Political Animal

War Should Be Hell

WAR SHOULD BE HELL….Justene Adamec of Calblog, possibly better known as the mother of the famous blogging twins, has this to say in comments:

Now that you have comments, does it drive you crazy that you get 5 times as many comments on burgers as you did on reconstructing Iraq?

It’s a joke, of course, but in a way it’s not, and it actually speaks to one of the things that disturbed me about this war: it was too easy. The fact is that for most of us it made less difference to our actual lives than choosing which hamburger to have for lunch.

This seems wrong. War should require sacrifice, and that sacrifice is one of the things that keeps it rare. Hopefully the Iraqi people will thank us for what we’ve done, eventually if not immediately, but I still hope we don’t make a habit out of this. War should be Hell, not a cakewalk.

Gay Sex: At Least It’s Better Than Man-On-Dog Sex

GAY SEX: AT LEAST IT’S BETTER THAN MAN-ON-DOG SEX….Via Atrios, Andrew Sullivan thinks that Rick Santorum has been misquoted. You can read Sullivan’s argument and decide for yourself, but I’m not sure he really makes his case. Yeah, Santorum is apparently arguing that the government should have the power to outlaw any kind of sex, not just gay sex, but his take on gays comes out pretty clearly a little later in the interview:

SANTORUM: That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality ?

AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about “man on dog” with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.

SANTORUM: And that’s sort of where we are in today’s world, unfortunately. The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we’re seeing it in our society.

Santorum makes it pretty clear that of course he has nothing against homosexuals, just against nasty homosexual sex, even in private. And, you know, at least it’s not as bad as man-on-dog sex.

So this is quite a choice we’re left with: is it better to be (a) a bigot who’s in favor of government regulation of gay sex, or (b) a bluenose who’s in favor of government regulation of all kinds of sex? Hum dee hum, that’s a tough one, better ask my local GOP party chairman about that.

Santorum, of course, is chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, the #3 spot in the Republican Senate leadership, which leads us to wonder what the Republican party’s position is on all this. As Sullivan notes, “We now know where Santorum stands. But what about his party?”

UPDATE: I know I keep harping on this, but I really think the Democrats could make some electoral hay with gay rights as a (secondary) campaign issue. There are just so many horribly bigoted comments about gays from Republican politicians ? comments that go much further than even some conservative voters are willing to tolerate. If it becomes a campaign issue, they are forced to either repudiate the bigots, which will lose them part of their core constituency, or else stay silent, which might well break off a chunk of their moderate supporters. Surely someone can figure out how to run with this?

A Note From the Management

A NOTE FROM THE MANAGEMENT….The problems with the new banner on Mac browsers should be fixed now, thanks to reader Jim Heartney. You guys should now be seeing only one ocean, not the “fabled lovely ‘second ocean.'”

Anyway, Jim says it looks fine on all the browsers he’s tried, with only a little minor column width weirdness in Opera. Good enough for me! If anyone comes across any other problems, please let me know.

The State Department

THE STATE DEPARTMENT….Been wondering what Newt Gingrich is up to these days? Wonder no more: he’s planning to lead an effort to completely overhaul the State Department, which he describes as “six months of diplomatic failure.” But even the conservative Tom Bevan at RealClear politics can’t help but laugh at this:

I’m a fairly creative guy, but my brain simply cannot imagine a Newt Gingrich-run State Department producing different ? or better ? results. I like and respect Gingrich but let’s face it, diplomacy isn’t really his forte.

Good point.

Criticism of the striped-pants crowd is a commonplace among conservatives, who seem to think that simply speaking your mind on all subjects at all times ? preferably in the form of threats ? is the best way to get people to do what you want. Gingrich, of course, seems congenitally unable to refrain from saying whatever pops into his brain at any given moment, so his attitude toward diplomacy isn’t surprising.

I have reason to be disappointed with Colin Powell myself, and there’s certainly at least some evidence that State bungled the job with Turkey. Still, facts are facts: if Rumsfeld and Cheney had just shut up and stayed in their offices, Powell would have had a lot easier time of things. The best way to overhaul the State Department right now would probably be to actually let Colin Powell run it and tell Rumsfeld and Cheney to butt out.

As near as I can tell, Gingrich’s main complaint is that the State Department continues to insist on conducting diplomacy with actual other countries. Unfortunately, this dovetails rather too neatly with one of the worst aspects of the Bush administration: its aversion to actually dealing with foreigners in any way. Bush is uncomfortable with them, Cheney and Rumsfeld don’t have a clue about how much they piss off foreign leaders, and Powell tries to do everything over the phone instead of meeting face to face more often. It’s a toxic combination, like a guy holed up in a cabin convinced the whole world is out to get him. The problem is, if you keep up that attitude for too long, you turn out to be right.