Showing posts from October, 2006

I, Liberal

David Greenberg on being a liberal, as opposed to being a conservative: I think there's another reason for this budding re-embrace of liberal: the fight against Islamist jihadism. Whatever our views of Bush's policies, liberals and conservatives agree that what divides the West from the terrorists is our commitment to liberal values--liberal in the broad sense of the term that denotes the Enlightenment traditions of freedom, equality, and human rights. Search for the term liberal on sites like that of the Progressive Policy Institute and you'll rarely find it used in distinction to Bush-style conservatism--but often invoked in distinction to al-Qaeda-style fundamentalism. Even the Bushies use "liberal values," if only rhetorically, to describe their project of democratizing the Middle East. In this context of international conflict, liberal suddenly drops its associations with Volvos and lattes and starts to evoke more noble images of education, voting, free speec

Darwin and eugenics

At RedState, Leon has a lengthy post about eugenics, a topic on which he and I are in large agreement upon. However, he introduces the topic by quoting Charles Darwin, and in so doing leaves out critical context. The complete context is as follows (courtesy of Darwin Online ): Natural Selection as affecting Civilised Nations . In the last and present chapters I have considered the advancement of man from a former semi-human condition to his present state as a barbarian. But some remarks on the agency of natural selection on civilised nations may be here worth adding. This subject has been ably discussed by Mr. W. R. Greg, and previously by Mr. Wallace and Mr. Galton. Most of my remarks are taken from these three authors. With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and th

Don't Be A Foregone Conclusion

Cross-posted from Good Will Hinton : In the wake of David Kuo's story about the White House paying lip service to conservative evangelical Christians, I have given a lot of thought to how political parties treat their various constituent groups. It is painfully obvious that the Republican party treats conservative Christians as a foregone conclusion. And they are one of many groups like this. Isn't the Religious Left headed by Jim Wallis and his Sojournors organization a similar foregone conclusion for the Democrat party? Does anyone honestly believe that this group would ever vote Republican? One constituent group in America really knows about this. The black community in America has long been taken for granted by the Democrats. But they are finally starting to turn the tables. Not only are many blacks across the country running for office as Republicans, but many black voters are now voting Republican for the first time. The point isn't that some blacks are now voting Rep

Withdrawal vs stay the course: false choices

Increasingly, it seems that outright withdrawal from Iraq is just as flawed a panacea as "stay the course" in terms of winning the war on Terror, which is the real ball our foreign plicy with respectt to Iraq should be keeping an eye on. To that effect I just added a pile of links to the @NB feed on the right sidebar that have basically summarized the current state of afffairs: civil war between Shi'a and Sunnis, Internecine power struggles between Shi'a, and unification of Sunni insurgents, tribal leaders, and even ex-Ba'ath against Al-Qaeda. Throw in the likelihood that the Baker Hamilton commission will probably recommend a "soft" partition of Iraq (which will suit the Shi'a and the Kurds just fine), and it seems that our options of where to go from here need to be subtle indeed. In fact just such a subtle proposal was just floated by Greg D in which he proposes an Iraqi Dayton Accords ; the nuance of his proposal is such that it is almost guaran

in praise of Dick Armey

Another Armey’s Axiom says that if it is about power, you lose. And unfortunately when it comes to James Dobson, my personal experience has been that the man is most interested in political power. As Majority Leader, I remember vividly a meeting with the House leadership where Dobson scolded us for having failed to “deliver” for Christian conservatives, that we owed our majority to him, and that he had the power to take our jobs back. This offended me, and I told him so. In a later meeting Dobson and a colleague came into my office to lobby against a trade bill, asking me to stop the legislation from going to the House floor. They were wrong on the issue, and I told them no. Would you at least postpone the vote, they asked? We have a direct mail fundraising letter about to go out to our membership, they said. I wondered then if their opposition to the bill was driven less by their moral compass and more by the need to rile their membership and increase revenue. I wondered then, if thes

Linker v. Douthat: A Debate Over the "Liberal Bargain" and Theocons

Let me direct your attention to an outstanding discussion taking place at The New Republic Online between Damon Linker, author of The Theocons: Secular American Under Siege and former editor of First Things , and Ross Douthat, an associate editor of the Atlantic Monthly and author of Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class . In this discussion, Douthat and Linker pretty quickly get down to a large root of their disagreement, the "liberal bargain". Linker describes the "liberal bargain" thusly: Like every other citizen, you must be willing to accept what I call "the liberal bargain." In my book, I describe this bargain as the act of believers giving up their "ambition to political rule in the name of their faith" in exchange for the freedom to worship God however they wish, without state interference. What does this mean, in practical terms? It means that your belief in what the Roman Catholic Church believes and teaches is irr

NUK nuke skepticism

my feeling is that the nuke tested by NK was a fake, or at best a dud. Thats not wishful thinking; I am getting it from here and here . Keep in mind that NK's entire strategy has been to rattle the cage and scream. Then the various powers that be give it a bribe to shut up for a time. They need to continually up the ante to maintain this strategy - so the suggestion that they have a weapon is more important and valuable to them than the actual weapon (sort of teh inverse of the Israeli position of actually being in possession but never acknowledging it officially). NK is a pile of independent mini fiefdoms run by local power apparatchiks. As James Fallows writes in a must-read piece , NK is likely following the standard Seven Stages of Collapse: Phase One: resource depletion; Phase Two: the failure to maintain infrastructure around the country because of resource depletion; Phase Three: the rise of independent fiefs informally controlled by local party apparatchiks or warlords, a

grow the force, II

RedState's military roundtable looks at Kerry's election promise of doubling the number of special operations forces (SOF) and goes into detail on why such men can't be mass-produced. The recruitment issue boils down to two numbers: 1. How many young men in the general military population are physically and mentally capable of SOF? 2. What percentage of those men become SOF? It is a fairly obvious statement that the answer to #2 is nowhere close to 100% (more likely, < 1%). However as the essay above makes clear, that percentage is likely impossible to raise. So the best route to increasing the pool of SOF is to address #1. Namely, if the answer to #1 is N, and the answer to #2 is p, then the total number of SOF = Np. Since p is effectively fixed, N is the only variable left to adjust. I think that we have to adopt a "trickle down" approach. Financial incentives therefore would serve to increase N - and broaden the pool of those men who might at some point be

Can We Trust Politicians?

Last week I attended a speaker series at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta at which Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. As this speech was given at a university, Governor Perdue took the opportunity to give more of a motivational talk about the importance of trust. He spoke much about the importance of trust in politicans and how trust begins with those around you and then ripples outward into other relationships. I can't help but think about this speech as a brewing controversy develops over state legislation that passed this past session that saved Governor Perdue $100,000 in taxes. As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution: [Rep. Larry] O'Neal, a Republican from Warner Robins, spent about two minutes that night — March 29, 2005 — discussing House Bill 488, a lengthy, 28-section measure. The bill, among other things, was designed to allow Georgians to delay paying state taxes on land they sell in Georgia if they buy similar property in another state. He mentioned a last-minu

Tariq Ramadan and the false godesses of muslim moderation

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. ( Federalist Papers #51 ) Mary Madigan posed some interesting questions a couple of days ago, and then followed up with some answers , assessing whom the US Government considers an ally and who it considers an enemy in the war on terror. In my opinion, her answers betray a profound and dangerous naievete. This naievete is most evident in her unthinking acceptance of the government's arguments regarding Tariq Ramadan. She notes that he was recently denied a visa to enter the US (for an invited profesorship at the University of Notre Dame), for allegedly providing "material support" to a "terrorist organization". In actual fact, Tariq Ramadan has never provided material support to a terrorist organization. Rather, he himself

Reaction is Osama bin Laden's sword

We need someone to remind us who we are . The Bush administration keeps telling us we’re safer than we were five years ago. I don’t feel safer. There’s this huge sword swinging around. Our leadership, with all its display, is acting just like the terrorist wants us to act, then suggests we are dead wrong if we disagree. It makes all of us out to be acting just like the terrorist wants us to act. But we’re not that way. I watched the buildings burning on Sept. 11, and at some point got on email and messaged everybody I knew that we should think what the terrorists would want us to do, and then do the opposite thing. Nobody objected, or disagreed. So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know how to fight a terrorist. We just all need to be brought together in this quiet, firm, fight, and quickly. Michael Grant , in a brilliant essay that simply must be read in full .

What next was he supposed to do?

I have been astounded and deeply disappointed to see the tack that RedState has taken in terms of spinning the Foley-page sex scandal. The worst offender is Erick, who seems to have become a sort of Majority Whip for his fellow Editors. First he tried to blame the media . Then he tried to blame the victims . Now he's trying to blame the Democrats . Weren't Republicans once the "Daddy party" of personal responsibility? Apparently no longer, now they are one-trick ponies interested solely in power for its own sake. Let us be clear. It doesn't matter even the slightest if the House GOP leadership knew of the sexually explicit IM messages prior to this past weekend. The truth is that they knew that there were questions about Representative Foley's behavior as far back as 2001 , and chose to do nothing rather than investigate. In essence : Here’s how one senior Democratic aide summed up the Foley situation this morning for The Note: “The R’s desperately want this