~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Friday, June 30, 2006

Why leaks are bad

It's a matter of honor, as well as a matter of life and death. The two go hand in hand. The good news is that preserving just one would ensure the other.

A week ago today, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times all reported on the Treasury's classified program tracking the financial dealings of terrorist outfits.

Today, the editorial board of the Journal defends itself against what it sees as the New York Times' attempts to co-opt Journal coverage of the Swift story for the purposes of making the Journal "its ideological wingman."

Fit and Unfit to Print
What are the obligations of the press in wartime?


President Bush, among others, has since assailed the press for revealing the program, and the Times has responded by wrapping itself in the First Amendment, the public's right to know and even The Wall Street Journal. We published a story on the same subject on the same day, and the Times has since claimed us as its ideological wingman. So allow us to explain what actually happened, putting this episode within the larger context of a newspaper's obligations during wartime.


We recount all this because more than a few commentators have tried to link the Journal and Times at the hip. On the left, the motive is to help shield the Times from political criticism. On the right, the goal is to tar everyone in the "mainstream media." But anyone who understands how publishing decisions are made knows that different newspapers make up their minds differently.

Now if certain key assertions are factually true, such as this from the Journal...

[A]t no point did Treasury officials tell us not to publish the information. And while Journal editors knew the Times was about to publish the story, Treasury officials did not tell our editors they had urged the Times not to publish.

... and this from Hugh Hewitt's recent interview of LA Times' Doyle McManus...

[W]hen we made our decision to publish our story, the New York Times had already published its. So as a matter of fact, we had not had the set of discussions that we had scheduled on precisely how to balance that. So in a sense, I can't tell you how we balanced it, because we ended up not coming to a final decision. Now I don't mean to be disingenuous. We were certainly leaning in the direction of publishing, but we hadn't finally decided to.

... I don't see any way not to lay the blame for this entire fiasco at the feet of Bill Keller of the NYT.

Peggy Noonan put it this way, which strikes me as scathingly accurate:

The mission is to get the story, break through the forest to get to a clear space called news, and also be a citizen. It's not to be a certain kind of citizen, and insist everyone else be that kind of citizen, and also now and then break a story.

Forgetting the mission is a problem endemic in newsrooms now. [...] You become not journalistic and now and then political, but political and now and then journalistic.

It's sad. Though I guess if you're the Times you take comfort in the fact that even though you're not as important as you used to be, you're just as destructive as ever.

Look, I frequently write about my disgust with the NYT, an organization which, frankly, I loathe to the core for its arrogant belief they're a co-equal, unelected fourth branch of government, ultimately self-serving whether right or wrong. The Times manages to piss me off on a near daily basis. I'm also concerned over the Journal editorial staff's fetishizing of the Pentagon Papers case, which famously held that the government doesn't have the right of prior restraint regarding censorship. But I applaud their position that editors should recognize "not all news is fit to print" and should, in other words, excercise self restraint based on good judgement.

I come from inside of the intelligence community, and there you'll find another system that requires consciencious Americans to excercise self restraint. It's a robust system, carefully refined over the last century, designed to protect both national security and civil liberties. It also depends on the conscience of good men and women in order to work, and I'm offended when members of that community go outside the system to address their concerns, just as I am offended when the NYT publishes their blabbermouthing. Both are failures of good judgement. Both betray their obligations to the American Public.

From the Journal:

[A] Times editorial this week [protests] that "The Swift story bears no resemblance to security breaches, like disclosure of troop locations, that would clearly compromise the immediate safety of specific individuals." In this asymmetric war against terrorists, intelligence and financial tracking are the equivalent of troop movements. They are America's main weapons.

It's true. Effective intelligence-based anti-terrorism programs are essential. Mark Steyn said it best:

It's very hard to fight a terrorist war without intelligence. By definition, you can only win battles against terrorists pre-emptively — that's to say, you find out what they're planning to do next Thursday and you stop it cold on Wednesday. Capturing them on Friday while you're still pulling your dead from the rubble is poor consolation.

And effective intelligence operations require good judgement from both the intel community AND the news community. It's an honor system, pure and simple... and deadly serious.

The Journal is fighting to retain its honor in this matter. What's the NYT doing? Furthering its image as a collection of elite, self-righteous social engineers.

Now... if I had to pick a side... hmmmmmmmmmm.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

SCOTUS loses its mind; grants Geneva rights to Al Qaida

And I'm royally pissed.

The Supreme Court has voted 5-3 to strike down the President's authority to hold military tribunals for the ~450 enemy combatants currently held at Guantanamo Bay, and further, that they may be eligible for POW status under the Geneva Conventions.

Andy McCarthy predicted it:

For pre-mortem, though, I've been poking around, and it seems like there's a prevailing view that if — as expected — the decision comes out in favor of Hamdan, the theory will be that al Qaeda does have Geneva Convention protections.

Make no mistake: if this happens, the Supreme Court will have dictated that we now have a treaty with al Qaeda — which no President, no Senate, and no vote of the American people would ever countenance. [...] The Constitution consigns treaty-making to the political branches, not the courts, but a conclusion that Geneva protects Hamdan (and, by extension, his fellow savages) would ominously mean that the courts, under the conveniently malleable guise of "customary international law" can rewrite treaties to mean whatever they like them to mean.

Yep. In one fell swoop of the gavel the Court has stolen the hard-earned valor of America's military men and women, who accumulated that honor through years of abiding by the Laws of Land Warfare, and handed it, free of charge, to the butchers among Gitmo's detainees. I'm with milblogger Oak Leaf, who laments, "I wasted 12 months of my life in Afgahnistan for this." Amen. And I wasted 7 months in Iraq.

Apparently all you need do to receive the POW protections guaranteed under the Geneva Conventions, conventions specifically designed to protect civilians, is... target civilians.

Up is down and black is white. Our enemies in this war know the value we in the West place on the lives of non-combatants. That's why they target them. What I don't (can't!) understand is why some here in the West could possibly see value in rewarding their actions. Are we in this to win or not?

UPDATE: Great minds think alike. And sometimes, highly emotional, non-legal minds like mine think like dispassionate, eloquent minds like James Taranto.

My rant over at Lee's joint:

Oh! And a note to all the BDS sufferers who think this was a righteous "rebuke" of the President's "overreach"? The most likely result of this is to throw those 450 men in Gitmo back into legal limbo, while we sort out their status. Way to go! You've condemned hundreds of human souls to months or even years without process just to score a political point against a president you didn't vote for. Congratufuckinglations.

Taranto's assesment:

The chief result of this ruling will be to delay the trials of Guantanamo detainees until Congress or the Pentagon establishes a regime of military commissions that meets the court's approval. For those concerned with the duration of terrorists' captivity--a perverse thing to worry about anyway--there's little to cheer here.

I'm now reading several analyses that say today's ruling rejects POW status for enemy combatants. Which gives me some measure of relief, I don't mind saying. Justice Stevens had senority over this case (Chief Justice Roberts was involed with the case at a lower level and so recused himself) and did not address Geneva status (much) in his written opinion. Which means, as much as Stevens wants to talk about it, if it isn't written down, it holds no weight as precident. I'm no lawyer, but this is what lawyers tell me.

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God bless global warming, part two

These Summer electrical storms are just awesome, I tell you. It's like, like... it's like living in New Mexico. Only with more humidity... and well... more bourbon. Whooooooo hee!

UPDATE: Sugar the dog doesn't like it much, though. Stupid dog.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

More on flag burning

I don't burn the flag. I don't like the thought of others burning the flag. But I honestly can't get so worked up I'd support banning the act itself.

Klansmen who burn a cross on the lawn of a black church aren't guilty of burning a sacred symbol. They're guilty of the crime of intimidation. And they should be aggressively chased down, arrested and prosecuted for their crime. Similarly, protesters burning the flag at highly charged street demonstrations aren't guilty of desecration. They're guilty of inciting a riot, and should be just as aggressively prosecuted.

Protecting the symbol in either case must take a backseat to prosecuting the, you know, actual crime. The fire involved in both examples is incidental. So I don't see the value of a constitutional amendment protecting the flag as a symbol .

The proposed amendment is more, um... complicated than my analysis, of course. For instance, the editors of National Review see it as a chance to chastise the Supreme Court for power grabbing throughout recent years.

A constitutional amendment would not be our first choice for a response to the Court’s mistake. A statute to remove the issue from the federal courts, and thus restore state autonomy on the issue, would correct the error without requiring the Constitution to take notice of it. But the arguments against an amendment are weak, and their weaknesses help to make the case for it.


It is precisely the defiance the amendment represents — a defiance on behalf of self-government — that recommends it to us.

I'm just as concerned about judicial overreach as the editors of National Review. But, dammit, incitement is already illegal. This proposed amendment would give Congress the power to make crying flag! in a burning movie theater illegal and that's just silly.

(I'm treading as lightly as I can here. For the record, while I believe the parallel between the cross and flag as symbols to be appropriate, my implied parallel between the crimes of intimidation and simple incitement is greatly mismatched. No analogy is perfect. I hope I've made the distinction clear.)

UPDATE: Failed by one vote. I like to think my own Senator was the one.

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Hounded to death?

This is just awful. UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Denise Dee Denton has apparently taken her own life, jumping from a 44 story high rise in San Francisco.

Sources said Denton had retreated from the campus in the weeks before her death, canceling appointments and clearing her calendar. She began a short medical leave on June 15, a campus spokesman said.[...]

Denton was noticeably absent from university commencement exercises earlier this month, and backed out at the last minute of a dinner she was supposed to host for graduation speaker astronaut Steven Hawley, a UC-Santa Cruz alum.

Sources said she recently had seemed depressed and disengaged.

When Denton began her medical leave, "she said she would be away and on medical leave for a short period of time," said Jim Burns, a UC-Santa Cruz spokesman. "She was expected back early this coming week."

My sincerest condolances to those who survive the Chancellor. I've struggled with depression myself. It's never easy, but in some ways, it's even harder on loved ones. This is a tragic death.

Regular readers might remember my criticism of Chancellor Denton in April, when I suggested that she either "cannot or will not" control student protesters? According to Mercury News, it appears Santa Cruz's problems with violent protests (more like self-righteous-hissy-fits) is much worse than I imagined.

Some of those who knew her said all the controversy had taken a toll.

She had been recently ridiculed by area cartoonists. And on campus, she had been the target of many protests, students said, with protesters rallying against everything from employee wages on campus to workplace conditions in foreign countries where UC apparel is made.

Denton had called campus police a few times after protesters camped out on the grounds around her house, said Santa Cruz City Councilman Mike Rotkin, a lecturer at the school. She asked for increased security after someone threw a parking barricade through a picture window at her university home.


After one recent event in which students surrounded her car and performed a five-minute play in support of workers and students of color, she seemed to grow increasingly fearful, said Josh Sonnenfeld, a student organizer.

Good God! Is the UC Santa Cruz campus really such a Hobbesian Leviathan with mobs of angry young punks roaming the landscape? I had no idea.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Bill Keller, boy dectective, paralyzes critics with bizarre interpretation of "freedom of the press"

It's been four days since Bill Keller briefed our enemies as to our anti-terrorism program to track their spending. If that wasn't a bold enough tactic to demonstrate his contempt for the average American, now he's successfully stopped his critics in their tracks by rewording the first ammendment:

A deeper error is Keller's characterization of freedom of the press as an institutional privilege, an error that is a manifestation of the hubris that has marked the NYT of late. Keller writes: "It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. . . . The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly."

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn't give freedom to the press.[...]

Characterizing the freedom this way, of course, makes much of Keller's piece look like, well, just what it is -- arrogant and self-justificatory posturing. To quote Keller: "Forgive me, I know this is pretty elementary stuff — but it's the kind of elementary context that sometimes gets lost in the heat of strong disagreements."

Or institutional self-importance.

Arrogance may not be a crime. But it is at the heart of this particular crime.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

NYT: All the (classified) news that's fit to print

The arrogance of Bill Keller knows no limits. The Times has done it again.

Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror

Published: June 23, 2006

WASHINGTON, June 22 — Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

I'm speechless! Apparently to the NYT, if it's classified, it's news! Seriously. What can I say that I haven't said before? Newspaper editors aren't elected, are not above the law, and do not make policy for America's intelligence agencies. What's it going to take to get these three simple facts through their thick skulls?

Andy McCarthy has an idea:

The anti-warriors know only the language of self-interest. It is the language that tells them the revelation of the nation’s secrets will result, forthwith, in the demand for the revelation of their secrets — which is to say, their sources in the intelligence community — with incarceration the price of resistance.

It's come to this, I think.

UPDATE: Ever read the boy detective novels The Three Investigators as a kid? They were the best! You have your chubby brainiac for a leader, the introspective jock who practices the time honored football value of team loyalty and the skinny kid whose lack of judgement is more than made up by his enthusiasm. They work out of a secret HQ, a Winnebego buried under a mound of scrap in a junk yard, complete with a secret tunnel and trap door entrance. Rewarded for solving a particularly tough mystery on the behalf of the local limosine rental company, they travel in style: A chauffered Rolls Royce limo is at their disposal whenever they want. And when the going gets really tough, they emloy the "ghost-to-ghost hookup," a pyramid intel network wherein they call neighborhood kids and charge them with "keeping on the lookout" as well as calling ten others to do the same. They even have business cards. Business cards! Sure the adults think it's cute, and they chuckle and dote on our heros, but these kids mean business! They have cards and everything!

I suspect many an intrepid reporter read and loved these books (or ones like them) as a kid, as did many an intel puke like me. The problem comes when the reporters and intel pukes who still think they're living the boy detective dream employ their "ghost-to-ghost hookup." IT'S NOT A GODDAMN GAME.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Goodbye, Dan

There's something wrong with Susan Estritch's calculus. She says news is a business based on loyalty. I say it's a business based on trust. It's a shame Rather went and squandered the trust he'd spent 23 years building up, but thems the breaks, and he has no one to blame but himself.

For Dan Rather Ditching, Shame on CBS

LOS ANGELES — Shame on CBS for treating Dan Rather so badly. In a business that depends on loyalty, they've shown none. And what goes around may come around, if viewers are indeed watching.

Face it, Suze. Dan attempted to influence the outcome of a presidential election while hiding under the guise of objective reporting. He got caught and 23 years of hard earned trust with America evaporated. No amount of loyalty on the part of CBS will re-establish that trust. It's over.

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Goldberg on treating countries as people


Once you think of nations as people, the cult of unity, which assumes that togetherness for its own sake is a virtue, kicks in. Our discussions of foreign policy have been corrupted by this sloppiness.


What I am saying is that we are very confused about what confers legitimacy in foreign affairs, and that this confusion stems from our annoying habit of imposing our ideas about people on things that aren’t people.

Not sure I agree. He's talking about people like me, of course. I've long extended the metaphor of the "sovereign individual" up to the macro example of the State. While I see the potential for abuse (the "cult of unity" he describes,) I still think it's a useful metaphor.

If all the world is a cocktail party with nation states as the party goers, and if America ejects the drunken boor waving a pistol in everyone's face, that doesn't make America "wrong" just because it did so unilaterally. And it doesn't make the others "right" just because of their unity in denouncing America.

There's still value in the psychological model of foreign policy, IMO. Flaws in the model can't be avoided. It's just a model.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bill Whittle is back

And he's writing a book, installments of which will appear on his blog. Here's the introduction, which, if it's any indication of what's to come, means I'll be keeping a saw buck or two in reserve for when An American Civilization hits the stands.

To the Untrained Eye it looks like Western Civ is going to hell in a hand basket; each of its former stalwarts marching silently into the sea, our only consolation as Americans being that we appear to be at the back of the line, leaning to the side of the queue to see which part of Europe takes the Big Drink first...

It doesn’t seem to take much arguing to conclude that Western Civilization, if not on the path to utter destruction, is at the very least somewhat frayed around the edges. [...]

Everywhere I’ve looked – and I’ve been looking around a lot – I get the sense of powerless frustration, of standing on the beach as the Thousand Foot Wave rises up to block out the sun and take everything we have built and fought for with it.

The forces of ignorance and barbarism – bearers of ruin and despair wherever they make camp – are growing in confidence. But beside their will to destroy and die they have nothing. These Death Cult barbarians think this is all they will need – that, and an initial alliance with the forces they most despise. I still hold out hope that they will crack open a second book – a history book, say – that might at the eleventh hour give them some insight into the avocado nature of the Civilization they seem determined now to assault: soft and pulpy on the outside, impenetrably tough and hard within. They are going to do more than chip a tooth on us, these raving, bloodthirsty lunatics...

Good stuff.

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Troops ordered into Crescent City

Good God.

National Guard Called In to Fight Big Easy Crime Wave

NEW ORLEANS, June 20, 2006 — Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has pledged to dispatch the National Guard and state police to the beleaguered city.

The move answers a plea from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the City Council for help in protecting city streets.

I hereby retract my endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for president in '08. It's clear his leadership is more urgently needed in New Orleans.

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Hail yeah!

This summer is turning out some kick-ass late night thunder storms.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Yet another chance to express my disgust over "For the Children" ads

Ugh. This despicable tactic must be effective. Why else would so many people employ it?

Buy Michelin brand tires, because so much is riding on your tires. Support PBS, because Big Bird is vital to your child's education." Kix! Kid tested, mother approved! Advertisments that suggest that if you don't do X, you don't care about "the children" annoy. me. to. no. end.

Isn't the default setting for the human animal to want to care for and protect children? You know, isn't it hard-wired into our genetic make-up? If it wasn't, would we still be here? Seems to me it's an evolutionary imperative, nes't pas?

Here's the latest one I saw just tonight:

I don't dispute that climate change is a scientifically proven cyclic phenonemon. But I'm skeptical about humanity's industrial contribution to that largely natural cycle.

But according to "For The Children" arguments like the above commercial, that's just code talk for, "You know me, I just love to throw little chi'lins under oncoming trains." Sheesh.

Like I said, such blatant attempts at emotional manipulation must be effective. The only other explanation is an endless stream of brainstorming sessions at ad agencies through the years going something like this:

Ad Guy 1: Wait! I got it! Let's imply that whenever someone doesn't buy our product, a cute kid dies a horrible death.

Ad Guy 2: Well, it's been done so many times before and it hasn't been a very good money maker but... Oh, what the hell? This time it just might work!

I just don't see that happening. Yep. Must be effective.

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A magazine steals a copyrighted photo, puts it on the cover, photo owner objects, initiates letter writing campaign to have retailers refuse to stock that issue. What does the magazine do?

That's right.. cry CENSORSHIP!

This is what I mean when I say the word "censorship" has no real meaning anymore. At least, not here in the pampered West. It's become a legal cudgel. Just another weapon to be whipped out if anyone challenges your "right" to do whatever you damn well please. God help us all.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

And the winner for "Most self-absorbed editorial" is...

Linda Hirshman. Seriously. I was going to quote the whole thing and just bold the I's and Me's... but there is too much. Check it out. Like a horrible car crash, you just can't pull your eyes away.

(Via: the corner)

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The hunt is on (aka The Insomnia Post)

A few blocks away, a police helicopter is circling overhead, searchlight pointed downwards in search for some bad guy or another. My scanner batteries are dead (have been for a couple of years now) or else I'd know more. Still fascinating, though... Round and round as if tethered to the earth by that searchlight beam.

Years ago, when I was a teenager, my friends and I went out to a "known hot spot" on Baxter Avenue to look for UFOs. We hadn't been parked but maybe three minutes before we were flashed by a police chopper searchlight. Panicked, we capped our binoculars, jumped into the car and fled the scene, our hearts pounding. The black helicopters are real! The black helicopters are real! We didn't sleep at all that night. Just stayed up discussing the reality of the "Oz factor" and how the TRUTH really is out there!

Had we ever bothered to turn on the telivision for anything other than the X-Files, we'd have learned that then-presidential-candidate Bill Clinton was in town giving a campaign speech and the choppers were most likely a part of the security detail. *Ahem* Occam's razor and all. What a buzz kill that was, I don't mind telling you. Sheesh.

On the upside... well I guess there is no upside to having such a thrilling adventure dashed to bits... except... well... had we stuck around that night, we might well have marveled at how the helicopter as it circled, seemed tethered to the earth by that searchlight beam!

It's taken me ten years to see the silver lining of that shattered fantasy! Seriously. My feelings of betrayal at the time were even greater than the Easter-Bunny-Santa Claus-Tooth-Fairy TriFecta of Disappointment combined.

Tonight has been a good night.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Fodder for future posts

So now that I've defended Comedy Central regarding censorship and criticized Comedy Central for, well censorship... the obvious question looms...

Q: Why do I still watch it?

Short answer: Because it makes me laugh. And to paraphrase Peter Carroll, laughter may be the one thing in this universe you can get away with for free.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

On gay marriage

For various reasons, philosophical, practical and according to my own sense of liberal justice, I support the legalization of monogamous gay marriage. For me, it basically comes down to mirroring the recognition we already grant monogamous hetero couples without children. But defending this position has always been a bit tricky for me. I felt I was walking a fine line between the Beatles' childish and naive All You Need Is Love and Lennon's hellishly nihilistic Imagine. How to explain why I support gay marriage without being lumped into either of these two philosophically noxious camps?

Well, Stanley Kurtz, writing in the Weekly Standard last week, has done me a great service. He has written a clear, rational rebuttal of polygamy and polyamory. He's strengthened my support for gay marriage and highlighted the dangerous tactics of some gay marriage advocates. (More on this later.) Kurtz has been meticulously researching and documenting the resurgence of polygamist chic not just here in the West, but in the Islamic World as well.

Polygamy Versus Democracy
You can't have both.
by Stanley Kurtz
06/05/2006, Volume 011, Issue 36

IT TOOK A TELEVISION SERIES about a Viagra-popping patriarch with three friendly/jealous wives and tightly scheduled evenings to set off a serious public debate about polygamy. And that was precisely the intention of the creators of this now infamous television show--no, not Big Love, the American series that debuted on HBO in March, but 'Ailat Al-Hagg Metwalli (Hagg Metwalli's Family), an Egyptian serial that stirred emotions and sparked a bitter debate about polygamy in the Muslim world during the holy month of Ramadan 2001.

A debate that pitted Muslim against Muslim, one side arguing in favor of traditional, patriarchal authority, the other wanting a reformation of the traditional definitions that would protect women from abuse of that authority. That this debate happened at all gives me hope for democracy in the Mid-East. Kurtz then names the touchstone that the rest of his article is based upon, the unanimous 1878 Supreme Court dicision upholding the constitutionality of anti-polygamy law, Reynolds v. United States...

Reynolds v. United States is a landmark decision. It was the first Supreme Court case to clarify the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom by limiting that freedom to beliefs, rather than social practices (like polygamy or suttee, the former Hindu custom of burning widows alive on their husband's funeral pyre). Interestingly, Reynolds also defends the idea that American democracy rests upon specific family structures, which are legitimately protected by law.

... and returns to Reynolds often as he makes the historical case that polygamy and polyamory are incompatible with the principles of Western liberal democracy. And that they stand opposed to the institution of... love!

The 12-year federal drive to enforce Reynolds was far more than a quest to root out polygamy. In effect, the fight against polygamy was a slow, frustrating, expensive, ultimately successful campaign to democratize Utah. (The parallels to the war on terror are eerie.)


Given the demonstration effect of the Civil War, polygamists knew that armed resistance was futile. Yet by evading capture and withholding the evidence needed for conviction, the Mormon leadership hoped to win a legal war of attrition. Still, Mormon resistance was limited by the fear of provoking a full-fledged military occupation, and by the thirst for statehood.


Why were Americans outraged by polygamy? In a word, because of love. The idea of love as central to marriage, by no means common in the world at large, has a long history in the West, going back to the Bible, notably the letters of Paul. Even so, romantic love as the fundamental pillar of marriage (alongside parenthood, of course) truly came into its own in the mid-nineteenth century. Polygamy was an offense against love, the structural glue of American marriage. To those who valued compassionate love, polygamy seemed little better than slavery.

Powerful stuff, love. Read the rest. It's truly fascinating. Well reasoned, well researched and easy to read, Kurtz (according to Kurtz himself) has produced the first serious argument against modern polygamy. He summarizes the historical battle for monogamy in the US, suggesting that it's never been as clear cut as we'd like to think, and "shoots down facile comparisons between Christianity and Islam." It's a compelling case, and though he acknowledges the religious roots of our democratic principles, he's not dogmatic.

After reading this, I'm more confident I could explain why All You Need Is Love lacks a principled foundation in classical liberalism, and why the soulless "anything goes" Imagine is similarly dissatisfying. Uncoerced, monogamous gay mariage based on love, it would seem to me, is easily supported by the liberal Western tradition of individual conscience.

But at the end Kurtz examines the symbiotic ties between gay marriage advocates and those who would glom onto the gay marriage agenda to legitimize multiple marriage.

A few same-sex marriage advocates pretend that by simply offering rational reasons to oppose polygamy, they can neutralize the dangers of the slippery-slope. Multi-partner unions breed jealousy and marital instability, says Slate's William Saletan. True, but that hasn't stopped polyamorists from mimicking the argument of gay marriage advocates: Take away the stigma of nonrecognition, and our unions will be as stable as yours. Polygamy deprives men of marriage partners, says National Journal columnist Jonathan Rauch. Potentially, yes, especially in small closed communities. But in a huge country where growing numbers of men don't marry, and many are unmarriageable, polygamists will make their usual claim to have solved the dilemma of the unmarried woman. Polyamorists will add that unions of one woman and multiple men will help balance out sex ratios.


More important, by training us to see marriage as a civil rights issue, gay marriage advocates have largely defanged all of these structural arguments. Redefining the family is increasingly seen as a fundamental right.

Me? I'm not a fan of the slippery slope argument. Legalizing monogamous gay marriage today does not obviate a successful future fight against multiple marriage. I am, however, concerned about the overlapping of agendas in the gay marriage / multiple marriage debate. Kurtz fears a slippery slope. I fear it will hurt our chances of finally legitimizing gay marriage.

Especially appalling is 1) the winking and nodding going on behind the scenes between the two camps, 2) the tacit approval of shock demonstrations designed to offend fellow Americans, and 3) the gross comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement. Most Americans are equal-parts suspicious of non-transparent organizations, contemptuous of shock tacticians, and reverent of our commitment to racial equality.

1) We good-faith advocates for gay marriage need to immediately distance ourselves from the polygamist / polyamory agenda. Stop accepting monetary and other support from those who would cynically use the gay marriage platform as a stepping stone to further their muti-marriage goals.

2) Good-faith advocates of gay marriage need to condemn vulgar, street theater displays. The frustration driving these acts is understandable, but it doesn't excuse them. They do nothing to convince Americans that gay couples are "just like them, only gay."

3) Good-faith advocates of gay marriage must stop issuing fallacious analogies to racial oppression. Apples and oranges. This is a failing of the Social Left in general. When every issue is defined in terms of human rights, the very word "right" is diminished. When the "right to gay marriage" is purported to carry the same weight as the "right to racial equality," it reduces the seriousness of America's history of racial oppression, and dims the bright light of our successes in recent decades.

Look, the burden of proving to America that recognizing gay marriage is consistent with the best traditions of liberal democracy lies with those of us who advocate for it. It's an awesome responsibility. It's time we started rising to the challenge.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zarkman pink-slipped by laser guided "downsizing consultant"


UPDATE: Lou asks if I came up with this headline all by myself. Unfortunately, no. It's totally stolen. Credit due to Iowahawk.

The Here We Go Again UPDATE: Stephen Spuriell notes that media coverage is a mixed bag, ranging in tone from, Terrorist gets just deserts to America escelates cycle of violence.

And Glenn laments, "And it's too bad that I have to spend so much of a post on a Zarqawi's death talking about the misconduct of the American press. But terrorism is an information war for the most part, and the press is, in various ways, empowering the terrorists. I wish it would show as much awareness of nuance, and the tendency of people to manipulate the media, where the enemy is concerned as it does in some other settings where, I think it's fair to say, it cares more about the impact of its behavior."

And Laura Ingraham led off her show this morning highlighting how media efforts to "balance" Zarqawi's evilness began within minutes of the death announcement, including audio of Don Imus catching a reporter in Baghdad flatfooted trying to attribute (without evidence) an early morning blast killing thirteen as "retrobution" for Zarqawi. Truly incredible.

The days of Ernie Pyle are gone, gone, gone. Thankfully, so is Abu Mousab Al-Zarqawi. So, I'll take what I can get.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Federal Marriage Amendment fails cloture vote

Good. I still think the best way Rupublicans can fire up the base for Fall is to push enforcement-first immigration reform. They won't, of course, but it'd, you know, be kinda nice...

UPDATE: Allah agrees and has the roll. And Glenn thinks the AP lede sums it up nicely. Which is surprising, because it's the A frickin' P, but then again, it casts the Administration in a bad light, so that's alright.

If my readers have thoughts about this, feel free to comment, but I'll probably hold off until tomorrow or Friday, as I'm working on a long post on the subject in general.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

George Washington: "He'll save children but not the British children"


*strong content warning*

(Via: Allah)

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A late night rumination on...

... oh, the heck with it all! You people drink what you wanna. Me? I'm sticking to the basics. Besides, it ain't been taxed, so's I'm not at all sure what my legal standing be.

UPDATE: *zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*

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Monday, June 05, 2006

A stupendously bad idea...

... is coming up for consideration in the Senate this week. Sen Daniel Akaka has proposed a race-based government for native Hawaiians. I'll say that again. He wants a race-based, splinter government body seperate from, but residing within the greater whole of the United States.

Um, I... I just... Words fail me. Luckily, John Fund makes up for my slack-jawed state in today's WSJ:

Pluribus Sine Unum
Will the Senate impose race-based government on Hawaii?

America's motto is "E pluribus unum," Latin for "Out of many, one." Some U.S. senators seem to be reading it backward. This week the Senate will consider legislation that would create an independent, race-based government for Native Hawaiians. If the bill becomes law, it would create a racial spoils system that would hand special privileges to up to one-fifth of the state's population--including many with only a trace of Hawaiian blood.


The Akaka bill was born out of an angry reaction to the 2000 case of Rice v. Cayetano, in which the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, declared unconstitutional a system under which non-Native Hawaiians were barred from voting for or serving as trustees of the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Fearful of losing control of the rich patronage pot that the office, with its $3 billion trust fund, has become, its supporters decided to up the ante and try to skirt the 15th Amendment's mandate for equal voting rights by requiring that the federal government recognize Native Hawaiians in the same manner it recognizes separate governments for American Indians and Alaskan Eskimos.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission issued a report earlier this year that destroyed the notion that the Indian tribe analogy is appropriate. Native Hawaiians, who freely voted in large numbers to join the U.S. as a state in 1959, have never asked to be recognized as an Indian tribe. They not only lack their own system of laws but are dispersed throughout Hawaii and have a high rate of intermarriage with other groups. "The Akaka bill would authorize a government entity to treat people differently based on their race and ethnicity," said Gerald Reynolds, the commission's chairman. "This runs counter to the basic American value that the government should not prefer one race over another."


. Supporters of the Akaka bill refuse even to disavow the idea of secession from the United States. Last July, Rowena Akana, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, told National Public Radio that "if the majority of Hawaiian people want secession, then that's the way we'll go."

The scariest line in the whole piece is, "Despite all this, the Akaka bill is at least an even bet to win a Senate majority this week." I've written before that the very notion humans are distinct on a racial basis, and therefore merit distinct treatment based on race, is absolutely abhorrent to me. As it should be to our elected leaders in the Senate.

I'm drafting a letter to my Senators now. I'll post it here after I've sent it. In the meantime, you can read much more about this proposed giant leap backward in the quest for racial equality here.

UPDATE: My letter:

Dear Senator,

This week, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (S.147) will likely come before you and your colleagues for a vote on a motion to proceed.

I write to you this evening to express my hope that you will vote to stop this nonsense cold.

I was once stationed at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and can attest to the value inherent in Hawaii’s unique culture, and its importance to Hawaii’s American success story. But S.147 would undo a larger American success story; namely, our commitment to racial equality.

Establishing a race-based government, independent from, yet residing within, the greater whole of the United States goes against the most fundamental values upon which this nation (and Hawaii) has prospered. It would be a giant step backward in our struggle for true racial equality. Please don't invalidate our hard won civil rights victories of the past by allowing this balkanization of American culture. Vote to keep America a colorblind nation, an exemplary nation as we encourage countries like Iraq and Afghanistan to create unified, democratic, nationalistic governments for themselves.



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"This is huge."

Well, could be huge. In any case (sorry) it involves our own Jefferson County Public School District.

Can Race Determine School Admission? High Court To Decide
Case Sets Stage For Landmark Affirmative Action Ruling

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court said [today] it will decide the extent to which public schools can use race in deciding school assignments, setting the stage for a landmark affirmative action ruling.

Justices will hear appeals from a Seattle parents group and a Kentucky parent, ruling for the first time on diversity plans used by a host of school districts around the country.


"Looming in the background of this is the constitutionality of affirmative action," said Davison Douglas, a law professor at William and Mary. "This is huge."

Crystal Meredith of Louisville, is arguing on behalf of her son, Joshua, who was told he can't attend his neighborhood school, it being white enough already. Better buckle up, folks.

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Diet Coke + Mentos = Art

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

She pauses, breaking into a grin: “I am no longer a politician. I can say such things now.”

Go. Read the wonderful interview of Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the Times UK today. She's a superstar in the fight against Islamofascism.

You won't beat terror with tolerance

A letter staked through the heart of the dying film director Theo van Gogh began: “Open letter to Hirsi Ali.” So the men in black detailed to protect today’s special guest were bound to be twitchy. [...] Her zeal made her a Dutch MP, international talk-show darling and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. But it also made her many enemies.


She is a curious mix, Ali. Her hardline image has won her a job at a right-wing think tank. [Ali has been offered a position at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington.] But her critique of Muslim immigrants is a liberal one: that they reject Dutch freedoms such as the sexual revolution. [Note to the Times UK: In America, Modern Conservativism means conserving Classical Liberalism. I know the labels are different in Europe. - ed]

And at the end the interviewer tries to temper her views with some lefty euro-pap. No wonder she's coming to the US in September.

Ali is compelling. But if her fervour is her strength, it is also her weakness, alienating the very liberals she should court. Throughout our afternoon together, she brands those who fail to stand up to “the historical mistake of radical Islam” as “the appeasers”. And she uses “appeasers” pointedly. When she was forced to leave her flat, she reflected: “My neighbours confirm the critical view that very few Dutch were brave enough to stand up to the Nazis.” True, perhaps, but not a way to win friends.

What Ali understands, and what the interviewer clearly does not, is that "winning friends" must take a necessary back seat to staying alive. Still, read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Ayaan Hirsi Ali's website.

UPDATE: Whoops, forgot to credit Andy for the tip. He notes:

And with her new project she reveals, once again, how she is a true child of the Enlightenment. It’s a book “dealing with Muslim treatment of gays. It will also feature the Prophet transported to modern-day New York, forced by three great western liberal philosophers, Mill, Popper and Hayek, to recognise the failure of many Muslim societies."

Fasten your seatbelts.

Yep. She ain't out to "win friends."

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Food for thought

Myrna Blithe pens an interesting column in today's NRO. It's highlights some of the issues raised at the annual conference held by market research gurus Daniel Yankelovich and Madelyn Hochstein, of DYG.

Blithe (mostly) refrains fom commenting on the trends and theories brought up at the conference in such a way as to make this an excellent conversation piece, a jumping off place for several different topics. She notes America's trend towards a more "child centered" society, the growing empowerment felt by young women, and (dovetailing with what I have observed, and written about here at Kadnine) the deleterious effects of our hyper-partisan media masquerading as "dispasionate" fourth-party actors dispensing "truth to power:"

Yankelovich and Hochstein say a couple of other recent findings are somewhat baffling, and are similar to what other pollsters are also seeing. Nowadays people complain, even in our 24/7 news cycles, that they are ill-informed. They also say that they feel voiceless and that today’s leaders are not listening to them. Yet at the same time, they are the most polled people ever, and our politicians are more sensitive than ever to the results of opinion polls. Maybe what they really want is less polling and more leadership.


They also noted that in current polls over 70 percent of people say the country is going in the wrong direction. Rarely have they seen such negativity and gloom. And yet at the same time, in almost equal numbers, people are satisfied with their personal lives and optimistic about their own futures. It is a strange and confusing disconnect as if Americans do not associate themselves with the fate of their country.

It's really NOT "strange and confusing" when you factor in the great media masquerade. As I've said before, I really don't mind a hyper-partisan media. I just wish they'd own up to it. Imagine a political reporter freed from the chains of a hopelessly unattainable standard of objectivity. Good gods! How refreshing would that be? I'm growing tired of relying on a complicated, unwritten, and ever-changing system of "code words" to decypher the news. And polls are suggesting I'm not alone.

This is, in my opinion, the single biggest insight recent polling has brought to light. Namely, that polling suggests media aren't doing their job, and nobody knows the full extent or the exact nature of the problem because it's media's job to report it! The mind boggles.

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