I'm on the road, mostly unconnected, 'til Monday.
Commentary on current events and other topics that you did not ask for.
From the Washington Post:
Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' committee on doctrine, said the church considers same-sex attractions to be "objectively disordered" because "they do not accord with the natural purpose of sexuality." Although "simply experiencing a homosexual inclination is not in itself a sin," he said, homosexual acts are "sinful," "never morally acceptable" and "do not lead to true human happiness.
The New Iraq:
Since midsummer, Shiite militias, Sunni insurgent groups, ad-hoc Sunni self-defense groups and tribes have accelerated campaigns of sectarian cleansing that are forcing countless thousands of Shiites and Sunnis in Baghdad to seek safety among their own kind.
Whole towns north and south of Baghdad are locked in the same sectarian struggle, among them the central Shiite city of Balad, still under siege by gunmen from surrounding Sunni towns after a bloody spate of sectarian massacres last month.
Even outside the epicenter of sectarian strife in the central region of the country, Shiite factions battle each other in the south, Sunni tribes and factions clash in the west. Across Iraq, the criminal gangs that emerged with the collapse of law and order rule patches of turf as mini-warlords.
Since the war began, 1.6 million Iraqis have sought refuge in neighboring countries; at least 231,530 people have been displaced inside Iraq since February, when Shiite-Sunni violence exploded with the bombing of a Shiite shrine in the northern city of Samarra, according to figures from the United Nations and the U.N.-affiliated International Organization for Migration.
There used to be a time when Sunnis and Shiites "were living like family. We were married to each other, we all had Sunni friends, we all had Shiite friends. It was all like a balloon that exploded," a gaunt, weeping Sunni woman said in her bare apartment.
If federal health officials are afraid of negotiating drug prices with Big Pharma, perhaps they should support a best price agreement. Just require that pharmeceutical companies offer government programs the best prices available to comparably large retailers. The idea that suppliers, including drug companies, must bow down to Wal-Mart's market demands but can insist on full costs for the American taxpayer is one of the reasons I dislike capitalism. The big retailers make their money in the difference between wholesale and retail. Public programs are denied the opportunity to use market power to negiotiate the same kind of lower costs.
Slate's David Greenberg makes an important observation about war in his analysis of the 2006 mid-term elections. Arguing against interpreting the results as simply a “six year itch” common to all two-term presidents, he discusses the particular factors influencing earlier mid-term elections where change was dramatic. Each election occurred in the context of significant events: recession, uncertainty, war. Greenberg’s conclusion about war is particularly worth noting.
Wars help presidents so long as the rally-round-the-flag effect holds up. The Iraq war did so for Bush in 2002 and even 2004 (though by then it was becoming uncertain whether the Iraq war was helping or hurting Bush). On the other hand, a conflict that has no clear end in sight vexes Americans of all political stripes, summoning up deep strains of both conservative isolationism and liberal anti-imperialism. As my Rutgers colleague Ross K. Baker, a congressional expert, wrote, last spring, "Combat fatigue is not a condition found only on the battlefield; it is also an affliction that has often been diagnosed in the voting booth." If there's a history lesson to be drawn from this year's election results, that one would be closest to the mark.