Saturday, February 03, 2007

2008 and Iran

In his most recent NYT column last Thursday, David Brooks said this:

Today, Americans are disillusioned with the war in Iraq, and many around the world predict that an exhausted America will turn inward again. Some see a nation in permanent decline and an end to American hegemony. At Davos, some Europeans apparently envisioned a post-American world.

Forget about it. Americans are having a debate about how to proceed in Iraq, but we are not having a strategic debate about retracting American power and influence...

As Robert Kagan writes in his masterful book “Dangerous Nation,” America has never really been an isolationist or aloof nation. The United States has always exercised as much power as it could. It has always coupled that power with efforts to spread freedom. And Americans have always fought over how best to fulfill their mission as the vanguard of progress...

What’s happening today is just another chapter in that long expansionist story...

When you look further into the future, you see that the next president’s big efforts will not be about retrenchment, but about expansion. They’ll be about expanding the U.S. military, expanding the diplomatic corps, asking for more shared sacrifice, creating new interagency bureaus that will give America more nation-building capacity.

While you might have spit up your orange juice after reading "asking for more shared sacrifice", and while you might disagree with Brooks' reading of history, and while you might not share Brooks' reading of the American mind, he does point out something that, as Glenn Greenwald notes, is both "true and important" --

Look at the leaders emerging amid this crisis. The two major Republican presidential contenders are John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, the most aggressive internationalists in a party that used to have an isolationist wing.

The Democrats, meanwhile, campaigned for Congress in 2006 by promising to increase the size of the military. The presidential front-runner, Hillary Clinton, is the leader of the party’s hawkish wing and recently called for a surge of U.S. troops into Afghanistan. John Edwards, the most “leftward” major presidential contender, just delivered a bare-knuckled speech in which he castigated the Bush administration for not being tough enough with Iran. “To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep all options on the table,” Edwards warned.

Meanwhile Greenwald's been reading the NYCity tabloids which reported and discussed a recent suck-up fest to the American Israeli Political Action Committee attended by Hilary! and John Edwards. And apparently, Hilary!'s idea of engaging in diplomacy with Iran before dropping the bombs didn't go over well.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton drew grumbles at a pro-Israel dinner in Times Square last night when she encouraged "engaging" with Iran before taking stronger action to keep it nuke-free. . .

Clinton's remarks at the Marriott Marquis were met with little applause, and after she left the stage, several people said they were put off by the presidential candidate. "This is the wrong crowd to do that with," said one person at the dinner, noting the pro-Israel crowd wanted to hear tougher rhetoric...

Heather Robinson, who attended the AIPAC event [sic] is angry over Hillary's suggestion that war with Iran may not be necessary: "But while Hillary’s rhetoric of 'engagement' may sound good, the community of anti-terror activists and Israel-supporters must realize that, at the most basic level, engaging with people who wish your destruction–and are actively working to achieve it–means strengthening a pernicious enemy."


Of course the whole whoring after campaign dollars from the self-described "ATM for American politicians" that is NYC's Jewish and particularly AIPAC community is in inverse proportion to the views of large majorities of American Jews.

So, we're left with the most troubling of all questions in American politics today: how is it that Big Money continues to exercise a role disproportionate to its popular support?

If three-quarters of the Jewish community voted for John Kerry, and if there is money to be had from other donors, both small and large, one wonders why presidential candidates, especially Democratic ones that are supposed to care about public opinion, continue to prostitute themselves in front of audiences and on behalf of causes that are both demonstratably foolhardy as well as unpopular (or at least unsought by the American public)?

Meanwhile, although I hate to speak ill of other liberal bloggers, two popular netroots folks of our persuasion have joined the John Edwards campaign. Here is what Shakespeare's Sister, one of said netrooters, had to say about that:

As for The Big Question: Why Edwards? A lot of reasons, none of which I've been too shy about sharing as my personal support for him has increased over the last months, although you can read more in my first Edwards blog post here. I will, however, mention the three little words that ultimately got me: "I was wrong." That's how John Edwards started his Nov. 13 op-ed in the Washington Post, referring to his Iraq war vote. "I was wrong," he said, and more than that: "I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake—the men and women of our armed forces and their families—have performed heroically and paid a dear price. … [A] key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong—and showing that we have the creativity and guts to make it right." I don't need a president who never makes mistakes; those don't even exist. I need a president who's willing to admit them. Those have been in short order as of late, you may have noticed.

Quite some time ago, a staffer for another then-potential presidential candidate called me to pick my brain about what it would take to get my support. One of the things about which I was most adamant was that the candidate had to say, quite plainly, that s/he was wrong on Iraq. The staffer ran a couple of options by me: "What if s/he said this? What if s/he said that?" I said what I wanted to hear was "I was wrong."

John Edwards gave me what I wanted. And I believe he offers America what it needs.

So Shakes, as she is affectionately called, heard the magic words about one war and felt good enough to sign on. But what about Iran? And what about the broader question of, as David Brooks referred to it, the "strategic debate about [sic] American power and influence"?

Well, Shakes has responded, sort of --

Earlier today, Ezra interviewed him, with an evident objective of getting some clarification on that speech—and enough people had specifically referenced it here that I thought the follow-up warranted posting here, too, particularly since, as Ezra notes, "His position here is more thoughtful and nuanced than his comments at the Herzliya conference revealed." [emphasis mine--Bulworth]

Anyway, Hilary! and Edwards have already sucked up to the war lobby's next ingenius idea and as Glenn Greenwald sadly documents, one other potential contender, Wes Clark, has already been taken to the woodshed for his attempt to address the issue honestly and competently and has returned very much the worse for wear after his penance.

So as Greenwald asks, what's left for us, and what Democratic candidates, if any, are going to rebuff the siren's call of war with Iran, given all that's transpired and continues to transpire in Iraq?

Well, TPM tells us that James Fallows says forget challenging the surge in Congress and concentrate on denying the Administration any wiggle room for warring on Iran.

It would be nice if our presidential candidates would, after they've fallen all over themselves repenting of their Iraq-war vote, which is now a politically safe call to make, and demonstrate they've actually learned something over the past four years by calling bullshit ahead of time in the already emerging propaganda designed to lure us into bombing another Muslim country that hasn't attacked us or anyone else yet, and which is not a "clear and present danger" to the United States or our allies.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tom Menino, Ed Markey, and Fox "News": Just Shut Up

We have another winner(s).

I'm still trying to get my head around what all the fuss was about in Boston over the "signs".

So these "suspicious packages" were actually "magnetic lights" placed in ten different cities on behalf of a cartoon company? (h/t Steve Gilliard)

And Edward Markey (among others) is being a dope.

...Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey placed the blame on Adult Swim. "Scaring an entire region, tying up the T and major roadways, and forcing first responders to spend 12 hours chasing down trinkets instead of terrorists is marketing run amok," Markey, a Democrat, said in a written statement. "It would be hard to dream up a more appalling publicity stunt." The problem with this is that it was the paranoia of the police department that created the crisis, not Aqua Teen's creators down at Williams Street in Atlanta.

Ed Markey, you are a suck-up to the "we have everything to fear including fear itself" crowd.

And once again, perhaps spurring on and spurred on by the budding, if rapidly extinguished "crisis" the freepers went wild.

As Pollack says,

1. Attorney General Martha Coakley needs to shut up and stop using the word "hoax." There was no hoax. Hoax implies Turner Networks and the ATHF people were trying to defraud or confuse people as to what they were doing. Hoax implies they were trying to make their signs look like bombs. They weren't. They made Lite-Brite signs of a cartoon character giving the finger.

2. It bears repeating again that Turner, and especially Berdovsky, did absolutely nothing illegal. The devices were not bombs. They did not look like bombs. They were all placed in public spaces and caused no obstruction to traffic or commerce. At most, Berdovsky is guilty of littering or illegal flyering.

3. The "devices" were placed in ten cities, and have been there for over two weeks. No other city managed to freak out and commit an entire platoon of police officers to scaring their own city claiming they might be bombs. No other mayor agreed to talk to Fox News with any statement beyond "no comment" when spending the day asking if this was a "terrorist dry run."

4. There is nothing, not a single thing, remotely suggesting that Turner or the guerilla marketing firm they hired intended to cause a public disturbance. Many have claimed the signs were "like saying 'fire' in a crowded theater." Wrong. This was like taping a picture of a fire to the wall of a theater and someone freaked out and called the fire department.

So, please, Tom Menino, Ed Markey, Shepherd Smith, Just Shut Up.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Conservativism Wasn't Rejected; It Was Betrayed"

Maybe by now you've heard how Jeb! brought a recent GOP gathering cheering to its feet by declaring--

"Don't take offense personally if I get mad at Congress," the Republican former Florida governor began. "It's important for us to realize we lost, and there are significant reasons that happened, but it isn't because conservatives were rejected. But it's because we rejected the conservative philosophy in this country."

He added, “If the promise of pork and more programs is the way Republicans think they’ll regain the majority, then they’ve got a problem.”

Bush's speech prompted three standing ovations from the audience of hundreds at the National Review Institute's conference at the JW Marriott Hotel, reflecting the widespread concern among conservatives that exorbitant government spending led to the loss of majorities in the House and Senate and concern about whether Republicans would again embrace the traditional principles.

If so, you might want to read Glenn Greenwald's response to this claim, as well as to the claim recently put forward by Andrew Sullivan amounting more or less to the same.

When he was popular, George Bush was the Embodiment of Conservatism. Now that he is rejected on a historic scale, he is the Betrayer of Conservatism. That is because "Conservatism" -- while definable on a theoretical plane -- has come to have no practical meaning in this country other than a quest for ever-expanding government power for its own sake. When George Bush enabled those ends, he was The Great Conservative. Now that he impedes them, he is the Judas of the Conservative Movement. It is just that simple and transparent.


All of the attributes which have made the Bush presidency so disastrous are not in conflict with political conservatism as it exists in reality. Those attributes -- vast expansions of federal power to implement moralistic agendas and to perpetuate political power, along with authoritarian faith in the Leader -- are not violations of "conservative principles." Those have become the defining attributes of the Conservative Movement in this country.

That is why the warnings from Sullivan and others that the Republican Party was acting in violation of "conservative principles" fell on deaf ears and even prompted such hostility -- until, that is, Bush's popularity collapsed. "Conservative principles" are marketing props used by the Conservative Movement to achieve political power, not actual beliefs. Sullivan's principal argument that the Bush presidency never adhered to conservative principles is true enough, but the same can be said of the entire American conservative political movement. That is why they bred and elevated George Bush for six years, and suddenly "realized" that he was "not a conservative" only once political expediency required it.

But now, from the files of "when you're at the bottom of a hole, stop digging" comes this set of "principles" from the geniuses at (h/t LG&M):

In an age when so much of what is called conservatism seems to consist of a tenacious defense of the structures of thought which have ushered in our decline — when, in short, conservatives make their boldest efforts to conserve the Liberalism that paralyzes us — there is just cause in adopting the label “reactionary.”


Below is A Reactionary’s Shorter Catechism, hammered out by myself and long-time Redstate reader Maximos, with input from many others. It is offered in the spirit of More’s further remarks: “If any young man, feeling now within himself the power of accomplishment, hesitates to be called a reactionary . . . let him take courage. The world is not contradicted with impunity, and he who sets himself against the world’s belief will have need of all a man’s endurance and all a man’s strength.” Herewith, we contradict the world:


¶ A healthy polity will have a majority population and culture; contemporary orthodoxy on diversity tends towards anarchy and strife.

¶ The right of a community to maintain its identity, autonomy, and independence is among the first principles of a free polity.[...]

¶ Tradition and custom need not constantly explain or justify themselves as practice or policy. The presumption is in their favor. To drag them before the bar of a rigid rationalism is profound impiety.

¶ Men, and societies of men, are ultimately more apt to maintain loyalties among those who are like them. This is natural and not to be either deplored or extirpated, but rather disciplined by civic virtue.[...]

¶ Indiscriminate blending of cultures is thus undesirable, and more often than not an at least implicit act of aggression against the existing majority culture.[...]

¶ Voting is not a right but a privilege. Its abuse is rampant, and to contain it is a valid object of public policy. More damaging to a republic than corrupt politicians are corrupt voters.[...]

¶ The American traditions of federalism, states’ rights, and localism deserve the deepest respect and cultivation: for in them is the truest protection of liberty.

The folks at RedState miss the good-ole-days of Segregation.

More of this please. Maybe Sean Hannity will include this in his latest cable teevee act.

Harris Reponds to Sullivan

Click here.