Saturday, September 30, 2006

Conservatism and the "National Will"

While I share Gingrich's concern over the inordinate power of the Supreme Court, I always cringe when I hear so-called conservatives suggesting a course of action that would better reflect the "national will." Conservatism as a philosophy never put much stock in public opinion; in fact there was a time when conservatives saw it as their duty to resist the shifting tides of public opinion as much as possible, recognizing it as a force of mischief in the world, and in democracies in particular. The U.S. Senate was originally conceived as an institution that would resist popular passions and debate issues solely on their merit, which is why senators were not originally elected directly by the people but chosen instead by their state legislatures. The Supreme Court, even moreso, was intended to be immune to the viscitudes of fickle popular opinion. I would expect Gingrich of all people to know this, since--despite his obnoxious personality--he has spoken intelligently in the past about our structure of government and its Founders' intent.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

First, the bad news from Iraq...

Has the war in Iraq made us safer from terrorism? Not according to our latest National Intelligence Estimate. Personally, I don't know how anyone could think it would, at least not any time soon. If the president is right that terrorists fear the spread of democracy in the Middle East and will do anything to oppose it, then it makes perfect sense that the threat of terrorism is higher today than it was on 9/11. As long we retain a huge military presence in the heart of the Middle East, we will be a target for every malcontent suicider (my favorite new word in the president's lexicon) in the region, and we will provide plenty of fodder for the mullahs of hatred to fire up new generations of disenchanted Arabs and Moslems against us. As for the argument that we can either fight them here on our shores or fight them in the Middle East, that's what they call a "false dilemma" in Logic 101, but I will have more to say about that in a future post. The good news from Iraq, however, is that Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders are finally making some concessions to the inevitable by submitting a bill to the Iraqi parliament that would allow for the creation of more autonomous regions.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Those Christian Conservatives Ain't Goin' Nowhere

Here's an old election-year saw: Christian conservatives, angry with the GOP, are threatening to bolt the party or stay at home. I'm surprised anyone still falls for that one. Let's face it, as long as a GOP candidate gets up and says he's against abortion and gay marriage--whether he means it or not, and whether he actually does anything about it or not--he'll get every Christian conservative vote in his district. Period. Their own beliefs to the contrary, Christian conservatives are just as easily manipulated as any constituency out there.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Apologizing for the Truth

I'm neither an apologist for the Catholic Church nor someone who takes pleasure in criticizing other people's faith, but I am a little tired of this feeling in the West that we have to be excessively cautious about offending Moslems when discussing Islam. We can criticize Christianity with impunity in the West, but for some reason Islam is off limits? Yes, we can all agree that the history of Christianity is far from admirable in some respects, and Moslem scholars are as eager to make that point as anyone. So again, why is Islam off limits? Maybe the world should stop indulging Islamic fundamentalists and put them on the defensive to explain why their faith has become so conducive to violence and terrorism. And while we're on that subject, why do no prominent Moslem leaders ever apologize for 9/11 or any of the other dozens of horrific acts committed by Moslems in the past few decades? At best, all we ever get is the usual nonsense about the Crusades and America's support of Israel. Despite the fact that there are many peaceful Moslems in the world, it seems like the collective mindset of Islam is such that it has no capacity whatsoever for self-criticism and correction, but instead needs others to blame for its problems.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Winning the War on Terrorism

Fallows makes some compelling points. Well worth the read.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Has the Pentagon become defeatist, too?

A rising tide of sectarian violence? Illegal militias becoming more entrenched? Conditions that could lead to civil war on the rise? What is this, the doom-and-gloom rhetoric of the Democratic Party? No, it's the Pentagon's latest report to Congress about the war in Iraq. Sure, opponents of the war must feel emboldened by the news, but that's irrelevant. It's important that supporters of the war at least accept the reality of what is, rather than cling to the same tired old fantasies; specifically, that any bad news from Iraq is an exaggeration or outright fabrication of the media's, or that democracy is on the verge of sweeping aside tyranny in the Middle East. To the administration's credit, they seem to be in agreement with the Pentagon's assessment, while still doggedly clinging to the fantasy that democracy is the cure to terrorism, civil war, and damn near everything else that ails the Arab world.