Saturday, April 30, 2005

Why Two Personas?

Call me confused.

I am pretty much myself here on my blogs. I may take up different topics depending on where I'm blogging, or seek different audiences based on what material I'm working with. I may be very passionate about one topic, less so with others, and range from amused to irritated to irate to cynical or sarcastic. But it all feels to me like shades of me, not different person's.

I've been taking the opportunity to get to know my bloc-partner here at Debate Space, and following through with some of his links, checking other blogs that link to me through NZBear, etc. And I'm confused.

How can someone have what seems to be a civil discussion, wanting to talk back and forth with arguments, and facts, with basic discourse, then walk back to their own bloc and pick up with hateful venom? (My MILBLOG friends would say, I told you so. I'm not so sure, but want to ask some questions.)

What exactly is the point of this mutual exercise, from your standpoint? I know what it was from mine. Lively debate. Passionate argument. Reasoned analysis. Discussion, consideration of an alternative point of view.

LiberalAvenger's Response #1:

There is only one me - not two person's. I am passionate about my beliefs and I believe that in my own small way I am accomplishing something good through my writing and blogging.

I don't buy the "hateful venom" label. I think what you are encountering are my strong feelings about issues that are of prime importance to both of us. Because our respective positions on these issues are likely polar opposites you may be misinterpreting my rhetoric as "hateful venom."

As is clearly the case for you, my positions on issues aren't self-serving. I believe in the things I believe in because I am concerned for our country, for our children, for the people of the world... Most of us liberals recognize that our conservative counterparts believe deeply in what they are saying and doing. It is a constant source of frustration for us to be dismissed as "America-Haters." Conservatives need to understand that we love America, too, and we believe that our causes will benefit everyone. Just like you do.

I am an atheist. This doesn't mean that I hate religious people. It does mean that political snipes asserting that godless people are incapable of morality or craven political maneuvering that uses faith as a wedge angers me deeply. I believe strongly in the "separation of church and state." I am concerned about what I perceive as a slow but determined trend by conservatives to move our government towards a "theocracy."

I am a pacifist. This doesn't mean that I hate people in the military. It does mean that I have fundamental moral objections to war and violence. This doesn't make me naive. You won't find me arguing against the United State's critical involvement in World War II or the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11. It does mean that the messy way we got into Iraq and the messy moving target of justification for the war and the messy post-invasion planning disappoint me gravely. It also means that I am unable to accept terrible things being shrugged off as the unfortunate, inevitable consequences of war.

I have other pet peeves that will undoubtedly be exposed over the course of our discussions. I hope that I can get my points across without appearing to be hateful.

What do I expect to get out of these discussions?

I value having access to somebody on the other end of the political spectrum in Iraq with whom I can ask questions and expect honest, articulate answers. I don't pretend to know everything, and I know that whatever we hear about Iraq or the military or conservatism passes through misc. filters on its way to the American public. I want to understand more.

I am also excited about the reaction our initial exchanges received. That it was remarkable that two people from opposite ends of the political landscape were able to communicate without conflict is indicative of a larger problem in our society. Perhaps we can set an example for better communication between our respective "sides" in the great left-right ideology war. We are stuck with each other and we are all Americans, after all. There are some fundamental misperceptions on both sides that get in the way of communication. Exposing the fact that Liberals don't hate America and Conservatives don't hate Muslims would be a start.

Dadmanly's Response #2:

I had an interesting experience that past two days that I think bears on this discussion. (And, as in that situation, I think I need to rethink if not my opinions, then at least some of my attitudes.)

I do not talk much to my siblings. Two of my sisters are liberal (okay one and the other says she's further left than that). I have been emailing a lot of what I've been blogging to friends and family, and while I knew that some of what I wrote might upset, bother, or anger them, I kind of made a decision that I didn't care, that if they didn't like it, they would tell me. (I think I also felt that, as a soldier deployed to Iraq, they needed to cut me some slack and put up with my opinions. (My family has never been one to shrink away from debate or argument, so I thought they would push back if they needed to.

They didn't. I underestimated to power of guilt and feeling obligated to listen to the poor army guy thousands of miles for home and away from his family. My Christian writings also bothered them (their faiths are different), but they didn't feel like I would accept or appreciate an argument about my faith.

Of course, that's not what I thought. I knew it was a lot of other family dynamic issues, and maybe some of that is true, but a lot is just what I've said: guilt, unease, and not feeling right about saying, "I don't think that's true."

In the end, my big sister stepped in and extended an olive branch of love, cutting through a lot of the deadwood of the past and inviting us to do the same. Our relationships are born anew, and we have an opportunity to move forward with more honesty, openness, and trust than we've had previously.

I guess I want to say I think I overreacted and misjudged what I read, or at least the motivations behind the words. There is some truth to the idea that "hateful venom" may often be translated "diametrically opposed to my view."

I think its true, we both are passionate about our causes and beliefs, and that we both want what's best, but see very different views about what that would be and how to get to that better place. When Conservatives see a liberal viewpoint and immediately brand it anti-American, that's wrong, counterproductive, and eliminates the possibility of dialog.

Our last discussion dwells in greater depth on matters of the "wall of separation of church and state, I won't repeat it here. I do think any perceived movement towards theocracy is all possibility and perception and no fact or actual movement. In fact, I would argue we grow more and more secular every day, and have begun to be antagonistic towards religious expression in the public square (unless it's multicultural).

I can respect a pacifist, even more, one who can acknowledge that some wars are necessary against extreme evil. I do think we are in such a struggle, but I can accept those who feel otherwise. That's the beautiful thing about America, and hopefully something about which we can both agree.

I very much appreciate your answer to the question, "What do I expect to get out of these discussions?" I think it is exceptional that you value opinion from someone who is here in Iraq, and that you want to understand more. I would hope I can say the same, I can't say I wanted to beforehand, but value the opportunity now. And I absolutely value the opportunity to help get the soldier's point of view out there, less filtered than might otherwise be the case. Thanks for the opportunity.

I too am excited about the reaction our initial exchanges received. I also think that the very fact our conversation and debate is so unexpected and rare is very indicative of a chronic problem for our society. We can set a better example, and resolve to foster more communication, less insult, a full hearing out of ideas, and a civil exchange of views. We are all in this together, we have this marvelous and precious legacy, this inheritance of liberty, that we might by contention and bitter argument separately destroy what we might otherwise jointly preserve.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Religious Expression and the Public Square

Powerline, one of the conservative Blogs on my daily reads, notes what it describes as "the least gracious apology of the week," referring to a recent remark by Democratic Senator from Colorado, Ken Salazar.

Senator Salazar referred to James Dobson and his group, Focus on the Family, "the anti-Christ." Quickly thereafter, he issued a "sort of" apology, amending his remarks to call Dobson "unchristian, meaning self-serving and selfish."

I get this sort of thing a lot from my liberal friends and family. The questions I want to pose are:

1. How come when a Christian, especially a Fundamentalist, makes a statement of religious conviction, it makes them bigoted, intolerant, oppressive, fascist, etc., but when someone of another faith tradition makes a similar statement, that goes unmentioned? If we have religious views, wouldn't it be both logical and expected that such views might inform our decisions and views about social policy?

2. As a born-again Christian, I can tell you that we have an incredibly wide spectrum of views, in all areas of social policy, legislation, spiritual lives and lifestyles, and attitudes about public and private interactions. But when secular or non-religious commentators speak of Christians, they mention either Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson? For us, that's like comparing every African American clergyman to the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

3. Separation of church and state is a derived constitutional doctrine that the founders never envisioned would be used to eradicate religious expression from public life, just prevent the Federal Government from establishing a state religion. Otherwise, it conflicts with our freedom of religion, the right to worship our conception of God as we see fit. Evangelicals see the current state of affairs as being very antagonistic towards religious expression. Shouldn't freedom of religion apply to Fundamentalists? To legislators? To judges?


1. I'm sure that we could both find numerous examples where the opposite situation to what you present in your question happened. That being said, I understand what you mean and I will attempt to answer.

There are several factors at work here.

First, was what the hypothetical fundamentalist said indeed bigoted, intolerant, oppressive, etc? If it was, then it is right for them to be called on it. There is no shortage of bigoted, intolerant and oppressive rhetoric in the world. Some of it is going to come from American Christian fundamentalists. When it happens I would hope that we aren't looking the other way.

The same should apply to non-Christians when they say things that are bad as well.

When the standard is misapplied, I think it has to do with the fact that Christianity is the dominant religion in this country. If a Rastafarian says "Christians Suck," this is wrong, but he is doing so from an almost non-existent power base. On the other hand if a Christian says "Rastafarians Suck," speaking for myself, I would be concerned about the power that Christians could possibly wield over a Rastafarian.

If Rastafarians declared a jihad against Christians in America, would that impact your life here? Would you be constantly looking over your shoulder for men in dreadlocks? I think not.

If Christians declared a jihad against Rastafarians, what sort of impact could Christians have on Rastafarians in this country? I this happened and I was a Rastafarian, I would shave my head and start going to church.

As far as informing decisions about social policy goes, this clearly happens all of the time and there is nothing wrong with this on most levels. It is when Christianity becomes the justification for discriminatory social policy where this is a problem. The easiest example has to do with laws that are discriminatory to homosexuals. The basis for the lobby for anti-homosexual legislation is that homosexuality is a Christian sin. There are a lot of homosexuals in the world. Creating social policy against them when homosexuality is not a sin in *my* worldview nor in theirs is intolerant at best.

#2. Falwell and Robertson are the ones that we know about - and they are the ones who continue to make the most noise. They certainly go to great lengths to portray themselves as God's messengers and leaders of contemporary American Christianity. I almost think that your problem should be with them, not us. If they are embarrassing you, make them stop.

I also think that it is somewhat disingenuous to completely disavow them. They do have millions of supporters in this country and they have tens of millions of dollars at their disposal every year. Somebody's sending them checks and watching them on television and it's not me or anyone in my circle of family and friends.

#3. I don't think that anybody is saying that people in public service must be non-religious. The issue is that people in public service must not use their civil power to impose their religious beliefs, rules, mores or morality on anyone else. It seems so obvious. It boggles the mind that this comes up as an issue.

According to some, homosexuality is a sin, right? At the same time, in Massachusetts, homosexuality is legal. So the civil law says that it is OK while religious doctrine says that it is not.

Hypothetically, let's imagine a homosexual on trial for his homosexuality in front of a judge. The judge is a strict Christian, which is in of itself not a problem. If you're saying that the judge should be allowed to punish the gay guy because homosexuality is a Christian sin, then that is wrong. The law must trump that judge's personal religious beliefs. This is an extreme example, but it is indicative.

The other part of this issue has to do with being fair to the rest of us who aren't Christians - who are either atheists like me or who are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. There is a negative conservative cry about how America is "supposed to be" a Christian country. Times have changed and the people crying about that need to realize that we are a country of all people and all faiths now. Yes - Christians are the vast majority of us, but in a system where we all pay taxes and we are all subject to the authority of the government, the fact that Christians are in the majority doesn't make the American Hindu any less important in the eyes of the law.

I believe that there is an everpresent dishonest undertone in the "faith in government" movement and that is that when they are speaking about faith in government they mean Christianity in government. They are all for dismantling whatever barriers exist between church and state to let Christianity in but not Hinduism, etc.

Tell me the truth: I would imagine that you don't see the problem with a statue about the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the courthouse. How would you feel if instead of the Ten Commandments statue it was a statue of Ganesh, the Hindu elephant god. Or how about if the "Call to Prayer" was broadcast over the courthouse's PA system 5 times a day to remind Muslim employees and visitors when to pray. The praying itself isn't mandatory, but sitting through a recording of the Call to Prayer five times a day is.

How would you feel? If you don't see a problem with this, then think about the folks in your church back home. How do you think they would feel?

As an atheist, my position is that none of it belongs in the courthouse. And to be honest, while it is easy enough to walk by the Ten Commandments statue or the Ganesh figure or to sit through the call to prayer, the real problem is the perception that the standard of justice dispensed in this courthouse is going to be stacked against me as a non-believer. If the judge let's his perception of the Ten Commandments or the story of Ganesh or Sharia Law influence his handling of my matter in court, this would be unacceptable.

One might respond to this by saying, "I am Christian and I don't mind having a judge use Christianity as a basis for his ruling." This is disingenuous, too, I believe, because if we allow one, we have to allow them all.


1. I think you and I will settle into loose agreement on this point, as I have often found myself offended by remarks made by some fundamentalists. I think the "tethered majority" on both sides of these kinds of disputes need to be more proactive at keeping discussion on both sides civil, and at least try to rein in intemperate speech.

I do think that a statement like, "Christians are in the majority in this country" can mislead unless viewed as a very general statement. Much like the statement today that "whites are in the majority," it depends on how far you Balkanize the populations in question. "Christian" in the sense of non-Animist, non-Muslim, or non-Jewish can usefully describe an entire panoply of descendants of a tradition, but in no way defines a population of likeminded individuals. That is precisely because, in the context I mention, these "Christians" include many people (the majority of this majority if you know what I mean) who neither ascribe to matters of the faith, nor would even consider themselves Christian. Calling Christians a majority requires you to ignore some pretty serious distinctions of faith, religious practice, belief systems, attitudes, and degree of affiliation.

(This is like the South African Bantustan ploy in reverse, the method by which Africaaners tried to keep native blacks in subjugation by breaking their lands up into tiny and disassociated "Bantustans" that tried to prevent native South African blacks an opportunity to unite or form a single consciousness. But the reality is, a non-practicing Roman Catholic bears almost no political resemblance to a devout fundamental Baptist.)

Broken down finely enough, we are all minorities of one flavor or another. Identity politics and over-attention to the rights of the minority can be an exercise of that latin expression which I think means, "reduction to absurdity." I would certainly argue that Fundamentalist Christians, of the sort that you may perhaps be more concerned about, are definitely in a minority. And from their standpoint, the "majority" (everyone else, as represented by legislatures and the courts) have taken quite a toll on what they consider their rights to worship as they see fit.

Your last point, that the consideration of homosexuality as a sin is the basis for legislative efforts is only partially true, and then only for some. Many conservatives object to redefinition of marriage less because of homosexuality itself, and more because of what they perceive as an abrogation of longstanding social policy. We would argue that marriage preferences were meant to protect children and improve their well-being. Marriage as an institution is worthy of support. If marriage can be self-defined, then why can't anyone sign up. If anyone can sign up, then the policy no longer incents or builds in preference for 2 parent households. There is a utilitarian position in support of traditional definitions of marriage, one supported by recent research.

I don't agree with laws being passed or left standing that in any way punish homosexuals. But by the same token, I think citizen-elected legislative bodies may have good cause to limit individual rights when they conflict with broader community interests (the balancing of rights). In other words, a community may decide through their legislators that homosexual partners should not be allowed to adopt if there are traditional two parent homes available for them, or that surrogates be allowed to sell their services so others can be parents.

2. I think you are right that Falwell and Robertson make the most noise, but of course you wouldn't know that if the press didn't delight in publicizing every outrageous thing they say. (And I wonder why that is? Possibly because it sells in the way it stirs people up against them?)

But making them stop? How exactly would we do that? They are public figures making public comments. They have big audiences, many of whom react favorably to them not so much based on what say in their attacks, but who or what they're perceived to attack -- decadence, immorality, moral relativism, debased culture, etc. They are demagogues of the old school, only more "religiously" focused than political (but they are way too much that in my opinion. I think this is the Elmer Gantry school of evangelism, and they aren't the only ones.

Personally, I think they inherited the good will and esteem that many in the heartland felt towards PTL (Praise the Lord ministries) and Jim and Tammy Fay Baker. Many otherwise sincere and devout Christians were very confused by what happened to the Baker's, the scandals, and were I think vulnerable to anyone who could step in and say, that's okay the mission of PTL is still important. I don't think its any accident that ministries of this kind need to keep raising money (for what except grander efforts to raise more money) and finding scapegoats in the classic sense on which to base their appeals.

There are many quiet Christians, many in important ministry, who shy away from and are uncomfortable with these kinds of public expressions. And I do think they are reluctant to criticize and condemn, but as much because they avoid doing that in general, rather than letting a "brother" off the hook.

3. There is a big flip side to your argument here. What many (Evangelical, Fundamental) Christians object to in the current legislative and judicial spheres is precisely what we view as (secular) public servants using "their civil power to impose their religious beliefs, rules, mores or morality" on society (Christian and non Christian alike).

The enforced absence of deity, religious practice, moral judgments, discrimination (in the sense of saying one thing is bad, another good) or ethical benchmarks is religious in nature. Call it the absence of religion in you want, but it is a religious framework. And the more legislatures and judges and executives impose a ban on religious expression on the public square, the more than looks more and more like state establishment of religion, against the establishment clause in the Bill of Rights.

I am a strong and unwavering advocate that justice needs be blind. My biggest problem with the liberal fight against conservative justices is the logical fallacy that somehow atheist or agnostic jurists can somehow set aside their religious beliefs (or lack thereof, but there is still a set of beliefs that they hold about the absence of something supernatural), while a religious minded jurist (of any religion) can not.

I believe you exaggerate the tearing down of that "wall of separation." Frankly, the wall has grown ever thicker over the years, not thinner. You can't possibly convince me otherwise, for my own eyes and experience have proven it. I also lived down south for a year, where there is a church every block and services held in high schools (on the weekends), where life still goes on pretty much as it did when the wall had to do with state sponsorship of religion (faithful establishment clause constructivism) and not public religious expression (first, do not offend those of other faiths).

While I don't think a plaque or statue of the Ten commandments is a big deal or worth a big fight over (aren't there civil liberties being violated in more important ways than that to fight against?), I also don't think fighting to keep them in the courthouse was right, and I think Judge Moore abdicated his primary responsibilities in representing all of his community, especially when he violated an order from a superior judge. Likewise, I would be equally against any enforced or mandated religious expression on a captive population. I don't think we need to insist on organized prayer in school, for instance. But and its a big but, out of fear of lawsuits from an almost vindictive and certainly antagonistic "rights community," local communities are eradicating legitimate public expressions of religion in the public square.

Let me ask you something. If you find yourself suddenly lost and alone in a strange neighborhood, and you see some teenagers heading your way, would you rather they be atheists, or devout Christians? (Or orthodox Jews, or Hindus, or whatever, maybe not Muslim however, given the state and extent of radical Islamic teaching.) My point is, perhaps even an atheist can acknowledge the great public utility of religion and religious expression. (Again, as long as the state does not impose it.)

Your examples seem to suggest that as a society we should care about and strive to prevent unwanted exposure to religious expression people don't agree with or submit to receive. I think society would be much better off if we require our citizens to be more mature and thick skinned, and recognize that there exist people of other faiths, and that of course as we move through our communities and the larger world, we will come into contact with them. This should be a great opportunity for learning and growth. And isn't that what you are asking Christians to do?

On last point about jurists relying on their faith to render religious decisions. I think this goes on all the time, we shouldn't be surprised, and we harm society if we try to eliminate those jurists we think will be "more liable" to do so. The determination of who such jurists would be is grossly subjective, and in the end, discriminatory (and this gives rise to devout Christians smelling the whiff of persecution for their religious beliefs). And a Jewish jurist may use his faith and faith traditions in rendering a more just decision based on law, as might a Muslim, or Roan Catholic, or even an Atheist (see my argument above that the avowed denial of deity and faith objects is a set of religious beliefs).

Any judge, any good judge, and even quite a few bad ones, gets the whole point that one bases one's decisions on law and precedent. Christian's want that even more than many atheists. And that is because legal principle and constitutional bases have been constructed out of thin air by jurists knowing what outcome they want to promote, and constructing unprecedented legal constructs where none had existed before, intended to and successful at overturning legislative law making.

At its best, such legal activism brought us the Civil Rights Amendment, the abolishment of Jim Crow laws, and the end of enforced segregation and separate but equal. But (arguably) at its worst, this has resulted in very poor constitutional decisions and judicial overreach, with Roe v. Wade only the most egregious example.

(On the instigation of my brother in law, and the course he took on Constitutional Law, I read Roe v. Wade in its entirety. Blackmun I believe it was actually penned a paragraph in which he said the termination of pregnancy at any time should be the absolute right of a mother, even if for no other reason than that a continued pregnancy or birth of a child might be inconvenient to the mother. Not a fine or heroic moment in Supreme Court jurisprudence.

(Obviously, this last issue could consume us for days. But it is the 800 Pound Gorilla in the room, so one of us had to touch on it. I will only add that I agree with the proposition that the Supreme Court in 1973 recklessly short-circuited and short cut a vital and necessary public debate on abortion. Each state was ready and prepared to enact the will of their citizens on this issue, and work through legislative bodies a divisive public issue. We would have been better off if this had happened, it is inevitable, and it will be worse for being delayed.

And it set a dangerous precedent for the Supreme Court and the Judiciary in general, whereby activists can circumvent citizenry and their legislative bodies by effecting through court edict what they cannot achieve by referendum or passing of law.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

What's up with Bolton?

Colin Powell doesn't believe in Bolton for US Ambassador to the UN and he has been quietly telling whoever wants to listen. Regardless of what one thinks personally of Bolton, one must acknowledge that there are legitimate questions about his history, specifically with regards to his strong anti-UN sentiments.

What is it about John Bolton that makes him such an important candidate? I would think that he isn't worth the trouble or the cost in political capital for Bush, et al to get him confirmed over the objections of the Senate Democrats and some moderate Republicans.

That Colin Powell feels he is the wrong choice holds extra weight for me. Does Colin Powell command respect within conservative military circles? Does his opinion on Bolton influence your opinion in any way?

DadManly Response #1 (I think we'll go a few rounds on this one):

As we start, I want to offer a "standing caveat" to anything I say that anyone takes as "representative" of all soldiers or military service members generally. For the most part, soldiers are trained first and foremost to obey orders, to do what they're told. That doesn't mean they don't have opinions -- soldier "gripes" are as old as humanity, and often about food or women (and now, men). So there is what we might consider a "silent minority" of soldiers who really just want to do their jobs and don't really think about this stuff.

Having said that, almost no one in the U.S. military wants to think about being under the authority of the U.N. (although we've been just that on several U.N. Peacekeeping Missions). The United Nations includes a whole bunch of countries who hate us, are jealous of us, struggle overtly or covertly against us, and these are our friends. I would say that the military is mostly negative about the U.N.; we know it doesn't prevent wars or genocide, and those of us familiar with its weaknesses are convinced it often does more harm than good.

So being a strong critic of the U.N. wouldn't bother many in the military, many of us are strong critics as well! As to Colin Powell, he is not as strongly admired in the military as you might think. Wiser and more politically savvy commentators have suggested Powell "went native" in the State Department, adapting to that organization, its conceits, prejudices, and blind spots. The U.S. Military has a long history of having to clean up what Diplomats create in the naive hope that talk talk talk beats fight fight fight.

The greatest evils of the 20th and 21st Centuries -- Fascism, Communism, and State Sponsored and non-State initiated Terrorism -- grew despite the U.N., and in some ways abetted by the U.N.

One last point. Loyalty means more to a soldier than anything. The man or woman next to you may knowingly sacrifice his or her life for you. They got your back. When the going gets rough, you need to be able to trust that soldier next to you, that he or she won't run away or pull his or her own weight. What Powell is notorious for, is departmental infighting, manipulation between departments, chronic leaking to the press. In other words, actively working against the interests of the current administration or other departments or personalities. This would be viewed as supremely disloyal. Powell is to serve the President, but it often seemed that he first served his own or his department's ends.

And Department of State has an abysmal record in terms of analysis, strategy and approach, foresight, and cost benefit analysis. Through the Cold War, Korea, the fall of the Shah, the emergence of democracy in Central America, Israel and Palestine, the Middle East in general, State has called more outcomes wrong than right. State ineptitude has often made matters go from bad to worse.

Honestly? Most military have no idea who Bolton is. That he might be a hard charger, sometimes brisque, direct and somewhat abrasive? That makes him sound like a former military man.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Who Would Have Thought?

Who would have thought it possible? An unapologetically liberal anti-war blogger and a steadfastly conservative American serviceman blogging from Iraq engaged in a civil discussion about the war and other news without name-calling and without hurling insults?

The Liberal Avenger, blogging since June of 2004 and Dadmanly, milblogging since August of 2004, come together in this space to discuss and debate the issues of the day and field questions from readers.

This is an experiment in the application of technology in political discourse. We hope that you find it interesting at a minimum and hopefully informative, too.

UPDATE: The Liberal Avenger surprised me with the sincerity of his concern, and his willingness to debate civilly, and respectfully. I wish I could say that I always approach discussions that way, but I can't. My sisters, who like the Avenger tend to the left side of politics, have accused me of recklessness, making wild accusations, drawing extreme comparisons, etc. The typical partisan extremist, in their eyes. Ladies, please consider this both apology and penance.

These are momentous times we live in, great issues are in play, and the stakes could not be higher for the state of our World, no matter where we sit in the political Blogosphere. I welcome the opportunity to initiate some good conversations with my new friend, and hopefully more of you who choose to join in.