Aug 242008

I get the impression from the comments posted to this article by Julie Burchill that The Guardian has a lot of readers who don’t like Christianity. Great fun to read them. The article itself was OK, too:

I don’t have a spiritual bone in my body; but what I am, is religious.


Once, of course, I was a teenage atheist;


…there is something profoundly immature about atheists. That surly, self-satisfied certainty…

H/t to Arts & Letters Daily

Aug 222008

Mark Ames at The Exiled sets himself up as a target of The Reticulator with his article, “South Ossetia: The War We Don’t Know.”

Five days after Georgia invaded and seized the breakaway separatist region of South Ossetia, sparking a larger-scale Russian invasion to drive Georgian forces back and punish their leaders, Russia surprised its Western detractors by calling a halt to the country’s offensive. After all, the mainstream media, egged on by hawkish neocon pundits and their candidate John McCain, had everyone believing that Russia was hellbent on the full-scale annihilation and annexation of democratic Georgia.

Actually, this is not true. There is nothing surprising at all about this. When Russia has accomplished its objective, why wouldn’t it halt the military offensive? And I suppose you could find some “hawkish neocon” who believed Russia was going for annihlation and annexation, but most of the alarmist articles I read were more nuanced. The word “finlandization” was used a lot.

Up until now, this war was framed as a simple tale of Good Helpless Democratic Guy Georgia versus Bad Savage Fascist Guy Russia. In fact, it is far more complex than this, morally and historically. Then there are two concentric David and Goliath narratives here.

Er, no, this war was not framed as such a simple tale by most people. Most of the people who are alarmed about Russia’s action also realized that Georgia started off with a big mistake.

If Mr. Ames wants people to understand the subtleties and shades of gray with which the historical origins of this war should be understood, he needs to show some understanding of the subtleties and shades of gray with which it has been discussed in the American press, too.

Aug 202008

The McCain campaign is reaching new lows. “Clinton strategy working for McCain,” CNN tells us. One wonders what Machiavellian strategy McCain has latched on to this time.

Here it is, according to a CNN senior analyst (whatever that is): “The McCain campaign believes that some of Hillary Clinton’s tactics, especially questioning whether Obama is ready to lead, can be a real winner.”

That IS a low blow. Where will it all end? Will he stop there, at calling attention to his opponent’s inexperience? What next? Kissing babies? Making campaign promises? Raising money from cronies?

Won’t Americans realize that McCain is being just like a Clinton when he does that?

Aug 182008

News item: “Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has promised what he called a shattering blow to anyone threatening Russian citizens.”

It would have been nice if he had been around to offer those protections to Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya and a couple hundred other journalists who were Russian citizens.

Aug 182008

This is so frustrating. Why do ordinarily sensible people like Kathryn Jean Lopez refer to pro-abortion people as pro-choice? They are no more pro-choice than so-called pro-life people are pro-life. More accurate terms would be pro-abortion and anti-abortion. Or pro-abortion-choice vs anti-abortion. But the last thing you’ll find on the Democrat side is anything pro-choice.

If Barak Obama ever comes out in favor of this kind of choice, then maybe we can call him pro-choice. But it won’t happen.

Aug 152008

This ceasefire deal that Bush and Rice pushed on Saakashvili is beginning to stink. If in the Bush administration’s mind, it got missiles and soldiers in Poland, sort of in exchange for allowing Russian troops to patrol on Georgian soil even outside of South Ossetia, that’s a bad exchange. That sounds like a Putinesque betrayal.

Having U.S. missiles in Poland cannot be a good thing long term. Whether Putin is a good guy or a bad guy (and there is no question in my mind as to which he is), no matter which direction those missiles are pointed, the Russians cannot be expected to like them any more than we liked Soviet missiles in Cuba. It might be worth it if it was the only way to protect the Baltics, Poland, the Ukraine, and Georgia from an aggressive reconquest by Russia. But if it was done as part of a deal by which Georgia has been sold down the river, then we’ve gotten the worst of both worlds out of the deal.

Here’s hoping I am wrong about this.

Aug 142008

There is a point about the Russia-Georgia conflict that is huge, but which hasn’t gotten much coverage in our media. It’s the fact that leaders of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia all went to Georgia to show solidarity with that country and its president. It seems the U.S. media are too preoccupied about with what’s happening in terms of the Bush administration and our own electoral politics in order to pay much attention to how this is going over among those countries.

I understand that Russia can’t be very happy with U.S. influence in the region. We need to be very careful and respectful of any such concerns. And I think we need to try to understand what Russian people like Alexander Sedov from Ekaterinburg are telling us. (He gives lots of helpful comments in my Kino Reticulator blog, and commented here on my previous post.) Kosovo changed things, and there is a feeling of solidarity with the people of South Ossetia.

But, unfortunately, Russia no longer has much of an independent press, which means we have to make allowances for their own information sources. (Not that our media are as independent-thinking as they should be. Witness the complaint with which I started this article.)

But the leaders of these other countries do not seem to think that the main issue is what Georgia has done to South Ossetia. They include slavic peoples, and they do not seem to think Kosovo and slavic solidarity trumps whatever else is happening there. They obviously view it as a plain threat to their own countries.

Like I say, what they have done is huge and should figure large in our understanding and response to the conflict.

Aug 102008

Vladimir Vladimirovich once said, “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” That’s what I think of when I see the buildup to events like those now taking place between Georgia and Russia. James Poulos at The Postmodern Conservative instead thinks about Putin statements about wanting a stable international system of sovereign states. When I watch the news and other programs on RTR Planeta I don’t get that at all, but then I don’t understand very much Russian, so I’m using a lot of non-verbal cues.

Here are some blog posts where I’ve stuck in my oar on this topic, listed here so I can remember where I’ve been talking:

—Late addition—

Here’s a new one:

And here’s an old one I had forgotten:

Aug 082008


I had to laugh when we saw this billboard at a stoplight between I-80 and US-20 near Bristol, Indiana. The billboard also said something about Crossroads Community search Church. I see that some bloggers have picked up on it already.