Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Read this article.

The current situation.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bush: a classic liberal

redhurt and I largely agree that, however you judge the actions of George W. Bush in the end, he's not a traditional conservative. We've even tossed around the idea that he's the second coming of LBJ--a hawkish, affable, big government Texan. Now, I've got Jonah Goldberg backing me up on this, even mentioning one of LBJ's programs in a column:

"President Bush's compassionate conservatism was never intended to be radical, it was meant to be the Republican version of feel-your-pain Clintonism. If Bush's domestic spending were a Broadway musical, reviewers would call it "Lavish!" and "Spectacular!" His big first-term domestic initiatives — aside from tax cuts — were an education bill cosponsored by Ted Kennedy, campaign finance "reform" favored by the sensible-shoes types and the biggest expansion in entitlements (prescription drug benefits) since the Great Society."

What's worst about GWB is that, for progressives, he's the worst of conservatism and liberalism put together. (I've said parts of this before in posts where I've had to clarify both what I believe and what I think liberalism should be: I'm not usually for "greater federal involvement" in things, I don't believe we should solve problems by "throwing money at them," I think affirmative action is ridiculous, I think a president's judicial nominees should, most of the time, be accepted and ratified, etc.) But GWB wields the twin powers of big government and big business recklessly: he starts wars, he creates new departments, he cuts taxes. It doesn't add up, and I'd like to hear if any of the conservatives in the room are disappointed. I was crushed last year when Kerry lost, after I voted for him before I voted against him; not because I believed in the shifty weasel, but because Bush damages everything he touches.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I am Jack's catalyzing comments

In a comment on this post jackscolon provided me material for a post of my own. Thanks.

"I think the Democrats have largely achieved their point. I find it very unlikely that the United States will really undergo much in the way of militaristic foreign policy in the future short of an obvious state sponsored attack comparable to 9/11. What President isn't going to be gun-shy and realize that he has to meet a higher burden of proof before action?"

This comment begs two questions:

(1) Will presidents really be gun-shy about military action in the future because of Iraq, and therefore have to meet a higher burden of proof?
(2) Is this a good thing?

My short answer to the first question would be no, obviating the second question. But my no is not because I don't think the Iraq war will change the way we debate and embark upon armed conflicts; I think it will, and it's just too soon to say how. I think the answer is no because the United States is in a curious position: that of a permanent state of military readiness, with an economy dependent on military proceedings and hardware, and in possession of no-one-but-the-Joint-Chiefs-know how many military bases, compounds, and prisons abroad.

People overestimate the bellicosity of a George W. Bush and understimate it in a Bill Clinton. When the presidents who are traditionally seen as the most dovish were president, there were still wars fought, there were still military actions carried out, the defense dollars kept flowing, and we kept up intelligence and maintenance actions abroad. George W. Bush, two wars, and a pathetic response by the intellectually bankrupt and feeble Democratic party don't change ANY of that. IF, as I believe, there was manipulation and deception about intelligence during the build-up to the Iraq war, it was merely the latest example of an essential component of American foreign policy.

More snippets

(1) NRO's blog is quite good.

(2) The Republicans stepped up and drop-kicked the Democrats right through the goal posts on Friday by calling a vote on a resolution to pull out of Iraq. The bill was thunderingly defeated 403 to 3, as intended. Here's the AP's take:

"Republicans hoped to place Democrats in an unappealing position -- either supporting a withdrawal that critics said would be precipitous or opposing it and angering voters who want an end to the conflict."

I thought calling the vote was a totally sweet move by the Republican leadership, and wish Democrats would do more things like it. Nancy Pelosi, D-Hypocrite, disagreed and called it "a disgrace." Ha. Several Democrats called it a "political stunt." REALLY? Thanks for the incisive analysis--I couldn't tell.

Read about it here, here or here.

(3) Anyone have any thoughts on this weird article by Jack Shafer, Slate's Guy Who Hates on the New York Times and Google?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The straight talk express

John McCain was on NPR this week. Asked in an e-mail whether or not Iraq was worth it, he said, plainly, "If we succeed, it was--if we don't, it wasn't." We can all agree that success would be a free, stable, Democratic Iraq free of most US troops in 2-10 years.

Is McCain correct?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Slate strikes back

For those of you who read my blog but don't read Slate, go read Slate! Start here or here and read all of the "College Week" articles--they're provocative, particularly relevant to those of us who are still in school or recent graduates, interesting, and (mostly) short. Anyone is welcome to use this post as a forum to discuss them. I'll throw down a comment or two after I get through them all.

In other news, Cheney is a well-connected man; here is a good Jonah Goldberg column about Harry Reid; and only 5 more days until Christmas.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The new corporate raiders

That college presidents are, in some cases, making more than they have in recent years is inevitably going to trigger conservative talk about the free market and supply demand being pitted against liberal talk about justice and fairness. (Perhaps liberals will propose that we assess a windfall tax on the salaries of college presidents.) What I think most analyses miss is the fact that this is a self-perpetuating system.

"We've created a cadre of hired guns whose economic interests are totally divorced from students and faculty," said Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a nonprofit group based in San Jose, Calif. "It creates a real problem for leadership, and does nothing to help higher education."

I don't think Patrick Callan is correct. The prestige, new buildings and increased endowment and salaries that skilled presidents can bring in might sit fine with students and faculty. Thus, Callan misses the point of his own first two words: WE'VE CREATED. The demands of trustees, influential donors and faculty, and uninvolved parents are to blame for Ben Ladner spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on chocolate, or whatever the heck he did. Students made a website back in 2002 (2002!) pointing out his excesses, and no one picked up on it until 2005.

If we really want to discuss this intelligently, we need to bring in the enormous pressures on permanent fund-raisers WITHOUT sacrificing our ability to criticize people who abuse the system. Like Ladner.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

When blogs attack

Pragmaticism was vandalized recently. I apologize for the interruption--the culprit is now being reeducated, and by reeducated I mean we're making him listen to "Justin Timberlake: A Tribute to Bono" over and over.

Forbes magazine had an interesting and polemical cover story the other day: Attack of the Blogs. They throw down the gauntlet at the beginning of the article:

'Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo..."Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality," says Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Intelliseek, a Cincinnati firm that sifts through millions of blogs to provide watch-your-back service to 75 clients, including Procter & Gamble and Ford.'

The main point of the article is that blogs are a difficult-to-fight way to attack brands and people. I don't disagree--they (1) do attack brands and people, and (2) they are difficult to fight. But it's almost as if the article undermines its own point by doing what it's railing against--taking blogs so darn seriously. Because there are fewer checks and balances on a blog, it's harder to get a blog to stop, or track down its author, than, say, a newspaper story. BUT, the flipside of that is that (at least in theory) we'd take a blog less seriously than an article in the newspaper. So, do these two forces cancel each other out, or does, as the article asserts, the bad outweigh the good?

I wonder if comments on this post will split down political lines. I'll put forth my own argument after we get into the discussion.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005



The changing of the judge that was going to decide Tom Delay's case is unreal. The message it sends is that if a wealthy and powerful person does not like the way their case is shaping up, they can use wealthy lawyers to get it changed. In this case, Delay wanted his judge removed because he's a Democrat who's donated to Moveon.org, and his trial moved out of Austin because it's a liberal college town. This is a bad, bad precendent to set. This means that Ken Starr shouldn't have investigated Clinton, and that we need to check the political alliances and contributions of our Supreme Court justices before they decide cases.


Harry Reid forced the Senate into a rare closed-door session yesterday for a sweet partisan huddle about the intelligence failure leading up to the Iraq war. Republican leaders quickly derided the move using all sorts of fancy words devoid of content, like "grandstanding" and "stunt." But I think Harry Reid is right: this was a victory for the American people. Ask yourself this question: is more or less information about Iraq going to come out because of this? The answer CAN'T be less, and more information about the political workings of the most powerful politicians is ALWAYS a victory for the people.