Posted by Brad @ 3:29 pm on April 26th 2007

Huzzah to Prince Charles!

He’s got a new book out, on organic farming. Ezra Klein gives it and the Prince a proper wotcha.

Posted by Brad @ 3:22 pm on April 26th 2007

Subpoena Power

Does it even exist anymore, in present day America? A dailykos author takes a look.

The kick-off issue is Secretary Rice has decided she is “not inclined” to honor the subpoena approved yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

These are the fights the second term of the Bush administration was born for.

Posted by Brad @ 2:16 pm on April 26th 2007

Democratic Debate Tonight

Just a reminder, though good lord it seems early, the first presidential debate is on MSNBC tonight at 7 PM EST.

The Fix does a good job of setting the stage.

And, of course, we’ll post our own thoughts.

Posted by Adam @ 12:56 pm on April 26th 2007

Veto on the way…

…now that the Senate have passed the war funding resolution with a withdrawal timetable, following the House passing it. No hope of a veto-proof majority unless something changes soon, so battle is joined.

I can’t see Bush substantially losing, as he can just refuse to sign anything with a timetable in and pin disaster on the Dems if no funding is forthcoming, although it could go on for a while; as mentioned before, the war can continue until July without additional funding. The question is who can best manouever for future advantage; whatever happens, Bush is dependent on an unequivocal improvement from ‘the surge’ at some stage this year or so, and it had best be sufficiently good to convince the electorate that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If there isn’t a significant improvement, Republicans may pay for it, and their continued support, come 2008.

For McCain, I guess that he may as well identify himself even more strongly with this, to try to drive a wedge between him and his more cautious rivals or get them to follow where he leads. It’s not like he can back away, so he’d best force his opponents to make a stand, too.

Posted by Adam @ 11:50 am on April 26th 2007

Anti-Americanism

Most of the anti-Americanism I have encountered has been based on a dislike of American policies (which I would generally not describe as anti-Americanism, myself, but it often gets lumped in there) or on ignorance of what America, and Americans, are actually like. I will expand on that a little shortly, but first I would like to direct you to an excellent series of articles, followed by a Q&A, written by the BBC’s Washington correspondant Justin Webb:

  • Series homepage, with reader comments and a link to the accompanying radio programs.
  • Paris, where it all begins, before there even was an America.
  • Caracas, where it’s on the rise.
  • Cairo, anti-Americanism in the biggest arab nation.
  • Q&A, where Webb answers some questions (I recommend reading this in addition to the rest of the pieces, because some common complaints or observations are raised and answered).

Webb does a good job, I think, in evaluating what make anti-Americanism different to other national emnities; he also finds that anti-Americanism is differently motivated in different parts of the world. This last fact, I think, is underpinned by the fact that America is both very powerful and also chooses to be relatively involved, for various reasons, in the affairs of the rest of the world. Given that, in any country, there are many individuals who heartily disapprove of many of the actions of their own government, it is hardly surprising if they don’t like the actions of another government in areas in which the individuals in question have an interest; add to that nationalistic or even patriotic fervour and the emotional satisfaction that arises from hating and blaming someone else is irresistable to many.

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Posted by Adam @ 10:09 am on April 26th 2007

The military is in town: Lock up your fathers…

…while they get it on with your daughters.

It is tempting to conclude that the job of running prisons is not being given to the cream of the military’s personnel.

Posted by Adam @ 7:58 am on April 26th 2007

Being stubborn looks better when you’re right

Last week’s “Heckuva job, Al” was followed earlier this week by this Bush pronouncing show of support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. So, Bush plans to stand by his man and, in the course of that, pick a fight with the Democrat-controlled Congress in the way that some of his pundit supporters, such as Fred Barnes, have been urging, perhaps leading to the comeback David Broder predicted back in February (and which I posted about here)? Not such a good idea, suggests Bob Novak, because this is the wrong fight to pick:

All the Republicans in Congress who I have contacted view this posture by Bush to be pure folly. For the long term, they predict their president’s intent to wage constant warfare against the majority Democrats will cast a pall on Republican chances of retaining the presidency in 2008. For the shorter term, they foresee nothing but trouble from Gonzales continuing in power. “I cannot imagine,” said a House GOP leader, who would not be quoted by name, “how [Bush] thinks Gonzales can function effectively with no Republican support.”

In every stubborn person’s life, and I should know, there come times when continuing to do the wrong thing just because your opponents want you to do the right thing is, in fact, pretty stupid. If the best Bush can do is, to which Novak alludes, to say that Gonzales hasn’t broken any laws, then he should listen to himself, realise that that’s a pretty low standard to apply to the performance of the individual in one of the most important and powerful jobs in the national government and accept that, this time, his opponents are right.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:34 pm on April 25th 2007

Saving Hillary 2: The Sudanese Shift

As our devoted readers will remember, one of my favorite pastimes is saving Hillary Clinton from herself. Her candidacy is a magnificent disaster, the equivalent of a state of the art multi-million-dollar freight train with a baboon behind the wheel. Hence, there is real fun to be had in imagining how it might be rescued.

Earlier this year, I formulated a gender wars strategy for her, partially in jest, only to see her take up significant elements of it within a week of my post. Unfortunately, Hillary hasn’t gone with the full-on Lifetime-network man-bashing that I called for, and hence, she has yet to reap the potential benefits of my strategy.

And so, Hillary’s prospects continue to dwindle. The latest news: Hillary’s aura of “inevitability” is all but gone, as nationwide results of the latest Rasmussen poll have her tied with Barack Obama among likely primary voters. And so, again, we must ask ourselves what we would do in the shoes of Hillary’s campaign manager. You have lost your only essential advantages and all the momentum of your campaign. Your candidate has all the stump charisma of a sock puppet; she drones, Ben-Stein-like, the most mealy-mouthed of platitudes, until you put her in front of an African-American audience, at which point she drones mealy-mouthed platitudes in ebonics.

What would you do? (more…)

Posted by Brad @ 6:16 pm on April 25th 2007

The Jack Bauer Candidate

I’ve unpacked a lot of the Jack Bauer, Sept 12th, War Hero mindset. Here, Andrew Sullivan himself briefly deconstructs a recent presidential nominee speech, and does a good job of pegging it for what it is. There’s one person in the presidential race presently who exemplifies what, to me, are some of the scariest and most destructive tendencies in the Republican party today. This candidate is taking those tendencies and explicitly running a campaign on them. If you want a starting point for why I’m so hard on the guy, Sully’s brief Socratic questioning is a good place to begin.

Posted by Rojas @ 2:56 pm on April 25th 2007

Metaphor alert

Captain America goes bonkers.

Posted by Brad @ 1:52 pm on April 25th 2007

Music Video of the Week

I really slaved trying to find a video clip that would do her justice. This isn’t perfect, but the best I could find.

Joanna Newsom put out the best album of 2004, The Milk-Eyed Mender, from which this song comes. Her latest, “Ys” is this impossibly baroque orchestral chamber music thing with 6 20-minute long songs about anthropomorphic bears and whatnot, and is a masterpiece, if a little….inaccessible. She’s a tough gal to introduce people to, because the second she opens her mouth a “love it or hate it” reaction ensues, usually the latter. And yet, there’s something impossibly evanescent about her. She’s also one of the best lyric writers of her generation, ridiculously confident and weird and otherworldly; Lewis Carrollish. Anyway, like I said, this clip doesn’t do any of it justice, but, here it is.

Joanna Newsom – The Book of Right-On

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 1:00 pm on April 25th 2007

Fred Thompson on Federalism

So, I’ve been determined to not be a cheap date for Fred Thompson, remaining pretty skeptical, but his last few op-eds have me swooning just a little bit. Mostly because he sounds like a conservative, a rare breed these days in the Republican party.

Read his latest on federalism, something you don’t hear much about anymore.

In response to Ramesh Ponnuru whining about Thompson’s vote against federal good Samaritan laws:

This is traditionally state law stuff. Is this really something the federal government should involve itself in?
I thought not, but even some of my conservative colleagues (as well as writers) get caught up in the desire to federalize an issue if they could help a “good guy” or stick it to a “bad guy.” This may be a desirable goal in the abstract but I don’t think our Founding Fathers had this in mind.

Blake at RCP gives some added perspective on the splash of refreshment this represents, both in terms of the idea as well as the mere fact of the conversation.

Posted by Brad @ 12:02 pm on April 25th 2007

Quote of the Day

Harry Reid, responding to a myriad of Vice Presidential opinions on his legislative direction on Iraq:

“The president sends out his attack dog often,” said Mr. Reid. “That’s also known as Dick Cheney.”

Defending the legislation up for a vote this week, he said, “We believe the troops should get every penny they need and we have put our money where our mouth is with supplemental appropriations, but we believe there must be a change of direction in the war in Iraq.”

Mr. Reid said he was not going to engage in a tit-for-tat with the vice president. “I’m not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating,” Mr. Reid said.

Posted by Adam @ 11:14 am on April 25th 2007

Bayrou not going to play Kingmaker, which is probably the right decision

Following the selection of Segolene Royal and Nicholas Sarkozy to contest the run-off for the post of President of France, that I noted here, the third placed candidate Francois Bayrou has declined to throw his weight (and, presumably, a good portion of his votes) behind either run-off candidate.

I don’t buy the Steyn, et al, line on complete doom and gloom for Europe; it’s often based on blind extrapolation of current trends (and for Steyn in particular, I am not sure that I have faith in his numbers at all; still waiting for some response to my earlier question, incidentally). So, I expect that hard choices will get made at some stage and that some of the major looming problems in countries like France will be solved as a result (note that it’s hardly as if the US doesn’t have its own looming problems, for which hard choices will also need to be made). What we need try and work out is when those solutions will be arrived at. From what I’ve seen, I agree with Bayrou at least in his statement that neither Royal’s statist utopianism, nor Sarkozy’s rabble-rousing authoritarianism, look like the routes to the solution; the time for the hard decisions leading to sustainable solutions, therefore, probably isn’t now.

Meanwhile, the BBC story linked above says that Bayrou is going to found a new party. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

Posted by Adam @ 10:39 am on April 25th 2007

Debate is futile?

RCP carries an editorial from Tony Blankley about the hardening of positions on the threat, or otherwise, of aggressive Islamism. I like Blankley on the McLaughlin Group but am often not so enamoured of his Washington Times pieces; this piece, however, I believe to be pretty much right.

There probably isn’t much more to be gained from argumentation about what we already know; as Blankley points out, the unfolding events are now our guide. Of course, there will be much squabbling about what those events mean, even if their truth is accepted by both sides, but positions are now sufficiently well laid-out that facts can be applied to judging them and, indeed, are perhaps the only way to judge them. Of course, it’s not a simple matter; there are many views and many reasons why things do happen the way that they happen. The ideological debate is pretty well set-out, however.

Posted by Brad @ 8:15 pm on April 24th 2007

Kevin Tillman and Jessica Lynch: Heroes

It was an interesting irony to think that listening to the congressional testimony today of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman’s brother, Kevin. The testimony gave a lot of heft and airtime to the cheap propogandizing behind this war effort, but I couldn’t help but be a bit moved by the personal level of it, regular Americans confused and angry, to varying degrees, at a government that decided they weren’t important enough to tell the truth to, or about.

It’s not that I don’t, on some level, appreciate the motives behind the “benign fiction” cooked up by the Big Daddy government to make his children feel warmer and fuzzier about the war. Pentagon higher ups shining their brass and cooking up movies of the week, medaling-as-coverup, or PR coups of planted Iraqis pulling Saddam statues down. It’s really not that I don’t understand that motive, and can even find it, at times, somewhat comforting. Who doesn’t want their government holding their hands a little and whispering sweet little lies at us so we don’t have to worry our pretty little heads off. It’s mostly, though, that they think we’re all such cheap dates. And these stories, I think, are emblematic of a lot of what’s wrong with how certain facets of certain political parties treat our military. As set pieces. As props. Or how they treat us, the American public. As frightened children, who don’t want, need, or can handle the truth.

“I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend,” Lynch said today. “The American people are capable of determining their own heroes…and the don’t need to be told elaborate lies…The truth of war is not always easy. The truth is always more heroic than the hype.” In her case, it would have been easy enough to just take the fiction and run with it.

Or Kevin Tillman (Pat’s brother, who was also serving and not far behind Tillman’s unit when the incident occurred), who has dogged the administration for many months now, saying that “Revealing that Pat’s death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster in a month of political disasters … so the truth needed to be suppressed.” The entire incident was, instead, dressed up in “intentional falsehoods” and “deliberate and careful misrepresentations”, which Kevin briefly listed some examples of, which were heartbreaking, and more callous than benign. The various other people who testified on this incident at the very least cause raised eyebrows. Kevin and his mother Mary make a pretty convincing case that skapegoating commanders and not dropping this on Bush and Rumsfeld’s doorsteps is “disingenuous” and, at this point, a bit naive.

Or Rep. Henry Waxman, a Californian Democrat, who said “The government violated its most basic responsibility. The bare minimum we owe our soldiers and their families is the truth.

Or Rep. John Duncan, a Tennessee Republican, calling the Defense Department “a gigantic bureaucracy” and asking for tougher probing of the Pentagon’s public relations efforts. “We shouldn’t worship the military,” said he. “We shouldn’t let a patriotic fervor in times of war, any request the military makes, any expense they wish to incur. It’s our duty, we don’t support the troops if we let the military gloss over major mistakes.”

Heroism still exists in America; it doesn’t need to be invented, and such benign fictions do nothing but cheapen it. Jessica Lynch is right. And, more to the point, an exemplar.

Posted by Brad @ 7:39 pm on April 24th 2007

The Global Obama

Andrew Sullivan, back from vacation, continues to make a compelling case that I’ve echoed before. Quote:

But this much we can already say: Obama brings something no one else does to this moment. By replacing one of the most globally despised and domestically divisive presidents in American history with a young leader half-Kansan and half-Kenyan, America would be saying something to the world: Bush-Cheney is not who we are. America is not what it has come to appear to be. This country is among the most culturally and racially and religiously diverse on the planet. America has long been a powerful and vital beacon for human rights – not, as recently, the avatar of torture, rendition and executive tyranny. The simple existence of Obama as a new president in a new century would in itself enhance America’s soft power immeasurably, just as a clear decision to leave Iraq would provide much greater leverage for diplomacy and military force in a whole variety of new ways. Obama would mean the rebranding of America, after a disastrous eight years.

Posted by Adam @ 5:54 pm on April 24th 2007

Abstaining from abstinence

The CSM has an article about the results of a study on the benefits of the 176 million dollars spent on ‘abstinence only’ sex education each year.

I am slightly, but not much, surprised that it has had no effect at all on important indicators of sexual behaviour. I certainly didn’t think that it was a good use of money and didn’t expect that it would produce great results because young people, you know, like having sex with each other. If the quoted official has a case to make that the study was not rigorous, then fair enough; otherwise, the experiment should end.

Posted by Adam @ 12:31 pm on April 24th 2007

Round-up

In order to clear the browser windows I have open, a few things that have caught my eye:

Obama’s campaign staff getting a grilling about whether he is connected to some questionable behaviour back in Chicago. I wonder if Giuliani has any of this to look forward to; not just the Kerik stuff but more of the run-of-the-mill corruption that, if one were the Mayor of a big city, one might later discover that one’s associates had been up to.

Cho Seung-Hui’s stone was removed from a memorial of those who died at VTech. More important are some of the messages written there, which are compassionate. I think that the reaction of the VTech community, and the statement from Cho’s family, illustrate some of the best of human nature wheras, arguably, some pundits and campaigners have been scouring the barrel with long arms (I don’t blame them for that, as such, but it is refreshing to see some of the actions from those directly affected, for all that it may become a somewhat distant memory once lawsuits start).

10 weeks after this story was published, I finally read it. Interesting to see that the French birthrate is higher than the rest of Europe, including Ireland, and presumably still increasing. Mark Steyn is delighted, I am sure.

Finally, the most awesome video since that for ‘Safety Dance’ by Men Without Hats, is this (5 years old or so) one for a remixed version of ‘Remind Me’ by Röyksopp:

Posted by Adam @ 12:06 pm on April 24th 2007

Peter Hitchens, back from Iran

Peter Hitchens, who is an idiosyncratic Tory, has recently returned from Iran, and has written this story about his time there, which I imagine has been linked in many places by now (I have seen it linked by Iain Dale and also by Andrew Stuttaford at the Corner; had I two heads, I would have two hats to tip).

The article is long but, a rare occurence, not as long as I’d have preferred it to be. Like many people, I have had friends and aquaintances from Iran, and friends who have visited Iran, and other second- or third-hand sources of information about the ‘real Iran’, but I haven’t been there and am unlikely to; I do, thus, very much like to read accounts of what Iran is actually like. Of course, the reasons I have given above as to why this article so interests me also disqualify me from passing any sort of expert judgement on the impressions that Hitchens recounts, or on the representativeness of the anecdotes he relates. It gels with what I have heard from other sources, is the best that I can say.

There are many interesting elements of the story, but I have picked this one to quote, because it expresses a concern I myself have about one of the most serious effects of the botched post-war operations in Iraq:

As one veteran of the Iran-Iraq War had said: ‘If you had come here before the Iraq invasion, lots of us would have said, ‘Please, come and invade us, come and save us.’ America was the most popular country in Iran then. But we have seen what liberation has brought to Iraq and Afghanistan, and if you came now we would certainly fight, not like the Iraqis, but from the very start.’

As I mulled over yesterday, such benefits as are planned to be delivered down the barrel of a gun needs be considered from the perspective of the recipients, rather than those planning to deliver them. An Iran relatively united against us would be a high price to pay for taking any sort of overt military action against Iran.

Posted by Adam @ 11:01 am on April 24th 2007

The US for limeys, Part 7: taxes

As our ramble, for limeys, through the more boring sides of US life continues, it is clear that no guide to the less glamorous aspects of the American experience that pretends to completeness can omit mention of filing taxes; when better to detail the byzantine maze of American taxation than in the exhausted aftermath of the annual tax-filing circus?

It’s often said, by people fraudulently assuming the mantle of a wisdom to which they merely aspire, that there’s nothing so certain as death and taxes. Well, in the US, they are by no means independent; if you don’t pay your taxes, you will be put in prison, where you will be Raped to Death.

It is generally wise to pay your taxes.

Let us lurch into uncertain action with the everyday experience: purchase taxes. Purchase taxes are much more transparent in the US than they are in the UK. Prices are advertised without applicable taxes so that you’ll find out how much the tax is when you are asked at the checkout for more than the advertised price, assuming that the goods you are buying are taxable which, like the tax rate itself, varies from state to state. There are a veritable plethora of other taxes; in many states, for example, you’ll pay a tax when you rent a hotel room, because the taxes that the hotel pays are clearly not enough to pay for the critical resources you use when you dare set foot in the state, turning the heads of good, unsophisticated, local folk with your filthy ‘money’ and foreign ways. The price you agreed for a car rental may likewise attract a mysterious tax, because government has a clear interest in penalising antisocial behaviour such as car rental. Anyhow, in general, before loudly accusing the person at the checkout of robbing you, check the receipt; if you have been gypped by taxation, the correct response is to loudly accuse the government of robbing you (see below).

(more…)

Posted by Rojas @ 9:54 pm on April 23rd 2007

The gauntlet is thrown

Well, credit where it’s due, I suppose. I’ve given the congressional Democrats a very hard time over the last few months for their Iraq bait-and-switch. It has seemed to me, and to others, that after soliciting votes on the promise of ending the Iraq conflict, the party had sold out its principles by refusing to apply real pressure to the administration in an effort to keep the issue alive for 2008.

Today, however, Harry Reid took the next step, committing decisively to a resolution that would impose a de facto benchmarked deadline on the Iraq operation. So it seems that the Democrats are now willing to put themselves on the line where Iraq is concerned.

Now, here’s a prospect to consider.

What if Bush were to sign the legislation? (more…)

Posted by Rojas @ 2:22 pm on April 23rd 2007

Boo-freakin’-hoo.

From today’s New York Times, a tragic tale of the terrible burdens the presidential primary contenders labor under. Specifically: it seems that all of these mean nasty special interest organizations want them to show up on the same stage for debates, possibly as many as one a week from now through the conventions.

The objection expressed in the article by one advisor–that the frequency of the debates causes them to degenerate into “an exchange of sound bites rather than an exchange of ideas”–falls hilariously flat. For one thing, Presidential contenders have proven spectacularly capable of dumbing down their agenda into sound bites even when (ESPECIALLY when) they’ve had months of preparation for a single debate event. For another, the alternative to these debates, in terms of the way these candidates spend their time, would seem to be appearances at pancake breakfasts, shaking mill-workers’ hands, and pumping various core constituency groups for donations. None of these activities are particularly known for producing nuanced policy analysis. (more…)

Posted by Adam @ 11:12 am on April 23rd 2007

Guns don’t kill people, mentally ill people kill people.

I wondered last week whether there would be quite a lot of post-VTech-shootings debate on locking up the mentally ill. I’ve posted about a couple of articles disapproving the difficulty of getting mentally ill people committed and here’s another one, in which tightening of ‘no-buy’ lists for guns is also mooted as a likely outcome of a stronger committal process.

The guns debate is always hot and both sides are pretty well-organised and committed, so it seems to me unlikely that last week’s events at VTech are going to change much in that regard. I can believe, however, that there may be legal changes to increase the ease of committing the mentally ill to secure institutions; the mentally ill don’t have as well-organised a lobby and support network as guns do and, as I mentioned before, you can’t use them to hunt, defend yourself from criminals or fight an Outlaw Government. Additionally, many people adopt an approach to tragedies that something has to be done to reduce the chance of it happening again, however small that chance was beforehand; if something major is going to be legislated following the shootings, I bet that it’s more likely to be related to committing the mentally ill than it is significant changes to gun laws. I may have something to post about whether the laws should be changed and, if so, to what but it looks to me as if a change in law is possible and, if not a change in the law itself, a change in how the existing laws are applied (I imagine that the case of Cho Seung-Hui will be mentioned in many future committal hearings).

As an aside, I note that ‘committed’ is a rather nice way to describe what is ‘forcible incarceration on grounds of mentall illness’ as is the UK equivalent, ‘sectioned’ (which, I believe, refers to the appropriate sections in the relevant law). The reality is not likely to be so pleasantly bland.

Posted by Adam @ 10:36 am on April 23rd 2007

Boris Yeltsin dead

Boris Yeltsin has died.

Yeltsin was a lot of things and many of them weren’t good but I remember watching the coup of 1991 unfold in the former Soviet Union; when Yeltsin, then president of Russia (biggest of the Soviet Republics) stuck it out in the Russian White House calling for popular resistance to the coup, despite knowing what the new Soviet government was likely to do to shut him up, that was an act of bravery to rival any political leadership. Russian troops refused their orders to storm the White House and then tanks came to surround the building with their guns facing outwards; the coup failed and the Soviet Union, Reagan’s ‘Evil Empire’, broke up soon afterwards.

Yeltsin was a man for that moment; in a sad irony a little over two years later, he had the same White House shelled following a long-running disagreement with the Russian parliament and, furthermore, his failures of governance arguably set the stage for Putin’s ongoing reactionary roll-backs of Russia’s young representative democracy. However, when people count the leaders who brought about the end of the Soviet Union, including Presidents from Truman through JFK and Reagan to George HW Bush, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev and others, they should count Yeltsin as the man who stood up when the old order made its last attempt to re-establish itself, facing the greatest personal risk of all the others on the list, and faced them down.

Posted by Adam @ 10:11 am on April 23rd 2007

You don’t have to agree with other people to realise that they’re not going to agree with you

As I read news stories I tend to click onwards or else keep the window with the story in and plan to come back to it and maybe post about it. I have been coming back to this Bruce Ramsey article, an opinion piece on why there is emnity towards America in the moslem world, for five days now and haven’t been able to work out what it is that I want to say about it. Until now, you lucky, lucky, people.

In essence, I agree with the idea that Western, particularly American, cultural values are not welcome in the moslem world. Not so much ‘freedom’, which is how many Americans, in particular, would summarise their founding principles, but the consequences of ‘freedom’. My personal point of view on ‘freedom’ is that it’s good because I want it for myself; that other people will use their freedoms in a way that is possibly repugnant to me is the cost of having my own freedom, which is only guaranteed (or at least relatively certain) if we decide collectively that it’s open to all (well, all adults, anyhow). It’s my belief that many (most?) people in this country don’t see it that way, but rather see ‘freedom’ as something essentially good in itself; that’s OK, I guess, but that viewpoint lends itself to disappointment with the consequences of the exercise of freedom and, more unfortunately, a desire to increase the regulation of the way that people use their freedoms. Thus, in various jurisdictions, we have laws against drug use, prostitution, public nudity, public drunkenness, obscenity, gambling, etc, plus the likes of attempts to outlaw flag-burning. Because freedom is supposed to be good itself, the consequences believed to undesirable have to be carved out of the definition of what ‘freedom’ really means; this is different to my opinion of how ‘freedom’ should operate, where I only really support legislation to restrict actions that clearly impinge on the freedom of others (and there is no ‘freedom from being offended’).

(more…)

Posted by Adam @ 7:44 pm on April 22nd 2007

Specter’s future

For how long can Arlen Specter walk his middle way, pretending to be a loyal republican on the one hand and a maverick free-thinker on the other? He’s already announced that he’ll run again (I first read it via Inside Report but you can read more about it here) but will the PA electorate, not GOP-friendly of late, fall for it? in 2004, Brad recounted elsewhere that Specter squeaked through the Republican primary as a loyal republican, against Pat Toomey, then in the 2004 election he ran against Hoeffel in the general election as a independent moderate. Is that going to work again? Aren’t centrists going to have become rather tired of his ‘flatter to deceive’ critical talk before he falls back in line with the administration?

Brad will have a lot more to say about this; he has commented before that Specter’s bark is more independent than his bite.

Finally, what got me to wondering about Specter was this article which takes a rather unflattering look at Specter’s showboating at Gonzales’ grilling in the Senate Judiciary Committee this last Thursday.

Posted by Brad @ 5:59 pm on April 22nd 2007

Death and Taxes

Neat little poster, for the budget geeks.

Posted by Adam @ 5:45 pm on April 22nd 2007

GOP ethics woes not over?

The Washington Post has an article listing a number of Republicans in Congress who may face some problems over some questionable behaviour. Representatives John T. Doolittle of California and Rick Renzi of Arizona headline after stepping down from the House Appropriations Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, respectively, following FBI raids on their wives’ businesses, but they aren’t the only ones that face some trouble. Senator Pete Dominici and Representative Heather Wilson are facing some trouble over their contact with fired US Attorney David Iglesias in which they appeared to seek to encourage him to be tougher on vote fraud issues prior to the 2006 elections.

There are only two Democrats listed as facing legal problems (William ‘Cold Cash’ Jefferson being the best-known and arguably in the most serious trouble of all the people mentioned in the article), although I would imagine that more of them must be in trouble of some sort or other (although, having been in the minority for quite a while, I guess that their power to distribute Federal largess has been relatively limited; that doesn’t rule out corruption, however, as Jefferson so ably demonstrates). The Dems are in the majority, though, and the GOP are the ones with the more tarnished image; I know which position I’d rather be in.

The Abramovich issue has been mostly quiet, but presumably is far from played out even with what’s currently reported taken into account. Corruption is much more a political matter than an ideological one, and I can see conservatives’ patience with their party wearing still thinner if there are more revelations; once a reputation for dishonesty sticks, it’s the devil to clean it off and the ideological supporters of a party don’t have sufficient partisan loyalty to wear much more of it.

Posted by Adam @ 4:56 pm on April 22nd 2007

Royale vs Sarkozy

It looks like there will be a run-off for the Presidency of France between Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy. With a high turnout (perhaps 85%), Sarkozy is ahead but presumably Royal will pick up many of the voters that went for the centrist, Bayrou, in this round. I guess that Sarkozy stands to get some of the votes cast for Le Pen, something he should treat with the same caution that he would a flaming paper bag on his front doorstep after a ‘knock and run’.

Manchester United face Chelsea in the Premiership (England’s top football/soccer league) soon and when it happens, many British football fans will express the sentiment: ‘If only they could both lose’. I think that many voters may feel somewhat the same way about the Royal-Sarkozy election.

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