Saturday, July 24, 2004

Re: Now That Everyone Else Has One: Funny Thing About Baseless Accusations --
A comment posted in response to this post:

Do you even read entire newspapers anymore? Or do you just read stories linked to by blogs that are linked to by Instapundit?

Republican leaders and the Bush-Cheney campaign have suggested that Mr. Berger sought to pass classified information to Mr. Kerry.
--New York Times (I'm directly quoting NYT but they're only indirectly quoting the unnamed Republican source)

Doesn't it seem bizarre to single out Kerry by name in that accusation? Wouldn't your immediate instinct as a journalist be to badger your source for any evidence, anything, that such an allegation is true?

Also, the right needs to pick a horse and stick with it. Are they claiming that Berger was snooping to find info for John Kerry (and keep in mind, he was apparently doing his research last year, before any primary) or are they claiming Berger was destroying evidence that would make Bill Clinton look bad? Or both? I'm hearing both conspiracy theories and they can't both be correct; the Democrats just aren't that organized.

(5:28 PM) 0 comments

Friday, July 23, 2004

Orange Prize for Fiction --
The Orange Prize for fiction released its list of 50 Essential Reads by Contemporary Authors.

Books I have read on the list:
1. A Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2. A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving
19. His Dark Materials Trilogy Philip Pullman
29. Slaughterhouse-five Kurt Vonnegut
33. The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood
35. The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco

In addition, I have read books by these authors on the list (but not the one listed):
J.M. Coetzee, Salman Rushdie, Stephen King

Just showing off my cultural ignorance.
(11:30 AM) 0 comments

Old-time religion on the decline / Fewer Americans identify with Protestant denominations, survey shows --
A recent story describes how Protestants will soon no longer be a majority of America.

Being Catholic, though, I am most interested in the statement:

"Nominal Catholics who rarely go to church or don't adhere to Catholic teaching, Smith said, are less likely to stop calling themselves "Catholic" because religion tends to be more of a part of their "core identity" as Italians, Irish, Poles, Filipinos, Latinos or people from other Catholic homelands."

That pretty much agrees with my observations. There is a culturally Catholic identity as much as there is secular Jewish identity and no one tries to appeal to the former, it seems.
(11:15 AM) 0 comments

Monday, July 19, 2004

Now That Everyone Else Has One: Real Life Imitates Tasteless Hypotheticals --
Some thoughts on the Philippines, as posted as a comment in this thread.

A couple of points:

The Philippines was scheduled to pull out its peacekeeping forces in August 20 anyways and it was pretty much a token force of 51 anyways which was probably only deployed because the U.S. applied significant pressure on a country whose economy is heavily reliant on the U.S. I suspect that there were U.S. concessions to Arroyo that bosltered her election chances were traded for the presence of Philippine troops.

My sources suggest that this move is generally popular in a country which recently had a hotly contest presidential election, with rumors of possible coups. Domestic public opinion appears to be a willingness to stand by the president in this decision along with a belief that the Philippines should never have gotten involved. In fact, this may have been a God-send in that it permits a peaceful withdrawal of troops rather than an incident in which a dozen soldiers are wounded or killed in a bombing, paving the way for a destabilizing uprising in the streets of Manila as Arroyo is criticized as a tool of the United States. The task for Arroyo in the upcoming months will be to appear firm in the face of any U.S. reprisal for this action and, believe me, any obvious retaliation will not go over well and only fuel support for Arroyo.

It was pretty much a mistake for a politically vulnerable nation to take part in the goings-on in Iraq, especially one whose symbolic value of increasing the number of participants in the so-called "coalition of the willing" was minimal vs. one which could easily have been predicted to fold under any sort of meaningful pressure and cause the current PR harm.

As a curious and unrelated aside, it appears that the general who headed the Filipino mission in Iraq will immediately be thrust into allegations of human rights abuses, including charges of murder, during prior commands in the Philippines.
(5:37 PM) 0 comments

Monday, July 12, 2004

New commenting and titles --
So, I've switched over the comments (not that anyone ever leaves one) to the home grown Blogger stuff and set posts to have titles. Whee.
(11:33 PM) 0 comments

A comment I posted to the Rescheduling post on the blog of Matthew Yglesias.

Why are people so un-imaginative about this?

People are talking about what if there is an attack in the days before the election or right before the polls open on Election Day. People are talking about elections in a single location being disrupted. People assume that a terrorist attack will be a large target possibly bringing down a city's infrastructure.

How about this scenario? At 9 am, in ten major U.S. cities, two suicide bombers pick random polling stations, walk in with explosives, and destroy the place and every voter in it. Three hours later, a similar number of suicide bombers destroy another set of seemingly random polling places. They may or may not be in the same cities as the 9 am sites.

How are you feeling if you were thinking of voting later in the day, after work?


G.C. had a reply to my post, mentioning posts like this and this.

I replied:

I'm not saying that plans are a good idea. In fact, I might even be support for your argument. I don't have any particular faith in the current administration to anticipate a creative terrorist attack. If they can't make the connection from "yes, we are aware of al-Qaeda plans to hijack airplanes" to 'well, terrorists can use hijacked airplanes as weapons," then I'm pretty sure that motivated and intelligent terrorists can do something unexpected if they can just get people across the border.

It's really funny. I've seen "no terrorist attacks on American soil since September 11" put forward as a reason to vote for Bush. (I almost want to say it was in a TV ad, though it may have been a blog.) And here they are trying to have their cake and eat it. . . if there are no terrorist attacks, then Bush is good, but if there are, then that shouldn't influence people to vote against Bush.

Amusing, it appears G.C. and I both attended the same undergraduate institution. And it seems we both wrote a column for the newspaper.

(5:36 PM) 1 comments

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

According to the National Catholic Reporter:

On the second question -- how to treat pro-choice Catholic politicians -- the bishops were numerically decisive though substantively cautious. By a vote of 183-6 they approved a document that says the decision to deny Communion rests “with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles.” The statement continued, “Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action.”

There are many interpretations of this. One is that the Catholic Church is reluctant to take direct political action (see Hitler in Nazi Germany). Another is that it is an acute awareness of a lack of political power and moral persuasion on a national scale in the wake of priest abuse scandals. Or it is a pragmatic awareness that denying Communion won't do anything significant.

Here's another interpretation. The Church hierarchy all the way up to the Pope is generally appalled over the war in Iraq and this is a signal of Catholic priorities. It's a declaration of truce over certain issues. While the Church won't actively campaign, it will refuse to do certain things well within its right that might help certain candidates who take the wrong path on certain more timely issues which can be resolved in the Church's favor much more quickly.

So, if you want the Catholic Church's tacit semi-approval of John Kerry, don't make it uncomfortable by pressing abortion and gay marriage, or at least don't do so until after November.
(5:41 AM) 0 comments