Monday, August 30, 2004

I'm not thrilled with the new Alexa picks for 'People Also Visit ...' for the Art of Peace. Yes it's a personal blog, but nine out of ten of their new choices seem to be based on the fact that it happens to be a personal blog with first letter A. They may even be the nine blogs nearest to me in alphabetical order in that category.

If my readership doesn't include enough Alexa users for statistically significant matches, even dubious ones would be OK. Personal blogs which by merest coincidence happened to have a few visitors who also came here would still be more interesting that blogs which were near me in alphabetical order.

The tenth blog Alexa matches me with is Talkleft. They are a good blog, and they are doing some great convention blogging right now, but they don't have that much in common with me other than the fact that we are both left of center. I'm not sure how Alexa chose them. Any Talkleft readers want to say hello in the comment section?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Bravo Romeo Delta has in several places expressed a feeling of resentment that certain words can be used by certain people without the same stigma.

The only thing I feel compelled to add to the mix on this, is that it's the fact that I can get fired for dropping an N-bomb by someone who, in all likelyhood, could also be of the opinion that boycotting the Dixie Chicks (for their political views) constitutes an impingement of First Amendment rights.

Yes, this is about the word you would get fired for calling an African-American who worked at the same place you did.

It's worth noting that if an African American called a Caucasian-American a honky, or a Spanish American called a Caucasian-American a Gringo, they would almost certainly be in serious trouble - but not necessarily quite the same trouble.

It's also worth noting that many people of all colors do dislike or boycott comedians who use the 'N-bomb'. Again, it's not the same. We can respect people with different opinions about these comedians, but have only one opinion about a white comedian who uses the N-bomb.

One important point is that people who can laugh at themselves are often admirable, but people who like to mock other people for things that they have suffered seriously for are contemptible. Remember Jesse Jackson and Hymietown? A Jewish comedian could have gotten away with that line, but it doesn't mean Jesse Jackson wasn't wrong and mean spirited to use it - or that the Jewish comedian would have been wrong.

Still not quite the same. I could write all those words.

The core of the issue is economic. That is where the symmetry radically breaks down. The N-bomb was historically used not merely to hurt people, but keep them 'in their place'. If you look at employment and salary statistics, you will see this is a battle still being fought. Comedians are often rather good at tapping concealed angers that can't be expressed in polite company. Oddly enough, not only African Americans are victims of this anger. The dogs of the employment market may become the lions of the criminal scene, and it is in all our interests that ambitious and capable people should have reasonable hope that they can prosper while doing something worthwhile. A joke using the N-bomb between boss and subordinate can become an unspoken compact that that 'other' subordinate won't get the promotion.

Is it then OK for black comedians to use the N-bomb? I'm not quite sure, but I do consider it different. It is much less certain that this latter use will reinforce the short sighted little compacts which in the long run hurt us all.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Alright, so they got an attitude, if you click through and read the beginning of the article. This is Dubai, and they have more right to an attitude and less attitude than possibly any country in the middle east. Still, something about the first few paragraphs doesn't live up to their reputation for hospitality. No wait - this article is quoted from the Guardian in Britain! Hmmm. Skip to this:

Dubai has transformed its standing as a centre of commerce by utilising the skills of migrant workers and professionals, who are subject to stringent but realistic conditions. Their welcome does not include placing them in holding centres and giving them food vouchers; there is no daily tabloid press portraying them as parasites. There are, however, a number of conditions. For example, they cannot buy property unless it is in designated zones. These zones are not ghettos - the aim is to ensure that the country's Islamic values are not undermined by western mores. In a recent public opinion survey, 84 per cent of Dubai residents said they felt "secure and safe", despite being a stone's throw from some of the most problematic countries in the world. The crime detection rate of 89 percent puts to shame our own struggle to detect crime.

Every police district employs a team of officers whose job is to ensure compliance to human rights. Senior police officers and politicians welcome these rights rather than see them as a hindrance. And, rather than adopt Britain's conventional method of putting police officers in classes and telling them what a Muslim or a Hindu looks like, operational officers are sent on intensive courses to learn the languages of the migrant communities, encouraging a true understanding of different cultures. They are expected to conduct interviews in these languages. The greatest threat to the UAE, and to Dubai in particular, is from the organised criminals who are inevitably attracted by the country's wealth.

There is growing evidence of the presence of southeast Asian gangs, west African drugs cartels and major-league British criminals using Dubai as a base for their activities. The extent of money laundering through the country's banks, and drug trafficking via its ports, are serious concerns for its government and for Britain. If Dubai is not to become a haven for organised criminals, the police forces of Britain and Dubai must collaborate. But while British officers can assist Dubai's police, there is a lot that British policing can learn from the Muslim world and its attitude to community relations. The idea that we know best in the West how to police our communities may soon have to be given a decent but final burial.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

This could be frightening, but we already knew something was wrong. Here's the path to understanding why all our attempts to understand the problems attending the human condition have so far failed.

It's pretty to think that we all decide our political affiliations by methodically studying each party's positions on the issues. But a recent study by Paul Goren at Arizona State found that voters typically formed their party affiliations before developing specific political values. They become Democrats first and then decide that they, say, oppose capital punishment and support trade unions. But how do they make that initial decision to be a Democrat? The most likely indicator of political preference is your parents' party affiliation, but if everyone simply voted along family lines, the dominant party would simply be the one whose members had the most voting offspring. The real question is why someone would ever break from the family tradition -- without feeling strongly either way about specific issues.

Those M.R.I. scans suggest an explanation. Perhaps we form political affiliations by semiconsciously detecting commonalities with other people, commonalities that ultimately reflect a shared pattern of brain function. In the mid-1960's, the social psychologist Donn Byrne conducted a series of experiments in which the participants were given a description of several hypothetical strangers' attitudes and beliefs. They were then asked which stranger they would most enjoy having as a co-worker. The subjects consistently preferred the company of strangers with attitudes similar to their own. Opposites repel.

Of course people don't make all their decisions this way. From continental drift to Newtonian physics, some ideas have managed to win assent from pretty much everyone capable of understanding them. It's definitely worthwhile figuring out how to move politics from one category to the other. Per unit effort, it would probably be more help to our grandchildren than college trust funds.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

What if torture is wrong in more ways than we suspect?

During the cold war, we had certain disadvantages - but certain advantages as well. Even ideologically committed communists often knew people lived better lives in the West than they did under the Soviet Union, and were often tempted to defect. Of course they knew we wouldn't trust them at first, but the reward was often considered worth the risk. Although defectors suspected of being KGB plants were rigorously interrogeted, nothing I have ever heard of approached Guantanamo bay or Abu Gharib. It could have been argued that torture was justified because the communists had repeatedly stated they planned to conquer the west, and that they had nukes they might use if we didn't get them first, but somehow we still believed torture was wrong.

Suppose torture is wrong not in an abstract difficult to define sense, but in the sense that it is bringing us farther away from defeating terrorism and preventing dissasembled nukes from being smuggled into the country to destroy US cities. Suppose 'high value' Al Qaeda prisoners are never tempted to cooperate, because they know that no matter what they say we will imprison and periodically interrogate them (I know, all the not torture torture is on hold, but this is a discussion of why it should be permanently stopped, and see below). Other than that perhaps, some might be tempted. Suppose that any short term gains are more than offset by long term losses, both in terms of getting prisoners to cooperate and in terms of rebuilding Iraq and stopping terrorism.

This is a really radical proposal, that torture is not merely wrong in some amorphous sense, but wrong almost like an incorrect equation. Not merely does the end not justify the means, but the belief that the means can promote the end is a tempting error. What could justify this astonishing claim?

Oddly enough, before Castro became a dictator, his men provided medical treatment to prisoners and released them. The Batista regime tortured their prisoners. In theory you could argue that this should have resulted in people being more afraid to fight against the government than for it. What actually happened was that men in the army knew they could surrender - and Castro's men knew they couldn't.

Remember when Turkey captured the Turkish leader Ocalan? That was a major victory for them, not necessarily because he was a brilliant leader, but because he cooperated:


The head of the PKK terrorist organization, Abdullah Ocalan, apologized for PKK violence that claimed the lives of over 30,000 people and declared himself ready to cooperate with the Turkish State for peace at the opening of his trial on charges of treason. "For peace and brotherhood at the axis of a democratic
republic, I am ready to serve the Turkish State, and I believe that for this end I must remain alive",

How could the rebels not have been demoralized? And how could such a victory have been won by a government that tortured it's prisoners, and would never release any or them as long as it was suspected they might have useful intelligence?

Remember, this is not the first time in history when it has seemed that many lived could be saved by torture, either to gain military intelligence or to break the enemies willingness to fight. Many of the governments which we have condemned for torture could validly have argued that national security or many lives were at stake. What if the consensus that has developed in the Western world over the past few hundred years that torture is wrong is even righter than we fully realize? If we sow the wind, we may reap the whirlwind.

Oh yes.

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 27, 2004; Page A01

The CIA has suspended the use of extraordinary interrogation techniques approved by the White House pending a review by Justice Department and other administration lawyers, intelligence officials said.

But putting it on hold is not the same as declaring them wrong. What if we are putting ourselves on the wrong side of history?

I've been meaning to add MY WAR to the RSS portion of my sidebar for some time. Now it may be too late. If the author keeps posting I'll add it with a link to this, since these are a few of my favorite posts.

His latest post, entitled Stay Tuned, quotes the first amendment which mentions freedom of the press - without comment.

Stay Tuned

He has some great, gritty posts.

So my AG looks over at me and with a mischievous smile says, "Watch this!" and then he starts chanting: "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" over and over again, next thing you know all these little kids, 100's of them, started chanting U-S-A!! Over and over again, each time a little loader. We were both laughing and thought this was all funny until I saw the reaction on the older people faces on the side of the road. They didn't look too thrilled about that, once I immediately noticed that, I said, "Dude, that's not cool! Make them stop yelling that shit!" But it was too late, these kids were having too much fun chanting U-S-A! Next thing you know I saw an older middle eastern lady wearing all black pick up a rock and throw it at us, which of course started a huge chain reaction of rock throwing at us. We got out of that neighborhood in a hurry after that. Lesson learned. Anyways, we were now back in the same neighborhood where the infamous U-S-A incident took place. We dismounted and searched another car, didn't find shit again. Tons of stray kids hanging out on the street corners here observing us with a watchful eye. Like I said before, every kid here in Iraq looks like those kids you see on those TV commercials where they say "for only .99 cents a day you can help feed this starving child". A real low income part of Mosul. My Sqd Ldr was trying to talk to a crowd of little kids, asking them if they saw or heard anything, and while he was asking them this one kid comes running up to us with an old empty brass 105 artillery shell, and then this other kid comes running up to us with another expired artillery shell. Both demanded money for their discovery. "Give me Dollar!" they said. Then this other kid came running over to us with an RPG fin and a handful of dirty .50 cal bullets. These kids were just finding this crap off the streets. Amazing. Then all the sudden this really skinny Iraqi kid comes running up to us with a fucking HAND GRANADE in his hand. "HOLY SHIT!!! DROP THE FUCKIN HAND GRANADE!!! DROP IT NOW!!!" We all started yelling! The little kid, still with this proud smile on his face that said, "Look what I just found" just dropped the grenade on the ground, and walked over to my squad leader and said, "Give me money!" It was an old pineapple grenade that was all dirty and rusty, it looked like something left over from the Iran Iraq war. We asked him where he found it at, and innocently he pointed to this old abandoned house that was in the middle of a field that looked like a junkyard. We secured the area, and searched the house. Didn't find shit. Then the kids pointed to another house, this one owned by a wife beater undershirt wearing Iraqi with a massive facial beard and more body hair than teen wolf. We searched his house, again didn't find shit. Finally four blue and white ICP trucks showed up packed with Iraqi Police dressed in blue khakis and strapped with AK47's. They dismounted and asked where the hand grenade was, we pointed to them to where it was and they went over, picked it up, and they like kinda laughed at us, like "You're kidding, you guys called us over here for this?!" I could hear one ICP say in broken English, "This, No-good." They took the grenade and drove off. And we did the same. My Sqd Ldr then explained to me that when the 101st was here they would give the little kids in that area money and/or MRE's if they found weapons and UXO, which is why every time when they see US Forces they always drag over shit like that and say, "Give me! Give me!"

Here's part of the one about when his commander found out about his blog. Read carefully, don't assume that all the swear words mean he doesn't use words subtly. He manages to explain all the restrictions he's under to the reader while cheerfully telling his superiors he agress one hundred percent:

Then we discussed things, and he pointed things out, and told me things. I agreed with 100% of everything he was saying, and the final conclusion from what he told me was that I could continue writing, but maybe have my Plt Sgt read my stuff before I post. He stressed that he didn't want to censor me and that I still had the freedom of speech thing, as long as I wasn't doing anything that would endanger the mission. I totally 110% agree with him on that one. I thanked him and I told him that I of course would not want to do anything that would endanger anybody here or back home, which is of course true. He suggested that I should look into getting this stuff published and made into a book someday. Finally I walked out of his office, with a feeling that I had just dodged a full mag of AK47 bullets. I went back to my room, and my roommate was waiting for me all wide eyed and said "Well, what did he want?!?!?! What Happened?!?! You busted?!" I told him all about what happened. And then I said, "Well, the positive thing is that, at least he knows who I am now." And he looked at me and said, "That could be a good thing, or a bad thing."

And here's his views on the election.

"I can't say anything nagetive about my Commander in Chief so I won't says it all.I seriously wasn't planning on voting in this election, neither candidate excite me. I've voted in every election since I was 18, but I was planning on taking a break from this one, because I don't really feel like voting for the lesser of the two evils. The first election I voted in I was still in High School, and my father (who's a lot like the dad on that TV show the Wonder Years with Winnie Cooper) forced me to register and vote. He said, "Look you live in my house, you don't pay rent, you and all your deadbeat skateboarding buddies eat all the food my house, the least you could do for me is vote!" So I did, on Election Day, he woke my ass up and dragged me to the balloting place, which was some ladies house down the street. On the way there I asked, "Hey dad, how do you vote?" His answer, "Oh, voting is easy! All you do is vote for every single person that has the words: "Republican" next to it." I said, "But dad, what if the democrat is better than the republican?" His answer, "Impossible, there's no such thing as Democrat that's better than a republican, you figure the worst Republican is ten times better than the best Liberal." That was my first lesson in voting. Needless to say I'm a little bit, actually way more moderate than my father, but he taught me lesson, when its time to vote, you get off your ass and you vote.
I can't say anything negative about my Commander In Chief, so I wont. But I also can't vote for a person who threw his medals at the White House. You just don't do something like that. Like, if I did something like that, to protest this war, that would be a total slap in the face to all my brothers in my Platoon, all the people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, all the people who lost their lives here, all the POW's, all the Vets, all the guys in all the other branches, and all my Drill Sgt's at Benning, and I wouldn't do something like that to them. It's hard enough as it is. Disagree with me all you want on this, but that's just how I feel.
The soldiers I know in the Army who are voting for Kerry in this election (which is a lot more than people would think) are voting for him because they're pissed off at Bush. They're pissed off because of Stop Loss, tour extensions, underestimating the amount of troops needed for Iraq, the Weapons of Mass destruction thing, the legitimacy of coming to Iraq, and they feel Kerry might also get us out of here faster. Stuff like that.
The soldiers I know who are voting for Bush are voting for him because they support him 110% on his Global War On Terrorism, and there is no shadow of a doubt that we did the right thing coming to Iraq. They feel Bush is doing a great job so far out here.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

If you thought you knew Glenn Reynolds, read this article from Tech Central Station.

I would argue that these investments -- which were among the most dramatic public investments of their times -- were probably not undervalued by those who made them, or by those who benefited by them. But they are undervalued by those of us who take them for granted today. We assume that health is the norm, and sickness the departure, that deadly epidemics are a thing of the past, that water from the tap is safe to drink. But like so many things in life, things are that way because people worked hard to make them that way, not because it's the natural order. And if we want them to stay that way, we'll have to work hard to keep them that way.

Which leaves the question of what to do next. I'm not a physician, or a public health expert, but it seems to me that we face two major areas of challenge. The first is to develop a reliable worldwide system of detecting, and responding quickly to, new outbreaks of disease. The SARS outbreak provided some useful lessons (like "don't cover up the outbreak of a new contagious disease"), but the real problem is that there's not enough of an infrastructure there. We need one.

This will be expensive, but cheap compared to area number two, which is traditional infectious-disease control. Keeping water clean, making sure that sewage goes where it belongs and not where it doesn't, keeping the food supply clean, making sure people are vaccinated and learn to wash their hands, etc. This is expensive. In the United States and the West generally, it calls for a renovation and updating of infrastructure laid down a lifetime ago (read more about that here), and for the re-focusing of a public health establishment that in recent decades has been focusing on side issues (like accidents and gun control) at the expense of its core mission. In the rest of the world, it calls for doing this core mission for the first time.

The capital costs for such a venture are enormous. Modern technologies will help in some areas, but the effort is so huge that it's bound to be enormously expensive. On the other hand, as Fogel also notes, the benefits are likely to be much greater than is generally appreciated. Fogel points out that Britain's economic explosion in the latter part of the 19th century was largely the result of better health. Before that, a sizable chunk of the population was simply too sick to work much, and served as a drag on the economy. That's the state of the world now, really -- and it will only get worse as new diseases like AIDS, SARS, and whatever comes next make their way across the globe.

I've been meaning to blog about this for some time, but it just blew my mind. Is this the Glenn Reynolds who talks about how wonderful the tax cuts are, not only because they give ordinary families like his more money to spend, but because they were the only way to get government to cut spending? Everything he says is more than true - and many liberals would be too cowed to say it. I'm not sure how it fits with his other posts on Instapundit, but it really makes you think.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Sardonic Views is a new addition to the liberal section of my sidebar. If only the media would analyze national issues as well as he analyzes this local bond issue:

Let's look at the math: The debt is anywhere from $3.2 to $4.5 million depending on the day; the Lake County auditor's office estimates the levy would have brought in about $1.24 million per year; with that levy the City claims it could help pay down the debt, pay for garbage collection, hire 3 more fire fighters and not lay off any police officers. Wow. Talk about bang for your buck. "Math, anyone?"Now, let's get serious. Repealing the garbage collection fee while ostensibly under the City's control would be subject to approval from the state appointed fiscal oversight commission. That means the residents of Eastlake could face having their property taxes increased and still pay the garbage collection fee. Plus there are legitimate issues of the City having to pay additional money for the ballpark stadium debt (that the N-HEB pretends will not be a problem) in the next few years.Voters weren't fooled by the promises and alleged short-term savings. They had a deeper understanding of what Eastlake will be facing in terms of taxes and fees in the next several years. More than can be claimed by the deep thinkers of the subject at the N-HEB.

Maybe he should have gone in the conservative section, but his tone about Kerry's recent Cambodia misstatements wasn't gleeful, and he doesn't seem to assume a tax is bad without careful analysis.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

This is some kneejerk anti-Bushism mixed in with the reasonable questions here. Bush has done so many bad things, no need for the Democrats to attack every word he says and water down the impact.

Democrats immediately criticized Bush, saying his plan would undermine national security and be viewed as the United States turning its back on key NATO allies, especially Germany. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO commander and now a military adviser to Bush's Democratic rival John Kerry, called the proposal "ill-conceived."

Clark said most terrorist hot spots around the world are "more accessible from Western Europe than from the continental U.S." He also said Bush's plan could damage relations with countries in Europe.

"At the time when we're trying to rebuild our alliance with Europe and asking them to do more in Iraq, this is a slap in the face of the Europeans," said Clark. "This is more unilateralism on the part of the administration."

Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who serves on the Armed Services committee, said Bush is "simply moving chairs around the deck" in ways that could threaten U.S. security.

A more diplomatic president could have done all this without offending the Europeans, maybe even scheduled a joint press conference. But I think we can declare that the rebuilding of Germany and Japan are pretty much complete. For all I know, Russia could one day be a threat to them - and they may have to start modernizing some of their own forces, which is fair enough. They will lose the money our military spends there - but right now I'm more worried about our finances than theirs. Even if we don't send the troops right to Iraq, they should still have time to rest and recover at home, since it seems likely they will be rotated there sooner or later.

That leaves South Korea. We already know our troops there are a tripwire, an insufficient force to defeat North Korea, but a signal that if they attack we will be involved. It's possible paring down that force by a third will send the wrong signal - but I'm not sure. If Bush was a president whom I respected I would be willing to accept his judgement in this regard.

Everyone says we kept troops in Europe after Germany was no longer a threat because of Russia. Does the same really apply to Japan? How about after the Soviet empire fell? I really think there is some sort of deep rooted feeling that occupying territory makes a nation more powerful in many minds, strong enough to override logic. Something for any pro Bush people hearing arguments against removing the troops from Europe to keep in mind, and perhaps even apply to Iraq.

Now that we're in Iraq I don't think we can just walk out, but if the people who started this war were completely wrongheaded, they aren't the ones to resolve it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Dubai's used car market moves into the slow laneBy Asma Ali Zain 11 August 2004
DUBAI - Dubai Used Cars Automobile Zone (DUCAMZ), the biggest used car market in the Gulf, is facing an unprecedented slowdown business.
The downturn comes after several years and has been by triggered the unstable political scene in the Middle East, say used car dealers and analysts.

This article does point to the Achilles heel of all the wonderful things Dubai has accomplished. They are the Arab emirate which has shown more determination than any other to create wealth rather than simply pumping it. They've done very well, but much of their business comes from other nations in the gulf. Not only does this limit their growth, but when the oil wealth starts to run out they will have challenges ahead of them.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Increased partisanship has been much discussed in the blogosphere lately. Several people have made a good point - it's really nothing new. From the pamphleteers of colonial times on, partisanship has been common. Even the idea that the press 'should' try and be objective, and should avoid mere bias as opposed to out and out lying, is rather recent.

We should probably expect that that period is more or less ended. I know of no conservatives who expect the Times to have news coverage that they will be comfortable with - although I read several who are outraged by NY Times bias to the left, but not by Fox news or Washington Times bias to the right. In fact, I see much more New York Times hatred then Kerry hatred on the right.

I think what we need is a right wing red states newspaper. Fox and the Washington Times are both based on the East coast. They are professionally conservative - they could no more decide liberals were right about a specific issue than Martha Stewart could declare that women would be better off if they spent more time relaxing and less time trying to make everything perfect. We need a red state newspaper largely staffed by veterens. If they said something was wrong in Iraq, it would be much harder for the current supporters of Iraq to dismiss.

So far I can't find one. Jason Van Steenwyk suggests two - "Tell that to the Dallas Morning News. Or the Nashville Tennesseean." Both of these papers have most of their news from Iraq from newswires he considers too liberal.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Mark A.R. Kleiman asks an interesting question about when a lay Catholic can vote for a politician who disagrees with an article of official doctrine and when they can't.

I'm not an expert, but I follow this issue, partly because I wonder if it could lead to a backlash. Many Protestants who are gleeful now would get very upset if this was extended to not voting for Protestants.

There is some ambiguity as to what is a sin and what isn't. There are old rules about when a fetus quickens left over from before the Church signed on to 'no abortion at any time'. As far as I know, these ideas of St. Augustine have never been officially repudiated, but merely ignored.

The first papal canon, Effraenatam, that universally imposed a penal penalty of excommunication for abortion was issued by Sixtus V in 1588. It applied to all abortions and was reserved to the Holy See. In 1591, the law was modified by Gregory XIV so that the penalty would not apply when a fetus was not "animated" or "ensouled" under the Aristo-Aquinan theory of when human life begins (not before 40 days) and gave the local bishops control of these cases. This was motivated, at least in part, by the sheer volume of litigation the law had produced ("reserved to the Holy See" meant that each case had to be taken to Rome for the excommunication to be lifted). In 1869, Pius IX rescinded the animation exception. The canons of the 1917 and 1983 Codes apply to all direct abortions. Abortions incident to otherwise lawful medical care that is required to save the life of the mother (e.g. chemotherapy, hysterectomy of a cancerous uterus) are given an interpretive exception from the rule under the priciple of "double effect."

Given that something is a sin, when is a Catholic allowed to vote for a politician who supports it? If the politician supports other stands the Church favors? If they are not 'allowed' to vote for someone because of their opinion on one issue, when is it a mortal sin to disobey, and when is it a venial sin?

I've never seen official answers to these questions, and if there were any it would have been harder for Kennedy to say that as President he would not speak for the Church - and they would not speak for him. But since the question is not addressed in any Papal bulls, there is no law against an Archbishop declaring that a certain vote is a mortal sin.

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke will issue a pastoral letter addressing more fully questions raised by his reported statements last week that Catholics commit a mortal sin by knowingly voting for a candidate who advocates abortion.

On the other hand, Tony Blair is pro-choice but:

Even so, the Vatican itself may have played host to some unplanned intercommunion. Last February 22, British Prime Minister Tony Blair may—or may not—have been given Communion at a private papal Mass he attended with his Catholic wife and children. Neither the Vatican nor Downing Street is saying what actually happened, and people who were present give contradictory accounts. In Ecclesia de Eucharistia John Paul notes that the practice is permitted in special circumstances “to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer.” But corporate intercommunion “remains impossible,” he says, pending the reunion of separated churches.

As opposed to abortion as the Pope is, he doesn't seem convinved Blair is headed for hell unless he changes his mind, let alone those who vote for him.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Ramadi news item - bad news almost definitely. The governor of Al-Anbar, the Iraqi province with Ramadi in it says he will resign if kidnappers release three of his sons who were taken four days ago. According to google news, this hasn't hit any American or British papers yet. The story is in this article published in the Chinese (English language website) Xinhua online, this article from the South African News24, and this article from the Hindustan Times of India. The last article is from the French AFP newswire.

"I am ready to comply to your demands, and if you believe my presence in the city of Ramadi, the provincial capital, does not serve the interests of the region, I am ready to go," Abdul Karim Burghis al-Rawi said in an open letter.
However, Burghis defended his period of office, saying that he ordered the delivery of food and medicine to Fallujah residents when the city was under siege by the US forces in April.
On July 28, unidentified gunmen stormed the governor's home in the flashpoint city of Ramadi, kidnapping his three sons aged between 15 and 30 and setting ablaze part of the house while the official was at work.

My mind keeps coming back to Mark A.R. Kleiman's question, Why is it pro-war to pretend things are going well?

After reading Steven Den Beste's post on Terrorism, I thought of Mark A. R. Kleiman's post asking Why is it "pro-war" to pretend that things are going well?

Steven starts out with a generalized discussion about Guerrilla warfare and terrorism which I mostly agree with. He than talks about the our enemies' most recent strategy in Iraq of pushing out our smaller allies by kidnapping their citizens and or soldiers. He talks logically about the dangers of this to us - but never asks if Bush should have anticipated this when assembling his coalition of the willing. Except for Britain, in sheer numerical terms the numbers are quite small. Even if the gain was worth the risk - was the risk adaquately planned for?

Steven refers to the June 28th handover as a major victory - but if merely declaring Allawi to be in charge is a victory, why did we wait so long? Militarily we lost Falluja - we don't have troops there anymore. When serious warhawks are watching Ramadi to see if it goes next, saying we're winning isn't always bringing us closer to victory. Remember instead Steven's original discussion of how winning Iraq was supposed to cut down on terrorism from all over the Middle East - by building a prosperous democracy where people could get good jobs to support themselves and replace humiliation with pride in genuine achievement. See my previous post on Dubai, and also Mark A.R. Kleiman:

Having never been certain that invading Iraq was a good idea, I'm not now certain that it was in fact a bad one. And whether it was a good decision or not, I'm still a "war supporter" in the sense of thinking that, having invaded, we need to observe Napoleon's principle: "If you start out to take Vienna, take Vienna." But that "pro-war" viewpoint makes me more, not less, interested in knowing, and saying, just how badly things are going at the moment.
I never thought that Iraq was going to be a working liberal democracy, or even a reasonable approximation, anytime soon. (According to the neocons, that made me a racist, if I recall correctly.) Now the odds of that seem even longer than they were. But there's a difference between a mediocre outcome and a disastrous one, and I'd like to see us stick around and pay what it costs, in blood and treaure, to achieve mediocrity.
Minimizing how badly things are going right now does not, however, facilitate that outcome. Yes, predicting that the current adventure will end badly, linked with the proposal that we cut and run, does tend to encourage the other side. But noting that things are, at this very moment, going to Hell in a handbasket isn't "anti-war."