Tuesday, January 30, 2007

She's a Clinton, all right.

Self-centered, calculating, with a streak of presumptive entitlement a mile wide:

SEN. Hillary Clinton said over the weekend that "I really resent" the fact American troops may be tied up in Iraq in January 2009 - when she hopes to be president of the United States.

"I am going to level with you," she said. "The president has said this is going to be left to his successor. I think it is the height of irresponsibility, and I really resent it."

That's actually an interesting, even thought-provoking, formulation. It's rare to hear questions about difficult policies discussed in terms of personal resentments, but perhaps this is one of the areas where Hillary Clinton will blaze a new presidential trail.

Imagine, for example, that President Bush had given a speech a few days after 9/11 declaring he really resented the fact that Bill Clinton didn't kill Osama bin Laden before Bush became president.

Read the whole thing.


Monday, January 29, 2007

And people wonder why I hate the two-party system.

Yes, Rudy Giuliani Is a Conservative

That's pro-abortion ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, in case you hadn't realized.

The most insulting part comes right at the end of the piece:

And if social and religious conservatives fret about Giuliani’s more liberal social views, nevertheless, in the general election such views might make this experience-tested conservative even more electable.

In other words--"Hold your nose and bend over."

Could you see a piece like this being written about a pro-life Democrat? Of course not. Unrestricted legal abortion is one of the core beliefs of the Democratic Party; for all intents and purposes, there's no such thing as a pro-life Democrat--and that's the whole problem.

The Republican Party isn't pro-life because that position fits the party's core beliefs; it's pro-life because the Democratic Party is pro-choice. It can get away with expanding its platform like that because there are only two parties--and more importantly, that makes its pro-life stance one of the issues "moderate" Republicans can and do freely shed in the name of electability.

Why do I hate the two-party system? Because I'm pro-life, and the pro-life movement needs the GOP more than the GOP needs the pro-life movement--and the GOP and the pro-life movement both know it.


Friday, January 26, 2007

The ever-predictable Iran nuclear showdown continues...

If you didn't see this one coming, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in. Iran is not backing down:

UN says Iran plans nuclear development

Compouding the farce:

A top State Department official said it would be a "major miscalculation" by Iranian authorities if they carry out the reported plan.

"If Iran takes this step, it is going to confront universal international opposition," said U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns. "If they think they can get away with 3,000 centrifuges without another Security Council resolution and additional international pressure, then they are very badly mistaken."

Yes, that's right, Iran--we're sternly wagging our finger at you! And if you don't back down...we'll sternly wag our finger at you some more!

And if you still won't succumb...yes, you guessed it--more finger wagging!

...Hey, why not? Look how well it worked with North Korea.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Worth a look?

Interesting proposal in today's Arizona Republic, proposing a three-country energy alliance between the US, Canada, and Mexico.

I'm not sure whether it would work, but it does look interesting, particularly the potential benefits for developing Mexico's economy:

Investment in Mexico's Peninsula de Atasta, an ethanol plant in Iowa or a hydroelectric plant in Quebec enriches customers for whom the United States is a primary source of both manufactured goods and services, including tourism.

A wealthier Mexico also means more visitors to the parks of Orlando and Anaheim, the golf resorts of Phoenix or to shop at Houston's Galleria. Canadians, for their part, flock first to New York, Arizona, California or Florida when they have extra change to spend.

The ancillary effects, the impact on our societies, of secure energy production cannot be underestimated. Today, we are witnessing a massive shift of manufacturing to regions outside North America that increasingly secure their energy in the dirtiest forms possible, often from some of our nation's most resolute opponents. This explosion in production does not much benefit America's industries; instead, China's major non-commodity imports come from nearby Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Far better for the United States and Canada if a new energy boom were to supercharge the Mexican economy. A Mexico that creates jobs and funds education, roads and other basic infrastructure investments represents a twofold boon. It generates new markets for American businesses, and it undermines the root causes of why so many Mexicans seek a better future in the United States and, increasingly, in Canada. (Emphasis mine)

Could this be it? Is this the solution to the immigration problem we've been looking for?


Friday, January 19, 2007

This post brought to you by the Department of Wishful/Manipulative Thinking.

It never fails. In any debate about rights, a "middle ground" proposal will always--always!--ignore the fundamental differences that made the issue in question an issue in the first place...and, more often than not, the person putting forth the "middle ground" proposal darn well knows that, and is trying to secure a permanent advantage for his/her side under the camouflage of "broad-mindedness" and "compromise."

Witness two columns published today, from two different sides of two technically separate but closely related issues. First, regarding embryonic stem cell research, comes A Middle Ground for Stem Cells by Yuval Levin, an advocate of President Bush's position restricting funding for embryo-destructive research:

At its heart, then, when the biology and politics have been stipulated away, the stem cell debate is not about when human life begins but about whether every human life is equal. The circumstances of the embryo outside the body of a mother put that question in perhaps the most exaggerated form imaginable, but they do not change the question.

And thus, Levin completely (and probably deliberately) evades the point, because this question has already been addressed, and is being addressed, and the answer thus far is a resounding NO. Abortion policy, as it stands, dictates that not only is embryonic human life less valuable than another human being's life or health, it is less valuable than another human being's convenience--by Constitutional law, there can be no restrictions whatsoever on abortion during the first three months of pregnancy, which certainly covers the stage of prenatal development we are concerned with here.

Embryonic stem cell research is a subset of the abortion debate. If abortion were a settled issue, then there would be no controversy about embryonic stem cell research--it would either be an unthinkable atrocity, or a better use for the waste products of an abortion than simple disposal.

It's because abortion isn't a settled issue that we have both sides forced to jockey over stem cells, each looking to gain a back-door advantage over the other without really admitting what it is that they are after.

And speaking of abortion, the same deceptive tactics have long been at work there, as well. Witness our second column, Roadblock to abortion compromise by Ellen Goodman:

For at least a dozen years, anti-abortion activists tried to portray their pro-choice opponents as the extremists. But gradually, from Terri Schiavo to Plan B to stem-cell opposition, the right wing overreached. In that reddest of states, South Dakota, voters in November repealed an abortion ban that echoed the theme: No exception! No compromise!

Meanwhile, pro-choice groups spent those same years listening to the people who want to keep abortion legal but less numerous. If there are 3 million unplanned pregnancies and half of them end up in abortion, you do the math. The point on which most Americans agree is reducing unplanned pregnancies.

In any debate, the easiest way to win, especially when your own side's arguments are defective, is by defining or redefining the issue in such a way that the parameters favor you--so that it is impossible for your opponent to win. That's exactly what Goodman is doing here, with a "middle ground" strategy that has also been adopted by Senator Clinton (itself a descendant of her husband's famous declaration that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare").

Note how the abortion debate is framed, not in terms of the nature of the act of abortion itself, but in terms of reducing the number of abortions. If you accept this as the ultimate question, then the debate becomes a question of reducing abortions by outlawing abortion vs. reducing abortions by reducing pregnancies--a utilitarian angle that the pro-choice movement will win every time.

The "extremist" pro-life argument, by contrast, is that, since abortion is murder, it necessarily follows that legal abortion is government-sanctioned murder--a grave evil in and of itself, and something that should be eliminated, regardless of how effective it is at reducing the number of abortions.

Instead, the corresponding "extremist" pro-choice argument opposed to this--that it's not government-sanctioned murder (or, alternately, that government-sanctioned murder is just fine)--is disguised as part of the compromise. Under false pretenses of "reaching out" to the opposition, the pro-choice movement seeks to secure for itself a permanent advantage on the only question that really counts.

It's slick, it's condescending, it's deceptive--in short, it's perfectly in keeping with the character and methodology of the pro-choice movement.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Reality: 3 Stanford: 0

There's some irony in seeing the Journal Sentinel's Greg Stanford, in today's Crossroads column, charge President Bush with "confusing the world as he wishes it to be with the world as it is." Stanford's own view of the world is...well...

Perhaps a couple of examples from the column will help illustrate.

First, there is the matter of Bush's proposed troop increase:

Still, he talked as if, deep in his bowels, he really believed he was right all along and that the United States shall prevail just by staying the course. Yes, he would do some jiggering - for one, increasing troop strength to 153,500.

That step merely reverts, though, to an earlier part of the course. Just two months ago, American troops were 152,000-strong in Iraq; a year ago, troop level stood at 160,000.

This is a classic strawman argument. Stanford, avowed...realist...that he is, should know very well that increasing the troop levels is just one part of the changes Bush has made, and far from the most important. The "green light" to engage insurgents (where before politics often handicapped US forces) is a much bigger one, as is the announced intention to cut off Syrian and especially Iranian interference in the country.

To gank an infamous male lament rather drastically out of context...it's not the size that matters--it's what you do with it.

Then, there are the problems in Iraq and the consequences of failure:

Bush's references to the dangers in Iraq also strike me as less than honest. He talked about al-Qaida terrorists, Sunni insurgents, Shiite death squads and about a "vicious cycle of sectarian violence." He went on to say:

"The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people."

But all of these problems, current and potential, are entirely his own doing.

Now, granted--Iraq would not currently be in a near-civil war if the United States hadn't invaded and Saddam Hussein were still in power, so to that extent, Stanford is correct. Bush set the table for everything that followed.

But entirely Bush's own doing? This would be funny, if Stanford weren't actually serious. His ill-conceived "Bring 'em on" notwithstanding, it was not Bush who invited Al-Qaeda to do its best to disrupt the fledgling Iraqi government. It was not Bush who invited Sunni insurgents to seek to do likewise. It was not Bush who blew up the Golden Mosque of Samarra, or who invited Iran to egg on Shiite retaliation.

It was Bush who failed to deal adequately with these threats, but that's a far cry from saying that he authored them.

And as for the consequences of failure...lest we forget, two of the major rallying cries for Al-Qaeda prior to 9/11--the sanctions against Iraq, and American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia--were direct reactions against Saddam Hussein's government, which Stanford apparently believes should have been left in power. And on the subject of Iran, it should be pointed out that their nuclear ambitions are not new. What is new is that Iraq is not occupying the international community's attention by thumbing its nose at inspectors.

Iraq becoming a launching pad for terrorist attacks...OK, that one I'll grant, if only because, should Bush succeed in his democracy project, the country would serve much the same purpose for our side.

Then, most incredibly:

True, the invasion of Iraq had an upside, which Bush is quick to point out: the removal of a bloody tyrant from office. But he never owns up to the huge downside of offing a secular government that kept the Iraq factions under control, opposed "radical Islamic extremists" and served as a check on Iran.

As a consequence, he neglects to address a key question: Since our presence prompted all these problems, what makes him think our continued presence will make them go away?

Amazingly, Stanford contradicts his own argument. "Since our presence prompted all these problems"? He just claimed the very sentence before that it was our removing the secular government, not our presence, that set these problems off!

Our continued presence may not, in and of itself, make them go away--but withdrawing our presence and support for the Iraqi government, as Stanford desires, will certainly make things worse.

Strawmen, Bush fixation, ideology trumping his own accounting of the facts--just who's the one guilty of wishful thinking, here?

(EDIT: I stupidly forgot which side of the Sunni-Shiite conflict Iran was supporting. Fixed now.)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Call me Rip Van Winkle

*yawns, stretches*

OK, break's over.

Back to work...