Saturday, August 4, 2007

Principled Politicians

After all the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth over the White House spying on innocent Americans, after all the calls for impeachment and howls of outrage over creeping tyranny, what did the Democrat-controlled Senate do with yesterday's opportunity to stand for freedom, justice, and the American way?

They passed the administration's spy bill which gives the President even greater authority to eavesdrop on potential terrorist communications.

Isn't it thrilling to watch people display the courage of their convictions?

Of course, passing the bill was the right thing to do. The buffoonery was in the faux outrage over the spying in the first place. It was all part of an effort to weaken the President, even at the expense of national security.

No wonder the term "principled politicians" has become an alliterative oxymoron.


Barack's Blunder

Barack Obama is coming in for some criticism from conservative talkers like Sean Hannity for his comment that he'd be willing to invade Pakistan to chase down terrorists, and thereby widen the war in the Middle East.

I think it's a little silly, if not hypocritical, of Hannity to try to make hay out of this since Hannity would be all for it if Bush had said the same thing, which he essentially did in the aftermath to 9/11.

I also think that Obama is right. We should go after terrorists wherever they are. If Pakistan won't do it then we should. Obama's blunder was not in affirming that the war on terror is a war without borders, his blunder is in saying something so viscerally at odds with the views of the bulk of his supporters.

Obama is very popular with the anti-war left which sees Hillary as a bit of a sell-out on the war. If now it transpires that he's saying he would launch an invasion of Waziristan then he leaves his supporters on the left with two options. They can drop him as just another political hypocrite, or they can console themselves by thinking that he's only talking tough in order to get elected, in which case he's still a political hypocrite.

The problem all the Democrat candidates have is that they're torn between their left-wing base, which wants to effect the emasculation of this nation, and presenting an image to the general public of being willing to do whatever is necessary to defend ourselves from those who would destroy us. The two political necessities are at cross-purposes, keel-hauling the candidates under the ship of their campaigns. The Democrats are thus in the unenviable, if not unaccustomed, position of having to deceive either their base or the majority of American voters.


Reconsidering the Right to Vote

Jonah Goldberg thinks there should be a test for voting, and there is much merit in his argument. The American public, including large swaths of the voting public, are abysmally ignorant of how our government works and what they're voting on. Millions of people pay no attention to politics for four years and then, a week before the election, listen to the news sound bites for some reason to vote against one candidate or the other.

Every election season our local newspapers urge people to get out and vote as if the act of voting itself indicated political responsibility and a healthy democracy. This advice is as wrongheaded as it can be. If anything, people should actually be discouraged from voting. Voting should not be made overly convenient and should only be undertaken by those who really want to vote and who have taken the time to learn a little bit about who and what they're voting for. No one who cannot name two or three Supreme Court justices, at least one of their U.S. Senators, or the Vice-president is, in my mind, qualified to enter the voting booth. Nor is one qualified who can't speak English.

Here's Goldberg:

So, maybe, just maybe, we have our priorities wrong. Perhaps cheapening the vote by requiring little more than an active pulse (Chicago famously waives this rule) has turned it into something many people don't value. Maybe the emphasis on getting more people to vote has dumbed-down our democracy by pushing participation onto people uninterested in such things. Maybe our society would be healthier if politicians aimed higher than the lowest common denominator. Maybe the opinions of people who don't know the first thing about how our system works aren't the folks who should be driving our politics, just as people who don't know how to drive shouldn't have a driver's license.

Instead of making it easier to vote, maybe we should be making it harder. Why not test people about the basic functions of government? Immigrants have to pass a test to vote; why not all citizens?

An uninformed citizenry is a threat to a democracy. An uniformed citizenry that votes is a calamity. The right to vote, like the right to bear arms, should not be granted to everyone without qualification.


Birds of a Feather

Senator Chris Dodd (D, CT) defended his participation in a conference sponsored by The Daily Kos on the O'Reilly show the other night despite the fact that Daily Kos is one of the more nasty blogs in the blogosphere and despite the sleazy photoshop of Bush, Rove and Leiberman that has been up at the site for over a year.

Video of Dodd's defense can be found here. The video also shows the photoshop that the Senator doesn't mind associating himself with.

Actually, his unwillingness to allow a little sleaze to deter him from the conference shouldn't surprise us, given the Senator's history and reputation, but it is ironic that he refused to participate in a candidates' debate on Fox News. His ostensible reason was that Fox has a reputation for being conservative, yet his scruples are not so fastidious as to keep him from mingling with people who put garbage like the aforementioned photoshop on their web log.