Thursday, July 01, 2004

Choosing sides

Andrew Sullivan (yes, I think he's pretty frikin' brilliant, so you're gonna read a lot on him) talks today on his site about the upcoming GOP "civil war" between fiscal conservative/social moderates who don't like the theological/free-spending bent their party is taking, and the hard right Delay wing that thinks if you're a moderate, you're not a Republican.

I happen to agree with Sullivan that a day of reckoning is approaching. The GOP has tried the "big tent" approach and it isn't working. Why? Because the far-right has no interest in it working.

I have considered myself a Republican since the 3rd grade, when Reagan was elected. I am pro-military, pro-gun rights, anti-tax, and pro-small government. I think a moment of silence in school is okay and the Pledge should be left alone. I have a firm belief in God and am married with one child.

I am also pro-gay rights and pro-choice. I think amending the Constitution to deny a group of people a basic civil right is disgusting.I think cutting taxes and raising spending is insane. I find Michael Powell and the FCC offensive in their drive to limit free speech. And while I am a Christian, I thought the 10 Commandments monument was rightfully removed from the courthouse in Alabama, and I don't have the audacity to think that there is only one way in which to worship.

In the new, theocratic GOP, the second list trumps the first list and therefore renders me an undesirable. Or, as Delay and his boys call it, a "RiNO" (Republican in Name Only).

Which is funny, because I always thought that Republicans were for small government, individual responsibility, fiscal sanity and a wide degree of personal freedom. Apparently I was mistaken.

I am all for cutting taxes, but you have to cut spending to go with it. You can't just say "We'll grow out of it." Really? Well, tell me when the Red Sox will win the World Series while you're at it since you are prediciting the future. That is no way to run a government. The government has an obligation to be responsible with OUR money. Running huge deficits is not being responsible.

Not that the Democrats should be touting their fiscal plans. I have yet to see a Democratic budget where spending didn't increase in long-term permanent programs. But that is for another time.

So the moderate Republicans like myself find ourselves placed at arms length from the increasingly hard-right, religious GOP leadership. And the day will come when it all blows up, the probable result being the moderates leaving the party, just like I have done.

The only scenario I see stopping this: Kerry winning the Presidency. This would have the following results:

This leaves me with the wholly unappetizing prospect of voting for Kerry in November. I'd rather cast it for the Libertarian candidate, but I live in a swing state. And every vote does count.

God help me, but I think that's what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Andrew Sullivan lays it out

Socially liberal and fiscally conservative? Then same-sex marriage is a two-fer. According to an authoritative CBO report, allowing for marriage rights for gay couples would affect outlays "by less than $50 million a year in either direction through 2009 and reduce them by about $100 million to $200 million annually from 2010 through 2014." Cut spending and advance civil rights. No wonder today's Republicans are so opposed.

And that, as they say, is that.
Another Reason

Why the neo-cons got me P.Oed enough to leave the GOP.

They take too much of MY money, then they spend too much of MY money on insane things!

I look at these items, and it's like the GOP is channeling 70s style Democrat economic theory. What the Hell are they thinking??
Depsite all odds...

There is still a decent chance we can make Iraq work. A major reason being the exemplary quality and dedication of our armed forces, doing two and three jobs at a time to help the Iraqis build a new country.

But another piece that could make it work is the amazing speech Paul Bremer apparently gave when he left Iraq. I read about this at Andrew Sullivan's excellent site (link on the left), but wanted to include it here. It comes from a blog written by an Iraqi in Iraq named Omar. The address is http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/:

The hall was busy and everyone was chatting and laughing loud. They had Al-Jazeera on (something I never managed to convince them to stop doing). Then suddenly Mr. Bremer appeared on TV reading his last speech before he left Iraq. I approached the TV to listen carefully to the speech, as I expected it to be difficult in the midst of all that noise. To my surprise everyone stopped what they were doing and started watching as attentively as I was.
The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! "Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying." One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said "He's going to make me cry!"
Then he finished his speech by saying in Arabic, "A'ash Al-Iraq, A'ash Al-Iraq, A'ash Al-Iraq"! (Long live Iraq, Long live Iraq, long live Iraq).
I was deeply moved by this great man’s words but I couldn't prevent myself from watching the effect of his words on my friends who some of them were anti-Americans and some were skeptic, although some of them have always shared my optimism. I found that they were touched even more deeply than I was. I turned to one friend who was a committed She'at and who distrusted America all the way. He looked as if he was bewitched, and I asked him, "So, what do you think of this man? Do you still consider him an invader?" My friend smiled, still touched and said, "Absolutely not! He brought tears to my eyes. God bless him."
Another friend approached me. This one was not religious but he was one of the conspiracy theory believers. He put his hands on my shoulders and said smiling, "I must admit that I'm beginning to believe in what you've been telling us for months and I’m beginning to have faith in America. I never thought that they will hand us sovereignty in time. These people have shown that they keep their promises."

Now, what Bremer did was amazing. The Arab culture places immense weight on actions like this. And as you can read from the reactions in the room, it had its intended effect. The more cynical among us may think it was purely done for political reasons. I'll believe it was done from respect until I am shown otherwise.

A'ash Al-Iraq, Omar. Your dream of a free country is slowly becoming reality.

PS - Why wasn't this speech even remotely covered in the US press? I'm not asking for front-page coverage. But if Nick Berg's dad ranting about the falsity of the turnover gets press, so should this speech.

The Boy Scouts are on stand-by

Ensuring that future enlistment goals are never met, the Army is now involuntarily recalling 5,600 retired and discharged soldiers to active duty. Where are they going? Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, men and women who haven't been active duty for some time will be inserted into war zones, while full-time active front-line troops sit on their asses in Germany and other points global.

I understand that technically the Army can do this, but they are apparently unconcerned with the long-term blowback. I will wager a healthy sum that future levels of enlistment and enrollment in the Army and the Reserve will plummet by at least 30% after the way they have abused the Reserve and NG units.

These latest "recruits" haven't even been training at all. They could have been out-of-service for over 10 years, and can be dragged back in. This is just wrong.

Monday, June 28, 2004

1st Step towards Sovereignty

In one of Bush's smartest moves of his administration (insert "It's a short list" joke here), the interim Iraqi government has assumed power 48 hours ahead of schedule. This was a stroke of genius, as it throws off the insurgent's timetable completely. They undoubtedly had plans for June 30. Now Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is in power and Paul Bremer is on his way home.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. First up is the turnover of Hussein and his lackeys to the new government. I'm kind of opposed to this, not because I think the new government won't prosecute, but I'm afraid Hussein will be be busted out. We'll have to see.

The other thing to watch is the possible imposition of martial law. This would be a boon to stuffing the insurgency, but could be damaging to the nascent freedom the Iraqis are enjoying. Also, Allawi isn't allowed to tamper with the Constitution before full elections in January, 2005. How that could affect the possibility of martial law will play a big part in what happens.

But for now, and important step has been taken in turning Iraq back over to the Iraqis.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

9/11 - Swaying no one

Watching Meet the Press this morning, I think Gloria Ifill from PBS summed up 9/11 very well in two points.

And I don't think I have ever seen such a whiny bastard as Moore. He is the most hyper-sensitive man on the face of the earth. He is threatening to sue people who criticize him or his film. If anyone questions his film, he immediately turns on the interviewer without addressing the question. If you say anything critical about him, If you're going to throw stones, pal, be prepared to get a few back. Otherwise, stick to a safer medium like kids films.

Moore is obviously talented. But as a crafter of propaganda, not documentaries.

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