Shouting 'Cross the Potomac

barstool philosopher,
backseat driver
but never a Monday morning quarterback

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willv at


Virginia Pundit Watch Will Vehrs' Weekly Column at Bacon's Rebellion

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UVA Center for Politics and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball Predictions 2002


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On the Third Hand
A blog by a proud member of the Bellicose Women's Brigade


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Where HipHop and Libertarianism meet

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Saturday, October 20, 2001
Truth is, we're bribing the
US to save us, too
An interesting opinion piece from The Sydney Morning Herald. I really loved the following lines (especially the bits that I italicized):

"It is worse, of course, with a khaki election in full cry. Appropriately solemn, the Prime Minister announced our expanded commitment to the Bush coalition on Wednesday. The next day he looked to be almost wetting himself at the Lavarack Barracks in Townsville as he postured for the TV cameras, guffawing with the troops against a backdrop of camouflage netting and an armoured personnel carrier. Campaigning prime ministers adore departing diggers even more than they do Olympic gold medallists. The second casualty will almost certainly be Kim Beazley.

None of which is to say that the war is unjust, or that we should have no part in it. The choice is stark. Do we wish to concede the world to fanatics who fly airliners into skyscrapers and spread anthrax through the mail, or do we take arms against this sea of troubles and by opposing end them? No argument, really."

Why can't the US press write like this...

Is Steven Emerson Right?
IsGlenn Reynolds points to this article at the NATIONAL POST ONLINE, built around an interview with Steven Emerson, "America's foremost independent investigative expert on Islamic terrorism". Prof Reynolds says that Emerson "seems a bit alarmist to me." I'll go a step further - Emerson is alarmist.

Emerson points to comments by Muzammil Siddiqui and Hamza Yusuf where they use the phrases "great tribulation" and "the wrath of God" in delivering warnings to America. I'm not sure that I would put those quoted comments in the catergory of "supporting terrorism", or "inciting violence". Might they have that effect? Sure, just like certain Christian rhetoric might have the same effect. It's one thing to speak from moral outrage, an outrage founded on principles enunciated in "holy texts", but quite another to imply that this outraged speech is intended to "support violence". Those things that these Muslim clerics said are no worse than the average Christian clerics' "warnings" delivered out of "moral outrage" at the supposed decline of our culture (in fact, some Christians use their moral outrage over abortion as a defense of Dr. Slepian's murder, so Christians can be just as bad as Islamic militants). But, neither Hamza Yusuf, nor Muzammil Siddiqui, ever invoked Allah in referring to the Sep 11th attacks as "what we deserved" (OK, that's a shot at Falwell et al, but damn it - I'm still pissed at them!).

Of course, the events of Sep 11 put those comments in a different light - the terrorist happened to be militant Muslim extremists who use the same language of rage. That's something that US Muslims have recognized, and spoken to. But, this "rhetoric of rage" raises a question that's worth talking about - where does moral outrage end, and inciting to violence begin? I'll have to advert to Justice Stewart's famous "I'll know it when I see it" test, and I just haven't seen it in the US Muslim community.

A Myth of Invincibility
With US ground troops officially engaged in Afghanistan it's time to deal with the myth of Afghan "invincibility" (which the Taliban claims in their favor). I would love to share Jefferson Penberthy's Oct 4 LAT commentary "Afghanistan's Invincibility: Piercing the Myths" - it's a wonderful deconstruction of the myth. I can't find a link, but here's a summary (excerpting from Penberthy's commentary):

Myth 1: The moujahedeen beat the Soviet Union - It was the Reagan administration's economic pressure that forced the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan, not the moujahedeen... Besides, [Gen.] Gromov left behind the Communist-backed Najibullah regime that, against all odds, fought on successfully for another three years.

Myth 2: The moujahedeen took Kabul from Najibullah - Militarily, they did not. Hopelessly divided along ethnic lines, they barely touched Kabul until Najibullah's tough Uzbek militia under Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum revolted over a pay and promotions dispute. In April 1992, the moujahedeen arrived in Kabul with hardly a shot fired except for endless volleys of "happy fire."

Myth 3: The hardy moujahedeen held out in the mountains for 14 years - Not true. The leaders of seven of the eight main moujahedeen factions fought the war from Peshawar, Pakistan--most living in luxurious smugglers' villas. Fighters were recruited from among 3 million refugees in the mud-brick camp cities there and around Quetta. Conducting raids into Afghanistan, many did stay for months at a time, but returned regularly for resupply and recuperation that would not be available now.

Myth 4: The Afghans have never been subdued - True, but they have never been united either.

I did find a couple of pre Sep 11 articles that dealt with the myth - "A free Ismail Khan gives Afghan patriots golden opportunity" is from the April 3 2000 issue of Omaid (which claims to be "the most widely read Afghan publication in the world"), and Taliban Loses Ground, but Not Its Strict Ways is from the August 5, 1997 edition of The Christian Science Monitor.

The myth has been around for awhile, and as the older articles prove, it's been a fallacy for just as long.

A Moral Dilemma
A friend poses this question in an email (maybe you've seen it):

Here's a moral question for you. This is an imaginary situation, but I think you will find it beneficial to think through this exercise.

The scenario: You are in the Middle East, and there is a huge flood in progress. Many homes have been lost, water supplies compromised and structures destroyed. You're a freelance photographer for a news service, you're traveling alone, looking for particularly poignant scenes that you can shoot. You come across Osama Bin Laden who has been swept away by the floodwaters. He is barely hanging on to a tree limb and is about to go under. You have to make a choice. You can either put down your camera and save him, or take a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of him as he loses his grip on the limb.

So, here's the question... and think carefully before you answer it:

Which lens would you use?


Is "Catholic Protestant"
an oxymoron?

by Anthony Adragna
In an earlier post I used the term "protestant" in quotation marks on purpose. Why did I do that? Simple - that "protest" is over, so they aren't really "protestants" anymore. But, like my recent pointing toward a "clash within Islam", there is also a clash within Catholicism. Can a Catholic protest and still be Catholic?

Officially, the Roman Catholic church teaches that anyone not "in communion" with the Bishop of Rome is not a Catholic. But, can a Catholic engage in debate, dissent, or even protest, over doctine and still remain "in communion"? The "de jure" answer is no, but the "de facto" situation is not so simple. The church has always recognized the legitimate nature of theological debate, so simply arguing a viewpoint contrary to current doctrine can not be reason for excommunication. Dissent and protest are more problematic, but is there any situation where this behaviour is legitimate? I say yes, so long as due deference is given to the Bishop of Rome, who Catholics believe speaks as the "Vicar of Christ". The question then becomes, "what do you consider illegitimate?" Well, that's tough for me, because I believe that all argument is legitimate, but certain actions can cause the dissenter to become illegitimate.

An example of legitimate dissent is Luther's "95 Thesis". It must be remembered that Luther was an Augustinian monk, theologian, and priest. Luther's protest was intended to instigate reform within the church (German princes used the protest as a pretext for nationalistic movement against the Holy Roman Empire, but that's another story). If Luther had kept his protest within the theological community, then we would be talking today about the "Catholic Reformation", instead of trying to heal a schism. I understand that Luther could not have done anything other than what he did. The problem is that Luther was not condemed simply for dissenting, he was condemed because he crossed the line. Nailing his thesis to the door of the local cathedral, and using the pulpit to teach an unorthodox doctrine, were direct challenges to the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome.

Another example is the "Liberation Theology" debate. This is even more problematic in that it became a hot issue in theology classrooms at Catholic universities. The social justice issues it attempted to deal with, as well as the basic message (resisting oppression v. turning the other cheek) were valid. In practice, however, Liberation Theology was a radically militant movement - some priests even urged the taking up of arms. The church had no choice, it had to excommunicate the leaders and suppress the teaching. There is an irony in the fact that John Paul II preached a mild form of liberation theology to his beloved Poles (John Paul II has been the most vocal pontiff on social justice issues, prompted, I believe, by the church being confronted with problems in the southern hemisphere).

Now, how can I cite the above as examples of legitimate dissent/protest? The church condemed both movements and excommunicated the leaders! Simple, what took them "out of communion" was not simply dissenting or protesting. The church has always recognized that the doctrine of "Papal Infallability", and the "magesterium of the church", do not exist in a vacuum. They exist within the context of an imperfect world, where imperfect beings are attempting to make sense of that which makes no sense. The church's teaching (doctrine) is supposed to be about a better understanding of our faith(dogma). As truth is revealed, our faith becomes clearer (sometimes murkier), and our teaching must conform (read: change)to the truth. Also, theologians make a distinction between doctrine that is based on tradition ("we always did it that way, so...), and doctrine founded on theological arguments.

At various times in our history, both theology and tradition have failed us. We have had to admit that we human beings were wrong, then work on changing. Often, the change has been at great price to those who lead the cause of change. When the church then takes up the light of reform, it can be nothing less than a vindication of those whom the church once condemed.

Homegrown Ayatollahs: Part II
I previously wrote about the two demons posing as "Christian" clerics . Well, one of them just can't keep his mouth shut long enough to hear the valid criticism. Pat Robertson wouldn't hire a gay Christian, but he'll do business with a murdering thug.

A Mystical Understanding
of Islam?
There seems to be a gentler side of Islam, as I've noted in the past. The story points to something that we haven't paid enough attention to in the West - the cultural struggle within Islam. We tend to think of Islamic civilization as a monolith, but there's actually no distinct "Islamic civilization". Rather, it's quite like Western civilization in a fundamental way - it's multi-cultural and multi-ethinic. Well, you read that article and decide for yourself.

Friday, October 19, 2001
Not Quite
A "Sea Change"
In my last "Mail Call" I directed a gibe at Will Vehrs, but it's really a bit of joke on myself. See, back on Aug 16 Charles Krauthammer wrote an opinion piece titled "Mideast Violence: The Only Way Out". On Aug 21 I had posted a backhanded agreement in Slate's "Fray". I still think that Krauthammer is mean spirited, but he's definitely right about one thing - the only way to deal with terrorists is to kill them before they kill you. By the way, Arafat's recent actions seem to contradict Krauthammer's assertion - we're both partially right.

Do Columnists Read
The News?
I get suspicious of what I read on the opinion pages when I read things like Robert Pape's current Washington Post piece, "The Wrong Battle Plan". All of the points that Pape makes are self-evident - nobody disagrees with him, so why is he making the argument? I don't know what the point of his argument is, but if he would bother to read the story about Special Forces on the ground in Afghanistan, or the story about Commando Solo operations, he might find that his argument is moot. If he wants proof that our campaign is working, then he might try reading the story about Pashtun tribal elders abandoning the Taliban. All cited stories appear in the same paper that Pape's opinion appears in - is it just me, or what?

His concern about taking out the Taliban and al-Qaeda not having an impact on terrorism in general totally ignores the stated objective of fighting global terrorism - Afghanistan is but a single campaign in that war.


Eulogy for a Saint: Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M.

by Anthony Adragna
Of all the deaths that occured on September 11, 2001, one death was particularly poignant. Father Mychal was the exemplar of a religious man attempting to follow the charism of his order's founder. Like St. Francis of Assisi, Father Mychal lived a life dedicated to the poor and suffering, a life that transcended "rebuilding my church" - he wanted to heal the world.

Father Mychal's friends tell of his late night walks. On these walks he would carry a pocket full of money - not a lot - to give to strangers in need. This was a poor mendicant friar who had nothing except what was needed, yet he always had somethng to give. That wasn't generosity, it was charity given from the heart.

Father Mychal's friends also tell of his daily visits to hospitalized children. When I was considering the priesthood I spent one summer in a parish where I made Sunday visits to people who were not able to attand Mass. There was one place that I always hated to go: the children's wing at the local hospital. The pain and suffering of children is so heart wrenching that nobody I know - except parents and doctors - has the strength to face it on a daily basis. Yet, Father Mychal did! That wasn't merely caring and compassion, it was love.

Father Mychal was no stranger to the victims of tragedy. As well as his years of ministry to New York City firefighters and their families, he also ministered to the families of civilian victims. As the New York City Fire Department Chaplain, Father Mychal responded to the TWA Flight 800 disaster with the rest of his department. He was there from the beginning to help the grief stricken, the suffering. That's where Father Mychal always could be found - among those in need. That's where he was on September 11, 2001. But, he didn't go out of some sense of duty, he was devoted.

Father Mychal's death is a loss to all of humanity. Unlike the terrorists who committed suicide bringing about destruction, Father Mychal went to his death giving comfort. In the midst of suffering he never made a "theological statement" about how God was punishing us, nor did he declare that he was going to death for God and his faith. He simply did the only thing that he knew how to do - he went to the aid of the suffering. He lost his life giving his last offering of charity, love, and devotion. I'm not waiting for his beatification, he's already a saint in my litany.

How do we go on from here? How do we get over the shock and grief? There are some words attributed to Father Mychal in a letter from a grandmother to her grandaughter (suffering with biliary atresia, a liver disease): " I stopped asking why. I began to be able to deal with one day at a time. Our dear friend, Father Mychal Judge, told me to 'stay out of tomorrow.' 'God hasn't even created it,' he said, 'take one day at a time - today!'" (excerpt from letter found here, scroll down to "ONE SET OF FOOTPRINTS"). If Father Mychal was here with us today I suspect that he would give us all this same advice.

Pax et Amor

p.s. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who have suffered a loss. I especially want my friends in the O.F.M. to know that Friar Mychal truly was a "blessed" Franciscan:

A Franciscan Blessing

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

(note: This was originally posted in "The Fray" on Sep 15 - it's being republished here at the suggestion of someone who found it found it touching then)

Thursday, October 18, 2001
I Like 'Puter Games
Has anybody played"YO MAMMA OSAMA"? It sounds fun...

Update: 9:45 pm Eastern - I just played it. Pretty gruesome (yeah!).

Story Update:
My Oct 11 piece "If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again" mentioned a NYT article from Oct 18, 1998 - a helpful reader at Slate found a link that reproduces text from the article (it's item 4). Note the comments:

The article did not bring the actual details of the Taliban-Saudi arguments. However, in summary, the Taliban will not hand bin-Laden over to anybody. The only way to get him is to assassinate him or destroy the Taliban state.(emphasis added)

Nuff said?

Need More Evidence?
Is allied bombing responsible for the slowdown in food delivery? According to this story the Aid groups say Taliban attacking them. Anybody need more reason why the Taliban needs to go?

note:If you saw the original spelling of the above headline, it really was a typo...

I'm So Ashamed
I once took pride in announcing that I spent many a summer afternoon at the Med Cafe in Berkeley. We were such a radical bunch, we citizens of "the Republic of Berkeley" (remember when the city tried to secede?). Now, I feel nothing but contempt at the notion that Berkeley narrowly passes an anti-war measure.


Does Terrorism Ever Work?

by Anthony Adragna
The most over-hyped notion of the 20th century is the one that R.W. Johnson put's forth - that terrorism works. He cites the achievements of groups like the Stern Gang, the FLN, and the IRA, as proof of his assertion. Let's respond to Johnson.

The British were fighting not just against the terrorists, but against an entire population, and couldn't have held Ireland even if they had suppressed the terrorists. Besides, the IRA didn't get all that it wanted - the Brits are still in Northern Ireland, and Sinn Fein has had to compromise. The Stern Gang can hardly be referred to as successful. A war weary Britain (WWII had just ended, remember?) referred the Palestine question to the U.N., and the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine's decision was accepted only reluctantly by the "Zionists", and not at all by the Arabs. The partition plan met the goals of neither side, and the dispute continues. The French loss of Algeria had more to do with NATO criticism, an attempted coup by a French - Colon alliance, and de Gaulle's personal view that the war was unwinable - despite the fact that the French were winning the war.

Even where the terrorists seem to have "won", their grip has always been tenuous, and the final battles in those wars have yet to be fought. There is something to Johnson's thesis - terrorism does work to achieve an immediate goal. But, the political settlements always involve compromise, whereas terrorists typically don't accept compromise. That's why the PFLP et al are still fighting. That's why the IRA, and associated groups, still haven't been able to reconcile themselves with the notion of peace in Northern Ireland - despite Sinn Fein's stated willingness to compromise. It's also why violence between factions persists in Algeria (btw: the FLN did lose its grip).

Johnson is, repectfully, just plain ol' wrong...

Is Farrakhan Losing
His Touch?
Farrakhan wants to see the proof of bin Laden's complicity. Methinks he doth protest to much - well at least he did condemn the WTC attack. I expected something a bit more vitriolic from Farrakhan..

Cheating, Influence, And
Press Censorship
No, it's not a story from Capitol Hill. This story is full of irony - If I was this kid's father I would've gave him what Mr. Bush gave the Bushettes... Oh, I like the last line: my school motto was "Umbram fugat veritas"...

A New Relationship With Russia?
Jim Hoagland's opinion column seems to leave a few things out - like why Putin is so comfy with our war on terrorism. Could it be that Putin has his own agenda vis a vis Chechnya? I'm not saying anything new here...

Mixed Belssing In
A Mixed Message
Everybody's commenting negatively on the House Shut down. I'm ambivalent: on the one hand it sends the wrong message, on the other hand they can't do any damage while they're away. Besides, in passing the anti-terrorism bill they did in a matter of weeks what would normally take months - I think they deserve a break...

Wednesday, October 17, 2001
I Guess I Should Go
To Some Reunions...
The alma mater went coed - Go figure! Check out the statue of Don Bosco in front of the school - I wonder how long it took to find his head...

Going Waaay Tooo Faaar
Do you need "A Place to Feel Safe"? Not me! I'm doing what this woman is doing:

In her own Virginia condo, says Smithson, “I am not sealing myself up. I have such a small place. But for the average family, are they willing to stay in that room 24/7? Because a covert biological attack—and the odds are really, really long—will not come with an announcement...Families could be sleeping in a single room for years on end.”

'nuff said...

If It's "Libbies" On The Label...
Some columnists, like Don Feder, oughta be a little more conservative in ranting against liberals. I'm liberal...


On the Individual Right

by Anthony Adragna
I have no clue as to what the Framers intended, but let me make a couple of observations.

First, there was in fact private gun ownership at that time. As Robert Dowlut notes in "FEDERAL AND STATE CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES TO ARMS" (15 Dayton L. Rev. 59-89 ), "The Framers were aware that at common law the carrying of arms was unlawful only if it appeared to be malo animo and 'to terrify the King's subjects.'" Dowlut reproduces an exposition from the Recorder of London which refers to the right as one which the subject "unquestionably possesses individually"(italics are original). Of course, the exposition speaks of "his majesty's Protestant subjects", but we can translate that to "American citizens". If there truly isn't enough record from the Convention to support an argument for private gun ownership, neither is there sufficient argument against. But, we can at least know the common law status of gun ownership at the time, and reasonably assume that if the Framers didn't radically diverge from the common law, then they must not have intended to.

Next, let me posit that, despite the Framers rejection of "for the common defence" language in the amendment, they may have fully intended to be able to draw upon an armed citizenry as the need for military forces arose. In light of the rationale behind the common law right this assertion is not unreasonable. In fact, without a large standing army (which we never had until the second half of the last century), what other option would they have had?

Having argued here that there is an individual right, the next question is: can the government regulate the exercise of a right? I think that the answer is obviously, YES. Not only can the government place reasonable restrictions on my exercise of rights, it can also revoke my rights where there is a "compelling interest". I believe that the govenment has an interest in regulating gun ownership, and a "compelling interest" in prohibiting ownership in clearly defined instances.

Finally, on the subject of rights in general. I have no illusons about "in(un)alienable rights" - the Founders decided that there were rights "endowed" by a "Creator", such as "life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness". Immediately upon making this declaration, however, they proceeded to deprive British subjects of these very same rights. Go figure...

Tuesday, October 16, 2001
Spin This
I just had to mention today's E.J. Dionne Jr. opinion column. Earlier, I said that the administration's "secrecy" was an overreaction - but Dionne goes a step further. Over the last week I've alluded to some motive other than the need to protect real secrets - does anybody have some real news.

Mail Call

(I'll keep my responses to myself)
Pope Stuff
A comment, if you'll permit me, on the Church and the pope and the WP

1. What an odd article. It even says "No one has the authority to end the
pope's life in the event he is placed on a respirator and the diagnosis does
not offer hope of recovery." A locution that suggests a real unfamiliarity
with Catholic teaching on end-of-life issues, to say the least.

2. There's really no evidence that the Pope isn't actively involved.
Just speculation--a weird sort of speculation, suggesting that the Pope is
less doctrinaire than he is usually portrayed as in the press. Thus: "With
the pope distracted, policies and doctrines might also be issued without his
full concentration. That seemed to be the case a year ago, Vatican watchers
say, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published a letter stating that
Christian churches outside of Roman Catholicism "suffer from defects" and
that non-Christian religions are "gravely deficient."" The letter may have
had a tone that the Pope regretted, but does anyone really believe that the
Pope differs dramatically from Ratzinger on issues of orthodoxy, the
substance of the letter? I don't.
3. It would seem that proponents of autonomy would be happy with a weak
and frail pope, since vigor is necessary to enforce central control. A pope
that can't speak is a victory for these people, not a defeat.
4. Regarding the Vulgate: maybe it wasn't such a bad idea. One parish
that I visited on occasion in Chicago, on the near north side, had mass in
English, Spanish, and, I believe, Polish. Separate masses for each
community, mind you. Which suggests that, at least on occasion, the Vulgate
would offer common ground to the parishoners; the mass wouldn't belong to
one particular segment of the community, with the other segments there just
as guests, but each segment would participate as equals. Though
participation then remains the issue. There's a quandary, though, for those
who rejoice in such innovations as communal penance services: with such
focus on community, as such, why focus so much on individual participation?
Perhaps only to stick it to those old conservative Catholics who long for
the Vulgate. (I admit that this reflection comes from a 30 year old who's
never been to a Latin mass.)
Anyway, I enjoy your site.

TJ Lynn

The "Movement"
I agree very strongly with your essay on why the gay and lesbian rights
movement has not been more successful. It is difficult for Middle America
to accept tolerance for private sexual behavior when that behavior is
flaunted publicly. A parade of female hookers urging legalized prostitution
would be met with the same negative reaction that greets the excesses of gay
rights parades. The publisher of Hustler is as marginalized as the advocate
of a libertine "gay lifestyle."
Gays and lesbians are a diverse group that mirror American society.
You rightly point out that Christian conservatives, another diverse group,
are identified more often than not by their radical fringe of Falwell and
Robertson. So it is with gays and lesbians. Both identities are unfair.
The more the movement stresses its "sameness," shunning stereotyped images,
the more it will be accepted by mainstream America in a spirit of "live and
let live." Movement goals of legal equity will follow. I note that the
September 11th tragedy probably did more to advance the cause of gay rights
than hundreds of parades because a gay man was just as heroic on Flight #93
as anyone else and gay victims of the bombing were Americans-Americans who
suffered, regardless of what "group" they represented.

The writer, Will Vehrs, is a fellow Slate star poster with
whom I have been finding myself in agreement lately - go figure

Bope Hope is to funny
Re Your Is this the right message: Someone (I can't remember who) once
made the comment that in times of peace you have to prove you're straight to
stay in the military and in times of war you have to prove you are gay to
stay out of the military. I think that story proved the point.

A number of years ago there was a documentary on homosexuals in the military
during WW II. What was interesting is that many served on the front lines
in combat and others in the unit knew they were homosexual but didn't care,
or if they did, didn't say anything. I remember one guy saying that when
they were
in Europe and went on R&R the straight guys would go off to one area and
the gay guys would go off toanother area (I gather the equivalent of a gay
and no one saidanything. I guess when you are in a foxhole you have other
things to worry

I do have to say that one thing I don't like about the gay movement is how
they have really ruined some good words. You use to be able to say you were
in a gay mood. Not anymore. Or that someone was acting queerly. Not
anymore. Or that you were fagged out. Not anymore. And if you smoked
you could always ask for a fag but you haven't been able to do that for a
long, long time.

Notice they never write "gay men and woman". It's always gay men and
lesbians. Why? Why are gay men always called homosexuals but homosexual
woman are called lesbians? Aren't lesbians homosexual? Or gays and
lesbians. Lets try to understand this in the modern usage. Gays are
homosexual men and lesbians are homosexual woman, only they aren't
homosexual because then they'd have to be gay men. So you can be a
homosexual man or a gay man or even a straight man. But you can't be a gay
woman or a homosexual woman if you are a lesbian. I wonder what a
lesbian woman who is in a gay mood would be? And if she was acting queerly?

The only slight satisfaction is the expression "That's so gay." is
going to steal the word from the .....let's call it the singular sexual
community, so it won't be exclusively claimed anymore. A little

I agree with you about "Homeland Security". Personally I'd rename the Dept
of Defense ( I think that name change is what started all of this PC stuff)
back to it's original name: The Department of War and call Homeland
Security the Department of Defense. If nothing else it'll confuse the
hell out of everybody.

Re Bob Hope: Look at his early stuff. You are right if you just look at
his stuff from the 60's on. And especially back before TV, yes he was

note to self:
Hope is funny....

Iran Deports Man
on Most Wanted List?
That's what the headline says. If they considered him deportable, why couldn't they have considered him arrestable... hmmm...

Is This Acceptable?
Charlie Heath, a fellow Frayster, asked for my comments on the Delta flight canceled after suspicious bookings. I would want more details, but the "behavior" (purchasing one way tickets) is an aspect of "the profile" that law enforcement officials might rationally consider a reason for increased scrutiny - it's not "looks alone". Without more details though, I can't really comment on the specific incident. I will, however, continue my mantra that "everybody must get screened".

Will the Real President
Please Stand Up
These two letter writers in today's Washington Post couldn't have been watching the same news conference - could they? I must admit that I didn't catch this one, but I am impressed with Mr. Bush's message, and verbiage, when addressing bin Laden...

A Response to Kinsley
If "Michaels" are going to get a break, then anybody colaterally associated with "Michaels" - like "Tonys", for instance - oughta get a break, too. It's not my fault that I wasn't named Michael, and the world owes me a remedy for this injustice. I want Affirmative Action for "Tonys", and it's the government's responsibility to to make sure I get it!


What Government Can Do...
...And Why it Shouldn't

by Anthony Adragna
In the current debate over improving security one idea that keeps popping up is "profiling". Profiling is OK if the profile being considered is "behavioral", but "racial profiling" just doesn't work. There are statistical arguments in favor of racial profiling - if you're looking for Arab terrorists, then you'll find them among Arabs. But, how many of us can identify an Arab by looks alone? Well, I have a solution - If we're going to engage in racial profiling, then let's issue all of the screeners little color sample charts. Anybody whose skin tone falls into the range of hues on the chart gets extra attention. How about if we focus on Arab sounding names? I wouldn't rely on Arab sounding names either, since terrorists could easily assume some non-Arab name.

What if we're certain of the persons "race", is it then OK to give them increased scrutiny? Here's an even better question - what about Arab-American politicians? Would Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham fit the "racial profile"? How about Congressman Ray Lahood? And, let's not forget Arab American pollster John Zogby. All three of these people are "racially" Arab, but I bet that they wouldn't get "increased scrutiny". Well, they might, but only under a random screeening protocal. But, I have a problem with "random screeening". I can guarantee that "random screening" won't deter someone who is intent on following through despite the risks. The only way to ensure safety is uniform and universal screening - this means all passengers, as well as employees. This would be inconvenient, but we allow it at sporting events and concerts - heck, I'm required to submit to a bag search when I go to the local amusement park - why not at airports! There would also be no question of constitutionality, we simply treat everybody equally.

Could we end up going too far? Well, I remember travelling in Korea, and I'm sure that we don't need military checkpoints, with machine gun nests and trigger happy soldiers, every 10 kilometers. But, I don't think that beefing up security at airports is "going to far". However, we aren't in the Middle East - we can't afford to deal with the problem the same way that the Israelis do. We "can't afford" that methodology because thugs who happen to be Arab aren't our only enemies, but acting like they are gives them more fuel for their fires and gives non-Arab thugs a potential pass.

Monday, October 15, 2001
If you've noticed anything funny about the site, it's because I've been messing with the template - It won't happen again... I swear

Speak of the Devil
Michael Kinsley has an "An Agenda for Victory". I don't know which column made me laugh harder - this one, or the one about Seattle-on-the-Hudson. Some comics have been particularly unfunny, while Mike has become a humorist! - well, he is a lot funnier than "Mr." Buckley...

O'Neill Is "In the Loop"
Michael Kinsley defines a gaffe as speaking the truth, or saying what you mean, when your supposed to say anything but. Treasury Secretary Paul H.O'Neill has been a redoubtable "gaffer" since his confirmation hearing... Um, not anymore! Mr. O'Neill, wanting to be sure that he echoes that President's message, has actually begun using the President's verbiage. This puts Mr. Bush in the position of having to clarify his message in unequivocal terms - something that he's gotten good at lately.

Alas and alak... gone are the days when it was my patriotic duty to give "The Shrub" a hard time...

He's scaring me, mommy
'nuff said, just see thepicture

Unwanted Mail
Here's some advice from the CDC on How To Handle Anthrax Threats, and a poster from the FBI. (don't tell my creditors, but I don't open any mail - never have!)


Why I Left the Seminary

by Anthony Adragna
Reading today's Washington Post story about concerns over JPII's health reminded me why I'm apathetic about the Holy See. I don't have any problem with Roman Catholic theology, doctrine, or canon law, as long as those things can be justified by something other than "tradition". I'm not knocking tradition, but I can't accept the notion that we have to do things a certain way because that's the way we've always done them.

Before anybody questions my ability to be fair: No, my problem isn't with the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality. What I take issue with are the church's stances on things like: a married priesthood, female priests and deacons, and the emphasis on process instead of substance. The tradition of a celibate priesthood began as a means of protecting church assets against the claims of priests' widows: no theological basis for the tradition. There were female deacons in the early church: what happened to tradition? And, there is substance to our rituals, but when we hear words like "obligation" it seems like the act is more important than the reason why we act.

I'll grant that there has been much progress since Vatican II, but progress from what? This is a church that until the late '60s was still performing its communal celebration in Vulgate Latin, and some clerics refused to accept even this insubstantial change. There has been, for over a 100 years, a move to more autonomy in local dioceses, and an emphasis on "collegiality". Since the early '80s, however, the Holy See has reasserted its primacy in a manner that has discounted the efforts of local bishops to be better pastors to all Catholics. For a long time we've had a church that hasn't spoken to or for all of us, and that has driven many Catholics away from the church (although, many "Protestants" have made "The Journey Home"). Now, because of a defunct tradition that won't allow us to remove an ailling old man from a position of supreme authority, we're faced with the prospect of a church that simply can't speak.

What Kaus Should've Written
Mickey has been unconvincingly arguing that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute should be linked to our war on terrorism. Jackson Diehl makes a better case:

Even worse would be the realization of the Putin-Sharon program -- the crushing of legitimate Muslim national aspirations under the guise of counterterrorism. If the U.S. alliance allows itself to be tied or tarred with that strategy, there will be no hope of victory.

I have no problem with the point that Diehl makes, especially since he also makes clear the need for nationalists "to make a clean break with the terrorists".

Suspect Suspect Thinking
William Raspberry defends George Fletcher's Oct. 6 column, which I dealt with here. Raspberry gets even sillier - here's a paraphrase: we've indicted individuals, so we must not be at war. Has Raspberry never heard of "war criminals"? So what if these guys aren't "state actors": the analogy between terrorists and war criminals is valid in this instance, and the attempt to distinguish between war and justice is inane

Sunday, October 14, 2001
QuasiPundit Recommends
See Glenn Reynolds' new feature, "Psywar Update from InstaPundit.Com" - my favorite is here (Gurkhas in burkas - hehehe)


Why the Gay Rights Movement
Hasn't Been Successful

by Anthony Adragna
Actually, it has - to a point. About the only things that we still can't do in the U.S. are get legally married, and serve openly in the military. The inability to get married doesn't really bother me: a) to me marriage is something that exists between two people regardless of a state's recognition, and b) there are legal workarounds to all of the benefit issues. I do take exception with the fact that gays still aren't allowed to serve openly, but let's acknowledge the progress that has ocurred - at least the "witch hunts" are defunct. And, if you want proof of the fact that America has come out of the closet and accepted, or at least decided to tolerate, homosexuality, then just think back over the recent denunciations of Jerry Falwell et al. So, if Americans are so accepting, then what's the problem?

The problem is that the GLBT community's "vocal majority" is just as offensive as the "Christian" extremists who rant about the decline of morality in America, or the militant Feminists. I think it quite rational that middle America views "gay politics" as "radical" when groups like "ACT UP" claim to be speaking for all of us. The fact is that most of us are mainstream moderates, and some of us are even conservatives. There really isn't any such thing as "gay politics", or a single "gay agenda" - we're as diverse as the rest of America. The only common denominator in the GLBT community is that we are in fact a statistical "sexual minority" (please don't read anything into my use of that phrase, as I don't mean to imply anything).

There seems to be a common theme running through my writing lately - the co-optng of valid issues by militant extremist thugs. Just as Muslims must refute the Ladenites, and Christians must refute the Falwells, the GLBT community must refute it's own extremists. Until we do that, middle America will continue to be uncomfortable with the GLBT community.

Good News From Iran?
According to this interview on CNN, the Taliban isn't just losing the war - it's losing it's soldiers:

Yunus Vaezi, a leader of Iran-based Hizb-e-Vahdat, or Unity Party, told CNN a radio contact reports that more than 4,000 fighters -- mainly ethnic Uzbeks -- have joined the Northern Alliance forces in the Jozejan province

Good news, if it's true... he also said that "Listening to Islamabad more than listening to the Afghans resulted in the present situation," I won't disagree with that.

Fareed Zakaria Agree With Me
In an Oct 15 NewsWeek piece titled "The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?", Zakaria writes:

Osama bin Laden has an answer—religion. For him and his followers, this is a holy war between Islam and the Western world. Most Muslims disagree. Every Islamic country in the world has condemned the attacks of Sept. 11. To many, bin Laden belongs to a long line of extremists who have invoked religion to justify mass murder and spur men to suicide. The words “thug,” “zealot” and “assassin” all come from ancient terror cults—Hindu, Jewish and Muslim, respectively—that believed they were doing the work of God. The terrorist’s mind is its own place, and like Milton’s Satan, can make a hell of heaven, a heaven of hell. Whether it is the Unabomber, Aum Shinrikyo or Baruch Goldstein (who killed scores of unarmed Muslims in Hebron), terrorists are almost always misfits who place their own twisted morality above mankind’s. (emphasis on "thug" added)

He's right on the money! Did he happen to read my essay? Probably not, but it's nice to know that I'm not alone...

Should We Change Our Policies?
Here's a good discussion from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. I was especially pleased with Prof. aL-Faruqi's (Georgetown University, Theology) comments:

If mistakes are made, they should be acknowledged and we should work with other people for a world order and for world peace. Not in reaction to terrorist acts, but basically because this is the right thing to do. It is necessary to basically respond to needs of people around the world and justice, and establish justice throughout the world.

"Not in reaction to terrorist acts, but basically because this is the right thing to do" - exactly! There are people with valid grievances, and we need to address them, but the response to terrorism is a seperate fight

Send the Ecomists Away...
And Bring Out the Psychologists
Why aren't peole spending money? OH, but they are! People are just being more selective - and staying away from places seen to be the obvious targets of terrorism: like Washington D.C.. You couldn't even pay people to go downtown this weekend. But, the malls were packed! On my excursion to Beltway Plaza yesterday (we went to Bennigan's for dinner - I had the "Oh, Baby" Back Ribs*) I noticed larger than normal crowds. In fact, the mall was busier than I've ever seen it!

People are afraid of the stock market and travel - "freebies" and "can't lose deals" aren't gonna get us outta this one...

Can We Stop Pointing Fingers Now?
According to today's Washington Post the U.S. has worked secretly with Uzbekistan for at least three years:

The United States and Uzbekistan have quietly conducted joint covert operations aimed at countering Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime and its terrorist allies since well over a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, according to officials from both nations

I wouldn't take Bill Clinton home to meet momma & poppa, but I wouldn't call him the anti-president either..