Saturday, November 20, 2004

Climate of Fear
Well, I've posted on this before, and now it's official. The climate of fear has come to Yale. I left my room for dinner last night, and came back to notice that something had changed on my common room window.

You can't really tell, but the W '04 sticker is on the inside, and the swastika is on the outside. I'll refrain from further comments, because they will likely boil down to unintelligible ranting. Suffice it to say, I was understandably upset, as was my friend (a Democrat) who was walking with me at the time.

I have since placed signs on the inside of the window stating "I did not place this sticker here. Whoever did should be ashamed." with an arrow pointing to it, and then below it, the word "Fascism," followed by the definition from, notification of the fact that I oppose every tenet listed therein, and an invitation for anyone who thinks otherwise to kindly stop by anytime, or email me. If someone takes me up on it, maybe I can turn hatred into understanding; then at least one person's ignorance can lead to another's education.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "think of what the Marine and Army units just accomplished in Fallujah. In a single week, they killed as many as 1,200 of the enemy and captured 1,000 more. They did this despite forfeiting the element of surprise, so civilians could escape, and while taking precautions to protect Iraqis that no doubt made their own mission more difficult and hazardous. And they did all of this not for personal advantage, and certainly not to get rich, but only out of a sense of duty to their comrades, their mission and their country."

May God bless these men, who sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the world. They are doing good work in hard circumstances over there, and deserve our support. These letters condemning the picture of one soldier because he is smoking a cigarette, of another because of the rosary on his Bushmaster (which, by the way, indicates that the weapon has not been fired for a while) make me sick. When are people going to open their eyes and see what is really at stake in Iraq. I don't care any more if you opposed or supported the war to begin with; none of that matters. What is important now is getting the job done—and these men and women are doing it.

You want to know...
...why we can't discount the opinions of religious people just because they are religious? Because we would lose the valuable voices from people like this woman. Please, if you ever click through on something I post, make sure to read this piece. For you liberals who read this blog, it's NYT, so you're on friendly ground, even if you may not like what you read. Either way, this woman is brilliant, and I'd like to hear more from her.

Which brings me back to the question of why I, an independent-minded woman, bother with Islam. Religion supplies a set of values, including discipline, that serve as a counterweight to the materialism of life in the West. I could have become a runaway materialist, a robotic mall rat who resorts to retail therapy in pursuit of fulfillment. I didn't. That's because religion introduces competing claims. It injects a tension that compels me to think and allows me to avoid fundamentalisms of my own.
Islam today has deep flaws, and I know saying so makes me a blasphemer in the eyes of countless Muslims. C'est la vie. If they move beyond emotion, they'll come to appreciate that for the rationalists among us, religion can be a godsend.

Fllacy to fallacy
A letter appears in today's YDN, criticizing my most recent column. The author is Aryeh Cohen-Wade, whose central argument is that I'm wrong. (Surprise, Suprise). He says: "Cook states that many people use their religious beliefs to determine that life begins at conception, and thus oppose abortion. However, there are also people in the world who use their religious beliefs to determine that it is a sin for a man to view a woman's flesh, and thus force women to wear burkas in public. Why is one religiously defined belief legitimate, while the other is not?"

Cohen-Wade asks the right question, he just comes down at an illogical answer. Why is one religiously defined believe legitmate, while the other is not? Because we are not judging the decision to force women to wear burkas based on the fact that it is religiously-based. We are judging it based on the fact that it is cruel to women. If these fundamentalist regimes were based on a set of beliefs that were non-religious, it would still be cruel to force women to wear burkas, and we would still be trying to do something about it. (Incidentally, I still maintain that a belief that a man seeing a woman's flesh is a sin is reason for men to walk around wearing blindfolds, not for them to cover up the women.)

He also claims that "The problem with legislating based on faith is that all Americans do not share the same faith. This is why we must legislate not on faith but rather on fact -- on verifiable truths that all parties can agree upon."
Ok, Aryeh, I'll make you a deal—from now on, let's just legislate on the issues "that all parties can agree upon." But, you've got a problem. See, I don't support welfare, or affirmative action, or abortion, or environmental regulation, or trade regulation, or farm subsidies, or, or, or...
And there are probably things I want the government to cover, maybe stronger defense, tougher law enforcement, the war in Iraq, etc. that you don't support. So, we're going to have to repeal all of those, too.

The simple fact, my friend, is that there is no such thing as a "verifiable truth," in politics. It's all about interpretation and impressions—compromise and concession. In a climate like Washington, D.C., my point is simple: a reason for a person's beliefs is not enough to condemn them. If you're going to condemn the argument that gay marriage is wrong, then do what you did in this letter: prove that banning it would have negative ramifications for policy, don't tell someone that they are wrong simply because they are religious.

I'll bet you've read Orwell. My friend, telling me I'm wrong because of why I think the things I do is pretty Orwellian to me. The next step on the ladder is banning opinions because they were formulated at Yale.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Here's a thought
Hugh Hewitt has some interesting thoughts on the Gonzales nomination for AG: "The nomination of Alberto Gonzales to become Attorney General has been seen by many as a step for him towards the Supreme Court.
But what if it is a step towards a campaign for Governor or Senator from Texas? Or even a step towards a vice-presidential nomination in four years? Watch his confirmation hearings very closely, because the Dems surely know that they don't get many shots at a rising Republican superstar. And once confirmed, watch how the then AG Gonzales staffs his DOJ. With a savvy group of writers and special assistants, AG Gonzales could become the face of the Administration's war on terror on the home front, as well as a hero to the GOP center-right on a variety of other issues.
In other words, don't put a robe on him yet. He may have other goals in mind."

As he often does, Hewitt seems to have a more creative take on political probabilities—and he's likely to be right.

Read Lileks
'nuff said.

Religion's Place in Politics
My newest column is up at the YDN under the unspectacular headline: The right's rationale for legislating on faith. Oh well, can't win them all.

This column arose out of a blog post that I'm still working on, and may never complete. I was attempting to fisk Maureen Dowd's Sunday column, and wrote two pages on the first paragraph. Obviously, that was too intense for one blog post, so it evolved into a column. Feel free to leave feedback here, or you can submit it to the YDN editorial staff for publication by emailing

The Party of Pessimism
I'm not always pleased with what Brendan Miniter turns out, but today he has a great column on how the Democrat Party has doomed itself as the party of unions and bureaucracy, and how they can pull themselves out of it. While everyone seems to be weighing in with advice for the Dems, this is worth reading as a new perspective.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

An interesting glimpse at the future
Amidst all this bashing of the MSM, it's necessary to acknowledge that sometimes it does it's job right. There is a piece in the Boston Globe that examines exactly what might happen if Roe is overturned?

For the record, I favor the idea of overturning Roe. I do not believe that there is a constitutional protection for abortion, and that the court overreached in placing that protection under the due process/right to privacy protections. I think that because there is no federal constitutional protection, it must be decided on the state legislature level, short of constitutional amendment. That is my legal opinion.

Now, assuming Roe is overturned, and we revert to abortive rights being decided by state legislatures, I will oppose abortion in Connecticut. Based on my faith, I believe that life begins at conception. Even granting that we cannot establish that fact, I must point out that we cannot disprove it either. As such, it is arrogant to assume that you hold all the answers, and that you have the right to take the risk of committing murder to increase your own comfort. Though until just recently I made an absolute exception in the case of rape, I have more trouble doing so now, as our society is not in the habit of visiting the sins of a parent on his child. Similarly, while I understand the case of exception for the life of the mother, again, I have some difficulty because I believe that abortion is murder, and our society is not in the habit of trading one life to save another. So, I'm undecided on those two points, but overall I have to oppose abortion.

So, you may ask, how I can legislate my own articles of faith onto other people. The answer is simple: that's not what I'm doing--in fact, if you try to prevent me from opposing abortion, then you are forcing your beliefs on me. The fact is, if I believe abortion to be murder, then I have to oppose it at all costs, or consider myself an accessory to murder. If you try and tell me that my reason for opposition, because it is based on religious beliefs, disqualifies me from my position, then you are forcing me to accept your views of my religion over my own.

Either way, that was all a tangent. Read the article I linked to above to see why opposition to Roe is not necessarily opposition to abortion, and why the death of Roe could spell the death of the Republican Party.

What 51% of the vote really means
David Broder writes a great piece in the Seattle Times.

And what credibility might that be? - How do bloggers impact political news?: "Mindy McAdams, a University of Florida journalism professor, applauded bloggers' efforts but urged them to adhere to ethical standards held by mainstream journalists.
'Our credibility is suffering with so many people rushing to publish things without checking them out,' McAdams said after Cox's speech."

As I remember it, CBS released the falsified Texas Air National Guard memos, with minimal background checking. And they weren't under any pressure to publish by blogs, that's for sure.

Oh, and then there's the munitions story, set to be released the Sunday before the election by CBS and scooped by the NYT 3 days earlier. Again, this was through no fault of the blogs, but was positioned to try and damage Bush as much as possible.

What's hurting the mainstream media credibility is not blogging. What's hurting MSM is the fact that they have no credibility, and blogs are now here to catch them. When they sit on a story that the public deserves to know, it comes out through blogs. When they release a story that is fraudulent, the blogs catch them. (Imagine if this National Guard memo business had happened 10 years ago--we never would have known they were false, and the media would not have lost any credibility, but they still wouldn't have deserved the credibility they have). So, yes, if you're lying, and there's a network of people poised to catch you in that lie, and they are succeeding with more and more frequency, your credibility will suffer--but going from that to blaming that network for your diminishing credibility is a bit spurious.