Friday, November 12, 2004

All about WaPo
The Washington Post's columnists are on a roll today.

What does 'Moral Values' mean?
A great piece in today's Washington Post, wherein Charles Krauthammer debunks the 'Moral Values' Myth, tying it back to the Angry White Male of the mid-90s. Read it, it's worth your time.

What does Fallujah mean?
The second strong piece is by George Will, explaining what really hinges on Fallujah, and more specifically how that city can determine the fate of a free Iraq. Read it here.

More on Arafat
The Western Standard quotes the following:
"Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on Arafat's death:
'Chairman Arafat personified the Palestinian people's struggle to see their right to self-determination realized. Canada calls on Palestinians, and all peoples of the Middle East, to reflect on the tremendous cost of conflict, and, building on the legacy of their leaders and the guidance of their governments, to renew their commitment to peace.'

Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Arafat's death:
'I think history will judge him very harshly for not having seized the opportunity in the year 2000 to embrace the offer that was very courageously made by the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barack [sic], which involved the Israelis agreeing to 90 per cent of what the Palestinians had wanted.'"

We know which one of these two Jacques Chirac would agree with, and we know where George W. Bush stands. The question is: what do you think is the truer representation of the man?

Commentary on Arafat
I've been getting a lot of pressure to post on Arafat's death. The problem is, I don't have much to contribute. I don't know enough about Palestinian politics to comment on what will come of his death. However, the inspiration has finally stuck me, in the form of this page from KSLA, the CBS affiliate in Shreveport, Louisiana: "CBS NEWS interrupted the final minutes of Wednesday night's episode of CSI: NEW YORK in order to air a special report about the death of Yasser Arafat. CBS has apologized and says it will rebroadcast the episode, in its entirety FRIDAY at 9PM CENTRAL TIME."

That's sort of how I feel. This guy was an evil terrorist. The world is better for his passing. And at the same time, it's a non-event. So, so long Arafat. I leave you with these words from Lileks, which pretty nearly approximate my sentiments: "Our paper had this headline: 'Enduring Symbol of Palestine Dies.' Personally, I'm old school. I'd go with something, oh, factual, like 'ARAFAT DEAD.' Hard to argue. Hard to find bias. I don't know what would be satisfying, really. 'Goaty Old Fiend Expires, Loses Power, Fortune, Bowel Control; Fills Room with Odor of Offal and Urine' would put people off their breakfast, I suppose. I am content to know he is not in Hell. Nope. Arafat did not go to Hell. He boards the ferry, yes; he makes it halfway across the River Styx, yes. Then the ferry blows up. Ten times a day for eternity. For a start."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

It keeps coming back to me that the people I accused of arrogance in my last YDN column have in common: they all admit that I probably made my elective choice intelligently, but that the majority who voted for President Bush probably did not. There are some serious flaws behind this logic that I feel compelled to address.

The first is the obvious statement that a majority of red-staters are uninformed. The fact of the matter is, they are informed. They know about the two candidates, and they voted for the candidate that best matches their beliefs. It's simply inaccurate to say they don't know who they were voting for. But that's not what the individuals who've responded to my column are trying to imply—their true opinion is that the reasons why these red-staters knowingly support President Bush are invalid. They believe that voting for a man because his faith matches yours is invalid. They believe that thinking the Iraq War was justified is invalid. They believe that opposing gay marriage is invalid. And what they don't realize is that this is exactly what I'm calling arrogance.

People who lack faith are unable to understand what it is like to live a life based on your beliefs of heaven and hell, God and Satan, good and evil. They say you have to be able to separate that from your relations to government. As John Kerry says "you can't legislate based on your own articles of faith." Now maybe he can make that distinction. If so, I commend him for it. The problem is, everything I do is based on a cost/benefit analysis relating to my faith. Am I doing the right thing? Am I helping people that need help, or hurting innocent people? Are my actions condoning an act I know to be wrong? None of this can be separated from issues like abortion, the environment, welfare/poverty issues, healthcare, foreign policy, etc. And I don't buy it that John Kerry can separate them either. (In other words, I think he likes to call himself pro-life so that he can keep pretending to be a Catholic man of faith, while in reality he is pro-choice, and refuses to follow any of the basic tenets of Roman Catholicism.)

I received a comment just today that listed a bunch of reasons red-staters voted for President Bush which were "clearly false," according to him, but are, in reality, opinions that have not been invalidated as he would like to claim. Saddam was known to have friendly interactions with Al Quaeda. Saddam was known to have WMD whose destruction he never accounted for as the UN told him to. Saddam was known, and has now been shown, to have multiple WMD research programs, which have increased exponentially under the sanctions. Saddam was known to have tortured and killed Iraqi people for opposition to him, and Kurdish Iraqis simply for being Kurdish. Saddam was known to constantly threaten the United States and Israel, including paying the families of murderous Palestinian suicide bombers. The sanctions, which the left now claims were containing him, they opposed at the time, and were crumbling around the world. Under these circumstances, whether he already had WMD or was still pursuing them doesn't matter. He was pursuing them, and the instant he had them, he'd have the capability to release them to Al Quaeda, or any other terrorist network, and we'd never know until they were used. We had to go in, and supporting the man who did isn't an ignorant view. Sure, thinking Saddam ordered 9/11 is misguided. But I promise you, it is a small minority of Bush voters that believe this.

Opposing the "right" to same-sex marriage cannot be shown to be wrong, or uninformed or not. It's easy to claim that homosexuality is a natural aberration from more typical sexuality. I happen to agree with that fact. But to claim that those who think the opposite are wrong, or uninformed, is arrogance, pure and simple. The fact is, we don't know what causes homosexuality, and it's entirely possible that it is some sort of curse, or sign of Satan. I think these ideas are absurd, but that doesn't mean I can treat the people who believe them as such. Liberals, on the other hand, are so certain that they're right, that everyone else must be uninformed.

The simple fact is that, on all of these issues, we don't know. Nothing can be proven one way or the other on any of them. And yet, the liberals that surround me use them as a basis for illustrating that their choice for John Kerry was more valid than the more common choice made for George Bush. There is no room to consider that they are misinformed, of course. Well, sorry guys, but in the words of the great Eric Clapton, "Before your accuse me, take a look at yourself." If people in middle America have been so mislead, how can you be so sure that you are properly informed?

More than that, let's look at the people who voted for John Kerry. Let's look at that county map and see how purple every single county is, and realize that the John Kerry voters live and work right next to the George Bush voters. Then, let's look at the mining towns in the upper Midwest. The ones that are strictly blue. Clearly mining towns are full of highly educated, well-informed voters, right? Must be, since all John Kerry voters validate faith in an informed American public, while George Bush voters are uninformed and destroy the validity of the system.

The simple fact is, neither party's candidate was more qualified to be President, and neither choice represents a larger information set than the other. The only thing we can conclude from this election is that more people chose George Bush.

OH. And if you're planning to point to that IQ study claiming that the blue states have a higher average IQ than the red states, take a look at this (via James), which shows that the idea that blue-staters have higher average IQs is a mere Democratic urban myth.

UPDATE [11/12/2004 - 1:24]: For more on the same topic, you should read this from OpinionJournal's Taste Page.

Life is good
My life is similar to this guy's, except I'm balancing out because my car got broken into over the weekend. And he doesn't count the Red Sox winning the world series.

Well, now
It seems that Ted Rall has never read any Socrates: "So our guy lost the election. Why shouldn't those of us on the coasts feel superior? We eat better, travel more, dress better, watch cooler movies, earn better salaries, meet more interesting people, listen to better music and know more about what's going on in the world. If you voted for Bush, we accept that we have to share the country with you. We're adjusting to the possibility that there may be more of you than there are of us. But don't demand our respect. You lost it on November 2."

So much for being wise by knowing your ignorance.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Where have we heard this before?
In today's Washington Times, Tony Blankley (partially) imitates me: "When we conservatives got shellacked in 1964 -- with Barry Goldwater losing 61percent to 39 percent to Lyndon Johnson -- we knew we had a lot of work ahead if we were going to educate the public to our views. But I can honestly say that, although I remember thinking that the public was misguided in its judgment, I never hated or felt contemptuous of the majority electorate -- of my fellow countrymen."

How similar is that to what I said? Well, I don't have the benefit of experience like Mr. Blankley does, but I hypothesized that I would experience the same sentiment in my most recent column, saying: "If Sen. Kerry had won, I would have put up my own away message about my fear for our safety. But the derision conveyed in these away messages, and in things said to me all day on campus, goes way beyond that idea. I would never have threatened to leave the country, or implied that voting for a certain candidate equated a sin, or said that I had lost faith in the people of this great nation."

Today's NY Post documents a spectacular exchange between Maureen Dowd and Senator Zell Miller (via OxBlog): "SEN. Zell Miller (D- Ga.) laced into New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd yesterday on the 'Imus in the Morning' radio show, saying, 'The more Maureen Loud [sic] gets on 'Meet the Press' and writes those columns, the redder these states get. I mean, they don't want some highbrow hussy from New York City explaining to them that they're idiots and telling them that they're stupid.' Miller also suggested 'that red-headed woman at the New York Times' should not mock anyone's religion: 'You can see horns just sprouting up through that Technicolor hair.' Dowd responds: 'I'm not a highbrow hussy from New York. I'm a highbrow hussy from Washington. Senator, pistols or swords?'"

The OxBlog guys seems to think that Dowd got the best of this exchange. But will Zell leaving the Senate, and having less concern about lawlessness (potentially), he really could take her up on that duel. Of course, as a southern gentleman, he'll choose pistols. Now, thinking about this, do you really think Ms. Dowd has ever fired a gun? Game, set, match: Zell. It might send him to prison, but it may just be worth it.

Just when he was losing me
I've been greatly dissatisfied with Andrew Sullivan of late. I think his full-throated support of the War in Iraq, followed by total condemnation of the way it is carried out at every opportunity he has borders on despicable. I recognize that he is a gay man, dealing with AIDs, and I pray for him regularly, but I get a little tired of his recent two-issue focus (Iraq and gay rights). I've even been considering removing him from my blogroll.

But today, he comes out and wows me with clear logic: "I've long been a huge enthusiast for the reform for a simple reason. Forget about the obvious economic benefits. The political benefits are legion. First, it deals a death blow to the cancer of corporate lobbying in Washington. If you restrict shelters to one or two (charity or home-ownership, but I'd abolish the latter), then the whole Washington game is over. Far, far more effective than campaign finance reform. Second, it upholds an important liberal principle: that the government should be neutral among its citizens. I don't believe in affirmative action, because it means the government discriminates on the basis of race. I oppose heterosexual-exclusive civil marriage, because it means the government discriminates on the basis of emotional/sexual orientation. And I oppose punitive or 'progressive' taxation, because it means the government discriminates on the basis of personal success. If we're all taxed at the same proportionate rate, the successful still pay far more into the public coffers than the unsuccessful. They're just not penalized even further by a higher rate. If you want to help the disadvantaged, and I do, then focus government spending on programs that help the under-privileged. But don't penalize work. And don't defend unequal treatment."

He's absolutely right on every count. And I hope that with Jim DeMint in the Senate now, this movement will get legs. Stay tuned, because this could get interesting.

How often do you hear straight talk from a politician?
Well, Arlen Specter is handing it out in today's WSJ. Take a look and you'll learn something about a man of integrity--all too rare among his colleagues.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Here's some good advice
The Gweilo Diaries offer some key Advice for Our Democrat Friends. My personal favorite is number 3.

George Lucas Strikes Back
Here comes the next big flop of a movie.
Read what Daniel Drezner has to say about it.

Here we go again
[Author's note: this post will likely become the framework for an upcoming column I plan to write over the next week or so. I'll let you know when and if it happens].
The web is currently filled with traditional and pajama-clad pundits who are proclaiming the death of the Democrat Party (Here, for example). I have predicted the same thing, though not necessarily on this page. The problem is that everyone said this after the 2000 election too.

Remember the claims that the Democrats would spin off into obscurity because of their lack of uniting issues? The thought was that Gore's loss to Bush would send the Party into a death spiral that could last a decade or longer. What happened to rejuvenate them instead, surprisingly enough, was September 11, 2001.

Now, I know that everyone says Democrats are weak on National Defense issues. And it's true that after 9/11, when the President's support number soared, it looked like there was nowhere for the Dems to go but into obscurity. We routed the Taliban (or so it seemed at the time) in Afghanistan, and we looked hot on the path to capturing OBL. The Democrats, meanwhile, were busy filibustering perfectly qualified nominees to the judicial branch, and looking stupid doing it. (Remember Tom Daschle? The soon-to-be former Senator?) And then the second wave of 9/11 came along to swing them to the rescue: Iraq.

The Bush Administration's decision to pursue terrorism and terrorist-sponsoring states by focusing next on Iraq had my support at the time, and still does. I think it was the right move, at the right time. (The sanctions were failing, yada yada--I've covered all of this before.) And, though they'll never admit it, the Democrats are grateful for it.

You see, the Dems were floundering. They got trounced in the midterms--that doesn't happen when your Party is out of the White House, for those who don't know. But Iraq gave them an issue to coordinate a large amount of people with a lot of emotion. It recharged their efforts at campaigning, gave them a coherent base, and another shot at the White House. Of course, it's what ended up keeping them out of the White House, but in the meantime it has effectively bought them another two years, and who knows how many more they'll have after this.

But that wasn't supposed to be the point of this post. What I was going to point out is what these columns, while prophetically declaring the death of the Democratic Party, consistently forget is the fact that the Republican Party, though they kept the White House resoundingly, are in trouble just as deep.

The Republican Party today consists of two primary coalitions, and several smaller constituencies. These two controlling groups, to be sure, have several important overlaps that at the moment are holding them together, but they can't last for too long. The overlaps are strong at the moment: hawkish foreign policy, lower taxes, minimal gun control, and a few others. These create for strong uniting issues, and they showed up significantly in this last campaign. Unfortunately, they are supported both by the libertarian conservatives, and the social conservatives, who on some other issues stand at opposition to each other. Gay marriage, which I pointed out would come back to haunt the Democrats in this election, will hurt Republicans in the future.

Let's take me as an example. I am tentatively opposed to gay marriage. My faith tells me that a homosexual marriage does not equal the love between a man and a woman. But I am fervently opposed to a constitutional amendment that restricts marriage to heterosexual cases. The key is that my faith defines marriage, not the government. I'm not opposed, in fact, to eliminating governmental marriage altogether, and issuing civil unions to any and all couples that want them. I haven't yet figured out what that will do to entitlements and the government's ability to pay out what is promised to a recognized marriage if we open the floodgates. But marriage is between two partners and their god, not between them and the government. The social conservatives rapidly amending their state constitutions to forbid same-sex unions will never support this position, and I will never support theirs.

While I'm not a strict libertarian, on this and many other issues, there is a conflict between the more libertarian sects of the Party, and the more socially active members. I think that in the next 10-20 years, this will come to a head, and we will struggle as the Democrats are now.

Monday, November 08, 2004

I need your advice
I am applying to have a bi-weekly column in the Yale Daily News. They're requested that I suggest a title for that column, and I'm having trouble coming up with idea.

I'd like to name it Running for the Right, but that, I'm afraid, would too quickly paint me as a conservative bias (yes, that's what I am, but I'd rather people read my columns to find that out than just skim the title and say "forget it"), but I would like something that paints me as a conservative. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Proving our nuance, once and for all
Yet again, Lileks does a great job of expressing how I feel: "Finally, post-election thoughts. On and on, no resolution. This graphic has been floating around here and there. (Doesn't come from the German paper in the link.) If the Democrats ever wish to become the majority party again, they should run this graphic past their strategists, ask them what they think, and fire anyone who says "well, we need to learn how to reconnect with Jesusland, obviously." I'll give you one boring example: additional federal funding of stem-cell research. I don't support it. But I do not favor a ban on private funding. I think it's one of those morally gray areas, and perhaps we had best not force people to pay money for this sort of thing. Ah, but I'm opposed to defense spending, can I withhold my taxes? No, you can't. Defense is one of the obligations of the government. You could argue that the government is obligated to fund any sort of medical research because it provides for the general welfare, but you could say the same thing about subsidized cable TV rates. You could say that about anything. Hence it's one of those things I prefer to leave to the private sector.
So I'm not particularly impressed when someone concludes that this stance, as well as a few other "moral issues," results from my habit of handling snakes on Sunday morning. Nuance, people. Nuance. Let's look at another example: let us postulate that objection to the gay marriage isn't based in "homophobia," but an unwillingness to redefine a long-standing institution. At least without a vote. There are two possible responses:

1. Gay-basher! Bigot!

2. Hmm. Really? Interesting; can't quite agree, but go on.

If the Democrats want to get back in power, they'll be wise to choose option two."

The opening is about his personal stuff, but scroll down until he starts this stuff, and keep reading -- it's entirely worth it.
The fact of the matter is, my views are pretty nuanced, but you'd never believe it from someone on the left, especially when they attack me. I'm opposed to gay marriage by judicial means, but not opposed to putting it up to a referendum vote by the American people. I oppose federal money for embryonic stem cell research before we know definitively that useful cures will come out of it, and in the meantime having an honest and open debate about it, instead of claiming that people like Christopher Reeve will get up and walk out of their wheelchairs if we break the bank funding new stem cell lines. And I agree with Lileks on this one: "I support gay adoption - unless there's a M/F couple in line, in which they should get preference. That has nothing to do with sexual identity or heterosexual chauvinism. I think a kid does best growing up exposed on an elemental level to both male and female characteristics; does that make me a raging bigot? Can we not even talk about that?"

The simple fact is, the views of people like me are nuanced -- just not on every front. We believe that there are shades of grays to this issue, just as strongly as we don't necessarily believe that such shades exist for abortion. But ask a liberal, and my hesitant support of gay rights makes me a homophobe, and my opposition to federally funding all stem cell research removes any sense of compassion from my views. No, I'm not nuanced on the war in Iraq or the broader war on terror, because I don't think we can afford to be. But that doesn't mean I'm an ignorant 'Jesusland' asshole. It just means I'm open to multiple points of view, and sometimes I accept them in concert with my own, other times I dismiss them as incompatible. When you dismiss my range of opinions entirely, or swear at me for the columns I've published, you show how much more close-minded you are than me.

Keep that in mind.

Jesusland 2004
Liberals across the web have been having fun with the idea of Jesusland, and having the blue states secede to join Canada, with the red states consolidating into "Jesusland," with a capital in Texas. Well, they've had their fun, so I thought I'd have mine.
I created my own Jesusland/Canada map, adding Mexico because I think it will come into play as well.

Day 1: Here's the basic map, as blue state legislatures declare their secession and the remaining Congress, consisting entirely of Republican Senators and Representatives, renames itself Jesusland and moves its Capital to Texas:

Day 2: Over the next 24 hours, I expect that the counties new to Canada who remain loyal to the government of the old US, now Jesusland, would assemble their own legislatures and declare themselves exempt from the secession. Concurrently, the counties remaining in Jesusland would do the opposite, declaring themselves either now part of Canada, entirely independent, or in the case of the predominantly Hispanic communities along the Mexican border, part of Mexico. Here is the map I anticipate in that circumstance:

The same day, Mexico, realizing itself on the brink of war with Jesusland would refuse to accept the seceding southern counties, and they would then declare themselves independent nations, allied with Canada. In the meantime, the Kofi Annan will come out and declare all of the seceding counties under their protection. At the end of the day, the map will look something like this:

Day 3: The President of Jesusland, George W. Bush will issue a statement condemning the treachery of the seceding counties, and the interference of the UN in an internal conflict. He will thank President Vicente Fox for his continued friendship and that of Mexico. At the same time, governments around the world will issue statements of their own. Russia will offer whatever help they can to Jesusland's cause, as will China (though in backroom talks they will insist that any aid will be offered only in exchange for the Jesusland's assurances that they will no longer interfere in the Taiwan issue -- a request which will be denied), and Israel will support Jesusland's sovereignty. Germany, France, and Spain will support Kofi Annan's statement. The remaining major governments of the western world will condemn the approaching civil war, while recognizing the the US/Jesusland's right to solve their own internal conflicts in a peaceful manner. The map will stay static for another day as the international community discusses the events of the previous few days, and troops throughout Jesusland and Canada mobilize in anticipation of hostilities.

Day 4: As the militaries of both countries continue to mobilize to the newly drawn borders, militias spring up throughout the red counties across Jesusland, and in parts of old Canada near the new borders. These militias join up with conventional military forces, and prepare for battle. The international community continues to chatter, and the map remains consistent throughout the day, the only substantive change coming from the military bases remaining in blue territory, who declare themselves still loyal to Jesusland.

As dark draws near, skirmishes on the borders turn into broader conflict. Blue forces are quickly overwhelmed by the heavily armed red militias and Jesusland military, and by morning a new map exists:

Day 5: At dawn after the first day of battle, the Canadian government decides to abandon its recognition of the seceded counties, and asks for peace with the Jesusland. Jesusland's State Department remains silent to the request. At the same time, hastily chosen representatives of the seceding western and Midwestern regions, having negotiated throughout the day, agree to a 24-hour ceasefire with Jesusland forces. Jesusland concerned about their weakly fortified positions continue to invade the Floridian and Mississippi territories, conquering them totally, while progressing into Canada, ignoring the peace offering from that government. At the end of the day, the new map is:

The ceasefire deadline quickly approaching, and the blue areas realizing that they have absolutely no chance of survival on their own, all secessions are withdrawn, and the blue leadership asks for reentry without prejudice into Jesusland. New York City holds out briefly, but ultimate acquiesces and requests the same. As US forces continue to advance into Canada, the Canadian government increases its demands that Jesusland returns to the pre-conflict borders. These demands are again ignored, but talks for a ceasefire reach an agreement for a period of 48 hours. Meanwhile, the Quebecois Secession Party, after secret meetings with Jesusland announces that it has left Canada, and intends to join Jesusland as its 51st state.

Day 6: Following the ceasefire, Jesusland quickly renames itself the United States of America, and moves back to Washington D.C. Quebec is voted into the US, and the Constitution is hastily amended to allow only one Senator from each of the states that had seceded, and half of their Representatives are removed and redistributed among red states. Talks with the Canadian government continue, but nothing firm is reached before the end of the first day of the ceasefire. The map remains the same.

Day 7: Halfway into the second day of talks, an agreement is reached. The Canadian government, recognizing that without the second front along the blue states, the US forces could quickly overrun the entirety of Canada in a short amount of time. This puts them at a decided disadvantage, and so they are forced to make large concessions. The US agrees that it will retreat halfway back through the Canadian territory they had taken in the western portion of the US/Canadian border. They will, however maintain almost all lands seized in the Northeast, adding them to the new Quebec state. Also, US forces will maintain a strong military presence along the new borderline, while the Canadians will demilitarize to their prewar presence. Any buildup in forces not cleared with the US State Department in advance will be considered an act of war, and hostilities will resume. So, exactly one week after the initial secession, the map has become:

The end of the Mini Poll
You may have noticed that I removed the Bravenet Mini Poll from my sidebar. With baseball season long since over, and my Red Sox having won the World Series, I decided its time has passed. Until I come up with something that I'd like to poll on, there will be no poll, but I'd be happy to take suggestions. In the meantime, here are the results of the most recent poll:

Sunday, November 07, 2004

If you think racist homophobes elected the president...
...then read David Brooks's column, The Values-Vote Myth, as well as this email to Andrew Sullivan. What you'll learn is that that explanation is simply wrong.

The Hypocrisy is Astounding
You'll see it, just keep scrolling here.

Very Symbolic
I pray for the family of this young man who committed suicide at WTC site, but I can't pass up an opportunity to point out one of the differences between conservatives and liberals: "'I'm absolutely sure it's a protest,' Mary Anne Mauney, Veal's supervisor at the lab, told The Daily News. 'I don't know what made him commit suicide, but where he did it was symbolic.'"

Where he did it is symbolic, so it must have been a protest. The WTC is symbolic. See, for me, the WTC isn't symbolic, it's where they murdered thousands of our citizens. The left: the WTC is a symbol of _____ (our oppression of the arab people, their first act in striking back, the need to capture OBL, etc.). The right: the WTC is an example of what can happen if we don't act before such attacks occur, to make sure that they don't occur.