"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Commander in Chief Review Now In

Geena Davis joined Al Michaels and John Madden in the booth for yet another silly interruption of the game action last night as ABC attempted to created synergy for Commander in Chief, its new drama about a female president. I got news for you, ABC. The viewers of MNF are not the viewers of a Geena Davis drama.

Anyway, Louis Wittig has a very interesting review of the series pilot at National Review Online. The series is yet another recapitulation of liberal wet dreams about federal power in the hands of a right- (or should I say left-) thinking person. First, we had The American President. Then, The West Wing. Now, The Commander in Chief.

Here's the most interesting part of the review:

Liberals are serious about human rights in this world too. Working out a subplot, Allen’s aides keep reminding her about the Nigeria situation: In accordance with sharia, Nigeria is about to put a woman to death for committing adultery. Allen is concerned.

Throughout, Allen is shown confidently ordering around generals and positioning aircraft carriers (see, this is why stereotypes are bad). And as Commander limps through its 38th minute, she brings the Nigerian ambassador to a Joint Chiefs’ meeting and proceeds to illustrate how the Marines will storm his country if the woman isn’t released immediately.

“I can’t believe the U.S.A. would take such a unilateral action,” the ambassador mumbles.“If you think I’m going to sit by while a woman is executed, tortured, for having sex, you’re sorely mistaken,” retorts Allen. Dare I think it? You go girl.

Dude, did she even go ask the UN?

37 comments:

Kathy Hutchins said...

This show doesn't have a prayer, and wouldn't have even if it wasn't the worst sort of drivel Rod Lurie is capable of producing. They've put it up against Hugh Laurie in House, MD. The Hutchins household is one of approximately 12 million in which all activity grinds to a halt between 9 and 10 on Tuesdays. Geena Davis doesn't have a chance.

Hunter Baker said...

House is pretty darn good. And if I recall, our buddy S.T. reviewed it for National Review.

Tlaloc said...

"Liberals are serious about human rights in this world too."

Duh. Liberals afterall are the ones who support human rights in america (hint: property isn't a HUMAN right, it's an economic one).

That being said there is a difference between being "serious" about human rights and believing we have some right to interfere unilaterally with every other culture.

And of course the conservative "seriousness" about human rights is another thing altogether. In that case it is using human rights as a wedge issue without actually giving a damn about it or having any intent to follow through. For examples see all the speaches about the plight of women in Iraq and Afghanistan used to support our intervention there. Post-intervention their lives are generally worse and yet nobody in the GOP seems to have time to care.

I'll take impotent fretting over disingenuous manipulation any day.

Matt Huisman said...

"Duh. Liberals afterall are the ones who support human rights in america (hint: property isn't a HUMAN right, it's an economic one)."

That explains why the left loves Cuba.

"For examples see all the speaches about the plight of women in Iraq and Afghanistan used to support our intervention there. Post-intervention their lives are generally worse...

You can almost here the women chanting...'Bring back Mullah Omar!'

"I'll take impotent fretting over disingenuous manipulation any day."

That explains why the left loves the U.N.

Tlaloc said...

"That explains why the left loves Cuba."

Most of the American Left does not love Cuba, instead they just see how infantile our attitude toward Cuba has been.



"You can almost here the women chanting...'Bring back Mullah Omar!"

No but you can hear them saying that America betrayed them. We promised them something as a ploy to generate sympathy and then we turned our backs on them. Maybe you are okay with using abused women for political advantage, frankly I'm not.



"That explains why the left loves the U.N."

The UN certainly has problems but we signed onto the treaty that makes it the law of this land as well (read the constitution). By all means reform it when it screws up but don't just ignore it when the democratic institution is inconvenient. Circumventing democracy isn't exactly the way to foster democracy overseas (a lesson the GOP has failed to learn time and again).

Hunter Baker said...

Matt, you're a treasure. Keep coming back.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Let me get this right. The Hussein boys raping women in front of their husbands is not invasive enough to invade over? Only if a woman is punished for consensual sex?

Meet the new Liberal warmonger. No more Full Metal Jacket. From now on: Full Strait Jacket.

James Elliott said...


That explains why the left loves Cuba.


How "witty."

You can almost here the women chanting...'Bring back Mullah Omar!'

How "pithy."

That explains why the left loves the U.N.

How "clever."

How dumb. Does Hugh Hewitt know you're stealing his act? A "treasure," Hunter? I mean, seriously, can't he come up with something vaguely original or even clever?

No?

Thought not.

James Elliott said...

Mr. Homnick, your sense of outrage may well be real, but everyone with an I.Q. and an age over 12 knows that's not why we invaded Iraq. Please. If it actually had been, you'd probably find a lot fewer people with such a negative view of the whole debacle.

Hunter Baker said...

The old Cuba saw never loses its edge, James.

They can read and they have healthcare!

But then again, they can't vote, speak freely, enjoy any religious freedom, work in the occupation of their choice, drive any car built since the revolution, live in any dwelling not currently crumbling, etc.

The result is that leftists start talking about how civil rights are unimportant relative to economic rights.

Riiiiiiight.

Matt Huisman said...

"How dumb."

Hey man, cut me some slack. If you just took some time to get to know me you'd find out that there are all kinds of internal and external influences that make me be this way.

"Does Hugh Hewitt know you're stealing his act?"

I was shooting more for a 'Mark Steyn's Mailbox' feel.

"A "treasure," Hunter? I mean, seriously, can't he come up with something vaguely original or even clever?"

Yeah, because, like, seriously, like, your humor is, like, way more origninaler.

Tlaloc said...

"Let me get this right. The Hussein boys raping women in front of their husbands is not invasive enough to invade over? Only if a woman is punished for consensual sex?"

I don't believe either constitute legitimate grounds for invading a country unilaterally.

You invade only if there is a mandate from international authority body (which right now of course is the UN).

Tlaloc said...

Matt,
I don't have anything against you but frankly in this thread you aren't doing your best. In others you've been pretty well reasoned and open to discussion. Here you are clearly taking cheap shots by misconstruing things.

Tlaloc said...

"The result is that leftists start talking about how civil rights are unimportant relative to economic rights."

Hunter you don't get to count your imagined scenarios as things that REALLY happen.

If anything I'd say the left is much more in love with the scandanavian countries (understandably so).

James Elliott said...

Seriously, T. I think the closest thing to the "truth" is that some leftists do admire Cuba, but most just don't have any particular animosity towards it. Am I happy that it's a dictatorship? No. Do I think the U.S. has something to learn from a poor little island where everyone has health care for all and a better literacy rate than the most powerful nation on earth? Hell yes. I find hatred of unbelligerent countries highly irrational.

Tlaloc said...

As an interesting aside, the following research is making some waves (not surprisingly).

"Data correlations show that in almost all regards the highly secular democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction, while pro-religious and anti-evolution America performs poorly."

From the abstract.

Apparently (and not exactly a shocker here) the tendency of a country to be religious directly correlates with it's ills regarding high rates of abortion, STDs, unplanned pregnancies, and murder.

Gee, I wonder why that could be. Of course a correlation doesn't mean a causal relationship. Still you'd think this kind ofthing would set off some alarms in the heads of the social conservatives that just maybe they aren't helping their own cause.

I did a blog entry a while back showing that areas with abstinence only sex education were also the ares with the highest rates of accidental pregnancy. Go figure.

Tlaloc said...

"Seriously, T. I think the closest thing to the "truth" is that some leftists do admire Cuba, but most just don't have any particular animosity towards it."

Oh sure. There are always crackpots. Some Righties worship hitler but I wouldn't say that all conservatives are Nazis because of course it's only the fringe elements that like goosestepping.

Matt Huisman said...

"No but you can hear them saying that America betrayed them. We promised them something as a ploy to generate sympathy and then we turned our backs on them. Maybe you are okay with using abused women for political advantage, frankly I'm not.

Of course, liberals (in their "serious" commitment to human rights) would rectify the situation by pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan completely.

You may not be happy with the progress of women's causes in Iraq/Afghanistan, but no one on the left is making any real noise about it (they'd rather obsess about Gitmo) and no one can truly believe that a democratic Iraq does not hold infinitely more promise for women than a bin Laden/Zarquawi regime.

Tlaloc said...

"Of course, liberals (in their "serious" commitment to human rights) would rectify the situation by pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan completely."

I would yes. Because I understand that any solution we force on them will not be accepted and will never work. We cannot force them to regard women as equals. Indeed we aren't even bothering to try. And yet if we leave them alone the plight of women may very well get slowly better over time as they go through their equivilent of the suffragette movement. Is it a wonderful solution No. But it's quite simply the best solution we have. Our current path is failing already and we're still in the country.



"no one can truly believe that a democratic Iraq does not hold infinitely more promise for women than a bin Laden/Zarquawi regime."

No but the current democratic regime is actually WORSE than what women faced under Husseins les than benevolent rule. Do you understand? We meddle and things only get worse. The only way to let them slowly heal is to realize we aren't god, we aren't magically capable fo doing whatever we want without consequences, and to step back.

Your way is now PROVEN to fail. What do they call do the same thing over and over expecting a different result?

James Elliott said...

Matt, you are factually WRONG in your assessment of women in Iraq. Under Hussein's secular government, women were allowed to hold the same opportunities for education and employment. Under the current "government," tribal and religious councils pretty much have all the say in these matters, and, guess what, they think sharia is a damn fine way to run a society.

Ditto Afghanistan (the difference there being it's all-around crappy for women both before we showed up and after).

Now, I'm not saying things can't get better for women there, but unless you have your head buried in a sandbox you have to see how things aren't as good as they were. You can go on and on about how nominal democracy has the opportunity to make things better for women, but that's so philosophical a point as to be completely moot. In measurable, tangible ways, women's lives are not better for our involvement, and in Iraq, are wholly worse.

Matt Huisman said...

"Because I understand that any solution we force on them will not be accepted and will never work."

We seemed to do alright with Germany and Japan. Democratic forces are picking up steam in Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine and others in the region. Afghani women are already voting and holding significant government positions. Don't you ever wonder how much more might be accomplished if the U.S. would appear even remotely unified in the goal of spreading democracy?

I'll agree with you that there is a certain amount of the process that the Iraqi's have to figure out on their own. But can't we help with the field position a little and move them off of their own goal line? Bringing them so close to freedom and then dumping a Zarquawi regime on them just seems like the absolute height of cruelty.

"Your way is now PROVEN to fail. What do they call do the same thing over and over expecting a different result?

What proof? Again, Germany and Japan turned out OK, and we had to 'occupy' them for a lot longer than we've been in Iraq.

BTW, I'd say the exact same thing to you with respect to the U.N.
(How's Bosnia going by the way? Darfur? Nothing but success.)

Matt Huisman said...

"Matt, you are factually WRONG in your assessment of women in Iraq. Under Hussein's secular government, women were allowed to hold the same opportunities for education and employment.

Rather than get into a debate over what's happening in 14 of the 18 provinces, or what Human Rights Watch says with respect to Amnesty Int'l...(because I could be wrong)...why don't I just say this...If the administration is truly wrong on the 'women in Iraq' issue, I would have no problem with the left absolutely pounding them on it. (This assumes that the left would be willing to say that our culture is better than tribal Iraq's in this regard.)

My point is this. For every liberal that claims to be "serious" about human rights, now is the time to actually "do" something. Walking away from this now and saying the Iraqi's have to figure this out for themselves (knowing full well that means handing things over to Zarquawi) just doesn't cut it.

Tlaloc said...

"We seemed to do alright with Germany and Japan."

Germany was a first world western nation. Japan is remarkable for being an incredibly adaptive culture. That having been said we NUKED two Japanese cities to force their capitualtion. We devastated Germany in some ways that were frankly uncalled for and war crimes (Dresden leaps to mind).

So your example rests on two nations entirely different from the middle east and in cases where we resorted to the worst form of barbarism (the wanton slaughter of civilians).



"Democratic forces are picking up steam in Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine and others in the region."

That's a joke right? Egypt just had an election in which Mubarak won more votes than the one he ADMITTED to fixing. Libya is nowhere near a democracy. Palestinian governance is as corrupt as ever. Lebanon did have an election, true. But then again so did Iran. Having an election means nothing. Having a fair open election is something entirely different.

Besides which there's no connection between the one marginal case (lebanon) and our actions in Iraq. The Lebanese elections were brought on by an assassination (which hopefully we had nothing to do with).



"Don't you ever wonder how much more might be accomplished if the U.S. would appear even remotely unified in the goal of spreading democracy?"

Nobody in America cares about spreading democracy, left nor right.



"But can't we help with the field position a little and move them off of their own goal line? Bringing them so close to freedom and then dumping a Zarquawi regime on them just seems like the absolute height of cruelty."

No we can't. ANything we build there is automatically tainted as illegitimate in the eyes of the natives precisely because we as the foreign aggressor built it. Think for a moment about this. Lets say we had a total despot of a president who declared martial law and disbanded congress. Then the red chinese army invades and deposes him. Then they go about telling us how we may and may not produce a new government. Meanwhile Red Chinese troops are notorious for shooting up civilians, torturing prisoners gathered in random sweeps, and contaminating vast areas of the country with Depleted Uranium.

Would Americans be happy? Grateful? Or would be so insanely pissed off at them for condescending that they have any right to fix our problems?

And that's not even looking at the religious aspects of bush's self named "crusade." He called it a crusade for christ's sake! Can you get any more idiotic?

We can't fix their problems and yes it is cruel to abandone them but it's crueler to maintain the current atmosphere of instability and violence knowing that we will in fact abandone them sooner or later.

All we are doing now is prolonging the suffering. It's clear the Iraqi forces are hideously compromised and corrupt. They will never be ready to take on the security of Iraq and have even our very modest level of success. There are areas of Baghdad now which are openly under the control of the insurgency. Think about that: a guerrila movement is syuccessfully contesting the nations capital.



"What proof?"

Iraq and Afghanistan are the proof. Both have become human rights cesspools worse than before our invasion.



"BTW, I'd say the exact same thing to you with respect to the U.N."

I have no problem whatsoever with the idea that the UN needs to be reformed. Or if you want to argue that it's too compromised and needs to be replaced I can see that as a possibility.

Tlaloc said...

"My point is this. For every liberal that claims to be "serious" about human rights, now is the time to actually "do" something. Walking away from this now and saying the Iraqi's have to figure this out for themselves (knowing full well that means handing things over to Zarquawi) just doesn't cut it."

That's hubris plain and simple Matt. It's the belief that we have the power to fix every problem in the universe by our sheer will to do so.

It's wrong. We are a formidible military power. We are also an economic power. But force and cash can't do everything. One of those things it can't do is to force people to change their culture. And it will much more often cause that culture to dig in it's heels.

What you are talking about is repressing a major religion of the area (since the treatment of women derives from sharia). What happens to repressed religions Matt? Come on I know you know the answer to this one.

Especially what happens to a native religion opressed by a foreign power? Does it turn out well for the opressors?

James Elliott said...

I think part of the problem is that you paint all liberals with the same brush, much as we are admittedly wont to do with conservatives. There is no true liberal consensus (which is part of the problem), just folks who are more vocal than others. I, for one, believe it would be a crime on par with our invasion to pull out our forces without first stabilizing the country.

On a side note, I want to address your little dig at cultural relativism, because it speaks to the heart of miscommunication between liberals and conservatives (or liberals and liberals!). Cultural relativism is not (contrary to conservative stereotype and well-meaning but rather dull-witted liberal dogma) the belief that all cultures are equal. It is really as "simple" (as in "easy to say, freaking hard to do") as realizing that when one evaluates another culture, it is through one's own cultural lens. Your perspective on culture is influenced by the culture you develop in, and your judgments will be influenced, largely subconsciously, by it. As a cultural relativist, I am free to say that my culture is better. But I must be willing to be honest and say that I am biased, that I am judging from my own cultural perspective, and that others may disagree, evaluating as they are from a different cultural schema. That's multiculturalism in a (brief) nutshell. The trick isn't being right or wrong, but realizing why you believe you are right.

So, yes, I am willing to say that our way of life, effed up as it is, is vastly superior to tribal Iraq's in regards to women's rights. We aren't perfect, but we're a damn sight better. But I guarantee you that the people on the other side of the divide will have some equally scathing things to say about our culture on the same subject.

Hunter Baker said...

I've got one to add to Germany and Japan. It's called the American South and it worked in time. It worked.

Tlaloc said...

"I've got one to add to Germany and Japan. It's called the American South and it worked in time. It worked."

Hunter that's an even worse example. Now you are talking about people who not only are from the same background but are actually part of the same country. Please tell me you see the difference between that and going halfway round the world to a land of ethnically different, religiously different, linguistically different, and culturally different people and trying to force your sociopolitical views on them militarily!

Matt Huisman said...

"So your example rests on two nations entirely different from the middle east and in cases where we resorted to the worst form of barbarism (the wanton slaughter of civilians)."

Vic Hanson says that once you decide to go to war, you have to win decisively in order to communicate that there is no place for the old order ever again. (That doesn't give you license to do anything, but I believe that the barbarism you cite can be justified. Let's argue that elsewhere.)

I don't buy into the argument that the insurgency in Iraq is a response to oppression (we hardly even had time to oppress before the insurgency started). Zarquawi and co are responding to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to control some valuable turf, and they're counting on the American will to falter. (I wonder where they would get that impression.)

"That's hubris plain and simple Matt. It's the belief that we have the power to fix every problem in the universe by our sheer will to do so."

So what you are saying is that we have no hope of influencing the world situation, everyone has to figure it out for themselves 100% of the time. We're not willing to step in anywhere, anytime because we might not get it right. If that's the case, what is the relevance of being "serious" about human rights?

Matt Huisman said...

"As a cultural relativist, I am free to say that my culture is better. But I must be willing to be honest and say that I am biased, that I am judging from my own cultural perspective, and that others may disagree, evaluating as they are from a different cultural schema. That's multiculturalism in a (brief) nutshell."

James, I don't disagree with what you're saying here. You believe that it's possible for there to be right and wrong. Most relativists I know don't believe that's true.

"The trick isn't being right or wrong, but realizing why you believe you are right.

I agree, but I'm curious...why do you believe that you can be right about anything?

James Elliott said...

Zarquawi and co are responding to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to control some valuable turf, and they're counting on the American will to falter. (I wonder where they would get that impression.)

The Center for Global and Strategic Studies, based on Pentagon and independent assessments, estimates that only 1/6 of the insurgents in Iraq are jihadists (5,000 out of 30,000). Accordingly, while your assessment of Zarqawi may be correct, your conflation of his al-Qaeda cell with the whole of the insurgency is misinformed.

Matt Huisman said...

"The Center for Global and Strategic Studies, based on Pentagon and independent assessments, estimates that only 1/6 of the insurgents in Iraq are jihadists (5,000 out of 30,000).

I don't dispute the numbers, but I'm not able to find 'The Center for Global and Strategic Studies' anywhere. Is that their official name?

"Accordingly, while your assessment of Zarqawi may be correct, your conflation of his al-Qaeda cell with the whole of the insurgency is misinformed.

OK. Fine. There are 30,000 independent one-man splinter groups that have various levels of affiliation to al Qaeda, former regime loyalists, islamic revivalist movements, sunni nationalist groups, etc.

All of these groups see that there is a power vacuum in Iraq, and there is a race to fill it. Step 1 is to get the US out before they set up a structure that could last.

James Elliott said...

James, I don't disagree with what you're saying here. You believe that it's possible for there to be right and wrong. Most relativists I know don't believe that's true.

I think you're misunderstanding the point, but I do honestly appreciate the effort, because it appears sincere. I think I see where you run into the misunderstanding, and I hope I can elucidate a little further.

When you see that I say there is a right and a wrong, you are approaching it from your (I assume; please correct me if I'm wrong.) absolutist schema of universal rights and wrongs. A disciplined, rigorous relativist (such as I am trying to become) is still free to say there is a right or a wrong. What I must understand is that I am projecting my internal processes when I do so, processes that are influenced by (but not limited to) personal ethics, morals, society, culture, and maybe religion (though not in my personal case). These processes may or may not be correct. I am only acting and judging as I have decided is right and proper. All people go through these same processes, and they will be different for each individual due to factors such as upringing, religion, culture, linguistics, and so on.

The point of relativism is that what is right for one person may not be what is right for another, that there is no universal truth to be found. All rights and wrongs are relative. Some would translate this as "anything goes" or a metaphysical paralysis, inhibiting any kind of action. This is why we say relativism is not an easy path, that it takes rigor and discipline. Acting requires a commitment towards evaluation and introspection.

In a nutshell, an absolutist would say, "You are wrong and I am right because 'X' says so" while a relativist should say "I believe that you are wrong and I am in the right." The relativist says so because his or her personal code and evaluation leads to such a conclusion. There is no external validation except for the outcome of your actions. It's about trusting yourself and being honest enough to evaluate yourself. That's how you can believe you are right: By accepting that you may be wrong.

James Elliott said...

I probably have the name wrong. I was quoting from memory, and I think there might have been a "D" word in their somewhere. I'll check.

Most evaluations I have read have noted that the insurgency started small, with Baathist remnants and jihadists and has, within the last two years, expanded to include a number of tribal and religious militias, some of whom view the U.S. as illegitimate occupiers and some of whom want to be top dog. I'm not saying you're wholly wrong, Matt, but you're not completely right either. There's elements of both yours and Tlaloc's analyses at work here.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

James,

It appears that you and Tlaloc have slightly different views. Please elaborate.

On a previous thread, Tlaloc said:

"So here then is what I'm saying:
"There are no universal moral absolutes."

Is that statement a moral absolute in and of itself? No. It makes no judgements about a right or a wrong, it is simply an observation of the constraints that morals operate under."


From what I gathered in your above post, morality is an "input" to your decision making process regarding right and wrong.

Now ... you didn't *say* you were talking about moral right and wrong, but is that what you meant?

Do you agree with Tlaloc's statement above? (See Sept Archives)

Tlaloc is not allowing for the possibilty of being wrong.

James Elliott said...

From what I gathered in your above post, morality is an "input" to your decision making process regarding right and wrong.

Now ... you didn't *say* you were talking about moral right and wrong, but is that what you meant?


Personal morality, yes, is an input in moral relativism. I apologize for not making that clearer. A better term might be personal ethics.

Do you agree with Tlaloc's statement above? (See Sept Archives)

Yes. There are no moral absolutes, only our beliefs in what is right and wrong.

Tlaloc is not allowing for the possibilty of being wrong.

Sure he is. Where you're getting tripped up is approaching the statement as an absolutist. You're saying he is saying people can be wrong, therefore he must accept that maybe he is wrong and there are universal moral truths (absolutes). In other words, you're playing the semantic logic game (intentionally or unintentionally) that says: "But you've just made an absolute assertion! Therefore there must be absolute truths!" That argument is solely a semantic construction, however.

Hunter Baker said...

We should put the burden on the other team for once. Could you give the evidence for your statement that there is no absolute right or wrong?

Matt Huisman said...

"What I must understand is that I am projecting my internal processes when I do so, processes that are influenced by (but not limited to) personal ethics, morals, society, culture, and maybe religion (though not in my personal case)."

Agreed. All of us bring influences to the table, and always need to be on guard for how our worldview shapes our thinking.

"The point of relativism is that what is right for one person may not be what is right for another, that there is no universal truth to be found."

I'm sorry James, I just can't get away from looking at this statement as a universal truth. I appreciate the sincerity of the approach of the relativist, but taken to its logical conclusion it just seems meaningless to me.

That said, the relativists that I have a problem with are the ones that don't ever have the confidence to say that something is good/bad or better/worse. You don't seem to have that problem.

I'm sure you've heard the anti-relativist arguement a thousand times, so I doubt I'm telling you anything new. I just think that you have to consider what presuppositions you might be bringing to the table on this one as well.

"On a previous thread, Tlaloc said:

"So here then is what I'm saying:
"There are no universal moral absolutes."

Is that statement a moral absolute in and of itself? No. It makes no judgements about a right or a wrong, it is simply an observation of the constraints that morals operate under.
"

Once you apply that statement to a given situation, doesn't it become a judgement? I say 'It is always wrong to murder.' Then all of a sudden, bam, you say no, that's not true because 'There are no universal moral absolutes.' That seems like a judgement, based on a self-referencing foundational belief. How else would you know that it was true?