/* Google Analytics Code asynchronous */

Monday, April 30, 2007

One Light is Hung in the Old North Church

I'm with bloggernista. If Focus on the Family is setting up camp in Massachusetts, it's time to help out the Bay Staters at MassEquality.

Meanwhile, I worry that Dale (or anyone, really - it's not personal) might be underestimating the power of a nouveau campaign to "save the children", if such a thing forms a linchpin in the upcoming struggles in Massachusetts and, now, apparently in New York, with Spitzer's initiative.

That is to say, not its power in argument, but its emotive power. This change suggests a shift in rhetoric, perhaps, to the gay and lesbian children who are cruelly cut out of such a 'campaign' and some other things, many already being expertly voiced, but including other "greater goods" arguments, like gays and lesbians who want to take a share of society's responsibility to raise the next generation (while earning back some of the HUGE tax that lesbian and gay folks pay altruistically to the nation's school budgets). Afterall, it is George and Wilcox who are on about combatting "demographic decline" as a moral imperative.

footnote: in doing research for an upcoming, I've found out an interesting factoid.

I'm not going to impugn David Blankenhorn's motives outright, since he does genuinely seem to be concerned with difficult social issues around marriage for non-gays, even if I think he's not really the St. Jerome of marriage (and certainly not a Mother Theresa). However, for his pains on behalf of marriage and fatherhood, Mr. Blankenhorn was paid $235,000 in salary in 2006 plus $17K+ in benefits and the institute had $16K+ in travel expenses. Maggie Gallagher only made $102,000 from her newly formed organization at "marriage-non-debate" dot com.

Bashing the HRC

The coterie that continue to bash the HRC just for the sake of it continues apace (honestly, if there is some constructive criticism in there somewhere, I'm missing it).

The 'gay movement' is not a political organization, afterall, strictly speaking. A political group can expel members, but you cannot expel someone from being gay. The whole movement has to go forward together. This is what so many "independents" seem to be missing.

Now, the HRC is a political organization, yet some people complain that their culture is too straightjacket. Well, d'oh, that's what they are supposed to do, to try to set political priorities, to have discipline, against the backdrop of everyone who has something that absolutely cannot be left behind.

Hell, we have people out there talking up on 'gay marriage' who are responsible to no one, who hold no regular open meetings, who are basically just folks who have a view and seem to be carrying on "o.k.". No one, that I know, has called them to a 'town meeting' to explain what their priorities are for the upcoming year, demanded their membership numbers, or flipped up their corporate logos for ridicule.

In other words, on THE centrally contested issue with THE most long-term impact of the upcoming year, the 'gay movement' is essentially autonomous and decentralized and 'unaccountable' (and may include some individuals who aren't even motivated properly, who knows).

It's clear that the HRC haven't got it right all the time, but somehow fisking the HRC's press releases or whatever doesn't look like it is going to develop greater foresight for anyone.

Besides, you know, all this bashing that is going on, if it has the (unintended effect?) of permanently tarnishing or smashing up an organization, then I'll bet that there is going to be some serious payback. Heck, I can even imagine a day when Tim Gill, the reported champion of this coterie, becomes political persona non grata, made fun of as much as some are doing to Solomonese, right now. I wonder how that is going to help the gay community. Oh, the humanity.

Will ‘Gay Marriage’ Change ‘Gay Culture’?

I’m going to keep this short and sweet and just offer a perspective. The motivation for asking is that there has always been, it seems to me, a fair amount of generalized LGBT unease with the notion of ‘traditional marriage’, which is understandable, from a number of perspectives, not the least of which is that almost everyone gay or lesbian had to step out of a ‘tradition’ or ‘identity’ in order to claim their own self and invigorate their own spirituality.

To cut to the chase: The answer, I think, is yes and no.

The “good” news is that, if marriage is “okayed”, almost everyone will probably continue just as they are now, except those who really want the ’ol ball-and-chain can get it, legally. Additional evidence that this is true is that non-gay people can get married, yet today’s society provides a great deal of latitude to be single or to not get married (except if you take on the mega responsibilities of having children, perhaps) or engage in all kinds of sexual activity that might be considered ‘too fun’ by strict standards (I’m thinking of swingers groups for non-gays, etc., that exist quietly within the broader marriage ethic that exists for non-gays, today).

The “bad” news is that the point of having marriage is to express and ethic, and the whole point of an ethic is judge what is perceived to be “right” and “wrong”. No way around it, I don’t think. No such thing as an ethic that everyone can do everything – that’s ultimately self-defeating.

The basic ‘marriage ethic’, as it is now, says that there is a proper context for sexual relations. There are at least two basis for this, the first being the realization that there is a certain spirituality with human sexuality. As the Sufi poet Rumi put it, roughly, when two people make love, they create a child in the ‘spirit world’, which is perhaps to say that there is an emotional responsibility that attaches to acts as profoundly human and natural as having sex, even if the strength of that resonates very differently for individuals. Of course, having a ‘quickie’ is completely possible and ignores this ‘realization’.

But that just brings up the second basis, which is that these ethics have a sort-of ‘collected wisdom’ or a ‘passed on wisdom’ or a ‘shared insight’ character to them. The upshot of this ‘collected wisdom’ is to suggest, via the general understanding of the ethic, that people who have come before have tried a lot of these other things, like ‘quickies’, and they come up empty in the long run as any kind of serious modus vivendi. Put another way, they amount to heuristic beliefs, a short-hand way of saying, “been-there, done-that – better off with something else”. To illustrate further, one element might be the role of fidelity, which is a judgment both about the pitfalls of how high passions run, in general, when one uncovers infidelity and perhaps also a judgment about the shortness of time, that a pattern of repeated break-ups is no more fulfilling than trying to ride out the ups and downs. One element might be the role of family obligations in relation to arranged marriages, which is an important example about how the wisdom in such things is not always enduring because the march of History has a way of changing consciousness and circumstances, circumstances under which arranged marriages “made sense”.

‘Gay marriage’ as an ethic is not going to make other viewpoints go away, viewpoints embodied in phenomenon like ‘Club Hedonism’, an erstwhile resort for non-gays obviously appealing to a different expression. What I would strongly suggest is that it is because there is a dominant, responsible, relationship-oriented ethic, that other things are possible. In other words, it is because the French are married, that they can quietly allow themselves mistresses. In America, Hugh Hefner and his viewpoint are possible, because they take place in a broader context. In fact, when I get around to make the promised ‘liberal case for gay marriage’, it won’t look like the Burkean or Hyakian inflected ‘conservative case’, because it will actually posit the utility to gay people as a group from having a stable, non-threatened, relationship-oriented ethic among non-gay people, even if that means gays accepting the same for themselves. When non-gay relationships start to run off the rails, so to speak, for whatever reason, that is when societies historically have gotten into trouble managing themselves. Sexual minorities, as we all know, such as gays and lesbians, are the first to suffer, when there are social problems amok. (In fact, I would go further to say that the 'one-man, one-woman' ethic, as it is in custom and law now, was the probable result of societies trying to right themselves after periods of topsy-turvy. This view is quite instructive, perhaps, to those like AS, who take Church doctrine, for instance, on the face of it, rather than on the selection of it. Sharing that insight is probably taboo and counter-productive, on a certain calculus, but such things are laid on the table by those opponents whose obstinacy has far-reaching consequences.)

Done right, “gay marriage” will expand freedom for those who want the general relationship protections, rights, and responsibilities of marriage bands (of paramount importance for those who take up the responsibilities of raising children) and it will simply ‘reposition’ those with other viewpoints. Traditionalist and conservatives will continue to rail and warn against the “Playboys” of the world and, in response, “fringe groups” will fight back, gain whatever ‘space’, limit their worst "excesses", but probably not disappear. All that is very familiar and, because it is, suggests society won’t careen toward despair and dissolution. All will be right with the world.

Brother Cornell on Brother Barack

Makes me like Obama more -AS

I don't "get" what AS has in mind with this.

I listened to Cornell West. His statement was a rational viewpoint.

Is it because he uses the word "brother"?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday p.m. roundup

Catching up on various Sully posts:

Novak on Bloch "...Bloch, who has seven children, is in Opus Dei, or close to Novak's own Opus Dei guru..." Since I've been working on the 'gay marriage' issue recently, I've come to wonder how it is that some, like gay-marriage pessimist Blankenhorn (I suspect he is Catholic, but not sure), worry so much about 'biological orphans'; but, after seven+ children, one wonders how much time the parents really have for the kids anyway.

Here is one for that wandering Wilcox guy, that probably didn't make it into his book or into his "Principles" (I reproduce it here, just in case "competing goods" is something that's not sauce for the gander to Blankenhorn):

Problem is, these two goals—more kids and better-prepared kids—are at odds. If we really care about kids' welfare and accomplishment, the United States should scrap policies that encourage parents to have lots of children. As my recent research shows, having more than two children is tantamount to handicapping their chances for academic, and thus economic, success.

also, I've been thinking a lot more about the misuse of sociological studies, but here is a study that at least has some M.D.'s involved:

Children living with many siblings or with adults in addition to their parents visit the doctor less often and use fewer prescriptions than children in more typical families, according to a new analysis.

Tagging Clinton (tag clouds from the debate): OMG, Joe Biden is the bottom three in word count. I ... I ... speechless.

Maggie Gallagher Has Balls: I've read the article that I think was the basis for Maggie's book. One thing that I intend to take notice of in a piece that I've written about George's recent NRO article is how many times the defenders of marriage get to change the definition of what marriage is really, really about (George does it at least twice in his piece). In spite of her repetition of Catholic doctrine, Maggie has a more earthy-crunchy view of what marriage is all about. In some ways, this makes her easier to engage, since "perfective", for instance, is not the kind of high-headedness that frequently makes it into her rhetoric.

Sex Is Tough when your husband is in jail.: But prisoners are allowed to marry and to have children. As many as they want. It's not that this, in itself, is a reason for gay marriage. It is just another of the 1,000 "little injustices" ....

In Defense of Masculinity: AS, can you come up with a cross-section by age cohort? I have this suspicion that those most mistrustful of the concept of "positive 'male' energy" (apart from certain feminists) are in the generation and the one just following that most emphasized 'rigid' gender roles, that author Robert Bly's demographic was largely the over 50 crowd.

Why Do Atheists Believe In Religion? : It's not just, "I believe!", it's that a large number are Atheistic Fundamentalists.

Yingling and the Generals : There is SO much to say here. For one, his thoughts have broad implications for how you choose to measure your 'military strength' and the shadow costs to peacetime careerism in the military. I mention it, because so many are talking about how much MORE we need to spend on the military. Second, there is a LOT more to an apt diagnosis than just more troops, even fundamentally, I think. Last, it is HUGELY positive that the military, like the medical profession, welcomes self-study, whatever else their faults. On the other hand, if 'changing course' implies "winners" and "losers" among the military leadership, that's another issue that probably neither Gates nor Bush are prepared to deftly manage.

And p.s., it's fine for us to examine our faults, but let's put blame where it is due (and this is far more than a 'talking point' or spin). It was (and is) rejectionism, of the old-fashioned kind in a region that has known too many sorrows because of it, that allowed al-qa'ida in Iraq to form.

Christopher Hitchens on Iraq: At least someone is talking about the benefits of helping a nation out of the chains of bondage without merely suggesting that they were intentionally or incompetently delivered into the hands of another (i.e. AQI and sectarian 'security overlords').

The 'rhetorical' exit strategy is the positive effort that was tried, even if it was entrusted to a set of people who didn't share that vision and, therefore, failed to pull it off. For instance, I write about the costs of the war, because I believe the rubber-stamp GOP Senators failed their responsibilities on that; but how many emphasize just how much treasure the U.S. has put out for non-citizens? I can't think of anything in the History of the World, frankly, that even rivals it. Even the Catholic Church, as its wartime peak, was not so quasi-altruistic.

"Outputs": a.k.a. wartime benchmarks. The worst part of Petreus' visit to Washington this week was the admission that they are just putting together the set of metrics that will define forward progress, come September. I can understand the urgency to get the plus-up going, but how in the heck did metrics not get defined *before* the mission?

In the larger picture, someone should chronicle the Congress's oversight-inability to get wartime metrics sufficient to decision making - I have a sense that it is a long trail of woe (just last month I was reading that, despite enacted changes to the law, the DoD has yet been able to provide the projections of upcoming war costs).

Buckley's Clarity: "It is simply untrue that we are making decisive progress in Iraq. The indicators rise and fall from day to day, week to week, month to month."

What 'indicators'? All the important ones are classified, yes? What is simply untrue, for the most part, is that we know much at all, systematically, about advance or retreat.

Information poverty notwithstanding, I'm not sure what 'decisive progress' amounts to exactly. If it means that AQI is gone forever, that kind of guarantee we don't even have for ourselves. People are always underestimating how quickly conditions can change on the ground, for good or for ill. Take care.

Face of the Day: "Iraqis try to comfort a weeping man ..." We see these pictures, yet it is hard to get some clerics to treat al-qa'ida as non-muslims (rhetorically, they are just "criminals"). This is the true face of al-jihad - it's not "Western conspiracy against Islam" and all the rest. THIS is the true face of al-jihad. [Just helping Andrew get his talking points right, maybe.]

Good News: "The capture of this Qaeda operative is obviously a small breakthrough": But, it's not small, just one more terrorist captured. It's an enormous psy-war victory, hopefully with some 'momentum': even the best are not "safe".

A Sea-Change? [Greenwald on the Bush Admin]: They were just being 'masculine', right? Cheney-Rumsfeld, knowing the ins-and-outs of the system, were not afraid to show Bush-Rove how it's done in Washington, so to speak. What do we call it when a small group of individuals bring the entire government to heel, not necessarily illegally, but to obviate the regular-way institutional processes and to suit their own political agenda? Well, if this muscling were done illegally, the ancient Greeks might call that 'tyranny'; but, absent that, we'll just call it 'a strong executive' bordering on 'abuse of authority'. Is this why 'masculine' has a 'bad name'?

More generally on Glen's piece, the allegorical part of his story is why extremes of sentiment are such a risk to democratic republics. They can be exploited. I'm convinced that Rumsfeld and Cheney - and probably Bill Kristol and others - saw the opportunity for political movement on the heals of post 9/11 sentiment (it's one reason I wrote impassioned letters to my Senators to make sure there were sunset provisions in the Patriot Act). Aschroft, Tenent, Rice all complied (willingly, in my estimation). Powell was co-opted - poor thing, I don't even think he knew that he was getting flanked with the President's circa January, 2003 phone call, "Are you on board?". (Local Christie-Todd, to her credit, quit.)

But, of course, we are in an extreme sentiment position, once again, right now. Folks think it is "appropriate" that it is so. Myself, I'm almost just as worried as when the sentiment was in favor of Bush-Cheney. This has nothing to do with party affiliation. It has to do with the impact on sound decision making.

Media Watch: the face of al-Jazeera

Fred Halliday knocks the cover off the ball in rounding out the picture of al-jazeera.

Money quote:

The media and the state

These lively if not always responsible programmes continue, but many of the older, secular journalists and board members have been shoved sideways. Indeed, the Arabic service has also changed from its former iteration, in part to reflect a shift of mood in the Arab world towards a more Islamist and less traditionally Arab nationalist approach. A gradual increase in the influence of Islamist producers and journalists from Egypt and north Africa is notable in the past two-three years; there is regular observance of prayer-time, and more bearded journalists.
It may be lively and for the Arab world something new, but al-Jazeera is not by any stretch of the imagination an independent broadcaster, or an index of some new "civil society" in the Arab world.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The State of Gay Marriage: Part II

The “traditionalists” have the following choices, at least:

  1. Less like Saul on the road to Damascus and more like Nicodemus

    Those, for whom “tradition” is three-quarters or more of the cup, can come to see, through the light of right reason, enough of the justice and rightness in the witness of ‘gay marriage’ that they come round to the viewpoint that the situation might be as much an opportunity as crisis, that they would rather not miss the opportunity to express and build an ethic concerning gays and lesbians who want to pledge themselves, an ethic that has pedagogical aspects that resonate more fully with the Spirit of Christ and, increasingly, in the wider Communion, than does the scripturally indefensible status quo.

  2. The either/or: Too Much Like Pharaoh?

    "Traditionalists" can continue to reject blessing homosexual unions outright. It is known that the stiffest reed breaks in the wind, so in some ways this is the most risky.

    There is a risk of heartfelt division as doctrine appears to be ‘ideally aligned’ contrary the simple, honest experience of the faithful.

    There is a risk that such a stance will further radicalize and mobilize those who might otherwise be co-opted or welcomed, even if conditionally. For those who respect tradition, such mobilization is deeply serious (or should be considered as such, I think). Anyone who fails to see this is living in a yesteryear.

    There is a risk that such a stance will weaken temporal government, rather than strengthen it.

    Strong emotions on a topic, whether they are examined or unexamined, do not necessarily imply centrality of that topic to the mission of the Church. Put another way, why is the tradition the critical witness at this time? I will just remark that, the early Church Fathers co-opted many of the Pagan traditions, rather than distance themselves. This wasn’t done in order to become Pagans! There is a rich tradition to draw from, and any true consideration has to look at whether this era might be precisely the time to be clever, thorough, and light footed, not heavy handed.

  3. The Wisdom of Solomon

    They can find a middle-way, any number of hybrids, all of which I haven’t figured out yet.

    One of them might be something like developing two tracks, one working on ‘the problem’ as a hypothetical. For example: IF, and only IF, we were to develop a gay marriage ethic, from our perspective, this is what needs to be included and why. The attitude that might foster this approach, as much as I can imagine it, is that it is better to spread what influence one has widely, than to limit it.

The “radicals” have the following choices, at least:

Those for whom “Spirit” is at least two-thirds of the cup, the choices are in some ways easier, but far harder to execute.

  1. Move forward with the “traditionalists”

    A good in itself, this is nevertheless a hard road, since it involves doing the hard work of witness, outreach, and persuasion. These tasks are made more difficult by weak organizational structures and mostly contingent support for this approach (some do not support it all, most likely).

    From a rhetorical perspective, it can be difficult to finesse, because hard-core ‘rejectionists’ among the “traditionalists” may be active in their opposition, which calls for a response, even though a larger group of “traditionalists” may yet be ‘open’, if cautious. In other words, how do people of good faith carry on a sustained, legitimate elucidation process, when some on both sides have prejudged it, either by words or actions?

  2. Move forward without the “traditionalists”

    While this might prove necessary, it is not wisely done out of spite or tit-for-tat (that’s an obvious temptation to be resisted, I think). Sidestepping should be done in response, if and when it is clear that the “traditionalists” are active or inveterate opponents, not seekers in common.

    What’s more, “traditionalists” have their “natural” place in the balance of politics. They have skills and talents to bring to bear. Too much unity can be a bad thing, if they are left behind, wholesale, leading to formulations that might prove weak in implementation, vetted without as much rigour as they might be because of unchecked enthusiasm or a ‘herd mentality’. A combined effort to propagate a new ethic is undoubtedly best, rather than to bifurcate.

    At a minimum, “radicals” would do well to develop a “conservative” wing of their own, an internal accountability office, so to speak. With so much time and energy historically focused by them on the myriad objections of the “traditionalists”, it stands to reason that there is a risk that too little attention might be simultaneously spent rounding out and creating a wizened view of all that needs to be considered. In other words, taking what precautions one may against the ‘law of unintended consequences’. The temptation is to move forward quickly and unprepared, if you break a huge resistance point.

    Whatever the case, the two sub-options are, (a), to move forward with something quite close to a 'traditionally' understood concept of marriage or, (b), to move forward with something quite new.
  3. Wait for the next generations

    For a number of reasons, this may be not quite the "hope" it seems, to some. I'll save space and time here by deferring this part of the analysis.

There are not too many points of departure that are likely to yield bridging principles. Here is an issue, for both sides to discuss, that may cut through some of the dogmatic difficulties: “What do you think are the risks to civil society from sexual relations?” I used to think that it was mainly quid pro quo sexuality, but now I’m less sure that is really all of it.

I like that question, for a number of reasons, not the least of which it offers a re-orientation to both sides and it puts some popular formulations into a broader analytical framework. I just leave what I have in mind unexplained, for now, for obvious reasons.

[next up (or next-next-up): Would gay marriage change gay culture?]

Friday, April 27, 2007

Rudy's Flip-Flop on Civil Unions

Mayor Giuliani believes marriage is between one man and one woman. Domestic partnerships are the appropriate - (AS quoting Daily Sun)

While the highly deliberative aspects of sorting out 'gay marriage' are ongoing, rightly so, this coordinated effort to prejudge the outcome by repeating "reserved ... one man, one woman" has to met with full rhetorical force.

If one wanted to develop a similarly good (powerful) campaign, I'm not sure the first best options are "freedom to marry" and "marriage equality".

There are people far, far better than I at doing this stuff, but I'd start with something like this, everytime a major leader comes out with a prejudgement, rather than a call for patience and introspection while the issue is being worked through:

"I'm not sure what script Rudy is reading from, but when I meet two people who have fallen in love they typically want to get married."


"We've been collecting stories for more than a few years now. Some people in our community have been together for over 20 years, through thick and thin. Who are we to tell them that they are not already married in the eyes of God?"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hate Crimes

So it is with hate crimes laws. Murder is murder.

Matt and Robbie are wrong. Chris is right. "Murder is murder" is not a legal statement - Murder-1 is different than Murder-2, etc. Hate crimes have a symbolic nature to them. Hate speech is a different matter, but can also verge on more than 'thought crime' ("incitement", etc.). [In some jurisdictions, it IS possible to prosecute someone for 'thought crime', you know. (! *blink* I know you'll be incredulous, but it's true.)]

As for the rest, "hate crimes" is an attachment to an existing Federal statute (and State law, in some places, too). The point is that it isn't the "ERA" for gay people.

Is it kinda 'inequality'? Yes. Come back to me when the equality is around and we'll take it off the books, yeah?

The Rabid Enforcement of Prejudice

I've been working diligently in what time I have on gay marriage, but I have to say that this mess down in Kentucky is so outrageous it's like first blood or something equally inauspicious.

"Reality" is for wimps

I argue in The Conservative Soul, conservatism is based in part on the notion that building politics on reality rather than on dreams is more likely to make the world a lightly better place than the well-meaning alternative. - AS


You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
-George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921), part 1, act 1

fundamental differences between men and women

Pshaw! The next thing AS is going to tell me that, "in reality", there is no heaven for puppydogs and kitty-cats.

I don't much like pushing around 'liberalism' in order to create or re-redefine a better 'conservatism', which is why this post exists. If AS's post is more about getting past the Reagan Devolution to a more cognizable 'realism', then I'm all all for it.

Demanding External Proofs of Faith

Re: Enforcing the Veil


"What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'"
-Matthew 15:11

Carbon Tax: To be or not to be

I worry about conservatives peddling new taxes. Since when do they not believe in the infinite wisdom of free markets? It just doesn't add up.

What's more, I wonder how "true" their newfound love of the environment is. Because I doubt that, I worry in equal measure that the motivation behind these carbon taxes is to avoid the one-time, wealth and/or income tax that is necessary to pay for the Bush Administration's (a) mis-calibration of no-tax-and-spend and (b) a tax-free, emergency-supplemental "long war".

The best you will get out of me, therefore, is a revenue-neutral carbon tax, for those who believe that it would do a nation good. The Europeans tax the hell out of their gasoline - is their 'National Security" improving?

Companion reader link to AS.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Charlie Rose Gets the Story

Charlie Rose did a good and subtle job "getting the story" with the President, I thought. (Someone should seriously ask Charlie to give a call to Joe Clark and either get him or a referral to fix/finish that horrific C-Rose website.)

The shift to the emphasis on the facts-on-the-ground in the context of a strategy is welcome. Bush actually does well conversationally in that framework. I couldn't help but think how differently this effort might have gone if he had followed this pattern from the beginning, dumping the Rumsfeld-Cheney view of classifying everything that was "really" going on and then asking the public for support with statments that amounted to, "trust me, it's going pretty well" (and, 'I'm not going to give you "all my sixes"'). In other words, if Bush had dumped the bankrupt Rumsfeld-Cheney penchant for the (blame free?) corporate "management by objective" and shifted, instead, to management of process, to application and openness.

Even so, I don't trust any of them any longer. If I could get off their ship, I would. Their leadership is forfeit, no matter how much they keep trying to use the Presidential Voice.


For instance, I didn't find much "moral value" in the President's selection of immigration reform as his priority. Why? Well, as I remarked here:

The GOP is very vulnerable on immigration [Pew attitude survey], with nearly 2/3 of the country opposed to "conservative" views. On the other hand, the GOP Presidential hopefuls may get political cover from the current Congress and Bush in the form of legislation, and may be able to avoid having to have campaign positions on the issue.

Why doesn't POTUS offer leadership on getting rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT)? He doesn't have to face the electorate again. They've earned a chance all over again to serve openly, Mr. President (and you too, Laura Bush).


And now the bafflement at having to have an opinion 200 times a week. - AS

How a propos that Andrew should mention that. I almost put up a whole post on that, during the Imus flap. All these people, running around, trying to say what is or isn't comedic and why. Whether some part of hip-hop is art or not. Most of it hit my ear like a cacophony. True, expressing opinions is an adult way of learning (at least up until it goes too far, becoming hopelessly self-righteous, as in 'that's my opinion, and I don't care if you have a better argument'). But, you can lose your stillness of mind if you try to have an opinion on everything, especially if "opinionating" makes you think yourself rakishly exciting, snazzy educated, off-hand erudite, worth-knowing or urbane (now you know why I find the non-funny parts of "Blogging-Heads" oppressive ... ooops, saying things like that is gonna cost me. It's also like the WWF for the hyper-educated, and I like the WWF in its way, so ... there's the 'balance' for you.) That's all I have to say about that. (*chuckle*) One excepts, of course, the case of a comforting blanket opinion for everything, as is the case for my dear friend, whose sobriquet is jokingly ... "opinion-for-everything".

Burn-out is real, more so than rust-out in the information businesses, I think.

Being an information hound for a living can be addictive and all consuming, perhaps in ways different than how other passions can become addictive (it's edgy). I'm not sure I have an addictive personality, but some of my worst/best stories are about extraordinary lengths gone to getting a problem wrestled to the ground (it ruined a lot of happy-hour napkins, once, with calculations ... *gasp*). I was lucky early in my "career" (*choke*) to have some exceptional managers, and one of them offered up the elucidating view that he was more worried if people didn't take their appointed vacations than if they did, which is so often the popular culture (time away must mean you don't love your job or the firm enough, right?). Burn-out is real, more so than rust-out in the information businesses, I think. Overtime, I've developed a rule-of-thumb about a "break" every six weeks and think of it like a soldier taking care of his feet, even in battle.

Watching agents-of-action fumble-stumble can only make anyone with a moral sense to want to reach out and move one of the chess pieces, to ameliorate.

Journalism itself has its own well-known moral stresses. Ultimately, you are an observer, but that doesn't mean that you cannot become a superiorly informed observer. Watching agents-of-action fumble-stumble can only make anyone with a moral sense to want to reach out and move one of the chess pieces, to ameliorate. Bloggers may feel this even more acutely, because their slant is often to lead with ideas. It's a hard thing, in the throws of it, to draw a line. If you have a mental retreat handy, a sense of the Divine Comedy, it facilitates observing a political tragedy unfold, knowing that He's got the whole world in His hands.

Meanwhile, Andrew is lucky to have good friends to watch over his blog. I kinda like that Douthat-comma-Ross, so far, and I hope good things come to him. Still, he is not AS. AS has that "X" factor. Well, it's not really an "X" factor. I know what some of it is, but I really don't want to write an opinion on that!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Prepping a Presidential Interview in 2007

Notes to self and Charlie Rose producers:

What we don't want to hear about:

  • "The Stakes" - the fact that there are 'stakes' means that there is a quagmire. We know this.
  • "Good things are happening in Iraq, too" - we know this, already, too.
  • "The troops want to finish the mission" - we know that many do, but I'd prefer a realistic assessment of goal attainment to a generalized hope of "non-failure", which is how "finish the mission" is redefined, against the backdrop of quagmire.
  • "We said there were going to be good days and bad days." [eyes roll]

What we do want to hear about:

Fact-filled, realistic, strategic assessment, as follows:

  1. Are the troops getting more "tips" about bad guys than before the surge
  2. Are 'intimidation' tactics significantly curtailed, despite these giant and spectacular bombings
  3. Are execution-style deaths down, overall
  4. Is kidnapping down
  5. Are Iraqi civilian deaths down
  6. Are Iraqi troops showing signs of increased professionalism
  7. Has administration of Justice improved - are their groups watching the watchers (in particular, the Iraq Study Group items 50-61).
  8. What are the improvements in the past six months to the jail system, which has been a revolving door in a few important instances.
  9. Muqtada has been outside of direct politics for weeks. Is there political progress to report?
  10. What is the date set for elections? When will a date be set, if it hasn't been?
  11. Zakaria has noticed that the State Organizations, which could re-employ tens of thousands could be re-opened at a fraction of the cost that we are spending on a monthly basis to maintain troops in Iraq
  12. What is the deadline for the oil law?
  13. Is it o.k. to leave all the war costs to the Next President to figure out how to finance? What is the projected cost-benefit, from here on out?

Here is the administrations own report card, with the grades not filled in:

1. Judiciary 2. Police 3. Detention Facilities 4. Integration of justice 5. Access to Justice 6. Legal Framework.

Next stop:


[to be continued]

Monday, April 23, 2007

15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will

The Onion has it.

Harvard Business School Style Management at the White House, Again

First, we had Rumsfeld telling us that he would stay on "as long as he was effective". We are slowly starting to understand how much that stay cost the nation.

Now, we have Gonzales, gleefully repeating the same thing. What will that cost us? Some one of the remaining "loyal bushies" is going to step over the line on election fraud, next year or in the run-up to 2008, no doubt. We'll all be paying tax-dollars for more 'investigations'.

Bush's interpretation of the Harvard Rules of governing apparently include sending deputies out self-servingly to say, "We could have done better", and then walking right back on the job with "full confidence".

I continue to be worried that Gonzales testimony is carefully parsed in some places, like (paraphrase), "I don't believe that anyone in the department would have made a recommendation for improper reasons."

Could that mean that people outside "the department", such as the White House itself, made an "improper" decision? How about Senator Dominici?

Given that there is no confidence in the AG at this point and that the WH has refused to clear up the matter under oath, then I cannot see why the Senate ought not to (a) keep investigating or (b) vote no confidence and threaten funding.

Yeltsin: One Drink, Five Years in Office Too Many

I never liked Yeltsin as a politician. May his soul rest in peace, though.

Unlike Douthat comma Ross, I watched with baited breath as Yeltsin stared down the KGB (this was as close to a real-world game of RISK that you get, maybe, with consequences). But he didn't ride in that tank for mother Russia. He did it, in my estimation, so that he could become Czar Boris.

Even if you disagree with me, his administration was an abject failure, on almost any measure of good governance and stewardship. After his moment of Republican glory, he ought to have left, but he stayed on too many years.

I looked to see if Charlie Rose was going to have Stephen Cohen on tonight, because he's the only one who will tell you that the West missed key opportunities during the period after Gorbachev.

Charlie isn't interviewing him, because the President is going to be on the C-Rose show Tuesday night. I assume it is "for the hour" and that FOX's Roger Ailes via Bill O'Reilly continue to be the only ones to have ever serialized an interview with a sitting President (if I'm wrong about that, let me know, but I think it is true).

Towards a Gay Theology: One 'Progressive Christian' View

For those who have left-off the AS-Sam Harris debate*, there is plenty of potential in gay marriage and sexual ethics development.

For instance, Otis Geddis III, in a strong effort dated March 3, 2007, hits a nail on the head:

At present, gay people do not have well developed allegorical or metaphorical understandings of their relationships that indicate how they uniquely bear witness to God’s image or God’s plan for humanity’s salvation. This is in spite of the fact that many Christians have concluded that gay marriage stands alongside straight marriage and celibacy as an authentically Christian expression of sexuality and thus a revelation of God’s self in the world. This lack of symbolic representation of gay relationships in the sacred symbolism of the Church reveals both the present poverty of that symbolism and the dearth of pastoral tools available to assist gay people in their spiritual self-understanding as a necessary and beloved part of God’s utopian Kingdom Vision. The Christian community’s ability to appreciate committed same-sex relationships on the level of spiritual allegory directly relates to its ability to form a coherent witness of the kind of future God is offering to the world.

and, this, which ought to be of interest to all activists:

Although it is important how gay people are treated in the legal context, it is their moral status that will determine how they are treated in the social context.

I found his discussion of the abolitionist movement insightful, and perhaps it is original (at least I don't recall anyone else who has brought up this context, but I'll keep looking). I also found his exegesis of Ephesians 5, which is the difficult passage about the submission of wives to husbands, to be handled well, although I'm not sure how much that is in fast contention altogether, these days.

I'm not as sanguine as he is about predictions of near-term civil change. [More later.]

There is something about "gender equality" that seems to be the wrong term or one that comes with unwanted overtones. Off hand, I haven't come up with a decent alternative, however.

Hardcore doctrinists will no doubt like to see more about worldly (and spiritual?) duties and less about theological possibilities and witness. Yet, there is no reason that an analysis like Geddis' cannot be a decent springboard. For instance, after having shown the ways in which gender and complimentarity are not operative, he might go further by showing ways in which they are.

*Here is one reader who follows the AS-Harris debate: "Religion is about more than mystery. Religion demands social responsibility."

Sex Please, We're NOT British

Mark Simpson declares the end of "British".

Whatever the outcome of next month’s elections to the Scottish parliament - and at the moment the SNP are ahead - unionism as a political force and national identity is finished. Anxious New Labour strategists aside, there’s no appetite for it either side of Hadrian’s Wall. (Meanwhile, across the Irish Sea even ‘British Forever!’ Loyalists like Ian Paisley are now in government with Sinn Fein Irish nationalists.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The State of Debate Over Gay Marriage

The advent of Douthat comma Ross (that's my nick for him. I hope he likes it, 'cause it's gonna stick) on Andrew's blog has provided me with a much needed lull to catch up on the state of the debate over gay marriage.


I had just been wondering aloud about the merits of grassrooting (via the blogosphere) the LGBT grassroots organizations; and, maybe it’s time to grassroots the “gay-marriage” debate, too, after my preliminary read of the easily available materials.

I’m going to try to post on this topic more insightfully. I’ve debated whether to create another blog for this, but so far, decided not to. E-mail me if you have a strong preference.

George Chauncey has put together a very approachable and readable short-history, that, unlike other “Why Marriage?” books, traces the historical development of the proposition of gay marriage. As he himself notes, it is outside the scope of his book, however, to trace the history of ideas, which is what serious sidebar citizens would desire (I’m betting). Based on its date of publication, 2005, I presume that Chauncey’s book was written for non-gays, some who didn’t even understand how marriage had made it onto the ‘gay agenda’. Yet, it is a compelling backgrounder, even if it is a little uncritical.


Information lock-up and obscurity: if you are a motivated, but casual observer, wanting to 'catch-up' on the topic, you probably have to pay money to unlock the information in someone's book, on both sides of the debate, right now. Local libraries across the country probably aren’t stocked up or current. If you didn’t know they existed, you’d have no easy way of finding John Corvino’s essays on the morality of homosexuality. If you wanted to find out if someone had written essays about gay marriage within various faith-traditions, from whatever perspective, you are on your own and this information is “obscure”. If you wanted to read over research on gay families or gay theology issues, you are also on your own, both to source and obtain it.

Shout it out: if any quietly deliberative forums exist, in which to exchange views with the other side, I don't know them at this time. My estimation is that the time hasn't passed for this. However, as more and more people put their public face to hardened views, the path for the true seekers narrows. The number of people who do not even want to bother with exchange may be non-trivial, on both sides of the “debate”.

Thought leadership: Those opposed to marrying gays have prolific, fully funded think-tank writers. They have established platforms, live and virtual, for holding seminars and discussions among themselves. Where they are backed by Catholic doctrine, they have a consistent message (their “popular” arguments, the status quo), even if the analytical defense of it is low quality, typically. When they engage on putatively non-religious terms, they have a general, but not immutable, set of concerns with some legitimacy. For these, the analytical defense is sometimes more robust, but (just as often?) the general presentation is too frequently propagandistic.

Those in favor of marrying gay couples do not have the backing of big think-tanks or the luxury that implies. There appear to be no active forums, live or virtual, for holding seminars and discussions among themselves. The thought leaders do not have the consistency of a settled doctrine from which to marshal their arguments, which run a gamut, sometimes complimentary and, in a few ways, contrary. They do not enjoy a full throated community support or participation, for any number of reasons. The legalistic groups have a well researched framework of “rights and responsibilities” but have limited their refutation and rebuttals of their main opponents to some general comments on how to interpret the Bible. The rest of the argument has to pull a lot of weight, therefore. The primacy is on how courts might deliberate on the issues.

The dynamic: It is hard for me to tell whether there has been much cumulative learning, an abandonment of the crude and ignorant parts of the debate as a broader consciousness arrives. It is also hard for me to tell whether the debate is less highly partisan than in prior periods or more so. [There is much more to be said on this, but I’m going to leave it as is for now.]


One illustration of how far apart the two sides are is to compare the level of scholarship that both sides are demanding. Those opposed, no matter how one might judge their motives, are intent to “figure out” how marriage rites for gays fit in with *everything* else (when they haven’t already prejudged, that is). Accordingly, they want to look at history and philosophy and the law and sociology, psychology, literature and economics. Although they sometimes take pains to cut-out theology, it’s transparent that they have not. In other words, to some of them, these are Great Moral Truths that are being dealt with, and they are struggling to ground that sense of things, either anew or with new propaganda.

One prominent, pro-gay advocacy website, on the other hand, shows a resources page that links some articles that appeared in the popular press and some quick-and-dirty Q&A. To them, these are the Great Benefits of Civil Society that they are cut out of.

I haven’t seen any concerted effort to introduce bridging principles into this gap (although Jon Rauch’s book comes the closest, that I’ve read). There is little consensus on what marriage is for and why.


For me, I’ve found all kinds of little places where things could be improved, by dropping an friendly comment or two. I might indulge in some brief posts to do this.

There are some big pieces of writing that need rebutting in a consistent way. I may tackle parts of these.

AS has a talent for calling things ‘conservative’ that aren’t really, e.g. a “Conservative Soul”. All the same, it makes me want to write a ‘liberal case’, even though there is really just one case for marriage, neither liberal or conservative.

Last, it’s even more plain to me than before that developing a gay theology or gay theologies might greatly extend the debate, which is timid and flatfooted about the elephant in the room. I know that some work has been done on this, that I have not reviewed. Still, the general places one might think to look to find something like this are notably silent.

To create such theologies might require someone suitably motivated outside the various traditions who can write to the level of scholarship that is done inside the various traditions. For obvious reasons, this may be a very limited set.

I’m doubtful that part of the debate lends itself to ‘netroots’, but clearly, there are related topics, like improving the understanding of the role of marriage in civil society, historically and conceptually, because this is not being handled deftly by either side of the debate, so far as I can tell from my preliminary investigations. (I emphasize that these are preliminary characterizations. As always, there is more reading to do and not enough time).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My National Security Gag Letter

Since the AG has bits in his written statement about National Security Letters, it's o.k. to report another abuse of authority.

"My National Security Gag Letter" - a story about how this works


Where the issue stands, from the ACLU. (Their backgrounder)

Congress wouldn't have changed things if enough folks didn't think there might be some merit to looking at records.

It's not clear to me whether people with these gag orders cannot talk out in general against gag orders, or if they simply cannot talk about whether they received an order or the contents of what was sought.


I knew about the Librarians who had opposed this, but I didn't realize how politicized their case was (new video: Discussion on the USA Patriot Act and Libraries). Apparently, shortly after the Patriot Act was renewed, the Justice Department dropped the gag order by withdrawing its support of it. That kind of timing clearly smacks of politicization of Justice, to me.

Anyway, as the librarians tell it, the assymetry of having the opposition under gag didn't stop supporters from editorializing that the Act was 'without significant opposition'.

Along the way, the government mistakenly failed to redact the names in their suit against the government, putting them in the gruesome circumstance of being known opponents but unable to talk aloud about it on their own behalf.

Pinocchio Faces His Own "Firing Squad"

hummm.... For Alberto Gonzales, the gulps so far run like this:

I delegated the process and wasn't involved, but I know nothing improper occurred. [edit: to be sure, there will be an investigation ... !]


I don't recall much about who proposed or how the amendment to avoid Senate confirmation was advanced ... but Sampson testified he knew the deadlines and Specter accused him of bad-faith in apparently tailoring the firing timelines to the new clause.


A top ten attorney (Carol Lam) wasn't good enough for the Pleasure of the President...


"Once we said performance, we should have defined that." (*gulp*) Yet, the American people can have confidence in the US DOJ under Bush, when Sampson testified he didn't even keep notes ...?

*double gulp*

An attack on the integrity of how we brought cases is an attack on the career people who work on the cases [not the Bush appointees].

*misdirection gulp*

Performance evaluation includes how well appointees "manage and run the office", but we're here in front of the US Senate ourselves, admitting that we haven't even got the rudiments of a performance evaluation process right.


[to be cont.]

[By the way, is anyone else alarmed that the Administration of Justice seems to be so intertwined "policy priorities" of the President?]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Update: iNfoRmaTION age of AnXiety

Item to add to the iNfoRmaTION age of AnXiety list:

Coincidentally, a member of my family received an invitation to participate in a federal medical study. The government could only know that she was eligible for the study if they had access to her medical records or records of her over-the-counter drugstore purchases. And indeed, the government's mailing said, "Names and addresses were obtained from a consumer information database." - link, Peter Levine

And in the same vein, citizen journalism at the forefront, again, despite its dangers (cf. story of citizen blogger jailed in Dublin for failing to turn over his video):

Indeed, CNN’s citizen journalism I-Report feature was swarmed with cell phone pictures and video from on-campus students. Not only that, these ‘reports’ got plenty of time on air.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Gonzales - I Approved, But Didn't Decide

While I have never sought to deceive Congress or the American people, I also know that I created confusion with some of my recent statements about my role in this matter. To be clear: I directed my then-deputy chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, to initiate this process; fully knew that it was occurring; and approved the final recommendations. Sampson periodically updated me on the review. As I recall, his updates were brief, relatively few in number and focused primarily on the review process.

During those conversations, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign. -Alberto Gonzales, on the eve of his testimony

Assuming that it is likely that some of the prosecutors were fired because they didn't investigate Democrats with vigor while others were retained because they did (it's BOTH that are alleged, so it is not just the fired to be considered), the only way for the AG's testimony be close to the truth is that the WH reached down into the DOJ, via links to Sampson or others (Goodling?), and the AG simply went along, either reluctantly or completely unknowingly (highly unlikely).

People don't know how to resign rather than do the wrong thing, any longer. That's a real problem when all branches and political fortunes are so wrapped up in one political party's machine. Still, I just wrote below about how one general knows the difference between loyalty and fealty, as General Eaton put it, once.

And who can blame Sampson and others their moral confusion, when Senator Lindsey Graham sets about bashing the private who brought to light the wrong-doing at Abu Ghraib, creating a culture of go-along? Look at how Wolfowitz is digging in, further trashing the pretenses of meritocracy at the World Bank, that his own appointment called into question. After Rumsfeld's repeatedly refused resignation letters, with the effect of suggesting a blame-free-zone for those "high enough" to be in it (pun intended), it's looking endemic.

The Oil Well of Pleasuring Bush-Cheney Goes Dry

We have never gotten it right in Iraq. For these reasons, I asked not to be considered for this important White House position. These huge shortcomings are not going to be resolved by the assignment of an additional individual to the White House staff. They need to be addressed before an implementation manager is brought on board.

-John J. Sheehan, former Marine General, on why he declined to have the war of the nation delegated to him.

It's always been my theory that Bush delegated the war to Rumsfeld. I didn't need to see him fishing and golfing in Michael Moore's film to read the tea leaves on that.

I wonder if this new need for a point-man is because Bush is already dissatisfied with Gates, who may not be willing to be ... Rumsfeld?

Imus, ad nasuem


People are supposed to get 15 minutes of fame, not 15 days.

What is comedy and what is not? Is the issue fairness and free speech? Is it a referendum on hip-hop, too? Where is Eric Sevareid to set them all straight when you need him?


I'll side with Dick Morris (gasp) and say what I hope it means. It means that the country has reached a tipping point in which the "shock jock" genre is passé. These programs were always a gross self-indulgence, and the people who love them know it (or should know it). Same for the Dinesh D'Souza's and the Ann Coulter's deliberate sensationalism - enough already.


The LGBT community is missing its own Rev. Al Sharpton on the political spectrum. Can MCC ordain a suitable firebrand?

... New Jersey is Flooding Again

Local schools are closed for a snow flood day.

Friends of ours had their basement flooded in their new home starting yesterday, with maybe 300 CDs water damaged.

Acting Govenor Cody has a State of Emergency declared. We're probably going to top the last time around, with 7-8 inches.

Trivia, for those interested:

We love our uncorrupted Govenor, John Corzine. We are back to the likable Gov. Cody, because of the tragic accident that Corzine was in on the way here to mediate the mess with the Rutgers students.

Anyway, the opposition to Corzine ran a series of very funny ads (to my taste), in which a female voice-over with a heavy local accent said, "Nuthin's gonna change with John Cooorsign!".

With things back to the way there were before he was elected for 3-6 months, p-dog (that's like b-rabbit) remarked, "Now we don't even have John Corzine." Ba-da-boom. It's the only humor we could get out of a sad situation, o.k.?

Meanwhile, if McGreevey had to resign pronto, why is Wolfowitz still in office?

I Like Ike: II

Jon Rauch makes the case for a revival. I'm with him.-AS


In this piece, Jon Rauch explains (by extension) why Daniel Perle would never have been anything but a foil in an Eisenhower administration.

Accordingly, I can only hope that Ike's revival among Conservatives kills the penchant for "pure strategies" favored by so many intoxicated by Reagan to think the U.S. was "back" to #1 and, "invincible" enough to credibly deliver the Woolsey two-word message, "You're Next!".

Rauch infers that, in today's circumstances, "[Ike] would have toned down wartime rhetoric". Yet, is this what Reagan would have done? Afterall, it is Reagan's cue-cards that the GOP wannabees have been reading ever since. "Talk Tough" is what we need (from Newt, 'We must continue tell "the truth" about our enemies'.) How much has "talking" spilled over into "doing", in unwanted ways?


If an Eisenhower revival helps forstall a GOP-style "values campaign" against Islam or Islamists, then I'm all for it too. To be sure, there is a values struggle, but trying to pull everyone into the Conservative base's realm of name-blame-shame is highly counterproductive!


I always read Jon's stuff (he's a lot smarter than I am). There are just a few items to round out.

I disagree strongly Rauch's take on Giuliani.

While the analogy of Cold War containment to Iran is instructive, history itself is a little more complex. The strategy of containment emerged during the Truman Administration, not with Eisenhower. Also, Ike is problematic in the context of Iran, because it was his Administration, in conjunction with the Brits, that kicked out Mossedeq. Was that "realism"?

I like "realism", but I think it is best taken as a temper to idealism. In other words, one ought to have an idea of where they are headed, before you do the "rational calculus", so to speak.

Otherwise, you end up like the French, hugging and kissing just about whomever.

Also, such an orientation keeps you from failing on important actions, like genocide interventions.

Part One of I Like Ike

Order! Order! The Anxiety Driven National Security of the GOP

When you have destroyed the instruments of government, and sent a third of the troops necessary to keep order, the chaos is simply unstoppable - and will be unstoppable under these circumstances, indefinitely. -AS

Indefinitely? Gosh, even the 30 Years War ended.

If "under these circumstances" is the latch-hook defense of that criticism, then I'd simply say, agreed. So much only implies that the status-quo has to be continually challenged, so that circumstances are changing. This is another reason why I don't like Kaplan's throwing his hands up that nothing can be done until the next Presidency. The next "strategic review" point will probably come in the late fall, if not sooner. THIS President is still on the hook (not just because of some theory of mine, but because the people's soldiers are in harms way).


I wonder how much of the sentiment behind the assessment of this quote is distinctively non-liberal? "Order" is a fragile thing, to many a Conservative mind, threatened existentially by 'radicals'. Without levers of 'control', they have deep anxiety from their impotence, almost unlimited fear and anger at any object preventing its re-establishment.

Liberals tend to have a different view of the individual and faith in humanity. They might believe that order can come out of chaos, rather than it having to be imposed (although, it is not a simple dynamic to get from "a" to "b" on that, admittedly).


The only things we know for certain are that people will not live with chaos and without a government. At some point, they will either make rational sacrifices or they will be forced to sell their freedom for security, that is, make irrational sacrifices. These are the real tipping points in today's Iraqi political-conflict, in my estimation.

From a game-theoretic perspective, the way to force cooperation is to make it plain that neither "side" will be allowed to win. This is easy to say, but hard to do.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I thought I had read the best about GLAAD with Sean Bugg's wit, but apparently, it's spring cleaning early this year, as the organizational rug beating keeps going.

I have nothing much to add. I always had a favorable picture of GLAAD as a group, because they fit with one of my interests, media literacy (some of their old watch dogging I found invaluable).

However, there is no denying that they are "big business" now:

Exec Dir$201,042$17,902
Dir Ops$96,988$4,950
Spec Evnt Dir$84,190$10,809
IT Director$76,075$10,800
src: IRS 990, FY2004

On the one hand, I think it is great that LGBT orgs can afford these levels - it represents growth and maturity. On the other hand, ...

A Citizen's Wartime Duty

An important item over on my sister blog covering the latest evolution in the crisis in National Security wrought by the GOP under Bush-Cheney. RAND invents "Cognitive Counterinsurgency". We just call it the 'war of ideas', but once it has a spiffy name, the military can 'tee it up' for the GOP's President. Well worth a read.

Separately, (and of less importance), Romney gives details of his big-government, "no-tax-and-spend" plan on National Security, in four points.

I ask:

If GDP growth compounds and spending on threats is a constant proportion (4%), is the assessment here that threats in relation to the U.S.'s capacity to handle them are growing exponentially, too?

When I hear such things, I'm for zero-based budgeting.

Are we there yet? Surging everything


The "plus-up" has inspired people to call for a surge in everything, a surge in diplomacy, a surge in intelligence, ... Everyone said it was too much to try to run three "wars" (Afghan, Iraq, Palestine) simultaneously and build-out homeland security too. The stress is showing. The WH (via NSC Director Hadley) wants to delegate the wars. What's that saying about war being too important to be left to the Generals (French, Clemenceau)? [Rummy is just free, ha ha].


The "surge" is about two-thirds completed (50 of 75 Baghdad outposts in place) and the Battle for Baghdad Battle for what is left of Baghdad is on. Iraq Security Forces (ISF) are showing increasing professionalism (Gen. Caldwell reports that they can rotate some of the nine Iraqi battalions that moved to Baghdad, which is a level of flexibility and capacity not seen before). The al-Sadr march was 15K strong, according to the army, not 1 million, as hoped for.

No one has announced dates for local or provincial elections.


Kaplan throws his hands up - wrongly - suggesting that the timeframe for any strategic move is the next Presidency, not this one.

Anxious to show nay-sayers wrong by pointing to any piece of progress, Krauthammer suggests facts-on-the-ground are better than before.

"Does Krauthammer really expect people to buy this crap?" - Matt Yglesias.

"To which the answer, I'm afraid, is: yes." -AS replies

The truth is that Anbar has changed (important link), but NOT because of the plus-up. Even if AQI is diminished, the insurgency is not over and no local or provincial elections have yet been scheduled. It will be nearing 100+ degrees in Baghdad within six weeks or so. [There are some positive reports out of Sadr city, too.]

'Is the surge working?' seems to mean different things to different people. The plus-up was supposed to support a new security plan for Baghdad, not "solve" all of the Nation's security problems. More troops have significant chance to reduce the violence. Lower violence and/or increased cooperation from the general populace would mean that the surge is working. But lower violence in the interim wouldn't mean is that we are necessarily closer to finishing up in Iraq, altogether.

Hate Crimes

Dale doesn't mention that hate crimes sentencing is typically expected to be heavier, reflecting the especially heinous nature of the crime. His points are unaffected by that, except that the revised sentencing provides more than symbolism. It's also about a fuller sense of justice.

Also, maybe LCR can do something for long-suffering donors to pressure POTUS to show leadership on DADT. He doesn't have to face the electorate, again.

Athlete of the Week

This week's mentions go to new heroes on the racetrack, James Stewart (left) and Lewis Hamliton (right). For a guy with a big smile and an easy-going disposition, Stewart finds plenty of aggressiveness racing SuperCross. He nudged out legendary Ricky "R.C." Carmichael a couple of weeks ago, in a sweet duel. Lewis Hamliton races Formula One for McClaren as a test driver and took second in Malaysia this week. He promises to sell out Silverstone if he keeps it up (he's a Brit).

I haven't had any chance to check in on the NHL playoffs. Kentucky Derby is three weeks away. The Round Robins get started in the America's Cup this week.

HRC Wisconsin

For the reader who was asking, here is some info that I found, poking around on the HRC website:

HRC Wisconsin

Friday, April 13, 2007

Camille Paglia Can't Curb Her Dog-ma

Sadly, CP didn't read this blog on the Climatic Plus Up or the penalties to delay. Her reasonable suspicions about certainty cloud her diagnosis, sadly:

Geology and meteorology are fields that have always interested me and that I might well have entered, had I not been more attracted to art and culture. (My geology professor in college, in fact, asked me to consider geology as a career.) To conflate vast time frames with volatile daily change is a sublime exercise, bordering on the metaphysical.

However, I am a skeptic about what is currently called global warming. I have been highly suspicious for years about the political agenda that has slowly accrued around this issue. As a lapsed Catholic, I detest dogma in any area. Too many of my fellow Democrats seem peculiarly credulous at the moment, as if, having ground down organized religion into nonjudgmental, feel-good therapy, they are hungry for visions of apocalypse. From my perspective, virtually all of the major claims about global warming and its causes still remain to be proved.

Climate change, keyed to solar cycles, is built into Earth's system. Cooling and warming will go on forever. Slowly rising sea levels will at some point doubtless flood lower Manhattan and seaside houses everywhere from Cape Cod to Florida -- as happened to Native American encampments on those very shores. Human habitation is always fragile and provisional. People will migrate for the hills, as they have always done.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Rust-out of the Factor-y

Following the standard name-and-shame routine, Michelle Malkin, stand-in "news analyst" for Bill O'Reilly, strongly suggested that her guest apologize. Her guest, one Mr. Shabazz, a lawyer and leader of the New Black Panthers, was having none of it.


In reply, he said (paraphrase), "No, I'm not going to apologize. Do you apologize for being a political prostitute, coming on to the O'Reilly show?"

Malkin replied, "Are you going to call me a prostitute on National Television?". Mr. Shabazz obliged her by repeating his question, as I recall (maybe there will be a youTube, soon).


I was in stiches with laughter. It reminded me of the old Saturday Night Live routines with Dan Akroyd inimitably starting his counterpoint with, "Jane, you ignorant slut. The object is Taiwan." Of course, FOX "news" is tragi-comic, not just comic, because it is real ...

p.s. I wonder if prepping for her new "celebrity" on Fox was what MM was up to when she left her blog for a while a few weeks ago now.

Thursday p.m. Roundup

Posting slow here. I've been looking after the progression of the gay marriage debate. It's almost become a "technical" field of study, with books, arguments, and arcane empirical details galore.

Second, I've been working on getting a new assignment for myself. God knows, that is not going to be an easy trick. I'm thinking of 'doing something completely different'.


For PTowners: P-town is so ... complicated.

In Pariah: Bush-Cheney -- hey, the whole party went along with them, and it wasn't just the evangelicals who voted alongside, so ... We have 600+ days left. It could be that abuse and perceived abuse of power-influencing yet outdistance the "GWOT". And that's just the known unkowns.

How self-important is Brain Williams: Who knows, but I read a meet-the-bloggers transcript with Gen. Caldwell, and, no, they don't ask better or harder questions than those with real press credentials. With few exceptions - and there are some significant ones, the blogosphere is largely a derivative format. Meanwhile, the Daily Dish adopts a no-comments, tabloid/old-style format. There are good reasons for that (beyond the stock answers, I mean), but let's not pretend that an old-style in electronic format is something new.

Thompson's Lymphoma: Say what you will, he's out, in my estimation.

Dean on Easter: "...religious cluelessness of many Democrats". I think that cluelessness has been rising for quite a while now, in general. On the AS blog and even over at the rectitudinal Townhall, the hue and cry went up about a Congressional oath not on a Bible. That caused a few chuckles on this blog.

The Gender Wage Gap: "No obvious answer." They might not be obvious, but there are plenty of economists who have answers, some of them even quite good.

Climate Change: The more interesting speech is Arnold Schwarzenegger's. Apparently, it is 'high time' that we think positively about climate change. If you believe the GOP, you can have it all: clean environment and no change in lifestyle, all through the miracles of technology and free markets. Yeah, and ... it's just "six months" away or so.

Rudy and the Right: The Right is still regressing on abortion, arguably, rather than realize that the issue is a non-issue. Litmus tests on judges are no longer broadly favored in the Senate; Roe, as it was written, is not the current state of the law and so declarations that it was 'decided wrongly' are feel-good rhetoric; and the balance-of-liberties formulation of O'Connor is robust enough that "sending it back to the States" is truly retrograde.

Extending Tours: Another in a long and growing list of why the GOP cannot be trusted with National Security issues. Bush-Cheney and the GOP Senators go on about how the Democrats might foil morale by debating wartime strategy, moving a basic no-confidence vote in the CIC (which is also an opportunity to vote for confidence, you know). But, nothing takes the sails out of a grunt's morale quite like being told one thing and then having it changed just like that. It's like a page out of Two Years Before the Mast - you sign up for six months out, and you come back two years later or something.

Hos on the Radio: I wouldn't trust MM to get a point. Although I was very grateful for her net Nanny-note, "(language warning)". *gulp*

Snoop, IMO, is right that rappers aren't writing about collegiate basketball. And even the "hard-core" rapper stuff has a 'cultural' self-mockery about it (at least I think I could make a case that that is one predominant attitude about it, about why and how it is accessible without being ... oppressive, normative, or prescriptive). As for writing from the soul, that's seems somewhat less obvious, since the soul has a range that hip-hop (that I know) doesn't seem to. I'm not an expert, I have only moderate confidence in these views. But if MM's idea is that all these guys should be the next Johnny Mathis or something, or the bleached artistry of the 50's and 60's, she's gotta think again.

In "Nowhere in Iraq Is Safe" AS may be missing the point that high profile blasts like this one may indicate a weakness in AQI (army jargon for al-qaeda Iraq). Shifting tactics toward large bombings like the huge blast in January and now this one is an attempt, arguably, to continue to be visible, as they are kicked-back from freely operating on the streets. Of course, it is, nevertheless, an unequivocal re-affirmation that their single-spot capabilities remain undiminished.

"Al Qaeda's Spring Offensive?" This is quite worrisome because it's only been six months that most a few US legislators know the difference between Shia and Sunni. The continued absence of an intellectual consensus on how to assess and meet the threat posed by (a) small-cell al-qa'ida operations and (b) radical, political violence in general continues to be the biggest unmet challenge since ... well, long before 9/11.

"The Voter Fraud Tactic" Makes the right conclusions about Bush's likely involvement, but it may be that people in general are missing the importance of stories from Rove's past, such as this one. A prior history of 'meddling' raises the likelihood that 'improper reasons' obtained and builds a foundation for a broad-reaching inquiry.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Malthus and the Oceans

Maybe we can "submit" the problem to Mankiw and he can come up with a bar stool analogy that will "solve" the problem? [eyes roll]

Glibness aside, at least we don't have to put up with their posture that we polluted the skies and should fix them, when they *may* have depleted the oceans. Perhaps there is negotiating leverage on global warming, afterall.

(I say "may" because I'm not convinced by this one chart - why include acquaculture? why look at production, not consumption?)

AS Passes Out Kisses - to the HRC

Well, that wasn't that hard, right? Let's all hope that becomes a considered view, not just a "time", as in tip-of-the-hat time.

Meanwhile, tell me that AS didn't pick this week to bash black culture...

Keith Boykin fights back:
Why Are Whites So Homophobic?

Monday, April 9, 2007

Dyngus Day

Happy Easter Monday, or Dyngus Day:

AS "Discovers" Counterterrorism, April 9, 2007

After a long post, "How the Insurgency Works" that concludes with, "And how exactly are we supposed to win?" (bootstrapping link here), this week AS appears to discover counterrorism, with a post, "How to Break a Terrorist", which concludes with, ...er, ?buy my magazine.

"Do yourself a favor", to borrow a phrase, if you don't want to support AS's vacant HRC bashing ad infinitum (either HRC), maybe just get the facts of the al-Zarqawi story from those who have already written pretty well on the topic - um, you know, and like, last YEAR on it.

Separately, I see that AS, in "Nanny Bloggers", is unaware of "flooding", "trolling", "spamming", "griefing" and other internet phenomenon that destroyed many of the once-loved internet groups. And his monday-morning bile on the matter is getting him into trouble, although he appears to curb himself without actually saying, "je regrets".

More Sullivan B.S. on the HRC

the gay mogul who has done more to change politics in a few years than HRC has in two decades. From what I hear, major donors are reacting accordingly. - AS

This is wrong in so many ways, it's hard to know where to start. The important points, in a nutshell:

  1. I don't see an either/or competition between these two groups, but AS does, maybe because he's out further to malign the HRC;
  2. the Time article doesn't support the contention that more has been done in a few years than in decades;
  3. the Gill Foundation has something like $150+ million more than the HRC and does a lot of other good things besides gay-rights, including support of the arts and various other projects that Gill is interested in.


I'll let these quotes speak for themselves (AS's thinly masked, divisive, serially uninformed, and disgustingly angry attitude is not just a bore, but a positive detriment to all). As a peon in the matter, I continue to believe that two strong organizations can only be a good thing, with few exceptions. One thing that is unexplained to the 'helpees' is why Gill hired directly, rather than work through the Log Cabin Republicans:

HRC President Joe Solmonese met with [Gill hire Patrick] Guerriero recently and said Gill Action [PAC] has brought an unprecedented level of funding to gay rights causes. He also said Gill Action is looking at ways to play a bigger, more helpful role. Solmonese added that he is not worried about HRC, the Task Force and Gill Action duplicating efforts, especially since they all talk to each other.

“At the HRC there are so many things to focus on,” Solmonese said. “We help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on a daily basis. There are so many challenges to our resources. To have another partner is incredibly helpful to our historic gains from the last election.”

And others:

For gay rights organizations, however, Gill is a savior.

Marty Rouse, national field director of the Human Rights Campaign, calls Gill "an American hero."

"He's a visionary because he doesn't just donate money. . . . He is using his money to build political power in a way that brings everybody together. He wants everybody to work together toward that end. So he's lifting up all of us."

Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, a national group advocating gay marriage, said Gill is approaching his political goals with urgency.

"Some people invest in things knowing that they will unfold over generations. Here you have somebody who has the opportunity to make a difference in his lifetime."


What's the reason that state referendums have taken center stage in the past few years? Marriage. So politics has changed, but that does not mean the need for national legislative action has gone away. Fighting state actions is hardly an activity exclusive or "better".

Rita Healy (out of Denver) writes for TIME, "In 2004, Gill's money helped send Democrat Ken Salazar to the U.S. Senate." Well, what I found out is that HRC gave $10,000 to Democrat Ken Salazar in 2004. If Gill gave more, it may be because he, like others, used indirect ways to support the campaign. Nor has it gone unnoticed (see below), implying that there might be diminishing returns to such strategies. On the other hand, if one wants 527 expertise, then the third largest 527 committee in the nation is ... EMILY's List, former employer of HRC's Exec Director! Who'd have thought, huh?

Billionaire heiress Pat Stryker, Internet entrepreneur and state Board of Education Chairman Jared Polis, software rich guys Tim Gill and Rutt Bridges used the loopholes [not exactly "loopholes", IMO] of Colorado's loopy Amendment 27 to pump millions into races via independent political committees. These four constitute Colorado's Axis of Ego.

While most [Boulder Daily] Camera readers will be pleased with the liberal takeover of Colorado's Legislature, should they like the way it happened? The empty promise of campaign finance reform was to limit the influence of a handful of motivated rich interests. Instead, it empowered them.

Let's be clear, this axis did nothing illegal or wrong. In fact, it played the game superbly.


Unlike the HRC, the Gill Foundation does not have a 2006 Annual Report yet on its website. Unlike the transparency of the HRC, the Gill Action Fund, as a PAC, has fewer disclosure requirements (that I know, at least), and they have not provided the salary of their poached Exec Director. (In 2004, the Exec Director of GMHC was paid $198,000 according to IRS filings. The former GMHC director is now with the Gill foundation).


Guerriero has not said exactly what is next, except watch and see. He hasn't explained in any "town meeting", blog, or other medium, that I know, exactly how they intend to run a 50-state, grass-roots-lead, counter-referendum program, which is obviously highly labor intensive and time-consuming, assuming you have to fund an organization in every target state, with the risks of uneven leadership and competence skills across the board. He doesn't "speak for everyone" and isn't responsible or accountable to any board (that I know). I have no idea how many "members" the Gill Action Committee has (which is odd, since that was the top priority question of AS).


At the end of their last reported year (2005), the Gill Foundation had $154 million more than the HRC did at the end of their last reported (2006). Why Andrew thinks they need more is not obvious, but then nothing much has been for the matter, excepting his "feelings" about Hillary. In fact, read their site. They appear to have worked hard on what they hoped would be an influential study that indicates they prefer that all philanthropic organizations donate more to LGBT causes, rather than the 0.1% that they have been. In other words, their focus is not really AS's continued b.s.


Also unexplained is why the Foundation needs (a costly?) new office in Washington for Guerriero et. al., when they already own buildings in Denver and the cost of living is less there (the reporting in the Blade doesn't say where the offices will be located ... I guess their former chief didn't teach "who", "what", "where", etc. O.k., that's a really cheap shot, but you guys get away with too much, too...). Assuming that running a lot of grass-roots efforts requires a lot of travel (not that LCR didn't have a significant travel line-item), wouldn't it make sense to centrally locate? In terms of giving people information, the new office didn't merit a press release.


Looking at all these facts, figures, and questions, it's plain that all AS is after is a partisan statement, when he says, "From what I hear, major donors are reacting accordingly."

Who knows what to say to such an assertion, except that, "From what I hear, people are sick of Washington-style partisanship and are starting to cancel their subscriptions to the cliquey Atlantic and to all the organizations." Of course, I haven't "heard" any such thing, but you know it's fair game and someone is going to suggest it sooner or later, given the continuation of the Daily b.s.