Thursday, July 31, 2003

Lagniappe - I wonder if that $30 million fee for "services rendered" given by the Bush Government on behalf of the U.S. taxpayers to one Iraqi snitch (presumably a Baathist opportunist) that led to the killing of Udai and Qusai will be subject to appropriate income taxation and returned to the U.S. treasury. Thoughts on this? One also wonders if this $30 million could be turned to no good and be used to nip at the heels of the U.S. in other unsavory ways.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Liberal Lighthouse - My favorite Christian anti-war slogan, which I've seen on bumper stickers, goes something like this: "When Jesus told us to love our enemies, I'm pretty sure he meant that we shouldn't kill them." Remember this the next time your pro-War Christian friends drool over the deaths of America's enemies.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Lagniappe - Talk about a disaster in the making! Apparently, GWB is thinking of turning over post-War Iraq reconstruction to James Baker, one of his daddy's cronies, and part of the very crew that let Saddam off the hook in Gulf War I. Now why in the world - I repeat, why in the world - would GWB turn over an increasingly poor policy of post-War reconstruction to someone whose record is even worse!?!?!

I can think of three possible reasons: (1) When in trouble, turn to daddy. Daddy knows best. (2) The man who helped spearhead the Bush 2000 election coup d'etat ought to be able to turn a coup in post-war Iraq, no? (3) Well, Baker's in tight with the Saudis, and maybe he can get them to be a bit more helpful in stopping anti-American protests and attacks against US Soldiers in post-war Iraq?

It is all the sign of desperation and a lack of credible ideas. Get the man on the defensive and he runs to Papa.

Lagniappe - No wonder why there are so many intelligence screw-ups in the Bush Administration. Apparently, even the safety and security of covert intelligence officers are not immune to the Bush "loyalty" test. Check out this incredible story in which two senior administration officials blow the cover of a covert operator working on the WMD beat to a Conservative news columnist:

"If what the two senior administration officials said is true," Wilson said, "they will have compromised an entire career of networks, relationships and operations." What's more, it would mean that "this White House has taken an asset out of the" weapons of mass destruction fight, "not to mention putting at risk any contacts she might have had where the services are hostile."
Apparently, Bush will destroy his own intelligence capabilities and will endanger his own covert agents if they dare to be associated (by marriage, nonetheless!) with a harmless bit of mild criticism - if you can even call it criticism. Makes me wonder if Bush really does care about the security of America. Seems he'd rather sacrifice the security of America on the altar of petty partisan payback. What a desperate, petty, vindictive, little man.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Lagniappe - A couple of posts ago, I expressed my relief that the deaths of Udai and Qusai should mean hopefully more safety for our soldiers. Then I followed this post with a comment on the resurgence of the Shining Path terrorists in Peru. Now, today, I read in the Washington Post that three American soldiers involved in the attack that claimed the lives of Udai and Qusai have since been killed by Iraqi retaliators. Click here for the WaPo article. Where am I going with this? Well, I am moving towards the vague anxiety of a sense of hopelessness that no matter how thorough and complete our rout of evil in Iraq and elsewhere is, there will always be more evil ready and waiting in the wings to emerge and attack. It is a war, ultimately, that I am not sure we can win - at least in the traditional uproot and attack way. If the Shining Path can come back to haunt the streets of Lima after being so completely decimated, and if American soldiers will still be killed in combat long after Saddam, Qusai, and Udai are out of the picture, how do we "win the peace" to use a phrase that still has only vague meaning for me. I don't know. It doesn't seem like a militarized solution works. Nor does ignoring the emergence of tyrranical dictatorships. Something bigger, something like changing environmental conditions and cultural orientations that breed violence and tolerate repression must take place. But how? And is it our place to be doing this the world over?

Liberal Lighthouse - Nicholas Thompson's article in Salon gets at an interesting irony in the latest rounds of attack-and-defense regarding Bush's SOTU "Uranium in Africa" statement. YatPundit suggests (and thanks to YatPundit for pointing me to the Thompson article in Salon) that we hold Republicans to the same "liar" standard that they held to Clinton. His strategy to Democratcs that we should drum this point over and over again is a good one.

As for me, I am enjoying the pickle that this current debate on the Bush/Clinton truth-equivalence presents to Republican, Bush-defending, Clinton-despising moralists. It seems to me that if Republicans maintain the position that Clinton is a liar, why would it come as a surprise to them if he exaggerated the intelligence on Iraqi WMD programs that led him to order military action against selected Iraqi targets in 1998? Seems to me that Republicans are missing the irony here. They are basically putting Bush and Clinton on the same moral ground here - which must mean either one of two things: either Bush and Clinton were BOTH liars, or Bush and Clinton were BOTH telling the truth. If the former, then Bush should be held to account by Republican moralists as a liar (as YatPundit suggests). If the latter, then Clinton obviously wasn't such the "liar" he was made out to be.

Can it really be true that Bush supporters are now becoming Clinton apologists, too? I love this little hole the Bush-supporters have dug for themselves. They have now based their defense of Bush by saying he only did the same that the "nasty, lying, conniving" Clinton did!

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - It appears that the Shining Path terrorist group is making a comeback in Peru. Will Bush turn his sights southward to deal with this emerging threat? One question we should be asking is how is it possible for an organization that had been all but wiped off the face of the earth to resurface now? Violent repression of such groups apparently does not work over the long term. There must be other ways to take the wind out of the sails of these groups. We need to look at other ways. Violence is never the solution.

Lagniappe - I can't say that I'm shedding any tears now that Qusai and Udai are confirmed dead. This is welcome news not only because there is less evil in the world now, but also because our troops are safer now. I really have experienced a feeling of some relief for the security of our soldiers because of this latest bit of news.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Ginger Thompson, of the New York Times, has a wonderful little piece on Mexican ex-President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. All in all, it is a fairly positive look at a man that is considered one of the country's most corrupt politicians of the post-Revolutionary 20th Century Mexico. The article seems to gloss over the really seedy and base aspects of the Salinas sexenio (a term Mexicans use to describe their country's 6-year presidential term). Such events include widescale corruption, extortion, murder, and - some would say - gangsterism. But Salinas really was a very popular President in Mexico throughout his six years in office - and his popularity emerged very much out of his very macho and quite effective leadership style. (You would never think this by looking at a picture of the man - a small, bald fellow.)

As someone who has studied very closely the Salinas regime's foreign policy, I have argued in the past that the impressive reforms carried out by Salinas in the foreign policy realm, particularly in foreign economic policy, were possible principally because of Salinas's dogged and persistent determination to push his reform agenda AND to wage a very intensive and successful public relations campaign to convince the Mexican people of the correctness of his chosen policy direction. I think Mexicans respond well to decisive and forceful leadership, even if at times this leads to the types of abuse of power that the Salinas administration carried out. And this might explain, as Thompson suggests, why Salinas is witnessing a comeback of sorts from the deepest recesses of Mexican anger and resentment over his administration's abuses.

From a moral and ethical viewpoint, I find Salinas to be an ugly fellow; but I cannot but admit that he, like Napoleon and Kutuzov as depicted by Tolstoy in his epic novel War and Peace, fits the "Great Man" theory of historical change. I do believe that Salinas, through sheer force of his own leadership, changed Mexico's relationship with the world in remarkable and impressive (and I would argue positive) ways. Before Salinas, Mexico was still quite xenophobic and insular, suspicious of the foreign. After (and because of) Salinas, Mexico is boldly open to the world and has embraced an internationalism that has served Mexico well on so many levels, but which could not have been imagined a mere 10 years ago.

I will be very curious to watch how Salinas (still a young 55 years-old) will evolve in the Mexican political dynamic over the next 10-15 years. He could very well yet show a staying power in the long term that could rival Plutarco Calles. Stay tuned and pay attention to any stories you come across that profile this man.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Lagniappe - The latest Bush Administration efforts to squelch the criticism of the case for war simply doesn't fly. It is clear that no matter how the White House tries to spin this issue, the fact is that the Administration was looking for a way to circumvent the dampening effects that intelligence uncertainty would have had on the rush to war. The Administration clearly knew what the intelligence was, but tried to find a "technically unassailable" but nonetheless misleading way to sell the war to the American public by creating fear that Iraq was inches from a nuclear capability and was looking for the "yellowcake" to realize their nuclear ambitions. Those who defend Bush by saying that his claim in the SOTU was "technically" true are no different than those who defended Clinton's claim as "technically" true that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman Ms. Lewinsky." But even aside from this bogus defense of a misleading presentation, one can only conclude that Bush and his upper level Administration officials were duped by bad intelligence (in which case the incompetency of the Administration is all the more evident) or that Bush knew that the intelligence was uncertain but didn't care (in which case the sleazy authoritarian nature of this administration is apparent). In both cases, Bush comes out smelling like a rotten egg. This thing right now reminds me of Ronald Reagan's pathetic efforts to try to clear the air about his knowledge (or lack of such) regarding the Iran/Contra scandal. It was a sad, pathetic image of the President then, as is this effort at damage control by an equally pathetic President now. Funny that Bush had to call in the foreign troops (Blair) to try to convince the American public that he's an upfront guy. What a new low in patronizing condescension ... getting a Brit to scold us Americans and to tell us how to think about an American President who essentially and purposefully misled us.

One final note: I don't think the intelligence we had was flawed. I actually think it was quite accurate in its questioning of the "uranium purchase in Africa claim." What our executive leadership did with this intelligence is what was "flawed" about the whole thing. We had good intelligence ... good enough to question the claims as dubious. Why wouldn't the President listen to this intelligence? Why did he choose to manipulate the intelligence he had in such a dishonest and misleading way? Conservative bloggers and pundits have nothing to say about this because there is no defense that can be made for it without making them look silly.

Lagniappe - I'm just back from Mexico and I'm brimming with thoughts and commentary on Mexico's political future. Let's just say for the moment that the Mexican people are in a funk and are really down on the country's democratic renovation. In part, it's because Fox is perceived as a failure at governing. He sells a good line, but is really devoid of an original and workable idea. In part, it's also because democracy is not delivering anything except gridlock and a corresponding economic malaise. Most people think more so than ever before that all politicians, regardless of party, are incompetent and prone to corruption. Hence, the high level of voter apathy and a dismal 40% voter turnout. I've always maintained that democracy works only in societies that have sufficient resources to be able to weather its slow, deliberative process. In the developing world, where the ability to deficit finance an economic recession is almost impossible, and where social welfare programs are insufficiently funded or available, there is no wiggle room for the economic inefficiency of political gridlock in tough economic times. Well, I'll have more to write at another time. I just wanted to let my few readers know that I'm back in town and that the Upchuck will liven up again.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Liberal Lighthouse - I'm not in Mexico just yet! Once again, MoDo's got the MoJo. I'll just leave you with that.

Lagniappe - I will be out of town for about a week visiting my second favorite country, Mexico, (My first favorite, of course, is the U.S.) on a research trip. I'll likely have only very sporadic access to the internet, and will probably not be blogging until I return. However, at least I'll be able to bring back some fresh reactions from the Mexican streets about the most recent elections. Hasta pronto!

Friday, July 11, 2003

Lagniappe - Well, now we know who has the cojones in the Bush Administration. I still think that Bush, Cheney, Rice, or Rumsfeld should have known this. And I still wonder why the DIA, the actual preferred intelligence agency of the Bush Administration, didn't say or know anything about this. To hang it all on Tenet and the CIA just doesn't fly with so many other cross-intelligence checkpoints and supposedly smart people in place. Makes one wonder ... if Bush is so certain about his claims regarding Iraq's WMDs, where does this certainty come from? If it comes from the CIA, well we've got all the more reason to doubt its credibility now. If it comes from other intelligence sources, then blaming this current intelligence fiasco exclusively on the CIA seems a bit dishonest, don't you think?

Lagniappe - What ever happened to "the buck stops here"? It appears that Bush is refusing to accept responsibility for the lies coming out of his own administration. What Bush is doing to the CIA is cowardly. No matter how he parses things and finger-points the blame on someone else, it is ultimately his administration that screwed up. It is ultimately his speech that contained the lie. The lie came out of his mouth. Bush, ultimately, shoulders the blame. That's what a real man/cowboy would do. It's part of leadership. He got caught in a lie and now his wounded pride is making him run for cover. I knew he was a liar before this. His lies have been charted quite eloquently at The New Republic over the past months. But now he's a coward, to boot. His "Bring 'em on" rings hollow the moment he starts to finger point and make Tenet and the CIA the patsy. If it is true that neither Bush, nor Rice, nor Cheney, knew of the doubtful nature of the claim, this administration is more inept than at first imagined. And what about this parallel Defense Intelligence Agency that Rumsfeld was employing? Did they acquiesce in the lie, too? What a loser. The fraud of this man's presidency is beginning to show, and his tightly-knit little cadre of deceivers will begin to unravel with some rapidity now. Watch and see.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Andres Oppenheimer finally weighs in on the results of the Mexican mid-term elections. He's not so pessimistic about what this means for Fox's ability to get some things accomplished. He basically argues that even though Fox and his PAN party lost big, there were two things about the election that may lead to compromise and action. First, the big rate of voter abstention (60%) was a wake-up call to all politicians that they need to somehow find a way to re-engage the public trust in them. Compromise and movement on the domestic policy front may just do that. Second, the winners of these midterm elections, the PRI and the PRD, now need to show that they can deliver the goods as well. Working with the PANista Fox to get some things accomplished seems even more imperative now than before.

I think Oppenheimer may be on to something, but I'm not nearly so optimistic. I think the PRI and the PRD would be quite happy to have the same results come 2006, and if this means stonewalling the Fox reform agenda in Congress and dealing with a high voter absention that apparently has hurt the PAN the most, then why not repeat this successful electoral strategy in 2006? Furthermore, what Oppenheimer doesn't address at all is that Fox will still need PANista support in the national legislature to carry out any compromise reform agenda with the PRIistas and the PRDistas - and the poor showing of the PAN in this last election may very likely be attributed among rank-and-file PANistas to Fox's poor leadership of the party. The sour grapes and intransigence to compromise will most likely come from the PAN making a willingness to compromise on the part of the PRI and the PRD basically irrelevant. I think the next year will be quite revealing on this subject.

On another point, Oppenheimer has echoed what I wrote in a previous post: watch out for ex-Foreign Secretary Jorge Castaneda. Looks like he's got a good platform and a legitimate alternative party from which to run a 2006 presidential campaign. He could be a very appealing anti-establishment party candidate.

On a peripherally related issue, the Washington Times has a curious little article on the evolution of the United States as the 6th voting district in Mexican national elections. I guess it's not too strange given that the conservative leanings of the Washington Times might see this evolution as a good little bit of US influence (bordering on the old "manifest destiny" imperialism of yesteryear) seeping into the Mexican political system. But to have a usually anti-immigrant newspaper spin this without the usual xenophobic hyperbole seems a bit strange - especially since the Mexicans resident in the U.S. and campaigning for public office in Mexico have been leaning towards the leftist PRD. As I said, a very curious little article.

Kingfishery & Kingcakery - The Times Picayune of New Orleans has good follow-up to the AP story on specialty license plates and the issue of free speech rights. Again, this more detailed story confirms my opinion that the ruling is sound and that legislatures do not have the right to abridge free speech in this way. Check out the story here.

Lagniappe - I just stumbled across a great lib-blog from a New Orleanian. YatPundit has a great blend of the national and local - and the ideological leanings of the blog are right on! After a quick review of YatPundit's most recent posts, I was introduced to one of the more clever nicknames for Ann Coulter that I have yet seen - "AnnThrax". Classic! I'm not sure if YatPundit came up with this moniker alone, but I am grateful that YatPundit introduced me to the term. Check out the site. You won't be disappointed.

Blog Banter - Another great "Bushism" from Jacob Weisberg over at Slate: "'I've got very good relations with President Mubarak and Crown Prince Abdallah and the King of Jordan, Gulf Coast countries.'—Washington, D.C., May 29, 2003"

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Hugh Dellios of the Chicago Tribune has some very good articles on Mexico's recent elections. To read them, click here, and here, and here.

Kingfishery & Kingcakery - Court rules that the state must allow Pro-Choice license plates to be available alongside Pro-Life ones, or to bag the specialty license plate program entirely. From an interesting report off the AP Wire. I'm reprinting it in full here because the link will not likely last:

Federal judge blocks Louisiana specialty license plates

The Associated Press
7/9/2003, 6:05 p.m. ET

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal judge has blocked the state from issuing specialty license plates, a victory for abortion-rights activists who challenged the Legislature's decision to allow an anti-abortion plate without authorizing one for the other view.

In a decision filed late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval said the plates, which show a cartoon of a pelican carrying a baby, constitute a public forum covered by free-speech rights.

"If the state built a convention hall for speech and then only allowed people to speak with whom they agreed with their message, the state's actions would be in contravention of the First Amendment," Duval wrote. "There is no significant difference in the case before the court."

The Legislature and the governor approve specialty plates, which are sold for $25 and raise money for diverse groups and causes including universities, wildlife conservation and the Girl Scouts. There are nearly 150 of these plates in Louisiana — each with the cartoon emblem of the touted group, like a black bear or LSU, instead of the standard state-issued design about the Louisiana Purchase commemoration.

Motorists already driving with specialty tags will be able to keep them.

Duval's order does not block the special plates for handicapped motorists. It also does not cover the personal plates, sometimes called "vanity" plates, for which individuals pay extra to display their own names or initials instead of the state-assigned license number.

Attorney General Richard Ieyoub said the state will appeal. In the interim, he said he hopes the court will allow the tags to continue to be sold so that no money will be lost while waiting for the final court ruling.

William Rittenberg, an attorney for the plaintiffs, noted the ruling does not ban specialty plates in the future, but merely the way the state now authorizes them.

"The ruling in no way means the state can't have a law for these kinds of plates," he said. "It just means that if they have a law, it's got to be a law for everybody."

Rittenberg said the state could pass a law similar to other states which allow specialty plates to be issued if a certain number of people request them.

"It seems like a weird decision to take away the free speech rights of everybody else who has a specialty plate," said Steven Johnston, spokesman for Gov. Mike Foster.

Duval blocked the sale of the "Choose Life" plates in 2000, saying they amounted to viewpoint discrimination. But the tags went on sale last fall after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Duval.

The appeals court said the suit would be dismissed unless it was turned into a challenge of the entire system by which specialty tags are handed out.

The plaintiffs have complained that the funds generated by the "Choose Life" plates are unfairly distributed because pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood get no money.

Planned Parenthood, along with other groups and individuals, claim the plates represent a symbolic union between the state and religious groups opposed to abortion, violating the constitutional ban against state-sponsored religion.

In his ruling, Duval said the ruling was not about the abortion debate.

"It is about the First Amendment and the constitutional guarantees that have been the bedrock of this great nation," Duval wrote. "To gloss over this most basic right of citizens of the United States is to invite a ride on the slippery slope to losing those rights."

Simon Heller, an attorney for another plaintiff, the Center for Reproductive Rights, said it was not the intent of the challengers to stop specialty plates.

"It really recognizes what I hope will be clear to the Louisiana Legislature, that they can't set up this system by which they decide which people get to express their views on license plates," Heller said.
I don't buy the Planned Parenthood separation of church/state argument, but the equal free speech argument makes a lot of sense to me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Lagniappe - I'm just wondering ... When will Conservative truth-sniffers ever admit that George W. Bush lied? That the administration's war effort is based on a measure of deception? Is it not a lie if you admit it? Is it a "justifiable" lie, and so thus doesn't deserve criticism? Or does the conservative nose only sniff out liberal lies? It is so obvious to me and to so many other people that the blinders are on Bush defenders. The only irrational explanation that I can arrive at is that people have been so shell-shocked by 9/11 that, like the battered wife who believes her husband's claims of love for her in spite of her bloodied nose and black eyes, they just don't want to see the lie.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Ginger Thompson, of The New York Times, writes about the PRI in Mexico and discusses its apparent resiliency. It is an interesting read, and the subject is very news-worthy, but my two cents worth on the PRI is that it is not an old wolf in refreshed sheep's clothing, but a reformed party with vestiges of its corrupt patronage past lingering. I happen to believe that the PRI will never be able to practice the type of corrupt politics of the past. Its success in the recent election may be due partly to its reputation as a provider (as Thompson's article points out), but it also is due to a belief among voters that the slap on the wrist of the PRI in the last presidential election pushed the party to some genuine reform, from which it really can't turn back without risking alienation of the voters it has apparently "won back." I think it is healthy and good for Mexican democracy that the PRI is still a viable party, and can still compete for voter allegiance even as an opposition party.

The 'Weak' in (National) Review - Byron York attempts to debunk the charge that Halliburton was privileged in receiving the contract to put out oil well fires in Iraq because of its connection to Dick Cheney. York makes an interesting argument that the contract awarded was legal and consistent with already established practice. Fine. I'll agree with his argument, and even agree that Waxman's claims were hyperbolic, if not wrong. However, what York doesn't address is the bigger issue of whether or not the awarding of the contract to a Halliburton subsidiary was ethical. It may be an unfair price for Halliburton to have to pay, but it's just as unfair in similar ways to expect public officials to divest themselves of certain stocks/holdings/positions on boards, etc., because of the need to remove any shred of potential impropriety (even where none exists) from their public dealings. Dick Cheney's association with Halliburton, as unfair as it may seem, should disqualify Halliburton and its subsidiaries from government contracting precisely because the perception of impropriety will always be there. No matter how York tries to legitimize Halliburton's right to compete for government contracts, the perception that the company will receive favors from, and preferential access to, the White House will never disappear. No one in their right mind would think that Cheney's post as ex-CEO of Halliburton is not a plus for Halliburton when it comes to competing for government contracts. Again, it may sound unfair, but the overriding need for transparency in the way our government awards tax dollars and the avoidance of even a whiff of potential cronyism means Halliburton should be out of the running. Period.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Liberal Lighthouse - The evidence mounts that the Bush Administration out and out lied about Iraq's nuclear capability. Why is this receiving no attention from conservative moralists and pundits? Isn't it patently obvious that the Bush Administration lied? Maybe the war was still a necessary thing, but at least admit the lie used to justify it.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - In Mexico, the pro-business, conservative National Action Party (PAN) loses big in the midterm elections. Both the PRI and the PRD post big gains. The PRI victory could mean a return to the days of the dinosaurs, or it could mean a resurgence of the neoliberal, technocratic wing of the erstwhile ruling party. The bigger news is that the leftist PRD seems to have successfully shed the uninspiring leadership of a bland Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and has rallied around a platform and a leadership in Manuel Lopez Obrador that could really shift around the political landscape, tilting it leftwards, come the next presidential election in 2006. PANista President Vicente Fox is now a lame duck, who will have to capitulate whole hog to get anything done in the legislature. Mexico will lurch leftward (albeit in a pragmatic way, much like Lula in Brazil), and watch how this will complicate the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico in 2006 if Bush is into his second term. If Bush couldn't cozy up to Fox, I shudder to see the chilliness that will seep into the relationship under a Madrazo or a Lopez Obrador presidency. Watch out for the ex-Foreign Minister, Jorge Castaneda, as he builds up his credentials for a run at the Presidency. If you want to see some graphics, check out this link at Reforma. The most interesting development is the remarkable turnaround made by the PRI in the states bordering with the US, traditionally strongholds of the PAN. I'm not quite sure what this means, but it can't be too good for the PAN.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - On Mexico's Midterm Elections: As usual, Andres Oppenheimer has a good piece on the elections. He doesn't predict a winner, but he does outline why these elections are so important for 2006. In Oppenheimer's point of view, in addition to its impact on the Fox Administration's ability to get anything done over the next three years, these mid-term elections will all but certainly determine the major party candidates and platforms for the presidential elections in 2006. Tim Weiner, of The New York Times argues that the only thing likely to change in the elections is that Mexicans will stay home from the polls in droves. Seems that US-style democracy, finally rooting in Mexico, is also bringing with it US-style abstentionism. Kevin Sullivan, of the Washington Post, apparently finding the midterm elections anti-climactic, looks ahead to the 2006 Presidential elections and profiles the leftist PRD's likely candidate.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Lagniappe - From his comfy and safe perch in the U.S., George W. Bush taunts militant Iraqis hungry for U.S. blood by saying "Bring 'em on." Just what the family and friends of soldiers in Iraq (like these) want to hear. This is not an invitation to an Easter Egg roll at the White House. It's an invitation to try to kill Americans, and apparently some are taking him up on it. Bush is a little man, a pathetic little man.

Lagniappe - Seems like this letter writer to The Times Picayune makes a pretty good point about how Sen. Frist and like-minded conservatives fail to differentiate between civil and religious marriage. When put in this context, I can't but think that Frist and his ilk are really advocates of theocracy instead of democracy.

Kingfishery and Kingcakery - For Saints fans, there is a very good Saints weblog that keeps tabs on what is being said and written about the Saints from across the media spectrum, along with some commentary to boot. Worth a look.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Kingfishery & Kingcakery - I have been reading a lot of outrage from the social conservative crowd about the recent Supreme Court decision banning sodomy laws. One typical example can be found in this letter to the editor of The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. The author of this letter ends by declaring:

Until Americans summon the courage to rebuke an uncontrolled and destructive Supreme Court, they must suffer under its pernicious and ignorant rule. They can certainly no longer respect it.
Well, I'm glad to hear that this writer now has come to his senses about the very court that put Bush into the Presidency. Those of us who were stunned by the political behavior of the Supreme Court in the 2000 election would agree that we have been suffering under the consequences of its "pernicious and ignorant rule" since that moment. I'm glad to see that social Conservatives have finally come around.

UPDATE 7/3/03: Well, whadda y'know... I sent a modified version of my comments above as a letter to the Editor of The Times Picayune, and they printed it!

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Blog Banter - NRO's "The Corner" has charted an interesting debate between Stanley Kurtz and Jonah Goldberg on many facets of the whole gay marriage/civil union debate. I've just got to comment on one aspect of this debate - and really the only one that matters, in my mind. I must say, for the life of me, I cannot fathom how any couple's relationship, whether gay or hetero, whether by marriage or by shacking up, has any impact or influence at all on MY MARRIAGE. My wife and I got married because we loved each other and continue to do so. We work on it and we nurture it for us and for our children. Admittedly, it's a pretty selfish position; but the success of a marriage depends on this selfishness. Quite frankly, for anyone to suggest that the sanctity of my marriage is ultimately determined by someone else's lifestyle or choices is insulting to me. In fact, I think that Stanley Kurtz is the one attempting to sabotage my marriage by making gay marriage relevant to my marriage. It's not.