Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I'm Outta Here!

Ladies and Gents, I'm pleased to announce that TERMINUS is movin' out!! Please update your bookmarks to here. I hope you like the new layout, and make sure you check out the expanded link list. Best part: no annoying ads!!

You know, back when I was in elementary school, I used to ride my bike home on the last day of school joyously (but quietly) singing "I'm Free" by The Who. I feel like that again, all of a sudden. Goodbye Blogger!!
What I Learned from Harry Kalas. I learned, just last night, that the Mets struck out 27 times in a double-header Sunday against the D-Backs, setting a Major League Baseball record. Think about it, that's a combined complete game of strikeouts. Go Mets.

In other baseball news, the Philadelphia Phillies took two of three from the San Francisco Giants, the team with the best record in the National League. Their series win included a no-hitter by pitcher Kevin Millwood, the first no-hitter scored by any pitcher in the League this year. You'll recall, naturally, that the Phillies's Jose Padilla recorded the League's first complete-game-shutout not too long ago. Go Phils.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

The Politics of Hate. With a title like that, you just know I'm talking about those hideous reptiles, the Republicans. Josh Marshall brings together several elements of the Santorum flap, and reading it all gives you an excellent perspective on the whole matter.

What's most striking to me about what Santorum said is that, if we take the man at his word (hate the sin, not the sinner), it is possible to conclude that he is blissfully unware of his bigotry. It is ipossible to conclude that he isn't a bigot, however. He claims that he has no problem with homosexuals, and President Bush lamely calls him an "inclusive" man. Let's assume that he has lots and lots of gay friends, and they go out drinking every Friday and have a great time. There is no discomfort on Sen. Santorum's part, even when he goes the the men's room along with two of his gay-buddies at the same time. Let's take to a really extreme level and say that Santorum doesn't even have a problem when his gay-buddies take him to one of their bars. Even assuming all of this is true, which it obviously isn't, this "inclusive" man is still a bigot. Why? Because he thinks 1) states should be allowed to criminalize homosexual sex, 2) states should criminalize homosexual sex, and 3) states should enforce their criminal laws against homosexual sex. Nothing wrong with being a homosexual, as long as you never have sex. That's what passes for "inclusiveness" in the hate party.

No surprise. These are the same people who push pre-marital abstinence with one hand, push away gay-marriage with the other hand, and pretend not to notice that they've just damned gays to a life of celibacy. The fact is, these guys will ot be happy until gay sex, if not homosexuality itself, is obliterated from the face of this great nation. It ain't never gonna happen (as if this even needs to be said), and the electorate is moving fairly quickly away from this mainstream Republican position. Even my Republican friends, for instance, are pissed about Santorum's remarks (because it makes it harder to pretend to themselves that their party isn't run by vile hateful thugs, and because they are not, by and large, bigots). What this means: the Republicans are soon going to realize that they are losing this battle, but they won't be able to do anything about it. Most of them have managed, just barely, to swallow the "hate the sin, not the sinner" line, and some of them can even speak to homosexuals in public, if they try really really hard. But Rick Santorum (or people like him) will become to gay issues what Strom Thurmond was to race issues.

For a while, I hoped Santorum would be forced to take a hit from this one, like Trent Lott did a few months ago. It appears this won't be the case. To understand why not, check out this fascinating article by Eleanor Clift, called Standing By Their Man. The article also makes one point that I must pass along. Santorum's comments were in response to a Supreme Court case called Lawrence v. Texas. That case involves a criminal prosecution under Texas's sodomy laws, which make sodomy a crime if it's committed by same-sex partners, but not a crime if it's committed by opposite-sex partners. Santorum was talking about using the law to protect the traditional family in lots and lots of ways. He said that homosexual sodomy, adultery, polygamy, bigamy, incest, and bestiality all undermine the traditional family, and therefore a state should ban all of them and should enforce that ban. As Clift puts it, "It’s worth noting, since Santorum brought up “man on dog,” that Texas doesn’t have a law against bestiality."

If it's any consolation (and it is to me), Texas is almost certainly going to lose that case. And Scalia, Rehnquist, and Thomas are almost certainly going to vote with the bigots. I'll have that story for you when it happens.

Friday, April 25, 2003

This Doesn't Bode Well For National Missile Defense. Via Franklin's Findings. The Patriot missile was long considered the great hero of Gulf War I. How can anyone forget the jubilant reports of incoming Iraqi missiles effortlessly shot down by superior American technology, making our brave soldiers all but invincible on the desert battlefield. Unfortunately for those of us who like a little romance in our warfare, it was all a bunch of hooey. 4 SCUD missiles were shot down by Patriots, out of 47 attempts. That's a pretty bad batting average, even for an American League pitcher. Twelve years and $3 Billion later, the Patirot had a chance to redeem itself in the latest installment of "Bomb the Brown People". This time, Patriot missiles managed to shoot down two aircraft, raising its total career aircraft hits all the way up to two. Unfortunately, those aircraft were friendlies, and coalition troops were tragically killed.

Every war is going to have heart-rending stories of friendly-fire accidents. Every war is going to have technology-problems and equipment failures and all of that. My question, though, after reading this story, is why people don't know this stuff. If I polled all of my friends, in and out of school, I doubt ten percent would know that the Patriot missile sucks, and it's always sucked. I wouldn't have, and I'm a fairly well-read guy, I like to think. Propaganda in war is one thing, but the Gulf War was twelve years, and the majority of Americans probably still think that the Patriot missile won the war.

It occurs to me that this is one of the things that feeds into our nations seeming appetite for warfare. We believe that we are so technogically superior that no other country, particularly not a country full of dirty brown people, can so much as prick us. That belief is not totally unfounded, but the reality is not messier than most people realize. That's something we should remember the next time the government promises us a "cakewalk" war.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

"Can't Be Fixed". Today, Bob Herbert in the New York Times gives us the definitive anti-death penalty argument. There's really nothing I can add. Regardless of your views on the death penalty, I urge you to read this column. If you oppose the death penalty, you'll get a narrow, piercing critique, centered around the case of Delma Banks, Jr. in Texas (a case which I have mentioned before). If you support the death penalty, you'll get a clear, uncompromising look at its flaws, which need to be addressed to prevent the unconscionable and irreparable harm of executing the innocent. Herbert says that the death penalty can't be fixed, and should be abolished forever. I'm not so sure that it can't be fixed, and so I support a national moratorium to examine the problems in depth and propose solutions. However, I disagree with the death penalty on moral and policy grounds, so the question of whether or not it can be fixed is not relevant to me in the first place.
The Party of Personal Liberty. I should have spent more time online yesterday. [Instead, I watched Manchester United win a great match against Real Madrid, and yet still fail to advance to the next round of the tournament. I was also, simultaneously, playing "Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link". Time well spent, I think.] If I had ventured online yesterday afternoon, I would have surely seen dKos arguing that the Democratic Party is the natural home of libertarians. I was actually thinking about that, quite on my own, just yesterday. In fact, I've been thinking about it a lot since 9/11 and the radical authoritarian shift in the law since then. The Libertarian Party is a bought and paid for piece of the Republican Party. But libertarians, unaffiliated with the national party in Washington, have interests which are very much in line with the Democratic Party.

Several of my friends, in and out of school, either are self-described libertarians or just generally fit the mold. One is, sadly, an Ayn Rand reader, and is therefore such a hardheaded absolutist that he is too far outside the political mainstream to even contemplate voting. Another considers himself a hard-right conservative, but several of his issues point more to the Democrats than the Republicans. Liberalization of drug laws, for instace, tends to get a fairer hearing from the left than the right (though the Democrats are far from having enough spine to get anything done on this issue).

Kos argues, as I was idly musing yesterday evening, that the Democrats should take positive action to position themselves in such a way as to go after the libertarian vote. Rick Santorum's recent bigotry erruption gives them a perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork for this push. The Republicans want a cop in every bedroom. The Democrats think you're old enough to make your own decisions. But, as Kos argues, this approach can work in economic realms as well, where libertarians have traditionally sided with Republicans. It's been more than 20 years since the Republicans, as a party, could honestly claim support for "fiscal responsibility". Thanks to Bill Clinton, and the (admittedly) tepid opposition to tax cuts coming from Democrats in Congress, the Dems are now in a great position to push the "fiscal responsibility" angle, which is huge with libertarians.

This isn't about moving to the right to do better in elections. It's about identifying a segment of voters who may respond effectively to what is already being done, and target them. Democrats shouldn't even pretend to be tracking rightward, because their own base is pretty pissed off at them already (e.g., the Nader/Greens problem). Democrats just need to make the case that the Republicans are selling the libertarians out (and have been since Reagan), and the Democrats (since Clinton) are actually pushing a more small government agenda.
Newt's Back, Thank Goodness. CalPundit has a great post on the sudden and unexpected re-emergence of Newt Gingrich, the famous family-values Republican who served divorce papers on his cancer-sricken wife in the hospital (warms the heart, doesn't it?). In this post, Kevin Drum argues that Newt's return is a good thing.

The other day, in case you hadn't heard, Gingrich blasted the State Department (in a very thinly-veiled attack on Colin Powell) for botching the pre-war diplomacy. Strangely, when Tom "El Diablo" Daschle attacked the diplomacy failure, he was tarred as unpatriotic. When Newt Gingrich said the same thing, even more harshly, he was lauded by the same people who bashed Daschle, not the least of which Rush Limbaugh. The difference? Daschle blamed Bush, Gingrich blamed Powell. Bush is infallible, Powell is black.

The political buzz on this incident is that Newt was speaking unofficially on behalf of Donald Rumsfeld and his Pentagon backers. There has been a vicious war raging between the Defense and State Departments for months now. Imagine that, the government of George "Uniter not Divider" Bush is home to the most destructive and public intra-Administration war of our lifetime. Who could have predicted it? The point is that the argument within the Administration is between Rumsfeld and Powell, Defense and State. Rumsfeld won the Iraq argument, eventually, and now, the Rumsfeldians are blaming Powell for the failures while giving Rumsfeld credit for the successes. Military success, diplomatic failure. Rumsfeld wins, Powell loses. Seems simple, right?

The question is, though, why exactly did the diplomacy fail? It started off so well. Powell and State were able to get a unanimous UN Security Council vote on putting inspectors back in Iraq. That was, as I've said many, many times, a huge victory for Bush, and State won it for him. Then, rather than allowing the inspectrs the time they needed to do their UN appointed job, the Bush Administration began pushing for war "now". That's when the diplomacy broke down. Is that the fault of the diplomats, or the policy? I want to say "policy, 100%", but it's not that simple. It's actually a very good question, and this battle will be a lot of fun to watch.

Kevin's point was that it's a good sign that Newt is siding with Rumsfeld, because Newt is a political ignoramus (he gambled his whole elected career that people cared more about Clinton's penis than they did about their own jobs, families, and lives, and he didn't win). So, Newt's involvement with the Defense faction is likely to work itself out in State's favor sooner or later. I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Politicizing 9/11. The Republican nominating convention is going to be held very, very late next year. According to this article in the New York Times, next year will feature the latest Republican nominating convention in the party's 150 year history. Why? To blend the nominating convention in with the 3rd anniversary of 9/11. No shit.

Honestly, am I on my own, here? Keith, Jenna, you guys like Bush, right? Do you feel that this is at all, umm, inappropriate? Tacky? An insult to the memory of the people killed on that terrible day?

Ok, I'll come clean, everybody tries to wring some political advantage out of literally whatever they have at hand. There's no doubt that Bush, or any politician in any part in Bush's situation, would try to play up the 9/11 tragedy for political advantage (by making "terrorism" and "homeland security" major campaign issues, for instance). But normally, politicians are decent enough to be discreet about it. We've already had the shameful case of the Republican National Committee selling photographs of Bush taken on 9/11 to make money for campaigning. That was bad enough. Now we have this, which is the most egregious example of politicizing a national tragedy that I can imagine.
Bigotry Watch. I've missed a few doozies, like the Republican member of the House who implied that everyone who lives in black neighborhoods (i.e., blacks) are presumptively addicted to drugs. But I wasn't going to pass up the latest, via Eschaton. Apparently, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) thinks that gays shouldn't have the right to fuck. This man is an embarrassment to his party. Or rather, he would be, if his party weren't so bigoted and hateful as to agree with him.

Every self-respecting Republican should stand up and repudiate those comments. There's no room for that kind of hatred in the United States Senate.