Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Dems' Idea Man

Howard Dean had some thoughts to share recently in The Christian Science Monitor.

There is a consensus that we cannot continue to have a permanent commitment to a failed strategy.... One, we are going to support our troops and two, you are going to see a ... desire to resolve the situation ... by turning this over to the Iraqis and bringing our folks home. The only thing that is left up to some modest differences is what the timetable is.

In other words, there's no debate among Democrats as to whether we should surrender. The only question is what time the Last Helicopter departs from Baghdad. The Democrats give a new twist to an old adage: When the going gets tough, the Dems get going.

And wait until the African American clergy, the folks at Sojourners magazine, and all the other liberal-left anti-war clergy read this:

The religious community has to decide whether they want to be tax exempt or involved in politics.

We're quite sure that when Howard realizes what he has said and how it would affect the Democratic party if the religious community really were to distance itself from politics, he'll be eager to let this latest piece of intemperance fade quietly into political oblivion.

The Democratic party without a politically active African American church and religious left is in the same shape as a hiker in Death Valley with no water. He may not be dead, but he soon will be.

He also suggests this as a Democratic slogan for 2008:

One of our slogans is probably going to end up being 'tough and smart.' Because what the Republicans have done is tough and not very smart.

Tough and smart. Catchy. Ironic, too, considering that their plan for Iraq is best described as wussie and dumb.

Take Our Rights and Let Us Alone.

Old free speech warhorse Nat Hentoff laments the deplorable state of the first amendment on the American campus. Not only are our colleges worshippig at the altar of all the liberal pieties, but in some cases they're actively suppressing any challenge to the fashionable orthodoxies adhered to by leftist true believers. Now it appears that many of our institutions, both educational and entertainment, have voluntarily submitted themselves to a state of abject dhimmitude.

Muslims must be surprised that the putative bastions of free speech have caved with so little resistance. Who would have thought that the West would have surrendered their precious rights so easily. "Here, take what you want," we seem to be saying, "Just don't hurt us."

No Hurry. Yet.

Edward Luttwack argues at length that there are three reasons why it would be a mistake to takemilitary action against Iran just now. His essay is a little long but well worth the time it takes to read.

Making Moral Judgments

Ann Coulter draws some good lessons from the Duke Lacrosse team fiasco and along the way remarks upon our peculiar reticence to condemn certain behaviors as stupid and/or immoral. Here's an excerpt:

Yes, of course no one "deserves" to die for a mistake. Or to be raped or falsely accused of rape for a mistake. I have always been unabashedly anti-murder, anti-rape and anti-false accusation -- and I don't care who knows about it!

But these statements would roll off the tongue more easily in a world that so much as tacitly acknowledged that all these messy turns of fate followed behavior that your mother could have told you was tacky.

Not very long ago, all the precursor behavior in these cases would have been recognized as vulgar -- whether or not anyone ended up dead, raped or falsely accused of rape. But in a nation of people in constant terror of being perceived as "judgmental," I'm not sure most people do recognize that anymore.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out that girls shouldn't be bar-hopping alone or taking their clothes off in front of strangers, and that young men shouldn't be hiring strippers. But we live in a world of Bill Clinton, Paris Hilton, Howard Stern, Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman," Democratic fund-raisers at the Playboy Mansion and tax deductions for entertaining clients at strip clubs.

Read the whole thing. She's right on target.

We might add the observation that as a society we've become conditioned to dread being called "judgmental," and as a consequence we're loath to make moral judgments. We've become so accustomed to hearing the refrain that we shouldn't impose our morality on others that we shrink from asserting that hiring a stripper, or being one, is morally wrong.

The fact of the matter is that "being judgmental" is merely making moral judgments without a proper consideration of all the relevant facts. Of course we shouldn't do that, but it doesn't follow that we should not, therefore, make moral judgments at all. Moreover, the person who takes us to task for being "judgmental" when we make a moral judgment is a hypocrite. By making a judgment about our behavior he's doing exactly what he criticizes in us.

Besides, the idea that we shouldn't impose our morality on others is itself a moral notion. It has force only if one believes that moral right and wrong actually exist, but there can only be moral right and wrong if there exists a transcendent moral law-giver. If there is no such moral law-giver then whatever I do is neither right nor wrong. Thus, whatever I have the power and the desire to do, I may do. That includes imposing my morality on others. I am obligated to respect the "rights" of others only by God. Nothing else can obligate me in any moral sense.

Moreover, the person who says that you shouldn't impose your morality on others is, of course, doing himself exactly what he reproaches you for doing. He's trying to foist upon you his sense of what is right and what is wrong, but he's too dull to see his own hypocrisy.

At any rate, as Ann Coulter suggests, whatever happened at that house in Durham, none of it was good, and a lot of it was morally debased. All concerned should feel deeply ashamed of themselves.

Much Spoken, Nothing Said

The following exchange on CBS's Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer nicely illustrates the Democrats' difficulty. They can't talk about Iraq and Iran without sounding like they've been fraternizing with Jefferson Airplane's white rabbit. Here's New Mexico governor and potential Democrat presidential candidate Elliot Richardson traipsing along the edge of incoherence:

SCHIEFFER: Where do you think we are right now [in Iraq]? And, I guess, more importantly, Governor, where do you think we go from here?

Gov. RICHARDSON: Well, where we go from here is, I believe the time has come for a strategy, an announcement on disengagement. I believe that the war is very badly run; our objectives are not being fulfilled. I would redeploy those forces that we have in Iraq to the surrounding area to deal with real threats to America--the war on terrorism, our increasing lack of influence in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda. Right now the situation in Iran is potentially another Iraq. I believe what you need now is a very strong effort to get the three leaderships in Iraq, the Shiites, the Sunnis, the Kurds, to form a coalition government, put maximum pressure for them to do that, and then redeploy American forces to where we really have true national security threats. Our problem right our obsession with Iraq has caused us to lack paying attention to real threats to our country like terrorism...

When Richardson is not simply saying that we should do what Bush is already doing his suggestions are either recipes for disaster or they are incomprehensible. What does he mean, for example, when he refers to our increasing lack of influence with al-Qaeda? When have we ever had any influence with al-Qaeda? Even Schieffer isn't sure what the governor is trying to say:

SCHIEFFER: But are you saying that we just need to turn and get out of there? Because won't that be taken as a sign of weakness, won't the terrorists think they have won, and won't that encourage them to strike someplace else?

Gov. RICHARDSON: No, what I would do, Bob, is early next year I believe we fix a date certain for the start of an American withdrawal because right now our policy is just not working, and the civil war is getting worse. What I would do is call a Mideast conference, a summit, of Muslim countries to help with training the Iraqi security forces along with us; and then secondly, a real reconstruction effort among other Arab countries, wealthy countries, that deal with the reconstruction of Iraq. But our policy is not working, and we have to change course, and this is why Secretary Rumsfeld and the president need to at least admit that what we're doing is not working and have some course corrections. They're unwilling to even do that.

Now there's a brilliant strategy. Place Iraq in the tender care of other Muslim countries. How clever. May we ask, though, which ones? Which of the Muslim countries is best suited to tutor Iraq in its quest to establish democratic institutions and to nurture a decent regard for human rights? Tough question? Well, no matter. Our current policy isn't working. We've been at it now for three whole years and Iraq is still unsettled. We need to do something different. It doesn't matter how idiotic, as long as it's different.

SCHIEFFER: Let's shift to Iran. You just mentioned that there are reports that the Iranians, of course, are enriching uranium, the next step toward building a bomb. What should we do about that?

Gov. RICHARDSON: Well, first, we recognize that we cannot tolerate nuclear weapons in Iran, but, having said that, I would do totally different from what the Bush administration is doing. I would engage the Iranians directly, talk directly to them about nuclear weapons, about Iraq. They have major influence on Iraq.

Of course! Talk to them. Why didn't the Bush administration think of that? How much is CBS paying Mr. Richardson to appear on this show, anyway?

Secondly, I would stop outsourcing our foreign policy to the Europeans, to the International Atomic Energy Agency, to the UN Security Council. I believe if we talk directly to them, but build an international consensus, international support--this is why the fraying of our relationship with the Europeans, with the allies, has been so costly is because we can't build a true international coalition that engages the third world also and surrounding countries to get Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons.

No, the fraying of our relations with the Europeans had more to do with the fact that toppling Saddam cost them some lucrative military contracts and deprived them of a handsome income from oil for food kickbacks. Europe is Europe. They're not going to confront Iran over nuclear weapons any more than they were willing to confront Hitler, Stalin, Milosevic, the Hutus, or Saddam. Heck, France won't even reform its own laws to save itself from economic dilapidation if it means having to confront a few thousand malcontent students. It's certainly not going to stand up to a lunatic like Ahamdinejad.

Now, we have some time. We have five to 10 years before they develop a nuclear weapon. What we need to do, in that process, Bob, is use diplomacy, coercive diplomacy, potentially sanctions, special envoys, instead of talking about using military options. The fact that the Pentagon leaked that we would use tactical nuclear weapons is ridiculous.

What on earth is he talking about? Nobody in the administration has said anything about using nukes. Seymour Hersh, a journalist, said that. Of course, that nukes would be an option if matters came to war is not news. It's simply common sense. If you have a weapon then that weapon is an option. That doesn't mean that the weapon will be used. Much less does it mean that the administration is talking publically about using them.

Military options should always be on the table, but you don't bring it out first. You exercise your full diplomatic engagement and tools, and the start of that is talking directly to them about borders.

Thanks Elliot. Great advice. You'd make a fine president of the Kiwanis Club.