Friday, October 31, 2008
One more for Sarah Palin...ugh...
Monday, October 27, 2008
The reasons to disown the Iraq war and the kind of foreign policy thinking that got us into it go far beyond a desire to restore the Republican Party’s electoral hopes, however. For this war was also a profoundly unconservative war — a tremendously costly attempt at “democracy promotion” that was enabled by a “Trust us, we’re the executive branch” approach to decision-making that probably had the Founders rolling over in their graves. There’s a reason, too, why it was so widely opposed by Christian leaders: for war is indeed, as Pope John Paul II argued in 2003, a defeat for humanity, and the willingness of so many professed Christians to acquiesce in the unnecessary invasion of a foreign country and the consequent deaths of soldiers and civilians alike marked a profound moral failing. Is the prospect of admitting a mistake so horrifying that basic moral principles count for nothing?I agree. If we hope to maintain a robust armed forces capable of humanitarian intervention, and capable of applying pressure to dictatorial regimes we need to stop invading countries like Iraq when the situation doesn't merit it. If it is not a clear and present danger or genocide that we can prevent, or the an escalation that needs to be stopped, we should not engage. Iran could become a clear and present danger. Darfur is a genocide we should prevent. Kosovo was an escalation of events that we were able to stop. Iraq? Iraq was stable enough. We could have used other means.
As exciting as I would find a broader rethinking of American foreign policy, perhaps along the lines proposed by Andrew Bacevich, the proposal on offer here is nowhere near as radical as that. Copping to failure in Iraq does not mean repudiating the Cold War legacy of Reagan, nor does it mean abandoning the fight against terrorism or even the push to spread democracy. All that it is, to borrow a much-abused turn of phrase, is a matter of sensitivity to conditions on the ground. The sooner conservatives admit to their mistakes, the better their chances of being heard from again.
Short of such an admission, it’s hard to see why they’d deserve the hearing.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The 101-week curriculum would begin the week before Inauguration Day and end just in time for the student to organize their campaign for the coming primary season.The list includes a course at St. Johns College in the great classics of Western civilization; a stint at the War Colleges; some time well-spent learning diplomacy at State; and some (obviously) much needed economics lessons at George Mason. Seven courses in all...
Not a bad idea, eh? Too bad it will never happen.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
It is a strange and somewhat exhilarating thing when one considers the fact that we are a mere 13 days away from electing the next President of the United States.
At this point, I hope for their own sakes that the conservatives lose. I want to see the utter destruction of the Far Right along with social conservatism as we now know it and the runaway supply side economics and trickle down economics that are simply not working.
I want to see a simpler, fairer tax code emerge, and better, more straightforward regulations. I'm not a protectionist but I also realize that we can do more as a country to save American jobs. We need not enrich the investment class while bankrupting everyone else. We can still be a part of globalization.
I want to see the utter destruction of the Far Left, too, and I think nobody will do that better than Obama. A McCain presidency will only invigorate them. I look forward to a New Center. That's my own personal pipe-dream.
One link will take you to writer Oliver Kamm's endorsement of Obama. Or, rather, his un-endorsement of McCain/Palin.
Western liberals, secularists and Atlanticists have an interest in minimising the possibility that there will ever be a Presidency of the ignorant and insular Sarah Palin.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
One advantage of the not-for-profit is the lack of investor pressure. For instance, a .org style clothing manufacturer would not have market pressures beyond simply breaking even. All profits would go into reinvestment in the corporation, salaries, expansion, etc. Companies would grow, but their growth would be contained. Certainly competition could still occur as well, as this sort of business would still operate within the free market. Two non-profit or community grocery stores could still compete with one another.
Of course, the problem with this model is getting any investment in the first place. Also, operating against for-profit businesses would be difficult, as those would likely pay their executives far more and gaining talent for the non-profit sector (which is already difficult) wouldn't be easy.
Then again, I feel that these sort of community businesses could be a good way to keep money in our local communities. I'm living in a perpetual state of alarm at the lack of community or sense of place anymore. Nobody goes to local theatre, or shops at the local farmers market, or buys local musicians cd's or pays attention to local politics.
We have lost our sense of being part of a local community, and it is much easier to find reality in the local rather than the national scene, at least for most of us. Hmmmm....
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Okay, the geek in me thought this was too cool to pass up. An "open air" pc case, easily accessed for the tinkerer in all of us...My own PC is starting to look this way, as I have stripped the cases sides, its face--it is downright skeletal. But not nearly this cool.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Just a thought.
I caught both speeches whilst tread-milling at the gym. McCain's made me laugh out loud. If this was the McCain we were getting on the campaign trail; the McCain who would have picked Lieberman over Palin any day--then not only would McCain have my vote, but I bet he'd be close to tied in this election. People get honesty more than they get partisanship. A genuine McCain is hard to beat--especially given his impressive record, his service, and his undeniable character.
But this faux-McCain we see now? It's even worse because it's him. What a tragedy.
Some candidates are motivated by something they lack. For L.B.J., it was respect. For Bill Clinton, it was adoration. These politicians are motivated to fill that void. Their challenge once in office is self-regulation. How will they control the demons, insecurities and longings that fired their ambitions?He is this zen force--it's disarming in a way. Like a weird calm in this political maelstrom...how frustrating to be a Hillary Clinton or a John McCain in the face of such calmness and collection...
But other candidates are propelled by what some psychologists call self-efficacy, the placid assumption that they can handle whatever the future throws at them. Candidates in this mold, most heroically F.D.R. and Ronald Reagan, are driven upward by a desire to realize some capacity in their nature. They rise with an unshakable serenity that is inexplicable to their critics and infuriating to their foes.
Obama has the biography of the first group but the personality of the second. He grew up with an absent father and a peripatetic mother. “I learned long ago to distrust my childhood,” he wrote in “Dreams From My Father.” This is supposed to produce a politician with gaping personal needs and hidden wounds.
But over the past two years, Obama has never shown evidence of that. Instead, he has shown the same untroubled self-confidence day after day.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Will the madness never cease? Or better yet, should it? I mean, where would we be without all this low-brow entertainment? Perhaps talking about the issues, and we certainly wouldn't want that...
Which is why I believe that sometimes individualism should be replaced with statism, even though more often than not I am an individualist.
For instance, it is the duty of every civilized society to take care of our weak, our sick, our handi-capped. Neglecting them is only slightly better than the attempts at exterminating them during the fascist years.
So Obama was correct when he said that health care is a right. It is, lest we deem ourselves barbarians.
One idea of McCain's I really liked (unlike his abhorrent health-care plan) is the idea of a League of Democracies.
I'm not against Wilsonian Multilateralism (or Clintonian for that matter). I'm just against foolish reliance on a corrupt organization that protects genocide while denouncing fledgling democracies. The hypocricy is staggering. Not only that, but I do think that America is in the unique position to be the best leader of such a multilateral foreign policy.
I'm also in favor of regime change when possible, so I guess that means I'm a "neocon" but I do believe government's like Sudan should be toppled for the greater good. I believe in a permanenet democratic revolution of sorts.
Could we blend some version of practical multilateralism with the Bush Doctrine? It seems less and less likely that either way is plausible without some help from the other.
UPDATE: This materialized into a full length piece up at Newsvine.
John McCain has every right to be angry. He should have beaten George W. Bush in 2000. He lost to the money and smears of a lesser man, and then had to watch that man occupy the most historic presidency of modern times. Imagine McCain, a man who has spent his life thinking about war and honor and duty and sacrifice, observing Bush exhort us to shop after 9/11. What must he thought of that moment? How often must he have thought of what he would do with that moment?And I believe, quite strongly, that we had the wrong man in charge these last 8 years. Some will say it should have been Al Gore, but I firmly believe the man who should have led us through 9/11 and all the other trials we have faced is John McCain.
We needed McCain's leadership and expertise and honesty, and instead we had Bush, Cheney, and the debacle of that administration.
But now, as Klein writes, "the world changed on John McCain." He is no longer in the position he could have been in, say in 2004. It is tragic, in a sense. The old McCain, the man who would be President, was never afforded the chance. And now, with his disastrous VP pick, his utter change of character, he is not only going to lose this election, but his legacy will be forever tarnished by his anger, his negativity, and his abandonment of everything that made him so popular in the first place.
I feel a deep sadness at our loss.
I just don't see it. I really don't. I've been extremely neutral--even leaning toward McCain for the vast majority of this race--and I try to listen to these debates the way moderates and independents would. Conservatives are having a hard time understanding this. They think the echo-chamber will work. They think the attacks that have failed will somehow suddenly start working. Ayers is a dead end.
What am I saying? McCain is a dead end at this point. It's sad, really. I hold very few politicians in as high regard as John McCain, and yet this election has changed him. Big time.
Realistically, who's surprised that the conservative bloggers are hailing this as a win? McCain did do better than usual, but a win???
I thought Obama was more gracious, thoughtful, and spoke more clearly about the issues Americans care about.
McCain, on the other hand, was petulant, brimming with fury, and repetitive. Not a win for McCain. Not a terrible loss, but he needed a win.
So it goes.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
In any case, Maher said some utterly absurd things. Like, for instance, that America is divided between those of us who want a "progressive, European style country" and those of us who are "rednecks." Plain and simple. In Maher's world, like in the worlds of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, the world is black or the world is white. We are right or we are wrong.
Nuance is for rednecks and girly men only.
To Stewart's credit he appeared somewhat taken aback by this, and offered up a flimsy example of his own childhood. Maher responded with more blatant snobbery. It's all in the videos below.
They had him on to discuss Religulous, Maher's new documentary, which focuses on slamming religion and religious people. I'm an atheist, so I guess I should feel immune but I don't. I don't agree with militant or fundamentalist anything. I despise Sarah Palin's brand of Christianism, but I also feel that to preach a dogmatic atheism is doing the cause of atheism a disservice.
Don't get me wrong. In my mind, religion (despite its historical importance and so forth) is basically BS. There may be a God, but even so, organizing such speculation into a larger tribe seems kind of silly, or perhaps dangerous. The organization of religion should come under fire. But religious people have every right to believe what they do, just as atheists, Deists, and agnostics have every right not to (depending on how you look at it).
Essentially, I don't believe it is religion holding us back, but fundamentalism, and so when atheists start speaking dogmatically I worry that the same pitfalls await them. There is much of value in the writings of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and the rest of those atheist writers. Ann Althouse has a good post on "contempt" up at her blog, which goes into more detail on the subject of atheism.
In any case, why can't a comedian or a polemicist deal in contempt?I suppose contempt is an acceptable form of critique. George Carlin was certainly funny in his attacks on religion. Funny is good. Funny contempt is good. Thoughtful, thought-provoking contempt is good (i.e. Hitchens). But contempt that tries to be funny and fails? That's bad.
It's not the only approach, but it's an approach. (And I don't think "contempt" is at all the right word for Dawkins, whose "God Delusion" I've read. It fits Hitchens -- and I've read "God Is Not Great." I haven't read the Harris book, but I don't think it's contemptuous.)
So is this my complaint? Maher is an idiot because his liberal snobbery doesn't hit the mark--despite his trying to be funny, he just comes across as arrogant. For all his talk of progressivism he instead sounds hollow, prejudiced, and full of shit. If he were actually funny, or actually interesting maybe the rest could be forgiven.
As it stands, well, even my pretty liberal wife said she couldn't stand him.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
In any case, if you've been reading Malkin lately, it's almost like a menu she's got going. You can have a side of Obamacorn with your crap sandwich.
Truly, though, commentators like Malkin just feed off of this stuff, to run the pun down to the nub...The Coulters and Malkins and Olbermanns of the world have so little of importance to say about the world at large that they are left railing about their enemies, forgoing any and all nuance in their quest to destroy the opposition--verbally, of course.
It's highly entertaining, but it doesn't do much to raise the level of dialogue...
Obama also has a first-class bent towards statist policies and a tendency towards mob action, though, and that should be very concerning to anyone who claims — as Buckley does — to be conservative. A presidential election isn’t a vote on IQ, and you can insert your own joke here about any number of American presidents. It’s a referendum on character, but mostly on policy.What Morrisey and others fail to realize is that there are several strands at play here, logically, that are serving to lead conservatives and moderate conservatives away from the McCain ticket.
First, there is Palin. Sarah Palin, for all her initial charm, is probably the catalyst that started this slow migration away from the GOP ticket and yes, toward "The One."
Kathleen Parker was the first of the many apostates to voice her doubts, but certainly not the last. Since then we've seen either Obama endorsements or McCain digs from David Brooks, David Frum, Christopher Hitchens, Christopher Buckley, and others.
Second, there is a sense among many conservatives that the movement has gone astray, and that a McCain Presidency would only make matters worse. That McCain's campaign has been so erratic, so fickle, does not help matters. Half the time nobody knows what the hell McCain is saying, or what he thinks, or whether he even believes the words coming out of his own mouth.
The negative attack campaign re: Ayers not help McCain in this, either, as he was both very uncomfortable in the role of attacker, and regardless he now seeks once again to re-invent himself, claiming absurdly of Obama that he "has him right where we want him" or some such nonsense.
Do conservatives really want to follow up the disastrous Bush years with a McCain presidency? Whatever his past heroism, his honesty in the Senate--McCain has obviously left his best days behind him. Perhaps an Obama Presidency is exactly what the Conservative m needs.
In any case, Morrisey doesn't buy into this line of reasoning. He goes on to say that it's one thing to denounce McCain, and quite another to endorse Obama. Perhaps. But then again, perhaps Morrisey, the NRO, and the rest of the Conservative movement don't actually own the title or the definition of the term "Conservative."
Perhaps it goes beyond them.
Perhaps, as in so many ideologies, there are competing visions of what it means and what it should mean to be conservative. There are tactics and strategies, after all.
Just a thought...
Update: Allahpundit has a slightly different take on the matter...
So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.
While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.
So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.
Rich Lowry of NRO gives his take on the resignation ...
And might I add that I was totally unaware of the younger Buckley until very recently, but I find myself liking him a great deal. Bravo!
H/T The Daily Dish
I’m, like, man, I really don’t know if I’m ready for a vice president who goes: “My son’s, like: ‘Mom, I’m in the army now,’ and I’m, like: ‘I’m so proud.’” And who’s, like, “And [my son] goes, ‘O.K., well I’ll be praying.’ I’m like—total role reversal here, that’s what I’ve been telling him for 19 years.’” Or who goes, “This is a time when, man, politics have got to be put aside.” (As Alaska governor Sarah Palin told Sean Hannity, William Kristol, and Katie Couric.)And, lest you should miss the sarcasm and not get the point, the rest of the article is rather more serious...for instance:
Palin’s verbal hodgepodge may say nothing about her qualifications for the vice presidency. Judgment and political acumen could well rest on different mental capacities than the ability to order thoughts into smooth sentences. But the inability to answer a straightforward question about economic policy without becoming tangled in words suggests either ignorance about the subject matter or a difficulty connecting between ideas. Neither explanation is reassuring.Another conservative slap in the McCain/Palin face.
The Palin nomination has unleashed among Republican pundits and voters a great roar of pent-up rage against liberal elites, much of it warranted. But the conservative embrace of Palin comes at considerable cost to conservative principles. The populist identity politics that Republicans are now playing with such gusto may come back to haunt them in the future.
H/T The Confabulum's Conor Friedersdorf of the fantastic site, Culture 11.
There is no love for the United Nations in Kosovo.
Kosovo is the fourth country I've visited where the UN has or has had a key role, and in only one of them – Lebanon – is the UN not despised by just about everyone. In Lebanon the UN has so little power to make a difference one way or the other that any anger at the institution would largely be pointless. In Bosnia, though, UN “peacekeepers” stood by impotently while genocide and ethnic-cleansing campaigns were carried out right in front of them. The UN's Oil for Food program was thoroughly corrupted by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq at the expense of just about everybody who lives there. Kosovo, meanwhile, declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008, but the elected government is still subordinate to the almost universally despised UN bureaucrats who are the real power. Many Kosovars insist the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is actually a dictatorship.
This time, the choice facing Brooks is too stark and time-bound for his usual gyrations. He can maintain his intellectual self-respect only by breaking openly with McCain/Palin in the next couple of weeks.
I wrote here months ago that I could almost imagine him jumping to Obama, as some conservative Republicans have done because they've concluded that more Bush-style governance will destroy both Republicans and the republic. Surely David Brooks, who has made a career of being liberals' favorite conservative, can do likewise.
Then again, breaking so starkly with Republicans would cost Brooks his comfortable raison d'etre and niche opposite Mark Shields on PBS and E.J. Dionne on NPR. I don't think that he has enough integrity to renounce decisively what McCain and, more generally, conservative republicans have become. I think he's gotten himself stuck in that fold.
Monday, October 13, 2008
This could transform Tempe--and if Phoenix ever hopes to save itself from itself, the rest of that city should follow suit:
One of the biggest high-rise and condominium building booms in Valley history is transforming Tempe into a retail, residential and entertainment center some are calling a model for "the new American city."
City officials and many developers believe that Tempe will evolve over the next few years into a city with a mixed-use core where residents live, ride to work on bicycles or on public transportation, and walk to restaurants, museums, sporting events and schools.And, experts say, as Tempe's core becomes more populated, the city will become one of the nation's best examples of "New Urbanism," a planning movement that began in the 1980s in reaction to the post-World War II phenomenon of sprawling American cities.
As you can see, Phoenix at large could benefit from more biking, mass transit, and walkable communities. Biking is only viable in the winter there, but air-condititioned electric trains could be a huge benefit, and mixed-zoning can keep people closer to work. Suburbia has been a disaster, and America needs to start rethinking how it designs its cities.
Bob from Brockley (finally) blogs the credit crunch...
Harry's Place dissects the recent "Zionism is Racism" entry in the Macmillan Encyclopedia. Encycopedic bias is a new one to me, but then again, I wasn't aware they were hiring vitriolic anti-Zionists to write their entries on Zionism. Next up, the KKK composes a piece on Abe Lincoln...
Simply Jews discuss divine punishment and conspiracy theories...
Learn about the "next new McCain" a softer, cuddlier type...
Several variations of pie.
Would you like ACORN with your pie?
NetWMD on hatchet-men and other dubious Obama acquaintances.
American Power shrugs off the Krugman Nobel prize. I rather like Krugman despite some of his sillier moments. I guess I rather like a lot of political writers on both sides of the aisle despite political differnces...
Andrew Sullivan discusses small-c conservatism, fiscal responsibility, and Obama.
..and the McCain camp fires back at Kristol. It's chaos, people. Total meltdown.
For your viewing pleasure:
Mahoney, 52, paid former staffer Patricia Allen $61,000 — plus $60,000 in legal fees — after she threatened to sue him for sexual harassment and intimidation, the network reported, citing unnamed Mahoney staffers and Allen’s legal papers.
The congressman – who promised to restore honor and morality in a district rocked by revelations of Foley’s inappropriate behavior toward House pages – reportedly moved the 50-year-old Allen from a job in his office to a $50,000 position with an agency that handles his campaign advertising.
I don't expect the Democrats to be the party of limited government. But any reward for the Republicans after the massive expansion of government power and spending under Bush would be much more fatal. Because it would destroy even the potential for a party of limited government in the future - by ceding the GOP to spendthrift Christianists.I think it's time the Republicans paid the piper. Obama may actually surprise moderates like myself with some truly centrist policies. I imagine if he goes too far to the Left the Democrats will pay the price. So the question becomes, will Obama transform the Democratic Party into a centrist-minded party, in tune with the modern world (globalization, terror, etc.) but also practical and pro-American-jobs? In other words, can he be friendly to the workers and to the corporations? Reagan and Clinton may be good examples...
McCain lacks the character and temperament to be president. And Palin is simply a disgrace.
Hitchens has been very hard on Obama, but recently his articles seem more favorable. It looks like he's finally, grudgingly, endorsed an Obama presidency.
Another one bites the dust...
The prophet, Bill Kristol, thinks McCain should fire his campaign and start over:
What McCain needs to do is junk the whole thing and start over. Shut down the rapid responses, end the frantic e-mails, bench the spinning surrogates, stop putting up new TV and Internet ads every minute. In fact, pull all the ads — they’re doing no good anyway. Use that money for televised town halls and half-hour addresses in prime time.
And let McCain go back to what he’s been good at in the past — running as a cheerful, open and accessible candidate. Palin should follow suit. The two of them are attractive and competent politicians. They’re happy warriors and good campaigners. Set them free.
Provide total media accessibility on their campaign planes and buses. Kick most of the aides off and send them out to swing states to work for the state coordinators on getting voters to the polls. Keep just a minimal staff to help organize the press conferences McCain and Palin should have at every stop and the TV interviews they should do at every location. Do town halls, do the Sunday TV shows, do talk radio — and invite Obama and Biden to join them in some of these venues, on the ground that more joint appearances might restore civility and substance to the contest.
Paul Krugman likes the action, and especially Gordon Brown's leadership (a name not often associated with that term). You should listen to Krugman. He's a Nobel economist now.
Krugman writes that the US plan has been fickle and slow, whereas
the British government went straight to the heart of the problem — and moved to address it with stunning speed. On Wednesday, Mr. Brown’s officials announced a plan for major equity injections into British banks, backed up by guarantees on bank debt that should get lending among banks, a crucial part of the financial mechanism, running again. And the first major commitment of funds will come on Monday — five days after the plan’s announcement.
Indeed. One can easily brush off the myriad stupid, uninformed college brats railing against Bush, but when you see a good number of very angry old white men with gunracks railing against Obama and his "black agenda" you start to worry. You should start to worry.
I agree about the media bias, but let's consider whether there may be some reason to tolerate more anger from the left than the right, especially if the lefties in question are young and the righties are old.
We're genetically programmed to weather the crying and tantrums of children. Teenagers sulk and shout, and we may grow impatient, but we understand the condition. We may well remember feeling the same way. Teenagers and young adults may annoy us, but we're not appalled. We think we can continue to speak calm reason and they will come around some day. But an angry older person sets off an alarm. Something is wrong here. Either there really is a problem or this person is unhinged. It gets our attention.
The problem is also the silence of the McCain camp and the presumably non-racist rally-goers who sit quietly while their neighbors call for Obama's head. Geesh.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
People say Israel should "give back" this land to the Arabs. Well, I say it's too late for that, and it's a fallacious argument to begin with. If this line of logic holds than we Americans had better give back our land to the Indians. Brits had best start giving back their land to the Welsh and Irish and Picts. And on and on.
Let's celebrate a society that invokes the best in humanity, as Israel does...the hatred of the pseudo-socialist Left toward Israel is one of the biggest turn offs I have to the liberal movement. It is, in a sense, a reflection of the Left's hatred of America. But there are many liberals who don't buy this, thank God.
This second one is called "Hot Israel"
Do we need these partisan hacks inhabiting the Senate? Come on, let's vote in people that can reach across the proverbial aisle and work together. This is the difference between a man like Obama and a man like Franken. Obama will work with the Lugers and the McCains, while Franken has said so many vitriolic things, has displayed his disdain for Conservatives so widely and wildly, that he would be innefectual at best.
Maybe Franken as a House rep, but as a Senator?
He did the right thing, needless to say, but I’m not sure how this squares with Palin telling people at fundraisers how many supporters are urging her to take the gloves off. It all goes back to this morning’s post: McCain wants to win the election but doesn’t seem to have the stomach to get truly nasty, so he compromises by bringing up Ayers but not pressing the issue too much. Gotta commit one way or another, champ. As it is, it’s a sad, strange situation to have one candidate forced to stick up for the other candidate in front of his own audience.He did do the right thing. I think McCain will lose, but going out honorably will ensure he's not remembered as the man who instilled hate in a campaign of such magnitude. Chris Buckley was right when he said McCain is the sort of man who should lead America, but that he's lost his way. Indeed, he has, but this moment proves that he is a man of substance, honor, and a true American patriot.
Now that he’s defended Obama, I think it gives The One cover to call him out on it at the debate on Wednesday in the guise of, “John, I appreciate you trying to set the record straight on my behalf, but this climate you’ve created…” etc etc. In the meantime, here’s the only video I’ve been able to find thus far. Shuster aired the footage where the woman in the audience calls Obama an Arab a few minutes ago, and McCain really did almost yank the mike out of her hand before she could get going and make it worse. It’s not up on MSNBC’s website yet, but if I see it somewhere, I’ll update. Click the image to watch.
Now can he dump Sarah Palin so I can vote for him?
Friday, October 10, 2008
But then something weird happens: He acknowledges the "energy" people have been showing at rallies, and how glad he is that people are excited. But, he says, "I respect Sen. Obama and his accomplishments." People booed at the mention of his name. McCain, visibly angry, stopped them: "I want EVERYONE to be respectful, and lets make sure we are."
The very next questioner tried to push back on this request, noting that he needed to "tell the American the TRUTH about Barack Obama" -- a not very subtle way, I think, to ask John McCain to NOT tell the truth about Barack Obama. McCain told her there's a "difference between record and rhetoric, and I plan to talk about his record, respectfully... I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity, I just mean it has to be respectful."
And then later, again, someone dangled a great big piece of low-hanging fruit in front of McCain: "I'm scared to bring up my child in a world where Barack Obama is president."
McCain replies, "Well, I don't want him to be president, either. I wouldn't be running if I did. But," and he pauses for emphasis, "you don't have to be scared to have him be President of the United States." A round of boos.
Good for McCain. There's more. Read it...
John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?
All this is genuinely saddening, and for the country is perhaps even tragic, for America ought, really, to be governed by men like John McCain—who have spent their entire lives in its service, even willing to give the last full measure of their devotion to it. If he goes out losing ugly, it will be beyond tragic, graffiti on a marble bust..........Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.
So, I wish him all the best. We are all in this together. Necessity is the mother of bipartisanship. And so, for the first time in my life, I’ll be pulling the Democratic lever in November. As the saying goes, God save the United States of America.
In any case, I look forward to a conservatism that is actually fiscally responsible, that can approach globalism with wisdom and care, protecting American jobs while still building wealth. I look forward to a conservatism that is strong on defense, but not reckless, invested in humanitarian concerns, but not at the cost of American security. I look forward to a conservatism that hearkens back to our Classical Liberal beliefs in equality and freedom and separation of Church and State. I look forward to an acceptance of smart regulation, tax reform, and less national debt (and increased domestic production of goods, and a compassion for American manufacturers!)
I look forward to a divorce of modern conservatism from the chains of hard-liner social conservatism, that has turned American conservatism into Christian populism, and has eschewed elites for "joe six-packs."
Reagan busted up unions, but also fought for the American worker. Goldwater openly denounced the Christian Coalition. Where has this integrity gone? Have we become so beholden to the Religious Right? to the Banking Industry that has sold our soul to globalism at any and every cost? I am a globalist, but I believe the only way to enter a global economy is with strength and solidarity. The financiers have betrayed us. We can't even clothe ourselves without the help of the Chinese now...
Conservatism must enter the fire and reemerge stronger, more focused, and leaner. It must accept smart regulatory practices, and pledge to actually limit government. Quite frankly, so must liberalism, which has become vapid and emotional and absurd.
Perhaps a new center will emerge. Smart, lean, strong, and ready to actually work for America. Perhaps.
I suppose lately I am leaning more toward an Andrew Sullivan brand of conservatism--pro gay-rights; hawkish but not too hawkish; fiscally sensible; and not governed by absurd party lines. He describes himself as a Classical Libertarian Conservative.
He views true conservatism as classical libertarian conservative, where economic control of a citizen's daily life by the government is very limited. However, this style of conservatism differs from classic libertarianism in that some governmental control or regulation is acceptable in order to preserve a functional society as it currently exists. Stances on social or cultural issues, under this style of conservatism, resemble the stances of classical libertarianism or modern U.S. liberalism. While stances on foreign policy are more hawkish than classic libertarianism, this style of conservatism differs from current neo-conservatism and arguably more closely resemble U.S. liberalism from the early 1930s up until the late 1960s. In the foreign policy sphere, Sullivan's foreign policy views have become somewhat less hawkish following the difficulties of the Iraq War.And at this point, I'm in almost complete agreement with Sullivan on Obama, McCain, Palin, etc. Conservatives may howl at this, but at this point I think Obama would be a better choice for the country than McCain/Palin. It's just time, yes, for a change. It's time to re-evaluate what it means to be conservative, American, part of a global world. It's time.
David Kuo writes:
Today’s conservatism is lost. It is so lost it doesn’t actually know if it lost at sea, lost in space, or lost in a desert. It lacks moral courage, a philosophical core, and intellectual certitude. McCain’s defeat will help change all of that because his defeat will lead to a debate within conservatism unlike anything in several decades.Peter Suderman writes:
Obama, as always, appeared sophistacted, urbane: He held the mic in that delicate, refined way of final-level American Idol contestants, and constantly seemed to be holding an imaginary pen in the air and trying to visualize it. He will solve America’s energy crisis with telekinesis.
McCain, on the other hand, came off as less the high-toned maverick and more the self-satisfied frat-boy goof: He started several of his answers with an Igor-via-Beavis-and-Butthead chuckle: heh-heh, heh-heh. Sorry dude: not funny.
One thing that’s clear from this debate is how little there is to John McCain and his campaign.
Conor Friedersdorf writes:
One striking thing is what didn’t happen. After days of staring into television cameras telling America that Obama is a closet terrorist sympathizer, Senator McCain blinked when they were face to face. How will Americans who watched those speeches and ads — and then watched this debate — react? My guess is that they’ll find the Illinois Senator a pretty regular, level headed guy, whatever they think of him on the issues. Talk about lowering expectations before the debate! The McCain campaign prepared the nation for a new Che Guevara. What we got is a candidate who Aaron Sorken might’ve written onto The West Wing.
James Poulos writes:
A crippled economy and a stalwart opposition gives a transformational president little to work with. But, paradoxically, perhaps that’s the greatest hedge against overactive presidencies from either Obama or McCain. It’s easy to think we’re headed for more sweeping change in government, given what’s wracked the world private sector. But the weight of bureaucracy and the inertia of government means we’re largely locked in. Ironically, it may be the case that Obama will not be truly transformational enough, and McCain will be too apt to precipitous, impulsive change.
McCain seems perfectly willing to stoke the fires of his base, even though we're beginning to hear some very far-right, nutty things. This is getting dangerous, I think. If someone were to assassinate Obama this would be a tragedy beyond comprehension. It could shatter the country. Yet McCain does nothing, piling fuel on the flames.
Andrew Sullivan writes:
There was always going to be a point of revolt and panic for a core group of Americans who believe that Obama simply cannot be president - because he's black or liberal or young or relatively new. This is that point. As the polls suggest a strong victory, the Hannity-Limbaugh-Steyn-O'Reilly base are going into shock and extreme rage. McCain and Palin have decided to stoke this rage, to foment it, to encourage paranoid notions that somehow Obama is a "secret" terrorist or Islamist or foreigner. These are base emotions in both sense of the word.
But they are also very very dangerous. This is a moment of maximal physical danger for the young Democratic nominee. And McCain is playing with fire. If he really wants to put country first, he will attack Obama on his policies - not on these inflammatory, personal, creepy grounds. This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin.
For God's sake, McCain, stop it. For once in this campaign, put your country first. [emphasis added]
Thursday, October 9, 2008
And of course, there's no way to actually contact anyone at Blogger/Google about this. You just have to wait it out while their mysterious "review" process moves forward...
UPDATE: to get Blogger/Google to review your blog you have to fill out a little form with a CAPTCHA (I even need a CAPTCHA to post now on my own blog) and I did this on Monday and again on Tuesday and then once again yesterday, and now finally a message is popping up when I go to fill it out that they received my review request on the 8th. Yesterday.
"Please be patient...."
Is this a responsible business practice, or the acts of a company that is so monolithic that they have lost sight of the customer service component of what they do. I don't find it acceptable for a tech company to not receive my electronic request the day I submit it. There should not be a 48 turn around when I click a button. The internet is instant.
I love Blogger. I think it's a great platform. But this is a serious flaw in its management.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Taliban leaders are holding Saudi-brokered talks with the Afghan government to end the country's bloody conflict -- and are severing their ties with al Qaeda, sources close to the historic discussions have told CNN.
The militia, which has been intensifying its attacks on the U.S.-led coalition that toppled it from power in 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, has been involved four days of talks hosted by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, says the source.
The talks -- the first of their kind aimed at resolving the lengthy conflict in Afghanistan -- mark a significant move by the Saudi leadership to take a direct role in Afghanistan, hosting delegates who have until recently been their enemies.
They also mark a sidestepping of key "war on terror" ally Pakistan, frequently accused of not doing enough to tackle militants sheltering on its territory, which has previously been a conduit for talks between the Saudis and Afghanistan.
According to the source, fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar -- high on the U.S. military's most-wanted list -- was not present, but his representatives were keen to stress the reclusive cleric is no longer allied to al Qaeda.
I saw a brief statement from George Bush today that counseled patience while the details of the bailout plan are worked out. He was speaking from San Antonio, and he projected a sense of weariness and the impression that he can hardly wait for January, when he goes home and leaves this mess to his successor. I can’t quite imagine why anyone would want the job at this point, though, or who would be up to it. And I’m being bipartisan here; that includes all the candidates.No kidding. What a lousy, thankless profession the Presidency is. By the time the rivers of history polish your record, you're long dead...
Writes Howard Wolfson:
Why won't the swiftboat tactics work this year?
Its easy to lose sight of it in the day to day coverage, but the collapse of Wall Street in the last weeks was a seminal event in the history of our nation and our politics. To put the crisis in perspective, Americans have lost a combined 1 trillion dollars in net worth in just the last four weeks alone. Just as President Bush's failures in Iraq undermined his party's historic advantage on national security issues, the financial calamity has shown the ruinous implications of the Republican mania for deregulation and slavish devotion to totally unfettered markets.
Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over the proper role of government for a century. In 1980 voters sided with Ronald Reagan and Republicans that government had become too big and intrusive. Then the economy worked in the Republicans' favor. Today the pendulum has swung in our direction. Republican philosophies have been discredited by events. Voters understand this. This is a big election about big issues. McCain's smallball will not work. This race will not be decided by lipsticked pigs. And John McCain can not escape that reality. The only unknowns are the size of the margin and the breadth of the Democratic advantage in the next Congress.
Now I'm reading The Amulet of Samarkand, a young adult fantasy novel (often the best fantasy is for this age-group, like Harry Potter) and the 9/11 Commission Report, which I'm ashamed to say I haven't read yet...
Oh, and check out these creepy old ads...we are evolving, sort of...
Mike Murphy agrees:
Chuck the hacky and ineffective negative ads and switch to man on the street spots with real people voicing their real doubts about Obama; too weak to stand up to Washington’s mighty special interest cartel or the newly empowered Democratic bosses of the Congress and Senate, too liberal to know how to fix the economy, too inexperienced to handle a dangerous world. On Tuesday, McCain should look into the camera and connect to the 80 million scared and worried Americans who will be watching him. McCain is losing. To regain a chance to win, McCain must run as who he truly is; pragmatic, tough, bi-partisan and ready to break some special interest china to get the right things done in Washington. Fix the message, and you will fix the states.
Directed by Ben Affleck
Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, Gone Baby Gone is actor Ben Affleck's first foray into the directing business, and proves quite impressively that he is a far better director than he is an actor. Indeed, what struck me about the movie as I watched it and in the minutes following its conclusion, is how similar to a Clint Eastwood movie it felt, both in terms of style and mood. Part of this is possibly due to the film Mystic River, also based on a Lehane book, directed by Eastwood.
Mystic River was another gloomy, harrowing film that ended with anything but a happy ending. Suffice to say, Gone Baby Gone was its equal in its depressing, tense, and ultimately overwhelmingly tragic unraveling of events. If you're not out to be depressed by a movie, perhaps this one is not for you. Nevertheless, Gone Baby Gone is one of the best films I've seen in a while--at least, one of the best dramatic films I've seen in a while, and I'm not alone in this assessment. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 94% rating. It's not a rule of thumb, as there is no accounting for taste, but basically any movie that gets above a 90% on Rotten is a safe bet. Gone Baby Gone was no exception.
Starring Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman, and Ed Harris, it is a narrative full of unexpected twists, painting a grim picture of modern-day Boston and the even grimmer reality of the plight of children there. As a relatively new parent, watching a movie about the disappearance of a young girl was almost too much to bear. My daughter is a toddler, and some of the moments in this movie were so emotionally harrowing, I could barely watch.
This continues throughout. The end, though completely unexpected, offers no relief.
The acting, cinematography, writing--all of these were excellent. But what stole the show was the brilliance of the plot. I have never read a Lehane novel, but after this film I will. Most movies that employ "twists" are rather transparent. I usually see them coming. There have been a few that have caught me off guard. Twelve Monkeys comes to mind. But Gone Baby Gone surprised me, and then left me even more emotionally confused then before.
I won't go into great detail over the plot of this film. Suffice to say, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) is a street-wise private detective in over his head, but up to the job, when he starts investigating the disappearance of young Amanda McCready (Madelline O'Brien). Things get complicated, and dark, quite quickly. Not all is what it appears.
114 minutes later you have all your answers, and innumerable hard questions that transcend the film itself. This is a thought-provoking film, and your ruminations will not stop when the credits role....
Friday, October 3, 2008
Are conservative bloggers delusional, crazy, or...simply spending too much time in the echo chamber?
Nobody can deny that Sarah Palin didn't improve her poise and grace in last night's debate, that she didn't come off as the uber-bumbler of the Gibson and Couric debates, but she did not, by any means, restore her image in my mind, nor did she, if we are to trust the polls at all, win the debate. I don't particularly like Joe Biden, and I don't think he defeated Governor Palin utterly, but it was at best a tie, and judging by the numbers, more a Palin loss than anything else.
I think most Americans simply don't want someone who relies upon phrases such as "gosh darn it" to fill gaps, or who waxes colloquial rather than display any real grasp of the subjects at hand. They want substance, knowledge, and intellect. And despite his gaffes, his mistakes, (or as Rove put it, his lies!) and his obvious gaps in knowledge, at least Biden showed that he truly does understand international and domestic politics.
Palin insisted that she was not an "East Coast" politician. She reminded us often that she was an outsider, a maverick, as though we are so foolish as to believe that any outsider who comes to the White House will somehow remain one once they're there. Like Bush, right? The outsider, the governor, the cowboy.
Look at these numbers:
Fox Biden 61 Palin 39
The Fox poll (yes, Fox) gives Biden a 22 point lead over Palin. That's a pretty big number for a right-wing poll. Or wait, Fox is fair and balanced--they're not, and I'm glad they're not. I like having some conservative news out there...
So is the conservative blogosphere and the political pundarati delusional when they proclaim her the winner?
Rich Lowry writes:
By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.Michelle Malkin proclaims "Sarah Rocks!"
First, I would like to see all the Sarah doubters and detractors in the Beltway/Manhattan corridor eat their words.
Sarah Palin is the real deal. Five weeks on the campaign trail, thrust onto the national stage, she rocked tonight’s debate.She was warm, fresh, funny, confident, energetic, personable, relentless, and on message.
Didn't conservatives used to be elitist on purpose, or at least expect their leaders to be? Don't they believe in the "natural aristocracy" to some degree? Since when did conservatives decide the most important thing in a candidate was his or her ordinariness? Have we as a nation stooped so low as to celebrate mediocrity even at the highest level? I notice most GOP strategists--the movers and shakers--are all highly educated, extremely smart people. So why should the number 2 on their ticket be, well, so regular?
The Daily Conservative writes that "Biden didn’t come off too well for anyone not already a supporter of his ticket."
Since the national polls give Biden a 20 point lead in last night's debate, I'd say this is bad, bad news for McCain. That would mean that realistically, Obama has about a 20 point lead. And if that's not what it means, then Biden must have impressed some conservatives, or all of the independents out there.
Both liberals and conservatives spend too much time in their own echo chambers. Go to either fairy-tale world and you'll find the partisan lens so strong, that of course Biden won. Of course Palin won. Biden. Palin. Biden. Palin...
No. And the national polls are probably a better barometer than the very skewed ones you find on a conservative blog.
Neocon News writes:
This is what I had been waiting for. We can clearly see now that despite her apparent lack of in-depth knowledge on some issues, SarahPalin is what John McCain told us she was: a bold, intelligent executive with her eyes set on the future who WILL do just fine with some on the job experience.I can appreciate this. I was enthusiastic, at first, over Palin. I too began to drift, and was hoping that something would pull me back in to the fold, as it were. I wanted to believe in McCain again, and this debate was an opening for just that.
Little did I know, my faith was already drained. All I could hear were empty words, relatively well spoken, from a woman who I honestly believe is completely unqualified for the job. She does not have it in her to lead the free world.
I identify with the neoconservative belief in democracy promotion and the accompanying belief in free trade, and globalism.
Is Palin the one who will lead us into a new global society, a freer world...can she usher in democracy and peace, and broker the sorts of peace deals and diplomacy we need to move this country and this world into an age of peace? Or will she be seen as just another cowboy crusader a la G.W.B.?
Fred Kaplan writes:
So Gov. Sarah Palin can speak spontaneously in complete and coherent sentences.This cuts to the heart of my argument. So what if Palin was warm, coherent, pretty, or any other damn thing? Shouldn't we expect the nominee to be coherent, cogent, smart, thoughtful, etc. coming into the debate? Is this honestly what thesebloggers and commentators are crooning on and on about? That she can speak in full sentences? Seriously? Is this the bar by which we will now judge her...a simple improvement over her previous interviews?
Let's judge her, then, as we would a presumptively seasoned and competent political leader. By that standard, on issues of foreign policy, she was outgunned by Sen. JoeBiden at every turn.
At this point I would like to see Palin hold her own in a press conference. She can obviously beat around the proverbial bush. The last thing I want is another national leader who bases their term on obfuscation, deception, and dodges.
Robert Schlesinger has some advice:
...Be supporters and others who are quick to suggest that Palin's performance Thursday night should expunge from memory her comically faltering inability to answer fairly basic political questions from Katie Couric and others. This was no exoneration of Palin. Here, Palin got to answer predictable questions with little flak from Biden. And when she lacked an actual answer and had to pivot to a talking point, Palin managed to avoid the uncomfortable "We both know you've stumped me but I'm going to try to squirm out of it" grin that she flashed so often with Couric.