Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Invested in Failure

Cooler heads seem to have prevailed in the Democratic caucus and the leadership is pulling the extremists, who are a substantial portion of the party, back from the brink of a debacle:

Democratic leaders backed away from aggressive plans to limit President Bush's war authority, the latest sign of divisions within their ranks over how to proceed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday he wanted to delay votes on a measure that would repeal the 2002 war authorization and narrow the mission in Iraq.

Senior Democrats who drafted the proposal, including Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Carl Levin of Michigan, had sought swift action on it as early as this week, when the Senate takes up a measure to enact the recommendations of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission.

Reid, who will huddle with Democrats Tuesday to discuss whether to postpone the Iraq debate, cited pressure from victims' families for quick action on the Sept. 11 bill as the reason for doing so.

"Iraq is going to be there - it's just a question of when we get back to it," Reid said, predicting it would be "days, not weeks" before the Senate returned to the issue. The war reauthorization legislation also appears to lack the 60 votes it would need to pass the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meanwhile, said she doesn't support tying war funding to strict training and readiness targets for U.S. troops.

The comments distanced her from Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who has said he wants to use Congress' spending power to force a change in policy in Iraq, by setting strict conditions on war funding.

This is all so disingenuous. One minute they're telling us that the 2006 election was a mandate to end the war, which Congress could do by simply cutting off funding, the next minute they're trying to rationalize their refusal to do what's necessary to bring the war to a conclusion.

The leadership has come to realize, of course, that had they pushed the Murtha plan through the House and the Biden/Levin bill in the Senate they would have unintentionally placed themselves in a political no-win situation. If the U.S. were forced by the Murtha plan to withdraw from Iraq then the American people would have rightly blamed the humiliation on the Democrats. On the other hand, if, despite the Democrats' efforts to prevent it, we manage to achieve a noticeable measure of success in that miserable land, the credit will all go to George Bush and the Republicans. This would politically marginalize the Democrats for the next twenty years. It would've been a heads they win, tails we lose proposition for the Dems and luckily for them Pelosi and Reid recognized where they were headed in time to avert the catastrophe.

The Democrats' best strategy - for their party, not for the country - is to play along with Bush, to keep nipping at his heels, and hope that he fails to establish a stable and secure democracy in Iraq. If he does fail without the Democrats interfering with his policy then the Democrats will be well positioned to blame the defeat on the Republicans and reap the political harvest.

Even so, there's something very wrong with having half of our government heavily invested in the defeat of our forces and the failure of an attempt to bring some measure of peace and safety to millions of people.


Magic Wand

Uncommon Descent links to a couple of interesting videos which illustrate how the cellular machinery which produces proteins does what it does. Protein synthesis really is astonishing, all the more so if one believes that all the machinery and coordination of reactions just evolved by chance. After all, the DNA and RNA which code for proteins can only work when they're manipulated by proteins, but proteins did not become available until DNA and RNA were able to produce them. So which came first, the proteins or the nucleic acids?

Never mind, we're told. Such conundrums are minor puzzles which will be solved eventually. Darwinism is like a magic wand. When we encounter problems like the above we simply wave the wand and solemnly recite the incantation "genetic mutation and natural selection plus time and chance" and, presto! the problem goes away.


Pass the Vitriol, Please

There was a time when conservatives were reviled everywhere for being "haters" and "mean-spirited." Then came Bill Buckley's magazine The National Review and a series of books by conservative authors the tone and quality of which gave the lie to the allegations of their opponents. It turned out that it was very difficult to find an actual conservative who fit the stereotype of a frothing Joe McCarthy out to lynch everyone to his ideological left.

Nevertheless, by the late 1960s the damage had been done. Conservatives, in the public's mind, had been stuck with a reputation for biliousness and the media was only too pleased to reinforce the image in whatever way they could. Conservative ideas had a hard time gaining a hearing because they'd been stereotyped as insensitive, fat cat businessmen who loathed both minorities and commies in equal measure.

In the 1980s, however, the emergence on the national scene of charismatic, irenic conservative personalities like Ronald Reagan made it even more difficult for liberals to sustain the specter of the fire-breathing conservative, and in the last twenty years that misconception has been greatly diminished.

The irony is that as the public has come to realize that conservatives are not the monsters they had been led to believe they were the left has ratcheted up the propaganda, trying to portray George Bush as a demoniac on the level of Adolf Hitler. In their desperation to show that conservatives really are the incarnation of Lucifer the left has infused our political rhetoric with far more hate, spite, cruelty and viciousness than anything their predecessors of a generation ago imputed to conservatives.

Nothing in our political past, for example, compares to the vituperation and sheer ugliness of the sort of thing that fills the left's blogs in the wake of the attempted assasination of Vice-president Cheney. Michelle documents some of the sick commentary here although I understand that some of the blogs she quotes from have now expunged the more disgusting comments.

There are several words that come to mind to describe people who think like these people do, but rather than indulge in trying to pin an appropriate adjective on them, as satisfying as such an exercise might be, I wish to simply wonder out loud if there isn't a connection between the ideology the secular left embraces and the kind of people that it seems to attract.