Showing posts with label the right. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the right. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Conservative Whining About Mitt Romney

The "true conservative" wing of the GOP is constantly whining about Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate, despite polls regularly showing that he has the best chance of anyone running to defeat President Obama. The latest is an article from Erick Erickson, with the ridiculous title of "Mitt Romney as the Nominee: Conservatism Dies and Barack Obama Wins." Obviously conservatism isn't going to die whether or not Obama wins. Here's Erickson,
Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. And his general election campaign will be an utter disaster for conservatives as he takes the GOP down with him and burns up what it means to be a conservative in the process.
So far Romney has appeared to be the most competent GOP candidate.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a man devoid of any principles other than getting himself elected. As much as the American public does not like Barack Obama, they loath a man so fueled with ambition that he will say or do anything to get himself elected. Mitt Romney is that man.
So is Obama, and his election disproves Erickson's assertion.
To beat Barack Obama, a candidate must paint a bold contrast with the Democrats on their policies. When Mitt Romney tries, Barack Obama will be able to show that just the other day Mitt Romney held exactly the opposite position as the one he holds today.

Voters may not like Barack Obama, but by the time Obama is done with Romney they will not trust Mitt Romney. And voters would rather the guy they don’t like than they guy they don’t trust.
This is another weak argument. There are plenty of issues on which voters don't necessarily want a "bold contrast" on policy positions, they just want to see competent leadership. I think Romney's flip-flopping on issues is much more important to the GOP conservative base that views him as a RINO, than it will be to the general public. The general public isn't looking for a true conservative. Erickson goes on to argue why Romney is so bad for conservatism at large, arguments which I find unconvincing at best.

For someone that is supposed to be a political expert, it is strange that Erickson -- like many other conservatives -- doesn't seem to grasp that almost all presidential elections are not about who is the greatest choice, but who is the lesser of two evils. We have a two party system with two huge parties that both embrace a wide variety of views. Their nominees almost never please every faction and viewpoint within the party on every issue. As Republicans, we vote GOP because overall we expect Republican policies to be better than Democratic ones, even if a particular candidate isn't much to our liking. Furthermore, we have to go with the candidates who are available, not some magical candidate that stands for everything we like. If there was a great conservative Republican candidate running who looked like a better bet to beat Obama than Mitt Romney, Erickson's article attacking Romney would make sense. Since there isn't, and since despite everything Erickson says, Romney appears to be the best bet of the current GOP candidates to win, attacking and trying to undermine him is stupid and counterproductive. Conservatives who whine about Mitt Romney and say they won't support him might as well go ahead and vote for Barack Obama, since they'll be doing so by default.
Some conservatives, of course, will not go all in for Romney. These conservatives will be blamed by major Republican and “conservative” mouth pieces for not doing enough to help Mitt Romney. They will be alienated, blamed, and made the scapegoat for the failures of the establishment GOP.
They'll be blamed because they'll deserve the blame for not supporting the GOP candidate. It will have nothing to do with the GOP establishment. That's a total cop-out. We have a nominating process. It's just too bad that the conservative base couldn't put forth a competent electable candidate. If Romney wins the nomination he's the GOP candidate -- period. If you are a Republican who won't support him, you deserve all the blame you get if Obama wins reelection.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Some Real Cuts in Government Might Look Like

I'm not a Ron Paul fan, but I do like his economic plan that calls for cutting 1 trillion in spending in one year, as well as slashing the size of government.
a 10% reduction in the federal work force, ... lower the corporate tax rate to 15% from 35% ... end taxes on personal savings and extend “all Bush tax cuts.” ... also allow U.S. firms to repatriate capital without additional taxes ... Mr. Paul would eliminate the Departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, Interior and Housing and Urban Development.
My list of federal departments to be eliminated is similar: Education, Energy and HUD. But I'd shut-down the Department of Homeland Security rather than Commerce and Interior. Unfortunately there is as much chance of these cuts taking place as there is of Ron Paul being elected. The only way something like this will ever happen is if it's forced by some sort of economic collapse.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Conor Friedersdorf Doesn't Know Much About Conservatives

Anyone who has read Conor Friedersdorf's columns at the Atlantic already knows that he's a regular critic of conservatives who doesn't actually know much about them. His latest column, called "The Heresies of Chris Christie," makes that abundantly clear. Regarding Christie's speech at the Reagan library, Friedersdorf writes,

he also made four key assertions that are now heretical within the Republican Party, and the significance of his speech is almost entirely wrapped up in those passages of politely stated dissent.
Unfortunately for his premise, none of those assertions are "heretical" to Republicans.

First, Friedersdorf thinks that political compromise is "anathema" to Republicans, "who regard compromise as tantamount to selling out principle." Republicans are not opposed to reasonable political compromise and never have been. The question is what is reasonable. If the compromise is in fact a selling out of principle, which some compromises are, then yes, many Republicans would oppose that, just as Democrats oppose selling out their principles.

Second, he makes a big deal out of Christie's comments on American Exceptionalism, apparently reading into them much more than was there, and creating a strawman regarding how conservatives might view them. Christie was primarily arguing from an economic perspective that U.S. exceptionalism requires us to lead by example. If our country is a fiscal mess, it ceases to be much of an example to the rest of the world. There are very few conservatives that would take issue with Christie on that point.

Third is more of the same. Christie argues that if America is a mess, and we can't fix our own problems, it lessens our influence. This is not even close to being "heretical" to conservatives, let alone Republicans in general.

And finally, Friedersdorf seizes on this passage,

"We certainly cannot force others to adopt our principles through coercion," he said. "Local realities count; we cannot have forced makeovers of other societies in our image. We need to limit ourselves overseas to what is in our national interest so that we can rebuild the foundations of American power here at home - foundations that need to be rebuilt in part so that we can sustain a leadership role in the world for decades to come."
Very few conservatives would disagree with those points, especially since they can be interpreted various ways, particularly with regard to limiting ourselves to what is in our national interest. There's certainly nothing there that would rise to the level of "heretical."

Friedersdorf has demonstrated on many occasions that he is a poor political analyst. In my opinion he's a pretentious, intellectual lightweight who has nothing more than a simplistic, caricatured view of conservatives and the GOP in general. There are actually plenty of things conservatives don't like about Chris Christie, such as his pro-gun control views, for example. It would be very easy to write an accurate article about why conservatives aren't thrilled with Chris Christie. Others have even done so.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Amazing Stupidity at the GOP Leadership Conference

The Washington Post reports.
A President Obama impersonator was pulled off the stage Saturday at the Republican Leadership Conference, after telling a string of racially themed jokes about the president. ... He proceeded to tell a series of off-color jokes poking fun at Obama’s biracial heritage and a gay member of Congress.
That's just great. Democrats already claim that the slightest Republican criticism of Obama is based on racism. Let's give them some ammunition. The moron who booked this guy should be fired immediately.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Out of Liberalism

Over at the Weekly Standard there is a very interesting piece on playwright, screenwriter, essayist and director David Mamet, called "Converting Mamet." It traces Mamet's journey from garden variety liberal to something much rarer, an outspoken conservative in the entertainment industry.
“I never questioned my tribal assumption that Capitalism was bad,” he writes now, “although I, simultaneously, never acted upon these feelings.” He was always happy to cash a royalty check and made sure to insist on a licensing fee. “I supported myself, as do all those not on the government dole, through the operation of the Free Market.” ... Mamet confessed that many of his previous political beliefs now struck him as reflexive and unthinking: The country that existed in his once-fevered liberal imagination—a dystopia crippled by crises that required the immediate deployment of the federal government—bore little resemblance to the country in which he actually lived, where people interacted smoothly in the marketplace to their mutual benefit. He had come to realize that corporations were good for providing the necessities of life. The “Big Bad Military” of his youthful fancy was, he discovered, an organization built on courage and honor.
The whole thing is well-worth reading.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama's Birth Certificate

President Obama released his long form birth certificate, apparently in response to the recent upsurge in birtherism, led by Donald Trump. As everyone not a conspiracy theorist already knew, it shows that he was born in Hawaii. This action by the president raises two main questions:

1. Why did the president wait until 2011 to make this form public? After all, birtherism started before the 2008 election. Birthers have been howling to see the long-form birth certificate for years. In my opinion he held it back for political reasons. The birther movement was a useful tool for painting political opponents as crazies. I'm not sure why that calculus changed, but it appears that Obama decided the issue was hurting now more than helping.

2. Will this convince the birthers? Will they stop thinking Obama was born in Kenya, Indonesia or wherever? Will they believe this birth certificate is real, or will there be a new conspiracy theory regarding it? Conspiracy theorists are normally oblivious to evidence and facts. Will the birth certificate release put a dent in the birther movement, or will it continue as strong as ever?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why Are There Republican Atheists?

This is the subject of a post at Atheist Revolution. I have to laugh that anyone would even need to ask that question, but since I happen to be a Republican atheist, I'll answer it. First, I should point out that that vjack, the blogger in question, largely answers the question himself in the post. The question was raised by someone who e-mailed him, not he himself. But in the post he does ask a more specific question:
What is it about the Republican Party that appeals to you so much that you are willing to disregard their stance on church-state separation and other concerns common to atheists?
That's easy. In the spectrum of issues I care about regarding U.S. policy, that one comes in way down the list. On most more important issues, the GOP is either far superior, or at least the lesser of two evils. Although the Democratic party may favor my position on certain issues, taken as a whole, my policy ideas are far more aligned with the Republican party than they are to the Democratic.

In my opinion the supposed danger of the religious right is hysterically overblown on the left. The U.S. as a whole has gotten more secular over the years, not less, and the Christian majority has been diluted. The Christian right is a nuisance, not a serious threat. I view their influence in the GOP as nothing more than an annoyance -- sometimes a major annoyance to be sure -- but nothing that would make me even consider joining the Democratic party, which I oppose in principle on almost every issue other than some social ones. Both parties have their obnoxious fringe elements among their bases. But I'll take the religious right any day over the hardcore anti-American left that infests the fringe of the Democratic base.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How Conservatives View Liberals

There's an interesting post by Enoch Root at POWIP called, "How Liberals Feel – or How Krauthammer Got It Wrong," that looks at how we on the right view liberals, and whether or not our viewpoint is correct. After referring to an article from 2002 that characterized liberals as stupid, Root notes that Krauthammer's position has evolved.
a few days ago, Mr. Krauthammer put forth a more nuanced (or if you prefer, definitive) position regarding the Great Chasm — and why compromise is impossible. I don’t have the quote in front of me… but if memory serves it went something like this: The fundamental difference is that Conservatives think Liberals are naive and emotional… while Liberals believe Conservatives are evil.
That formulation has been around for a long time, and in my opinion it is largely accurate. But Root thinks it gives liberals too much credit. Although he doesn't say so directly, it appears he thinks we should see liberals as evil -- much as they view conservatives, except that our views are correct. But first he makes some points I agree with about how liberals viewing conservatives as evil explains many things.
First, it explains why Liberals often come across as pompous and condescending.

It explains their absolute intolerance of diversity of thought.

It explains their violent reaction when they don’t get their way.

It explains their hostility toward any who dare to challenge their Worldview.

It explains their knee-jerk demagoguery and intransigence.

I guess that list is also without limit. But you get the point.

It also explains why they hold their many false assumptions with the fervor of religious belief, and react with outrage when those assumptions are challenged, as if you were an evil heretic. But here's where my opinions of liberals diverge from Root's.
When Conservatives say liberals are just naive, we are being too charitable. ... When conservatives say they are well-intentioned, we are in denial. They are not on the whole well-intentioned. Sure, there are many hippy-dippy, pot smoking liberals who believe in live and let live. But this is an unfortunate caricature. One that tends to make conservatives underestimate our foes. The most dangerous liberals are incredibly pragmatic. They are incredibly deliberate. They have objectives and formulate strategies to achieve them. ... My point is that when we call Liberals naive, we are being naive. When we say that perhaps “they love too much” we are throwing pearls before the swine. Think Machiavelli and you’ll be closer to the truth.

He goes on in this vein. In my opinion this is dangerously close to conspiracy-theory thinking, viewing liberals as evil-minded plotters determined to inflict their monstrous designs upon us. This is the type of thinking that leads people to argue that Obama wants to destroy the economy, or that Democrats want to keep the poor helpless and dependent on government only for political reasons. Are there people on the left who are purely cynical manipulators, interested in power and nothing else? Of course. But I don't think that's a reasonable characterization of the majority of liberals. The evidence indicates that most liberals really believe their ideas and policies are good, not just for gaining and holding power, but for human progress. I'll give one detailed example of liberal thinking based on a recent discussion on a liberal blog, and my reading of related material on other leftist sites.

Let's say you suggest that poor people are somehow responsible, even partially, for their own conditions, and mention practical things they might do to improve their situation. This goes over on the left much like arguing with a conservative evangelical Christian that good works make more sense than salvation by faith. You are blinded by your "privilege" and don't understand that poor people are helpless victims of an oppressive and broken system. Expecting them to do things to help themselves is just downright insensitive. There's a long list of excuses for why your suggestions, no matter how practical or obvious, just won't work. You can even point out factual errors in their assertions and assumptions, or their failure to reason logically. It doesn't matter. Like religious beliefs, their assumptions about the poor are part of the liberal creed. The same creed sees the poor as hard-working people struggling to get by and make ends meet. Good luck pointing out that many poor people have made horrible decisions in their lives, and that plenty waste too much of what little money they have on things like cigarettes, liquor, lottery tickets, and other luxuries they can ill afford. Like people of all social stratas, some poor people are in fact stupid, ignorant or lazy. All of this goes against the liberal creed that the poor are helpless victims who can only really be helped by government assistance -- and no matter how much government assistance there is already, it is never enough. But does the left's outright rejection of reality with regard to the poor mean that most liberals want to keep poor people in a state of poverty for political reasons? I don't think so.

In my opinion, most liberals who hold to the creed regarding the poor genuinely believe in their ideology. They really think that poor people are just victims of an unjust oppressive system, who can only be helped by massive assistance -- assistance which of course always involves more taxes and more government programs. They sbelieve that more handouts are the best way to help poor people. In other words, they truly see their ideas and policies as the way to help the poor. It isn't just cynical exploitation, although it might appear that way on the surface.

I do the occasional post where I highlight some left-wing blog post and call it "Laughing at the Left," because in my opinion, many left-wing views should be greeted with the derisive laughter that they deserve. I'm firmly in the camp that sees much of the left as naive fools, because the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that most should be regarded as fools, rather than as deliberately malevolent. There's nothing naive about regarding the left as naive. Obviously fools are often dangerous. But that doesn't mean we need to act like the left and assume evil motives on the part of our political opponents.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Right Wing News' "Ultimate Like/Dislike Poll" for People on the Right

I always find these sorts of polls interesting. Here's the description:
Right Wing News emailed more than 260 right-of-center bloggers and asked them to rate 55 prominent people and organizations on the Right as either strongly liked, liked, disliked, or strongly disliked.
I thought I'd answer the poll questions since I'm too minor of a blogger to be asked directly. It is difficult to answer like or dislike for some of these people. Although I'm extremely opinionated, I'd answer many of the questions with a shrug and say that person was "ok." But since that's not an option, I'll give it my best shot.

What do you think about Allah/Ed Morrissey (Hot Air)?
I like Hot Air a lot, so I'd go with strongly like.

What do you think about Michelle Bachmann?
Kind of split on her. There's things I like and things I don't. No answer.

What do you think about Glenn Beck?
Strongly dislike.

What do you think about John Boehner?
He's ok. I guess I'd have to say like.

What do you think about Andrew Breitbart?
Like.

What do you think about David Brooks?
Not a fan of Brooks. Dislike.

What do you think about Pat Buchanan?
Dislike.

What do you think about George W. Bush?
Another split for me. I dislike his performance as president, but like him as an individual. But since his performance as president was more important, I'll go with dislike.

What do you think about Dick Cheney?
Sometimes I dislike him and other times I like him. Overall like outweighs dislike.

What do you think about Chris Christie?
Like.

What do you think about Ann Coulter?
Dislike.

What do you think about Mitch Daniels?
Like.

What do you think about Jim DeMint?
Like.

What do you think about Erick Erickson?
Not a fan of Red State but don't really dislike it either. Don't know enough about Erickson himself. Can't answer this one.

What do you think about Pamela Geller?
Dislike, based on the contents of her blog, not her personally.

What do you think about Newt Gingrich?
Dislike

What do you think about David Frum?
Strongly like. Unlike many on the right, I think Frum is one of the best political analysts around -- even if I sometimes disagree with him.

What do you think about Sean Hannity?
Strongly dislike.

What do you think about Jim Hoft/Gateway Pundit?
Not a blog I follow. Don't know.

What do you think about Mike Huckabee?
Dislike

What do you think about The Koch Brothers?
Strongly like, from what little I know of them.

What do you think about Charles Krauthammer?
Strongly like

What do you think about Mark Levin?
Dislike. Levin is good at times, but I don't like his attitude and approach.

What do you think about David Limbaugh?
Like

What do you think about Rush Limbaugh?
Dislike

What do you think about GOProud?
Like

What do you think about Michelle Malkin?
She's does some good work. But I disagree with her on a number of issues and I'm not crazy about her overall approach. I'd have to say dislike outweighs like.

What do you think about Meghan McCain?
Dislike but don't really care.

What do you think about Mitch McConnell?
Dislike. Typical politician.

What do you think about Dick Morris?
Dislike.

What do you think about Christine O'Donnell?
Strongly dislike.

What do you think about Kathleen Parker?
Dislike

What do you think about Bill O'Reilly?
Dislike

What do you think about National Review?
Strongly like

What do you think about the NRA?
Strongly like

What do you think about Sarah Palin?

I like certain things about her, but overall I'd have to go with dislike because I don't think her presidential aspirations match her qualifications. As someone just generating support for GOP candidates and firing up the base I like her.

What do you think about Ron Paul?
Dislike

What do you think about Rand Paul?
Like better than Ron, but I'm not sure overall.

What do you think about Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit?
Like

What do you think about Dan Riehl?
Dislike. I've read his blog, and often agree with him. But the guy comes off as a jerk to me from what I've seen.

What do you think about John Roberts?
Strongly like

What do you think about Mitt Romney?
Like

What do you think about Karl Rove?
Like

What do you think about Marco Rubio?
Like

What do you think about Paul Ryan?
Like

What do you think about Michael Savage?
Strongly dislike

What do you think about Joe Scarborough?
Like

What do you think about Thomas Sowell?
Strongly like

What do you think about Fred Thompson?
Like

What do you think about Scott Walker?
Like from what I've seen so far.

What do you think about The Tea Party?
Like. I'm not a tea party type, but I think overall it benefits the GOP, so I'll put it in the like column.

What do you think about Allen West?
Like

What do you think about George Will?
Like

What do you think about WorldNetDaily?
Strongly dislike.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Best Article I've Seen on the Peter King Hearings

Since Congressman Peter King (R-NY) announced that he wanted to hold hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims he's come under constant attack from the usual suspects, who scream "Islamophobia" whenever anyone points to any connection between radical Islamic terrorism and Islam. The Daily Caller has an excellent article about the situation called, "Radical Islamists condemn hearings into radical Islamists."
Congressman King is holding hearings on the radicalization of young American Muslims. This is considered selective prosecution if one ignores the fact that the profile being looked at by Congressman King belong to the people actually fitting that very profile.
As the article notes, since radical Muslim terrorism tends to be committed by Muslims, any investigation into it is naturally going to have to focus on the Muslim community. This sort of basic logic escapes the various useful idiots screaming about Islamophobia. The vast majority of the time you hear anyone using the made-up term of Islamophobia it's in an attempt to silence legitimate criticism of Islam and the actions of various Muslims. The Daily Caller hits the nail on the head on multiple points. The whole thing is worth reading.

UPDATE

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post has another good column on this issue.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Women's Wrestling and Civilization

I have the American Thinker site linked on my blogroll. It has many good articles. But it also has some that spew irrational nonsense. Case and point is today's post, "Wrestling with Morality: Boys vs. Girls on the Mat," by Selwyn Duke. Duke is outraged about the rare examples of girls competing with boys in high school wrestling, to the point that he concludes with the following piece of insane hyperbole,
I would say that this portends the death of civilization, but that's not entirely accurate. In reality, it only happens when civilization has already died.
Duke is writing specifically about the case of Cassy Herkelma in Iowa, who competed on the boy's team in the 112 pound class. He praises one of her male opponents who refused to wrestle her and forfeited a chance to win the state tournament. There's just so much idiocy in Duke's article it's hard to know where to start. But let me first state where I agree with him. Boys and girls are different. These differences make it necessary in most cases to separate the sexes in sports, in the interests of fair competition. I have no problem with the decision of her opponent to withdraw rather than wrestle a girl. That's obviously going to be an uncomfortable situation for many boys to face. But then Duke goes off the rails.
few will unabashedly say what should be said: Having girls and boys grapple on mats in front of spectators is nothing short of social perversion.
It's an athletic competition. They aren't having sex on the mat. Duke thinks it's obvious that a such a wrestling match is "immoral," and an example of "impropriety." It's not enough that he thinks his personal standards for morality as it applies to this particular situation should be followed by all. When he says "social perversion" he means that women need to be kept in their proper place -- and that proper place is to be defined by he and his ilk. That's why he's so upset about this situation, and why he sees it as a sign of the collapse of civilization.
As for allowing girls and boys to wrestle, it's only a degraded society that has to even debate the issue. First, such contact is plainly immoral
What nonsense. There's is nothing "plainly immoral" at all about a wrestling match between a girl and a boy.
At the level of population, a prerequisite for men being gentlemen is that women are ladies.
And what he means by this is of course "ladies" based on his personal definition of what that means, and how girls should behave.
I won't shrink from saying that a girl who wants to engage in organized wrestling simply hasn't been raised correctly.
And I won't shrink from saying that making such a statement is completely idiotic. Women fighting or participating in mock forms of combat is not a new phenomenon. A minority of women are drawn to such pursuits, as a minority of men are interested in things than tend to be favored by women. The particular interests of this girl have nothing to do with "not being raised correctly," and the suggestion is both stupid and offensive. Duke knows nothing about her family situation and is allowing his own prejudices to substitute for reasoning ability.

The entire article is basically a gigantic rant about how women need to be locked into "traditional sex roles." Why? Because that's how Duke thinks things should be. What are the odds that religion has something to do with his attitude? And you have to laugh when he writes the following.

what happens if you dare talk about teaching girls to be ladies today? You're cast as a bearded mullah with an iron burka.

The reason you are compared to a mullah is because you are behaving like one. Duke's attitudes would be looked upon with favor throughout much of the Islamic world.

Naturally Duke left out some relevant points in his rant. Cassy Herkelma had this to say.

it would be a "lot more fun and more exciting" if girls could wrestle other girls in Iowa instead of having to face boys.
The reason Herkelma was wrestling on the boys team is because she's exceptional. It's not that she wants to wrestle boys, it's that she wants to compete in that sport and it simply isn't available to girls in that school. She and one other girl were the only ones to qualify for that tournament in 85 years. Even if it were the bad thing Duke thinks it is, it's hardly a common phenomenon. My suggestion to people like Duke is to try joining the modern world, and stop pretending that your retarded view of women is some sort of truth that's being perverted. If you can't handle it, convert to Islam and move to Saudi Arabia where your ideas on the "proper" place of women will find a great deal of support. Women's combat sports are here to stay. I'll end this article by giving a plug to Women's Mixed Martial Arts, a growing sport with many excellent competitors. And just to make the heads of Duke and his kind explode, here's a picture of Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate, who once wrestled on the boys team in high school.
image link

Monday, February 14, 2011

Extension of Patriot Act Provisions

The House voted tonight to temporarily extend three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. In my opinion, the GOP is a bit too eager to sign on with anything supposedly justified by national security. Here's a description of what they voted for, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.
The provisions in question give law enforcement access to troves of personal information, including business and library records, if a judge approves. They also permit roving wiretaps on terrorism suspects who change numbers, and allow surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects who appear unaffiliated with known groups such as al Qaeda.
I have no problem at all with the last provision. Foreign suspects are not and should not be entitled to the same rights of Americans. In their case we should err on the side of protecting the U.S. That aspect of the Patriot Act should be permanent. But the first two provisions are problematic to say the least.

The first power appears to give the government almost unlimited power to go on a fishing expedition to hook anyone suspected of terrorism, with the sole check of a judge's approval. The second is also way too vague for my liking. How hard is it to define someone as a terrorism suspect and therefore get approval for a roving wiretap? Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin)wants to make all three provisions permanent, and argues that,
We can't let our guard down," ..."These are needed measures to keep our nation safe."
Hopefully the Senate will take a hard look at the specifics of the first two provisions and try to determine if Sensenbrenner's assertion holds water.

I know the GOP is extremely pro-national security -- and that's a good thing -- but that doesn't mean it should support every single big government national security power without question. The Patriot Act, as I understand it, was meant as a series of temporary measures in the fight against Al Qaeda after 9/11. Giving the government permanent extensive surveillance powers over American citizens in the name of national security should raise many questions and not be done in haste.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Supporting the Egyptian Protestors is Bad U.S. Policy

As the situation in Egypt continues to evolve, there have been repeated calls for the U.S. to stand forthrightly on the side of the protestors. This position finds support on both the left and right. For example, here is Elliot Abrams, who served in foreign policy positions for both the Reagan and G.W. Bush administrations.

President Obama's words of support for both the demonstrators and the government late Friday, after speaking with Mubarak, were too little, too late. He said Mubarak had called for "a better democracy" in Egypt, but Obama's remarks did not clearly demand democracy or free elections there. We cannot deliver democracy to the Arab states, but we can make our principles and our policies clear. Now is the time to say that the peoples of the Middle East are not "beyond the reach of liberty" and that we will assist any peaceful effort to achieve it - and oppose and condemn efforts to suppress it.
Abrams also writes,
Such a statement would not elevate our ideals at the expense of our interests. It turns out, as those demonstrators are telling us, that supporting freedom is the best policy of all.
Unfortunately the first sentence isn't true, and the second is an assertion based on little evidence and much wishful thinking. Abrams, and others pushing for an anti-Mubarak stance ignore some important facts and possibilities.

1. All of the U.S. alliances and friendly relationships with Arab states are with non-democratic regimes -- with the exception of Iraq. We can't forthrightly support democracy without at least indirectly undermining our allies.

2. Loyalty and consistency matter in foreign relations. The Mubarak regime was good enough to ally with and supply with massive amounts of U.S. aid, but now suddenly democracy in Egypt is supposed to be our primary concern? What kind of message would we be sending to Saudi Arabia and other authoritarian allies if we suddenly turn on Mubarak? We only support you until the first time you have major popular protests. No doubt sending that message will do wonders for the strength of our relationships with Arab rulers.

3. Democracy in other countries can have negative consequences for the United States. Democracy isn't some sort of magical, unalloyed good that we should be pushing regardless of all other circumstances. Has greater democracy in Turkey been beneficial to U.S. - Turkish ties? When the population of a country is largely hostile in attitudes toward the U.S., as is Egypt, it makes little sense for America to be promoting democracy in that area.

4. The U.S. will get no credit from the protestors even if we come out strongly against Mubarak. The people of Egypt aren't suddenly going to forget how the U.S. propped up the Sadat and Mubarak regimes for decades, just because we withdrew our support at the last minute. Such a move will be seen as a transparent, cynical attempt to curry favor with whatever government replaces Mubarak.

5. U.S. withdrawal of support could lead to greater violence. If the U.S. pulls its support from Mubarak, it is possible that he might decide to crack down harder in a desperate attempt to retain power. He'll no longer have to worry about U.S. opinion if we turn on him, suspend his aid and ally with his enemies. We need to consider the unintended consequences of such a major shift in policy.

6. And finally, Mubarak could survive. It doesn't look good for him now, but it's possible he could weather the storm and retain power. We gain nothing by wrecking our relationship with him.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tim Pawlenty and Bryan Fischer

While skimming through the left-wing blogosphere, I came across a post at Right Wing Watch about an interview former Minnesota Governor and presumed GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty did on the radio show of Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. Pawlenty has been talked about as a potential presidential candidate since before the 2008 election. I still don't know that much about him, but the fact that he's doing interviews with Bryan Fischer automatically makes me take a more negative view of him.

Right Wing Watch may be a biased left-wing site, but if you look through its links on Bryan Fischer, you will see plenty of examples of his own words that illustrate just how much of an embarrassment he is to any rational person on the right. I recently wrote a post in response to his ludicrous and offensive assertion that the Medal of Honor has been "feminized." As someone who takes a realistic view of politics, I understand that would-be presidential candidates have to interact with some extreme elements of their party bases. But on a visceral level, the fact that Pawlenty appears on Fischer's show and grants him a measure of legitimacy makes me recoil. In my opinion, GOP candidates would be best served by keeping contacts with the likes of Bryan Fischer to a minimum.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kissinger Was Right

The release of Nixon era tapes involving comments by Henry Kissinger has unleashed a torrent of condemnation, including plenty from the right. I'm going to use this post at Right Wing News, which includes excerpts from Christopher Hitchens, as a prime example. Here's what Kissinger said, while discussing with Nixon an appeal from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir for the U.S. to pressure the Soviet Union to allow Soviet Jews to emigrate.
The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.
For this comment, made during a private foreign policy discussion with the president, Kissinger is being labeled a "despicable," "evil" anti-Semite. Hitchens thinks he should be shunned.
Henry Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized and excluded.
In my opinion, these attacks on Kissinger are ludicrous. Let's look at some excerpts from the linked post.
How can a Jew, who escaped from the Holocaust and had relatives who did not, knowingly turn his back on his fellow Jews who are being murdered in another country?
The U.S. Secretary of State's job should be to advance the foreign policy interests of the United States. It is not, and should not be his job to allow the plight of people of the same ethnicity and religion, no matter how sympathetic, to trump his focus on American interests.
What could be more evil than an elitist, Americanized Jew who sits fat and satisfied in safety and in a position of power where he could help, who would not move heaven and earth to get Jews to safety?
There's nothing at all evil about it. That wasn't his job, and it isn't the job of the U.S. to help everyone in the world who needs helping. By expressing his opinions on the foreign policy interests of the United States, he was giving exactly the type of advice a U.S. president needs to hear more of.
This is an endorsement of a second “Holocaust,” which thankfully did not take place. Kissinger fancies himself to be practicing “Realpolitik.” He is nothing but a preening opportunist.
It was obviously not an "endorsement" of anything. Kissinger wasn't advocating Soviet atrocities against Jews, he was merely pointing out -- correctly -- that doing anything about such a hypothetical event was not in the U.S. interest. The U.S. wasn't going to war with the nuclear-armed Soviet Union on behalf of Soviet Jews.
I agree with Christopher Hitchens about Kissinger’s rightful place in history and society given this final revelation of anti-Semitism. There must be consequences in history. Henry Kissinger should be made persona non grata everywhere.
There was nothing at all anti-Semitic about Kissinger's comments. And Hitchens has allowed his hatred of Nixon and Kissinger to color his usually more rational analysis. Saying that Kissinger is an anti-Semite because he didn't think intervening to help Soviet Jewry was in the U.S. interest is flat-out idiotic.

The reaction to the Kissinger tape illustrates that many people are clueless about how foreign policy is conducted, what realism means, and that the interests of a state are often different from personal interests. Having leaders who put aside their personal attachments such as ethnic or religious solidarity, and coldly and rationally calculate policy on the basis of U.S. national interests is a good thing. We have far too few such leaders directing our foreign policy. There is also a strong element of hypocrisy present in this criticism. What if President Obama advocated a policy of massive help for Africans because he has African ancestry and relatives living there? Many places in Africa are in desperate need greater than that of Soviet Jewry. Would the same people condemning Kissinger for putting the interests of the U.S. above sympathy for Soviet Jews applaud Obama for doing everything possible to help suffering Africans? Somehow I doubt it. The foreign policy of the United States should be directed at advancing U.S. interests. Although I don't agree with all of his decisions and opinions, Kissinger understood that. He's being condemned by fools who in large part don't even understand why their outrage makes them look foolish.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Popular Pundits with Republican Activists

A site called Conservative Home did a survey that got some attention. They asked 1,152 Republican activists to "name their top three commentators," and then released the results as a top ten list. Here's the breakdown of the top ten: 

Rush Limbaugh: 41%
Glenn Beck: 33%
Charles Krauthammer: 29%
Bill O'Reilly: 24%
Sean Hannity: 21%
Newt Gingrich: 16%
Michelle Malkin: 16%
Mike Huckabee: 13%
Ann Coulter: 13%
George Will: 13%

When I saw this list I immediately thought that this is another example of how out of step I am with the Republican base. Krauthammer is a pretty solid opinion journalist and he's the only one on that list I might even think about naming. I also wonder about the question itself. Although I don't watch political tv shows anymore, I'm probably in at least the top 1% of the population in terms of reading a massive amount of political coverage. But I'd be hard-pressed to name my three favorite commentators. I wonder if these results were skewed by people just coming up with the most visible names

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Censoring Art that Offends Religious Sensibilities

GOP Congressional leaders successfully forced the the removal of a controversial video that was part of an art exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait gallery. Why? Here's Representative and soon to be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va), who called it,
an "outrageous use of taxpayer money and an obvious attempt to offend Christians during the Christmas season."
The art in question showed"Jesus on a crucifix covered in ants." Let's imagine that the gallery hosted some art that Muslims found offensive, such as any image of Mohammed. Would the same GOP congressmen be up in arms about that? I doubt it. (Although instead there would be Democrats trying to censor it.) From what I saw in the article, I personally think the art in question is a pile of garbage. But art is highly subjective. I also oppose federal funding for the arts. But once you do provide federal funding, it's crazy to censor displays because of the tender sensibilities of religious people. That should apply to any religious group, including the Christian majority.

And is this really an issue that needs to be of concern to our congressional leaders? Don't they have anything better to do than work to prevent Christians from being offended by some exhibit in a museum? Instead of threatening to cut funding because they don't like an art display, they should cut funding because it's unnecessary and something we can do without in this budgetary environment. Here's an idea. How about if Christians don't like the art they just don't patronize the museum during that exhibit? Why do they need government involvement?

Religious people do not have a right not to be offended. And they don't need big government intervention to protect their feelings. The same GOP congressmen who will rail about big government and nanny-statism on other issues, have no problem telling an art museum what art it can display. You don't think the museum is worthy of funding because of the quality of its art exhibits? Fine. Kill the funding. But micro-managing art displays from Capitol Hill is just ridiculous, and goes directly against the principles of small government the Republican party stands for.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Something that Isn't Going to Happen

Here's John Podhoretz at Commentary with a good but rhetorical question,
Christine O’Donnell loses in Delaware. Will the conservative blogo- and Twittersphere apologize to Karl Rove and others who rightly said Christine O’Donnell was a preposterous candidate without a chance of getting elected?
Don't hold your breath. "True conservative" types don't apologize. They think we're better off with another liberal Democratic senator instead of a moderate Republican who would support the GOP at least half the time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Strange Argument About Teaching Evolution

Over at Secular Outpost there is an article by Taner Edis called, "Evolution as a liberal cultural weapon." Since that title looks like something you might find on a creationist site, or a hardcore religious conservative one, it got my attention. If you have time, read the article before you read the rest of this post, and see if you can spot the glaring absence of one basic argument that should be made by anyone supporting the teaching of evolution.

Edis is essentially arguing that he supports the teaching of evolution because it's good propaganda for liberals. Seriously. He starts out by debunking common arguments made in favor of teaching evolution, such as the need to maintain economic competitiveness. And he makes some reasonable points. But the rest of the article is off the rails. Here are some prime examples.
the people who deplore creationism need not have any professional involvement in science or education. They need not even be all that skeptical about supernatural beings. They just have to be, broadly speaking, liberal in their outlook.
Really? You have to have a politically liberal outlook to deplore creationism? This is complete nonsense. There are plenty of people on the right, such as myself, who have nothing but disdain for creationist pseudo-science.
The deeper reasons we liberals support evolution are, I think, specific to liberal cultural ideals. Most immediately, we want evolution in the classroom for purposes of the culture wars.
This is possibly one of the worst arguments I've ever seen for supporting evolution in the classroom, and one that actually gives ammunition to creationists. Evolution is just about advancing a liberal agenda. Yeah, that's a great message to put out there.

The main reason to support evolution in the classroom is the same for anyone who cares about teaching science in science classes. It's the same reason we support teaching chemistry and not alchemy, and astronomy not astrology. We support teaching evolution because we want science taught in the science classroom, not pseudo-science based on religious beliefs. I cringe anytime some religious ignoramus on my side of the political spectrum, with a ludicrous caricatured view of evolution attacks it, or advocates teaching creationism. It makes conservatives look like idiots, and causes people such as Taner Edis to actually believe that you have to be a liberal to care about teaching science.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Christine O’Donnell's Win

Christine O’Donnell's upset win in the Delaware GOP primary has been the talk of the blogosphere, with the storyline involving a split between the Republican party establishment and the conservative base. I've seen quite a bit of nonsense from both the pro & anti-O'Donnell camps. Let's start with the antis. 

O'Donnell supporters have been bashed for hurting the GOP's chances of taking the Senate. But why should conservatives -- and the GOP base that votes in primaries is overwhelmingly conservative -- vote for Mike Castle? I'm not usually in the habit of calling people RINO's, but Mike Castle is a RINO's RINO.  There are really only two reasons for conservatives to vote for a candidate like Castle: 1) as a lesser evil, and 2) purely as an attempt to secure a Republican majority in the Senate. I myself am a lesser of two evils voter, and also someone who sees politics very cynically, so I'd probably have voted Castle. But there are very good arguments against those positions, which seem to go unrecognized. A Republican who aligns with Democrats can be worse than just having a Democrat. It gives Democrats cover to claim bipartisanship when he joins their legislation, and he provides talking points with which to bash other Republicans as being extreme. It does no good to retake the Senate if it is done with Republicans who basically support lighter versions of Democratic initiatives, and who will help President Obama pass legislation. 

Then there is the argument that Christine O’Donnell can't win. This is ridiculous and premature. With Republicans energized, the Tea Party movement, an unpopular Democratic president and Democrats depressed, anything can happen in November. Has there ever been a better time to put up hard-line ideological conservative candidates? Not in quite some time. As we are already seeing, O’Donnell has national support. Donations are coming in from all over.

On the other hand, the "true conservative" types who support O'Donnell are spouting nonsense as well. Anyone who reasonably supported Castle in order to take the Senate is denounced as aligned with an out-of-touch "ruling elite" party establishment. The same goes for anyone that dares point out that Christine O’Donnell appears to be kind of a nut, with serious personal issues that make her a flawed candidate. Just because Mike Castle is a liberal Republican, it doesn't follow that conservatives have to support a lousy candidate purely because she's running against him. The ideological purists are also prone to ignore the real advantages that come with control of the Senate, focusing only on the potential that liberal Republicans might assist Democrats. Apparently they've forgotten that even Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins held firm and voted against Obamacare. There's definitely a risk in sending a liberal Republican to the Senate, but we've already seen the results of Democratic control. Personally I'd take my chances with someone like Castle over an even worse Democrat senator, and Democratic control.

Finally, given that the voters have decided, all Republicans should support the GOP candidate for better or worse. If you can't do that, you are basically an independent pretending to be a Republican, much like Colin Powell. Don't be a Colin Powell. That means you, Castle.