Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Reformation Day

On October 31, 1517, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in Wittenburg. Luther was looking to resurrect a Gospel squashed by the medieval church, and though he did not desire to separate from Rome, he demonstrated a courage and faithfulness that is lacking in today's purpose-driven, seeker-sensitve Churchianity.

It is my fervent hope and prayer that as a recipient of God's grace, His unmerited favor at Christ's expense, all of my ramblings at Dow Blog would seek to glorify God, with Scripture alone as my ultimate source of authority.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What's Wrong With the Religious Right?

"Hello, my name is Darrell, and I am a recovering Republican. Likewise, I am daily overcoming my adultery with the Religious Right."

Once upon a time, I actually paid attention to the shenanigans of Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, otherwise known as the Democrats and Republicans. I wasted my time with "thoughtful" publications such as National Review and Human Events--yes, I honestly took such pabulum seriously. In 1992, I handed out literature for George Bush (to my credit, I had voted for Pat Buchanan in the Michigan primary). By 1994, I was ecstatic at the thought of a GOP takeover of Congress. I foolishly assumed it would lead to an era of good government, responsible policy making, and, of course, a rebirth of freedom (OK, maybe I wasn't THAT stupid).

By the early 1990's, I already knew something was amiss in the GOP and the "conservative movement." As an economics student, I'd stumbled across Mises, Rothbard and the Austrian cohort. My brother had given me an issue of Chronicles magazine pronouncing the death of the movement, and I noticed Pat Buchanan's increasing disenchantment with the nefarious neocons.

In 1991, Tom Fleming and Murray Rothbard were engines behind the creation of the John Randolph Committee, a nascent attempt to create a new fusionism, melding together paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians. This was an era when hard-edged ideologues on the right were determined to shelve disputes over first principles and build a coalition to challenge the establishment. If Fleming assumed that 80% of what the state did was problematic and Rothbard assumed the number was closer to 95%, couldn't they agree to move the ball down the field and save discussions about defining state sovereignty for another occasion?

In any case, the paleo movement coalesced around Pat Buchanan in 1992 when he ran in the GOP primaries against the elder Bush. In my naivete, I assumed Pat would find widespread support from conservatives. After all, I reasoned, Poppy had raised taxes, signed dreadful "civil rights" legislation, and presided over a huge increase of the regulatory state.

But instead of hopping on board, most "conservatives" attacked Pat. The prissy George Will, the gluttonous, but virtuous, Bill Bennett, and the monstrous Charles Krauthammer all accused Pat of being Mussolini's progeny. Jack Kemp and other establishment conservatives piled on, led by NR old man Bill Buckley, who laid the ludicrous charge of anti-Semitism at Pat's feet (this actually occurred around the time of the first Gulf War, and NR did ultimately issue a "tactical" endorsement of Pat.)

Well, we all remember that Pat inflicted some damage on old man Bush in the early primaries and ultimately was given a spot on the docket at the GOP convention in Houston where he delivered a stem-winder of a speech.

By 1994, a slew of young Republican congressmen were streaming into Washington bringing conservative ideas with them. Bill Clinton had overreached with his socialist health care plan and gun-grabbing schemes, and like the elder Bush had raised taxes, too. Newt Gingrich and company were going to forever scale-back the state and restore a constitutional balance between the regime in Washington and the various outposts of the empire, i.e., the states. Even immigration reform was on the agenda as Californians, led by Pete Wilson, stood up and said "Enough!" to the invasion of their state from the south.

By 1996, though congressional Republicans had been handed their hats by Bill Clinton, another Buchanan campaign was in the offing. This time, Pat got started early, raising money and putting together a staff of excellent young operatives. The conservative alternative to Pat was Phil Gramm, who raised prodigious amounts of money and had the support of "movement" conservatives interested in thwarting the mushy establishmentarian Bob Dole and preventing him from becoming the GOP standard-bearer. In the early primaries and caucuses, Buchanan proved himself formidable. He won the Alaska caucuses and in Louisiana's race, he faced Gramm man-to-man and won handily, driving the senator from the race.

The contest next moved to Iowa, adjacent to senator Dole's home state of Kansas. By this time, magazine magnate (and beneficiary of Daddy's money) Steve Forbes had entered the fray, giving "economic conservatives" a horse in the race. A few weeks out, newspapers were publishing polls indicating that 28 percent of Iowans were for Dole, 26 percent for Forbes, and 12 percent for Buchanan. But with Pat's victory in Louisiana, the tide was heading in his direction. On election night, exit polls indicated that Dole had beaten back the challenge by a single percentage point. There were also indications that some funny business existed in the counting of ballots in Iowa, but with Dole's narrow victory, the contest moved to New Hampshire.

By this time, the conservative movement operating in lock step with the establishment media turned on Pat with ferocity. They hauled out the racist/sexist/homophobe charge and played the anti-Semite card. But none of it worked to dissuade the good people of New Hampshire, who delivered a stunning victory to Buchanan on election night.

The elite moved into panic mode. As the race moved to Arizona and South Carolina, it looked like Buchanan could actually win the race. He was leading in the polls in Arizona, and we know from Bob Woodward's coverage that had Dole finished third in the AZ primaries, he was prepared to exit the race. In AZ, Pat's populism and his stance on immigration were rousing supporters and all the energy was in the Buchanan camp.

On election day, Arizona’s Governor, Fife Symington, called the Buchanan State HQ to congratulate him on his victory. Just moments after the polls closed, Sen. John McCain, who initially backed Phil Gramm, then switched his support to Bob Dole just before the Arizona primary, sent a FAX to the media extending to the Buchanan Brigade "congratulations for winning a plurality of support from Arizona Republicans." But after a night of ballot counting, Buchanan was suddenly in third place, behind Forbes and Dole. What happened exactly? Well, we're not really sure, though there is evidence that the election was stolen from Buchanan and that McCain and Symington just didn't get the memo.

As the race moved to South Carolina, things were heating up. At 73, Dole looked like a dead man walking, but Ralph Reed and the "Christian right" would come running to his rescue. Concerned that Buchanan was too "extreme" and a likely loser in the general election, Reed and the Christian Coalition began to agitate on behalf of Dole. (By the way, during the 1992 primaries Pat Robertson claimed that God told him he should endorse Bush the Elder over Buchanan. God also whispered in Brother Pat's ear that Bush would win the general election in a landslide, but I guess you can't get 'em all right. Good thing for Robertson Christians don't read Deuteronomy). Reed, Robertson, and governor David Beasley constructed a firewall in South Carolina and ultimately strangled the Buchanan movement as it was slouching forth to be birthed.

By 2000, religious conservatives completely abandoned ship altogether. With Buchanan running on the Reform Party ticket (that's another long post for another day), the Religious Right hopped on the Bush Express after his thoughtful musings about Jesus being his favorite philosopher.

Why spill all this ink reviewing "ancient" political history, and what do those events have to do with the leadership of the Religious Right? The neocon/paleocon civil war of the 1990's provided an opportunity for authentic conservatives to take back their movement from Trotskyite interlopers and castaways from traditional liberalism. Buchanan and his movement represented limited government bound by the Constitution, a foreign policy that put America First, and support for immigration and cultural policies that might have maintained our integrity as a coherent people.

On the other side were imperious neoconservatives, conflating Israeli and American interests, driven to create a Pax Americana at the point of a bayonet. The neocons were aligned with business interests, those who believe in the myth of homo economicus, who sought mass immigration as a means of keeping wages low, and who see tax policy and tort reform as more important than the murder of unborn children.

In this battle of ideas and principles, where did the Christian Coalition along with the Dobson/Falwell/Robertson axis come down? They sided with the Big Business and Big Government faction, i.e., the neocons. They sided with imperialistsic, big-government, warmongers, who care nothing for their issues. In short, in the name of pragmatism and relevance it was the so-called Christian Right, aligned with neoconservatives and the liberal press corps, that swamped what remained of the conservative movement. Evangelical voters were the instrument wielded by the GOP establishment, a rent-a-mob that ultimately destroyed the last remnants of bona fide conservatism and constitutionalism. And what did they get for their efforts? Bob Dole and George W. Bush. I'll confess that Ralph Reed has been well compensated for selling himself to the highest bidder, but I'm wondering if the rest of these fellas would like to renegotiate for thirty pieces of silver.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Thoughts on Plame-Gate, and Other Matters

John Hannah and David Wurmser are cooperating in the Fitzgerald probe. Today's Times reports that Cheney was Scooter Libby's source on the identity of Valerie Plame. The story then says:

Mr. Libby's notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson's undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent's identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent's undercover status.


If Tenant told the Veep of Ms. Plame's status, then the storm clouds are gathering, and it's time to bust out the popcorn.

If Plame-Gate, or Neocon-Gate, seems a bit more complex than a Bill Clinton sex scandal, you may want to check out today's column by Justin Raimondo over at Anti-War.com. It may also be helpful to listen to this interview Raimondo gave to Scott Horton.

Marin Walker is reporting that the scope of Fitzgerald's inquiry is way beyond the Plame outing and "has now widened to include the forgery of documents on African uranium that started the investigation." "Two facts are now known," says Walker "and between them they do not bode well for the deputy chief of staff at the White House, Karl Rove, President George W Bush's senior political aide, not for Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby." Walker continues:

The first is that Fitzgerald last year sought and obtained from the Justice Department permission to widen his investigation from the leak itself to the possibility of cover-ups, perjury and obstruction of justice by witnesses. This has renewed the old saying from the days of the Watergate scandal, that the cover-up can be more legally and politically dangerous than the crime.

The second is that NATO sources have confirmed to United Press International that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.


The selective use of intel, building worst-case scenario upon worst-case scenario is about to be put under the microscope.

Meanwhile, Howard Fineman is reporting that the neocons already have an exit strategy--blame the Bushies. In a syndicated column near you, it would be prudent to expect the Perle/Krauthammer/Kristol/Frum/Barnes Axis of Evil to argue that their utopian, neo-Wilsonian imperialism isn't at fault for the disaster befalling us in Iraq. Heaven forbid! Rather, it is the incompetent and crony-laden administration and their waging of war that was all wrong.

Well, yes, the administration is incompetent and crony-laden. But it is the self-styled laptop bombardiers hiding out in cubicles at the American Enterprise Institute that are the real problem. These jokers have been whooping it up for years, hoping to start wars hither and yon, looking for Uncle Sam to play Mr. Fixit around the world. The irrepressible Murray Rothbard explains the neo fixation with invading the world and describes the neocons aptly:

They like to say: well sure we can get in and "win" easily, but how do we get out? In order to fix up democracy, genocide, poverty, hate, etc., we the United States, must create the country's infrastructure, set up and train its entire army and police (preferably in the U.S.). We must teach the benighted country about freedom and free elections, create its two Respectable political parties, and begin with a massive multi-billion dollar aid program to make everyone healthy, wealthy, and wise, provide an educational program (replete with dropping huge bags of food by plane so CNN can do handsprings – even if some of the "helped" are killed by the bags), outlaw smoking and junk food, and feed them all with tofu and organically grown mangoes.


Jonathan Chait is more perceptive than your average social conservative poohbah. He argues that the Miers nomination brought to the surface something that was as obvious as the nose on Bill Kristol's face--social conservatives are riding in the back of the GOP bus and "economic conservatives" are driving. Chait points to the Abramoff scandal as Exhibit A demonstrating the subordination of social conservatives. "The episode," writes Chait, "shows how GOP leaders view social conservative organizations as "rent-a-mobs" that can be manipulated into nearly any cause." Chait notes what I've pointed out elsewhere, that while some conservatives "criticized Miers, Dobson praised her, and she won unqualified endorsements from Jerry Falwell and groups like the Christian Coalition and the American Center for Law and Justice." With friends like this, who needs enemies? Or as Chait more colorfully puts it, "With allies like these, Bush doesn't have much incentive to work harder to reward his social conservative base. No wonder the poor, nutty bastards got hosed again."

By the way, The New Republic, a standard-bearer of establishment liberalism, has a new blog.



Here is a conservative case for exiting Iraq by the intrepid Ron Paul, via The Nation. Here are couple quotes:

"But isn't it quite possible that these dangers are simply a consequence of having gone into Iraq in the first place, rather than a consequence of leaving?"


Exactly!

"Isn't it possible that staying only makes the situation worse? If chaos results after our departure, it's because we occupied Iraq, not because we left."


Amen. How 'bout Paul-Tancredo '08?

I don't agree with everything he writes, but since Scott McConnell assumed editorial duties at The American Conservative, each issue is getting better and better. The latest installment contains a piece on the folly of nation building by James Payne. There are also two short pieces that will make you want to scream. The first, by Phil Giraldi, uncovers the waft of corruption at the heart of the Coalition Provisional Government in Iraq. Then there is an absolutely outrageous essay by Steven Baskerville enumerating stories of soldiers who have had their children kidnapped by harlots with the connivance of the state. Here are three cases unearthed by Baskerville:

• “Gary,” an 18-year veteran with an unblemished military and civilian record, was stripped of his child by a California court while deployed in Afghanistan as a Navy SEAL, according to Fox News. Columnist Glenn Sacks reports that he is now being bankrupted by child support and legal fees.

• Bobby Sherrill, a father of two from Parkton, North Carolina, was held hostage in Iraq for nearly five months. The night he returned from the Persian Gulf he was arrested for failing to pay $1,425 in child support while captive.

• While serving in Iraq, Taron James was ordered to pay support for a child he knew could not be his, and DNA tests confirmed his claim. The district attorney and Los Angeles County Child Support Services nevertheless seized his tax refund annually, blocked him from renewing his notary-public license—which caused him to lose his job—ruined his credit, blocked him from obtaining a passport, and forced him to drop out of college.


I haven't seen the New Yorker piece, but apparently Brent Scowcroft comes out swinging at the administration and the neocons. Meanwhile, Colin Powell's former right-hand man is squawking up a storm about the Cheney-Rummy cabal, saying of Dougie Feith, "Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man," and calling Condi Rice "extremely weak." This is all well and good, I suppose. But where were these fellas when we needed them? Where were the men who possess the character of William Jennings Bryan, willing to resign rather than go along for the ride? Frankly, it's cowardly and scandalous to say such things now, three years too late.

Monday, October 24, 2005

On Taking Libertarianism Seriously--Or Not

Once upon a time, before I grew up, I may have actually considered myself something of a libertarian. However, I picked up my anti-statist knee jerks from Rothbard and Mises rather than substandard Randian screeds or silly science fiction.

The utter silliness of libertarianism struck me this weekend when I found myself sitting in a big easy chair at the local megaplex watching a movie called "Serenity."

Kathy and I make it out of the house childless on only rare occasions, and decided that a "movie and dinner" date would fit the bill. After eating sumptuous steaks, but no cake, thank you, we realized that in order to get home at a reasonable time, our movie offerings were a tad limited.

Having quickly scanned "Rotten Tomatoes" earlier in the day, I noted that a movie called "Serenity" had been warmly received by critics.

Well, it turns out that "Serenity" was something of a third-rate sci-fi/western thriller from the joker who brought "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to the small screen.

I enjoy the occasional western and appreciate the flexibility that sci-fi allows in terms of demonstrating the machinations of the shadowy elites, i.e., "The Man", who rule the masses.

But really, don't the folks at Lew Rockwell.com, Reason, The American Spectator, professor Cowen, and a slew of lesser known bloggers have better things to do than expound on "libertarian" themes in low-rent movies?

And shouldn't I find something better to do than complain about it?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Remember Afghanistan?

With hurricane mania, the Miers and Roberts nominations, the Iraqi disaster, etc., not much ink has been spilled over events in Afghanistan.

You may recall that late last year with the inauguration of Hamid Karzai, hosannas were in the air. Neocon pundit Charles Krauthammer, to take one example, lauded the Christmas "miracle" taking place in Afghanistan. Krauthammer, Washington insider and foreign policy maven, wrote:

"Miracle begets yawn" has been the American reaction to the inauguration of Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan. Before our astonishing success in Afghanistan goes completely down the memory hole, let's recall some very recent history.

For almost a decade before 9/11, we did absolutely nothing about Afghanistan. A few cruise missiles hurled into empty tents, followed by expressions of satisfaction about the "message" we had sent. It was, in fact, a message of utter passivity and unseriousness.

Then comes our Pearl Harbor and the sleeping giant awakes. Within 100 days, al Qaeda is routed and the Taliban overthrown. Then the first election in Afghanistan's history. Now the inauguration of a deeply respected democrat who, upon being sworn in as legitimate president of his country, thanks America for its liberation.

This, in Afghanistan, just three years ago not just hostile but untouchable...

We should take a moment to celebrate a remarkable success that had long seemed so improbable.


But has the Afghan invasion, which was a necessary consequence of 9/11, proven successful? Bin-laden is still at large, and in the most recent election, we have the spectacle of a majority of newly elected Afghani parliamentarians with links to armed Mujahidin groups. Essentially, the new parliament is dominated by Islamic militants.

Let's face facts for a moment. Afghanistan will be governed as an Islamic state; however, such a fact does not necessarily imply outright hostility to the United States. On the other hand, there are some inconvenient facts about the democracy push that the Bushies and their neocon hirelings would rather neglect.

Democratism, as Pat Buchanan has written, is "a faith-based ideology that holds democracy to be the cure for mankind's ills, and its absence to be the principal cause of terror and war." The fact of the matter is that democracy in most Islamic states would prove disastrous. One need look no farther than the recent "successes" in the Middle East. Lebannon's election brought to the fore anti-American elements while slight democratic changes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia strengthened Islamic parties. It's time for someone in our national political dialogue to say the obvious--a policy of democratization will lead, as night follows day, to Islamist domination of Arab politics.

Monday, October 17, 2005

In The News

The New York Times notes a change in rhetoric from the administration and sees it as a harbinger of a new public relations strategy to prepare the public for a long, drawn-out ideological battle reminiscent of the Cold War. "Now administration officials are beginning to describe the insurgency as long-lasting, more akin to Communist insurgencies in Malaysia or the Philippines, but with a broader and more deadly base," says Times reporter David Sanger. The hope of some conservatives such as Bob Novak and Pat Buchanan that Bush's re-election would lead to a withdrawal from Iraq has proven to be hopelessly naive.

Along with Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, it looks like the Veep might be the target of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. In writing about the election in November, I said, "Is there any good news? Yes, there is...The last three presidents who won re-election were saturated with scandal in their second terms. Given that the Israeli spy scandal, the Plame case, the 'yellow cake' debacle, the lack of WMDs, Haliburton’s contracts, etc. are still out there, there is always the possibility that though the electorate did not hold the Bushies accountable, perhaps the courts will." It is obvious to anyone with eyes that a nefarious collection of neocon ideologues and Likudniks operated through the vice president's office to drag the country into war-and it's time someone answered for it.

The spending in Washington has gotten out of control. Despite the record of Republicans in Washington, the ethically challenged Tom DeLay declared victory in the war on pork. When asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good." Can the Democrats be any worse than this?

Paul Weyrich has been writing a series of short essays on the future of conservatism (that it is dead apparently does not occur to Mr. Weyrich). But here he says some thoughtful things about how conservatives should think about foreign policy:

In my view, the next conservatism needs to take a hard look at our foreign policy from exactly this perspective. Do we now have a foreign policy that requires a federal government, and particularly an executive branch, so strong that it is a danger to our liberties? If we do, then we have a fundamental contradiction at the heart of our foreign policy. Why? Because the most basic purpose of our foreign policy should be to preserve our liberties. As Senator Taft understood, this touches on the most sensitive foreign policy question: to what degree should America be active in the world? Since his time, the whole Washington Establishment, the New Class, has come to condemn his position, which I think is the real conservative position, as "isolationism." But the word is a lie. America was never isolated from the rest of the world. Rather, through most of our history, America related to the rest of the world primarily through private means, through trade and by serving as a moral example to the world, the "shining city on a hill." That policy served us well, both in maintaining liberty here at home and in developing our economy.


It's sad that serious conservative foreign policy thinkers like Andrew Bacevich have to go to 'The Nation' to get published these days.

The Boston Globe profiles Richard Land, James Dobson, and Rick Warren. Speaking of Warren, I see that this "seminary" is providing an entire curriculum culled from "The Purpose-Driven Life."

Send Johnny to the local temple of atheism and be rewarded with a free trip to jail, courtesy of local "educators."

The civil libertarians are out in force, out to protect every major leaguer from the specter of hearing about Jesus.

This is probably old news to some, but Pat Tillman, who became a poster-boy over at Faux News upon his death, opposed the Iraq war.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My, How Times Change

A correspondent sends along the quotes below that demonstrate just how thoroughly pluralism--the political equivalent of polytheism--is ingrained in the Christian psyche.

"Providence has given to our people the choice of their ruler, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

- John Jay, first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

"Oh, I think whether she's an evangelical or whether John Roberts is a Catholic or whether someone is of another faith should be irrelevant when it comes to their qualifications for the Supreme Court."

- Richard Land, Meet the Press, 10/9/2005

Friday, October 07, 2005

More War in the Middle East

According to a report in Haaretz, President Bush has claimed the mantle of God’s authority for actions in Iraq, the “war on terror,” and in the Middle East. Mr. Bush told Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas that, “God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.”

With God on his side, the president strode into the Trotskyite hive at the National Endowment for Democracy this past Thursday and profferred up his most extensive defense of administration policy to date—and a boodle of Churchillian grandeur as icing on the proverbial cake.

With the procession of prior rationales for war swept into history’s garbage bin, the president offered up a dose of rhetoric and moral certitude that will surely please second-graders, National Review columnists, Sean Hannity, and neo-Jacobins in the blogosphere. “In this new century,” said the president, “freedom is once again assaulted by enemies determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. Once again, we're responding to a global campaign of fear with a global campaign of freedom. And once again, we will see freedom's victory.”

After that initial dose of syrupy rhetorical spewage, the president resurrected the specter of 9/11:

"Recently our country observed the fourth anniversary of a great evil, and looked back on a great turning point in our history. We still remember a proud city covered in smoke and ashes, a fire across the Potomac, and passengers who spent their final moments on Earth fighting the enemy. We still remember the men who rejoiced in every death, and Americans in uniform rising to duty. And we remember the calling that came to us on that day, and continues to this hour: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won."

Blah, blah, blah. The 9/11 mantra is growing a tad tiresome and beginning to resemble the chorus of sheep in Orwell’s Animal Farm bleating, “Four legs good, two legs bad.” I’ll ask one more time: What connection can be drawn between the Iraqi government and 9/11? Until someone in the War Party can answer that question, they ought to cease with the demagoguery of enlisting 3,000 dead Americans in their imperious foolishness.

The Bushian monologue at the NED was laced with the same tedious rhetoric and shrillness which has come to characterize so much of the “strategic thinking” in neocon circles. Take, for example, this passage:

“While the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane. Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism….This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom.”

Has Mike Gerson been reading Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan? Here we see the ridiculous notion that terrorism is the product of an “evil” ideology. Such nonsense has been discredited by Michael Scheuer in "Imperial Hubris" and Robert Pape. In the NY Times (July 9, 2005), Pape said, "Figures show that Al Qaida today is less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the US and Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim counties."

Defenders of the war claim that terrorists have made Iraq a central front in the battle against the United States. Mr. Bush says, "The terrorists know that the outcome [in Iraq] will leave them emboldened or defeated. So they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction." According to Mr. Bush and his apologists, the US military must fight terrorists in Iraq, "so we do not have to face them here at home."

The argument made by Bush and the neocons begins with the presumption that there are a finite number of potential terrorists that can be penned up in Iraq and dealt with accordingly. In fact, the pool of anti-American fighters has likely grown as a response to the invasion of Iraq.

Not only Pape and Scheuer, but separate investigations by the Saudi government and an Israeli think tank found that the overwhelming majority of foreign fighters in Iraq became radicalized by the war itself.

Finally, the CIA issued a report that said, "Iraq...could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are 'professionalized' and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself," and that foreign jihadists "enjoy a growing sense of support from Muslims who are not necessarily supporters of terrorism."

In 2003, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld penned a memo questioning whether our actions in the war on terror were producing positive results. Rumsfeld wrote, "We lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?” Rumsfeld’s fear that American policy would create rather than deter terrorists is coming to fruition.

Meanwhile, in his NED speech, the president stepped his rhetoric and pointed to a wider Middle Eastern war. He called Syria and Iran "authoritarian regimes" and "allies of convenience" of Islamic radicals "with a long history of collaboration with terrorists." Bush accused Syria and Iran of harboring and enabling Islamic radicals and he said they share, "the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments."

According to Haaretz, American and Isreali high-rollers are already working to determine who should succeed president Assad.

The problem is that Syria has a secular, nationalist government which has tussled with Islamic fundamentalists in the past. She tortured al-Qaeda members for the United States after September 11 and is a tiny country of only 18 million inhabitants. In short, Syria has no ability to harm the United States and most certainly is not aligned with Islamic fundamentalists.

What of Iran? Its brand of fundamentalism is Shiite in origin, while al-Qaeda consists largely of Sunnis and Wahhabis, who despise Shiites. Iran supports the new, Shiite-dominated government in Iraq and supported the January 30th elections. It supports the new constitution and the referendum. Iran backed the Northern Alliance in its war with the Taliban, while Shiite Iranians hate the Salafis like al-Zarqawi, who has called for a war of extermination against the Shiites.

As I have pointed out previously, and James Karth argues in The American Conservative, Islam is fractured between numerous sects. Our aim ought to be encouraging that division and helping to play various factions off against each other.

In Iraq, U.S. policy accomplished precisely the opposite of this strategy by toppling a secular regime and replacing it with a "democratic" regime which will almost certainly enforce Islamic Law and forge closer relations with Iran--the true Islamic power in the region.

Further intervention in the Middle East will only guarantee further loss of American blood, treasure and moral authority. It is time to come home.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Do You Trust the Religious Right?

Attempting to assure the "conservative faithful," VP Cheney phoned into the 'Rush Limbaugh' show to discuss the Miers appointment. "I think you'll find when you look back 10 years from now that it will have been a great appointment," said the Veep. "You'll be proud of Harriet's record, Rush. Trust me." Trust me? Is this the same guy who said, "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction?" And didn't these fellas tell us a couple whoppers about the Medicare prescription drug plan?

"Never mind," say our friends on the Christian Right, who are content to cheerlead like lackeys and lickspittles, thankful for every scrap from the imperial table. If Larry Tribe's name had been thrown into the ring, Hugh Hewitt and his ilk would be attempting to persuade the masses of his "originalist" bent.

Speaking of the Hugh Hewitt Show, James Dobson was in the house yesterday and voiced his view that conservatives need to trust the president:

On judicial appointments, this man staked out his territory in his claim in the campaign. And he has not wavered from it one inch. It's also true of his pro-life stance. He has been absolutely consistent with what he promised to do in his campaign. I applaud him for that, and he knows Harriet Miers as well as anybody in government. He has worked with her for years. He knows who she is. I do not believe that man is going to put somebody on that Court that thirty years from now, is going to represent his legacy, and he's going to be blamed for fooling the American people. I just do not believe that.


Of course, Dobson's protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, Bush's "absolutely consistent" view on abortion has been less than absolutely consistent, but let's not allow facts to enter the fray.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, "enthusiastically endorse[d]" the selection and promised a full-court press to guarantee success in the Senate.

"Once again, President Bush showed exceptional judgment in naming Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court to replace Justice O'Connor," said Sekulow in a statement. "At a time when the high court is facing some of the most critical issues of the day – including a number of cases dealing directly with abortion and life issues – the person who replaces Justice O'Connor is critical.

"Harriet Miers is an excellent choice with an extraordinary record of service in the legal community and is certain to approach her work on the high court with a firm commitment to follow the Constitution and the rule of law. I have been privileged to work with her in her capacity as White House counsel. She is bright, thoughtful, and a consummate professional, and I enthusiastically endorse her nomination."

The National Right to Life Committee has also endorsed Miers. "President Bush has an excellent record of appointing judges who recognize the proper role of the courts, which is to interpret the law according to its actual text, and not to legislate from the bench," said NRLC executive director David N. O’Steen.
"We believe that Harriet Miers is another nominee who will abide by the text and history of the Constitution."

Pat Robertson likewise endorsed the Miers appointment on 'The 700 Club' and James Kennedy said, "there is good reason to trust the President that Miss Miers is, likewise, someone in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas. Her distinguished record as a lawyer, her long association with the President, her self-designation as a strict constructionist, and her effort to make the American Bar Association neutral on abortion, all suggest she is a nominee with a conservative judicial philosophy and one who deserves our support."

Last, but not least, Jerry Falwell indicated that he supports Miers because he trusts the president. "Long after he (Bush) is out of the White House," Falwell said, "they (the Supreme Court) will be making lasting decisions about faith and family, the constitution. I'm willing to stake my hopes on the guy that I worked so hard to get into the White House, George Bush."


So what do we know about Ms. Miers? Not much. However, during Miers affiliation with the American Bar Association, she submitted a 1999 report that included recommendations to develop and establish an International Criminal Court. She also argued that the sexual orientation of adults should serve in no way to prevent the adoption of children. Finally, according to Elaine Donnelly, Miers has taken positions as White House counsel that violate the law banning women in combat.

"As White House counsel, Ms. Miers either approved of the Department of Defense's illegal assignments of women in units required to be all-male, which is still continuing in violation of the law requiring notice to Congress in advance, or she was oblivious to the legal consequences of those assignments," she said.

This time, Ann Coulter gets it right:

Bush has no right to say 'Trust me.' He was elected to represent the American people, not to be dictator for eight years. Among the coalitions that elected Bush are people who have been laboring in the trenches for a quarter-century to change the legal order in America. While Bush was still boozing it up in the early '80s, Ed Meese, Antonin Scalia, Robert Bork and all the founders of the Federalist Society began creating a farm team of massive legal talent on the right.


Unfortunately for Bush, he could nominate his Scottish terrier Barney, and some conservatives would rush to defend him, claiming to be in possession of secret information convincing them that the pooch is a true conservative and listing Barney's many virtues — loyalty, courage, never jumps on the furniture.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Random Thoughts on a Crisp Fall Morning

The army missed it's recruiting goal by nearly 10% for this year and is closing the books on the leanest year since the switch to an all-volunteer force. That can't be good news for the War Party. With insurgencies raging in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military is already stretched dangerously thin. And that's before you toss in the possibility of an invasion of Iran.

Meanwhile, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who oversees U.S. forces in Iraq, told congress that just one of Iraq's eighty-six batallions can fight insurgents without American help. But don't worry, says General Casey, after all "what's really important is the fact that the Iraqis are at 98 percent registered to participate in the referendum, in the elections."

Even John "Dr. Strangelove" McCain had harsh criticism. McCain chastised Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for being overly optimistic because "things have not gone as we had planned or expected nor as we were told by you, General Myers."

Well, Senator, things are going as any rational person expected.

Here is more on Richard Land's continuing fascination with "American Exceptionalism." In an interview with Baptist Press, Land said his concern with international affairs stems from Baptist principles, as articulated in the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. "My point of departure is the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message article on 'The Christian and the Social Order,'" Land said in an interview. "... We have a call to be salt and light not just in American society but in human society." Go ahead, read the the Faith and Message yourself and see if you can figure out what he is talking about.

Good to see that life is returning to normal in New Orleans.

Rick Santorum was right! The legitimizing of homosexual unions will invariably lead to legal protection for every sort of perversion. In Holland, polygamy has now been endorsed. The husband in this arrangement says they want to take their obligations seriously, "to be honest and open with each other and not philander." Hope they don't add a dog to this arrangement.