Thursday, July 24, 2003

Good Riddence? There seems to be a lot of gloating now that Saddam's wicked sons are no longer among the living. Now, it doesn't have to be said that these two were evil and deserved their fate, but I do wonder if this should have been their fate. I don't know about you, but I'm doubtful that the Bushies are really interested in capturing Saddam. They want him as dead as his two sons. And that bothers me. Is Saddam a criminal? Yes. Is he guilty of crimes against humanity? Most definitely. Does he deserve death? Yes. But with that all said, should democracies solve their problems by rubbing people out? Will that really help Iraq establish democracy? I have to say no. Democracies are based on the rule of law, not a version of vigilante justice. At the end of the Second World War, the Allies did not hunt down the leaders of Japan and Germany, but placed them on trial. The people of those nations learned that the victors would operate under the law and not vengance.

The killing of Saddam may reassure Iraqis that his dreaded regime will not come back, but it will do little to help plant a democracy. In many ways, I think we have succumbed to the law of that part of the world: An eye for an eye. We have also started a dangerous precedent. Iraqis will start seeking former Baath Party officials, and executing their own street justice. It's already happening now, but this will give it the imprimatur of the US government. This is not the way to start a democracy. It would have been wise for the US had we set a combimation Nuremberg/ South African-style Truth Commission that would give Iraqis a chance to tell people what happened under the regime and try and punish those who were gulity. This would have been a great founding for a democracy. But we did not do that.

The killing of Saddam's sons maybe give Iraqis some relief, but it will not help them build a democracy. Street justice never does.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Ideological Blindfolds: Reason's Michael Young has an interesting piece of former lefty journalists move to the right. I think he is correct that the Left has looked on the war on terrorism with derision and makes Dubya a greater threat than bin Laden. I think he is in point that ideology can cloud what is right and wrong. Good and evil is judged by who is one's friend and who is one's enemy (look at how the Left totes Cuba as a socialist paradise, and ignores the dissidents fighting for democracy). Right and wrong should not be based on someone's political leanings; it should be based on compassion and justice, and these go beyond left and right.

However, I think Mr. Young is being a bit blind himself. The political Right has been guilty of the same crime as well. When he talks of the Left ignoring the mass graves in Iraq, he seems to forget that many of those calling for war on the basis of human rights conveniently forgot the mass murders that took place in Iraq nearly two decades ago. Why did the West ignore the deaths of Kurds by Hussien, even when we saw dead bodies on the evening news? The Right did not seem care then, so it seems rather sick to start crying now.

The fact is too many partisans are blinded by their ideology. We are good they are evil. The fact is, good and evil is everywhere. Sometimes our friends can do evil things and we need to confront them. Sometimes those who we disagree with might do something right and we need to work with them. We need to guided by higher principles than just supporting our friends. If we support someone that is a dictator and causes pain, then we lose moral authority.

Treading Carefully: There are many on the Left that are ready to call President Bush a "liar" for the whole mess of the State of the Union speech. I'm not ready to that yet. I'm for some kind of investigation to find out what really happened first before we denounce the president. The Dean Independents blog makes this case that instead of calling Dubya a liar they should focus on the incomptence of the Adminstration. I would also add that this is also a crisis of confidence in our intelligence community. The question that the Dems should be asking is: can we trust our intelligence? This whole crisis is less about Bush and more about trust of our institutions and responsibility. Did Bush lie? I don't know. We don't have all facts yet. But that is not the question. The question is: Is Bush responsible? The answer to that question is most assuredly yes. Even if Bush was mislead, the buck really does stop with him. He is the president and he has the authority to lead our troops into war. He may have made a decision based on faulty information, but he alone has the ultimate authority.

The Left needs to stop make this issue so personal. Their portrayal of Bush as an evil person will not change people's minds. This reminds me of how the Right made their disagreements with Clinton so personal. Bush is not evil, but his actions maybe incompetent which is ripe of discussion and protest. Focus on that, not on him being a liar, and maybe the Dems will have an issue.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Writers Wanted: If you have a keen eyes for politics and look at things from a progressive-conservative (prog-con) viewpoint; maybe you'd want to work for me. I'm looking to revamp and make it a more jazzy and informative webmagazine. If you have the gift of the pen (or gab) please contact me at

Breaking the "11th Commandment": Sometime during the Reagan years, it was said that Republicans should never speak ill of other Republicans. On the surface this seems a good attempt at civility, but these days I wonder if it is really a way of silencing dissent. If you look at groups like the Council for Growth and their attacks on moderate Republicans ( remember their slur, "Franco-Republicans?") you can see this rule is not being honored by the far right. Reading this Salon story about the brewing fight in the Democratic Pary makes me think that dissent is not always bad. Back in the 1950s the GOP always had strong debates between conservatives such as Robert Taft and moderates and liberals such as Dwight Eisenhower. These days moderates are considered traitors to the GOP and are driven out. Any moderate that is pro-choice or pragmatic is considered not a "real" Republican and targeted during the primaries. We have become a party of yes men. It would be nice if there were some debate in the party, but there is none. And the moderates that remain are too scared to stand for what they believe in. Debate, not obedience, is an important part of democracy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Happy Birthday, Jerry:Gerald Ford became the fourth former president to reach the age of 90 on Monday. There are many who pay homage to Ronald Reagan for making the GOP what it is. While he deserves credit, I want to pay my respects for Ford. He was the "accidental president" who came in after Richard Nixon resigned. He tried his best to heal a nation that had dealt with Watergate and Vietnam. But what I like most about Ford is that he represents a decent and civil conservatism that has long since vanished. He saw government as a force for good and not as inherently evil. He has come out in favor of women's rights and gay rights. He was a conservative that worked for the good of the nation and not just for his friends. Gerald Ford is a reminder that conservatism can be principled and compassionate and not just make that cheap rhetoric.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Eisenhower Redux: While Howard Dean seems to be the front runner at this time, there is another dark horse that has yet to enter the crowded Democratic field. For NATO Commander Wesley Clark keeps dropping hints that he might make a run for the presidency as a Democrat. Franklin Foer notes that his Southern background could help the Dems gain the South as is his centrist views. There is a draft movement ala President Eisenhower to get the retired genera to run. He might have a shot. Hmmmm....would a Clark/Dean ticket be a powerhouse?

Friday, July 11, 2003

Who is the Real Dean?I've been interested in the media's portrayal of Howard Dean. The former editor of, Paul Peter Jesup, supports him and I've had some interest in him myself, until all the media reports painted him as McGovern liberal who will lead the Dems to defeat. He seemed a bit to liberal for me and reading his website, you can see a lot of the progressive left going gaga over him. I really don't want someone who is hard left in the White House. But then I read more. Even though John Judis thinks Dean is a goner, his story in Salon shows that Dean is more a social liberal and fiscal conservative than some lefty who has no chance. He is for balanced budgets, something the current adminstration is making a mockery of. He even got an A from the NRA. When was the last time a Dem got that ranking? In short, he is not the lefty loony that he is being protrayed as. Looking at his blog , it seems that there are moderate Republicans who are disillusioned with the Bushies and see that Dean is moderate enough for their tastes. There are also Independents who seem very interested in his candidacy.

My own view is that there might be the making of a coalition of the far left, moderates and independents in the making that could be a challenge for Bush. Dean needs to start inlcuding moderate messages to win them over, but people also need to look beyond the media and look the Dean record themselves.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Phillip Morris' Other "Deadly" Product: Margaret Wente is one of my favorite columnists and she does not fail this time. The fight against fat is fast becoming the new tobacco wars of the 21st century. What is sad is that we are losing the ethic of personal responsibility and self control. Instead of parents making sure that their kids eat well, instead of not eating two Big Macs, it is a helluva a lot easier to blame some company for your lack of parenting or self control. Yes, the food companies might be offering larger sizes, but no one if forcing you to eat it. If we as a nation want to control obesity, then we should lay off the fatty foods are do a bit of walking. What we do not need is a bunch of nannies who tell us that we are not at fault and have their lawyers suing companies for something we ourselves should be doing.

All of this reminds me a "Bloom County" strip in the 80s where Steve Dallas, the slimy lawyer, decided to sue a camera company for not telling him that he would get punched for taking pictures of people without their permission. In the end he says, "What a country. God bless America."

Sad thing is, I'm no longer laughing.

Blessing or Curse? Today's Washington Post has an interesting story about the resurgence of the Democratic Left. Just 10 years after Clinton came to power, the "New Democrats" seem to be dead in the water. Knowing a lot of friends who are Dems and Progressive Dems to boot, I can see that the Left has in many ways be energized in a way it has not been in the wake of the Iraq war. However, the Left is not good at getting beyond it's base and explaining their message to more centrist voters. The expect that people should just know things are bad and vote the right way. The reason Clinton won in '92 was that he fashioned a message that reached to moderate voters. Will someone like a Dean be able to reach the center where the race is won? It remains to be seen. He has a mix of conservative and liberal positions that could work, but he must do a better job at convincing moderates that he is not just a tool of a Left that wants to ignore the war on terror. Politics is a lot like religion in that one must be good at spreading the gospel to be successful. Progressive Dems have to find ways to spreading their message.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Karma's a Bitch:I'm not a fan of Arrianna Huffington. In the 90s, she was the paragon conservative, spreading the gospel of virtue. Now she has shirked of her conservative agenda, to become a populist. For some reason, such a big swing makes me suspicious. However, this column is a good one. Gray Davis close to being recalled this fall and many people are crying foul. Huffington tells us to chill out. Gray is not the innocent that he is being portrayed as. Remember, last year he spent some of his campaign money to defeat moderate Republican Dick Riordan, the former mayor of Los Angeles in the GOP primary in order to get the oppenent he wanted, the conservative Bill Simon. Davis' cynical politics is now coming back to slap him in the face. As Huffington notes, Californians should take this opportunity to elect someone who has the people's interest in mind, not their political survival.

Fear Itself:Salon has a good article about why so many Americans are not that concerned that the Bushies my just have lied about the threat Iraq posed to the United States. If you ignore the whole unified field about the Bush Tax Cuts being related to WMDs, the story explains clearly why Americans are so willing to give into an apparent fabrication: after 9/11, Americans are scared. I've have always concluded that 9/11 was akin to a rape on the American psyche. Giving Iraq a pasting was away to soothe ourselves. The Dems who are running for the presidency would do wise to listen to this. They need to find ways to acknowledge that Americans are scared of another terrorist attack and find ways to address those fears and give Americans real hope. The problem is that the left is generally dismissive of 9/11. They look down on the war on terrorism and ignore the fear that Americans live with now. They believe that people are really concerned about the sour economy which is partly true. However, I think most Americans are wondering if they or a loved one will face a chemical, biological or nulcear attack and when you're fearing that, you could care less about your job situation, or Enron, or Haliburton or whatever scandal of the week Dems are trying to expose.

Andrew Sullivan is correct that security is the Issue in 2004. People want to be secure from the likes of bin Laden who will find a way to destroy America. If the Dems want to win, they need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Treasonous "Treason":I am not a fan of Ann Coulter or Michael Moore. Both are liars in my view who distort the truth to support their narrow idelogical views. I'm distubred that people love these people saying the tell the "truth," for whatever that means. Spinsanity deos an excellent review of Ann Coulter's latest book entitled "Treason" which seems to implicate every Democrat and liberal in America as a traitor. Now, I may have my disagreements with them but I don't think you can equate liberalism with treason. What's so disturbing is why so many people believe people like Coulter and Moore. People who distort the truth for their own interests poison the debate we call democracy. Calling someone who has a different viewpoint evil is in itself evil. We are a poorer country because we allow these liars to be so popular.

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