Saturday, May 15, 2004

Escalation by a Higher Power? - Bishop: Bar communion for abortion-rights voters - May 14, 2004: "A Colorado Bishop, in one of strongest stands yet taken by a U.S. Roman Catholic church leader, says communion should be denied to people who vote for candidates supporting such issues as abortion rights, gay marriage, euthanasia and stem cell research."

Now it's gone to the next level. Only problem: this country happens to have secret ballots, so how will priests know, exactly?

Friday, May 14, 2004

More on Rummy
Jake has some more thoughts on Rumsfeld and the resignation question over at diet coke for breakfast.

Iraq Isn't Nearly As Bad As You Think
Myths of Iraq
Sure, it's bad. But Fred Barnes does a great job of exposing several myths that are being thrown around. Read it, and feel free to disagree, but at least read it.

Bush's Fundamentalism Overshadows All Past Presidents? Nope...
I've been challenged a lot, particularly on DailyKos and seditious libel for my support of President Bush's religious justifications for leadership, particularly in foreign policy. This week's Houses of Worship from OpinionJournal does a great round-up of messianic presidents over the past century, putting the whole argument into a great context. Read it, comment below. I'd like to know especially how the Bush-haters respond.

Lieberman Teaches America a Thing or Two
OpinionJournal - Extra: "Many argue that we can only rectify the wrongs done in the Iraqi prisons if Donald Rumsfeld resigns. I disagree. Unless there is clear evidence connecting him to the wrongdoing, it is neither sensible nor fair to force the resignation of the secretary of defense, who clearly retains the confidence of the commander in chief, in the midst of a war. I have yet to see such evidence. Secretary Rumsfeld's removal would delight foreign and domestic opponents of America's presence in Iraq.
But, as we are showing in our response to Abu Ghraib, we are a nation of laws, and therefore must punish only those who are proven guilty. The Iraqi prison scandal has been a nightmare at an already difficult moment in the war in Iraq. But our cause remains as critical as ever to our security and our values. We must therefore persist in it. With determination and confidence, we should recall President Lincoln's words at another difficult moment in American history in pursuit of another just cause: 'Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us do our duty as we understand it.'"


Thursday, May 13, 2004

We're working on it, we're working on it
OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "Lt. Cmdr. Scott Allen, public affairs officer for the Naval Service Training Command in Great Lakes, Ill., said applications to the Navy and Marine Corps ROTC programs around the country have increased by more than 12 percent each year since Sept. 11, 2001.
'Our numbers had been holding steady and then jumped 13.7 percent in the 2001-2002 academic year,' he said. 'In 2002-2003 we saw an additional 12.2 percent, and in 2003-2004 we increased another 16.8 percent.'
The numbers would no doubt be rising even faster if our elite universities would stop playing politics with national defense and let ROTC back on campus."

I'm now a part of two seperate campaigns to get ROTC back at Yale. And we've got a lot of support, so maybe it'll happen...

Rumsfeldian Duty - Should He Stay or Should He Go?
I don't have much to say on this question that I haven't already said, but there's a good discussion going on over at diet coke for breakfast between Jake and James. Check it out.

They're Not All Moose
From today's Political Diary: "Paul Martin, the new Canadian Prime Minister, is making it clear he does not share the occasional anti-American attitudes of his predecessor, Jean Chretien. Mr. Martin told a crowd of university professors and business leaders in Montreal this week that he believes Saddam Hussein did indeed have weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam's WMD quite possibly have already found their way to terrorists. 'Many weapons that Saddam Hussein had, we don't know where they are,' he told the group. 'That means terrorists have access to all that.'

Mr. Martin said he believes "terrorism will be, for our generation, what the Cold War was to the generation that preceded us." When asked about Mr. Chretien's comments after the 9/11 attacks that terrorism was caused by global poverty, Mr. Martin minced no words: 'The cause of terrorism is not poverty, it is hatred.'"

Mr. Martin, it seems, gets it. Let's look at this: the UN Security Resolutions said Saddam had to either disclose what weapons he had, or show evidence that everything we know he had was destroyed; he claimed that everything had been destroyed, but did not provide evidence to prove that in many cases; we assumed he still had the weapons; we invaded, and found the infrastructure, but no weapons as yet.

The conclusion? We have a couple options: He never had the weapons — we know this to be false; he destroyed them all and still let sanctions continue — unlikely as hell; he had them, but they've been transferred somewhere else — if this is the case, then the "rush" to war was significantly too short. And when a chemical, biological, or dirty bomb goes off in the Port of Newark I will weep for my vindication.

Packing Up The Blog
Scared you, didn't I? No, I'm not laying RFTR to rest, particularly after I worked so hard last week to rebuild the template. But I am at a crossroads in my life (the end of my junior year), and after the past few weeks of severe stress which actually increased my blogging, and the days of packing that sit in front of me, I find myself without the will to post quite so often.

And so, I am joing Lileks and Reynolds in taking it easy for the next few days. I shall hopefully return next week with more vigor, and readiness to fight back the scourge of Liberalism, in favor of liberalism. There'll certainly be a few posts, and if anything big happens, I'll add my comments, but otherwise: I'll see you next week.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Vote for the man with a record to run away from!
OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "To applause and angry shouts, Mr. Kerry, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, told them not to be discouraged by Bush campaign efforts to paint him as an out-of-touch Northeast liberal. 'You know why they're doing that?' he said. 'Because he doesn't have a record to run away from.'"

Volokh Straightens Out Anti-Gun Lobby
The Volokh Conspiracy: "Many people have commented on some pro-gun-control speakers' tendency to claim — explicitly or implicitly — that the 'assault weapons' they seek to ban are machine guns (also known as fully automatic weapons, defined as guns that fire more than one round per trigger pull). That's not true, though it is a convenient way to turn the public against assault weapons. Civilians are already banned by federal law from possessing fully automatic weapons, except about 100,000 that are grandfathered in. All modern 'assault weapons' bans prohibit mostly semi-automatic weapons — normal guns that fire one round per trigger pull."

It's important to know that ending the assault weapon ban is not going to give people the ability to buy uzis.

Bernstein's Hypothetical
The Volokh Conspiracy: "A terrorist conspiracy to detonate a nuclear device in Manhattan in three hours is revealed. An hour later, an FBI team raids a terrorist hideout on the Upper East Side. No bomb is found, but references to the bomb plot are quickly discovered. The terrorists refuse to talk. The FBI team uses every known measure of physical coercion to change their minds, until one of them finally breaks down and reveals that the bomb is hidden in the basement of the Empire State building. With minutes to spare, the bomb is found, and millions of lives are spared. The FBI team's reward? Jail, of course!--at least according to Crooked Timber's John Quiggin. By contrast, I'd give them a ticker tape parade."

He does, of course, go on to say that they should not be above the law, simply that the law should acquit them. But it's a good point, and well worth considering.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I finished my last final of the year this morning, and now I'm in the process of some heavy packing, and, uh, no, of course I'm not partying at all at night...

But, the long and short of it is I"ll be very busy over the next few days, so I'll be joining MR. Lileks and Professor Reynolds in downgrading my blogging regularity for the duration of this week. Of course, this probably means I'll be blogging just as often as before, sort of like them...

It's Good If They Hate Us
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: For Iraqis to Win, the U.S. Must Lose: "Now, looking ahead, we face another irony. To earn their own freedom, the Iraqis need a victory. And since it is too late for the Iraqis to have a victory over Saddam, it is imperative that they have a victory over us. If the future textbooks of a free Iraq get written, the toppling of Saddam will be vaguely mentioned in one clause in one sentence. But the heroic Iraqi resistance against the American occupation will be lavishly described, page after page. For us to succeed in Iraq, we have to lose.
That means the good Iraqis, the ones who support democracy, have to have a forum in which they can defy us. If the insurgents are the only anti-Americans, then there will always be a soft spot for them in the hearts of Iraqi patriots.
That forum is an election campaign. There would be significant risks involved in moving the Iraq elections up to this fall. Parties might use their militias to coerce votes. But Iraqis have to see their candidates and themselves standing up with speeches and ideas, not just with R.P.G.'s. The insurgency would come to look anti-democratic, which would be seen to be bad, not just anti-American, which is seen to be good.
If the Iraqis do campaign this fall, then at their rallies they will jeer at us. We will still be hated around the world. But we will have succeeded in doing what we set out to do."

It is good if they hate us, we just need to make sure it's channeled in the right direction. A sparkling piece from Mr. Brooks.

Monday, May 10, 2004

First Hand Account
Mullings An American Cyber Column By Rich Galen: "It should be pointed out that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib are not Boy Scouts rounded up for jaywalking. These are bad guys who either blew up or shot a coalition member; or were caught assembling an explosive device; or were caught in a place where the makings of explosive devices were found; or were caught with a cache of weapons. See the pattern here?
In short they were trying to kill me and others like me. And if they succeeded in doing that, they were going to come over here and try to kill you.
Ugly thought? You bet. But that is the kind of prisoner being held in the terrorist section at Abu Ghraib."

He was there. Maybe we should listen to what he has to say.

UPDATE [5/10/2004 - 22:27]: My brother posts some more extensive comments on diet coke for breakfast. He's an intelligent, articulate guy, as I've said before. He knows what he's talking about, so make your way over there and read it.

I Wonder How They're Paying For It... Maybe Oil-for-Food Money
UN to upgrade security at New York Headquarters: "The United Nations is set to begin a slate of projects - including the construction a new perimeter fence - to bolster safety and security measures at its New York Headquarters.
The fence that currently runs along First Avenue will be replaced and new gates installed, and the lighting and surveillance systems along the perimeter will be enhanced to deter unauthorized entry, according to UN spokesman Fred Eckhard."

What are they afraid of? Any terrorist worth his salt should know that attacking your best friend is never a good idea, and would know better than to hit the UN.

Of course, we learned in Iraq that when attacked they run like scared children, so maybe the city of New York should organize some sort of attack. Can you imagine the benefit to the city if that piece of real estate opened up? Plus, they wouldn't have to deal with so many parking ticket scofflaws anymore.

Hot Shots: Part Shtaym
Israel News : Jerusalem Post Internet Edition (via BotW): "Israel may be preparing to attack Iranian nuclear facilities within the year, according to US administration assessments reported on Army Radio Saturday morning."

I say go for it. I'm significantly too young to remember when the Israelis took out the Osirak reactor in Iraq (seeing as how I wouldnt be born for another two years), supported only by the editorial page of the WSJ, but I'm glad they did it, and I think 20 years from now we'll be glad if they do it in Iran, too.

(For those who are curious, yes the title is a play on the movie Hot Shots: Part Deux. Shtaym is the Hebrew word for the number two. Special thanks to David Coleman for the translation.)

Quick! Defend Yourself Before He Wakes Up! - Woman sentenced to 50 years for shooting husband: "Shanahan claimed she acted in self-defense when she killed her husband at the end of three days of beatings. She said he was angry because she was pregnant with their third child and refused to get an abortion.
But prosecutors said Scott Shanahan had gone back to bed and was not an immediate threat when he was killed."

I once took a course about the role of juries in democracies. A part of the course was a bi-weekly simulation, where twelve of us would be given the facts of the case and then take two hours to deliberate it. We had a case where a man was shot twice, sprawled out on a sofa. The woman who shot him claimed that he was attacking her, and it was self-defense. The only problem is, the bullets had entered the sofa at a downward trajectory, meaning he's been laying down already when she shot him.

Our jury took the full two hours alotted us, and hung ourselves, because half of the class believed her when she changed her story to say "well, he had been abusing me," and the rest of us didn't think it mattered. Now, I'll admit, I don't know the facts behind this specific case, and I know nothing about psychology, particularly under abuse. But my thinking is, if the guy has been beating you for 3 days, and he finally fell asleep, go to the police, don't kill him. I don't think she deserves 50 years, necessarily, but I do think that she murdered a man in cold blood for revenge. Psychologists can argue that she still felt threatened even though he was asleep, but there are other, better ways to defend oneself from a sleeping person.

Bush Blows, but Kerry Sucks
All Hat and No Cattle
OK, one more. This is a really interesting piece in the Weekly Standard, 2/3 of which outlines why Bush has every reason to lose this election. Then it turns to comparing him to Kerry and pointing out why the likely outcome is four more years. I'm not sure I agree with everything, and I need to digest some of the logic a bit more, but it's definitely worth reading.

Can't Beat Blogger Navel-Gazing :: Daniel W. Drezner :: The political science of blogs: "Even the most intelligent 'normal' people out there have only the vaguest sense of how bloggers read the newspaper. Much like scholars, bloggers tend to think of their analytical methods as being a secret treasure, while critics think of them as the product of some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Yet in contrast to scholars, bloggers are rapidly winning bigger and bigger audiences."

An interesting (to say the least) post about blogging by Daniel Drezner (the quote above is actually from an article he links to). I've run into this very fact in many of my conversations with some of my most well-educated and informed peers, who have nothing near the concept on day-to-day news that I do. I don't necessarily understand it as well as they, but I constantly know what's going on, and blogging is the biggest reason for that. By spending a few hours a day on this, I hit all of the news sites and blogs on my sidebar, and usually go significantly beyond that with click-throughs. It really is amazing the perspective I've gotten on a lot of issues from this process.

The coolest part is, as he said, that my audience is growing. I have all of you to thank for that. So thanks. And now I must sleep, as I do still have one final remaining.

Raspberry Plugs Nader
Nader's Advice To Kerry ( "'If Kerry takes these positions,' Nader concludes, 'the only thing he'll have to worry about is how big will be his landslide.'
Maybe. At the very least, it would provide an answer to those who've been looking for some reason to support Kerry besides the fact that he isn't Bush."

I'm once again very impressed by Mr. Raspberry. I never thought I'd have someone convince me that Nader makes some sense, and while I don't support all of the policies listed in this column, from a strategic perspective Kerry ought to listen. Read it, it's interesting. I promise.

Safire Makes Some Sense
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Rumsfeld Should Stay: "Because today's column will generate apoplectic e-mail, a word about contrarian opinion: Shortly after 9/11, with the nation gripped by fear and fury, the Bush White House issued a sweeping and popular order to crack down on suspected terrorists. The liberal establishment largely fell cravenly mute. A few lonely civil libertarians spoke out. When I used the word 'dictatorial,' conservatives, both neo- and paleo-, derided my condemnation as 'hysterical.'
One Bush cabinet member paid attention. Rumsfeld appointed a bipartisan panel of attorneys to re-examine that draconian edict. As a result, basic protections for the accused Qaeda combatants were included in the proposed military tribunals.
Perhaps because of those protections, the tribunals never got off the ground. (The Supreme Court will soon, I hope, provide similar legal rights to suspected terrorists who are U.S. citizens.) But in the panic of the winter of 2001, Rumsfeld was one of the few in power concerned about prisoners' rights. Some now demanding his scalp then supported the repressive Patriot Act.
The United States shows the world its values by investigating and prosecuting wrongdoers high and low. It is not in our political value system to scapegoat a good man for the depraved acts of others. Nor does it make strategic sense to remove a war leader in the vain hope of appeasing critics of the war."

Do us both a favor and read the whole thing.

Pull out of Pennsylvania
The New York Times > National > Prisoners: Mistreatment of Prisoners Is Called Routine in U.S. (via InstaPundit): "Physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what has been uncovered in Iraq, takes place in American prisons with little public knowledge or concern, according to corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates.
In Pennsylvania and some other states, inmates are routinely stripped in front of other inmates before being moved to a new prison or a new unit within their prison. In Arizona, male inmates at the Maricopa County jail in Phoenix are made to wear women's pink underwear as a form of humiliation."

I must also credit Professor Reynolds for pointing out that we might want to pull out of Pennsylvania next. But, honestly, he's right: either the prison abuse in Iraq is being overhyped, or the abuse here is undernoticed.

The benefit of all my posting on DailyKos, is I'm starting to get my brain wrapped around the way the radical left forms its arguments. So, they'll say one of two things in response to this idea: "The abuse in prisons here is bad, but it's nothing compared to what went on in Abu Ghraib," or, "The abuse here is Bush's fault too, because we're living under his fascist leadership." The latter is easy to dispense with, because it takes a raving lunatic to believe that W can really have any effect on what goes on in state-run prisons around the country, or even federal ones for that matter. As far as the former, it's true. A little nakedness and women's underwear is nothing compared to sodomy and rape by the guards. But I find it hard to believe that W can be held accountable for that either. Sure, he should be more aware of the situation in Iraq, because the whole of Iraq is more on his mind. But the thing is, POTUS cannot micromanage like the left is calling for him to do, and neither can the SecDef.

The fact of the matter is, the Taguba Report, which the press is furious about, is a sign that the system was correcting itself. Sure, it was too slow, but the report said "abuses went on, we are taking steps to punish the offenders and correct the situation." Why hadn't Rummy read it? Because his job isn't to check up on individual jails in Iraq, his job is to make sure that someone else is in the position to do it while he worries about grand strategy. It's the same reason he isn't determining policy in Fallujah: the commanders on the ground are. To hold Bush accountable is to fire the CEO, or Rummy, the CFO, for the mailroom clerk's thieving ways.

UPDATE [5/10/2004 - 2:40]: I posted the following on DailyKos, and thought it bears repeating here, in connection with this post:

Sure, I think mistakes are being made, as government bureacracy (which the Pentagon most certainy is) is liable to do (part of the reason I'm in favor of small government). And I regret and loathe that fact. It makes me sad that we, as human beings, cannot love one another even as enemies and avoid this sort of thing, especially in a time of war and already strained emotions. I am extremely bothered by those actions.

I'm not bothered by the occupation because I really don't believe that we are there for oil, or territory, or to set up a puppet government. We are there to set up a friendly government, if we can, but primarily one chosen by the people of Iraq, instead of the Shiites of Iraq, or the Sunnis of Iraq, or any other minority. And despite these attrocities, I think this can still be accomplished. I think it will still be accomplished, and I pray for it all day and all night. I have that faith. That's why I'm not bothered by the fact that we went in, or that we're still there, or that we will be there until the mission truly is accomplished.

UPDATE [5/10/2004 - 3:09]: If you want a slightly different take on this article, check out seditious libel.

STILL MORE [5/10/2004 - 4:54]: Another interesting piece comes from The Weekly Standard: "No one was left in the dark about the ongoing investigation at Abu Ghraib. It had been public knowledge since January for anyone who cared to know. There was no 'coverup'--a word that was on the lips of every other hyperventilating Democratic congressman last week. Gen. Mark Kimmitt publicly announced in Baghdad on March 20 that criminal charges had been filed against six soldiers and that 17 had already been 'suspended from their duties until the outcome of the investigations.' He described the collapse of good discipline in the unit as a 'kind of cancer that you've got to cut out quickly.' Nowhere in the record of events made public so far is there a hint that allegations of wrongdoing, once leveled, were ever brushed aside or not taken with utmost seriousness by the military chain of command."

That, in short, is why I don't think Rummy should resign. Also, read the above post linking to the column by Bill Safire.

I could go nuts trying to keep up with all of the wonderful posts that people are writing on this subject. You should also read Andrew Sullivan's commentary. Though I disagree that this has destroyed the justification for the war in the first place, what he says is still important to consider.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

New Updates!
Blogger, it seems, knew I was trying to modernize my blog, and decided to do the same to its entire system. Since they have added commenting, I have removed haloscan, and now use their system, so we'll see how that works. An added bonus to this is that each post now has its own page, as well, which you can reach by clicking the permalink. Enjoy!

Day By Day gets it right again. All I'll add is that John Kerry is no Joe Darby. - Rival rallies argue gun laws: "Several hundred gun rights supporters also held their own rally, organized by Second Amendment Sisters, at Freedom Plaza near the White House."

Read the headline. This selection is the fifth of the eleventh paragraph. It is the ONLY paragraph that even mentions the counter-protest referred to in the headline. This is an absurd excuse for news, and serves more as an advertisement for the assault weapons ban.

I'll be tweaking the template on and off over the next few days, especially after I finish my exam on Tuesday. The look probably won't change too severely, but I've been toying with some ideas to make Running for the Right more aesthetically pleasing. If you have any suggestions or complaints, please email me at any time.

Aside from the obvious switch to a righthand sidebar, I've reordered my blogroll and news sources, loosely based on my opinion of their quality, my order of viewing them throughout the day, and the regularity with which I check them.
Also, I fixed the error that was causing the blogspot advertisements to appear twice at the top of the page.

I hope y'all like it!