March 7th, 2009


politics: Chas Freeman

President Obama thinks a guy named Chas Freeman is the right fellow to run the national intelligence council. This has raised some controversy. One person defending him linked to this interview, citing it as an exemplar of the sanity of Freeman's views:

Q. Are the Saudis winning or losing their battle against terrorism?

Freeman’s view: The answer is that they’re winning. (We, of course, are not.) So what is it that they are doing right?

1. They have essentially discredited the extremist ideology in their own mosques, by driving the radical imams from the pulpits.
2. They have co-opted or seduced or induced to defect a large number of people who were terrorists or were heading in that direction, and who are now going straight.
3. They’re killing anybody who’s left.


Saudi Arabia. "Driving the radical islams from the pulpits." AHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHHAHA AHAHAHHAHAHA.

...Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, Mr. President, DO NOT PUT THIS FOOL IN CHARGE OF ANYTHING. Saudi Arabia does not fight terrorism. They manage it. They export it. The royalty there lets the crazy whackjob imams *run their educational system,* indoctrinating the next generation of schmoes whose greatest dream is to blow themselves up for the Great Pumpkin. Driving them from the pulpits!??! IS FREEMAN INSANE?!?!?!

Well, no, of course. He's not. His views take "blame America first" to a rather remarkable degree, especially for a man who's forgiving enough to cheerfully state that hey, when you think about it, the Chinese government really had no choice but to send troops into Tienanmen Square. But Freeman is not insane; nor is he just an ideologue of the sort that I don't want to see in a position of power. Freeman is a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, which means he is bought and paid for. It's SOP for that nation, and one reason posts involving the Saudis are so desirable. The Saudis helped funded the think tank that he runs, like they help fund a number of Middle East Studies departments; it's an investment for them, part of their propaganda arm. I can understand President Obama wanting to have contrarians around, and because he and I differ on lots of things it's not surprising that his contrarians would be contrary in a direction I *really* disagree with. But having a Saudi puppet in a position like that is a bad, bad, *baaaaaad* call. So, um, Mr. President, might want to ask him if he's got tax problems. The way things are running so far, that's the way to bet.

(Also, seriously: kill Abdul Qadeer Khan.)
H. Beam Piper

an H. Beam Piper fan finds his Holy Grail

So, I mentioned that there was something extremely cool in the offing, that I couldn't talk about yet, because delivery had not yet been accomplished. Now it has, and so I can.

I mentioned recently that some of my research on H. Beam Piper was quoted in John F. Carr's terrific biography -- go buy it now! One of my sources was an absolutely wonderful man named John Hunsinger, who was amazingly generous with a complete stranger. He shared his memories, took me through the local museum to show me the little sentry cannon Piper had fired at the local college's football games (Piper had been enlisted to help the college inventory a bunch of Civil War-era weapons from the Grand Army of the Republic Hall, and while cleaning up the cannon, had gotten a gleam in his eye and said, "You know, there's no reason this thing couldn't be fired..."), gave me names of other folks to talk to -- John was really terrific, and I've never forgotten his kindness. For his part, John was very interested to learn more about Piper, who'd never been very forthcoming to friends about his life. I told him what was generally known at that point, and what I'd found out in my own research. At the time, I planned to write a fanzine article, and so I promised I'd send him a copy.

And I never wrote the article.

I always felt very bad about that. So earlier this week, I found John's number in my notes and called him up. I reminded him of who I was, and of my promise, explained that the research had become a very small part of Carr's brilliant biography, and asked for his address so I could send him a copy of the book as a long-delayed thank-you. He was delighted, so he gave me his address, and I wrote it down.

And then he dropped the 900-lb. hammer.

John said, "You know, he signed some stuff for me!"

And I said, very intelligently, "Bwuh?!"

"Yeah! I was over at his apartment one night, and I think we were talking about the fact that I hadn't read any science fiction. So he pulled a couple of things off the shelves and signed them for me. It was an Amazing Stories, I think, [it turned out to be an Astounding] and Little Fuzzy."

My spine turned to water.

"Ump," I said. "Emp. Glerb. Sir, I know those must have extraordinary personal value for you, but if you're ever looking for a collector --"

And he said, "Well, I'm 80 years old, and I'm clearing out a lot of stuff."

That's pretty much the moment that my brain stopped working.

From what I dazedly remember of ensuing events, I made an offer, and he accepted. I had Amazon send off a book, and I sent off a check, and Collapse )

APED: "thanks, beam"

Pieces of a fallen man,
relics from another age,
lyrics written, yet to scan,
may yet when you turn the page.
Friends you never could have known,
loved ones that you never met,
you discover, once you're grown.
Know them now, and don't forget.
Journey back inside your mind,
hold the yellowed pages close,
though there's nothing else to find,
it feels you might. And there's the hope.
A garment from an attic trunk.
A photograph, in dusty frame,
to them, perhaps, a piece of junk,
but trash or treasure's all the same,
or so it seems, as time sweeps past
and swift obscures the curtained scene.
You never know just what will last
or what the smallest thing will mean:
unfinished stories, loved, he'd torn,
consigned the fragments to the flame --
and a great gift left to me, unborn,
when, casually, he signed his name.