Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why did it happen?

While rage continues to spew out of the mouths of Republicans, former White House Press Secretary and author of “What Happened” Scott McClellan makes his rounds on the Mainstream Media circuit.

These events ask some biting questions: Why did McClellan write this book now? Why did he stay in the Bush administration so long if he had serious misgivings about the war in Iraq, Katrina, and other matters? And why haven’t any of these flame-throwing Republicans on Fox News, talk radio, and the blogosphere attempted to refute what McClellan had to say about Iraq?

There could be a number of explanations for the above questions. While Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, and a slew of others call McClellan everything from a sell-out to a traitor, this writer cannot help but notice no one can say anything back about the claim that propaganda was used to justify the Iraq invasion. To avoid beating a dead horse, I shall refrain from dumping on the president over Katrina, a bureaucratic nightmare that preceded him.

If McClellan’s time in the White House was a confusing one for him, then his 3-year tenure may be excused since he may not have had a completely formed opinion of the events around him. For quite a while I had my own reservations about our involvement in Iraq before I officially considered myself “antiwar.” What McClellan is espousing now is something that more strongly resembles conservative opinions on war: don’t wage war unless it’s necessary. And Iraq was undoubtedly a war of choice.

If this is the way for Mr. McClellan to clear his conscience for something he now mourns, then we should feel grateful for his relieved disposition. If this war is a mistake, as I believe it is, then anyone who feels the same way ought to say so. And as more sources indicate that the Bush administration cherry-picked information to suit their war aims, then more people need to begin opening up to the possibility that the White House version of events is not always the unvarnished truth as the case of McClellan demonstrates.

That nobody can contradict McClellan’s claims speaks loudly. Instead of proving that McClellan is lying, talk radio and other superfluous gasbags repeatedly call the former press secretary a traitor who belongs in the pantheon of Judas, Benedict Arnold, and Catiline. It also leads me to believe that “conservatives” are nothing more than Republican Party cheerleaders and hit men. Many of these people don’t seem to be mad that McClellan should have resigned, but that he has departed from the party and from its titular head, President Bush. They don’t seem to be mad because they think McClellan is lying, but for breaking with their Republican president and for possibly even telling the truth.

Scott McClellan is really a bit player in all of this. He was a barely relevant press secretary who wrote a book about his experiences in Washington while people can still remember his name. Perhaps these so-called conservatives can get back to what being conservative means. After all, the Republicans are merely a political party, but conservatism represents a set of principles and a reliance on the collective wisdom of our ancestors. This writer is more interested in the truth and loyalty to one’s principles than competing to see if he can be the most loyal constituent of my party. Through careful reading and a body of research that expanded past talk radio and Fox News Channel, I came to a belief in the necessity of the Just War theory and the importance of a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Perhaps that is what happened to Mac.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Nothing but the war

It is obvious that I have been harping on interventionism and the war quite a bit lately and I had resolved to cool it for awhile to concentrate on some other issues. That is, until I read Pat Buchanan's column for today, May 30, but more importantly, it was the comments which set me off:

I have resisted to jump on this mantra that the Republican Party and conservative movement have been shaved down to nothing but enthusiasm for our involvement in Iraq. I wanted to think that conservatives out there still cared about things like taxes, the size of the government, and restricting illegal immigration.

What I have found, if the user comments suggest anything, is that Republicans do not care any longer about anything besides the war, and a discredited war and rationale at that.

I believe that George W. Bush has become an idol not only to himself but to the people who still support him. What else can explain such a devoted following? I myself once supported this war, even if only mildly, but I have since changed my mind. As Barry Goldwater is quoted as saying, Don't I reserve the right to be smarter than I used to be?

These Bush diehards strongly resemble Clinton apologists who defended their man no matter what embarrassing thing he had just been convicted of. How could Bush have known what would happen in Iraq? He did what he thought was best! How can you criticize our president when we are at war? just to name a few. But how is this any different from people who defended Clinton because "he only lied about a personal matter"? Besides, President Bush is 61 years old and a big boy now. Let him defend himself.

Additionally, Bush and democratism have become religions unto themselves. The chief article of faith is no longer the sinner's justification by the saving grace of Jesus Christ on account of one's faith, but on how enthusiastic they support pre-emptive war which discards the centuries old theory of Just War: and How sad is it, then, that so many Christians have abandoned their faith in Christ for faith in the supposedly infallible President Bush.

There will be voices out there, "But we conservatives disagree with Bush -- on things like illegal immigration and government spending." Fair point, Bush can jeopardize the national security of the nation because he has blatantly refused to defend our borders but he is lauded because he wages war 6000 miles away and against a country that did not attack us. Waging an offensive war and refusing to defend the nation's borders are both recantations of conservative doctrine.

"History will vindicate Bush. He'll be viewed like Harry Truman is now," many are resorting to parroting. The only reason Bush defenders are left to this is because that is their last hope. Bush has proven himself incompetent in the present and his only hope for vindication is that the future will look beyond his shortcomings. Bush has thrown in all of his chips on Iraq which must somehow stabilize itself to show that Bush was not a foolish man for invading a country that did not attack us. If Iraq remains in anarchy or ends up becoming a province of Iran, the whole enterprise will officially have been a failure.

So why has Republican Party fidelity been reduced to support for the war? Bush has abandoned all other conservative principles which people tepidly criticize, but not an aggressive war. Again, why? I am not entirely sure, but I do know this: the Republican Party once stood for prudence in military affairs and could be counted on to protect the nation. Not under Bush.

I resent the casting out of principled conservatives over one issue. It happened to Pat Buchanan in years past and it happened more recently to Ron Paul. If membership in the GOP and conservative movement means unwavering support for war and nothing else, count me out. Conservatives have a historic principle of non-interventionism and the avoidance of "pre-emptive" or aggressive wars.

As that otherwise superfluous gasbag Nietzsche said, "Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies."

Monday, May 26, 2008

How's that for appeasement?

While news of Bush's alleged jab at Obama over "appeasement" seems to be simmering down, I thought to finally open up my college dictionary. What it tells me is that appeasement means "the policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace."

The fuss a week ago was that Obama has announced that he would openly engage Iran at the negotiating table. As disastrous as I believe an Obama presidency would be, this actually concerns me the least. Obama wishing to talk to Ahmadinejad, the mullahs, or anyone else for that matter is really pretty small potatoes. As my dictionary tells me, talking to a potential adversary is not the same thing as making an actual peace offering.

The argument that always comes up is that the Allies appeased Hitler at Munich in 1938 by handing the Sudetenland, a German-speaking region of Czechoslovakia, over to Hitler and that is the main reason that World War II erupted. In short, it was not merely talking to Nazi Germany. As long as would-be President Obama doesn't hand over a Shiite province of Iraq over to Iran, he would not be appeasing. As Pat Buchanan cleverly put it, Bush has once again made a hash of history (for anyone without a dictionary "hash" in this context means "mess").

All of the noise made about appeasement is just that. In fact, all this noise testifies to the so-called resolve of this administration regarding national security. Proof: we're already talking to North Korea who probably already has a genuine nuclear weapon. So why is talking to Iran appeasement when talking to North Korea isn't?

While it took me some time to finally question the wisdom of the Bush administration's foreign policy (late 2004/early 2005), I have been even more reluctant to consider conspiracy theories. No, I don't believe the U.S. government was complicit in any way with 9/11 but I do believe this administration has been duplicitious and selective in who they perceive as our enemies. It has been an arrogant foreign policy with no regard for history or responsibility. Bush came in with a humble foreign policy (no nation building) but he's leaving with the most arrogant one that spits in the face of our Founders.

So, we are led to believe that talking is appeasement and reckless while bull-headedness and aggression is reasonable and prudent. One important historical note: we coexisted with a heavily-nuclear armed Soviet Union but the possibility of an Iran with a single weapon is unacceptable. So, we are told, pre-emptive war is the answer.

Preventive war is committing suicide out of fear of death, as Bismarck said.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Wasted Vote?

The primary season is finally almost over and now some real decisions will soon be made. Who will Obama pick for his VP? Who will McCain pick? When will Hillary finally quit? But the most perplexing question is, Who does a conscientious conservative vote for in this election?

Last week Bay Buchanan appeared on Fox News’s “Hannity and Colmes” and she included her own very deep reservations about John McCain. To paraphrase, she said she goes to bed at night wondering how she can honestly vote for McCain. Judges, she says, McCain will nominate good, conservative, constitutional judges. But she wakes up the next morning, opens the paper and discovers 10 new reasons not to vote for him. Well put.

Many self-proclaimed conservatives, Sean Hannity not the least of them, have been naming off the reasons for conservatives to still vote for McCain: He’s not Obama, he’s promised to cut taxes, he’s promised to nominate conservative judges, he’s promised to secure the border, he’s committed to winning the war in Iraq. Of course, these are all campaign promises. Nothing in McCain’s record, besides his unwavering support for our disastrous venture in Iraq, suggests that he will do any of those things.

After recently hearing Congressman Ron Paul speak in my hometown, I began to think again about the possibility of voting for a third party candidate. I had not actively thought about the option for some time. I had gotten so used to the fact that McCain was the “presumptive nominee.” I don’t expect Dr. Paul to leave the Republican Party again for the Libertarians. If funds were any indication of their nominee, Bob Barr should walk away with the prize. Pastor Chuck Baldwin recently won the nomination of the Constitutional Party and he looks like a promising candidate of secure principles.

I realize that there are many people, perhaps more than we suspect, who sympathize with some of our third parties. But people are not particularly interested in voting for them. They are very rarely included in presidential debates and are the recipients of a virtual media black-out. Some consider voting for a third party candidate as a wasted vote. Why should I cast my vote for one of them? They have no chance at winning, some say.

With reasoning like that, I might think 2008 would be a great year for third party turn-out. What worse candidates could we possibly have this year? My own father put it well recently, “There are 300 million people in this country and these are the best 3?” While I expect my old man to pull the lever for the Old Man, I am not content to just vote for someone who might be the winner. With these 3, soon to be 2, there will be no winners. In my very unpolished opinion, casting a vote for any of these remaining candidates is a wasted vote.

Don’t like the Iraq War? McCain won’t end U.S. presence anytime soon and neither will Hillary if she miraculously wrestles the nomination away. Obama suggests that he might bring the troops home but I am not betting on it. Don’t like the idea of national health care? Obama promises it and McCain says he opposes it but if a Democratic congress sends the legislation to his desk, don’t expect McCain to grab his veto pen. Like the Supreme Court justices that Bush nominated? None of these jokers were excited about them despite what McCain says now.

So who does a conscientious conservative vote for in this election? Well, not McCain, that's for sure. As said earlier, Chuck Baldwin has received the Constitutional Party nomination and the Libertarians convene May 22-26. We'll see where the chips fall, but is it a wasted vote on a third party candidate?
A vote for one of the major two parties is a wasted vote.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Constitutionalist Manifesto

Ron Paul's 2008 campaign for the presidency has been met with much resistance and so much enthusiasm that long after the Republican Party knew who it's nominee would be, Paul seems higher than ever.

The Texas congressman's recent book "The Revolution: A Manifesto" creates some hope that the Revolution will last much longer than Dr. Paul's campaign. Whereas Taft Republicanism died along with the Ohio senator, Goldwaterism extended past the senator's disastrous run because his ideals were committed to paper as attested to by all of the revised editions of "The Conscience of a Conservative" which have appeared in recent years. For the same reason, the Ron Paul Revolution has staying power because Paul's political convictions are broadly systematized for a future generation of Ron Paul Republicans. And unlike Paul's other books, which have been merely compilations of his speeches, this is an actual outline of his beliefs.

The book fires its first serious shot at the Bush-Cheney-neocon worldview on page 10: "If the Founders' advice is acknowledged at all, it is dismissed on the grounds that we no longer live in their times. . . . Should we give up the First Amendment because times have changed?" This is a direct blow to the over-used complaint that since 9/11 "everything has changed." Both of the readers of this blog know that I have argued that evil in this world is not any more prevalent now than before 9/11. It is not as though terrorism was invented on that dreadful Tuesday morning. Human nature has not changed and neither has the capacity to inflict pain or retribution. Conservatives are supposed to rely on traditions and the collective wisdom of our ancestors. That wisdom is found in our Constitution, which does not include pre-emptive wars launched by the executive, and Paul follows it loyally.

Paul also shows tremendous character, unlike some of his GOP combatants, by not naming names or resorting to name-calling. On page 24 Paul declines to call out John McCain by name for one of his more absurd comments. In an early debate, the presumptive Republican nominee called Paul an isolationist, an inaccurate label for a non-interventionist, and said that that was the reason for Hitler's rise to power. Despite McCain's historical ignorance (not a first time offense) Paul takes a higher road than I just took.

Chapter 5 is dedicated to the good doctor's defense of civil liberties. The chapter actually serves a two-fold purpose: to defend civil liberties themselves but also to dispel misconceptions that Paul would be too easy on terrorists. Paul shows that interrogations and trials can be lawfully conducted on terrorists according to the Constitution which has been horribly circumvented. It also shows that Bush administration apologists are misguided in their defense that everything must be considered to battle terrorists. As usual, Paul points to the Constitution to solve these quandries, and most importantly, that the Constitution does indeed provide adequate provisions.

Paul's (allegedly) heretical positions include his notorious defense of the decriminalization of all drugs. What was most striking about Paul's rationale for drug legalization is that it strongly resembles the defense of gun owners against gun control laws: if somebody desires something enough, they will get it however they can.

When Bill Kristol and other "Weekly Standard" types have railed on Paul saying that he hasn't liked anything about America in the past 100-150 years, they are not entirely wrong. However, that does not mean Paul is unpatriotic or anti-American. Precisely the opposite: Paul and over 1 million other Republican voters are patriotic because they dislike much of what has been happening in this country: a leviathan of a federal government, inflation of the currency, endless and unnecessary wars, government spending through the roof and a loss of privacy, just to name a few things that have happened during the Bush administration.

But Paul does look optimistically to the future due in no small part to the overwhelming support he has received. Morever, he has received support from people who know that as president Paul would not dictate their lives because he expects them to be self-reliant. Instead of pandering to special interests and describing all he wants to do, Paul emphasizes the personal liberty of the individual. His message, as captured in his little tome, is not What the States can do for You. In short, Paul treats his supporters like adults, not a nation of children or a nation of sheep to borrow the title from Andrew Napolitano's book.

In an election populated by false messiahs and wannabe Napoleons, the campaign of Ron Paul was a breath of fresh air and his book, while it does not contain any campaign stories, does lay a foundation for a future movement.

Let the revolution begin? Let it continue.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Paging Robert Taft

Recently there was a PBS special called "Bush's War" which surveyed Iraq from pre-invasion to the present day. It was fascinating to see all the optimism, or rather arrogance as the war approached. I can remember well how confident so many people were that this would be a 3-week war and that once Iraq capitulated the rest of the Middle East would fall like dominoes.

But we all know now how things happened. There weren't enough troops, there was no thought of an exit strategy, and most of all, it was the foreign intervention itself that was the biggest catastrophe of all. Looking back it almost seems that no one at all considered the consequences of intervention, at least no one with any leverage with the administration.

So what's wrong with foreign intervention? Well, we're really only supposed to go to war for national interests which begs the obvious question, what is the national interest with Iraq? Iraq didn't attack us and didn't threaten us either. We got ourselves embroiled in a part of the world where we don't belong and are not wanted. Now some are banging the drum for war with Iran because we know at the very least that Iranian-made weapons are being used against American troops. This outrage over what is happening in the desert, seems to some people, to be happening in a vacuum. Well, the Iranians are attacking and killing Americans, this is an act of war which we will repay in kind! some are clamoring.

But we should ask why Iran is allowing this to take place. What motivation might the Iranian regime have for at the very least supplying weapons? Is it because they hate freedom? We know they don't hate democracy because Ahmadinejad was democratically elected. So what motivation is there for Iran to lash out at the US military? Perhaps Iran acts the way it does toward us because they perceive us as a threat to them, not vice-versa as the talk radio Right and Fox News talking heads seem to indicate. Remember, in Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech the president lumped Iraq, Iran, and North Korea together. President Bush announced that they were all enemies of the United States even though not a single of those regimes threatened us in any way. Bush called Iran an enemy and proceeded to supplant the governments of two neighboring countries. So, why is Iran acting the way it has been acting and why are we in a proxy with them already?

Foreign intervention.

Messing with the internal affairs of another country invariably affects those around it. When another country feels threatened they begin to defend themselves. If we end up at war with Iran it is not because they were the aggressors. Our intervention in the Middle East causes this situation. And who has the GOP all but nominated? A so-called foreign policy expert who promises more wars.

Happy Election, America.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The New York Times -- We're not even trying anymore.

To say that the New York Times has a liberal bias is kind of like announcing, “Prostitutes have STDs!” It goes without saying.

The Times’ Frank Rich has dedicated a piece to the “other preacher” if you will. The “other preacher” in this case is the televangelist John Hagee who has endorsed Republican John McCain (I designate McCain as a Republican because sometimes it gets hard to tell that he is actually a member of the GOP).

Anyone who has access to the Trinity Broadcasting Network or a local Christian Book Store will probably have some sort of familiarity with Rev. Hagee. He is boisterous, apocalyptic, and often outrageous. Hagee has frequently announced that the rapture of the Christian Church is imminent with each passing event, most notably during the 2006 war in Lebanon which he claimed was predicted in the Bible. That he expounds some loopy Christian theology is an understatement. Criticism of him is warranted and justifiable, just as it is with Jeremiah Wright.

The problem I find with Mr. Rich is something we have grown accustomed to with the Left. Everything can be equalized. If Obama has a crazy pastor, any pastor who associates with McCain must be crazy too. And if there is a crazy pastor associated with McCain, well then that only proves there is a conservative mainstream media bias otherwise Obama and Wright would still be walking hand-in-hand. Rich also perpetuated the lie that the Clintons’ and Obama have dealt with all their racial perplexities.

Then Rich descends into race-bashing the Republicans and how there are no black Republicans in the House and Senate which of course only goes to show that the Republicans are all white racists. From this entry one can see the same line of thought in Mr. Rich as that in Democratic Chairman Howard Dean when he praises the Democratic Party for being the party of diversity because it looks like the “face of America.”

Bull. What do the different races in a certain party add up to? Nothing but racial pandering. Mr. Rich fails to mention how it is the Republican Party that is supposed to encourage people to work hard and get a job so they won’t have to live on welfare while the Democrats make no effort of the sort. Albeit, for the past several years the Republicans have done nothing to even diminish the welfare state, but that is another issue for another day.

So why defend two people, McCain and Hagee, both of whom I fundamentally dislike? Perhaps it shows that there is still a least a modicum of difference between the parties. Perhaps it shows that the “enemy of my enemy” axiom does not apply to conservatives and the New York Times. Besides, Hagee’s endorsement of McCain does nothing for me. As an antiwar conservative I have a big bone to pick regarding McCain’s allegedly strongest and most knowledgeable issue.

But then again, thinking has never been one of McCain's strong points.