Monday, September 29, 2008

The Upcoming Debate

My psychic prediction: Biden will come off as condescending, mean-spirited, and generally knowledgeable. Obama fans will love him.

Palin will come across as out-of-her-league, unqualified, and spirited. McCain fans will love her.

Independents, though, that remains to be seen. I think indies went for Obama in this last one. Judging by Palin's meteoric collapse, Biden will likely be the favorite this time around, too.

Bailout Dies on the Vine

Well, the wildly unpopular bailout has died in the House, with 227 no's to 206 ayes (and one non-vote). Malkin has her "live-blogging" interpretation of events, plus a list of the members voting for and against. She sounds happy and pissed-off all at once. What a shocker.

CNN reports:

Investors who had been counting on the rescue plan sent the Dow Jones industrial average down as much as 700 points while watching the measure come up short of the necessary support, before rebounding slightly. The key stock reading was down more than 500 points.

The measure needs 218 votes for passage, but it came up 13 votes short of that target, as the final vote was 228 to 205 against. About 60% of Democrats voted for the measure, but less than a third of Republicans backed it.

President Bush is "very disappointed" by the House vote, his spokesman Tony Fratto said.

I, like many others, am not sure if this is a bad thing or a good thing. I would like to see some government intervention--enough to keep the wheel's moving, but I think artificially inflating a bum-market will have the reverse effect, just leading to a greater collapse later.

As we've seen recently, the private sector is coming along buying up failed banks. If the government wants to continue to assist in this effort, and perhaps get some new mortgage-refinancing laws in the bankruptcy books, fine. But $700 billion to the New York banks, virtually no strings attached, simply to inflate this beached whale of a market?

Oy vey. Why is this the only option? Why do we need to rush such a monumental bill through Congress? Is over-reacting really wise? I'd say it's not. It rarely is.

Jim Manzi says it should pass, because no other alternative exists. The question is, do we need an alternative? Or could we just scale back this bailout?

I may ask more questions than propose answers. But then again, this has the best economic minds in the country at odds with one another. I have trouble separating the wheat from the chaff on this one...

~cross-posted at NeoConstant

The Iran Question

Andrew Sullivan writes:

I'm increasingly of the view that the United States should think twice before giving Israel a green light to destroy Iran's nascent nuclear capacity.

Such an act in today's context would immediately pour gasoline on the Islamist fire, uniting Shia and Sunni in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic and anti-Western fervor. It would recruit a generation of Islamist terrorists. It would risk a new and empowered alliance between Iran and Russia which has the nuclear know-how to give to Iran if it wants to. It might precipitate an Islamist take-over in Pakistan, which would give us an Islamist nuclear state overnight.

This is not to say that a nuclear Iran is not a horrifying prospect. But I don't believe that Iran's leadership truly wants to annihilate its entire population in a stand-off with the Zionists. Nuking Jerusalem is not something devout Islamists would easily countenance. But using the nuclear leverage to empower Hezbollah and Hamas is certainly a likely gambit.

Naturally, Sullivan thinks Obama is the right person to handle this tide of conflict that awaits the next President. McCain's "unsteadiness" disqualifies him, as does his abysmal choice of Sarah Palin.'

Lately I find myself agreeing more and more with this assessment. McCain's judgment call in picking Palin was so bad, I've begun seriously questioning his ability to lead.

I don't think it will be easy for either man to do the job. Each faces a plethora of security issues and evolving international relationships that seem to all be moving in the wrong direction for the U.S.

Good luck, whoever gets the job. It's not a position I envy in the least.

I doubt we'll hear anything truly substantive about the Iran question in the coming weeks unless Israel does indeed move against Tehran's nuclear program. The scale of this assault would largely be the determining factor in the ensuing Islamist reaction Sullivan notes above. A small scale attack a la the Syrian reactor would generate no noise at all; a full-fledged war a la Lebanon would probably result in global chaos.

~cross-posted at NeoConstant

Friday, September 26, 2008


Well, the debate tonight has spawned this crazy idea of starting yet another blog. I blog primarily at NeoConstant, a cooperative blog/journal that focuses mostly on foreign affairs. We present a case for aggressive, even hawkish and interventionist policies to end genocide, promote democracy, and keep America and our allies safe.

For a long time I identified as a conservative. I felt (and feel) very strongly that the War in Iraq needs to be won; that Afghanistan needs to not only emerge as a free and independent state, but that its neighbor Pakistan must end its harboring of our enemies, namely bin Laden et al and the Taliban. The Republicans seemed stronger in this regard than the Democrats. McCain has shown steadfastness in his support of the surge, the counter-insurgency, and so forth.

But recently something has changed in me, or in my perception of both the GOP, conservatism as it is approached by the modern conservative, and in the Republican nominee John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin.

I think it was Palin that sparked this, and the financial meltdown that began to cement it. I am not really a fiscal conservative, though I think there is too much wasteful spending. I'm certainly no tax & spend liberal, however. I think low taxes do create jobs--but I also think smart regulation and oversight is essential in today's complicated economy. I also believe in safety nets, and at least some form of socialized health-care that works alongside the private industry.

I'm not a fan of the Green movement, though I have nothing against alternative energy or fuel efficient vehicles. I don't believe that humans are the primary cause of global warming. This is not because I don't believe in global warming, per say, but because my belief in the scientific method won't allow me to simply accept this nearly faith-based global warming concept. So far, the evidence does not seem conclusive.

I believe in evolution. I don't know if there is a God.

I'm reluctantly pro-choice. I don't like it, but I don't like the alternative even more.

I don't feel at home with either Party, or with mainstream liberals or conservatives. I find that those I tend to agree with most are also independents--some who support McCain and some who support Obama.

I am a globalist. I believe in international democracy and unity through trade and mutually assured prosperity. I think that national sovereignty is vital, but that international institutions are also vital. The UN is broken, but that doesn't mean a new international body made up solely of democracies couldn't work.

I believe in capitalism and in free trade (though I'm no purist). I think a strong military is essential, but so are strong schools.

I think it's foolish to spend time trying to defend the institution of marriage given our rate of divorce (what is it, 50%?) If gay people want to enter into such an agreement, so fraught with failure, let them. I'm not at all about to spend my days and hours trying to deny freedom when there is so much pain and misery and so little freedom in most of the world.

I think we should intervene militarily in Darfur.

Some of my favorite blogs are Michael J Totten, Neo-Neocon, Little Green Footballs, Andrew Sullivan, Ann Althouse, But, I Am a Liberal, American Power, Jihad Watch, The Long War Journal...and there are many others...

Lately I have been drifting away from my conservatism and into a more fiercely independent framework--hence the title of this blog.

I have lost my faith in McCain. He doesn't even seem to believe what he himself is saying anymore. Who is this man? This fraud? Once upon a time I thought there would be no way on Earth I could support Obama because of his stance on Iraq.

Now that's changed, and I don't think Obama will pull us out precipitously. He's also fairly shrewd regarding the Afghan/Pakistan war.

McCain's choice of Palin has become increasingly disturbing. At first I thought it a good political move. Then her social stances started to bother me.

But her utter lack of foreign policy knowledge was the kicker. If McCain really does care to keep this country safe, why the hell did he pick Palin to be the veep? What was that all about?

Now I just feel betrayed. McCain is doing whatever he can to win, and the country be damned. Country first my ass.

The debate tonight was even more revealing. Both candidates dodged, but McCain hardly answered a single question. He was snarky, snide, and grinned impishly and arrogantly when Obama was speaking. He came across as condescending and grotesque. Sure, he was upbeat, as many conservatives will hasten to point out.

It was not a very good performance, though, in my humblest of opinions. McCain, if anything, didn't do terribly badly, but he needed a slam dunk to boost his numbers, and I think his attitude and presentation will only turn off independents.

More on the debate after I watch it again. My initial opinion though: Small win for Obama; big loss for McCain. And yes, that can be the case...