My Slight Moment of Slight Fame

I’ve mentioned Andrew Sullivan’s site The Dish a few times. He’s an excellent writer and I really enjoying reading him, even though he does occasionally go into drama queen mode.

Sully runs a “contest” every week where people send in “views” from “windows”. It’s known as the “View from Your Window Contest”. Basically the goal is to look at a given picture and figure out exactly what window in the world it was taken from. And, yes, people can and do get it down to the exact window way more often than not.

They also run just general “View from Your Window” articles, where it’s just a nice picture someone took. When I was at Dark Con a couple weeks ago, I took a nice pic and sent it in. To my surprise, they used it for the Window Contest picture this week! I didn’t want to say anything about it until today, when the results were announced. So go take a look at my pic, and go take a look at the article! And Gini, you just got a few thousand more eyes on your name! ;)

Click to embiggen!

Click to embiggen!

Sully on the New Pope

Andrew Sullivan is a gay, HIV positive, conservative (UK-style) Catholic who has lately felt very detached from his church. He looked at the evils done by various people, and covered up by folks like Benny 16 and JP2 and was horrified, as any person of conscience would be. But now he, along with the rest of the world, get to look at Pope Francis, and he, along with myself and many others, are…well…hopeful.

The reports of [the Pope’s] press conference today suggest a radically new symbolism for the church. This kind of understanding of the diverse and multi-faith and multi-cultural modernity is something you would never have heard from Benedict XVI:

“Given that many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I give this blessing from my heart, in silence, to each one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God. May God bless you.”

Respecting the conscience of each of you. That might seem to be the bleeding obvious – but it isn’t in the context of Benedict’s theological reign, which was far longer than his pontifical one. Benedict wanted to place conscience below revelation as authoritatively adjudicated by … himself. The central place of individual conscience established at the Second Council was left to wither in favor of a public, uniform religion. He seemed to me to want ultimately to restore the seamless cultural-political-religious unity of the Bavaria of his youth; and if the public square were empty, it had to be filled with religious authority. He tried. In the West, the public square moved in the opposite direction. He hunkered down, hoping for a smaller, purer church. What he got was a smaller one, but beset by scandal and internal division and a legacy of the most horrendous of crimes.

You can read the whole article here, though it might be paywalled to you. If it is, it’s worth plunking down the $20 a year for Sully’s writing. The man is good.

I’m still displeased by the Pope’s views on homosexuality, though at least he recognizes that gays are also people, which puts him a step ahead of many, and pretty much parallel to other men of his age. But there is, in this man, much that I can find to admire, even if I disagree with him on certain fundamental points.

Obama the Conservative

How does one define a conservative in the political respect? Is it someone who proceeds with due caution, careful always in what they do, not making huge changes, bolstering and expanding upon the traditions of what’s gone before, pragmatic and not dogmatic and willing to change when proven wrong? That’s how I’d be inclined to define one, at least in part (I’d define a liberal, for the record, as someone more willing to experiment, to embrace change for the sake of change no matter how big, often overthrowing the old order to bring in a new one, and frequently more idealistic than pragmatic). If I define a conservative in those terms, then I must concede that Obama is a conservative in the big-C British sense of the word.

That’s the conclusion reached by Andrew Sullivan, who wrote a great article on the subject. The whole thing is worth reading, but here’s my favorite part:

On issue after issue, Burke would be with Obama and against Rommey’s theo-political radicalism. The idea that Obama has somehow let down those conservatives who supported him over the McCain-Palin ticket therefore seems absurd to me. Obama has done all he said he intended to do, and almost all of it is a pragmatic response to America’s emergent and growing problems. On almost every question – a stimulus one-third tax cuts, a healthcare reform based on the Heritage Foundation model, cap-and-trade for carbon, and solid support for Israel while trying to nudge it away from self-destruction – Obama is in a right-of-center consensus as of a decade ago. It is his opponent who has twisted himself into a screaming radical dedicated to changing America much more profoundly – largely because Fox Nation is experiencing a cultural panic. As for temperament, the GOP is too consumed with cultural hatred to acknowledge the grace and calm of a man forced to grapple with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression with no help whatsoever from his opponents, a black man who has buried identity politics and remains a family man Republicans would fawn over if he were one of them.

Sully on Obama

His latest article is the cover story of this week’s Newsweek, and while the headline is more than a little silly, the article itself is well worth reading. Go check it out.

Christianity in Crisis

Go have a look at Andrew Sullivan’s latest article on Christianity. It’s very fascinating, even if I do disagree with some of his fundamental points. For example:

The thirst for God is still there. How could it not be, when the profoundest human questions—Why does the universe exist rather than nothing? How did humanity come to be on this remote blue speck of a planet? What happens to us after death?—remain as pressing and mysterious as they’ve always been?

Much as I love Sully, I must disagree here. Of his three questions, we’re not sure of the first one, and we’re quite sure of the second, and the third remains what is has always been: “nothing, unless you can prove otherwise.” These questions are only really mysterious if you want them to be.

Good Stuff from Sully

Lots of good things from Andrew Sullivan today. First off, he’s the writer of the current cover story for Newsweek. The article is basically about how Obama is nothing like the slathering monster the right paints him as and certainly not the savior the left wants him to be. Instead he’s a good, sane, moderate president, and the things the GOP are attacking him on are, for the most part, quantifiably wrong. Liberals like me need to read it to, too, since about half the article is him knocking some sense into us. I don’t agree with every point he makes in the article (I am, for example, far more pissed off about Obama signing into law new rules that basically eliminate habeas corpus), but he still makes several good arguments.

Once you’ve read that, go read the follow-up article on his blog, which has some other good things, including the insane, sadly predictable, overreaction from the right, at least a couple of whom admit they didn’t bother to read his article.

Second, earlier today he posted up a video where he answers a reader question about the good things done under the Bush administration. I can agree with just about everything he says, and it really drives home how far to the right of George W the current GOP really are. In fact, I’d actually mention one thing he didn’t, which is that Bush did his best to try to get our languishing space program back on course.

So there’s your homework for today, kids. Check the video and the articles. :)

*** EDIT ***

Take a look at this video from last night. CNN had Sully on to talk about his article. Fox News won’t do the same.

Some Perspective on Israel

Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:

Imagine, for a moment, that a US ally that is not Israel – say, Turkey – killed an unarmed American civilian on an unarmed ship in international waters by four bullets to the head at close range. And imagine that president Obama decided that we shouldn’t rush to judgment and that Turkey was in an understandable bind, because it was enforcing an embargo on a tiny strip of (say, Kurdish) land it had recently strafed with missiles and bullets, killing over a thousand. The land was home to an elected Kurdish government that was viciously terroristic – even totalitarian in some respects – and wanted to destroy Turkey, even though it had few means to accomplish this. The Kurds, like the Palestinians, had no homeland at all, and were now suffering greatly under the blockade and embargo.

Can you imagine how the Republican right would explode at this example of classic Obama “weakness” and “appeasement”? Can you even conceive that the American right would actually champion and celebrate Turkey’s attack – and be far more solicitous of Turkey’s actions than any of America’s allies? Can you imagine that the conservative British prime minister would be more outraged at this attack on a defenseless ship and the murder of an American citizen than the president of the United States?

Sully is using this as a way of highlighting the double-standard that we have when it comes to Israel. We support them doing things we would never put up with any other countries doing. And if some other country did it to us? Can you imagine the hue and cry?

In the example above, Turkey would clearly be wrong in what they are doing. So why isn’t it wrong for Israel to do the same thing?

Here’s some more from Sully:

To read Charles Krauthammer today is to enter a twilight zone of an alternate reality. A country permanently occupying and colonizing a neighboring region, and treating its original inhabitants as dangerous interlopers, is the victim. An elite commando unit attacking a ship carrying toys and wheelchairs in the hours before dawn are those we should feel pity for. A country with 150 nuclear warheads and the strongest military in its region, the victor in every conventional war it has always fought, is somehow also always fighting for its very existence. A country backed by the sole superpower, supplied with aid by huge majorities in the US Congress, is facing extinction. Self-defense requires not civilly disabling and inspecting the cargo of an unarmed ship but raiding it at dawn and killing nine and injuring dozens. Basic human revulsion at a military that can kill over a thousand people – including scores of women and children in a trapped, impoverished enclave – can only be a function of anti-Semitism. A territory that is being systematically populated with Israelis in illegal settlements in contravention of the Geneva Conventions is merely a “buffer zone”. You need to colonize buffer zones?

Exactly. Israel needs to stop pretending they are always and forever the victim. I’m also tired of people saying they are “surrounded” by enemies. They aren’t. Egypt and Jordan, while not exactly Israel’s best friends, get along with them more often than not.

None of Israel’s behavior, of course, excuses the actions of the terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza. They needs to be rounded up and punished. But Israel needs to stop overreacting because it is not doing anything to make things better for anyone.


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