Religion and the Law

Eugene Volokh defends the imposition of religious values on society, on the basis that many policy decisions involve moral decisions, and religion helps define morality. Agreed. But religious morality cannot be the only reason for government to enact a law. It needs a “public reason” in the words of Rawls; one that applies to all people, regardless of religion. For example, take gay marriage. While Dobson et al. can claim (wrongly) that homosexuality is against the Bible until the cows come home, this can’t be his entire argument; it excludes people from non-Abrahamic religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, not to mention nontheists, such as athests and agnostics. A public reason for banning gay marriage would be the false notion gays are harmful to children. This affects everyone, not just Christians. So, yes, morality has to play a role, but that morality has to cut across religious lines.

Sudan Arrests MSF Workers

Can we intervene now?

Sudan arrested a second aid worker from the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) aid agency on Tuesday over a report on hundreds of rapes in the troubled Darfur region, the agency said.
Vince Hoedt, Darfur coordinator for MSF Holland, said he was under arrest and police were escorting him to Khartoum.…
MSF Holland country director Paul Foreman, who reported to authorities on Tuesday, is charged with spying, publishing false reports and undermining Sudanese society, MSF said in a statement.
The attorney-general told Reuters the maximum penalty for the charges was three years in prison followed by permanent expulsion from the country.

Our shoddy, racist defense for inaction in these situations has always been that “it doesn’t involve the West”. Well, now it does. One of the world’s premier charities has had two members arrested, undoubtedly to be subjected to torture and worse. Never mind that hundreds of thousands have already died. Whatever reason we had for not intervening is now gone. Bush has already decided that he doesn’t give a damn about the people of Darfur. The only question now is if he even gives a damn about the people of Holland.


The sane, moderate version of Daily Kos has officially been launched. Anything that has Mark Schmitt, Matt Yglesias, Ken Bauer, Ivo Daalder, James Lindsay, and Annie-Marie Slaughter is bound to be good. My one gripe so far: no RSS feeds. That’s just immoral, Josh.
P.S. It turns out that it does have feeds. Not that it advertises them. Here are links to all the blogs’ feeds:
Coffee House
America Abroad
Warren Reports
Matthew Yglesias
Early Returns

Deep Throat Revealed

I finally know my political hero’s name:

Vanity Fair magazine said on Tuesday that Mark Felt, a former FBI official, had revealed himself to be “Deep Throat,” the legendary source who leaked Watergate scandal secrets to the Washington Post and brought down President Richard Nixon.

Via basically everyone in the blogosphere. This is really no surprise; as James Mann has written, the Washington Post coverage of Watergate, as led by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, closely mirrored the FBI’s internal investigation into the affair, suggesting someone inside the bureau. Felt, who is famously gregarious with the press corps, seemed a natural candidate. Moreover, both Richard Nixon and Nora Ephron, Bernstein’s ex-wife, thought it was Felt. He was the CW choice, and in this case the CW was right.
There’s no overemphasizing the heroism of Felt’s actions. The Nixon administration was an abomination; Nixon thought of himself as a dictator and acted accordingly, setting up his own secret police, the White House Plumbers, planning such actions as firebombing the Brookings Institution and carrying out such abuses of power as the Watergate break-in and the Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon knew that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable from the minute it took office, and yet he expanded it, killing millions in the process. He, along with his deputy, Henry Kissinger, aided and abetted the military coup in Chile that overthrew a democratically elected government in favor of Augusto Pinochet, perhaps the worst dictator Latin America has ever seen. It was the worst presidency in this nation’s history, and it was going virtually unchallenged. Until, that is, Felt exposed it for what it was, risking his career, and, judging as G. Gordon Liddy, Howard Hunt, and Charles Colson were in the White House at that point, life in the process. That’s not just heroic; that’s greatness on a whole other level, the level of Mandela and Gandhi. Felt should receive the greatest accolades the world can offer; it’s a sad statement about our country that he won’t.
P.S. Woodward and editor Ben Bradlee both confirm it.
P.P.S. As does Bernstein. It’s all over, folks.
P.P.P.S. It seems that while Felt’s actions in Watergate were noble, they weren’t always that way:

In 1980, Felt was convicted of conspiracy to violate civil rights for his admitted role in arranging illegal break-ins, burglaries and other measures against friends and relatives of fugitive members of the Weather Underground, a leftist domestic terrorist organization.
President Reagan pardoned him in 1981, along with Edward S. Miller, former chief of the FBI’s intelligence division.

A little too much like the plumbers for comfort.

Two Freudian Slips

For your amusement:

“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”— President Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

And another:

Fox News Anchor David Asman, to Sen. Trent Lott [R-MS], on the nuclear option: So, Senator, if we should have done it and if we had the votes to do it in the Senate — if you guys in the Republican Party did — then why did you need a compromise?

Emphasis added.

Bigoted Bullies (Literally)

It seems that Focus on Family has decided to form its youth chapter:

We do not support special “safe school” and anti-bullying legislation because of the way it opens the door to advance an aggressive, pro-homosexual agenda in public school classrooms.

That’s right. Focus on Family has endorsed gay-bashing in schools. I’ll be on the lookout for the “Dobson Youth”.

Joe Gandelman and Islam

I’ve sort of suspected that Joe Gandelman might have lingering Islamophobia, but he makes it abundantly clear that he does in this post:

In “La Forza della Ragione,” Fallaci wrote that terrorists had killed 6,000 people over the past 20 years in the name of the Koran and said the Islamic faith “sows hatred in the place of love and slavery in the place of freedom.”

That’s news?? (Uh, oh — any minute I expect someone handing me court papers at my door). Actually, Fallaci shouldn’t have written that as a blanket statement. She should have said that in “many” case or “some” cases rarther than imply that in all cases does Islam sow hatred, etc. etc.

If that’s not Islamophobia, I don’t know what is. Associating an entire religion, and one billion people, with tyranny and hatred is LGF/KKK level insanity, the sort that even President Bush rightfully repudiates. Gandelman, consider your bigoted self off the blogroll.