If so, he gets to meet his victims (that he didn't kill)and explain why.


Sorry I was not able to get the Ceasar last week. My daughter said that you looked good and you were full of mischief. Another time.


Lysis said...

Vegimatic: Thanks for the facts; always appreciated in the search for truth. I am grateful to the American Heroes who risk everything for our freedom, safety, and prosperity. I am particularly grateful that somewhere along the line they took the trouble to learn to think; that they learned how to learn the truth. How else could they have avoided the flood of misinformation that sucks in so many? Let it be the humble goal of us all to share that liberating power with as many as we can.

What do you think Anonymy? Is telling the people the truth, so they will be willing to defend American, a way to make the war go better?


Anonymous said...

On reports that the U.S. military secretly PAID Iraqi newspapers to carry positive stories wriitten by U.S. troops. The Pentagon defended the practice and said it would investigate.(The Administration did the same thing in the last U.S. election -- must be a Rove thing.)
Jus' ol' fash'n Opatunizm, thas all!!!!

"You show the world you're not living by the principles you profess to believe in, and you lose all credibility." -Patrick Butler

I think Janus is a more apt comparison than Scipio -- it is certainly more descriptive of Bush', et al, depiction of the truth.

Buying the news is nothing new to the Bush Administration, however. So much for TRUTH, Justice and the American way, al a Bush!!!!

Oh -- revealing article about Republican corruption, "tailhooking" and those lavish perkos of politicos via Rep. Randy Cunningham. Let's find some "truth" there Lysis.

lysis_verus said...

Lysis~ The speech was fine, I actually enjoyed reading it, as I mentioned in an earlier post.
I had mistakenly thought your Bushworship comments were part of the text of the speech. I stand corrected. No direct pandering detected.

On the 100K+ dead Iraqi civilians, my figure is not concocted. We've been down this road before. The number is quoted from the medical journal Lancet. As I recall the best rebuttal from the Agoraphobes was 'Nuh-Uh!! They (the Lancet) just hate America' But if you prefer Bush number 30K+ which his handlers immediately tried to back away from. Har. I guess we liberated them right into the grave. But as Lenin said 'gotta break a few eggs' Sorry folks I am neither indoctrinating or indoctrinated.

I am pleased to hear that, considering current rightist political fashion, you actually acknowledge the contribution of the French to the American Revolutionary War and the attendant horrors to the French Revolution. No need for me to encourage your students to question you on *that* score. Apparently that is happening already.

Let me get this straight:
Hannibal = Saddam
Carthage = Iraq
Scipio = Bush II
Rome = America
White Hats v. Black Hats.

You can't really tell me that, with all your vast historical knowledge, you have such a shallow and simplistic world view. But your postings continually demonstrate a Manichean view of the affairs of men where the 'Good Guys' are heroic and godly and the 'Bad Guys' are twirling their moustaches and selling their souls to the devil. Please, the world is often gray. Deal.

How do you know what I think of Lysis students? How do you know I'm not a high school student myself or that I'm not around high school kids all the time? You confuse me with one the Anonomi ~ I have NEVER disparaged the courage or intelligence of Lysis' students specifically or teens in general. My comment on 'inmates' did not refer to Lysis class (as there is likely more intellectual freedom there than anyplace else on campus) but the mandatory forced schooling structure in place and supported by both of the hideously corrupt and thoroughgoingly cynical Ruling Class Political Parties.

I think you might agree that every society has mechanisms for social control. Not 'hard' state military or police power mind you, but soft persuasive social control. Public (and most Private) Schools are one of our mechanisms. Religion is another (though diminishing in influence). Media pop culture is another. Family is fundamental, though under assault.

I didn't mean to condescend on the French history bit. I'm sure everyone knows that but isn't it possible that some teachers may gloss over it? To answer your question YES based upon his blindly biased quasi-religious political *convictions* I DO deduce that Lysis *might* skew the content of his courses to suit his views. And interestingly enough, the only evidence contrary to my deduction is his word and the word of his admiring students. So what am I to conclude?

I've never (intentionally) backed away from your questions DB2. If I have please re-ask here and I'll answer. Call me on my ill temper or demand sources for my assertions but don't accuse me of that which I do not do.

Fire away.

I'll stick to my contention, Lysis that you are more likely to be an O'Rileup than a Livy (I prefer Polybius) But perhaps you should aspire to be a Tacitus (I'd guess that you like him too but less so than Livy)

Anonymous said...

Are those the "facts" from the same U.S. Army that reported to Utah "Downwinders" in Cedar and Moab and St. George that they had NOT been exposed to lethal dosages of cancer causing fall-out?

How long did it take THAT truth to be known -- longer than "the last six months" I assure you!!!!

Dan Simpson said...

To LV. A retraction and correction on two points.

1. I misconstrued the inmates as a reference to Lysis' students specifically, sorry for the misunderstanding.

2. After going back through the posts, you are right, you answer almost all questions, the main offender is anonymous.

However, I did find two specific questions in the GIANT thread a couple back that were missed (probably due to the size of the entire thing), that I would like answers to.

First, what do you base your idea of a legal right to secede on?

Second, how do you think I swallow a party line 'hook line and sinker.'

Frankly, I hope you did have Lysis' class.

You're right, a teacher could skew history, or gloss over those things that he doesn't like for whatever reason. I only ever had one of those and she was the head of the department. Other than that, I am proud to say, I haven't seen much bias in any of my teachers or professors, and that counts either direction, I never say the great liberal bias at the University level that many speak of. (I did have professors with bias, but it was more along the lines of bias for their particular field of study being superior to all others.)

lysis_verus said...

I've never been in Lysis class though I'm sure it would be an interesting and intellectually edifying experience.

"First, what do you base your idea of a legal right to secede on?"

The Declaration of Independence is a secessionitst and/or rebellion document. Our founders seceeded and/or rebelled against the British Empire and established their own self- government first under the Articles of Confederation then under The Constitution. Both had to be freely ratified by the representatives of the people in EACH of the several states in order to go into effect. The original 13 states used language reserving the right to withdraw (seceed, revolt if you will).

Precedent. Later, the New England Federalists believed in a legal right of secession and they attempted to have the New England states secede from the Union for over a decade after Jefferson’s election. No one at the time argued that a legal right of secession did not exist, only that it may not have been a wise course to take.

The right of revolt is an ABSOLUTE natrual right. Whether such a breach is justified or sustainable is quite open to debate. The revolt of the 13 colonies in 1776 was clearly both. The revolt of the Confederate States in 1861 was possibly justified (open to debate) but clearly unsustainable.

"Second, how do you think I swallow a party line 'hook line and sinker.'(?)"

I can't recall specifically and I'm too pressed for time to research, it may have had something to do with you reiterating the party line on some issue or another. I was likely reacting to groupings commentary from the likes of Rumpole, Lysis and Vegimatic (seeming reflexive partisans) This does happen OFTEN here at the Agora. I, too, get lumped in with the anonomi, Murtha, or whoever ~ people with whom I seldom agree. If I lumped *you* in unfairly, I apologize.

~Lysis Verus

Anonymous said...

Dan has posted:
. . . in my Theory of History class, but four and a half short years ago. . .

At the end (of the class) we came to an important point. *Different points of view, or bias cannot change what actually happened* . . .If the worst, most biased historian in the world wrote that Pearl harbor was bombed, it would still be true.

Should a traveller, returning from a far country bring us an account of men, wholly different from any with whom we were ever acquainted; men, who were entierly divested of avarice, ambition, or revenge; who knew no pleasures but friendship, generosity, and public spirit; we should IMMEDIATELY detect the falshood and prove him a liar, with the same certainty as if he had stuffed his narration with stories of centaurs, and dragons, miracles and prodigies (yes, even Scipios) And if we would explode any forgery in history, we cannot make use of a more convincing argument than to prove the actions ascribed to any person are directly contrary to the course of nature, and that NO HUMAN motives in such circumstances, could ever indure him to such a conduct.
-David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

Separating Historical Fact from Historical Myth should have been an important theme of Dan's Theory of History class. Perhaps then he would not have been left with the superficial understanding of historical theory that his account protrays -- what about Hermaneutics? Eschatology? Axiology? Metaphysics?Epistemology? Teleology? More than just "big words" that Lysis likes to thumb his nose at -- it is the difference between an EDUCATION and an INDOCTRINATION. I suggest you get your money back!!!!

As Hume points out, the disingenuousness of historical Myth gives it the lie every time in the world of historical fact.

Lysis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lysis said...

Lysis Verus: On your 100,000 Iraqi Civilian’s dead BOGUS figure, please consider:

Seeking some verification of L.V.’s rather vague reference to the Lancet, I did a little research in an attempt to gain some insight. A rather cursory search on “Google” brought me to an article from BBC NEWS – not my first choice in sources free of bias, but still – I checked it out. In a report from December 13, 2005 – my gosh that’s today! The BBC headlines

“Iraq death toll ‘soared post-war’

[Sub headline]

Poor planning, air strikes by coalition forces and a “climate of violence” have led to more than 100,000 extra deaths in Iraq, scientists claim.

But then one reads the report. I continue to quote:

“A study published by the Lancet says the risk of death by violence of civilians in Iraq is now 58 times higher than before the US-led invasion.

“Unofficial estimates of civilian deaths had varied from 10,000 to over 37,000.

“The Lancet admits the research is based on a small sample – under 1,000 homes – but says the finding are convincing”.

The report then goes on to site several other sources who were estimating at the same time as Lancet. The (ICB) [see explanation below] from: 14 -16,000; the Brookings inst: 10 - 27,000: the UK foreign secretary: 10,000: the People’s Kifah 37,000, and finally Lancet, (from their 1000 household sample): 100,000.

Lancet’s figures are based on projections of “cause of death” reports from hospitals, and include deaths at the height of the confect as if unaltered over time or location. The projection is bogus, and biased.

Every site goggled referenced the Lancet article as the only one that put the figures at 100,000. On the CNN report from Oct 2004 the following disclaimer was buried in the final lines. “Richard Peto Professor of medical statistics of Oxford U cautioned U P the researchers may have zeroed in on hotspots that might not be representative of the death total across Iraq.”

I then found an article on Slate posted by Fred Kaplan on Oct 29, 2004 which put every thing in prospective. Kaplan quotes Lancet’s statistics then explains:

“But read the passage that cites the calculation more fully: We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8,000 -194,000) during the post-war period.

“Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I’ll spell it out in plain English – which, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused death totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (the number cited in plain language – 98,000 – is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)

“This isn’t an estimate, It’s a dart board.

“Imagine reading a poll reporting that George W. Bush will win somewhere between 4 percent and 96 percent of the votes in this Tuesday’s election. You would say that this is a useless poll and that something must have gone terribly wrong with the sampling. The same is true of the Lancet article: It’s a useless study; something went terribly wrong with the sampling.”

Kaplan then goes on to describe a much more reasonable study conducted by a group called the Iraq Body Count (IBC) who have kept a running total of civilian deaths derived entirely from press reports. Their count is triple fact-checked; their database is itemized and fastidiously sourced, and they taken great pains to separate civilian from combatant casualties. . . The IBC estimates that between 14,181 and 16,312 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war.” Even allowing for deaths that the press didn’t report – 20,000 or 25,000, maybe 30,000 Iraqi civilians killed in a pre-emptive war waged on their behalf.”


I will remind Lysis Verus that many of these civilian casualties are the result of terrorist attacks, and that both American and Iraqi soldiers are fighting and dieing to reduce the slaughter. It is the terrorists who day in and day out wage war on Iraq and humanity. You are attempting to indoctrinate – and neither I nor my students will allow it!!!!!

Now let’s get this strait:

Hannibal and Saddam = both people set on destroying another nation and waging world wide war to build empire by conquest.

Carthage = a nation at war with Rome.

Iraq = a free nation liberated by a coalition of nations led by the US.

Scipio = A Roman General who overcame great challenges to save his country.

Bush II = An American President facing great challenges to try and save his country and bring freedom to oppressed peoples for the benefit of the world.

Rome = A great nation, with many flaws, that brought peace to millions for hundreds of years.

America = An even greater nation, with far fewer flaws, trying to bring peace to the world and freedom and democracy to all people.

White Hats = those who sacrifice for the benefit of others in the own country, in far off lands, and for billions of humans yet to be..

Black Hats = Tyrants and terrorists who murder to get gain!!!

I fear, L.V., your longed for sophistication is just an attempt to muddy the waters. You motives I will not specifically impugn, but many who argue likewise are simply seeking America’s failure so they can seize power for themselves.

There are many shades of gray – there is also right and wrong. I will admit that the existence of right and wrong does not preclude nuance of opinion, but you must realize that differences of opinion do not justify a relativist view that anything goes; that murder and slavery are just as “good” as life and freedom. Life and Freedom are unalienable rights of all men, murder and slavery are universal evils. Nothing gray about it.

Anonymous said...

Vegimatic Again,

Sorry Anonymous, but you teed me up so I have to swing.....

You Said....

Are those the "facts" from the same U.S. Army that reported to Utah "Downwinders" in Cedar and Moab and St. George that they had NOT been exposed to lethal dosages of cancer causing fall-out?

And then I said...To every one of your arguments.....

Anonymous, Are those "facts" from the same Democratic Party and Liberal Left wing thinkers that reported President Clinton "did not have sex with that woman!"

It didn't take 6 months to determine that was a lie now did it.

You have to do better than that. If that is the best you can do, it's time to pack up and go home and drink more blue kool-aid.

Swing and a miss......

Lysis said...

Anonymous, I have perused your post for some argument or fact; for some “plan to make the war in Iraq go better”, or even for some criticism of the plans presented by Bush, Lieberman, or any of us here in the Agora. Instead I find you hiding behind big words.

Hermeneutics – Interpretation of scripture. Do you do that by reason, faith, or your own opinions?

Eschatology – Theology dealing with last things such as death, judgment, heaven, or hell. Tell me do you investigate according to reason, faith, or your own opinions?

Axiology – Study of the nature of values. Do you prefer absolute values or relative ones, Scipio’s or Clinton’s?

Metaphysics – Abstract reasoning – I guess your stuck with reason their, or is all reason your opinion? If so, why not mine?

Epistemology – The study for the origins of knowledge. Do you seek these origins with reason or word games?

Teleology – The belief that natural processes are produced by their utility to natural design. How do you determine the designs of nature? Are you stuck to your near blind senses, or will you allow for the infinity expanse of human reason and faith to be applied?

Your answers to these questions might be as instructive to your motives in your continual refusal to answer any others. I suggest those of us digging through you obfuscations might consider another study – Scatology (look it up, I checked out you philospeak).

As for Hume – I agree, we should examine history in the lights of our concept of human nature. In that search, reason and faith are all we have. If Hume has some magical lock on understanding human nature, he never revealed it to the rest of us.

Anonymous, take Hume’s advice, if you dare, and detect the falsehoods in Livy’s account. Or do you prefer to DROP big words on us and run away while “we” are left to sniff the stink?

Vegimatic – Four!!!!

Dan Simpson said...

First, to LV.

I believe the language you are talking about that allows for secession is in the Articles of Confederation, no longer legally in force.

As far as revolt being a natural right, I wouldn't disagree, but my point was legal rights. There is no language in the constitution that preserves the right to revolt (please point out any you believe does so if you disagree).

To Anonymous.

I suppose that you would rather that I outline the entire semester of class for you here in my post? I choose to self-edit.

My education was excellent, I feel I got quite a deal actually as Weber State University doesn't over charge as so many bigger Universities do.

Again, it would help your cause if you refrained from the personal attacks, but if you must, they really just show the weakness of your arguments.

I have read Hume, he is far down on my preferred philosophers list.

Rumpole said...


More common ground! I would agree that we must separate historical fact from fiction. I’m a salesman, not an educator, so I have to reduce these things down to terms I can relate to. In my view it comes down to truth being defined as how things REALLY were, and how things REALLY are.

We currently live in an amazing age! With so much technology at our fingertips, it has become more and more difficult to skew and change how things really are. It still does happen, but it is more difficult than ever!

For example, how did the facts exist as they REALLY were? That President Bush built a coalition of nations to support his actions in Iraq is a historical fact! That President Bush built a coalition of overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate for U.S. action in Iraq is a historical fact! That the actions were supported by intelligence sources both internal and external to the U.S. is a historical fact!

Sadly, there are those who would recast the facts to fiction; there are those who would attempt to portray that none of those events ever really took place in their proper context.

And what about things as they REALLY are? Verus tries to suggest that there have been 100,000+ deaths based on a survey of 1,000 homes. A SURVEY? We now accept SURVEYS reflective of things as they REALLY are? A survey that was considered 95% accurate in the range between 8,000 to 194,000?

I absolutely agree that there can be sources of history that are credible versus incredulous. Unfortunately I do not know as much about history as you, Verus, or Lysis. So when I read to learn and to form my own conclusions I depend on how credible the source appears to me to be.

Right now there is a credibility problem! Can you reason through with me who has it?

lysis_verus said...

Lysis & Rumpole~

"But if you prefer Bush number 30K+ " That's from my post as well. Somewhere in the Agora I think I acknowledge that the Lancet number is an estimate since there are no hard numbers. I think you miss my point. Those dead people (100K~Lancet OR 30K~Bushey Magnus) have no means of tendering *their* opinion of the Great Grand Gloriousness that is Bush. Because they are DEAD.

I am not trying to indoctrinate anyone Lysis:
Indoctrinate~ To imbue with a partisan or ideological point of view.

That's YOU not ME. My pointing out bits of evidence ~and even acceding to a lesser casualty number put forth by your man~ to offer an alternative view to your slavering worship of Demi-God Bush is not indoctrination ITS DEBATE LYSIS! DEBATE.

So now do you think I hate America and wish for its demise because I point out a notion unflattering to the current administration? Please.

Also: I love how you ascribe such pure motives to the Romans and such deviltry to poor old Carthago, but whatever. Two rising Hellenistic commercial powers slugging it out for Sicily and Spain is interesting and instructive but not the battle of Armageddon.

This 100K v. 30K dead controversy reminds me of the fake 'War on Christmas' whipped up every year by Foxnewsheads Hannity O'Reilup etc. Lots of hot air and outrage~ but at what? What war? It seems to me that any REAL war on Christmas is waged by its supposed celebrants who cheapen its meaning to commercialism and excess instead of honoring the Cristos upon whom the holiday is based (the current holiday not the Roman Saturnalia which lent the day 25 Decembris).

Lysis said...

To the Anonymous who will not tell us which Anonymous he or she is: I did not mean to neglect your comments above about PAYING FOR THE DECEMINATION OF TRUTH and REBUPLICAN CORUPTION; I just got carried away disseminating a little truth myself. For free. Anyway:

On the U.S. military paying Iraqi Newspapers to print the truth, (positive stories about what is going on in their country). There is NOTHING unprincipled about this!!!! It’s called Radio Free Europe, it’s called public education. It works! I would gladly pay to have the truth told; especially when so many are giving away lies for free!

I see this as a proactive step to “make things go better in Iraq”. How do you see it otherwise?

Your attempt to smear the President by dragging up “tail hook” (that was during the Clinton administration wasn’t it?) and some Californian crook’s misdeeds; shows why getting the positive truth out is worth any cost!

Lysis Verus – You continue to misuse the number of Iraqi civilians killed in your arguments; although you have now seemingly acquiesced to the fact that the 100,000 figure is bogus. You miss represent because you infer that these civilians have been killed by U.S. or Coalition actions, disregarding the fact that most have been murdered by terrorists! To return to history for clarity: your position would be similar to anti-WWII activists claiming that the Liberation of Europe should have been called off because Hitler ramped up the “Final Solution” after D – Day. I wonder how our friends from Holland would feel about that.

Your argument on indoctrination is specious. The truth is not partisan just because it supports a particular side in a DEBATE. What a ridiculous claim, “You can’t sight the truth Lysis, because it supports your position!” L. V. Come up with some truths on the other side of the DEBATE or prove my assertions false; don’t just discount them because they counter you arguments. That is indoctrination!!!

I do not think you hate America. I specifically avoided linking you to those who value their own power above America. I merely pointed out that you have been using their same false arguments.

You know what irked me the most about the BOGUS Lancet “statistics”? It’s that they are misquoted in hundreds of articles and “News Stories”. I was dismayed to see this lie propagated as recently as yesterday’s BBC “story”. I am also dismayed when you, Lysis Verus, a respected colleague here in OUR Agora, fall back on statistics so flawed in order to score debate points. I would think you would thank me for enlightening you, not chide me for indoctrinating. Your freely held and strongly argued opinions represent much of what I love most about American.

I am much aware of the impurity of Roman motives, and the failings of Roman “Civilization”. I just spent the last two days in my Roman History class discussing slavery and gladiatorial shows. I am as eager to decry Roman or American misbehavior. But this does not prevent Americans from drawing valuable lessons from Roman successes. America has the chance to do right where Rome went wrong. Wouldn’t it be a pity if this nation abandoned the fight for freedom? Wouldn’t it be the grossest kind of misbehavior to desert mankind to terrorism, despotism, and religious fanaticism?

As for the “war on Christmas” I agree with Lysis Verus. We have a real war to discuss, why cook up a phony one. Nor am I against a little Christmas cheer in the form of commercialism. I love to buy gifts for those I love, I delight that I have the means to do so, and I am grateful to live in a time and place where I am blessed with bounty enough to share with others. Let’s be more like the redeemed Scrooge than the unenlightened one. Let’s share a cup of Christmas Cheer with those we love, and keep the Christmas spirits, Past, Present, and Future, in our hearts all year long.

Passing thanks to the Romans for sticking a holiday right in the middle of winter; it makes the cold and dark more bearable. Eternal thanks to God for “sending His Son to save us all, for we have gone astray”!

Anonymous said...

Of course, I am not familiar with the curriculum of the "Theory of History" course -- my comments were about summative things Dan said he had LEARNED about *historical theory*,ie; --"Different points of view, or bias, cannot" change what ACTUALLY happened."

I have an idea what is commonly meant by "SCIENTIFIC objectivity" with regards to observation and experimentation in science.

However, some at the Agora like to CO-OPT Scientific Objectivity (for their own meagre purposes)and make a hybrid and corrupted form of History known as PSEUDO HISTORICAL OBJECTIVITY -- There is NO absolute, and very little other, Historical Objectivity close to the certainty of water boiling at 100 degrees
C at sea level. The experimental data confirm the result EVERY TIME. But historical analysis does not allow experimental data to confirm generalizations, no matter how well-founded or self-serving --experimentation, control groups and randomization cannot legitimately exist for historical analysis. Let's not propagandize people by implying that they do!

Dan's comment about ". . .cannot change what ACTUALLY happened" Is incredibly naive when placed within the context of what he SHOULD have learned in his Theory of History Class -- even a whimsical encounter with
Hermaneutics, Eschatology, Metaphysics, Axiology, Epistemology, Historiography, Teleology should have prevented THAT generalization altogether!!!!(No personal attack intended. Other than what you post here, I do not know you personally or otherwise.)

Now, Lysis:

I didn't know you had such a phobia for "big words"

Of course, you know, that ANY honest discussion of theory requires a knowledge of terminology -- the *historians* tools of the trade -- and THEORY was the topic of the class, right?
I am sorry that historical "philospeak" mucks things up for you, but what do YOU use for abstract terminology like Social Contract, political manifesto, Division of Power, Judicial Review, Bicameralism, Federalism, Democracy, etc. -- just bash difficult abstractions with the "philospeak" club and move on to the *Mr. Smith goes to Washington* video? (Sorry, I know that doesn't happen, but I was searching for something as insulting as your "philospeak" comment)

I didn't take Livi's account as being true or false, I just took it as being something akin to Homer's account of the Trojan War in the *Illiad*. I revel in GREAT LITERATURE!!!!
It is DELUDED to think anyone could or would "prove" Homer wrong -- how silly.

Suggestions as to how to make the "war" go down better?
After his two plus years of stonewalling, I am glad to see Bush being more candid about improvements in the war effort.
I would like to see Gen Murray's suggestions "aired" at the Agora --no they were not "cut and run" as much as Lysis would like to "swiftboat" the man and ignore the plan!!!!

Lysis said...

Anonymous – I have no fear of words what so ever. I understand quite well what the ones you listed mean. I surmise that you don’t; you don’t use them to explain anything, you just list them. You don’t apply the ideas they represent to discovering truth, rather you use them to justify your determination to avoid thinking. I know the words; I’d like to hear some facts. Your response to any situation you can’t handle is to throw words rather than present facts. THERE ARE HISTORIC FACTS. The Empiricist position that, only sense input can verify data is spurious. Were there no human minds to contemplate, events and facts would still exist. Dannyboy’s observation that, ones opinion cannot change “what actually happened”, is not only NOT naïve, it’s true.

Interestingly enough, we have plenty of “sense experience” relating to the present war in Iraq. We can hear when politicians lie; we can see the sources; we can find facts that make laughable the assertions of “prestigious medical journals.” For you to retreat behind a position that “my opinion is as true as yours because you can’t take its temperature” is ludicrous.

Those of us, who have been paying attention, uses our sense as well as our senses, have been aware of President Bush’s leadership all along. Isn’t it sad that our President needs to explain to the rulers of American (We the People) the importance of defending freedom? As for Gen Murray’s suggestions, please air them for us! I do know that President Bush has taken the advice of his generals and field commanders from day one. We have the testimony of our generals to corroborate that truth. As he continues to do, President Bush has always taken responsibility for their mistakes while allowing them the glory of their successes. This is another sign of his the quality of his leadership.

I am saddened that our President must constantly explain the necessity of the fight for our freedom and our lives. If the Democrat leadership, who supported the war when it was in their political interest, would have continued to do so rather that attempting to use lies for political gain; Americans would not need to be tutored in the truth.

As for “Swift Boats”; I am so glad that the Swift Boat Vets had the courage and the opportunity to tell the truth about John Kerry. I hope that any similar need will be fulfilled by men of equal integrity and courage.

Where is your outrage at the murders committed by Saddam and the terrorists? Where is the attitude of gratitude for President Bush’s courage and for the sacrifice of America servicemen? Where is the jubilation over the elections beginning in Iraq; even as we sit safe in our homes?

I agree with you that we have much to learn from the stories of our past. Homer inspired Heinrich Schliemann to search for Troy. Schliemann’s discoveries filled our world with facts. Empirical evidence that brought the stories of the Iliad into the world we live in, but they did nothing to improve the truths that the Iliad has always taught.

Rumpole said...


I didn’t miss your point on the 100,000+ vs. 30,000 figures. Your latest response to justify the disparity forces me to disagree with you on a couple of different levels.

First, your statement “. . . but I’m sure 100,000+ dead Iraqi civilians would tend to disagree with you, but hey they’re all dead so who cares what they might think.” You then go on to challenge Lysis’ students (referring to French intervention in the Revolutionary War) as follows: “I dare you to ask him and I dare him to give you a FACTUAL answer.

Doesn’t this same standard apply to you? When the credibility of the “facts” you use come into serious question is it enough just to give (in your own words), “nu-uh, the old Agora response?”

It DOES make a difference which “fact” you use to back your argument. I can’t accept the argument if the “facts” used to back it are BOGUS!

Second, let’s go ahead and use the 30,000 figure. Does that come anywhere near the 400,000 figure (according to British Prime Minister Tony Blair - see of deaths attributed to Saddam during his reign of terror? I do not mean to take a single life and equate it to a checkers piece, but if 30,000 had to lose their lives to save the next 400,000 (while providing freedom to a nation of millions in the process), isn’t it worth it?

Further, who actually killed the 30,000? It is difficult to quantify, but I believe (and as Lysis has already pointed out) many of those were killed not by U.S. forces, but by terrorists!

The vote is tomorrow! Iraq is free! Don’t sully that with BOGUS STATISTICS!


I applaud your effort for finally addressing the question “make the war go better.” It was a weak effort, but I acknowledge it nonetheless.

What “stonewalling” has the President been guilty of? What new revelations have we seen in his recent speeches? These are rhetorical questions! He has said nothing new!
He has been completely candid about his approach in Iraq from the beginning. If I am wrong, then please, give me specifics!

In my estimation all he has done is spoon feed those who could not understand his already clearly stated undertaking! I do agree that this approach will yield him fruit. It is a sad fact many Americans struggle with long-term memory. I would also agree that he should have been taking this approach all along. Apparently he overestimated the intelligence of his detractors.

The vote is tomorrow! Iraq is free!

Dan Simpson said...

Anonymous, I will keep this brief, as Lysis lightly touched on my point.

To believe that there is no way to empirically prove historical truths vs. myths only shows a lack of understanding.

Now, I know you think very little of my University education. But as I was getting my two bachelor's degrees (one in history and the other in anthropology) I learned just how well these two disciplines fit hand in hand.

You see, archaeology provides concrete evidence of historical records. Of course, it is true that this discipline, much like ANY science, is filled with gaps and theory, but it does provide concrete evidence of some things.

To prove my point about writings of historians not changing truth, look to this example. Where one of the early historians of the Inca empire to write about how they were very primitive medically, and they were unable to perform simple surgeries, this would be false.

Of course, if what you say is true we could never know whether or not the claim of Incan medical inferiority was true. Fortunately archaeological evidence gives us insight.

We know through things we have found that brain surgeries were performed, and not only were they performed, they were successful and the patients lived for years afterwards.

Now, my point in this is the same as the last post. A thing either happened one way or another. That fact cannot be changed by how people write about it. History, like almost all knowledge, must be sifted through our own reason.

But to claim that we cannot know whether or not something happened historically is to pander to the same kind of horrible 'intellectual' thought that spawns such schools of thought as holocaust denial.

Anonymous said...

Lysis definition of hermeneutics --

"Interpretation of scripture. Do you find that by reason, faith, or your own opinions?"

I had previously referred to terminology that SHOULD be an integral part of ANY *Theory of History* class -- Hermemeutics was the fist term on the list.
Lysis' chose to offer "definitions" of all the terminology for reasons of his own, but really to make aspersions about "philospeak" and my competence and pretty much do again what I already said he would do, "thumb his nose." However, in yesterday's posting Lysis remarked that *I* didn't know the words myself, that "I use them to justify my determination to avoid thinking."

The CONTEXT for my use of "big words" was Dan's Theory of History class -- I contended that an integral part of ANY such discussion of theory should be the word hermeneutics et al.

Lysis responded, Hermeneutics is "interpretation of scripture" and then rhetorically asks me how I do that? By this non-sequitur I think he meant to be insulting, but, otherwise his definition does not address the topic *Theory of History* which makes ME conclude that it is LYSIS who wants to PRETEND he knows the definition bluff knowing HOW I was using it as an example.
Closely related words used at the college level are hermeneutic and "hermenutics"; words that have come to us from the Greek word for "interpret". Hermeneutic is an adjective meaning interpretive or explanatory.(Which Dan's "historical" comment indicated he was doing) Hermeneutics is the study of and methodology of interpretgation of the ways of discovering meanings. As a science of textual interpretetion it was originated by Fredrich Schiermacher (1768-1834) a German theologen and philologist (more "big" words). His biographer Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) a German neo-Kantian (big word) philosopher (philospeak) of HISTORY, extended the idea to HISTORY and the human sciences, suggesting that hermeneutics provided a METHODOLOGICAL FOUNDATION for the cultural sciences that is distinct from the methodological foundation of the NATURAL SCIENCES (IE; THEORY OF HISTORY!!!!)


As a summation I'll quote from Lysis--

"I fear your longed for sophistication is just an attempt to muddy waters. Your motives I will not specifically impugn, but many who argue likewise are simply seeking America's failure so they can seize power."
"I would think you would thank me for enlightening you, not chide me with indoctrination" and ignorance!!!!

Hey Kids. More "unadulterated" definitions of "big words" in my next posting. Can we say teleology, eschatology, and axiology? Work towards you OWN philospeak dictionary!!!!

Lysis said...

Anonymous: Thank you for the obvious effort you have gone to for OUR edification. Please continue, we WILL benefit from your definitions. (Hopefully we’ll be able to interpret them in general and particular.)

Now that WE understand Hermeneutics, what scripture, historic document, or current event will you interpret? Maybe you could give your interpretation of the majestic success of today’s democratic elections in Iraq. Now that you have established your foundation, will you present the neo-Kantian or the neo-Lib spin on the facts?

Anonymous said...

I likewise must keep this short.

Have you ever argued with a person who "fanatically" denies the Holocaust?

I had this experience a few years ago with an out of town individual who was making some purchases at my friends bookstore, *The Bookshelf*, in Ogden. The nature of his purchases (they were literature of that particular ilk) made me ask a few questions that by the end of three hours had turned into a terrible shouting row.
I don't fancy myself being the easiest person to argue/debate with, and I think I at least held my own. But a lesson for me in all of this was how easy it was for him to inerpret and reinterpret historical
"fact" to reach preposterous historical conclusions -- we argued with almost all the same data, his generalizations and conclusions though were radically different from mine.

The STORY part of history is what most people find so compelling and debatable -- historical data is often as interesting as reading the phone book. But we have a BELIEF that data will support the "TRUTH" of our interpretations, so we try to amass every jot and tittle of "evidence" and it still filters like water through our fingers.

Fixing a particular event in space and time to say it "happened" gives us only a semblance of control -- and I think even THAT is cursory and an illusion. Did the Red Sea part for the children of Israel? How faithful was Plato to Socrates in the Dialogues? Was Sidhartha jaded more than enlightened? Did Helen of Troy really exist? Did O.J. murder his wife?
Now I am SURE that there was a brutal, brutal holocaust, but in reality that is what I believe!!!!

VERY DEEP is the well of the past . . .

Lysis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lysis said...

My philosophy professor and I were having a bit of a tussle the other day. How does one know what is right and wrong? What is truth? Can one believe in God? Did the Holocaust really happen? You know; all the same old same old. An empiricist, tied to his absolute faith in his senses; he insisted he could not know I was telling him the truth on some point of the adoption of the Iraqi constitution.

“Don’t you trust me,” I asked?

“It’s not a matter of trust,” he explained. He held out my daughter’s scripture case, “Let’s say this is a box,” he continued. “A box you have never opened.”

“OK.” I agreed.

“Is there a ball in the box,” he asked?

“I don’t know,” I admitted.

His face beamed triumphant.

“But,” I said, “what if I had looked in the box? And you asked me that question; couldn’t you take my word for it.”

“No. We disagree on nearly everything.” he intoned. (Poor dumb Lysis.) “Don’t you see? You have no way of proving it to me!” His point, only objective truth is deducible.

I smiled at the pleasure he took in “stumping me”, and we went on to discuss his upcoming math test. I thought, as he explained the processes of graphing distances; My young friend, you have not proven the failings of subjective truth; you have only proven your own ignorance; your ignorance of what is in the box, and your ignorance of the power of forces beyond your philosophy. It is like a blind man insisting there is no light because he can not see it, that no one sees because he cannot comprehend sight. It is hard to go back to the cave!

The box is closed on the Holocaust, but the truth of that historic event exists. If we discount reason and faith in our search for that truth all we will prove is our ignorance. It is our job to assess the reports from those who have seen within and apply the reason and faith we live by.

lysis_verus said...

"I smiled at the pleasure he took in “stumping me”, and we went on to discuss his upcoming math test. I thought, as he explained the processes of graphing distances; My young friend, you have not proven the failings of subjective truth; you have only proven your own ignorance; your ignorance of what is in the box, and your ignorance of the power of forces beyond your philosophy."

Wow Lysis, I've heard of the blind leading the blind but this is the smug stumping the uber-smug. I'd love to be a fly on the wall as you two 'debate' but then perhaps not cause I'd likely want to kill myself.

Rumpole, my stats are not 'bogus', they're cited from the Lancet. I granted the perhaps the source is off base but then I cited Bush! Is *he* a 'bogus' source now too? I thought that shifting definitions and principles were the hallmarks of relativism, Rumpole. So Iraq is 'free'? Good, we'll see how long that lasts after we stop hemmoraging US blood and US treasure on their 'freedom'. If the 'freedom' lasts (possible but not likely) you'll be proved right, good for you. If they plunge into bloody civil war culminating in a brutal theocracy or brutal strong-arm dictatorship (either is much more likely) then sadly, very sadly we'll see the bad consequences of meddling the world over. Perhaps someday we'll adopt what *CANDIDATE* Bush wisely called for: 'A more humble US foreign policy' But wait, Bush is a relativist because HE shifts principles and policies right along with the winds of public opinion~ most recent example, McCain's torture thing~ How very Clintonesque!


Lysis said...

Refusing to give up ones belief in false statistics just because one wants them to be true is the hallmark of relativism.

It is also instructive, to all flies on walls, that Lysis Verus, unable to find any bad news in the present situation in Iraq; precedes to dream of disasters that will provide support for his anti Bush position in some imaginary future. I haven’t seen L.V. so disappointed or so desperate since Hurricane Katrina failed to kill 25,000 people and cause the collapse of America.

Rumpole said...


I’m impressed that you got your statistics from Lancet! Just by virtue of that fact it makes those statistics credible?

C’mon Verus! I read the study. Also from what I have read, many European news outlets are frustrated the American media hasn’t really talked about the study. I HATE defending our media, but why don’t you think they have talked about it? Lysis explained it very well, but for your edification I’ll rehearse it again.

The “study” is considered accurate between a range of 8,000 and 194,000. Versus, without any polling #’s you could have thrown out that range and been just as accurate! If I could get that kind of range on a bet in Vegas I would jump at it! It is completely BOGUS!

I know that you later deferred to the President’s numbers. Why then, so difficult for met to let go of this? You throw out completely bogus numbers from a bogus study and in the same breath you imply that Lysis is afraid or unwilling to give a “FACTUAL” answer. You ought to live by that standard! Don’t draw your conclusion then look for evidence to support it! Look at the evidence then draw your conclusion!

My research netted the same conclusion on the numbers that the President stated. His numbers weren’t bogus! I never said they were! I accept them. The only question I have (and it is a legitimate question) is who actually did the killing?

Do you suggest that our military has killed or been responsible for those 30,000 deaths? If so my response is BULL! It is an argument neither side can quantify. My common sense tells me I am on firm ground.

You, yourself, “shifted definitions and principles” as a demonstration of the “hallmark of relativism” when you gave the old “Nu-Uh” and went with the President’s figure! As I said before, don’t draw your conclusion then look for evidence to support it! Look at the evidence then draw your conclusion!

As to the civilian deaths in Iraq, I addressed that. I won’t bore you by rehearsing it again. It is what I believe.

Will we ultimately be successful? I don’t know. I am certain that the President acted correctly. If you will allow me one generalization; just like all the naysayers in this debate, you suggest after each monumental success that the failure is coming next. First there wasn’t enough global support. Then the military action wouldn’t be successful. We could never capture Sadaam. Elections would never work. Now there will be a leadership vacuum when we leave.

Step by step, every hurdle has been overcome. I hope the seed of freedom have taken root. It will be amazing to watch!

P.S. – Not ignoring your “torture” comment. I’ve got to go, but will happily address it later.

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