31 January 2007

Simple Questions, Hard Answers

I’ve started reading The Force of Reason by Oriana Fallaci. I’m only to the third chapter at the moment, but it seems to me there are some basic assumptions about the world we live in that must be recognized. I feel this because, as I’m in mid-stream on this book, and having read Mark Styen’s America Alone earlier in the year, there appears to be ample evidence of a coming, serious upheaval in the Western world. Not the violent, volcanic type of shift. More the kind of change that takes little nibbles until the sandwich is almost gone.

With that in mind, I think it would be prudent for the West (and in particular, the US) to ask some fundamental questions of itself and one specific question to Muslims who wish to live in the West.

The West should ask itself first and foremost if it cares to continue to exist. While this may seem like a rhetorical question, I would argue that for some who would consider themselves as part of the West, the answer (whether admitted to or not) would be, “No.” My advice for those folks is to find a country which they feel comfortable buying into – culturally, spiritually, economically, and politically – and immigrate to that place.

If the answer is yes, then there must be some foundational set of values within the West (or the constituent parts thereof) which defines it, which the West ceases to exist without. I might suggest that adherence to secular law is one of those ideas which defines the West. And, while those laws may be (and largely are) based on religious values, they are not subservient to religion.

If that is the case, then there must be one question answered by Muslims who wish to live in the West: in earthly matters, what law must the public (meaning, directly, people other than you) follow? In interpersonal relations, does Sharia trump the laws of any (and every) country?

It seems like a simple question. Getting an honest answer is not so easy.

Just two nights ago on an Australian current events show, a radical Muslim leader was asked repeatedly by his interviewer if Australia would be or is a target of the global, “defensive” jihad he was advocating. He repeatedly dodged the question, rolling a litany of supposed grievances and generally babbling on with official, educated sounding words. The answer is, “Yes, Australia is a target in the global jihad.” He wouldn’t say it on television, but I have no doubt that is, in fact, his real answer.

The real answer to the question concerning Sharia is, well, I’m sure you can figure it out.

26 January 2007

It's the ROE, Stupid.

Much has been written and said about the “surge” of troops into Iraq. Arguments of all kinds can be made for more troops, fewer troops, etc. But the real thing that matters is what those troops are expected and allowed to do. It really is all about the ROE (Rules of Engagement).

In an article in the Washington Times, James A. Lyons Jr. lays out the current ROE for troops in Iraq:

(1) You must feel a direct threat to you or your team.

(2) You must clearly see a threat.

(3) That threat must be identified.

(4) The team leader must concur that there is an identified threat.

(5) The team leader must feel that the situation is one of life or death.

(6) There must be minimal or no collateral risk.

(7) Only then can the team leader clear the engagement.

And this is just for engagements on the ground. I can imagine what the maze might be for aircraft to provide support to ground troops. It probably involves, in the end, the “mother, may I?” approach to ROE; ask those on high if you can do something, wait, and if the opportunity is still there when the answer comes, perhaps the target will be serviced.

Not the way to fight a highly flexible, decentralized enemy.

Then again, it really isn’t a surprise that we can’t go after the enemy, people like Muqtada al-Sadr. When he should have been reduced to a smoking pile of unanimated carbon, it was hoped that he might be co-opted into the political machinery. (Hasn’t that already been tried with Hamas and Hezbolla?) al-Sadr is still around, still causing problems…

And additionally, there has been a “hands-off” approach to outsiders found in Iraq, or at least those coming from certain countries. It has come out recently that now our troops are able to detain Iranians found in Iraq, and presumably doing things they ought not be doing. It amazes me that, apparently, Iranians discovered causing trouble in Iraq enjoyed some sort of diplomatic immunity.

Is it any wonder that violence escalates, violence caused by “insurgent” forces and foreign operators, when US (and, presumably all Coalition) troops are forced to sit on their hands?

So, as Mr. Lyons states in his article, the ROE must change, and the sooner the better. It’s already three years late in coming, in my opinion. More troops is all fine and good, but they need to be able to engage (read: kill) those who need to be engaged without calling for permission from “mom.”

24 January 2007

In It? For What?

I know it's old news, but I just haven't been able to get the simple words of Hilary Clinton out of my head. All of the articles I've read about her announcing her candidacy have her saying, "(And) I'm in to win."

How in the world does that make her different than the other candidates, both Democrat and Republican, who are running or who will run? How does that set her apart?

But I had a thought...perhaps she meant that she's in it to win, no matter what. Say anything, do anything, twist anything? I don't know a great deal about her, but when her husband has a better image than she does, that says something to me. And while I'm not paying a whole lot of attention to what the candidates are saying right now, I'll be very interested to see what she has to say once the primaries get closer.

And, anyway, why should anyone care now about candidates for president? It's a year before anyone casts a meaningful vote for a candidate. Wake me up in September.

20 January 2007

The Words of the Mufti - Worth Fighting Against

A lot of noise has been raised over the past two weeks concerning Sheik Feiz Mohamed, the so-called mufti of Australia and New Zealand, and his fervent beliefs. I’ll give you three guesses what kind of rancor he’s been spouting.

You probably only needed one.

Taken from the online version of The Australia, here’s one of the core desires of this “holy” man, in his own words:

"We want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam," he says. "Teach them this: there is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid. Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom."
Of course, all of this needs to be put “in context,” according to Mohamed. So, I suppose that means the standard “jihad has an inner aspect – it’s really all about peace – what I meant to convey was” kind of tripe that those who don’t “understand” the inner workings of this man’s “religion” are expected to swallow in the name of tolerance? I won’t buy it.

And, wonder where that martyrdom might be played out? Here’s what the man said on Egyptian television recently (from here):

"The Anglo-Saxons arrived in Australia in shackles," he said. "We (Muslims) came as free people. We bought our own tickets. We are entitled to Australia more than they are".
That this man lives (or lived) in Australia (at times, illegally, according to Wikipedia) and spouts this kind of speech doesn’t surprise me all that much. In the Western world of free speech, there seems to be some disconnect between a person saying anything he would like and taking responsibility for those words. Note that I haven’t even mentioned his comments on women (that when a woman is sexually attacked, she bears more responsibility than the male attacker) or Jews (calling them “pigs”).

Perhaps these hate-filled words are somehow tied in some people’s minds with freedom of religion…that, because this man is (in someone’s eyes) a religious official, he can say anything he wishes to without any backlash. But isn’t it odd that, if this is the case, that those who practice fanatically (and flawed) Islam are afforded a level of tolerance which they themselves wouldn’t dream giving to anyone else?

And, what if this man weren’t a Muslim? Would that make a difference? Perhaps not here in Australia, but in other Western countries, I think it would.

Hopefully the Australian authorities are willing and able to keep this man out of the country. If someone openly calls for violence against the government, the violent overthrow of the government, perhaps they should have their citizenship revoked. Expulsion is an underused measure.

If he does come back, hopefully the authorities arrest him for inciting violence or, better yet, sedition. Words have meaning, and it doesn’t take much to figure out what Mohamed means in his speeches. Words also have repercussions, and it’s high time those who advocate the overthrow of the West are held to account for their words.

13 January 2007

Living the "Dream"

This past week (hopefully soon to be ex-) Air Force Sergeant Manhart was relieved of duty for posing nude in Playboy. I watched an interview she gave on FoxNews, and I think her words are interesting. Here are a few quotes from that interview conducted by John Gibson:

“I understand that maybe they (the Air Force) feel I haven’t met their standards, but to my knowledge there’s no rule that I broke.”

When asked if she regretted posing, she replied, “Oh, definitely not. There’s nothing about it I regret.”

“I am living out my dream and I think it’s important for everyone to do that.”
Note in the first quote that she refers to the Air Force standards as “their” standards. Sergeant Manhart was a drill instructor, charged with changing civilian recruits into airmen who serve their country. If she doesn’t know and embody the core values of the Air Force, perhaps she’s in the wrong line of work.

Additionally, it’s extremely naive for her to think that posing in Playboy would not adversely affect her ability to perform the duties required of her as a drill instructor. Her credibility would disappear with the first recruit saying, “I’ve seen you naked.”

That she doesn’t regret decision directly reflects the third quote that she was following her dream. It’s more than a little troubling that this woman, with 12 years in the Air Force, so easily disposes of Air Force core values and standards of conduct to live out her “dream”. It is another case of personal desire trumping duty.

If Sergeant Manhart is allowed to return to duty, it will be a sad day for the Air Force. It would send the signal to the entire military that as long someone is pursuing a dream they can act as they choose without fear of punishment. It would be a sad triumph of self-esteem over sacrifice and duty.

11 January 2007

"Rights" Part III - Life

It’s been a few weeks since I posted concerning what some people refer to as rights and the need to refer back to our founding documents to figure out what are rights and what are really just wants. The Declaration of Independence is a pretty good spot to look. It talks about “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” as rights which may not be denied to anyone. Here, I’ll look at Life.

It seems to be a fairly straight-forward, inalienable right. Let me live, I’ll let you live, in the most fundamental sense…within the society, we don’t kill each other. No need to go to great lengths to clarify that, I think.

However, two concepts in today’s world directly impact the right to Life. Capital punishment and abortion are both practices within the US, and some argue that these two practices are directly counter to the Declaration of Independence.

Capital punishment, I believe, is not counter to the right to life in any way, shape or form. When a citizen commits an act which society has deemed a heinous crime, the citizenry has the prerogative to punish to the utmost. The criminal, once tried (and in the case of the US, afforded mandatory appeals) and convicted, I think it is reasonable to impose the death penalty. In a free and open society, which the US is, it is reasonable to expect everyone to know and understand the basic laws of the country. Those who have an idea to commit serious crimes should (through their own learning) know the consequences of being caught.

Once convicted, the criminal loses rights, even the right to life if the law of the land, having been created through legislation of elected officials (and therefore through the citizenry). While the criminal should receive consideration so that his or her treatment is humane, they have forfeited their rights. The criminal is at the disposal of the State. There is a term out there, “criminal rights,” which seems to have some sort of codification based on our founding documents. Perhaps there needs to be a re-codification of “criminal rights” based on something different, something stand-alone. Serious criminals should have their rights, but those rights should be greatly restricted. They do not command the freedoms as put forth in the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents.

The other topic which challenges the right to Life is, obviously, abortion. I have to admit that I do not have any answers here at all. The topic of abortion goes to the very core of our culture, because it touches on our value of human life (or, depending on your point of view, potential human life) which cannot defend itself at all. However, I do not think that the issue of abortion is one which should be primarily dealt with through legalisms and semantics. I think it would be more appropriate, and infinitely more difficult, to create a culture in which children are viewed and cherished for what they are: the future (and while that may sound cheesy, it doesn’t mean that we should make endless pop songs about “the children are our future”). I get the feeling that some children are seen as an encumbrance, as a burden unwanted. Perhaps the concept of children as bothers is why abortion is a conceivable option to some, specifically those who have multiple abortions during the course of life.

But, then again, I’m not in the position to have to make that choice, not even once. Additionally, I’m a guy, which (in my opinion), makes my point of view on the subject necessarily flawed. But, again, I think it’s reasonable to attack this symptom of a problem through cultural means, not through legal methods.

Otherwise, I think we have a pretty wide field in which to live. How we live is our choice, each of us…but, more on that in the next two parts.

10 January 2007

Comments on the Bush Speech, 10 Jan 2007

I’ve read the text of Bush’s speech given on the night of 10 Jan 07, but I haven’t taken the time to watch a video fed of it. I’m not sure that I will, as Bush sometimes reads better. And anyway, it’s better for me to go back and read, and reread, and reread. I’ve also purposefully not read any other reaction to the speech. I’ll let it sink in for a day before I do. (In fact, I get to avoid the television news tonight, as well.)

Some thoughts:
- Good thing that he said things in Iraq weren’t working, and even better that he gave some background on it. The Iraqi election period was a hopeful one, but little came out of it.
- Glad that Bush has decided on the Kagan / Keane plan, and also glad that he did not opt for the Kennedy / Murtha plan of running and hiding “over the horizon.” The Kagan / Keane plan is, in fact, a plan, as it’s founded on tactics and reason. Kennedy and Murtha scream, “Another Vietnam,” and run like hell…or redeploy like Hades. One plan has a chance of succeeding, the other succeeds in surrender.
- That the Kagan / Keane plan has defined missions and goals is a very good thing.
- Good that Bush is taking some aim at stopping the inflow of people, materials and support from Syria and Iran. While many Americans, thanks to the media, may feel that Iraq is an isolated military action, it is really the current battleground for the war against Islamofacism…or one of the many current battlefields.
- Increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps is critical, and the increase needs to be larger than it will end up being, I’ll bet. This effort should have begun on 12 September 2001. That the US may begin this effort 5½ years late means that the growth curve should be all the more steep. While Congress would probably never approve it, and Bush would never ask for it, I would go for an increase of 500,000 personnel. In the years ahead, we'll probably need them, and it is impossible to "make" soldiers just in time to use them.

I’m actually pretty happy that I’m not in the States at the moment, because I can just imagine the twists that this speech will take in the coming days from pundits and politicians alike, not to mention leftie “peace” activists (who really don’t want peace all that much; they just think they want the US to lose). What the fountains of endless deconstructive criticism do not understand is that the world does not work smoothly. Sometimes mistakes, big mistakes, are made. They can’t be covered up with newspaper, and you can’t turn away from them, pretending they’re not there.

Should the tactics used in Iraq have been changed sooner? Yes. Is it too late for a change of tactics now? No. Can we walk away from Iraq? Yes, but “redeploying” away will cause us to go back to fight again later against a more powerful foe. We’ve already done that once, in 1991. Best to stay, fight hard for a goal, and leave when it is really finished.

09 January 2007

Comments on the Agenda

Some thoughts on what’s been kicked around in the press recently concerning Democrat’s agenda, especially in the House.

House rules reform: Probably a good thing, though I still find it wickedly funny that they couldn’t even hold a press conference about the issue because of the bellowing of Sheehan. Perhaps rules don’t matter when you want to run?

Hike the minimum wage: Just a move to say that they’re “helping the working person.” In all actuality, the measure will probably just hurt high schoolers looking for a part-time job, which, at the higher rate, employers will have fewer of.

Just say “No” to Social Security reform: They’ve already taken private accounts off of the reform table, so what’s left to do is to raise taxes and (quietly) lower benefits. I could care less about the benefits – I already plan on never seeing a dime from Social Security – but it would really bother me to pay more is taxes for them. Anyone who doesn’t see higher Social Security tax for what it will be (funding for other things) probably believes that there is a giant account with lots of money in it now with a Social Security label on it.

Pull out of / Stop funding Iraq: Unable or unwilling to use terms like “surrender” or “we lose” openly to the public in general, Dems will euphemistically talk about “redeployment” and “over-the-horizon” to try to ease the jagged pill they’re pushing down the public’s throat. Hopefully it will not work.

It’s going to be an interesting year, or 100 hours. I wonder when those will begin… If you’ve looked at the Drudge Report this weekend, you know it didn’t begin on 8 January.

05 January 2007

Ideas Have Consequences

I’ve almost finished reading Ideas Have Consequences, and it’s a really fine read. Although it was written in 1948, it is quite applicable to our society today. Some things have to be forgiven simply due to the time that has passed since its publication and now, but the overall tone of the book is spot-on. This paragraph in particular is relevant when considering what is wrong in American society today:

In the final analysis this society is like the spoiled child in its incapacity to think. Anyone can observe in the pampered children of the rich a kind of irresponsibility of the mental process. It occurs simply because they do not have to think to survive. They never have to feel that definition must be clear and deduction correct if they are to escape the sharp penalties of deprivation. Therefore the typical thinking of such people is fragmentary, discursive, and expressive of a sort of contempt for realities. Their conclusions are not “earned” in the sense of being logically valid but are seized in the face of facts. The young scion knows that, if he falls, there is a net below to catch him. Hardness of condition is wanting. Without work to do, especially without work that is related to our dearest aims, the mental sinews atrophy, as do the physical. There is evidence that the masses, spoiled by like conditions, incur a similar flabbiness and in crises will prove unable to think straight enough to save themselves.

- Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences

UN Unable to Control Its Own

Granted, the UN doesn't have any troops of its own, but it does have the "authority" to send peacekeepers into places of conflict. However, once they get there, they can do as they choose without worry that the UN will punish them. Apparently, the UN is powerless to do so.

So, why again is it that progressives would have the United States bow to the "international community" and always seek "UN approval" for any military (or other - economic) action? If UN peacekeepers can commit sexual assaults against those they are sent to protect, why in the world would anyone in the world take anything the UN does with any gravity?

If the UN's own can commit sex crimes, what consequence are the crimes of sovereign nations (however despotic)?

If the UN's designated persons can facilitate gross malfeasance under the cover of "oil-for-food", what matter is it for local officials or corrupt governments to copy the practice?

If the UN cannot control those under their charge, why should sovereign governments be held accountable for groups that just happen to be within their borders, or which form minority parts of their governments? Or for that matter, majority parts (like the PA)?

I could go on, but my point is that this international institution which was set up to mediate international disputes is trumped by the nature of the majority of countries which make up the union. Most governments in this world do not share the conviction that the UN was created (according to the Charter of the United Nations):
- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
- to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
- to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
- to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

The UN is really just a stage to play-act at world consensus without the need to enforce it, without a hint at attempts (in reality) to move toward the vision statement of the UN. The inability of the UN to control even those sent in peace, under its auspices, is a screaming critique of the union's uselessness.

03 January 2007

The Ugly Voice of Sheehan

A day before the Congress begins session with Democrats in control, the “grass roots” have begun their crusade.

Incidentally, it shouldn’t be called a “session” at all; it’s more of a vacation and fund-raising interruption for the Congressmen. Is there any wonder why these people can’t compromise on things, important things? It’s hard to reach any common ground with people you don’t spend a lot of time around. (But, that’s just my uneducated point of view…I may very well be wrong.)

So, here we have Representative Rahm Emanuel being shouted down by Cindy “My son was killed in Iraq so I can do anything I like” Sheehan and her folks while trying to have a news conference about rules reforms in the House. Even though these rules may help the cause that Sheehan is pursuing, I suppose it’s all or nothing for those who profess to only want one thing. They want the troops home.

Actually, they want three things, noted in their chant: "de-escalate, investigate, troops home now.” I suppose they only mean troops from Iraq, though it may be that they really want all US troops home, within the confines of the US…presumably so that they can be held in check by those enlightened folks who would see the US become the neutered chambermaid of Europe. But that’s a topic for another time. The other two points are interesting, de-escalation and investigation.

It can be argued that initiating an Iraq front in the war against whack-job Islamists was mistake. I think, rather, that the Bush administration did a really poor job selling it because it relied so heavily on WMD evidence instead of going for the more obvious (and documentable) gross human rights violations committed between 1990 and 2003 by Saddam and Sons. However, that’s the only “escalation” of hostilities I can see that the Bush administration pursued.

I would submit that since the sprint to Baghdad, there has been a great desire by all those involved on the US side for a “de-escalation” of hostilities in Iraq. Somehow, neither Bush nor the Pentagon (nor the State Department) has been able to pull that off (because, in my opinion, they waged a touchy-feely war in the beginning, allowing the enemy to fade and hide instead of killing them). Perhaps Sheehan is barking up the wrong tree here in the US and needs to have a chat with all of the fighting parties within Iraq. She could invite Iran and Syria as well. The only way that the Democrats in charge of Congress can “de-escalate” this fight is to not allow our troops to fight at all. (Foreshadowing.)

The second part of the chant, investigate, is a pretty easy one to guess at. Investigate Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Libby (wait…that’s already been done), etc. Find what they did wrong, or better yet, where they lied and deceived the world so that Bush could get his war in Iraq and quench his blood-lust. It was all about oil, after all. And all about avenging the assassination attempt on GHW Bush, really. And really about giving Haliburton a huge contract. And really all about not fighting in Vietnam.

If we’re going to hop in the way-back machine, let’s blame GHW Bush and Powell for not finishing the job in Iraq the first time and for leaving the majority of Iraqis hanging after the First Gulf War (thereby sealing the fate of Iraqi public support for the 2003 war).

But all of that is beside the point. Sheehan and her “grass roots” folks are just out for blood…and they see this as the chance to get the blood they want. What they fail to see is that, in doing so, they will make Washington an even less hospitable location and apparatus for bright young people with ideas and ideals to work within.

Hopefully the ugly tide of Sheehan will pass without any real impact. We shall see.

02 January 2007

"Rights" Part II

Going back to the whole issue of “rights,” I have to wonder where attention is focused. Just what rights are really conferred upon man, really? Or sheep, for that matter? When people concern themselves with the unalienable rights of gay sheep, I have to think that the starting point for what constitutes a natural right has to be restated.

Going back to the country’s founding document that covers fundamental rights, here’s what the Declaration of Independence says:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

There are two parts to this, the first being that everyone is created equal. In the most fundamental sense, it means that no one person should be given more or less opportunity to the rest of the statement than anyone else. It is idealistic, but it is correct to be so; when creating a vision statement (which the Declaration is…there was no USA at that point) it is not inspiring to waffle or ramble on, covering all of the “what ifs”. Short, to the point, and without clause is best, and this portion of this important statement is just that.

The second part of that statement does two things: it defines the most important rights which all men share and (more importantly) where those rights come from. These unalienable rights come from the Creator of man, whatever he/she/it is called, and therefore transcends the fickleness of man.

The second part also makes clear the three unalienable which the Founders felt were important enough to include in writing. While there are more (thus “among these”), these three are the most important: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I think I’ll take some time in later posts to reflect on these (and how they are limited…or how they should be limited). The last one, Happiness, is the one which is most misunderstood.

So, if you’re reading this (and, no, I don’t think that anyone is…this is all just an exercise to keep my brain from becoming stagnant from a job which is unchallenging at the moment), think about these three terms, and drop me an email, let me know what you think.

Happy New Year's

New Year’s Eve was a fantastic night, from my point of view. My wife and I went out for a pre-sunset walk along the beach and through the park, where later groups of revelers would be gathering to watch fireworks. Neither one of us is really into crowds (except at sporting events), so we vacated the area before sundown and returned to our apartment.

My wife did a fantastic job making the last supper of the year, pierogies and roast chicken. After dinner, we relaxed with some coffee (Caribou coffee…a gift from a friend in Minneapolis) and fireworks. We had a great view of the fireworks shows from our balcony. The first one began at 9 so that local families could bring the kids out without worrying about keeping them up (and out) too late. The coffee helped us keep going until the midnight fireworks, which were at least as good as the 9 o’clock ones.

Not that anyone is reading this, but just in case someone is, I hope you have a prosperous, safe and healthy new year. I pray that 2007 is a better year for all of us.

01 January 2007

Gay Sheep "Rights"

Every once in a while, I see a headline that I can’t pass up. Example: “Science told: hands off gay sheep.” Some things just scream for attention, and this is one of them. What could these evil scientists be doing to these poor creatures?

Well, they’ve been tooling with hormone levels in sheep to try to change their sexual orientation; to make them heterosexual (whereas they preferred homosexual activity previously). Seeing as science messes with hormones in humans all the time, regardless of any side effects, this sheep experiment really doesn’t seem all that wicked to me. After all, doctors handed out hormones to menopausal women like candy…until they figured out that there was some rather profound cancer risk involved (oops!). Better to try something (experiment) on an animal before using humans as test subjects (which must happen at some point). PETA, I know, is appalled.

But the really bizarre thing about this article is the person who is making these demands and the rationale thereof. Martina Navratilova, who should have been consulted before commencing experimentation, says the experiments are “homophobic and cruel.” And, what’s more, the article said: “Navratilova defended the “right” of sheep to be gay.”

Sheep have a “right” to be gay? Where is that right enshrined? I don’t recall any mention of sheep or other livestock in the Constitution. I don’t recall any action in Washington to initiate or advance gay-sheep rights (would they also be allowed to marry, though other sheep don’t?). Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for Ms. Navratilova to push for a sheep’s “right” to life? (And, no, I’m not advocating that position.) Where does this end?

It ends in me laughing for a moment, and then thinking, “She really believes this, and that’s scary.”