Sunday, May 28, 2006

Hoot and Scoot

Let me see. Have I got this right?

We kick the Taliban out of Afghanistan and what we install was going to kill someone because they converted to Christianity until the rest of the world said: Excuse Me!?

We liberate Iraq from someone who was a tyrant so they could kill someone who wears shorts?

Iraq has formed a government. Take the bait. Buy the bit. Declare a victory, mission accomplished, and move on – especially – get our ass out of Iraq. Now!

If you can get a decent interval, go baby go! If you can convince the American people you have won, the Republicans can hold both houses of Congress.

Declare victory. Bring the troops home. Keep both houses of Congress for two more years. Two years is . . . well, two years.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Seinfeld Strategy for Foreign Policy

"Let's talk," so says Iran. How should the administration respond? Two columnists in WaPo have two different opinions of what we should do. (Is this another example of that infamous liberal bias, I hear so much about?)

Charles Krauthammer's response in not only no but: Hell No! The Krauthammer believes the controversy of whether we should or should not talk to Iran will push the controversy of nucs in Iran off the table and front page. As we debate the merits of an America-only dialoged with Iran, the debate as to how to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon will be forgotten. He sees Iran's offer as the old bait and switch routine – sort of like saying your invading a country because of WMD's, and then when you don't find any, you say you're doing it to bring freedom and democracy to an oppressive regime. While Krauthammer saw no problem in our unilateral, preemptive invasion of Iraq, he's all a quandary over doing the same talk-wise with Iran.

David Ignatius thinks it is in our interest to talk to Iran. Talk, exchange ideas, open lines of communication will be the worse thing that could happen to Iran's ruling mullahs. Openness is the enemy of oppressiveness. Ignatius analogizes the fight against Communism with the fight against the type of oppressive religion practiced in Iran. I've seen this argument before and believe it has merit. I argued much the same thing back in January of aught five,

Peace was Communism's greatest enemy. Containment played a most vital role in preventing the spread of the type of authoritarian communism practiced in previous century, but it was peace that slew the dragon. Communist leaders could maintain a tight control of their population when all felt they were threaten, but remove the threat, push for peace, and the failure of communism's ideology was apparent to any and all.

We won the Cold War because Communism failed to compete in the world market. Planned economies are not as efficient as free markets by any measurement such as per capita income, wealth, or opportunity. Any strategy that pushed for peaceful co-existence, such as détente, was a victory for the side of freedom and a nail in the coffin for Communism.

Is this a winning strategy in the war against oppressive religions such as Islamic extremists that fill the ranks of the terrorists? Remove the threat from the outside and the hate and oppressiveness will turn on itself. Ignatius mentions popular uprisings within Iran demanding more freedom. This will have no chance if Iran feels threaten. Even the most out spoken opponent of Iran's current administration will rally to its defense should the country be attacked. We do the same in this country, should we not expect that to happen in others? Heighten peace, not tension.

"Bait and switch" Iran one better than what Krauthammer fears they are trying to do to us. Do whatever it takes to reduce tension in the Middle East. Make Iran believe they have nothing to worry about from the outside.

At the same time, don't forget the containment strategy for Communism. Terrorism is a world-wide problem and its support will not be tolerated by any nation. If Iran wants to build the bomb, there is nothing short of war – and eventually not even that – can stop them from getting it. Let the Iranian know that if a bomb goes off anywhere and analysis reveals that the fissionable material came from Iran, regime change will be required and enforced under no uncertain terms.

However, peace may accomplish what all the threats and sanctions could never do. If Iran is not threaten from without, the threat from within may be realized.

Given the Bush administration's past track record, I think they should adopt a strategy developed in an episode of Seinfeld. They should do the exact opposite of what they think they should do. Whatever Bush and his Neocon foreign policy wonks think is the best course, the opposite is probably the better course.

Since after the last election, Bush replaced almost everyone except the Neocons, we may have to wait for another three years before the professional statesmanship such as that which defeated Communism and won the Cold War returns to America's foreign policy to win the War on Terror. Can we wait that long?

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Lynching by Liberals?

Richard Cohen over at WaPo wrote the article "Digital Lynch Mob" about the reaction he got from writing a story about Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondence Dinner. He didn't like it; he didn't think it was funny. (Disclosure: I thought it was one of the best things Colbert has ever done. Much better than his own daily show, but that is a subject for another post.)

In response, Cohen was swamped by e-mails, mostly negative, vulgar, and singularly offensive according to his second story. He likened the episode to a lynching. He disparaged the idea that emails via the internet, and indirectly blogs, add a needed dimension to the MSM. Instead, they bring chaos to journalism. I suppose he believes we would be less served by a chaotic journalism than the journalism we are getting.

At lease he still has a job at the WaPo. Others who have been the subject of the digital lynch mob were not so lucky. However, his offence – if it truly was an offence since I would defend his right to post such a story – was not a major failure in ethics or practice which is what undid other journalists.

Cohen seemed more in shock that liberals were capable of lynching anyone even digitally. I am not. The anonymity and ease of emails lends itself to the kind of attack Cohen received – most significantly from those considered liberal in label if not in practice. Liberals don't lynch. Michelle Malkin posts her hate mail frequently. Was Cohen's hate mail full of slurs about his gender or ethnic origin?

The original story about
Colbert's speech was not all that bad. He even play Colbert a complement calling him a man for our times – just not funny. And Cohen point in this story, that Colbert's speech was directed at people like me instead of the people sitting in the room, is certainly valid. Except Colbert’s performance was more to the point than almost anything that has happened in DC since the capital of a country conceived with unalienable rights of the individual was build by slaves. Cohen touched a nerve in the blogosphere and received a record number of emails and links not only for the story but also for his digital lynching story.

I don't think Cohen or the people at WaPo are thinking about this in the right way. His little article about the response to his Colbert story ranked number one in Technorati's list of top news stories May 18, 2006 and held on to the number two spot the next day – an enviable position – the most linked post on the internet. That is how I came to read it. I'd like to know how many people read Cohen's story. The days of the print media and physical letters to the editors are numbered. This is the new medium, learn to deal with it WaPo.

As to the subject of "Digital Lynch Mob", I have to agree with him on what he says toward the end of the article. I have written on the subject also,
here, and even titled one post Lynch Mob Justice.

Whether the hatred of which Cohen wrote will undermine the liberals' goal of taking power, of course, remains to be seen. It is a long time between now and November. Much will (and it certainly looks like) will happen. However, that liberals can be as hateful and mean spirited as any rabid right wing fanatic is proven out by what Cohen received.

We have met the enemy and he is us – Pogo.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Liberal Idea, Conservative Foundation

When does a liberal idea become the foundation of conservatism? Conservatives love to bash liberals. It's their favorite form of amusement and tactical political maneuver. Pointing a finger at liberals for all that's perceived as wrong with America was one smart strategy for conservatives.

And it is working. Optimizing on the rank and file wage earner's feeling of alienation from its historical political base in the Democratic Party, the strategy of blame the liberals has worked well for conservatives and the Republican Party. Many wage earners feels the Democratic Party which had fought for union recognition, decent wages, and working conditions has abandoned them to fight for gays, non-whites, welfare, environment, gun-control, and abortion.

They left the party because they feel the party had left them, and the conservative pundits have convinced them the egg-heads and bleeding heart liberals are to blame for not only ruining a party for the common man but ruining the country also. What the working classes don't realize is that they are in a position to pass judgment on the liberals because the liberals were so successful in the first half of the previous century: Democrats, Mission Accomplish: You Lose.

What the conservatives don't tell the rank and file and what they may not even realize themselves is that much of the foundation that is the bedrock of conservatism was once a liberal cause. Here's a short list:

1. "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights;" The concept that individuals, all men, have rights was a radically liberal idea in its time. At the time of the American Revolution, the ruling class had rights, but not commoners.

2. The break from England, the American Revolution, was a liberal idea. So, next time you hear someone demeaning liberal, remember, they are talking about our founding fathers and the patriots who won our freedom and independence. Conservatives at the time of the American Revolution were loyalist, supported the right of the king, and wanted to remain with England; it's those stinking liberals that wanted to separate from England and form what became the United States.

3. The Bill of Rights. Most if not all the rights listed in the Bill of Rights are liberal ideas. The right of a person to own and keep a gun and is protected in doing so by the law is a liberal idea. One of the fundamentals of the conservative political platform was once a liberal idea.

The rights of the every single individual regarding religion, expression, and property are all liberal ideas that had been knocking around for some time but became the law with the formation of this country. That we would become a nation of laws and not one of kings and a royalty is a liberal idea.

And these rights cannot be removed without due process – another liberal idea. Prior to enactment of these liberal ideas, any member of the royalty or ruling classes could come into your house and take anything they wanted, and there was nothing you could do about it. Liberals changed that, and now, conservatives have taken this cause as their own.

But back to my original question as to what liberal idea will become a bedrock foundation in conservatism. I'm no political soothsayer as to what liberal idea will become a cause of conservatism that cannot be separated from them except to pry it from their cold dead hands, but here's my guess.

Decent wages and decent working conditions. What wage earners don't realize is that this is still a liberal idea that conservative business owners don't necessarily believe as a fundamental right for all people. What many conservative business owners don't realize is that many of them would have no business to own if the working class was not making more than just the subsistence wages that were the norm at the turn of the previous century. Had it not been for the successful liberal movement to recognize the right of workers to a decent wage that offered a little extra spending money, Disney World would be a playground for the rich only, much as Monte Carlo was for hundreds of years. Worker pay above a subsistence level is good economic policy. It is the economy.

Health care from all Americans. The debate is on how it should be provided not whether it should. Whether private, semi-private single payer, or government run like Medicare, everybody should have access to basic health care.

Conservatives want to maintain the status quo or return to some perceived better time, while liberals want change which they think is for the better of all. Once a liberal idea is enacted and proves itself, conservatives will seize it as their own.

Yesterday’s liberalism is today’s conservatism.