Friday, July 21, 2006

The (Somewhat) Brief Me

From this personality test


You are the absentminded professor, the same personality type (in at least one major system) as Albert Einstein. Plato said that the function of your type is to study nature and figure out ways to tame it. You see connections between concepts that others do not, and must sometimes stop to check in with your audience to see if you've made intuitive leaps that left them far behind. When you see a problem, you naturally apply technique or theory from an entirely different system and are the most likely type to make a conceptual, inventive breakthrough.

Ever since you were a child you questioned those in authority, not explicitly trusting teachers or other leaders to really be qualified enough to deliver the instruction they were delivering. You were open to their thoughts, but quick to identify biases or knowledge gaps in those in authority positions.

In fact, skepticism is one of your defining traits. You don't trust titular authority, appearances, beliefs, traditions, customs, reputation, degrees, or credentials awarded by any agency or school. This is not conspiracy thinking or suspicion of bad intent, but an honest impersonal belief that no one holds anyone or anything to the high, accurate, objective standard that you do. You will be the judge of someone's competence and no prior ratings by anyone else will sway your impartial evaluation.

You quickly brush aside prejudice, convention, custom and tradition for what works and produces results.

You define time by the event, rather than the reverse. You are certainly capable of making and keeping appointments by clock time (although you're often a few minutes late) but in your mind you are living in a time interval based on a concept, activity or stage which you can clearly define. For you, a time period ends when a certain activity ceases, when a goal is reached, or when your attention naturally shifts rather than when a certain clock alignment occurs.

You are particularly concerned with the proper definition and usage of individual words. For example, you are likely to notice the error if someone describes something as 'very unique.' If something is 'unique' then it is incomparable to anything else. It can therefore not be qualified by the word 'very,' because that word is necessarily used for comparison. You economize with language, using the fewest words, each highly defined, to get a point across assuming that others will feel bored or insulted if you over-explain.

You are prone to understatement. You will always err on the side of saying slightly too little, estimating slightly more problems or more cost in terms of time or money, slightly less exciting or beneficial results. This is done completely logically and you could go into more specific estimations if you thought the receiver would take such predictions logically, realistically and unemotionally.

Your special talent is understanding and optimizing complex systems. You can quickly explain how you personally fit into macro and micro social and economic machinery.

You are objective and when your friends come to you they know they can count on you to deliver the blunt truth. You recover quickly, if flinching at all, when someone puts you down or criticizes you personally. You realize that either the critique was deserved and you intend to correct it, or the person delivering it was incorrectly biased or misinformed and therefore the criticism was inaccurate and inapplicable.

You are known for your impatience with ignorance, incompetence, small talk, fake people, or too much time given to a small matter. You bring total involvement and attention to each moment in life.

As a parent you encourage individuality in your child. You particularly enjoy debating topics with your child. You encourage your children to be original, think actively, and take action on their own. If you see your child taking an unrecommended path you are likely to suggest alternatives, but wouldn't consider forcing them or demanding that they act differently.

You face each activity with self-improvement in mind. While others think of games, work, even social events as a mere passage of time, you engage each activity as an opportunity to observe the nature of the event and further develop your mastery of the skills involved. For you, even relaxation is done with a sense of duty to optimize the rejuvenating effects.

You are an intellectual and enjoy logical investigation and theory building. You are honored when someone asks you to explain the rationale behind your latest project, but often find the audience uninterested in nearly the level of detail with which you are capable of discussing.

You respect yourself to the degree that you act independent of the impositions of other people. You would never just 'go with the flow.' Your mind is always in motion and every action you take is by conscious choice.

Your type becomes most obvious in traumatic, stressful situations. While the rest of the world goes insane, you are the one who remains calm and collected, mainly because you realize that this is the best mindset for understanding and resolving whatever issues are at hand.

You are a true utilitarian. Your hallmark is your nearly empty refrigerator, containing exactly enough food for your next food interval and nothing more.

You have a wide variety of hobbies which get sporadic attention. Others may become frustrated with the fact that you start many projects but finish few.

Grade school can be particularly frustrating for your type because your desire to connect the music and mathematics lesson is out of the theoretical range of your respective instructors. You probably did quite well on standardized tests and found college style learning far more appealing.


It's wrong about me being late to things (I'm compulsively early--mostly because I fret about being late), and definitely wrong about my caring about grammar and phrases like "very unique." But other than that, eerily accurate.

Thanks for the heads-up to my virtual soulmate, The Kawaii Kid.

Literary Oddsmaker

At the moment, I'm in the middle of three, count 'em three, books. I'm the type of guy who will start reading a bunch of books all at once, alternate between them, and finish some infintisemally small percentage of the one's he starts--not because he necessarily dislikes the books he leaves by the wayside, just out of laziness. So, the question I pose to TDL readers: Which book am I most likely to finish first?

The Candidates

The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity, by Eric L. Goldstein (239 pages, not including end notes).

-Book hits at least three academic interests of mine: Race, Judaism, and the intersection between race and Judaism
-It was the first book I got of all of these--I've had it since May or so
-Because it relates to academic interests, I only read it when I have time to take notes on particular passage I like
-Of the three, I haven't picked it up in the longest time

The Good Fight: Why Liberals--And Only Liberals--Can Win The War on Terror And Make America Great Again by Peter Beinart (208 pages, not including footnotes)

-It's written by a New Republic writer
-I've blogged on the book, so I feel compelled to actually, you know, read it
-The blogosphere's moved on, so it really doesn't matter if I read it or not
-Will it hold my interest and still seem fresh after all the coverage I've read of it?

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn (262 pages)

-It's a break from what I normally read
-Any book that refers to a "desire to save the world" has got my attention
-It's "a break" because I almost never read or enjoy fiction
-It's the longest of the three candidates

Any bets?

Twist and Shout

More on the we hate illegal immigrants so much we laugh when they are victims of crime front (scroll to the update at the bottom). In California, a Mexican women went to court to get a restraining order against her husband, who was abusing her. Instead, the presiding judge asked if she was an illegal immigrant. When she said yes, the judge replied:
"I hate the immigration laws that we have, but I think the bailiff could take you to the immigration services and send you to Mexico.” Then the Judge had a creative idea: he would count to 20 and Gonzalez would disappear by the time he was finished. No trouble for her; no trouble for him. "One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. When I get to 20, she gets arrested and goes to Mexico," said the judge according to the court transcript. This week, in an interview with the LA Times, Judge Fink explains his intent to get Gonzalez from trouble with the INS. He also said he saw nothing more than screaming between the husband and wife, although reportedly Gonzalez had moved last month into a domestic violence shelter. The Superior Court is now reviewing the hearing.

I'm waiting for an explanation of why this isn't one of the more twisted things I've ever seen in America. This is how we deal with an abused women (illegal or not)?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Prospective Disenfranchisement

I was thinking today about my future as a citizen of America. As many of you know, I'm a Maryland native, born and bred in Bethesda, just a few short minutes (and one metro station) away from the District of Columbia. I am a large fan of my hometown as well as the surrounding area: I can definitely see the D.C. metro area as a place I would like to return to settle down and have a family (even my long-standing prejudice against Virginia might fall by the wayside--if that was the only option). But what if I moved to D.C. proper? I'd--and there's no gentle way of putting this--lose my right to vote.

This is a very weird prospect. I suppose some people who grew up inside the D.C. borders are just used to not having a Senator and a Representative and actually voting members of Congress. But I've had elected, voting representatives since the day I was born. I voted in my first primary in Maryland, and now am registered to vote in the state of Minnesota. How odd would it be if I could no longer vote; not because I committed a felony, not because I renounced my citizenship, not because I left the country, but because I moved literally five minutes south-east of my boyhood home and crossed Western Avenue?

The continuing disenfranchisement of D.C. is appalling and completely non-sensical (if the prospect of not allowing born, naturalized U.S. citizens living inside the continental U.S. to vote doesn't cause prima facia disturbance, frequent Debate Link visitor Stentor gives the full takedown of the anti-D.C. voting argument). I hope by the time I'm ready to possibly move back here, it will have become a forgotten footnote of electoral history.

Click Click Boom

Ethiopia has sent troops into Somalia, in support of the transitional government and in opposition to the ruling Islamic militias.

So. Ethiopia and Somalia are effectively at war. Sudan and Chad are effectively at war. Lebanon and Israel are at war. Iraq is in the midst of a civil war, in which Turkey may intervene. Iran and Syria appear to want nothing better than to join in one or both of the previous two wars.

Shaping up to be a great year, ain't it?

President Bush Doesn't Care About Black People

When Kanye West said that, he provoked a firestorm of criticism. Yet taking the comments in a milder form, I think there might be something to it. I sincerely doubt that President Bush sits in his oval office, cackling at the prospect of directing pain and misery toward his African-American constituency. If a staunch Bush critic like Paul Begala can affirm, in the midst of an otherwise furious attack on everything Bush, that the President has not "a racist bone in his body," then that's good enough for me. But I do think the President has not even a vague grasp of what issues and policies are important to the Black community, and displays very little curiosity in finding them out (to put it another way, he doesn't push the button).

At his first NAACP speech in 6 years as President, for example, what theme did the President hit up? The Estate Tax. It is difficult to find an issue further removed from the interests of the Black rank-and-file than the Estate Tax. There are millions of Black people in America. A grand total of 59 of them will be paying the Estate Tax next year. Meanwhile, Bush's much touted push to fight poverty has completely petered out now that Katrina is off the radar screen. In his whole speech before the NAACP, he didn't mention it once.

It's not active animosity, anymore, that explains why people no longer respond to Black concerns. It's a lack of curiosity. Bush doesn't care about Black people, and he demonstrates it by not caring enough to find out what Black people care about.

Push the Button

This summer, I'm conducting research for one of my Carleton Professors, Anna Moltchanova (Hi Professor!) on the topic of Whites in the pre-Brown v. Board American South. What we want to find out is how aware the average White person was of the moral critiques of racism and Jim Crow. Were they reported in newspapers? How did they respond to them? Were they critically engaged, or ignored? What type of justifications were constructed for their oppressive regime?

Today I've been working my way through a very interesting article that touches on a lot of these subjects: Jon and Kathleen Hanson's "The Blame Frame: Justifying (Racial) Injustice in America" [41 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 413 (2006)]. One of the themes they hit is what's known as the "just world" mindset. People want to believe that the world is just. As a result, "people crave justice and, consistent with that craving, actively work to eliminate injustice" (419). That's the good news. The bad news is that instead of actually eliminating the injustice itself, we simply redefine the questionable event so that it seems "just." Hanson and Hanson continue "[W]e often satisfy the craving [for justice] through troubling means: when alleviating innocent suffering is at all difficult or complex, people reconceive the victim as deserving the suffering by assigning negative characteristics to her" (id.).

A study by Melvin J. Lerner & Carolyn H. Simmons elucidates how this happens. Test subjects were asked to observe a "learner" who appeared to be subjected to painful shocks when he got an answer wrong. One group of subjects was given the option to move the learner to a different study where she'd receive positive reinforcement for right answer instead of being shocked for wrong ones. Most took the offer. The second group of subjects was given no such option, and could only watch as the learner was shocked again and again [Melvin J. Lerner & Carolyn H. Simmons, The Observer's Reaction to the "Innocent Victim": Compassion or Rejection?, 4 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol. 203 (1966)].

The subjects were then queried as to their views of the learner. The first group, which was presented with an easy option to rectify the injustice, tended to describe the learners as "likeable, innocent victims of shocks who deserved to be reassigned to a positive reinforcement environment" (Hanson & Hanson, at 419). Those who had no easy option to end the suffering, by contrast, tended to describe the victim in negative terms, as blameworthy and deserving of what happened to them.

The conclusion of the study was that people don't like injustice, but will only proactively act to end it when they feel like they can have some control of the outcome. When they do not have that route, instead of admitting that injustice is occurring, they will simply rationalize "unjust" into "just", maintaining the psychological stability of the "just world" viewpoint. In other words, "it is not justice that we crave so much as the perception of justice. And that craving can often be satisfied far more easily by changing our perception of the victims than by acknowledging and addressing the underlying unfairness" (id. at 420).

Of course, even the second group of subjects in the Lerner experiment did have some options to try and stop the suffering of the learners. They could have "object[ed] to the experiment, refus[ed] to participate, complain[ed] to the social scientist or the university, call[ed] the police, or even interven[ed] physically to end the shocking" (id. at 420-21). But such actions would be considered extreme and abhorrent, not a socially sanctioned route like that given to the first group.

So the first lesson we draw from this is that hard-to-solve injustice is likely to be seen as just, or at least not unjust. That's bad in of itself. It makes it less likely that we will press big, institutional actors (e.g., businesses or governments) to intervene where we cannot. But it's not fatal. We can still resolve to not commit injustices individually, even where we are unwilling to stand up them when committed by more powerful social actors. For example, someone watching the Lerner experiment could say to themselves "if I become a teacher, I'm never going to shock my students with a cattle prod" (bold ambition!).

The problem here, though, is that many injustices are not as facially obvious as sending painful jolts of electricity through a student. Often times, it requires some effort to seek out and learn the effects of a given action to discover that it is unjust. But Hanson & Hanson cite to another study which shows that we are unwilling to do this, even when the costs of doing so are negligible.

The study here had a case where a test subject could pick one of two outcomes of a game, one which distributed a reward equally between them and their partner, and another which gave the subject a slightly higher reward while significantly reducing the partner's share. When these choices were presented in full, most participants chose to act fairly, that is, they picked the option which gave equal shares to both persons. But in another group, the effect on the partner was hidden so that the participant could only see how much they would get. Finding out the impact of each choice on the partner was not difficult; in fact, all one had to do was press a button which would reveal the impact on both parties. But half of the study participants chose not to press the button at all. They maintained their ignorance so as to more easily justify taking the larger cut (id. at 423).

This would be a great example of what Fernando Teson might call Rational Ignorance. Finding out information is either harder than staying ignorant, or makes life more difficult than staying ignorant, so people deliberately avoid becoming more informed and thus perpetuate unjust social outcomes.

I titled this post "Push the Button" as an exhortation to all my readers to resist this trend. It is unnerving, to be sure, to find out that we don't live in a fair world, or a just world, or a righteous world. But one cannot let that fear be paralyzing. It is critically important that one take every opportunity available to see where injustice is happening, and to determine what ways one can combat it; whether it be by personal change or by governmental reform. The easy way out is the tyrant's way in.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What Is The World Coming To?

In other sky is falling news, the somewhat infamous Juan Cole earns a Yglesias Award for some unusually harsh words towards Hezbollah:
I watched in horror as this maniacal speech unfolded in which Nasrallah actually threatened the Israelis with releasing chemical gas from local factories on civilians in Haifa. Despite fighting them for all those years, he clearly does not understand the Israelis' psyche or the trauma of the Holocaust. A threat like that. The Israelis don't like being caught in a quagmire any more than the next person, which is why Nasrallah could get them to leave southern Lebanon. But his victory appears to have given him megalomania, and he has now gone too far.

Hizbullah's attacks on Israeli civilians are war crimes. The killing of the civilians in Haifa at the train station was a war crime. And threatening to release chemicals from factories on civilian populations is probably a war crime in itself, much less the doing of it.

Obviously, I do not accept that Hizbullah's actions justify the wholesale indiscriminate destruction and slaughter in which the Israelis have been engaged against the Lebanese in general. But they do have every right to defend themselves against Nasrallah and his mad bombers.

Presumably by this time tommorow Professor Cole and I will both resume being hacks. But everyone needs to step out of the norm, now and then.

Condemn This

Now here's a good example of where it would and is perfectly justified to condemn Israel for not just acting unwisely, but immorally:
The roughly 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel -- one-fifth of the population -- do not serve in the army, now engaged on the northern and southern borders. They have slim representation in parliament, and receive scant government support for the kind of bunkers and warning systems that have been well used in other northern Israeli cities since the fighting began.
On the next hilltop, the largely Jewish town of Nazaret Ilit has a number of shelters.

"I have discussed the issue with the Ministry of Interior and the home front and they have said there is no money for them," said Ramez Jaraysi, the mayor [of the largely Arab town of Nazareth]. (emphasis added)

I'm not sure if they are given an exemption from army service or are banned from it, so I'll let that slide for now. But refusing to fund shelters and needed security defenses is wrong, and deplorable. Pro-Israel partisans love to say how Israeli-Arabs are full citizens of Israel, and for the most part they're right, but "for the most part" doesn't cut it.

Especially now that Nazareth appears to be a target of Hezbollah rockets, the Israeli government needs to take adequate measures to protect its citizens there--all of them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Read It Again

So ever since Jim Chen started his Jurisdynamics blog, I've been meandering my way through some of the articles the good professor recommended to me. They raise a lot of points which are insightful and erudite. But there was one thing that jumped out at me that had very little to do with Professor Chen at all, but rather just a product of reading a piece through my own tinted glasses.

The two articles I've finished so far are Poetic Justice, and Mayteenth, which I read in that order. Both include the following quote by William Van Alstyne:
One gets beyond racism by getting beyond it now: by a complete, resolute, and credible commitment never to tolerate in one's own life--or in the life or practices of one's government--the differential treatment of other human beings by race. [Rites of Passage: Race, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution, 46 U. Chi. L. Rev. 775, 809]

It's a nice, snappy quote. I liked it. I also completely misinterpreted it the first time around. In "Poetic Justice," the quote came in the midst of a discussion of Brown v. Board's (in)famous maxim that desegregation proceed with "all deliberate speed." "All deliberate speed," of course, rapidly became no speed at all, as Southern states used it as an excuse to delay, and delay, and delay. So I read Professor Van Alstyne's quote through my happy Crit worldview: as a critique of incrementalism and a call for radical change. Arguing against those Whites who pushed a "don't rock the boat" mentality, who insisted that race relations will improve on its own, I had Van Alstyne in the role of Martin Luther King, demanding that racism never be tolerated: not now, not tomorrow, not ever.

This is, to be sure, very close to what Professor Van Alstyne is saying: in fact, if you replaced "differential treatment of other human beings by race" with something like "the unforgivable evil of racism and racist ideologies," it might say exactly that (I'd imagine that Van Alstyne would equate the two, but I think they are distinct). But upon re-read in "Mayteenth," I realized (somewhat embarrassingly, as it was quite clear) that what Professor Van Alstyne was actually advocating was not a radical view of race and anti-racism, but classic color-blindness. "Mayteenth" transposed the quote next to Bakke instead of Brown, where the full meaning of the phrase "one gets beyond racism" is found in its implicit rebuke to Justice Blackmun's famous argument in that case: "In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way." I'm in the camp of Mr. Justice Blackmun--I am not even convinced that race is something we should get beyond, much less confident that we are prepared to make the jump now.

One of the nice (or not so nice, depending on your perspective) things about great quotes is that they can be used to inspire so many things. I've always took to heart Barry Goldwater's exhortation that "extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue," although I would have agreed with precious little else Goldwater believed in 1964. Similarly, with Van Alstyne in mind, I can say that One gets beyond racism by getting beyond it now, by resolving to pursue and eradicate racial hierarchy wherever it exists, by refusing to tolerate the structures and institutions which denigrate color and exalt White, and by keeping an ever-vigilant eye and a constant guard against racism in all its many forms and disguises. Most importantly, one gets beyond racism by never allowing oneself to think one has already gotten beyond it.

Perhaps not as poetic--but certainly more in line with my conception of justice.

Sadly, It Is a Question

Whenever I get annoyed that folks aren't concentrating enough on Palestinian or Hezbollah terrorism vis-a-vis the Israeli response, I get chided that the former is never a question: "Everybody knows terrorism is bad. That isn't up for debate. What is a tough question is how to ethically respond to terror." And for the most part, I agree. How to ethically respond to terror is a difficult question, worthy of being debated. And few (though by no means no) persons seriously are willing to defend terror as something legitimate or just.

Sadly, what is a question is whether Israel's responses, even if bad or unwise or unjust, are equally unjust to those of Hezbollah's. This is one of the reasons I think that the debate gets fuzzy. A few days ago, for example, Publius admonished his commenters that merely saying that Israel is justified to respond doesn't mean that this response is justified. Certainly a reasonable point. Publius wrote his post from the perspective of critiquing Israel's particular response, so the pro-Israeli folks came out of the woodwork to debate him in comments. For my part, I've been writing my post trying to argue that Israel's response is "just" (if not "ideal"), so the comments I've been receiving have been more anti-Israel and more prone to try and argue from the "Israel is being evil" front. Take enough from that wing, and you're going to get snippish towards people who even seem like they're arguing that Israel can do nothing without becoming as bad as their enemies.

But that's not the point I want to make. The reason why folks like me are so vigilant in trying to get people to denounce Hezbollah and their allies isn't because we think anyone who opposes an Israeli policy is pro-terror. The reason why we do it is because we want to know that these people recognize that even if they think Israel is bad, what Hezbollah or Hamas is doing is far worse from an ethical standpoint. And that, unfortunately, is a question.

David Bernstein, for example, points to a piece by the former Mid-East Bureau Chief of the New York Times arguing that "We cannot ascribe equal amounts of moral blame to all sides" because Israel is worse than Hezbollah or Hamas. My college friend Ben complained about an Amnesty press release on the conflict because it was equally condemnatory of Israel and Hezbollah, rather than being harsher towards Israel for its "escalation."

It's true that saying "terror is bad" is not something you have to drag out of the liberal critics of Israel. Okay good, that's lesson one. Lesson two is that, as abominable as you may find civilian casualties from airstrikes against military targets, it's not the moral equal of deliberately targeting individuals for no purpose other than to sow terror. That lesson we're still working on.

Two Notes on College

Two quickies on college:

First, the thing I might like best of all about college is the throw-back mentality. That is, you're growing up with the same kids through middle and high school, and so you kind of feel compelled to disown all the "childish" things you enjoyed when you were younger to prove that you're "mature" and all that. But in college, all those old things--comics, toys, cartoon shows--become instant bonding material. There's no need to put on a facade--you're already in college after all--so there is a free reign to be goofy and enjoy all the things that made childhood such a blast.

Maybe that's just Carleton and its uber-mellow persona, and at more preppy schools people are talking about their favorite yacht and their upcoming vacation in the Swiss Alps ("Good one, Chet!"). But at least at Carleton, the freedom to do all the bizarre things that you've always wanted to do (Campus-wide dart gun fight! Cookies available 24/7!) are what makes these four years great.

Second, a more personal note. Driving home from work today in Bethesda, I saw a Black Jeep in front of me with a "Carleton College" sticker on it. Needless to say, this is a rare occurance in my lovely hometown, most of whose residents guess that Carleton is a community college somewhere. So that sent my mind racing: who among the few Carls in the area could have been in front of me? Or perhaps it was a graduate? Anyway, if you're Carleton affiliated and you drive a Black Jeep (and were in Bethesda today), give me a ring. I want to know who you are.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Message from the Old Homestead

Michael Totten, who calls Lebanon his "second home," has sensible comments on the conflict over there (via The Daily Dish):
Obviously Hezbollah started this and Hezbollah is the main problem. Not only did they drag my second home into a war, the bastards also threatened me personally. So I hardly see the point in telling you what I think about them right about now. I'll get to them later.

I sympathize one hundred percent with what Israel is trying to do here. But they aren't going about it the right way, and they're punishing far too many of the wrong people. Lord knows I could be wrong, and the situation is rapidly changing, but at this particular moment it looks bad for Israel, bad for Lebanon, bad for the United States, good for Syria, and good for Iran.

There is no alternate universe where the Lebanese government could have disarmed an Iranian-trained terrorist/guerilla militia that even the Israelis could not defeat in years of grinding war. There is no alternate universe where it was in Lebanon's interest to restart the civil war on Israel's behalf, to burn down their country all over again right at the moment where they finally had hope after 30 years of convulsive conflict and Baath Party overlordship.

The Lebanese government should have asked for more help from the international community. The Lebanese government should have been far less reactionary in its attitude toward the Israelis. They made more mistakes than just two, but I'd say these are the principal ones.

What should the Israelis have done instead? They should have treated Hezbollahland as a country, which it basically is, and attacked it. They should have treated Lebanon as a separate country, which it basically is, and left it alone. Mainstream Lebanese have no problem when Israel hammers Hezbollah in its little enclave. Somebody has to do it, and it cannot be them. If you want to embolden Lebanese to work with Israelis against Hezbollah, or at least move in to Hezbollah's bombed out positions, don't attack all of Lebanon.

The problem, from the Israeli perspective, is that you can't just divide Hezbollahland from the rest of Lebanon, if for no other reason than that the rest of Lebanon has resupply routes for Hezbollah (additionally, Hezbollah has offices and militants all throughout Lebanon, including Beirut). Ideally, you work with the Lebanese government to isolate and eliminate Hezbollah together. The problem with that is that Israel and Lebanon don't have diplomatic ties, and Israel doesn't trust Lebanon to uphold its end of the bargain anyway, as it already has been breaching its obligation under UN Resolution 1559 to conduct the disarming process. What Israel is banking on is that its bombing runs will a) convince Lebanon that harboring Hezbollah is more trouble than it's worth and b) weaken Hezbollah so that Lebanon can actually act on the new-found revelation triggered by "a". It's possible that will happen. It's also possible that the Israeli bombings will radicalize the Lebanese population and generate new sympathy for Hezbollah. I've seen reports that lend credence to either conclusion.

Meanwhile, the UN is both urging that the Lebanese government take a more active role in disarming the terrorist militias attacking Israel, and that an international peacekeeping coalition be deployed to police the Israeli/Lebanese border. Israel has rejected the latter thus far. Once again, I'm torn. On the one hand, an international peacekeeping mission could do wonders in this region, if it does it's job and actually roots out Hezbollah. Israel's greatest fear, though, is that Hezbollah will take its cue from uncountable other terror organizations that have managed to operate with impunity from behind the shield of UN Blue Helmets, launching attacks and hiding behind the UN to protect from counter-strikes. This trick, unfortunately, tends to work exceedingly well, so from Israel's perspective allowing the UN in does nothing to make them safer, but does prevent them from actually defending themselves. So they're understandably less than enthusiastic at the prospect.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"Those People"

Via Misty of Shakespeare's Sister, some lovely sentiments about homosexuals coming out of Kentucky:
This week, [State Sen. Dick] Roeding [R-Lakeside] mixed himself up in the University of Louisville's decision to offer health benefits to domestic partners, and in so doing the senator came across as a bigot unfit for further public service.

"I find this very repulsive," Roeding said of U of L's plans, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. And he continued: "I don't want to entice any of those people into our state. Those are the wrong kind of people."

Let's hear it again: The wrong kind of people.

In case you're thinking Roeding was misquoted, or that those statements don't reflect his genuine sentiments, consider what he said when a Kentucky Post reporter called to get his reaction to criticism of his remarks from the Republican Log Cabin organization. "Who are they?" Reading asked our reporter. Told they were a gay rights organization within the GOP, Roeding said, "Oh, a bunch of queers."

It's nice to know that even as the world spirals into turmoil, homophobia remains a depressing, ever-present constant.