A New Can Of Worms
11 April 2003
Mark Raciot, Chairman of the GOP is drawing flak for meeting with gay groups. Both CWA -- My heroines! -- and the Family Research Council have weighed in.
Here is my complaint. What's the harm of telling groups on your team you are meeting with guys on the other team before you do it? CWA and FRC have a legitimate beef. They should have been informed. If you are open, clear and can communicate effectively on what you plan to discuss, no one will have room to criticize.
Politics make strange bedfellows. CWA and FRC are adult enough to know that. But when you disrespect them, who can blame them for firing off angry press releases.
Now For Something Really Different
I was driving through Springfield today and at the corner of 6th and North Grand I saw a white heifer coming right at me. At one point it almost stuck its head in my car window. I immediately pulled over, called 9-1-1 and told them what had transpired ..."I finally cracked," I said. "Have the funny farm come and get me."
The calm voice on the other hand, "No, no, no...You're fine... There really is an escaped heifer."
She then asked me where I was because the damn thing had given the police, "the shake."
On my way back home, I saw they finally caught it another six blocks south of where I had seen it. Apparently, it was headed for the new Lincoln Presidential Library.
10 April 2003
Except For the Elites, They Probably Want To Be Next
They say they hate the US to the press, but so did the Iraqis.
The Future of Freedom
William Mcgurn reviews Fareed Zakarias, The Future of Freedom.
The thesis is that order precedes democratization. I find this troubling. Democracy, in many instances has risen out of the ashes, of civil strife -- i.e. chaos. Latin America and Greece are examples in which factions in the society fought to a draw and democracy was the compromise. Order did not precede democracy here, chaos and exhaustion did.
It is a trusim though, that pretty much every major society has been authoritarian at one time or the other. Either way, the review is and the book will probably be, a good read.
The True Clash of Civilizations???
The inability to accept homosexuality is one of the reasons the Middle East is not the home of robust democracies??? Actually, the issue according to Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris (two top scholars) is general inequality among the sexes.
Issues regarding gays and other gender related issues are most likely artefacts of this variable and while they make for interesting reading they do not identify the key problem.
The notion that Islamic society treats women unequally is the key variable. Gay rights are not the issue, nor is divorce (Sharia law includes divorce, by the way). These side issues cloud the central problem. You cannot have a successful society where half of it is ignorant and that half is responsible for the early education of the other half.
As Lincoln told us, you cannot have a society that half slave and half free, all of us were created equal. Treating women as 3rd class citizens will be the achilles heal of the Middle East until it faced and addressed.
08 April 2003
Western Imports to the Middle East
Bernard Lewis opines in today's National Post that totalitarian regimes in the Middle East are just another European import:
In the Western world, knowledge of history is poor -- and the awareness of history is frequently poorer. For example, people often argue today as if the kind of political order that prevails in Iraq is part of the immemorial Arab and Islamic tradition. This is totally untrue. The kind of regime represented by Saddam Hussein has no roots in either the Arab or Islamic past. Rather, it is an ideological importation from Europe -- the only one that worked and succeeded (at least in the sense of being able to survive).
Another import from the West is intolerance. Prior to western influence the Muslim world was a place of refuge for European Jews. Christians and Jews were considered people of the book and that while they were not considered first class citizens, Jews, especially, and Christian were treated much better in the Muslim world than in the West.
If the Muslim can learn the worse of what we have to offer -- intolerance and totalitarianism -- is it so far fetched to believe that some form of democratic principles can't take root?
07 April 2003
4 GOP IL State Senators Break Ranks, Sting Colleagues
Four GOP Senators broke ranks last Saturday and supported Governor Blagojevich's bond scheme. A lot of friends of the Institute blasted them. Republicans lost what little leverage over the State Budget they had. It's a bitter pill.
While State Senate Republicans are understandably upset with the four members of the perpetual minority (see Four GOP Senators break ranks; Give aid and comfort to Dem plan, Friday, April 4, 200), I have a hard time blaming the defectors. The Republican Party has had almost four months to offer any kind of counter-agenda. They have chosen not do so.
The minority has had four months to develop an alternative vision for Illinois, line up party support for it, publicize it, and sell it to their constituents. They have chosen not to do so. Moreover, Republicans have had a clean field of fire. Speaker Michael Madigan doesn’t to speak to the press; Governor Blagojevich prefers Chicago to the Capital City. The Republicans have chosen not to fill the political vacuum.
Instead, it was decided to wait-and-see what the Governor proposed. None of the four defectors had any other plan they could latch onto. The Republicans had nothing to offer the four defectors, other than embarrassing the Governor. The Governor did, however, offer something they could latch onto.
It is no wonder that party discipline could not hold given this political version of the prisoner's dilemma. If the plan works, the four defectors will get the credit - and the pork. If the plan fails they get the pork. Had they stuck with the minority they will get nothing but blame. Faced with this dilemma, someone usually blinks.
This arbitrage scheme of the Governor's is fraught with risk. While I think the plan is poor public policy, I do recognize in the end that the plan has the potential to work... because, after all, risk is a double-edged sword. Had the Senate Republicans come up with their own agenda, the Governor may still have picked-off a couple of Republican Senators. But it at least it would've been a little tougher to do so.
Chemical Weapons Cache Discovered
Let the let hand wringing begin!
The Boomers Just Can't Escape Vietnam
Robert Bartley "gets it" in today's Wall Street Journal. Of course, he always has.
People who study military-civil relations have always understood that the American public was willing to take casulties and that Vietnam syndrome was (a) caused by a military that did not want to be left holding the bag again (b) and an elite in this country propagating a myth that served their animosities toward American power and the American people.
The people running our elite institutions grew up admist Vietnam. This is surely evidence of the role cognitive belief systems shape our views. We've had 20 years of contrary evidence, but boomers can't shake it. 9-11 was one of those shocking events that can unhinge a belief system. Pearl Harbor is another famous example. Unlike that generation who shook off isolationism, these boomers seemed to be more heavily locked in to their group think.
More Evidence That Center-Right Is Winning
State Lawmakers Are Giving School Vouchers New Steam (Link requires subscription) according to today's Wall Street Journal.
Here are the leads...
"Last week, the Colorado legislature passed a bill that would allow low-income students to use public money to enroll in private or parochial schools in large, poorly performing school districts. Colorado's voters solidly defeated two voucher-related referendums during the 1990s, but now both houses of the legislature are under Republican control. A spokesman for the Republican governor, Bill Owens, says he plans to sign the legislation later this month.
In Florida, voucher advocates in the Republican-controlled legislature are leveraging the hostilities in Iraq to try to expand the Sunshine State's small voucher program. The Florida house recently passed a bill that would give the children of military veterans and active-duty personnel vouchers to pay for private school.
"I have never seen as much legislative activity as I've seen this year," says Clint Bolick, vice president of the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based legal advocacy group that helped defend Cleveland's voucher program before the Supreme Court. "We have never had as many prospects."
Having some successful large scale models of choice is one more nail in the NEA's coffin.
06 April 2003
The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations
Nothing in Islamic culture precludes a democratic reforms. This piece in today's Sun-Times offers us a kind of racism that we've seen in the past. Afterall there will never be democracy in Latin America because it is Catholic. Asian societies, such as Japan, the Phillipines, and South Korea will never be democracies because their cultures are feudal.
We here these same old cultural arguments all the time. They are bigoted.