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3/31/2004

TBM CVE: Air America, Day One

Okay, so I caught much of the "headline" show of Air Americ today, the O'Franken Factor. Surprise, surprise, it was hosted by Al Franken. And it showed its newness, with some bumbling and fumbling, a rather unfunny running joke about Ann Coulter, too short interviews with people I'd like to hear from and too long with others.

Your basic teething pains, in other words.

But just once, near the end of Franken's first show, they approached greatness. They were interviewing Michael Moore, a guy I normally have fairly little use for, Democrat or not, and in the middle of the interview Al Gore called in. Listening to Franken wheedle Moore into apologizing to Gore for supporting Nader back in 2000 was hilarious.

It may have taken three hours to become really worthwhile, but at least there are flashes. For all those conservatives who encourage moderates and liberals to listen to Limbaugh "so you can hear what we're thinking", I offer the same advice...check out Air America to see what's going on in the heads of the Left.

3/30/2004

TBM BRD: Condi To Testify

According to CNN, "White House will allow Condoleezza Rice to testify publicly under oath before 9/11 commission, a senior administration official tells CNN."

Also check out the post below for CVE's take on the testimony.

3/29/2004

SRBM CVE: A Bad Idea

See, if Condi Rice got up in front of the commission and just said the same things she's been saying elsewhere, this thing would be over with by now. No one went nuts over what Rumsfeld and Powell said, so why would anyone care more about Rice?

But no, the Administration is continuing to stonewall, and now its making it look like they've got something to hide, regardless of whether they do or not. Between that and the dogfight with Clarke, especially when added to the earlier criticisms by O'Neill, Iraq is starting to look less and less like a selling point and more like an albatross around Bush's neck.

No one outside the beltway buys the "separation of powers" line, and every time they repeat it, the more it smells like a cover-up. You'd think that an Administration who is comprised of people who lived through the Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton presidencies would have learned by now...the cover-up is always worse than the original offense. But no, that lesson doesn't seem to have sunk in.

What's particularly ironic about the whole deal is that anybody who's read what Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz had been writing before 2000 would know that they always advocated going back to Iraq, and have said from the start that it was in America's best interests. If they'd simply stuck to their guns with "its a good idea" rather than trying to blow WMDs and fake Al-Queda links into our faces, they wouldn't sound like lying weasels now when they try to defend their decisions.

There's a lesson to be learned here, people. Play it straight, or get hung with your own words.

TBM CVE: Too Little, Too Late?

After more than a decade of allowing conservatives to rule the radio waves, the liberals have finally brought a single station online to present the opposing point of view. Air America is on the air.

The question is, will it make a difference? For all that Dean is credited for revolutionizing the way the Internet is used in politics, the fact is that talk radio's been beating Democrats over the head since the first President Bush was in office, and one has to wonder if one station, no matter how witty the people on it may be, can really swing the tide back.

On the other hand, the fact that such a station exists at all may suggest that the political pendulum is swinging its way back...

3/25/2004

SRBM: CVE: Yeah, You Better Retract That!!

So in the wake of Yassin getting blown up, Hamas decided it was a good idea to threaten the good old USA. In a statement they released Tuesday they said "The Zionists didn't carry out their operation without getting the consent of the terrorist American administration and it must take responsibility for this crime, all the Muslims of the world will be honored to join in on the retaliation."

A day later, the newly crowned head of Hamas, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi (soon after receiving his ceremonial Bulls-eye of Israeli Targethood), backed off from those threats and declared that Ariel Sharon would be the target now, not the U.S.A.

al-Rantissi may have just saved his organization's ass with that decision. The absolute last thing Hamas needs is to give the U.S.A. an excuse to join the fray as full-fledged combatants. One solid strike at an American target would be that excuse. We've never been terribly Hamas Friendly, and we've been less so since 9/11 and the Palestinian Party they threw in the wake of it.

But Arafat (who read the writing on the wall with more skill than he's shown lately) was quick to show support for the U.S. and to condemn the attacks and so removed his people from the Immediate Target List. And if Hamas were to go off the rails and put themselves back on it, nothing but catastrophe would follow. After all, if the Syrian government in Damascus is faced with the choice of giving up Hamas or risking "Crazy George" going over the line from Iraq, Hamas will be handed over so fast they won't have time to pack.

I'll give the Prez one thing...he's added immensely to the fear factor when dealing with America. Now whether that fear is worth the damage those policies have done to our relationships with our friends is one of the things for voters to decide in November.

3/23/2004

SRBM CVE: On the Use of Language

So I've been giving some thought to the usage of certain words. Here's a good one: Assassination versus Attack. Both the BBC and CNN are telling the same story about the funeral for blown-up Hamas head honcho Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, but on that side of the pond its an assassination, on our side its just an attack.

But what about Uday and Qusay? Weren't they important? But no one, not even the BBC, called their deaths assassinations.

Dictionary.com has the following to say on the word:

as·sas·si·nate ( P )
tr.v. as·sas·si·nat·ed, as·sas·si·nat·ing, as·sas·si·nates
1. To murder (a prominent person) by surprise attack, as for political reasons.
2. To destroy or injure treacherously: assassinate a rival's character

Obviosuly, we can set aside defintion #2, since the Israelis didn't so much call Yassin nasty names so much as smear him across the pavement.

So we're left with #1, and we have to ask ourselves...why is this such a big deal? Especially in this case. Is the blowing up of Yassin and some Hamas henchgoons any worse than the random deaths of Israeli civilians? Were the Israelis killed on the 15th at Ashdod somehow less dead because they weren't "prominent"?

After all, Yassin knew he was at war. He was one of the guys who declared it. Yassin's oft-repeated quote on the matter was: " The so-called peace path is not peace and it is not a substitute for jihad and resistance." In jihad, and while offering resistance, one accepts that one is under wartime conditions. One knows one can get killed in a battle.

On the other hand, the guys who were going about working at the docks at Ashdod had no such expectations, and it was because of Yassin's orders that they died.

So I'm not going to be shedding any tears over this guy.

Back in February, I decried the ongoing tit-for-tat violence between the Israelis and Palestinians as inherently non-decisive. I thought, and still do, that just raiding Palestinan towns (and they are full fledged towns now...you should stop calling yourself a refugee camp after 50 years or so) and blowing up Hamas and Islamic Jihad foot soldiers simply wasn't getting the job done. Foot soldiers are expendable and replaceable.

And there's absolutely nothing as expendable as a suicide bomber.

But if every time there's a big bombing in Israel, the response is to take out one of the high end leaders of these groups, such as Yassin, maybe those self-same leaders will have second thoughts about ordering another teenager to his doom.

Maybe.

The situation still sucks, and as I suspected might happen, even the slightest escalation by Israel has brought a tremendous (and, to my mind unwarranted) international condemnation and scorn.

But at least they're trying something newish...the combination of starting to pull out with stepped up violence directed at the "head of the snake" is one they haven't tried before, and it should be quite interesting to see if it works.

3/22/2004

TBM BRD: Taiwan Election Results

Following the recent assassination attempt on the incumbent president and vice president, national elections were held as scheduled.

Official returns indicate that Chen (the incumbent) has retained power - which is thought to bode ill for Beijing, as he has been a markedly pro-independence candidate. Thus far, reports state that he won with less than one quarter of one percent margin (about 29,000 votes) - less than the number of spoiled ballots.

However, the returns are hotly disputed, and protests have erupted.

All things considered, if Chen Shui-Ban wants to pull the independence trigger, I think 2006 or '07 is his best bet, pending developments in Iran and North Korea. It'll be close enough to the Beijing Olympics that the cost of Chinese military response will be much higher - after the Olympics they can have their every-two-decades fit of bad behavior without having as much on the line. Furthermore, in my estimate, Bush would be relatively likely to back a vote for independence. Assuming that air and naval forces have had a chance to replenish, and there are no conflicts looming on the horizon, then he may be in a fairly good spot to support Taiwan militarily.

This, of course, assumes that China doesn't bribe North Korea to go over the line (with promises of military support and a blind eye) in order to tie up US assets in the region. In this scenario, start asking serious questions about Japanese, Indian, or possibly even Russian, Vietnamese, or Australian involvement in one or both theaters.

Stay tuned for chaos, kids!!

3/18/2004

TBM BRD: Ayman al-Zawahiri Update Jumping the Gun?

Following up on the post below, Bloomberg has reported that bonds are down on reports of al Zawahri capture, based on earlier reports from Sky News. More to follow as warranted.

Update #1: Bloomberg: Pakistani officials cannot confirm or deny that Zawahiri is surrounded, as fighting is still ongoing.

Update #2: As I'm sure you're all aware there are a sea of reports indicating that fighting is ongoing and is expected to continue for the next few hours. These reports also suggest that the individual cornered is, indeed, al-Zawahiri. However, beyond the Bloomberg report above, I have found nothing to post to coroborate suggestions that he has either surrendered or been captured. Additional reports do suggest that he has been wounded in the fighting. So, in all, I feel that I must retract my original claims as they seem to be either premature or overblown or both. I will continue to update this post as events warrant.

Update #3: PRovenance of the reports of surrender: Bloomberg cited reports from SkyNews indicating that AAZ had been captured. SkyNews has since pulled the story indicating that AAZ was in custody. Some subsequent reports indicate the possibility that he has been wounded, and he is, indeed, the High-Value Target mentioned in various reports. This has not been confirmed by official reports.

Update #4: Apologies to visitors from Asymmetric Information, Vodka Pundit, Winds of Change, Mythusmage Opines, Ace of Spades, and any others I've missed. It seems, I may have jumped the gun. Despite that, I hope that the rest of the site is worth your reading.

SRBM CVE: More on Voter Turnout

Nathan Newman on one hand and Rick Heller over at Centerfield on the other have an interesting dialog going on whether Voter Turnout is really as down as it seems, and what the implications of that could be.

I would only comment to note that the very issues we debate are often framed by the awareness of who votes.

Social Security and Presciption Drugs have been big issues lately, and we often forget that the largest and most powerful "Special Interest Group" ain't the NRA (not by a long shot!), its the AARP...the American Association of Retired People.

Why? Well, as any election judge could tell you, retired people make it to the polls virtually every election, and often take care to vote Absentee if they plan to Snowbird out of town during an election.

On the other hand, there isn't much play to the fact that one of the places getting cut hard by the various state financial problems is funding for Universities. Public schools all over are having to cut services or increase tuition...or both...with alarming frequency accross the nation, but it isn't getting much play in the media or from the canidates.

The reason should be obvious...college kids fail to vote in higher percentages than most of the other age/job brackets.

And that frames the debate. Retired people vote, college kids don't, so issues that matter to the former are focused on those important to the latter are ignored.

Which is why I encourage people to vote more often...if you don't, and if all the other people who are like you in age/job/opinion don't either, you don't exist as far as getting your message heard goes.

That's how your vote matters far more than whether any individual canidate you vote for wins or loses. If you become representative of a voting block, then things you want or need are more likely to be tended to. If you don't, then the "Powers That Be" will write you off as uinimportant in the grand scheme of things.

TBM BRD: News Flash

Some sources confirm that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Al Qaeda number 2 has been captured.

UPDATE the First: Provenance of the information and current status posted above.

3/17/2004

SRBM CVE: Primary Blues

I'd like to tell you a story.

I served as an election judge on Tuesday. About an hour and a half before we closed the polls, one of our more faithful voters came in, a man that everyone calls "Johnny". Being in his fifties, blind, and mentally disabled, Johnny is the kind of guy who brings a smile to your face despite yourself. In particular, it was inadvertently funny when (as one of the other judges read the ballot to him, which you have to do for a blind voter) he decided he wanted to vote for "all of them" in the Senate primary. Though he'd focused on the Presidential campaign and knew who he wanted to vote for in that primary, he really had no idea on the rest of the races, and seemed to pick whichever name he heard last in every race.

Just a cute little story, right?

Except...if you didn't vote in your primary (or aren't planning to), then you made less difference than Johnny did.

It doesn't matter that he didn't really understand anything besides wanting to vote for John Kerry. Didn't matter that he was basically picking names out of a hat for every other office.

What matters is that he votes and you don't.

Sure, the Presidential primary was all but decided (and became officially decided after Kerry won Illinois) but there was an open Senate seat to fight for, with both Republican and Democratic primaries to decide who would fight it out in November for "The Seat of the Damned" (ie, Illinois' second Senate seat, which has been held by one term losers Carol Mosley-Braun and Peter Fitzgerald, neither of which managed to accomplish much in their six years). Not to mention a bevy of House seats and local offices.

With all that going on, my precinct managed to muster 93 actual voters out of 552 registered.

That's right, not quite 17%.

I'm with BRD and Doc Jawa that it was a terrible message the voters of Spain sent, and that the consequences of it are likely to be dire.

And yet...I can't help but think that there's a tragedy brewing here, too. What kind of democracy can't even muster 1/5 of the registered voters into the polling place? That's the registered voters!! How many more can't even be bothered to register?

I do understand that given Anticipatory Retaliation's Military/Political Mandate I'm likely preaching to the choir...if you're reading this, you probably vote.

You damn well better, anyway.

But I can't help be feel frustrated at noting the tremendous number of people who can't get enough of complaining about politics, government, tax policy or what have you and comparing it with the terribly small number who will make the minimum effort involved by voting.

What should we do different? What can we do different? Move elections to the weekends as the do in Germany? Give away free food and coffee? Make it a fineable offense if you don't vote as they do in Australia?

What's the plan? Because I don't like the direction we seem to be moving in, gang...

3/16/2004

TBM BRD: International Day of Dammit! You Ought To Know Better

Doc Jawa has been compiling a list of folks who share sentiments similar to the one I expressed below regarding the potential impact of terrorism. Unfortuantely, it seems that much like economics, it's not a crisis until you make it one. Dreary news, indeed.

3/15/2004

SRBM BRD: Work Heavy, Blogging Light

As the title implies, this week will be slow blogggage (at least until I get into full blown procrastination mode).

But, before I go, a couple of quick thoughts. Gerald Van Der Leun holds forth about the recent Madrid bombings, and touches on a point that I've been stewing over for a while about terrorism. (Courtesy Winds O' Change)

Most notably, the election of the Socialist Party is objectively a victory for Al Qaida. Not necessarily because their is some simple causal relationship between the loss of the PP and the recent bombings, but rather than many will assume that their is such a connection.

I've long thought that the next big terrorist attack will be this summer or early fall, just prior to the elections, simply because of the historical precedents in similar cases. To take the most obvious, the hostages taken in Iran during the fall of the Shah were released on the day that Ronald Reagan was sworn into office. This wasn't really because (I imagine) the Iranians were convinced that Reagan would be a soft touch, but more that they could claim that their act had given them enough political leverage to unseat a sitting US President.

Given the relative ambiguity of the utility of terrorism, terrorists are often wont to seize on any concrete change they can make in the real world. The taking of the hostages and the history of US involvement in the Middle East gives those folks reason to believe that they can shape the future of the world. Furthermore, their basic contention that the mujadeen resistance in Afghanistan was a proximate cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union, they'll be doing their ever loving best to do whatever they can to "cause" the collapse of the United States.

Towards that end, the loss of Aznar in Spain underlined a message that I wish hadn't been sent in the first place: kill enough civilians and you'll be able to manipulate the west. I think this most recent "success" will do great things as far as convincing them that they have to stage a spectacular attack before the election in order to meet their ends and objectives.

3/12/2004

EBS BRD: Note

Squawkbox has herked. Hopefully y'all will be able to yammer back soon.

TBM BRD: A Few Errant Projectiles, Hither, Tither, and Yon

Hither, Doc Jawa has put together a My Pet JawaTour de Force on the complexities of terrorism and smoking.

Tither, Charles Krauthammer [ed - I still love that last name.], is off "shooting French in a barrel." What an incredible turn of phrase. (Courtesy VodkerPundit)

Yon, we have a top 10 list from the Ace Of Spades on the Army's new XM-8 infantry weapon (which I mentioned here). (Courtesy R. Darren Brewer on Chicago Boyz comments).

3/11/2004

SRBM BRD: How Large was(is) the Cold War?

Steven den Beste brushes by a point worth further consideration in his recent essay about the Iraqi constitution, which is worth reading on its own merits.

He mentions the notion that the Cold War got a lot less scary when the USSR and China split, because we went to a three element system rather than a two element one (he uses this example to demonstrate why the American three-branches-of-government configuration is so robust). This then leads to the interesting question of whether or not we are in a two-legged Cold War with China - a little Cold War.

In the sense that the Second World War was the Third Franco-Prussian War, would a Sino-American Cold War be, more or less, a "Little Cold War"?

Well, to think about it, a distinguishing factor of the Cold War was the fact that competition was absolutely, fundamentally pervasive in ways that younger folks may not fully understand. It was in sports, engineering, art, filmmaking, politics, space exploration, tallest this, largest that, and so on.

By that measure, the US is not really engaged in a 'high-intensity' Cold War with China right now - mid- to low- intensity, perhaps, perhaps. But, that being said, China is in a much more intensive Cold War with the US than vice versa. Ever since the Treaty of Nanking and the Opium Wars, the west has gotten under China's skin. The United States is just the largest and most robust incarnation of the western affront to the Middle Kingdom.

Another thing that bears some consideration is the difference in Soviet and Chinese expansionism. The Soviet Union (at least on paper) sought worldwide domination, where as China seems to be far less bellicose in its rhetoric - to a point. It can be argued that China has actually occupied Xiang and Tibet, which are not historically part of China, and has designs on expanding to Taiwan, and possibly Korea. In the great game sense, that doesn't mean a damn thing, really. However, the problem arises that two of the last areas that China periodically asserts are "historically part of China" are American client states. In this sense, the Cross-Straights conflict could be seen as a rough analog for the inter-German border. Time will tell whether or not tensions escalate or decrease. But this analysis does put the Korean conflict in an interesting light - particularly since some flavors of Mao Zedong thought argue the classical line that warfare between socialist and capitalist society is a historical inevitability. Enough of that speculative ark.

The last point I feel compelled to mention is that while the Soviets considered themselves in opposition to the US even before the end of the Second World War, not all Americans twigged to that. For that matter, there are still some who seriously argue that post-war American bellicosity itself started the Cold War. I would have thought Yalta, but that's just me. At any rate, the Cold War did not become manifest as a global struggle in the minds of many until the first Berlin Crisis, and the Korean War. If we stipulate that there is an intent to engage in a Cold War on the part of the Chinese, that it may be some time before this becomes apparent. Assuming, of course, if such a thing is in the offing.

The counterpart to this, of course, the notion that China need not be a strategic competitor. This argument was central to the Clinton Administration's approach to China, and oddly enough, has been brought of cold storage in the Global War on Terror. At the risk of staring too deeply into the crystal ball, one might draw a parallel between the Soviet and Allied cooperation in WW II, that preceded the Cold War as being the analog to the Global War on Terror and any putative Second Cold War.

Should China and the US become strategic competitors after the War on Terror, then this has some pretty interesting implications for the future. One of the implications that bears mention right now, is that in the original example cited by Mr. den Beste, he argues that a two-legged configuration is inherently instable and (implies) that for a stable solution to arise, you end up with either a one legged or three legged system. In any case, will we see a third leg anytime soon? Who will it be? The EU? India? Latin America? Japan?

My Magic 8-Ball of Future History™ tells me "Ask Again Later". That's a murky portent, isn't it?

SRBM BRD: Game Theory With A Nasty Streak

There actually might be a good side to not finding WMD in Iraq.

According to some paper that I can't seem (or be bothered) to find, the optimal game theoretic strategy (one pursued by the US during the Cold War) is a bit more than tit-for-tat.

If we imagine on one end of the spectrum, a completely pacifist response, clearly there's no penalty for committing some aggression. At the other far end, there is a massive retaliation for any transgression, no matter how minor, we clearly end up with a terribly unstable scenario. In the mid-range, there is the so called "tit-for-tat" which calls for retaliation equal in kind, type, and quantity.

[NB - Caveat: I am talking here only about general, non-nuclear interstate strategic and grand strategic relationships. Within an individual conflict local dynamics become more important, while at an interstate nuclear level, another rationale comes into play altogether. So, this is very much the 'physicsland' IR model.]

The paper that I mention above suggested (as I recall) that the most effective strategy for the US to pursue is one in which the US pursued an essentially tit-for-tat strategy - but with a mean streak. Instead of meeting each attack with a response in kind, it turns out to be more effective in the long run if you respond with an equivalent plus ten or twenty percent. More than that, and things start getting destabilized and you start driving off potential allies. Less than equivalent response makes attacking you a winning proposition. Tit-for-tat doesn't really do much, one way or the other.

In the case of Iraq, we've had WMD proliferation issues with a number of states over the last few decades. The fact that we rolled Iraq for failing to cooperate fully with inspectors, even though they didn't have WMD may have served as the extra twenty percent, so to speak.

[NB - This should not be construed as a declarative or normative statement about whether or not Iraq had or currently has proscribed materials and/or programs. The idea is presented only as a widely held oversimplification.]

Granted, Libya was in negotiations long before the Iraq War, but, all things considered, it wouldn't be unfair to suggest that Mr. Hussein's fate gave Libya a weaker psychological bargaining position. Much the same applies in Iran, and Pakistan. These folks have all seen what happens when the US gets a WMD bug up its ass, against 'world opinion' we go and roll a country that didn't even have any weapons, based on the fear that they might have such devices and might not be fully cooperating.

Ultimately, this is not altogether that different from ideas that I've seen bounced around since the Libyan announcement. What bugs me, is that this might serve as evidence confirming the hypothesis of this damnable paper that I can't seem to dig up.

Well, once I find it, I'll give a more thorough treatment. Until then, let's just call this food for thought.

3/10/2004

TBM CVE: Full Disclosure

Just so you can see what you're dealing with, of course:

I don't want a toaster.
Furnulum pani nolo.
"I don't want a toaster."
Generally, things (like this quiz) tend to tick you
off. You have contemplated doing grievous
bodily harm to door-to-door salesmen.


Which Weird Latin Phrase Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Angry Democrat? In 2004? Unheard of....

TBM BRD: Screaming Firsts of Fury

I am generally reluctant to take those stupid online quizzes and absolutely loath to post them. But once in a great, great while I'll run across one that I just can't resist.

If you only knew the power of the dark side.
Postatem obscuri lateris nescitis.
"You do not know the power of the Dark
Side." There are two possibilities: you
are a Star Wars geek, or you are unreasoningly
scary.


Which Weird Latin Phrase Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

For balance, go check out the very first image with which Anticipatory Retaliation has been graced by another blogger - in this case, by the Hominid of Mighty Bigness and Hairyness:

Dirty Bravo Romeo Delta

Whilst there, you might want to take a peek at last Sunday's artistic efforts.

3/09/2004

SRBM BRD: Of Marriages, Unions, Divorces, and Secession

First salvo on this issue goes to CVE. For the most part, it's on target. Heck, even the comments on that post are pretty right on, as well. There are a few minor issues with which I take issue, so let's dispose of them here, so I can get to a discussion that counts. Anywho, CVE writes:

Wait a sec, if the government's so bad, why should we let it decide who should get married? Oh, I see, the government's just fine as long as its sticking its nose into our bedrooms and deciding who we can live with and what kind of sex we can have, but heaven forbid we fund public television, because that's going to erode our rights and destroy the nation?


My thing with this is not the at-first-glance sentiment, but rather the implicit counterpart which would imply that if we assume government is good then it is allowed to stick its nose into bedrooms, and so on and so forth. Secondly, does deciding who gets married determine who we can live with?

More broadly, I agree with those who excoriate the mayor of San Francisco and the Maryland Supreme Court. Aside from the crux of the issue, I vehemently disagree with those public servants who feel that their obligations to their own particular agendas supersede their obligations to the body politic and the rule of law as a whole. At what point does telling the entire set of principles upon which this government was founded to go piss up a rope, simply because the person doing so, does so with conviction, become a recipe for President-For-Life? Would not then the War on Terror justify avoiding a presidential election so as not to send the 'wrong' signal to the terrorists?

Of course not - for that way lays silliness. So, it does not take my reader much to imagine why I would just as soon not see such silliness given life in this current debate.

Thirdly, I would tend to side with those who view bucking a few millennia of tradition somewhat askance. That, in and of itself, is not reason enough to chuck the whole enterprise (or really any of it, for that matter). It is sufficient reason to go slow, in my book. If nothing else, turning society on a dime is a fantastically good way to end up hip deep in a disaster. If we did things of this sort, the US would probably be practicing euthanasia of retarded folks and be committed to a draconian one-child policy. I think the gay marriage issue is one best mulled over, because so much of the reaction I see now is reflexive, rather than considered. At the very minimum, it should not be a campaign issue.

Furthermore, this is in no, way, shape, or form providing equal rights for everybody. Gay marriage is a means of expanding existing rights. I have the same right to marry a woman as a does a gay man. That same gay man may not legally marry his boyfriend, and more than I can marry his boyfriend. Now, CVE notes in a later post, that analogies between gay and interracial marriage can be made. I also agree, to some extent, with the comments that there is more than a bit of an apples and oranges element here, if only by virtue of the fact that gender is a whole lot more binary than race. Race is hard one to peg on, simply because a quick check of dangly bits can (almost always) tell me the gender of an individual, but no amount of counting melanin can give me a useful quantitative measure of "race."

But this too, is another tangent. For any of those describe themselves as either Liberal or liberal (classically liberal or leftist) are in a damnably difficult position if they choose to argue against the expansion of existing rights.

Now to the meat - the biggest reason, from my observation, that gay couples want legal recognition of marriage is to accrue the same legal benefits that a similarly positioned (no pun intended, you dirty so-and-so) heterosexual couple will gain from the institution of marriage. This hinges on two elements; the benefits and the institution.

At a rough guess, those who are in favor aren't by and large seeking the imprimatur of organized religion to create a sacred covenant between same-sex-spouse and same-sex-spouse. If they are, they can go piss up a rope and start their own church to do that, there's no need to hijack someone else's. And if there were, why pick on me? Why not make it incumbent on the House of Saud to change? That is, of course, a purely rhetorical question echoing discussion of brutality, so I put it here only as a hypothetical exercise.

Conversely, I don't see many married couples that have a gigantic problem with the concept of providing a stable nuclear family (of one variety or another) for raising children, or building strong communities, or so on. The prime objection seems to be a sense that the institution itself is being hijacked. For those who actually, genuinely resent the notion that gay couples might accrue a benefit from entering into some sort of mutual agreement, I would like to know what they propose about doing to the menace of common-law marriages, where the individuals involved don't even make a choice, but simply start latching onto marriage through inertia alone.

So, what to do? Cut the baby in half.

Separate marriage and civil union. Utterly and totally. Call civil union that legal arrangement that gets the broader seal of approval from the government at large. Call marriage a spiritual affirmation of covenant between the parties involved, their community, and God. Take the separation of church and state a bit farther, but put in lines that can be held.

What I imagine is this: a civil union would be, by default, a union between any two consenting, mentally competent adults who are not currently engaged in a civil union or marriage with a third party. Civil union would not, in any way, shape, or form, imply consummation. Think of it as forming a mini-corporation, a joint enterprise of sorts. Things like spousal medical coverage would extend to the other partner in the union. So, for instance, two spinster sisters could form a civil union, to protect against unforeseen health care costs. An only child could have a mechanism for ensuring for the health care of a surviving parent. Sure, roughly allied mechanisms exist for this as is, but the whole 'declaring of dependents' gig doesn't have the same quality of reciprocal protection. Now, a civil union could be expanded in limited circumstances. These would be cases that did not violate existing incest statues, competency problems (no civil union, then getting power of attorney shenanigans) and could only be expanded to include dependent minor children, although no distinction is not made between adopted and biological children. Civil unions could be dissolved either with or without the consent of both parties. Since children cannot participate in a civil union, physical and legal custody of the child would have to be assigned to one of those in the union.

What then, of marriage. Marriage would remain the sole province of society. The imprimatur and seal of societal recognition and acceptance of the spiritual and emotional bonds that have crystallized into a most sacred covenant of love, trust, and mutual support. People get married in church - signing a civil union is done in a law office.

Yes, couples can get both married and unioned. Let's say that I enter into a union with a sick relative to provide them with health coverage under my insurance plan. That's fine, but it sure as hell isn't a marriage. Conversely, let's say that one of my past lives wants to get married to a pet rock - as long as I can find the bizzaro sect to do it, they can give me a certificate and put a smiley face sticker on it. But I darned well better not try to get spousal maternity leave just because I found gravel next to my pet rock. But if the Significant Other Of My Dreams Who Happens To Be Of A Different Gender Than I Am™ gets goofy enough to get want to get hitched, then we would be eligible for both marriage and civil union. Think of it like getting PADI or NAUI certification for SCUBA.

Could this result in the creation of the First Church Of The Extraordinarily Gay Pink Triangle? Yep. But there ain't a whole lot of preventing that now.

On a brass tacks level, would some organization, such as a church, be able to provide marriage counseling, without union counseling? My gut says yes, in much the same way that I can talk to a Rabbi or Imam or whoever about my personal issues - and get the Judaic, Muslim, or whatever answer to it. A gay unioned couple wanders into a Catholic church looking for counseling - the counseling may be about the sin of being gay - not relationship problems.

Would a company be able to provide different benefits to married and unioned couples?

Is it a usable answer? Heck, no. It's not even a beginning answer - it is merely an idea that might lead to something mutually agreeable some day. Maybe there is a way to keep the fiscal physical and the emotional spiritual.

UPDATE the First: Trying to translate the post into English. Who needs proofreading anyways?

3/08/2004

TBM CVE: Meanwhile, Back at the Farm...

While BRD struggles with illness, it falls to me to keep things going here. I was planning on making a nice comparison between Gay Marriage and Interracial Marriage, but while doing a little research I found a nice little piece here that says a lot of what I was going to.

So go have a look.

3/07/2004

TBM BRD: Nowhere Near the Beginning and No Closer to the End

Some of you may be familiar with some of the tumult, chaos, and misery that has been erupting, splintering and crashing around Dean's World. Heartrending stuff really, sorrowful, tragic, agonizing and entirely too human.

In general, my readers may have noticed that I'm not one to blog about much of my personal life, for reasons that don't bear discussion here. For that matter, I'm generally pretty loath to write about other people's personal problems, for much the same reasons. At any rate, it's my call, and I'll live with it.

Over the time that I've been reading Dean's blog, he's never really been one to whine, moan or otherwise make a spectacle of his private life either. I've read his heartbreaking narrative of events over the last few days, and have a sneaking suspicion about what it would take to cause someone like Dean to lay it all out in front of millions of strangers. So, as we meander through the weekend, I would like to ask that if any of you are wont to pray (regardless of your particular faith), put him on your list. He needs it right now.

This cacophony of melancholy got me to thinking about something that's really valuable but is often lost in the scrum and madness that is the holiday season, but at times like this needs revisiting. I don't know how many of you have ever actually known what the words to "Auld Lang Syne" actually mean, but I've included a good translation below. I would highly recommend reading the article.






Auld Lang Syne
 by Robert Burns


Should auld acquaintance be
forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And auld lang syne?


Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!


We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit
Sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl't in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin auld lang syne.


And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine,
And we'll tak a right guid willie-waught
For auld lang syne!


And surely ye'll be your pint' stowp,
And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!


 

Translation:


Should old acquaintances be
forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintances be forgot,
For the sake of old past times?


Chorus:
For the sake of old past times, my dear
For the sake of old past times,
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of old past times.


We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine,
But we have wandered many a weary foot
Since the sake of old past times.


We two have paddled in the stream
From morning sun until we dine,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since the sake of old past times.


And there's a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,
And we'll take a goodwill draught (of ale)
For the sake of old past times!


And surely you'll drink full your pint,
And surely I'll drink full what's mine!
And we'll take a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of old past times!
 


God bless and take care of yourselves.

And to my atheist and agnostic readers: Take care and don't do anything requiring bail money! ;)

UPDATE the First: Dean has a brief recap of the relevant recent history.

3/06/2004

TBM BRD: Linkiciousness

First off, this stunningly well written bit from a long-time American resident of Paris. (Courtesy Silent Running, Meta to Roger Simon).

Sorry I've not been posting kids, but I've been a wee bit under the weather. I'll try to see if I can't get something together soon so both my readers don't meander off to something with quality, quantity, and content.

3/03/2004

TBM BRD: Things being what they are...

Things being what they are - I'm both doubly unsure if this is either work safe or at all sane. I'm pretty certain it's work safe, insofar as appeared in a major Australian news daily. And it is only an article. But the jury's still out on the sanity question. Aren't they always?

Anyway, posting light today, heavier tomorrow. Light Friday, methinks.

3/02/2004

TBM BRD: Fun With Super Tuesday

Sorry kids, lotta work and a definite neuron deficit with which to address it. Cheers to the folks visiting from SilentRunning and Winds O' Change [ed - I see someone's already starting with a bit o' th' blarney - or more than one tot of 'Irish Wisdom'] Welcome, poke around, and don't forget to vote in the poll down on the right hand side.

First off, this great parody of the Democratic debates, notable, if nothing else, for its spot-on portrayal of Dan Rather. (Courtesy to Tacitus)

Secondly, an explanation of how Kerry got out of Vietnam after three wounds. An explanation of Rule 1300.39. Essentially, making the third wound the "million dollar wound" was a hold over from the Second World War. Not especially profound, but worth getting informed on, before engaging in debate on this point.

Thirdly, this article at VodkaPundit is certainly interesting and will be worth noting once it's veracity has been checked. I place no judgment on it's merits until that's taken care of. But, on a more easily fact-checked level, did Kerry really snag a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts in only 4 months in theater? That is an awful lot of hardware to get in very little time. Even assuming that it's all true and legit, would it represent extraordinarily poor risk management skills? Well it seems that as of Super Tuesday, the campaign is now in gear.

TBM BRD: Reach Out And Touch Someone

Click here for AC-130 gun camera footage. As I mentioned in this post, warfare ain't a pretty business. But it isn't the ugliest business.

Moreover, those folks who are appalled at watching something like this gun camera footage, but then turn around and decry each soldier's death as evidence of another impending quagmire, are simply talking out both sides of their mouth. If you can't stomach watching a AC-130 gun camera video because it offends your sensibilities, then you damned well better be able to watch bodybags arriving at Dover and look into the face of the dead servicemen's family and be able to explain why.

You can ask a lot from a military, but an absence of violence is one trick they can never reliably pull off.

3/01/2004

TBM CVE: Fog of War

Caught Fog of War tonight. Anybody at all interested in matters political or military (and if you're not, why are you reading this Blog?) really ought to head out and catch Robert McNamara baring his memories for the camera. Regardless of your personal politics, getting a look into the life of a major decision maker during the Cold War is worth the effort.

Go see it.

UPDATE: Its now the "Best Documentary of 2003". All the more reason to see it while you have the chance.