Monday, September 30, 2002

Take a look at the talking heads programs that appear on various channels. There's Press & Buchanan and Curtis & Kuby on MSNBC. Watch Hannity and Colmes on the oxymoronic network that is FoxNews. Check out Margaret Carlson on The Capital Gang on CNN. Notice something in common about the "liberal" talking heads?

Why is it that the mainstream left-of-center point of view is always represented by a weenie in glasses? Not that glasses are a sign of weakness. In fact, an intelligent, thoughtful-looking girl in glasses can be sexy. But I can't help but get the impression that the media establishment just thinks that this is the way that liberals ought to look, along with all the stereotypes it carries. Should a defense policy come up for discussion, it generally doesn't help that the liberal arguing a point is a pacifist because otherwise he would get beat up by a kindergartener.

Liberal bias in the media, my ass. True, I wear glasses. But at least I would carry myself like I would be willing to kick Dubya's ass in a fistfight, if necessary. They should put me on TV. Well, I'm not the mainstream liberal spouting lines like an official organ of the Democratic National Committee. And what they seem to want are predictable liberal/conservative types so that the course of a pseudo-debate is predictable. Can't have too many surprises in the news business.

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Sunday, September 29, 2002

Deuterocanon - Wikipedia

OK, so this bothers me. I'm Catholic, so I call it the Deuterocanon. Protestants call it the Apocrypha. And what I call the Apochrypha is what Protestants call the Pseudepigraphia. Lots of confusion when I talk about the Apochrypha.

Just trying to clear up some stuff. For those of you who are quizbowlers reading this, I get incredibly vexed about any question whose answer is "Apochrypha." This is pretty much why.

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Friday, September 27, 2002

The following is something I sent to a mailing list in response to one person's questions about America's policy on Iraq.

Here's my spin on things....

The overarching theme of George W. Bush's foreign policy
objectives is that the United States ought to be able to act
unilaterally and without international consensus. This is totally a
self-interested decision; as the world's only superpower, it has
nothing tangible to gain by submitting itself for approval by the
international community. Few are willing to just give up a position of
dealing from strength. The mainstream left wing is fond of pointing to
the money trail that links much of the current administration to the
American oil industry. In a way, that obscures the point of Bush's
actions. There are strong ideological motivations for opposing the
principle of international cooperation exemplified by the push for
such things as a war crimes tribunal or the Kyoto Protocol,
irrespective of how the opinions of "big business." I think there are
at least some who would be willing to go to war even if it went
against business interests.

Saddam Hussein, I think we can all agree, is a potential
future threat. How far down the road until that potential is realized
is up for debate. The Bush tem had hoped that the international
consensus could be funnelled into anti-Iraq sentiment, but failed
miserably to link the Hussein regime in any way to al-Qaeda. Expecting
to find the smoking gun, the U.S. rushed into the breach. However,
unable to build up an Amen Corner, America stands almost alone.

There is a fear of appearing weak. Weakness invites predators.
For example, Israel cannot afford any stance that makes it appear weak
or giving in, as that historically leads to attacks. For that reason,
the only way that I feel there is a possibility of resolution in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for the United States forcing a
resolution by holding a gun to the head of Israel, so to speak, as the
only country with the reputation that allows Israel to back down.

A unilateral mission to overthrow Saddam Hussein seemed at one
point to be the clearest, easiest way to overturn the precedent of
international mandates for military missions set by such efforts as
the Persian Gulf War. It still is, and I expect the current
administration to continue pursuing a policy of 'regime change" as the
best avenue towards creating a Pax Americana with the U.S. free to act
at will. The phrasing "making the world safe for democracy" only makes
sense within Bush's foreign policy objectives if understands the
mental reservation used, and that the goal is ""making the world safe
for [American] democracy." That is not to express a desire to promote
American-style democracy, but to express a desire to protect the
democracy known as America.

If my conclusions are correct, I can think of at least one way
to make the Bush foreign policy team apoplectic while giving them
exactly what they demand. Give them a strongly-worded UN resolution
authorizing "regime change" the moment that weapons inspectors are in
any way stymied, resisted, or harmed, but attach the condition that
Saddam Hussein must be captured and brought before an international

My stance on Iraq is this: I am perfectly willing to sell
Saddam Hussein up the river, to achieve other goals. If I were the
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait, I would express a willingness to not
only support but take part in military action in Iraq, with the price
of a full American push for a Palestinian state and a role in creating
the political architecture of a post-Saddam Iraq. Well, I am not any
of those states, so my own personal agenda is a bit different, but you
get the picture. There are things that can be done, all of it of
course under the table. We can't get the perfect world we want, so we
need to prioritize and choose what facets we want to pursue based in
part on what is most attainable.

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Thursday, September 26, 2002

Yahoo! News - South Dakota ballot measure allow defendants to tell jury they can ignore the law

You know, from what I hear, it's not exactly hard to get around laws such as those banning marijuana use. And I think this is motivated primarily by ideology. It appears mostly to be window-dressing. Not that the people holding this view are necessarily aware of the pragmatic nature of the way in which they make political decisions.

This is the way people's minds work political. They make a first impulse decision on what ought to be. Then, they try to make it fit within their political ideology. Of course, ideologies are powerful heuristics if fully deployed and a knee-jerk reaction will often easily fit into one. It usually doesn't take much adjustment to incorporate a new stance into an old set of views.

As noted in the article, some of the people supporting this idea of jury nullification are pro-marijuana. Color me cynical, but I think a lot of them are potheads who want weed by any means possible. It just happens to fit into a hedonistic ideology.

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Saturday, September 21, 2002

They say that religion and politics are the two things you don't say in polite company. Unfortunately, the two things happen to be of great interest to me and I focused on the intersection of the two subjects in college, so most of the time I don't have much to say in polite company, at least not much of substance.

And the two are linked. Just an example. . . according to the sociologist-priest Andrew Greeley, the decline of party affiliation in the United States strongly correlates with the decline in church attendance. This lends credence to the theories of de-affiliation rather than re-affiliation. Religion remains a highly salient factor for anyone who wishes to study voting behavior. Sadly, most people are interested in the effect of religion on conservative politics, the opposite of my academic focus.

As a matter of disclosure, I am a practicing Roman Catholic, the type who didn't lose his faith in college and who still goes to Mass. I also vote Democrat. I'm not a New Democrat and I'm not quite a mainstream liberal. I've taken to calling myself a postmodern progressive, in part because of the reaction it gets out of some people.

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