Meantime, I think it’s time the Bush administration considered a new strategy. Patience is a virtue, certainly, but if we’ve got the Sea Ponies at our disposal, I see no reason not to go ahead and use them. I predict that the next six months in Iraq — with the Sea Ponies standing up so America can stand down — will be a critical period in the history of this war.
Ordinary crime has apparently become too boring for this fellow, who muses — while writing about a recent shooting in Georgia — that we have entered something ominously described as the “era of individual jihad.” He founds his theory on the work of a source whose credentials appear to include only her ability to speak Arabic and her talent for receiving invitations to conservative speaking events. Regardless, the Jawa logic is spellbinding:
Al Qaeda sympathizers have recently declared it so. Further, these al Qaeda fellow-travellers have produced a series of ‘how-to’ videos for the individual jihadist. A kind of step-by-step do-it-yourself guide for would-be jihadists who do not, or cannot, belong to an organized terror cell. The terrorist of the future–and of now–may not belong to a terror group at all, but rather, will carry out acts of terrorism with little or no outside direction or support.
Was this alleged attack on a returned soldier in Georgia an act of individual jihad? It’s unclear. It’s very possible that this is nothing more than a case of overblown egos clashing. But it’s also not wise, in this ‘age of individual jihad’, to simply write the incident off simply because the two Muslims do not have any known connection to extremist groups.
Of course! Because someone who apparently self-publishes her own books thinks we’ve entered teh EIJ, it would be unwise of us not to assume that every altercation between a Muslim and a non-Muslim just might be a little piece of homestyle jihad. Examined in this light, of course, the definition of terrorism in the USA Patriot Act seems dangerously quaint. Remember — the constitution is not a suicide pact, and extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.
Speaking of nominal supporters of gay rights and specious backlash arguments, you may remember that in the wake of the New Jersey civil unions ruling Glenn Reynolds said that “changes like this are better made through legislative than judicial means, and that this may well benefit the Republicans substantially in the coming elections.” So, what does he think about his preferred position on gun rights in D.C. being required by the courts rather than by democratically elected officials? He predicts a massive backlash if the Supreme Court defers to elected officials and upholds the law. Or what about Tom Maguire, who argued that “gay marriage or civil unions is fine if enacted by the state legislature but wrong if crammed down by judicial fiat.” Oddly, I haven’t seen any posts on his part hand-wringing about gun rights “being crammed down the throats of the people by judicial fiat,” but he has approvingly linked to a defense of the decision.
Of course, it is possible to agree with one decision and not the other for doctrinal reasons. But neither Reynolds nor Maguire disputed the legal reasoning of the New Jersey decision (and I’m going out on a limb and assuming that neither gentleman is an expert on New Jersey constitutional law). Rather, they simply made the a priori assumption that the gay marriage issue should be left to elected officials, regardless of a state’s constitutional order, and also assumed that it’s politically counterproductive for gay rights advocates to use litigation. But for some reason, when there’s an issue they actually care about these concerns about backlash and junior-high-school democratic theories mysteriously vanish. Why, it’s almost enough to make me think that claims that litigation produces a unique backlash are disingenuous and incoherent, and that their objections to the New Jersey decision were about substance, not procedure.
In response to my point that Mickey Kaus’s nominal support for gay marriage was empty because he never finds any means of achieving it acceptable (the only meaningful difference between people who are flat-out reactionaries and people who support social change unless it might cause social conflict or affect entrenched interests is that the former are at least honest), a commenter asks: “There wasn’t a massive backlash after the San Francisco and Massachusetts decisions? This didn’t mobilize the Republican vote in Ohio and other battleground states, thus costing Democrats the 2004 election?” Although the question is apparently meant to be rhetorical, the short answer is in fact “no.”
I’m presenting the long answer in an updated version of a paper I’m presenting at the MWPSA conference next month, and Dan Pinello does a good job of summarizing the arguments in his new book too. To summarize the many problems with the countermobilization thesis:
- The state backlash was window dressing. The strongest argument for the Kaus backlash thesis are the 13 state initiatives passed in 2004 which passed following Goodridge and Gavin Newsom’s actions. However, the actual cost of these initiatives for the cause of gay rights was trivial. In none of these states did gays and lesbians lose legal privileges*; and as Pinello notes, in 9 of the 13 states the new amendments just mirrored statutory bans on gay marriage that already existed. And since state constitutional amendments are generally no harder to change than a statute, the political cost is nominal. A federal constitutional amendment — which is almost impossible to change — would be a different issue, but of course the FMA was pure cynical exploit-the-bigotry-of-the-rubes politics with no chance of actually passing. Gay marriage isn’t any less popular now than it was in 2004. In other words, there’s no evidence that Goodridge actually made the practical task of achieving gay marriage harder. So, clearly, the decision was a net benefit: they gained in Massachusetts (where pro-gay rights legislators have fared better than opponents of the court’s decision, belying claims of a backlash), without actually losing ground anywhere else. As a general matter, I also don’t believe there’s any significant empirical basis for claims that judicial opinions create uniquely large backlashes.
- The election myth. As Pinello notes, the evidence that gay rights was a decisive factor in the 2004 election is scant-to-nonexistent; once you go beyond eyeballing exit polls and actually do empirical studies of voting behavior, the alleged effects disappears. Moreover, at this point the various strands in the antiliberal obsessions of Kaus and his fellow travelers start to collapse on one another. Kerry in 2004 did historically well given that he was facing a wartime incumbent in a decent economy. Obviously, few people (and Kaus least of all) would claim that this was because Kerry was an incredibly strong candidate. But if a massive anti-gay backlash hurt the Democrats badly, where did the votes go? And none of this is surprising. People who are single-issue gay marriage obsessives are pretty unlikely to be liberal otherwise.
- Predicting 9 of the last 2 backlashes. You may recall Kaus, and may other pundits predicting that the decision of courts in New Jersey to require civil unions would cause a major backlash against the Democrats in the 2006 election. You may also recall that this didn’t happen even at the level of simple correlation, which will be promptly forgotten the next time the courts issue a similar holding.
Obviously, substantive victories (achieved in any branch of government) will produce opposition from people who oppose them, which would obviously be a stupid reason not to want to win. But there’s no evidence that judicial opinions produce a unique backlash, and there’s also no evidence that gay marriage won the 2004 elections for the Republicans.
*UPDATE: As Mithras and another commenter note, this isn’t entirely accurate; while there was no loss of state marriage benefits in these states, in Michigan and Virginia it did interfere with the ability of gays and lesbians to negotiate private benefits.
For some reason, it seems like the number of “I’m a Nigerian ministerial official, and have $36 million I’d like to share with you if only you can help me get it out of the country” e-mails have gone through the roof. I can’t understand why; did people suddenly get a lot stupider, or have they just been picking my e-mail address out more often? Anyway, I got a slightly classier version this morning:
1st Armored Division
We are American soldiers fighting in Iraq serving in the military of the 1st Armored Division. The saga of rise and death tolls should not be new to you and i am sure you will not find this mail worrisome. We have seen so much in our days of stay here and no matter how much we paint the picture, you will never understand.
During our invasion of some hiding out mansion used by al-Qaida leader in Iraqi Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi we discovered huge amount of money in cash and mostly in 100 dollar bills, Most of the funds were taken by our superiors and we can not authoritatively or emphatically make over statements concerning the money
But it will interest you to know that we are able to secure part of the money for ourself, please we need your assistance to secure and Invest the money in our behalf,I am interested in investing in Real Estate or any other profitable venture you may suggest,
You may be surprise or skeptical why I chose you as a partner in this deal since I do not know you, well I decided not to contact any body I know for this business to avoid any implications or blackmailing now or in the future considering my self as an American Soldier, I hope you will understanding and co-operation accordingly
The funds are available and will be released to you as soon as I receive a positive response from you. attached is the pictures of where and how the fund was discovered, more will be explain to you once I get your consent to this effect
Feel free to come up with your percentage sharing pattern of the fund as I am as good as yielding towards accepting a reasonable percentage share of the fund you will demand for the benefit of our mutual understanding.
Wow; it would almost be unpatriotic of me if I didn’t help these guys out! And I get to share in some terrorist money, too!
Matt quotes my colleague Ken Sherrill about why Democrats who support equal rights may be reluctant to disclaim the notion that homosexuality is immoral. The other important point, I think, is that from a political (as opposed to personal) level, what matters is the policy, not the subjective morality. Just as it doesn’t matter what John McCain “really” thinks about abortion when he’s resolutely in favor of criminalizing it, if you support gay rights your personal position about the morality of gay sexuality is not terribly important.
…Pithlord, Matt and lt are correct to point out in comments that it’s wrong to imply that public comments about the morality of sexuality are irrelevant. Obviously, it’s suboptimal for candidates to express the wrong opinion on the issue.
In the latest free “outtake” [sic] from his upcoming novel,
Cultosaurus Erectus No Man a Slave, Hanson spins a humble parable about the wisdom of declaring pre-emptive war against gall wasps, fairy flies, flower wasps, mud divers, yellow jackets and all other insects of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that are not bees or ants:
“But tell me this also farmer,” Epaminondas pressed even closer, still grinning at upping the Thespian. “Think when you have wasps with the sharp tails in you vineyard that Malgis planted. You know the terrible black ones. The ones that sting the paws of sleeping Sturax over there. Or land on the nose of Porpax. Or even in their pride jab the tall legs of your Neto or the chest of buxom Damo—do you chase them all over the orchard, flailing at one or two of them with the broom or clapping at them with your hands?”
“Of course, not!” Odd that the Theban knew of Neto and his son’s wife Damo, and of Chion and apparently Sturax and Porpax too, but at least not Gorgos as well.
“You think me a fool, Theban? To protect this household that you apparently know so well, I hunt out the nest of these stingers and then burn them out all at once with a torch of straw. Yes, I do. And so would you, had you any sense.” Melon sensed the Theban had a good lid on his own pot, and would need two or three more sticks on the fire before boiling over.
Still, Epaminondas flashed his black eyes, “Then don’t mark me a fool either, when you call me dream monger and worse. Like an old woman by the fire, you warn me that it is terrible to fight the Spartans. Maybe it is—as we both know—or maybe not. But when you fight the Spartans, you must kill their king. No one, not even our Malgis had done that. Then when you take on Sparta, you fight in Sparta, not where and when the kings slither or buzz to sting you.”
Now, this may be the way Epaminomodilsaiuhurlhhdsdjkas likes to fight a nest of wasps, but there’s probably a better way, me thinks. When my dogs — who for all their faults at least don’t have wuss names like “Sturax” and “Porpax” — are stung by wasps from the yonder fields of Thespai, Thisbe, and Tangara, I’m generally too fucking lazy to go deal with the problem sensibly. After all, the rich bastards who live on my farm want their rents lowered, and they want to ride around in their big fucking wagons with those expensive Arabian horses and their togas spun from gold and all that. And what am I going to say? “No?” As if! So I figure, fuck it — I’m going to just borrow a lot of money and pay some dickheads who live near the wasps’ nest to take care of the problem for me.
My neighbors usually offer to help out, but I figure fuck them, too — what do they know? They seem to object when my hired dickheads catch a wasp here and there and bring it back to me so I can pull its wings off and get out the magnifying glass and make it listen to bad music from my pan flute. So the neighbors are out, the pussies.
Anyhoo, while other folks are off dealing with the wasps’ nest, I’m going to borrow some more money, fluff the rich some more, and start looking around for some ant hills to crush. They may not be wasps, but they’re Apocrita all the same, and I’m pretty sure I can take them.
In the wake of the Mexican War of Independence, General Agustin de Iturbide came to power as head of Mexico’s new ruling junta. Originally an officer in the Spanish Army, General Iturbide had switched to the rebel side in 1820, a defection that proved important to the cause of Mexican independence. Iturbide defected, in part, because of his commitment to conservative criollo values; a coup d’etat in Spain had brought a liberal government to power, and Iturbide wished to protect Mexico from the threat of real revolution. Consequently, while Iturbide’s defection helped ensure Mexican independence, it also served to deradicalize the pro-independence forces.
Nevertheless, Iturbide remained a committed royalist. Part of the deal that brought together the various pro-independence forces was a scheme to find a European monarch to replace Ferdinand VII on the throne of Mexico. However, no immediate replacement could be found, as few European monarchs had much of an interest in insulting Ferdinand. At the behest of his officers and men, Agustin de Iturbide decided to accept the throne, and was declared Emperor of Mexico in May 1822. The young emperor (thirty-nine years old when he assumed the throne) had been born in Mexico to Spanish parents. Unfortunately, he did not make a successful transition from military to civilian leadership. His management style grated on the rest of the ruling clique, and in early 1823 a movement developed to force his abdication. He gave up the throne in March 1823 and fled to Italy. For unclear reasons, he returned to Mexico in 1824, at which point he was immediately arrested and shot shortly thereafter.
In the absence of the strong, guiding hand of an Emperor, the Republic of Mexico proceeded to lose a third of its land territory and accumulate massive debts over the next forty years. In 1860, Britain, France, and Spain attacked Mexico in order to force the payment of debts. Although Britain and Spain soon withdrew, Napoleon III had other plans. French forces marched to Mexico City, and in 1864 placed Maximilian I on the throne. Mexican monarchists had previously entertained the idea of offering the crown to Maximilian, but he turned down an offer in 1859 because he suspected popular support for the monarchy was insufficient. Maximilian’s father was a Habsburg and his mother a Wittelsbach, giving him a suitably impressive bloodline for his stint as Emperor of Mexico. Sadly, Maximilian had been misled about the extent of royalist sentiment in Mexico. Although he adopted the grandsons of Agustin de Iturbide as his heirs, he was unable to win the support of Mexican liberals, and irritated conservatives through his efforts to win republican support. In 1866 France withdrew its troops at the behest of the United States, and Republican forces began to prevail. Captured in May 1867 after the fall of Queretaro, Maximilian was court martialed and, to the horror of the crowned heads of Europe, executed by firing squad.
Agustin and Salvador de Iturbide, the appointed heirs of Maximilian, continued to press their claims to the Mexican throne, although without success. Agustin died in exile in the United States, and Salvador died of appendicitis in Venice. Salvador’s daughter Maria Joseph then became head of the Imperial House, dying in 1949 after being interned by the Rumanian Communist government after World War II. The current claimant to the throne of Mexico is Maximilian von Götzen-Iturbide, who presumably will become Maximilian II if his claim is recognized. Born in 1944, Maximiliano has demonstrated little interest in pressing his claim, perhaps because of the rather grim fates of his two predecessors. Prospects for a return to the throne appear extremely grim, as no monarchist movement worth mentioning exists in Mexico, and because of the lack of interest on the part of the Maximiliano, who currently lives in Australia.
Trivia: The current claimant to which throne has served successively as Minister of Health, Minister of Education, and Ambassador to the United States?
Glenn Reynolds asserts as fact that “it was Joe Wilson who outed Valerie Plame.” If you clink through the link, however, you’ll note that the linkee provides no evidence whatsoever for his assertion; he’s got nothing but a just-so story based on pure speculation. Of course, we are dealing with a guy who proclaimed the Plame scandal “bogus” because she appeared in a public photo after she had already been outed, so admittedly the illogic and lack of evidence here are modest by his historical standards.
Note to Ron Moore: For whatever reason, the writing and production team you have assembled cannot put together a murder mystery. All of the episodes centering on a murder mystery (Black Market, The Woman King, Litmus) are really bad, and the murder mystery elements of several other episodes (The Son Also Rises, Final Cut) are also quite bad. As there are, in fact, other potentially profitable storylines (something involving Cylons, for example) please stop with the awful CSI: Battlestar Galactica eps.
U.S. military deaths in Iraq have apparently declined by about 20% since the “surge” began.
display what can only be described as an extraordinary level of ignorance about the US occupation of Iraq. Since the beginning of the Occupation, casualities have unsurprisingly fluctuated from month to month. I’m not sure when Mickey dates the beginning of the “Surge”, but US killed for January were 2.77/day, for February were 3.0/day, and for March thus far have been 2.94/day. November and September 2006 deaths were 2.57 day, and August 2006 2.13/day. Since December 15, 2005 US deaths have run 2.45/day.
Obviously, it’s absurd to claim that US deaths have dropped 20% since the beginning of the “surge”. But this is hardly surprising; Kaus’ assaults on the Left have never required evidence, while his attacks on the Right… well, if he made one, I might have something to say about it…