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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Understanding Theory

Theory is theory is a theory.

-Yours Truly

What Darwin Got Wrong

According to Darwin, traits of creatures are selected for their contribution to fitness [likelihood to survive]. But how do you distinguish a trait that is selected for from one that comes along with it? There are a lot of interesting structures in creatures that have nothing to do with fitness.

Some variants in selection are clearly environmental. If you can’t store water you’ll do worse in a dry environment than if you can. But suppose that having a high ability to carry a lot of water is correlated for genetic reasons with skin color. How do you decide which trait is selected for by environmental factors and which one is just attached to it? There isn’t anything in the Darwinist picture that allows you to answer that question.


What the genetics has come to show is that traits are not independent, but complexly interconnected, and a lot of the effect that the environment has on an organism’s evolution depends on what organism it is.

Update: one should take care, as I haven't done above, to separate the phenomenon of common ancestry from the theory of the mechanisms by which evolutionary biological changes take place. It should go without saying, but still...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gingrich is no Think Tank

When it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, ...it's a duck.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Commandant Queeg?

“My personal opinion is that unless we can strip away the emotion, agenda and politics and ask [whether] we somehow enhance the war-fighting of the United States Marine Corps by allowing homosexuals to openly serve, then we haven’t addressed it from the correct perspective,”

-Gen James T. Conway, Commandant U.S. Marine Corps, 2/25/10

He's the one who is clouded by emotion. His problem is easy to solve: As long as there is potentially one gay or lesbian solider, sailor, marine, or airman who is better than some lazy, irascible nongay one, it is a force multiplier.

Second, we've always drafted gay and lesbian citizens and could do so today. No one gay has the right to a discharge. This is part of the core bullshit at the heart of this policy (and that's why it's not a 'civil rights' issue, but a bullshit issue, for me).

“Enforced silence has led to collective amnesia about the patriotic service and courageous sacrifices of gay and lesbian troops,” said Dr. Steve Estes, guest curator of “Out Ranks.” “This exhibit tells the stories of some of our military’s most exceptional servicemembers during the most pivotal times in our country’s history.” (link)

Third, we can ask other questions, too. The purpose of the military is certainly to fight wars, but we need to 'live our values'. Integrity is key to that, clearly within the military and (hopefully) without.

Chait Dishes The Dish

A calm, collected rejoinder, very much worth the read.

One wonders if it isn't Andrew's view of Obama coupled with "simplistic view" of Israel that is the prime mover.

It remains to be seen whether Andrew is teachable on the issue.

I'm not hopeful.

One can listen, for instance, to his bile on hate crimes via C-span, recorded just last week, even, a disjoint and disconnected series of pronouncements, including a call for bigots to "Bring it on!". *sigh*

In his last post in his defense-against-the-dark-arts series, he was still wearing his willingness to publish ahead of real or conclusive science on the aptitude disparities among the races as a badge of courage, instead of a preening desire to be 'edgy'.

Israel, join the club. ...?

{Sorry, but the opposition to hate-crimes legislation, which includes the attendant issues of law enforcement, is really a Waterloo, for me; and I don't see the issues involved as left-right or staunchly conservative-progressive.}

The Real War is Not to Be Seen at the "Health Care Summit"

Following on our 'odd juxtaposition of the day', here's one snapshot, a small piece of the real conflict and the real chessboard players:

A Mouthful

I find this kind of surgical execution, however awful, to be morally superior to the collateral deaths of so many innocent children and civilians, as occurred in the Gaza war under the rules of conduct the IDF allowed. It's also morally more defensible than the US drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

-Andrew Sullivan

Boy, that's a mouthful, isn't it. Somehow, I don't think that is going to recapture the conservative soul.

Extra-judicial murder, assassination, is a dicey business. We open the door to lowering the standard for what we judge "innocent". Indeed, we can end up with an unmoored political definition of "innocent", one that so blurs the line that the oft-seen declaration of "there are no innocents among them" comes to mind.

It also potentially surrenders the moral high ground in a high stakes game of political pressure, the struggle for legitimacy in the eyes of crucial arbiters. For instance, suppose five American soldiers were kidnapped in "retaliation" for this assassination. Is that targeting 'morally superior'? Can one condemn it?

Suppose al-qa'ida were able to kill our President or, say, our Secretary of Defense. Would we consider that 'morally superior' to a mass attack of some kind? I doubt it would feel that way. Because of the symbolism of it, we'd all feel attacked, no?

Suppose 'insurgents' in Iraq start to hang citizen "collaborators". Just because it is organized, does that render it morally superior to killing people 'by accident' or 'at random'?

The drone attacks is a different analysis, maybe...

As for Gaza, why focus on that? It seems unnecessarily narrow for a general point (perhaps this is not a general point?). In any case, a 'connected criticism' would include an answer to what Israel was supposed to do in response to rockets from Gaza, even if they weren't enormously lethal. The best greenfield answer is to remove the Hamas from leadership, right? Or, is it - let's hear the opinions of those who'd make one. Of course, one can judge the execution of the incursion on its own merits, but one risks missing the forest for the trees, in doing so.


I'm not liking this word that has gained currency.

I think we should be writing something like "extralegal paramilitary" or "extralegal Basiji", to emphasize the sketchy legal foundations of their actions.

In fact, I think this angle is what ought to be used by our Secretary of State, when leveling criticisms. How shameful is it that the Islamic Republic of Iran has to rely on the un-uniformed and unidentifiable to maintain/enforce its legitimacy?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Odd Juxtaposition of the Day

Continuing our series, in what I might call context seepage due to the wide range of things that peek my interest, here's one:

"The Health Care Lobby Swarms Washington: 8 Lobbyists For Each Member Of Congress"

- HuffPo

a fundamental principal of war, mass[ing force], which dictates U.S. units employ as much combat power as possible against their enemies

- Andrew Exum


Iraq The Model (uh, Model Longest Term Engagement)

What's happening in Iraq?

I have not seen such a wide discrepancy in expert views since late 2005.
- Tom Ricks, 2/24/2010, NYT Op-Ed

  • Elections on March 7th. Last minute boycotts, drama, and horrible violence, etc.
  • We continue to play an important brokering role, etc., despite "overwatch" status.
  • The original, lawful power sharing rules will expire, shortly, making it easier to consolidate power. Whether that power is accepted or used wisely (e.g. with pending hydrocarbon law, etc.)?:

    In the past these issues have led to violence, and if the March elections cause tensions to resurface they may lead to conflict at a time when U.S. troops are quickly leaving the country. In following this policy the United States is taking a risk, passing responsibility for security to newly elected Iraqi officials before they may be ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead of them. Careful and constant evaluation of changing conditions is necessary to ensure that the United States withdraws from Iraq responsibly, leaving behind a government that can provide security for its people and govern effectively - not a house of cards that will fall apart at the first sign of conflict.

    -Anthony Cordesman

    You know what that means. More troops.

    [Update: Odierno requests more troops - how good am I? LOL. You can't make this stuff up. One can't help but notice that the military only made force requests through the JCS under Rumsfeld, but not under Obama.]

  • No one can say with a high degree of confidence whether the political situation is grim and getter worse, doing "well enough" or getting better.

    The practical impact of the seemingly arbitrary use of the Bremer-regent de-Baatification law in the run-up to the elections is impossible to determine. (Tom Ricks has shown a pair of very good, competing viewpoints, for instance, on his blog).

    What one is after through elections and institutions is accountability and checks-and-balances and, broadly put, the ability to deliver Justice to the people.

    In those terms, it's not clear that, in the short run, cutting out the secularists is horrible (except insofar as they prey on women and minorities, abjectly). In the long-run, cutting out secularists is a recipe for stagnation and abject conservatism, and a staff for fundamentalism. A vibrant secularist movement is vital to long-term success

  • Is the day-to-day life for civilians across the board improving or not? Are there mid-term roadbumps that will upset any current trajectory?

    Very hard to tell. People move their internal benchmarks. Even tangible progress doesn't feel like it, sometimes, as "improvements" are "taken for granted" or "accepted as 'what should have been done a long time ago'".

    Who knows, in general? Electricity output is the same as it was. Bond prices have improved. Inflation is under control.

State Department updates.
The DOD's quarterlies.

DADT - Smashing stereotypes

Readers will remember this long and rich collection of comments, gathered during the first few weeks of the 2010 repeal drive for DADT.

Here's an interesting story from the U.K.:

further to my last, as mincing queens were mentioned - this reminded me of a mincing queen who was well known in Bristol years ago, by the name of "Sapphire"- a black guy. Saw him many times mincing up and down Gloucester Road with an outrageous fur coat and sometimes a crown on his head,

in fact quite a popular character, bus and taxi drivers used to laugh and wave at him and exchanged good-natured banter.

Never forget the day when three aggressive "manly" straight guys who obviously didnt know him, decided to pick on him.

Most people who knew Sapphire were aware of the fact despite him being a queen, he was as hard as nails and not to be messed with, as our straight manly friends found out shortly after- he just smiled..... and then proceeded to demolish all three in about five seconds flat -funniest thing I ever saw.

They should send him to Afghanistan, think he could wipe out half the Taleban single-handedly :-))

By the way, in 2010, it seems wrong to call them "stereotypes". That term is too neutral.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blackness at Blackwater

The good Christian men at Blackwater were ripping off Uncle Sam and making jokes about it in the paperwork, too.

As Rumsfeld said, you go to war with the contractors that you have to pay. (He didn't say that?)

All part of the above-the-law culture cultivated by Bush-Cheney? Who can say.

Latest on DADT, in the trenches...

Just heard this on talk radio: "Mothers in combat boots".

These are the fears pre-possessing some, apparently.

[As an aside, I wonder how that makes the Fatherless America folks feel?]

Just watching, now...

I don't think Andrew is going to get himself out of this one, alone, especially if he starts of with something so smug as this. The only compelling thing he's written lately is that Netanyahu and his government represent a tone that is at times shocking, arrogant and counterproductive in many dimensions.

Should that be surprising to Andrew's readers? It's not to me. If it is to Andrew, he doesn't know much about the rise of rightwing politics in Israel, maybe? Or, the willingness of some Israelis to stand up, even thumb their nose, at the U.S.? Is America so much better? Britain? France? All of them less prone to periods of irrationality in their foreign policies or otherwise, today or in yesteryear?

The same goes for the Gaza assessment. What about the 34 Days (or 33 days?)? What about any of the 'quiet aggressions' or other failings, recognized internally or not? Indeed, an "awakening" over Gaza may - may - say more about the writer than an objectively assessed change in the situation.

I suspect that Obama's low rating in Israel is the result of his (liberal? Jewish?) advisers, who put him on a course of opening relations with a demand to end to all settlement activity. Okay, now, even Rabin did not agree to that. That Rabin didn't alone should be an indication that (a) there is something not complete in this demand, as simple as it seems, or (b) Obama's advisers are just stupid, so much so that 90% of the Israeli public - or whatever large percent - now thinks that the U.S. President just doesn't "get it" in one way or another. To conflate this public opinion with a rightward shift of that magnitude in Israeli politics is absurd - Bibi doesn't enjoy nearly that much support. [Update: I'm reminded that the Roadmap does, in fact, call for an end to all settlement activity. All the more reason to appreciate how far off the road we are in terms of a peace framework, even a non-robust one like the Roadmap.]

"The defense of the Jewish people in the wake of the Holocaust" is tottering in the other direction, so the next salvo might come from angry Arabs... What's more, it's not a principle that is going to push the peace process along, even if it might be laudable on face.

It's not clear what settlement activity Andrew is referencing. Is he talking about the settlements that Israel recognizes as illegal? Or, is he referencing all the settlement activity that the Palestinians claim are illegal?

As for parts of the smear not coming from the unthinking or the fettered, it would do to be patient (and to wear a flak jacket, frankly). Hopefully, Andrew can realize that some folks can feel hurt by attacks on what they think are justified actions, even if Andrew doesn't think they are justified. They have passionate beliefs, too, and it is often easy to smear, rather than to educate. That's one reason why I don't like to read Leon. His rants don't educate anyone, so much. One learns more from Judt, for example, with whom I've found disagreement, even.

Palm Center Sets Standard for Congress


I just e-mailed the new Palm Center report to my congresscritters and asked them to forward it to any of their colleagues known to be on the fence about repealing DADT pronto.

There is probably enough information on the table to repeal the law and leave the military to do just an implementation study, not a "what if" or "considerations" study.

There is much to quote, but this goes right to the core of the counter-arguments that I've heard voiced:

Those who support eliminating “don’t ask, don’t tell” acknowledge that important differences distinguish the U.S. military from other armed forces, but suggest that the relevant question is not whether differences exist, but whether they render foreign military experiences irrelevant for determining whether military effectiveness would decline if gays and lesbians were allowed to serve openly in the U.S.

Indeed, scholars have already explained why such differences do not diminish the relevance of these lessons, but opponents of gays in the military have not responded.[309]

Rather, they robotically repeat the point that the U.S. military cannot be compared to or learn from the experiences of other militaries.

In short, although the U.S. has more international obligations than other countries and its culture is unique, the question is not how similar our missions or culture are to those of other nations but whether the United States is any less capable than other nations of integrating gays into its military.

I concur.

Indeed, the entire 'study period' seems to be designed to convince the military leadership that they are up to the task, not to really "study" the issue. That's a goal, too.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Surreal - Surreal

We now have embeds with 'the enemy'. PBS has footage of a guy, an Afghani journalist, who went along with a group who set IED on the Northern route in Afghanistan. This is way beyond the scary "re-education tours" often given to journalists who don't provide the right view.

I could be wrong, but, during a conflict, I don't think I've seen anything like it, ever. Did we ever get footage from the Viet Cong, for instance? This is not homemade propaganda video of successful attacks. It's coverage of an entire enemy sortie, start to finish, complete with some individual interviews with members of the team and sketches of their backgrounds.

Banana Republic, II

Apparently, Senators just nod or something to give assent, no terms document or actions approved document. Maybe, all you have to do is lift a finger from the table?

Is this a manageable level of violence?

Is this level of violence low enough that the nation's "cohesion" isn't threatened?

What is the mood among Iraqis? Qien sabe?

The recent ban on a long list of politicians, is that a good thing? Have we created a mister or a monster?

News from "Cambodia"

The roll-up of the network in Pakistan appears to have a little momentum. The information flow between the U.S. and Pakistan is dicey. This latest capture is reported to have been done by ISI alone (so much for the new era of trust, but one doesn't look a gift horse in the mouth):

The capture of Mullah Kabir appeared to be a strictly Pakistani operation, and Pakistani officials appeared to be keeping Mullah Kabir’s arrest a closely held secret, even from their American allies.

Mullah Kabir is a longtime associate of Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founder. He was the governor of Nangarhar Province, in eastern Afghanistan, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Since then, he has overseen military operations in eastern Afghanistan, including those in Kunar, Nangarhar, Nuristan and Laghman Provinces.

The immediate impact of Mullah Kabir’s arrest remains to be seen. The Quetta Shura is thought to have roughly 20 people. A number have been killed or captured over the years, but the shura, and the Taliban, have gone on.

All the kings horses and all the king's men are looking for 20 people, in the haystack that is Quetta.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Banana Republic versus Banana Republicans

David Luben outlines how taxpayers paid to have a big study that confirms the dividing line between a few banana Republicans and ... how there is no line to cross, leaving the bare fact that we are technically, professional, legally a Banana Republic, right?

We look down our noses, say, at Chavez. Technically, he just has a different legal opinion.

A horse can work at the OLC


It's true: It's easier to get a charge as a disorderly person than for a dishonest analysis at the OLC.

I have a different question for those closer to the legal battle over what was done: of course, it could happen again, right? (n.b. Fallows, who thinks it is in the past).

As I see it, all President Palin would have to do is to replace the OLC with "friendlies", even well meaning "extremists" with Federalist Society credentials, intimate comfortable judgeships for cooperating attorneys, and have the "aging" opinions "updated", especially if there was an explosion near Capital Hill or wherever that "changed everything".

So far as I can tell, Obama has instituted* new policy and new practice; but those could change in a new administration.

Congress, so far as I'm aware, hasn't clarified anything binding. Indeed, the same snow-them-under techniques are still available to a wily Executive, with the possible exception that someone's ears might perk up at the term "waterboarding". The Detainee Act came with a very clear signing statement, asserting an Executive right to both interpret the act and to exercise Executive authority in defense of the nation.

The new attorney general, perhaps bowing to his boss, hasn't even tried to prosecute those who might be responsible (winning the verdict is not the point - "seek justice").

And, now, the lawyers who would write such an opinion can be assured that it might be "deplorable" to some, but it wouldn't bring them professional sanction. Seriously, if you can get away with torture, then what's left not to try, including trying it again?

*technically, the Bush administration itself stopped some of the practices

The Reservoir of Trust

Tom Ricks is right. Read Yon about Adam Ray.
It's hard to believe that Yon has been eyes-and-ears for six years now.

So, after six years of blundering ahead in Afghanistan under Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice, one has to ask the impenetrable question:

Is the reservoir of trust remaining among the public sufficient for this newest campaign, our next Great Leap Forward, at the fantastic price in blood and treasure that we are paying for it?

Tom Ricks just recently outlined some fancy metrics for success, as given by the Brian Trust.

However, with three mini buses of civilians bombed, one wonders how the chaos can end, once started. This is not Iraq. The Afghani people are not as educated and their 'common history' as a nation is far behind them (lost since the early 1980s, probably).

We don't have access to the metrics the military is tracking but, broad brush, back-of-the-envelop:

  • -The Danes are leaving, after two extensions of their commitment(s).
  • -The Afghan army is "behind"
  • -The all-important attitudes among populace are ... its impossible to generalize (McChrystal is hopeful, but tangible evidence of progress is hard to come by).
  • -The government got barely half its proposed cabinet members approved
  • -We now have a wider footprint than ever to defend (with logistics and logistical costs that are staggering)
  • -Iraq is pasted together (Petreaus has invented "Iraq-cracy" to describe their governance) to the point that it is still not clear if we can be 100% confident that drawdown is "correct".
  • -There are 14 months left on the 'original timetable' for the Afghan double-down.

  • -We've made progress in Pakistan, at the cost of sharing prized technology and many killed, on both sides
  • -Despite progress against Taliban, no one seems to have a clear idea whether their resources or willingness is finite
  • -One-eyed Omar is still at large

Palm Center Releases 1400 Word Paragraph

According to the NYT, the Palm Center will release a "primer" on integration of gays and lesbians in foreign militaries.

I visited the Palm website, missing the fact that the report will come out tomorrow. Amidst a snappy website (way beyond and above its predecessor incarnation, for those who remember it), I was confronted by a nearly 1400 word paragraph in a "press release", outlining key recommendations to the Pentagon's panel review.

Readers will know that The Spit Shine is not one to nitpick. But, it's time for the A-game on this.

Update: Fixed. Palm Center really are tops. (On reflection, I should have sent an e-mail, rather than write this note.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

DADT - General Petreaus

I braved an interview by David Gregory to listen to General David Petreaus.

The message:

The military has a process. Trust the process, which will divorce individual opinion from institutional approach (for lack of a better term), and don't get the military too politicized on the emotions surrounding the topic.

This is sensible in terms of policy implementation. There is nothing sensible about the political process, however. Disagreements within the military will be amplified. Is it too much to hope for, in terms of a univocal recommendation from the brass? Probably.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Talk Radio - The 'We Can't Get Along' Meme

Gays won't let you be a good Christian.

Just caught a snippet on talk radio. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will defend the indefensible. Some chapel on base on North Carolina won't hang a cross.

These are the things keeping all Christians from their good works on earth.

This message is going out over and over, so it seems. It's the basis of the next iteration of homo put-down action, as likely as any other.

Clouded in desperation not to be a victim

I doubt that all political violence is "terrorism".

It does seem, however, if you admit a category of crime/criminal called "terrorism"/terrorist, because it is crime that is "politically motivated", then you really do have to admit a category of crime called, loosely, "hate crime".

There is no conceptual way around it. One cannot simply not draw a distinction where one can be made. So much is a logical distinction, neither conservative nor a-conservative.

Someone should tell Andrew Sullivan who is intensely thick on the topic, even to this day.

The fact that there are certain categories and characteristics that inform the penalty phase of the law seems to be commonsense, not specious reasoning. In fact, the obvious choice of these characteristics is precisely the kind of appeal to practical reason that really cuts across both progressive and conservative political conceits.

The Rightwing Will Turn Your Children into War Criminals

NOT an overstatement.

From the sidebar at the website Townhall.com, comes this "Hitler Youth" t-shirt:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Intitutionalized Homophobia, DADT - A Disgrace to the Uniform?

No one understands the policy as anything but a crutch, a way to avoid having to deal with the facts of life, the fact that there are gay and lesbian people who didn't choose their sexuality any more than nongay people did.

There is no humane way to enforce an inhumane policy, just some that are less abusive, that's all.
The military "graduates" thousands of officers and soldiers each year, who go back into civilian life. It's a disgrace that they bring their attitudes that it's okay to have formal policies that tell gays to shut up, be silent, hide a loving phone call to their partner, or face getting fired. Why should taxpayers support an institution like that, under some gross pretense of mission incompatibility? There is no humane way to enforce an inhumane policy, just some that are slightly less abusive, that's all.

Someone should tell Peter Pace or James Conway, before he gets out in front of the camera and makes an argument that he might regret.

It's been going on a long time:

Even ten years ago, "don't ask, don't tell" was already considered a joke by a new generation of enlisted personnel. By 2000, according to former Navy JAG Rear Admiral John Hutson, "Things had changed so considerably, that I think 18- and 19- and 20-year-olds were just laughing at us because we didn't understand what they were thinking." Hutson, who was an advisor to the 1993 Military Working Group that helped create "don't ask, don't tell," shared these reflections with me for research I conducted for a book about the policy. By century's end, he said, "young people had so dramatically opened up to the idea of working alongside openly gay people that us crusty old farts protecting them was just a joke."

The Joy of Being Cost Irrelevant

Another bit of evidence in support of the argument for bundling issues, instead of attacking them piecemeal:

The vast majority of opposition to health care and allowing gays to serve openly in the military is coming from people who already say there's no chance they'll vote Democratic this fall. That's an indication of minimal fallout for Congressional Democrats by acting on these issues.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Congratulations, Scott!

Congratulations to Scott Mason, who will be an honorary understudy for The Dame.

Update, video

An augmentation to blog swarming

Perhaps, I'm just bitter from the NJ marriage fight, but over and over again, the message seems to me that the fight has to go to the public, not to their representatives.

If one can show they can move public opinion or raise the perceived importance of an issue, politicians will respond. Hoping for "leadership" is nice and sometimes it happens, but ..

Anyway, how much does a national billboard campaign cost?

Look what these people have done. Expanded in a concerted way (focused on states with Senators who may be 'leaning' or swing states), it could have great merit. What's more, once you have the 'adopt a billboard' mechanics in place, you can use it over and over again, for messaging re-enforcement.

I did some guesstimated - very guesstimated - calculations. It might take 375,000 people willing to give $200 dollars, assuming some matching funds could be found.

What's that?


Let me just opine again, talking to the wind, this time, that when you go about making statements concerning the IP conflict, one should really, really, really take the time to be careful with both language, with construction, and with argumentation, leaving as little as possible to the wolves.

Accordingly, despite that being a very high standard, both of these are headed in the wrong direction, IMHO:

Andrew Sullivan:

I do believe that the Gaza war was worse than a mistake. It was, in many respects, along with the blockade, a pre-meditated crime.

Do you intend to argue that or have proof of it? If not, how can one let a bare assertion like that, as if it were somehow self-evident, stand? In the future, do "take the time to respond fully", no?

Jeffrey Goldberg:

It will be very dangerous for Israel to engineer this pull-back, but it will be, over time, fatal for it to stay in the West Bank.

Whatever can that mean? Conflict without end is bad for everyone, not just Israel, yes? Why is it uniquely fatal to Israel? Is it NOT fatal for the Palestinians? Is Israel at a permanent strategic disadvantage? Does "fatal" mean an end to the state of Israel? A loss of international support? Whatever can this mean...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ignore at your own risk

One ignores Princess Sparkle Pony at their own risk. Whenever you're down in the dumps, you can find a knee-slapping laugh there.

Concepts illustrated.


Tea-bag party Bingo, including subject-verb disagreement and non-existent word:

Today in Stimulus Politics

See, the problem with the ad-hoc attacks on this-or-that GOP representative who contradicted themselves on the efficacy of the stimulus, is that the Dems didn't really, really "bring it" last January, as the notion of a new era of good feeling reigned.

Someone should have put up an amendment to the bill, mandating a new apportionment of the stimulus dollars, based on how Senators voted. Assuming 40 Senate Republicans voted against, we could have cut the cost of the stimulus by 40% (or put 40% more money into states with congresscritters who were interested).

The GOP is good at these stick-it-to-them litmus test votes, when they have the reins. The Dems just don't think in those terms...

The sad truth is that we shipped a LOT of money to places in the country that were not largely hurt by the real-estate bust and so forth.

Obama's war?

Check out how today's Washington Post chooses to label news from the front lines as an update of "Obama's War".

Just stop and think about the mindset that would create such a label, for a minute.


DADT - Real Time

The Spit Shine has pulled together comments on various news and opinion stories that have run on DADT over the past three weeks. These are behind the cut, for easy read. Some are quite good.

I'm torn on the blog swarm. There are clear indications that many in the military itself would prefer this to be a non-political issue, rather than a 'Big Gay Victory' for the Left. On the other hand, the months running up to November are starting to feel like a mini lame duck, given the hit to the majority that many expect in the Senate, so time is short.


The fact that current sub crews are complacent toward gay shipmates is no different from our pride in our 1960s COB (1960s) [Chief of the Boat] - a top performer. We never knew he was gay until he slipped up in shore duty trolling later.

In my four years in the military (1947-51), the only way I knew if a fellow airman was gay was if he suddenly disappeared, never to be seen or heard of again. There were military police whose duty was to seek out gays (word not used in those days) and kick them out with a dishonorable discharge. But only men; I never served with a woman. We are ready for and need change today.

I'm a veteran of two tours in Vietnam. I can't follow your thoughts here. The only thing that I will say is this. I would rather have someone that is gay stand up with me when the chips are down, than have a straight guy turn and run when I need him. With that being said, I don't care what a persons sexual orientation is so long as they do the job.

From basic training through discharge, I showered communally with gay troops all the time. Never once was I propositioned or did anyone try anything. I can't say the same for the raunchy horseplay of my heterosexual comrades.

When I was in the Navy we had so many openly gay dudes serving on our ship, the USS Jason AR-8 (now decommissioned) that we were known as the "Love Boat" of the seventh fleet. Our dental tech was gay and affectionately called "The Tooth Fairy" - another would sit in his rack and do his nails and other cosmetic improvements. Nobody cared. We were one family of men.

Back in 1970 I said I was a homosexual (and claimed many other problems) on my selective service forms. 1-A anyway. Enlisted ahead of the draft and served with more than a few gay soldiers. I didn't bother them, and they didn't bother me. Well... one *did* hook me up with a female friend of his, but that was a favor, not a bother.

Young Army dudes - let me tell you, nobody is better at introducing you to women than a gay friend. And your gay friends will *never* come on to your old lady, either.

(I say this as a long-married man who has had both gay and straight friends both in and out of the Army.)

My unit had two gay soldiers during our deployment. It was an open secret and no one cared one bit. At the end of the day what soldiers value most is professionalism and trust in the men or women next to them. The "unit cohesion" non-sense some are concerned about is a complete BC. If I recall my history lessons much the same arguments were brought forth before Truman integrated the military. Guess what: none of the dire warnings came to pass. None of them will now either (see Israel, Britain, Netherlands, etc). Soldiers are trained to follow lawful orders first and foremost, so the vast majority of them will do just that. The tiny minority who won't does not belong in the military anyway. Do away with don't ask don't tell.

I spent 14 of my 22 years in command, from platoons(5), to companies(3), to battalions(2). I as intelligence and had to make a decision based on the best interests of the unit and in the larger arena, of the Army.

I chose the "don't ask, don't tell" back before it ever existed. If I had thrown everyone out who I suspected or who told me they were homosexual, my units would have been in a crisis. I couldn't have done the mission. There's no way to gather the information and analyze it to produce intelligence, if you are missing large number of soldiers, beyond the usual lack because the training is so rigorous over 50% drop out before finishing the training.

Now start yanking soldiers out in the numbers the Army did between 1977 and 1997, when I retired, and the combat arms commanders would be screaming for information I had no way to provide in the detail they needed it in. So I pursued a not so unilateral policy of letting sleeping dogs lie. That way, my units functioned at a high rate of effectiveness, over and over. Homosexuality wasn't an issue, nor did any of my seniors, to include general officers who were my direct raters or senior raters.

Had this become common knowledge, I suspect I would have been offered the chance to resign or stand a court-martial. The change is coming, ADR Mullen has made it clear and SECDEF Gates agrees. There are sufficient younger officers in place now to nudge the policy into place, despite people like McCain. It's people like him that don't get it and create phantom masses of soldiers worried about being in the shower, etc, etc, etc. The fact is the military can't function without everyone, in a joint effort.

By the way, joint was once a dirty word because the purity of each branch of service would be tainted somehow by coming into contact with members of the other branches. Somehow we got through that, and through integrating women into the military mainstream, despite the squawking nuts from the far right.

This change may go slower at first, at take more time to complete, but as more and more senior officers and sergeants retire, the easier it will become. Interesting tool was used to help the integration of minorities and women into the military and enforce fair treatment, the performance evaluation. I guarantee if you add a block to include gays and lesbians to the equal treatment, "supports the program" , type comment, and officers don't get promoted or get removed from leadership positions, people will line up to toe the line, at least officially, at first.

OldSarge: As my user name implies, yes, I served and I retired. I served in combat units and support units. I served in tactical units and strategic units. I served with soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen of both genders and, yes, some of them were gay. Their sexual orientation did not impact their desire or ability to serve. They were all professionals.

We all volunteered to serve. None of us were drafted. I takes a certain kind of person to accept the military way of life. It is challenging--physically, mentally, and socially challenging. We enter service as individuals and are molded into a team that can overcome any challenge. This is just one more challenge. Our men and women in uniform are definitely up to that challenge.

Don't ask, don't tell is just plain wrong! It's very existence is an acknowledgment that gay men and women are already serving with distinction in the military, but we are supposed to ignore that fact. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary Gates agree with the President that it is time to do away with this fraud. They got it right in their testimony before the Armed Services Committee. It boils down to integrity. It's just the right thing to do. Just like Pres. Truman's desegregation order and the integration of the women's auxiliary forces into the regular forces. It will not impact the military forces other than ending the lie.

Soldiers already know what is important and they live by it. Do your job. Be reliable. Back each other up. Lives depend on it.

My nephew is in his forth year at the Naval Academy says that for most of his colleagues it's simply a non-issue (he's straight by the way). It's only an issue for the over the hill old guys.

Again, it is the straight soldier who is defamed by the homophobes — he’ll be “uncomfortable,” they say, and won’t want to do his job because of the closeness of soldiers in combat. One senator, a leader of the Conservative Coalition, put it this way: “There is no more intimate relationship” in the world than that of combat soldiers sharing a foxhole. “They eat and sleep together; they use the same facilities day after day; they are compelled to stay together in the closest association.” Therefore, the senator said, this kind of “social engineering” just gets in the way of the armed forces doing their mission and defending the United States of America.

The senator was Richard Russell of Georgia. The year was 1948. And Russell was simply explaining, in a completely nonbigoted way, how allowing blacks to serve with whites would undermine unit cohesion and military effectiveness. Because the white soldier would, you know, be uncomfortable and stuff.
— Russell A. Burgos, Ph.D., of Thousand Oaks served in the Army and Army Reserve from 1983 to 2005, including a year in Iraq

I spent 28 years in the USNR, now retired. During that time I knew of and suspected others of being 'gay.' During the Viet Nam era even though it was a no no, unless one was so overt the military looked the other way. Why, don't know for sure, but I would say they needed the men. The draft was in full force at that time. What did I see as a young 20 something........?? The same dynamics as in the civilian world. We were young and liked to party. Lots of that went on. Chasing girls. That happened when they were available. Those who were gay were accepted in the circle I knew. That was active duty. When in the reserves our private lives were private. When going on ACDUTRA [active duty for training] the change in atmosphere from Minnesota to wherever enabled us to party some more. Some hung around with each other, others went out on their own. Just like during the active duty days. When in the Philippines I was told of 18 corspmans kicked out for being gay. Apparently the INS was after drug dealers. The located one on an aircraft carrier at sea of all places. He made a deal with them that he would squeal on some 'queers' he knew if he got off. The INS [Investigative Naval Service] bought it, let this drug dealer off so they could kick out these 18 medical folks. Now that is tragic and sad. America stands for freedom and equality. It is written in our constitution. Some folks seem to forget this over their prejudices. Some argue that the military is not a social trial area. Well, if the military which represents the best of America can't treat its own citizens with fairness and equality, what does that say to our culture? The fear of 'gays' running around luring at their shipmates crotches or holding hands while in the corridors is plain fear mongering by the bigots. Their own fears to boot. It just ain't like that. Compared with the stories I have heard from the st8 crowd, nothing could be worse. I was well respected by those under me. My business is mine, and those who knew, were friends. I discovered my own sexual orientation possibilities while in service and matured. Many 'gays' pass for st8 not because of an act, but because that is the way we are. I knew of some feminine men in service and they were st8. And by the way, I retired as a Commander.

We need more Eric Alva's in the military and less of the hateful rhetoric of idiot Sentors like Texas' John Cornyn or DO NOTHING Kay Bailey Hutchinson.
I am a gay man who had the Air Force Academy appointment in high school and turned it down. I would love to have served my Country, but I refuse to be forced to lie about who I am and who I may love. My God made me this way and I am thankful EVERY single day that he did.

Seldom do we hear of the young artillery sergeant from Clarksburg who was fired despite having just won the coveted Soldier of the Year Award at Fort Sill, Okla. Nor the story of the young Iraq combat veteran from just across the Ohio River who held his Purple Heart against his chest and pleaded to be allowed to go back into battle and continue to serve.

If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don’t care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there.

I know one gay person who did join the Army in order to make a statement. He went Infantry soon after DADT passed in order to challenge it. He purposely was open about his sexual orientation and expected to be kicked out. He was surprised to make it to his Honorable. Turned out that his background as a Texan who hunts had more impact on his time as an Infantryman than his sexual orientation.


Back in the '80s there was an gay airline mechanic. (well, probably more than one) Everyone knew he was gay. He was never harassed, shunned or anything that might be considered insulting or degrading. Mechanics worked alongside him with - if not camaraderie - at least civility and the same friendliness accorded others.

On night the gay mechanic was working, lying on the floor in a particularly crowded area of the plane cabin and another mechanic said, "I'm going to have to get through here, I'll try not to crowd you." The gay guy said, "That's OK, I rather enjoy it."
The work environment was never the same. For the guy or the crew. He had made an unnecessary remark that crossed the line. And guess who felt wronged? The gay, of course!

They'll face the standard ostracism of being a unusual and poorly understood minority. Just like the wiccan supply clerk, or the LT from Tanzania. No one knows or cares why the Tanzanian says "Pants!" Every time something goes wrong, and his insistence of marking "African American" on forms just leaves numerous help desks befuddled and confused. The Wiccan still can't get a tattoo of a pentagram below his elbows, and has to tuck his pentacle under his shirt, just like the Christian next to him tucks in his crucifix necklace.

30 years in the military tells me otherwise. The UCMJ is fine for clear cut violations without a political component, but that's about it.

Case in point is the female that I was deployed with who we nicknamed "The Black Widow" because she liked to lead guys on, and then when they made a move she turned them in for harassment. Those guys were disciplined. She went on to have a series of "relationships" with numerous soldiers in the AOR. She even got caught having sex in the tent she shared with 9 others. Was she disciplined? No. Eventually she got pregnant and was sent home with her reputation intact. She probably told her hubby it was divine intervention and the dumb ass probably believed her. Why wasn't she disciplined? Because the leadership has determined that women in the military and in combat zones is a great success and Commanders aren't going to rock the boat. This is why you hear the leadership talking in the media about what a great success it's been, but when you go look at the statistics on females who get pregnant while deployed there is a disconnect.

Same story with the gay guy on my sub who liked to hang out in the showers. This was long before DODT. Everyone knew he was gay. Everyone knew he was hanging out in the showers. Was anything done about it? No.

The fact is Commanders don't want to have to deal with these kinds of messy issues. So they don't.

Personally, I believe gays and women should serve. Women should be allowed to serve on submarines and in combat roles. But lets not sugar coat the problems it causes.

Pointing at the UCMJ and saying it will enforce professionalism indicates a lack of familiarity with the facts.

I am former military officer who was responsible for assigning billeting and showering arrangements. I have one question for the people who are advocating that we allow gays to serve openly -- how do I billet them? This is not a rhetorical question, and I'm not asking it to be difficult; I really would like to know how we would solve this problem.

I had to assign people to 12-person tents when on deployments. I could not put men and women together, even if they were married. Do I put all the gay men together and all the lesbians together and wait for the sexual harassment allegations? Do I parcel them out? When at home, in two-person dormitory rooms, I couldn't put heterosexual couples together, but should I put two homosexuals together? What if one of them is enamored with the other but his affections are not reciprocated? Haven't I created a sexual harassment situation? What should I do when the two gay men that I've assigned to a dorm room together become lovers and then break up? Do I reshuffle room assignments to accommodate them? We do not billet heterosexual couples together for these reasons, but how do we work out the logistics behind billeting homosexuals, and to complicate the issue even more, bisexuals?

I am fully aware that I have on many occasions put homosexuals into dorms and showers with heterosexuals, and that really isn't a problem in my experience, even when everyone has known that an individual is gay; as some of the comments have reflected, homosexuals generally aren't interested in heterosexuals, and contrary to popular belief, military people are not all knuckle dragging, homophobic troglodytes. The problem isn't gays hitting on straights -- it is accommodation of sexual behavior, of all kinds, in an environment that often lacks any semblance of privacy without creating situations that foster sexual harassment. We are currently able to overcome this by not billeting men and women together, and by asking homosexuals and bisexuals to not advertise or act upon their sexual preferences. How do we overcome it when we allow homosexuals to serve openly?

Again, I'm not asking this question to be contrary -- I'd really like to know the answer. In my experience it's not solvable. And please, don't come back with "Canada, Israel, etc. have solved it" because they haven't. I served in NATO for a couple of years, and the militaries that allowed homosexuals to serve openly were struggling mightily with these problems. From what I saw their answer was to essentially create units that were homosexual "ghettos" and to treat homosexuals so poorly that they would get out at their first possible opportunity

Actually, that's not why there are no women on subs. You really should learn about what it is you speak...BEFORE you speak. The reason there are no women on subs is because there is no way for current submarines to accommodate mixed gender crews without extensive, and highly expensive, modifications. Our society is not ready to have the genders sharing bathrooms simultaneously. So, either the bathrooms (yes, yes, I know they're called "heads" on a ship - though, technically, a submarine is not a ship it's a boat) need to be assigned in shifts - highly impractical - or the sub has to be made larger to accommodate additional bathrooms - that would probably cost 50% of the price of a new submarine, assuming the cost of modifying the USS JIMMY CARTER for spec-ops by inserting a new compartment is any indication. My understanding is that the new VIRGINIA class fast-attacks were designed from the bottom up to make accommodating mixed gender crews possible, but the Navy's not about to integrate genders before getting the word from Congress.

Your arguments, silly as they are, could easily be used for surface ships - it's not like a frigate or destroyer has all that much extra room than a submarine. Yet, somehow, the surface ship Navy has integrated genders without mass orgies breaking out in the berthing spaces.

Most gay guys want to be in the fight, in one way or another. They want to bond. It's quite possible that it will continue to be the case that most units won't know who their gay members are until the gay guys know that they are trusted within the unit. They are still guys afterall (many probably just as ribald).

Maybe we're all wrong to think about this as patterned after female integration.

And as a general approach, rather than send everyone to "political PC school", it might be wiser and more cost effective to send gay soldiers to "harassment training", so they learn how to diffuse situations and deal with the remaining bigots effectively. That way, they can communicate to their COs in a few "program" words what is going on and the COs know right away the basic outlines of the problem and what's likely next in the "program".


Underground gay communities have emerged at bases across the United States and even in war zones. In Iraq, one e-mail group maintained by gay troops includes a database where soldiers post their instant-messaging screen names and the base where they're stationed. Dozens have profiles on gay dating sites, some posing in uniform.-WaPo primary reporting

I suppose there will now have to be pink floats in the Memorial Day parade.

As a result [of the different in service branch composition], [the Army] is likelier to focus on solving the practical problems of integrating openly serving homosexuals; the Marine Corps is likelier to resist symbols that place the individual's needs above the Corps', such as whether gay Marines can wear their uniforms in marriage ceremonies.

Are the services ready for two male officers openly, and in uniform, kissing at the O Club on New Year's eve in front of the rest of the cadre?

Will same sex marriages be recognized, to include dependent ID cards, spousal allowances, base housing, and medical coverage?

Will DoD officially define any other opinion as hate speech or bigotry? Punishable, perhaps, under the UCMJ?

I am serving military, having completed over 21 years in reg force uniform, excluding the years before that I spent as a reservist. The military has been a career for me, and I'm damn proud to wear the uniform and serve Canada.

I am also transsexual, one of the few people in the CF to have transitioned in uniform. I did not ask to be trans...it's just the way I was built, and not something I would wish on ANYBODY. Having said that, transition has been the best thing that I ever did. Transition in the military, however, did not afford me to go about it seamlessly. I damn near lost my career and my life because of it, not because of the way the System treated me, but because of the sheer hatred of my peers and superiors at the time. I still bear the scars of that treatment.

It bugs me to no end to see the sheer hatred that spews from so many people on this topic. It also bugs me to see the sheer ignorance people have about CF, generally and with regards to this and similar issues.


A bigger story about military buggery:

The US Army provided M-16 rifles that it knew jammed, lied about their doing so, American soldiers died/wounded, no one was held accountable - proof:
Hearings before the Special Subcommittee on the M-16 Rifle Program of the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, Ninetieth Congress, First Session, 1967.

So why no outrage that defense spending is not cut, much less frozen. Obama makes a big deal that freezing non-defense discretionary wills save $250 billion over ten years, but the planned increases in military spending will cost $500 billion over ten years. Do we really need more funds each year to fight a few hundred terrorists than we spent to counter the Soviet Union?

What about this year's 3.2% pay raise while civilian wages have fallen and inflation is flat. New recruits earn over $38,000 a year, almost twice a much as comparable civilians.

Let me see Gates cut the military budget, then I'll be impressed. Right now he "bravely" manages who gets the increases.

There are gays in the military. 95% of them do their jobs, like everybody else. 95% of their peers either don't know or don't much care about their presence. As a commander, I knew one of my subordinates was gay and this person's orientation was never a problem.

The issue, and what should be addressed by whatever process Congress chooses, is how precisely to fix the policy. The question should not be one of orientation or tolerance. It should be behavior. Irresponsible sex is bad for good order and discipline. Taking out the "propensity" nonsense and moving to a straight forward "Good order and discipline" test, as in frat and adultery cases, would be the easiest way to do it. Sleep with who you like, just don’t do anything that hurts the mission. Take away the culture warriors on both sides and let us get back to work.

Its is amazing how much attention this is getting, compared with the shamefully high rates of sexual assault and pitifully low rate of prosecution for offenders. It is an outrage to dismiss service members for consensual acts while giving rapists a pass.

My own cynical belief is that the men who are most disturbed by the idea of gays in the military, and most vocal in opposition, fall into two groups: those who view themselves as predators and women as potential prey (the ‘you’re fair game’ types) and additionally view gay men as potential predators (because they assume gay men would treat them as they treat women)… and those who don’t want openly gay men in their unit because, at some level, they are afraid they’d be attracted themselves.

In either case, it’s fear—which is why it’s called homophobia.

Personally, I am a lot more concerned over the cells of right-wing Christianist extremists in the military than I am over who soldiers want to love.

Right now, women in the military getting pregnant to avoid deployments has reached epidemic proportions [I know this to be overstatement] and is degrading the military's ability to field the soldiers it needs to perform its obligations.

While we are on the subject of the ethics and judgment of Navy leaders, Salon has a good story about the firing of a psychiatrist whistleblower at the Navy hospital on the Marine base at Camp Lejeune. After the guy went to the inspector general (and isn't that what people are told to do if their chain of command is unresponsive?) about his concerns about disturbed Marines receiving inadequate care, he was fired -- and his most recent performance review was drastically revised downward, retroactively.


This has nothing to do with equality and fairness, it has everything to do with Godlessness and a lack or morals.----

Adm. Mullen, reflecting his Hollywood background, substituted emotion for logic.

please don't capitalize Homosexuals. They're not a separate race. They are not a people who come from the land of Homosexualia.

Stop with all the social experiments. Liberals are ruining the only well run section of our government.

23-year Army vet here....too bad they're dropping the Don't Ask policy. It might have caused some mental anxiety amongst military homosexuals, but in general worked pretty darn well.

If you believe He can help you in battle, you do not want to be disobeying him so openly. We--people of faith--believe that one of the reasons the Moslems have indeed been so successful in battle lately is because God likes the way they keep His commandments.

Gays. So repulsive. But that's my opinion, and that's what counts. Do I have gay acquaintances? Yes I do. But I still think it is repulsive.


...the Services only survive now due to competent NCOs. We are where the Brits were a long time ago, a Political-Gentleman Officer Corps with no real leadership at the top and a professional NCO corps holding things together

Monday, February 15, 2010

What a difference a day makes

Having just sort-kinda come to the aid/defense of Andrew Sullivan, I find today that I disagree with what looks like yet another attempt perhaps to contextualize his own comments (here, here, and here), which is precisely what Leon was railing about, in high voice and low purpose in his rebuttal. And, while Leon opened the door, it's not clear why one would go there in that way, unless ...

This territory is rough terrain and it comes with bullshit, so I don't sympathize greatly with the guy from Honest Reporting. Even if you have all the facts, it is still hard to organize them into something that isn't biased. The challenges are enormous, and I hope he would realize that and tread with caution.

The reader who wonders about Israel signaling a commitment to peace by accepting 'right of return' is probably well intentioned, but cannot be taken seriously, from any pragmatic assessment of the situation.

The role of good friend and independent broker is not suited to trying to gain cred with the Arab street as a (self-interested?) goal in itself. It's probably more about developing a view of how to get to a final peace settlement and making sure that there is a robust process in place - full, technical sense of the term, "robust". ("Neocons" represent bad tone and policy, not bad Jews - can't someone - Sprung? - just buy Leon's peace by admitting that, calling it "nine words for peace", maybe?)

And, yes, Dershowitz is often alarming, but whatever he says substantively is probably part of the regular political discourse, not deep into the 'forbidden zone'. As a matter of degree, we have far more concern with what the Hammas are saying and DOING. After all, let's not forget that Israel forcibly moved all its settlers out of Gaza, in an internally costly strategic move to pressure the Palestinian leadership.

One can continue to "criticize Israel", but the force concentration for outsiders, for diplomacy, has to be on the Palestinian leadership, not so that they can be pushed to capitulate to an obviously unjust peace, but to stop, in a considered way, the co-opt of the Palestinian people for a hopeless cause, such as the physical or political destruction of Israel.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The GOP's Useful Idiot Revolts

This doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's precious.

Maverick Joe the Plumber is reportedly in full revolt.

Next up, Soccermoms of America against Palin & The Teabaggers.

Posting Huffington

Tracey Ullman has a tour de force with this, coming close to equaling the boyz take on her delicious accent and mannerisms:

[my fav?: "See, I've just flown nonstop from Lahore and do tend to suffer from transient global amnesia..." almost too close to call with "the CNN cross-town talkingheads shuttle" (if I got that right)]

and this...needs no highlight reel:

Cheney, Probably Deserves a Rebuke

He's out setting the political stage for the GOP, for "tough guys", to reap a political benefit if sensible policies fail.

The Dems ought not to take that kind of positioning lightly. We're at over a $1 trillion dollars in debts to the next generation because of "though guys" who make decisions that weren't thought through.

Meanwhile, I wonder what the public is making of this big push into Helmand. Isn't it a testimony to the masterful way that Bush-Cheney kept status a national secret, so that most Americans are probably unaware that there were huge portions of territory 'under Taliban control'.

By comparison, we can remember McCain demanding and answer to "Who is in control of Ramadi?" We have nothing similar for the unattended mess that Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld let drag on in Afghanistan.

For the price of Bush-Cheney's understaffed, under-resourced, mis-conceptualized war in Afghanistan, visit icasualties.org.

Leon, yet again

Almost all posts about him, on this topic, could come titled the same...

Andrew and his reader seem blithely unaware of the use the some muslims make of calling into question the Trinity. Accordingly, they miss a subtext of the entire game that Leon is playing in his opening stanzas.

Hopefully, Andrew wounded or not, can collect himself, before stepping into any more traps like this one on the Trinity.

Frankly, were I him, I'd write a reply this way.

"I have apologized, on occasion, it is true. I welcome criticisms. Those who make well intoned criticisms probably have a better chance of achieving the results they want, especially if their standard is 'connected criticism' and not bitterly fabricating boogeymans that do the struggle against antisemitism a disservice."

See? Short and sweet.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Prejudicial to the peace...

This demand, when it came from the White House (or those advising the White House), as well as from the Wall Street Journal, seems to me to lack a sensitivity to the conceptual nuance of the situation:

...get serious about ending [Israeli] settlement construction permanently and beginning the dismantling and removal of these impediments to any serious progress in the region

-Andrew Sullivan

There is a long history of different and divergent contexts of settlement construction. I hope that Andrew and all commentators could understand that, fully (it's difficult, admittedly, because the truth of the matter is highly politicized so the details are hard to come by).

In any event, there is a case to be made for settlements that does not rest on religious grounds/assertions. Just be aware of that. The fact that Sharon and Netanyahu exploited those reasons for other purposes ("facts on the ground" or whatever) is separate.

There is a chart that shows settlement activity before and after the Oslo process started, covering the rapid period in the 1990s, I believe. That's worth showing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leon, yet again

When Leon can answer to all of us "Who is a Jew and why?", then we'll worry about why he cannot grasp the Trinity.

Meanwhile, antisemitism is up in England, based on incident reports, according to a report I just read last week. The report linked it to distaste for Israel's actions on the rise.

I'd say 'no further comment', but instead I'll just say, "W.H. Auden" to code my response and wonder aloud if this really is the best way to get attention for the topic...
While he's busy faulting Andrew Sullivan's careless generalizing language, perhaps he can sort out his resounding call that Israel is a secular state, with the notion that it also wants to represent itself to us all as a Jewish State. Then, maybe, we'll understand why so many fall into the trap of confusing "jewish virtues" with "human virtues", as he distinguishes them.

Perhaps he needs to search his soul, for a little humility at a minimum, while the rest of us tolerate the conceit he likely has in mind for us on that, which we often willingly bear in defense of much else that is good about Israel (including myself, one has to say, to ward off the deliberately spiteful).

The rest is noise.

Except to say that, if Andrew is "feeling" and Krauthammer is 'rationales', I'll take AS. Asking Krauthammer to go on a soul searching expedition (cf. "search his heart") would be like ... er .... hypothesizing that he could explore an aspect of the Trinity in himself, nu?

Meanwhile, antisemitism is up in England, based on incident reports, according to a report I just read last week. The report linked it to distaste for Israel's actions on the rise. I'd say 'no further comment', but instead I'll just say, "W.H. Auden" to code my response and wonder aloud if this really is the best way to get attention for the topic...

Do two rants make a wrong or a right?

Everyone needs an editor.

Leon rants on the topic. It's plain that this is just an intentional blindspot, for him. I'm on the border of refusing to read another long, long and winding churn and an interest to see what the rukus is about, if it is more than just to call Andrew 'excitable' in a provocative way.

On the other hand, I don't know exactly what Andrew Sullivan is trying to do with his own response.

I suspect he would not write what he did, how he did, if it were anyone but Leon.

What am I to make of that? There are parts that read like AS is trying to explain himself, not to his readers but to Leon.

If that is true, then let me say this: Andrew, you're all grown up. You are the master father now. It's okay to cut the threads.

Now, with that liberation, as your editor, go back, cut it in half, tighten up what you really need to say about this and stop brooding.

If you want to make counter charges and outline why this is cheap characterization, lead with that. If you want to make this about Leon's confused and hurtful rants, do that. If you want to point out that defining "Jew", for Leon or in general, is about as hard as understanding the Trinity, then do that. If you have to take some licks, do that. But get off the fence.

And for pity's sake, use "antisemitism".