Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The day after, but what's next?

John McCain won another primary and has surged into the lead with all of Florida's delegates. For people who desired to see a strong conservative candidate take the Republican nomination, those hopes appear to be dashed. The media-anointed frontrunner of the field brings a lot of fears to the table. He is a candidate who has fought for amnesty for illegal immigrants, has said that it would be just fine if the United States spent 50-100 years in Iraq, is in no rush to see Roe v. Wade overturned, and voted against tax cuts. The frontrunner is no conservative even though another liberal Republican, Rudy Giuliani, just dropped out.

With Hillary Clinton remaining the perceived frontrunner of the Democrats, we are faced with a difficult choice. Every election a great many people have to decide which of the two evils is the lesser. In 2008, I believe the race in who's the lesser (or greater) evil is a tie. McCain is nominally pro-life and is guided by the neconservatives idea of foreign policy, meaning that we can go around the world, do whatever we want to whoever we want and if anybody suggests that that might be a less-than-wise strategy is unpatriotic or secretly a terrorist, or worse, a Democrat. For an example of the necons' demonization of dissenting conservatives, I refer you to David Frum's cover story for the "National Review" issue of April 7, 2003 linked here:

As bad as George W. Bush has been in his encroaching presidential powers, there is no reason to believe that John McCain will exercise any restrain whatsoever. Warrentless searches, seizures of records, and domestic surveillance may be only the beginning. He is the most enthusiastic supporter of the Bush Doctrine of anyone still in the race. He has routinely called the War on Terror against Islamofascists as "the transcendant struggle of our time." To McCain, Islamic terrorists who reside in no specific country, have no standing army, and use the weapon of the weak are a more formidable and dangerous opponent than Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union combined. Stalin, who is the worst enemy freedom has ever known, did indeed have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Our foreign policy consisted of deterrence, not invading countries that were otherwise no threat to us. Stalin knew that if he detonated a nuclear device on us that he would get retaliation 10-fold.

Saddam Hussein in Iraq, like Ahmadinejad in Iran now, pose no real threat to us. If Iran is in fact arming, I personally believe that it is for its own defense. If you ever pull out a map of the Middle East you will see that Iran is surrounded to the west (in Iraq) and to the east (in Afghanistan) by American troops. To the west and north is Turkey, an American ally and to the south and east is Pakistan, another ally. To understand why Iran might want to arm itself is to realize that they are virtually surrounded. The countries directly to their east and west have been invaded and conquered by the world's greatest power. Even if Iran decided to strike against us, it is only because they have watched us strike their neighbors, once in retaliation and once pre-emptively. Iran has radicalized because they see us as a threat to them. McCain and others would have you believe that Iran was the threat to us. The Bush Doctrine of pre-emption has failed us and may continue to fail in the future with whoever is the president.

Anyone reading this and anyone thinking about public office should read Michael Scheuer's book "Imperial Hubris," which was originally published anonymously. Scheuer, the former head of the bin Laden unit at the CIA and an expert on the topic, has written about how American foreign policy for the decade before 9/11 and exponentially moreso since, is what leads to Islamic terrorism. He wrote that if terrorists ever do acquire a nuclear weapon, there is no reason to believe they would hesitate to use it. However, this administration has bogged itself down in regime change first for ridding them of weapons of mass destruction which they may not have had and moving secondly to install democracies in their place. But remember, terrorists are not part of countries themselves for they do not wear the military uniform of a specific country. They are the ones we should be pursuing, not regimes that look at us sideways.

Unfortunately this is probably the legacy President Bush will leave us. An arrogant foreign policy that despite its rhetoric and probably some of its own intentions has made us less safe, not more safe. In no way is any of this an endorsement of any Democratic presidential candidate because they are driven only by politics, polls, and greed. We should be able to admit when we have made a mistake, be it policy or otherwise, when it is leading America down the wrong path. McCain is fooled by this broken policy. Like many in both parties, he is invested in the strategy that is bleeding us. The right course of action was not nation-building, but finding the perpetrators of the most hideous act of terror ever committed against us and punish them.

The United States calls for a responsible executive and McCain has done nothing to demonstrate that he is responsible. There is every reason to believe he would continue a reckless war that is counter-productive. He offers no hope of clearing the mess and changing to a more responsible strategy rooted in restraint and constitutional checks. Republicans and conservatives always talk about strict constitutionalism, but that only seems to apply when it's convenient. The Constitution does not only apply to rights for the unborn, but for the president as well. In this, my anti-endorsement of John McCain, I respectfully declare my support for Ron Paul, Congressman from Texas. He is currently one of the four remaining candidates for the Republican nomination (I wonder if this now means that he is in the top-tier). He has a constitutional philosophy rooted in the intellectual traditions of the Right and does not pander with a message that suits the particular constituency he is addressing. As Super Tuesday and the nomination convention approaches we should be aware of what is happening. Are we going to continue down a path which may lead to the destruction of our party and our movement or are we going to restore our principles rooted in our country's constitution, to which we always refer?

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Biggest Losers

For those of you who are political junkies (which I’m assuming is ANYBODY who is taking the time to read this blog) already knows that Republicans in Florida vote in their primary tomorrow (Tuesday).

This primary is important for a variety of reasons. For a Republican field with no clear front-runner, delegates have been distributed pretty evenly among the candidates and this state’s delegates could go to just about anybody. Also, the winner of the Florida primary will have momentum heading into "Super Tuesday" in one week. When some 22 states have their primaries at the same time, the Florida winner will be the last winner the Super Tuesday voters see before they cast their ballots. Rudy Giuliani has picked up on the importance of Florida and has spent his campaign fortune on Florida. He has been unable to compete in the more conservative states of Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina. If he can win in Florida, then the momentum will be his going into Super Tuesday.

The reasons for conservatives to bemoan Giuliani are almost too many to mention, but here are a few: he is a pro-abortion Republican, he restricted the gun rights of New Yorkers, he did nothing to solve the problem of illegal immigration, he exercised authority in New York autocratically, and there is plenty of reason to believe that he would be even more bellicose than Bush internationally. Is that enough or should I go on?

However, Mitt Romney and John McCain have been the ones with momentum lately and they have been duking it out in Florida. Romney has flip-flopped most noticeably on abortion becoming pro-life only in the last couple years (that is, once he stopped running for public office in Massachusetts). Romney exudes competence without clubbing people over the head with it the way Hillary Clinton or John McCain do. He has run tight businesses in the private sector and is the personification of the "Country Club Republican" stereotype. He has the smarts but none of the touch of a Mike Huckabee that tends to connect with people on a personal level. However, conservatives tired of the Bush foreign policy should be wary of Romney as he was praised and ultimately endorsed by "National Review" in part for sharing the same foreign policy instincts of the current president. However, he has made no indication that he would expand the War on Terror.

John McCain is pro-life but he has never befriended conservatives so there is little reason for him to be trusted now. He is a belligerent warmonger who has said he would be perfectly fine if American troops spent the next 50 to 100 years pacifying Iraq while he fixes his eyes on Iran. He has voted against the Bush tax cuts, he was part of the "Gang of 14" Republicans and Democrats who blocked then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's "Nuclear Option" which would have halted Democratic filibusters of Bush's judicial nominees. And conservatives should always be cautious of the Democrats' favorite Republican. A McCain victory is no victory for conservatives.

But, some good news is that Giuliani is mired somewhere around third place currently in Florida. He will probably fluctate with Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul between third and fifth. And if Giuliani can't pull off at least third, his campaign will be effectively finished. That will be the closest thing to a victory for conservatives (as well as paleoconservatives like myself). Romney is still a little slick and McCain is as disloyal to the conservative base of the party as ever so there is a possibility it won't matter whether a Republican or a Democrat wins in this year's election. Clinton, Obama, Romney, McCain, or Giuliani. What choices. If the final two nominees are any of the five people listed, conservatives may end up this year's biggest losers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What does "conservative" mean?

So, what exactly does the term "conservative" mean? If you think it means increasing entitlements, ignoring the problem of illegal immigration, spending like a drunk Democrat, and waging an endless war, I don't blame you. Republicans over the last 14 years (and especially the last 7) have been an embarassment. Our congressional leaders have indeed repudiated everything they professed to believe in.

Now, while many of those items irk me, it is my criticism of the Bush foreign policy that mostly drives me to write to you this day.

For holding such an opinion, I know there are plenty who will wish to harangue me as a liberal or at the very least a moderate. By definition, this endeavor into Iraq is opposed to all things conservative. "Conservative" implies the act of conserving. Conserving our military does not mean opening war on a country that did not attack us. By definition, that is a liberal war. But our current uses of the terms "liberal" and "conservative" have skewed them to mean different things. "Liberal" now tends to mean soft and altogether opposed to the military. "Conservative" now tends to mean big-spenders who invade countries that did not attack us.

Being conservative does not mean these things. In the Republican debates we have heard candidates (like now-former candidate) Fred Thompson lampoon Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee for suggesting a foreign policy that is less Bush-like. Thompson accused Huckabee in a recent debate of expounding a liberal foreign policy. Disrupting other countries who have done nothing to us is not conservative.

Granted that hindsight is 20/20, it is easy to say that Iraq, now almost 5 years later, was not a threat to us. But, after we invaded the country and dismantled Saddam Hussein's kingdom of lies, we have found no weapons of mass destruction and we have discovered that ethnic and religious differences were at the breaking point who needed a ruthless dictator to hold them in place. The Middle East is not a place naturally inclined toward democracy or classical republicanism. Now, Iran (a democracy) has elected a human-sized rodent in Ahmadinejad to run their country -- only after we invaded two of their neighboring countries! If anything, the venture in Iraq has been counterproductive for American interests. It has raised the attention of Iran, a country for which we have no business. If they really are looking to invest in a nuclear weapon (the National Intelligence Estimate suggests otherwise), why would they not want to do so? They are literally surrounded by Americans or our few remaining allies, namely Turkey. And even if Iran foolishly decided to detonate a nuclear weapon on the United States, the retaliation from us would give Iran a one-way ticket back to the Middle Ages.

We have gotten bogged down in a country we did not have to invade and now the candidates for president are frequently being asked, "What should we do with Iran?" If I were running, my answer would be, "If Iran does nothing to us, we should do nothing to them." Our military is already desperately undermanned. There is no need to sacrifice more troops for this cause. We were supposed to track down Osama bin Laden, but he has literally fallen off the radar screen ever since we went to Iraq.

To finish up for today, I would like to stand up and proclaim that there are legitimately conservative reasons to oppose our engagement in Iraq as well as the saber rattling that is going on for Iran. There are plenty of other conservatives who believe this way and we are increasingly attaching ourselves to the term "paleoconservative" or conservative of an older tradition, one that is not rooted in Bush interventionism. In the words of the inaugural issue of "The American Conservative" in 2002: We will be different. And we are.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Welcome to my blog

I know you must be thinking, I sure am glad there is another blog.

I bet you were afraid we were out of blogs. Never fear.

Over the last few months I have been feeling this urge to expand my interests to blogging. I often found myself complaining about the narcissism of bloggers and the black hole that I still frequently think is much of the blogosphere. I always felt perfectly content to entertain my "real-life" friends with my thoughts on politics, faith, sports, and any other stray thought that might cross my mind. However, lately I have felt a stronger need to express myself and those of you who enjoy the blogosphere are the ones left to deal with it.

I am passionate about my country, my family, politics, and my faith. I hope that I can transmit my musings to people that may have overlooked some of these basic aspects of American life. I hope that people can have something to think about and talk about. These are issues which are very important to me and while I cannot coerce anyone into believing the way I do, I hope that you will take some time to think about why they might be important in the first place.