Damon Linker Goes Trolling

Oct 1 2014 @ 1:59pm

I’ve read quite a few slippery slope arguments from the religious right against allowing gay people to marry … but Damon really has discovered a doozy. He notes that a German Ethics Council has come out in support of allowing adult siblings to marry (something that the German government opposes):

The council’s position is based on the claim that “the fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination” overrides all other moral considerations, including “the abstract idea of protection of the family.” That is very similar to the rationales that have been used to uphold reproductive rights and to strike down bans on same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

Except it isn’t “very similar” to any such arguments. In fact, the argument for gay couples to be able to marry is based precisely on “the abstract idea of protection of the family.” Here’s why: By singling out gay people alone and barring them from the same civil institution that binds their own families together, we are actually attacking the family itself. So the point of gay marriage is the very opposite of the case for incest or polygamy, both of which tear families apart and undermine social order.

And unlike heterosexual adult siblings, gay people have historically been barred from marrying anyone they fall in love with and want to spend their lives with. Siblings can marry anyone they want right now, as long as they’re straight, except their siblings. The case for incestuous marriages is therefore to add another option to an already vast array of choices. The case for gay marriage is to give gay people just one option, like heterosexuals, where before they had none at all.

Last week, a US air strike meant to hit a base held by the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front almost hit a Free Syrian Army facility instead:

Since U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria began on Sept. 22, there has been no coordination between the U.S. military and its alleged partners on the ground, according to FSA leaders, civilian opposition leaders, and intelligence sources who have been briefed on the U.S. and allied military operation. It’s this lack of communication that led to an airstrike that hit only 200 meters from an FSA facility in the suburbs of Idlib. One source briefed on the incident said multiple FSA fighters were killed in the attack.

“Unfortunately, there is zero coordination with the Free Syrian Army. Because there is no coordination, we are seeing civilian casualties. Because there is no coordination, they are hitting empty buildings for ISIS,” Hussam Al Marie, the spokesman for the FSA in northern Syria, told The Daily Beast.

Shocking that things can go awry like this during a war “effort”. Allahpundit rightly sees potential downsides to targeting both ISIS and other jihadist groups at the same time:

What’s at risk of happening here, as ISIS and the Nusra Front congeal, is our allies in the Free Syrian Army suddenly getting it on all sides. Assad has every reason to keep killing the “moderates”; the west has always eyed them as a potential governing regime in Syria once Assad is gone, so by eliminating them Assad makes himself the only anti-ISIS game in town. And now both ISIS and the Nusra Front have a strong reason to target the FSA.

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It’s simple really, says Elaine Scarry:

Last spring I went, as did many other people, to the UN when they had a conference in preparation for next spring’s Nonproliferation Treaty review. Country after country said, “We want a guarantee that the United States will never target us with a nuclear weapon.” I mean, that may seem ho-hum to us. But imagine now if you’re a citizen of this other country and you don’t feel an absolute guarantee that the United States won’t do this?

In the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, President Obama wanted to present an improvement—and it was an improvement. But do you know what its improvement was?

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Living Planet Index

Christopher Ingraham flags a highly disturbing study:

The new Living Planet Index report from the World Wildlife Fund opens with a jaw-dropping statistic: we’ve killed roughly half of the world’s non-human vertebrate animal population since 1970. … The declines are almost exclusively caused by humans’ ever-increasing footprint on planet earth. “Humanity currently needs the regenerative capacity of 1.5 Earths to provide the ecological goods and services we use each year,” according to the report. The only reason we’re able to run above max capacity – for now – is that we’re stripping away resources faster than we can replenish them.

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Well, we all see mirages, I guess. But it says something about the hysteria about the latest incarnation of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq that we’re suddenly comparing them to Nazis and to non-humans. Even as Cohen himself acknowledges that “the Nazi death machine was unique. Facile invocation of it is too frequent, belittling the phenomenon and its victims.”

So why break Godwin’s Law so egregiously? Cohen wants us to believe, channeling Martin Amis and Primo Levi, that there was no “why” in the unconscionable unique act of the Holocaust. And yet, mountains of evidence explain exactly why: it was a function of a vile racism that regarded the Jewish people as vermin that needed to be exterminated in order to allow the master race to flourish. It was not some random act of mass murder; it had a grotesque but clear and constantly trumpeted rationale. Then Cohen seems to endorse the idea that the Nazis were somehow unhumans or “counter-humans”, in Levi’s words. But that too, it seems to me, lets them off the hook. The Holocaust was a deeply human act – a function of humankind’s capacity, revealed throughout history, of extraordinary levels of hatred and violence, brought to new and unfathomable evil in the age of the industrialized state.

And equally, it is absurd to argue that “there is no why to the barbarism of ISIS.”

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Ebola On The Move

Oct 1 2014 @ 12:17pm

Ebola cases

The disease poses a limited threat to America, but Michael Osterholm anticipates it spreading to other parts of Africa:

We know how the disease will likely spread in the months ahead.

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Every now and again you come across a quote that tells you everything you need to know about what’s going in journalism. It’s from the New York Times’ pioneer of native advertising/sponsored content/brand journalism, Meredith Kopit Levien. Her blather about deceiving readers into believing they’re reading journalism when they’re actually reading advertising was brilliantly skewered by John Oliver over the summer. Now over to Joe Pompeo:

Levien watched the clip for the first time the next day with Times publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who encouraged her to have a good laugh over it.

“I think John Oliver is hilarious, and I think he did the most clever take one could have on the risks and downsides of native,” Levien told me a month later during an interview in her glass-enclosed 19th-floor office with enviable Hudson River views, though she admitted: “It was my first experience with random people tweeting negative things at me.”

Her rebuttal? “The best way to preserve editorially independent, high quality journalism is to preserve the business model. And I think the idea of branded content that shares a form factor with editorial is a great first step.”

Let’s look at that quote a little more closely, shall we?

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Sit In Protest Continues In Hong Kong Despite Chief Executive's Calls To Withdraw

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing appear to be eschewing another attempt to forcibly disperse the island’s massive student-driven protests, which grew in numbers today as China held its national day celebrations, but they won’t negotiate with the demonstrators either. Peter Ford reports that the government is banking on the movement wearing out its welcome with the public:

They have withdrawn almost all policemen from the protest areas, where the atmosphere is relaxed. A protracted national holiday means that the strikes blocking streets in four spots around the city will not disrupt much until next Monday. … Government supporters expect the crowds to disperse if the protests continue into next week and prove to disrupt the city’s normal life. Polls have found that Hong Kongers are pretty evenly split over the merits of the government’s plans for political reform, and over how they regard the “Occupy Central” movement.

But with the protestors demanding that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying resign by tomorrow and threatening again to occupy government buildings, the situation could easily come to a head again soon. Heather Timmons and Lily Kuo pass along a harshly-worded editorial in a party-line newspaper and worry:

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We War-Loving Americans

Oct 1 2014 @ 11:21am

Aaron Blake highlights a new poll showing rising public support for Obama’s ISIS strategy:

The newest WaPo-ABC poll shows 50 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the Islamic State, as compared to 44 percent who disapprove. That’s an improvement from August, when the question referenced only Iraq and not Syria, and 42 percent of Americans gave Obama a vote of confidence. Obama’s new polling heights come as Americans overwhelmingly approve of the airstrikes he ordered in Syria. Seven in 10 Americans (70 percent) support the airstrikes — up from 65 percent in early September. His decision to send American forces to train Iraqi troops and coordinate airstrikes against the Islamic State in that country is less popular, but still gets positive marks: 53 percent support and 44 percent opposition.

Drum is dismayed at how comfortable we are with going to war yet again:

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The View From Your Window

Oct 1 2014 @ 11:03am

seattle-1220pm

Seattle, Washington, 9.20 am