Monday, March 27, 2006

Thanks for the help...

I disagree with Fareed Zakaria on a number of topics, but I always appreciate his approach. Today's "This Week" on ABC was no exception.

Zakaria hit the nail on the head in describing why President Bush's foreign worker plan, while sounding good, is destined to cause more problems than it solves. He pointed out the glaring fact that programs that import labor while withholding the promise of citizenship as an end result has led to large withdrawn communities that, seeing no point in it, avoid assimilation.

I doubt many conservative groups concerned about immigration have forgotten the images of Muslim youths setting fire to cars in the suburbs of Paris.

It's not likely the President' staff missed the problems Europe has experienced. It's likely the President is just trying to punt on this one. His base doesn't like it, they see it as a precursor to amnesty, but it's a moderate-sounding idea if you don't look too deep. For this administration, sounding good will always win out over actually being sound.

Kevin Drum hits on this as well.

- Murphy

Monday, March 20, 2006

Maj. Gen. says: Rummy Resign

Maj. Gen. Eaton
Maj. Gen. Eaton

Retired Army Major General Paul Eaton levels a devastating critique against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in today's NewYork Times' Op-Ed section.

Eaton was in charge of training the Iraqi army in 2003-04.

Via Talking Points Memo.

- Murphy

Demons begone!

Pat Robertson's "700 Club" just ran a story of a man who found god after being lured to satanic worship by, …wait for it…, a ouija board.

Of course the biographical note that he was child of an abusive, alcoholic father has nothing to do with his social disfunction, depression or disturbed mental state.

I'm certainly glad the man has found happiness and stability, but his story was preceded by Pat Robertson hawking his diet program.

Oh and the next segment is about microchips and the mark of the beast!

The 700 Club, always good on a cloudy afternoon.

- Murphy

Phillips: taking calls

Well, he's not taking phone calls, but he is the guest at the books section of the Talking Points Memo Cafe.

So far there is an interesting discussion going on.

Whether or not one supports the thesis of Phillips' new book, American Theocracy, he is an exhaustive researcher and the little I have read of his 12 books demonstrate a copious volume of knowledge.

- Murphy

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Former Billiken's men's basketball skipper Lorenzo Romar led his Washington Huskies to the Sweet 16 by defeating last year's runner up for the championship spot, Illinois.

Romar looked happy leading his alma mater. It's their third trip to the NCAA finals in 3 years and second time in the sweet 16.

- Murphy

American Theocracy

For a good view of modern conservatism it's hard to find someone better than the man who wrote the book on conservatism, Kevin Phillips. Phillips penned the influential The Emerging Republican Majority in 1969.

Columbia University Provost and history professor Alan Brinkley "reviews Phillips' latest book, American Theocracy. (Via Laura Rozen)

- Murphy

Dada as Policy?

Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre

Digby has a good take on the sound of thousands of conservative feet shuffling away from President Bush and his new blend of conservativism.
Appropriately, modern conservatism turns out to be the first post-modern political movement.
President Bush's approach to governing may actually fit well with post-modern existentialism. They have an fanatical fixation on the appearance of things rather than their substance. That is not an unusual tendency in politics, but they have moved from merely holding press conferences and feeding stories to trusted reporters (which they also do).

The administration is so concerned about its image that they have tailored the world to their view. They have successfully moved the public perception of facts from a concrete source of information to a relative construct that is defined by your view of the world. Criticism is not valid because you don't have the "facts" they do, e.g., evolution, global warming, fiscal responsibility. The facts are dismissed because they support a conclusion the administration does not agree with.

They have even reorganized government agencies to keep the campaign moving. Unfavorable facts or reports are dropped or dismissed and an essential part of the management practice is geared towards preserving the public image of the administration. Nothing is to be done unless it furthers the aims of the administration, namely political gain.

They have even gone so far as to deny reality. A singular incident involved David Letterman broadcasting a clip of a kid acting bored while on stage at a Bush speech. The White House initially accused Letterman of doctoring the footage, then denied they made the accusation. Letterman had a field day, showing the clip each night through the week, passing along the White House denial of the day, until it culminated with having the kid on the show as a guest. At that point the White House claimed they knew nothing of the incident.

When you are in a debate with a late-night comedian over facts backed up by video footage, you have lost touch with reality.

- Murphy

Making Pappy proud

So...the U.S. National Security strategy takes a chapter from the Clinton playbook.

The U.S. is also beginning limited dialogue with Iran.

In policy circles I suppose this is called "realism", this is what it is also called in the real world. Bush's foreign policy approach was destined to change. The only group that actually believed his bellicose, abrasive, America-1st strategy would do anything other than damage international relations and weaken security were Bush and his advisors. Even Bush the elder and his experienced cadre were baffled by the turn the U.S. took. (It also appears Papa Bush's counselors may be on the way back.)

The idea of using America's might to encourage democracy and push for human rights is a noble one and one that has been a part of U.S. foreign policy since President Carter 1st used it to exploit an issue on which the Soviet Union was inherently vulnerable.

Yet in this administration it appears to be mere window dressing. Human rights and democracy are ancillary benefits, at best, to a middle-east strategy designed to restructure the entire region in just a few years. They are perfectly happy to support dictators who pay mere lip-service to human rights as long as it is their larger interest.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being practical, realistic, as it were. Compromise is the nature of relationships, international or not. Just don't promise the sky if you only intend to paint one on the ceiling.

- Murphy

True Power

Conservatives often couch their frame their criticism of government in terms of "power". As in Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan's assertion that:
Money is power, more money for the government is more power for the government. More power for the government will allow it to, among many other things, amuse itself by putting its fingers in a million pies, and stop performing its essential functions well, and get dizzily distracted by nonessentials, and muck up everything. Which is more or less where we are.
Yet as Josh Marshall points out, the problems the country currently faces have nothing to do with government tax rates. The point is intended to discredit politicians who propose taxes to cover the expenses of new or existing programs. It is even less salient when you view it in the context of conservative "fiscal responsibility". Ramping up expenditures while refusing to fund them for political reasons is not conservative, its irresponsible.

To add to that, concern for the growth of government power is important, yet focusing on its expanding role in social/economic programs while providing a pass for a boom in law enforcement powers misses the real issue.

In the end, the government's greatest power is to deprive its citizens of liberty. It does this through the its law enforcement powers. It's why we have the fourth through the eighth amendments, to protect the citizens from potential abuses of government power.

The expansion of government programs does increase the governments involvement in the lives of ordinary Americans, but it doesn't add to its power. Expanding law enforcement powers while rolling back judicial and public oversight is a much greater threat to basic freedoms.

- Murphy

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Straw Poll

Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) wins one of the first GOP presidential straw poll.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came in second and President Bush came in third.

The Bloomberg article notes that the poll is reflective of a nominee's organizational ability and less an overall evaluation of a candidate.

Given that it was a poll held in Memphis, in the Senators home state of Tennessee, by the Souther Republican Leadership Conference, Frist's performance is not surprising. Romney, however, is interesting.

Yet what are Frist's qualifications? He is the Senate Majority Leader, but he has acted less as a leader for the Senate and more as the President's Senate whip.

- Murphy