Friday, July 15, 2005

I Hate Them SO Much

I really hate the Yankees. Really I do. After that fiasco last night, I need a good memory. Here it is:

Some Persective on the Rove Debate, from the Right

John Cole of Balloon Juice has a great post up addressing his fellow travellers on the Right that criticize the sometimes over-the-top nature of the left wing reaction to the Rove/Plame Affair (sounds like a bad movie, no?). He notes that
But, it is worth examining- What if this had happened during the Clinton administration? What if it was Paul Begala or someone like him who was accused of outing a CIA agent? What would the right be doing?

If your answer is anything other than what the left is doing, only louder, you are fooling yourselves. Rush Limbaugh would have talked about nothing else for 3 years, and unlike 2004, this WOULD have been the chief issue of the election. G. Gordon Liddy would be having fund-raisers to erect a hangman's scaffold on the White House lawn. The legal 'analysts' at NRO would be claiming that the statutes currently being applied to the case are inadequate, and that we should be looking at charges of treason and the application of the Federal death penalty

He closes the post by saying
And you know I am right. So while I think some (many) on the left are going off the rails, I understand it. And I don't think our side would be any better.

Just saying. Flame away

It is important to remember, I think, that not all on the other side of the aisle are Rushbots or Dobson Disciples. If you want reasoned, eloquent, logical, and humorous discussion of the issues from the perpective of the Right, you couldn't do better than John Cole.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Repealing Godwin's Law

David Weigel, a contributing writer at the libertarian blog Hit and Run, tells us that it is time to consider repealing Godwin's Law. Godwin's Law, formulated by Mike Godwin, basically states that the first person in a discussion to invoke Hitler (or later, the Nazis) as a conmparison has automatically lost the argument. For example, 'Bush is the new Hitler' or 'Mike Moore is the new Goebbels' would be considered automatic losers. Weigel does make a good point, I think, when he says that

You can't really downplay this stuff or cheapen it through overuse. Think about this another way: You can say your sandwich tastes like a urinal cake. This emphasizes that the sandwich is truly awful, and gives your listener an idea or image of exactly how awful. But you don't lose sight of how bad the urinal cake can be. It's a poisonous sanitary product, and nothing will ever change that.

While it had never occured to me to compare anything to a urinal cake, his analogy is disgustingly apt. Just because you compare something to the Nazis, or a Nazi, or the Holocaust, it does not cheapen or minimize the horror that was Nazi Germany.
Weigel continues later in the piece:
But obviously, Nazi analogies in humanitarianism and foreign policy aren't intended to cheapen Nazism and the Holocaust. They're meant to put underreported, ugly stories into a frame that everyone immediately understands. It's the same thing with the workaday Nazi arguments, and with situations like Durbin's.

Thus, despite all efforts at regulation, the market has repeatedly decided in favor of the N-bomb. There simply isn't any other tableau, in history or fiction, that offers the same variety of evil and oppressive examples as the Third Reich. Why compare some propaganda to 1984 and some slaughter to Srebrenica when you can double down and link both of them to Nazism?

In other words, there should be nothing wrong with dredging up the horrors of old to discuss the horrors of today.
That being said, I myself am often quite reluctant to compare anyone to Nazis. Many on the left like to compare President Bush to Hitler, and it seems that the left tends to throw around the word 'Nazi' just as much as the right likes to throw around the word 'Communist' (or 'traitor'). I don't like it; to me, it cheapens the dialogue and does nothing to further the debate. While it may, as Weigel says, be time to repeal Godwin's Law, I wonder whether it is a good idea.
I think I am having a hard time expressing myself on this issue. I'm a Pole; while we were victims of the Nazis, my people were often complicit in the Nazi horrors, and were at times active participants. A bit of ethnic guilt on my part, perhaps. I just think that it does cheapen the debate and should be avoided at all costs. I will stop ranting now.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Harry Potter: A Tool of Satan

Pope Benedict XVI, with nothing really pressing in the Catholic world, does his best to speak out about the evil that is Harry Potter. Check out this link to lifesite to find scanned images of his letters to Gabriele Kuby, a German critic of the Potter novels who believes that they lead one away from Christ and are seductively and subtly evil. According to Michael O'Brien, the Harry Potter novels are part of a new front of spiritual warfare in the 21st century.
"This discernment on the part of Benedict XVI reveals the Holy Father's depth and wide ranging gifts of spiritual discernment." O'Brien, author of a book dealing with fantasy literature for children added, "it is consistent with many of the statements he's been making since his election to the Chair of Peter, indeed for the past 20 years - a probing accurate read of the massing spiritual warfare that is moving to a new level of struggle in western civilization. He is a man in whom a prodigious intellect is integrated with great spiritual gifts. He is the father of the universal church and we would do well to listen to him."

I am pretty sure that the Church is responsible itself for more important contributors to Lucifer; the molestation coverup (abetted by Ratzinger/Benedict himself) comes to mind.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

On British Stoicism

Andrew Sullivan gives us his 'Quote of the Day,' one which, I think, says alot about the different approaches to horror taken by the American and British publics. It's from Rob Corddry of the Daily Show (one of the best shows on TV!), in reference to the London bombings:
"Where are the country singers threatening to put boots up peoples' asses? ... Who grieves this privately? This American likes his sorrow in t-shirt form"

Maybe Toby Keith can write a song about it.

(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Liberal Perversions

Rick Santorum , in comments made to 'Catholic Online' a few years ago, blamed Boston liberalism for the pedophilia and sexual molestation scandals that have rocked and continue to rock the Catholic Church in Boston and throughout the nation.
From the Boston Globe:

Santorum, a leader among Christian conservatives, was responding to questions about remarks he made three years ago on a website called Catholic Online. In those comments, Santorum said, ''It is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm" of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
As a native of Massachusetts, a (lapsed) Catholic, and someone who believes Boston to be the greatest city in the country, talk like this just, well, pisses me off. Since Santorum made the remarks in 2002, the scandal has spread far beyond 'liberal' Boston. Naturally, then the good Senator from Pennsylvania/Virgina has withdrawn those remarks, correct? WRONG.
From the same article in the Globe:
Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, refused yesterday to back off on his earlier statements connecting Boston's ''liberalism" with the Roman Catholic Church pedophile scandal, saying that the city's ''sexual license" and ''sexual freedom" nurtured an environment where sexual abuse would occur.

''The basic liberal attitude in that area . . . has an impact on people's behavior," Santorum said in an interview yesterday at the Capitol.

My God. Could the man be any more clueless, insensitive, or moronic? I'm not a big fan of Bob Casey, Jr., but I hope he waxes the floor with the esteemed Senator in 2006. Schmuck.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

The Death of Innocents

A suicide bomber struck again in Iraq, this time killing 27 people, mostly children who were receiving candy from American soldiers. One US soldier was killed, with most most, if not all, of the remaining dead children.
Horrible. Horrible. Say what you will about the American presence in Iraq and the 'insurgency', this kind of action is nothing more than pure murder, with no strategic goal beyond inflicting terror. Where in the Koran does it say anything about killing children? If one were so inclined, it could be argued that American soldiers were a valid target (which I will NOT argue and AM NOT arguing), but children? These men are monsters. With actions like this, support for the foreign insurgents among the general Iraqi population and among native Iraqi insurgents can only decrease. I hope.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

The Gay Agenda Intimidates Another Corporation

John Cole of Balloon Juice, one of my favorite blogs of the right, points us to the outrage of the American Family Association over the fact that Johnson and Johnson will be advertising Tylenol in (gasp!) a gay magazine!
From the press release of the AFA:

Johnson & Johnson will be advertising its brand, Tylenol PM, in the July 19 issue of The Advocate, a leading gay magazine.
The ad shows two shirtless men in bed side by side. The text over one reads: "His backache is keeping him up." Over the other: "His boyfriend's backache is keeping him up."
Johnson & Johnson has been advertising in gay media since 1996. Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, said people need to take notice.
"A lot of corporate America has bought into the idea that they can secretly promote homosexuality without their consumers noticing out there," he said.
Mike Haley, director of the gender issues department at Focus on the Family, said the gay and lesbian community has a lot of expendable income, so they are targeting big corporations who are caving to their pressure.
"I think it's a critical issue," he said, "because it's one more way that the issue of homosexuality is being normalized and sent out as though it's not harmful—as though it's not against what God originally intended."

Cole says it best, I think:

"There is nothing wrong with Johnson and Johnson placing ads to sell their product. Little boys all over the country are not going to look at a Tylenol PM ad in a gay magazine, say to themselves, "all of a sudden I like penises and I deny the existence of Christ" and become card-carrying members of the homosexual agenda. IT JUST DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT, no matter how much Focus on the Family think homosexuals are on a mission to 'gay up' the whole country. People don't just 'turn' gay.
These people really need to get a grip of themselves."

Earlier in his post, Cole points out the fact that the idea that gays have a great deal of disposable income is a myth...a positive myth for the community, but a myth nonetheless. And honestly, I could not say it any better than John Cole, when he says that

"...Focus on the Family just DOES NOT WANT THESE PEOPLE TO EXIST. This isn't an ad in Sports Illustrated for Kids, or a commercial on the Cartoon Network. It is an ad in a magazine the Advocate, a magazine for people who are homosexual (or, in the vernacualr [sic] of the folks at Focus in the Family, "people who have already become gay"). In other words, it is the same thing as (horror of horrors) Johnson & Johnson using ads with black people in them for placement in Jet or Ebony. Or MTV showing commercials with young kids in skateboard punk get-up."

God forbid that companies practice a little good old-fashioned American capitalism by targeting a specific group within a publication aimed at that group. Just how advertising in a gay magazine actually promotes 'gayness' is beyone me. I bet that the AFA went into seizures when they say the Orbitz ad promoting gay vacations. That would be a funny sight to see I think. Disturbing, but briefly funny.
(Cross-posted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ignorance isn't Bliss, it's Stupidity.

Over at SFWeekly, Tommy Craggs reveals ESPN Baseball Analyst and former Reds great Joe Morgan as a stubborn, ignorant, and pretentious idiot. The interview and article center around the fact that Morgan despises the Moneyball theory of baseball, with its emphasis on OPS, On Base Percentage, and a reluctance to take risks on the bases. One of my favorite bits of the article is this one, as I share the sentiment of Craggs, especially about Tim 'I love the Yankees' McCarver:

It's inevitable: One day, The Game will welcome the nerds; they will use stats like VORP and WARP and BABIP on SportsCenter; there will be new metrics that are as pretty and precisely turned as a 6-4-3 double play, and they will be cheered in similar fashion; Bobby Grich will be in the Hall of Fame; Joe Morgan will be institutionalized, and his roommate will be Tim McCarver (and McCarver's partner, Joe Buck, will simply be neutered); baseball's furious mythmaking will continue apace, but this time they'll be telling half-truths and exaggerations about Bill James' eureka moments in a Stokely-Van Camp pork-and-beans plant. Until then, the nerds will watch Sunday Night Baseball with a finger hovering just above the mute button. They will read Joe Morgan's chats with disgust, then chuckle at him on blogs and in chat rooms and over games of Stratomatic Baseball.
Morgan really demonstrates his cluelessness in the following exchange:

When it was suggested that the world-champion Boston Red Sox were a
Moneyball team -- after all, they had Bill James in their employ -- Morgan
snapped back (and you could almost hear his furious jabs at the keyboard): "The Red Sox had the second highest payroll in baseball next to the Yankees!!! The most important play last year was Dave Roberts stealing second base in game four ... that is NOT the moneyball theory. Without the stolen base or just the THREAT of the stolen base Dave Roberts provided, the Red Sox would have been eliminated."

What Morgan ignores is just how Dave Roberts got on base: he was pinch running for Kevin Millar, who had walked, which, according to the Moneyball theory, is just as valuable a way to get on base as a hit. And Roberts was driven in by Bill Mueller, a Moneyball style player.

Theo, ignore Joe. He is an idiot; great player, but an idiot.

The Sox lead, but for how long?

So as we enter the second half of the baseball season, the Red Sox sit in first place by the skin of their teeth, they find themselves completely unable to beat the damned Orioles, and the Yankees are actually winning games (for now). The Sox bullpen is, well, crap, and they have stumbled through the last homestand and roadtrip of the first half. They open the second half against with four games against the still-evil Empire. They need, I think, to take three of four against them, to put them in their place: below the Sox.
Please God, let us make it two in a row. I want to go back home for another parade!

Church Sign of the Day

Church Sign of the Day

I wonder if those that insist that the Government recognize Christianity as the national and favored religion really know just what they are asking for. (Crossposted at FloridaBlues)

Apples to Oranges

Igglephan, a commenter over at the always interesting libertarian legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, reacts to the following joke posted by Todd Zywicki:

While we all sit waiting for an eventual nominee, I thought I would fill the
time with a joke making the rounds in some conservative legal circles:
Q: Do you know the translation for "Gonzales"?
A: It's Spanish for "Souter."
(Insert rimshot).

Igglephan comments:
That joke is pretty old, but it raises some interesting points. When someone unearths evidence that, as Attorney General of New Hampshire, Justice Souter authorized the indefinite detention of speeders or authored memos as poor as Gonzales' death penalty memos (see the Atlantic story on this), we can talk. Even in his abortion decision, Gonzales let out enough dicta and subtext to suggest how he'd rule on Roe, i.e. his views "as a parent." (Totally in contrast to the idea that abortion is grounded in personal liberty, the very idea that the parent -- or any other person or entity -- could possibly be relevant to the process.) Gonzales should not be on the Court not because he might use his powers of legal reasoning on his own -- the right's apparent objection to Souter, and it's revealatory that the objections are only to the political consequences of his opinions (or dissents!)and never to the quality of his legal reasoning -- but because Gonzales' entire career has revealed a willingness not to concern himself with the Rule of Law, especially the importance of procedural safeguards.

Calling him a "closet moderate" is probably false, just from the record we have, but the specific comparison to Justice Souter, really insults both Souter's independence, legal skill, and professional dedication to the rule of law
Igglephan makes a good point about comparing the two men, though I might go farther and say that Gonzales really seems to have no difficulty in justifying telling the President exactly what he wanted to hear concerning the use of torture and detention, and that should concern anyone, left or right. As Igglephan says, he is less about the rule of law and more about the exercise of authority. That is not something we need in a Supreme Court justice when it comes to personal liberties.
(Crossposted at FloridaBlues)

Regrets, I've had a few...

Belgravia Dispatch links and excerpts from this Washington Post article, an interview with Eliot Cohen, a neoconservative and key supporter of the Iraq War. In it, we at last see some major criticism of the Bush Administration from a hawk. He actually refers to the administration's decision making as incompetent, a refreshing change from the usual right wing echo chamber. My reaction to his comments are in blue.

Cohen, in contemplating whether or not he would have supported the Iraq action had known what he knows now, says:

So it is not an academic matter when I say that what I took to be the basic rationale for the war still strikes me as sound. Iraq was a policy problem that we could evade in words but not escape in reality. But what I did not know then that I do know now is just how incompetent we would be at carrying out that task.
He continues later in the piece,

But a pundit should not recommend a policy without adequate regard for the ability of those in charge to execute it, and here I stumbled. I could not imagine, for example, that the civilian and military high command would treat "Phase IV" -- the post-combat period that has killed far more Americans than the "real" war -- as of secondary importance to the planning of Gen. Tommy Franks's blitzkrieg. I never dreamed that Ambassador Paul Bremer and Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the two top civilian and military leaders early in the occupation of Iraq -- brave, honorable and committed though they were -- would be so unsuited for their tasks, and that they would serve their full length of duty nonetheless. I did not expect that we would begin the occupation with cockamamie schemes of creating an immobile Iraqi army to defend the country's borders rather than maintain internal order, or that the under-planned, under-prepared and in some respects mis-manned Coalition Provisional Authority would seek to rebuild Iraq with big construction contracts awarded under federal acquisition regulations, rather than with small grants aimed at getting angry, bewildered young Iraqi men off the streets and into jobs.

I did not know, but I might have guessed.

Many of these construction contracts went to our friend Halliburton and related subsidiaries; but had we focused more on using Iraqi construction firms and workers, would that have really changed anything? I wonder. Dr. Cohen continues, saying later in the piece that

This is an unusually invertebrate insurgency, without a central organization or ideology, a coherent set of objectives or a common positive purpose. The FLN in Algeria or the Viet Cong were far more cohesive and directed. The decentralized ad hoc nature of the insurgency makes it harder to figure out, but also less likely to succeed; there is a reason why it is well-organized and disciplined guerrillas who eventually occupy presidential palaces.
The question, of course, is whether the insurgents actually have any goal beyond removing the US prescence in Iraq. As Dr. Cohen points out, this insurgency is far less organized and focused than that we faced in Vietnam, lacking a clear leader or unity, let alone common goals. This is negative in that we will be unable to destroy the insurgency by destroying the leadership, but a positive in that they are unlikely to work together for long; recent reports indicate that native Iraqi insurgents are growing increasingly frustrated with the foreign fighters involved in 'al Qaeda in Iraq.'

Later, Cohen comments on continued mismanagement of the servicemen and women fighting this war:

It is a flicker of rage that two years into an insurgency, we still expose our troops in Humvees to the blasts of roadside bombs -- knowing that even the armored version of that humble successor to the Jeep is simply not designed for warfare along guerrilla-infested highways, while, at the same time, knowing that plenty of countries manufacture armored cars that are. It is disbelief at a manpower system that, following its prewar routines, ships soldiers off to war for a year or 15 months, giving them two weeks of leave at the end, when our British comrades, more experienced in these matters and wiser in pacing themselves, ship troops out for half that time, and give them an extra month on top of their regular leave after an operational deployment.

It flames up when hearing about the veteran who in theory has a year between Iraq rotations, but in fact, because he transferred between units after returning from one tour, will go back to Iraq half a year later, and who, because of "stop-loss orders" involuntarily extending active duty tours, will find himself in combat nine months after his enlistment runs out. And all this because after 9/11, when so many Americans asked for nothing but an opportunity to serve, we did not expand our Army and Marine Corps when we could, even though we knew we would need more troops.
We are wearing out our military, running it dry. The use of stop-loss and an idiotic rotation system is weaking both manpower and equipment, and I fear that it will come back and bite us in the long run. Finally, Dr. Cohen finishes with this comment:

The scholar in me is not surprised when our leaders blunder, although the pundit in me is dismayed when they do. What the father in me expects from our leaders is, simply, the truth -- an end to happy talk and denials of error, and a seriousness equal to that of the men and women our country sends into the fight.
While it is refreshing to hear a major war supporter criticize the blunders and fiascos that this Administration is responsible for (particularly when he criticizes the 'Clintonian' parsing of words when member of the Administration are referring to the manpower losses and the protracted insurgency, not quoted in this post by a good read in the article), I question whether he would have had this reaction had his son not been going off to serve as an Army captain in theater. Perhaps that is too harsh; he does deserve credit for speaking up. The question, of course, is just who is listening?

(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)
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