Saturday, December 09, 2006

 

The Iraq Study Group Report

My thoughts on the Iraq Study Group's Report:

IRAN AND SYRIA

In the Executive Summary, one of the Group's recommendations is:
Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.

The first thing that leaped out of the page at me was "their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq". Exactly what interest is that?

If you read the report itself, it seems to contradict the Executive Summary on this point:
U.S., Iraqi, and international officials also commented on the range of tensions between the United States and Iran, including Iran's nuclear program, Iran's support for terrorism, Iran's influence in Lebanon and the region, and Iran's influence in Iraq. Iran appears content for the U.S. military to be tied down in Iraq, a position that limits U.S. options in addressing Iran's nuclear program and allows Iran leverage over stability in Iraq. Proposed talks between Iran and the United States about the situation in Iraq have not taken place. One Iraqi official told us: "Iran is negotiating with the United States in the streets of Baghdad."

...Like Iran, Syria is content to see the United States tied down in Iraq.

Back to the original question: How is the U.S. supposed to "engage them constructively"?

This is where the "New Diplomatic Offensive" comes into play.

NEW DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE

Catchy phrase. What it means is use diplomacy to get all of Iraq's neighbors to create a "Support Group" to work towards a stable Iraq. (For the complete detail, read pages 50-58 of the report).

While the Iraq Study Group (ISG) came up with some intriguing negotiation "carrots" for dealing with Iran and Syria (page 51), I question whether Iran and Syria will see them that way. Especially when we get to recommendations 13-17, which have the U.S. getting more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Syrians will especially like recommendation 15 (pages 56-57), which is a list of things we should demand from them.

ISRAEL

The Isaeli part of the "New Diplomatic Offensive" is probably the weakest part. It is filled with great ideas that never worked in the past. How many politicians and diplomats have tried to solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue? Fortunately, they did not give weightings to the importance of each recommendation, otherwise the Israeli recommendations would have to be given a "pie in the sky" rating.

BAD NEWS FOR THE LEFT

Much to the chagrin of the peacenik moonbat fringe on the Left, which has been saying for years that Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism, the ISG Report says:
Iraq cannot be addressed effectively in isolation from other major regional issues, interests, and unresolved conflicts. To put it simply, all key issues in the Middle East -- the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms, and extremism and terrorism -- are inextricably linked.

I guess it is safe to assume the moonbats will ignore the ISG Report since it doesn't match their world view.

There is also more bad news for John Kerry and Jim Webb. The ISG Report says an immediate withdrawal is a bad idea:
The near-term results would be a significant power vacuum, greater human suffering, regional destabilization, and a threat to the global economy. Al Qaeda would depict our withdrawal as a historic victory. If we leave and Iraq descends into chaos, the long-range consequences could eventually require the United States to return.


Finally, the ultimate insult is saved for Nancy Pelosi. Just a week ago, San Fran Nan had this to say about one of President Bush's comments referring to Al Qaeda in Iraq: "But the 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and I feel sad that the president is resorting to it again." The ISG Report explicitly refers to an Al Qaeda presence in Iraq, performing acts of terrorism there. (On a side note, the 9/11 Commission did NOT dismiss the notion like Pelosi said.)


GOOD NEWS FOR THE LEFT


The ISG Report also says "staying the course" is a bad idea, as well as sending more troops (pages 38-39). Neither of these ideas solve the sectarian strife in Iraq.

BAD NEWS FOR JOE BIDEN

Finally, the ISG Report (page 39) rejects splitting Iraq into three regions:
Because Iraq's population is not neatly separated, regional boundaries cannot be easily drawn...A rapid devolution could result in mass population movements, collapse of the Iraqi security forces, strengthening of militias, ethnic cleansing, destabilization of neighboring states, or attempts by neighboring states to dominate Iraqi regions.

The report does add that if the situation were to move in this direction, then the U.S. should "manage the situation" to avoid negative consequences (i.e. ethnic cleansing).

INSIDE IRAQ

There is a long portion of the ISG Report dedicated to actions that need to be taken inside Iraq. Most of it is fairly common sense, which surprises me that more of it has not already been implemented. Things such as the Iraqi government negotiating with the various sectarian groups ("Hello?! McFly!").

There is also a good idea about setting milestones for the Iraqi government. If their government does not accomplish certain goals by certain milestones, the U.S. could withdraw certain amounts of support, such as economic or military support.

RESTORING THE U.S. MILITARY

On pages 76-77 of the ISG Report is a section entitled "Restoring the U.S. Military". If anyone thinks Donald Rumsfeld didn't screw over the military, this section puts a big exclamation point on that fact:
The U.S. Military has a long tradition of strong partnership between the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense and the uniformed services. Both have long benefited from a relationship in which the civilian leadership exercises control with the advantage of fully candid professional advice, and the military serves loyally with the understanding that its advice has been heard and valued. That tradition has frayed, and civil-military relations need to be repaired.

THE IRAQI POLICE

One of the most brilliant ideas from the ISG Report is to utilize the U.S. Department of Justice to train the Iraqi police forces (pages 81-83).

THE REST OF THE STORY

There are some other sections in the ISG Report dealing with subjects such as economics and intelligence gathering. If you want to read them, help yourself, but they are not particularly interesting or earth shattering compared to the rest of the Report.

SUMMARY

The "New Diplomatic Offensive" is a bit too idealistic for my tastes. If Condi Rice can pull this one off, give her the Nobel Peace Prize for the next ten years.

That said, I like the ISG Report overall. It has a lot of good ideas which make you wonder what our country has been doing over in Iraq the last three years.

As Captain Picard would say, "Make it so."

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Friday, December 08, 2006

 

Turning The Page

Surprise! House Ethics Committee determines that in the Mark Foley matter, no rules were broken, but Republican leaders were "negligent."

"Mistakes were made," as the old saying goes!

Call me cynical, but something tells me that this is the definitive document on the Mark Foley saga.

UPDATE: I have to agree with Americablog -- which does a great job of breaking down the Ethics Committee report -- this is basically a bipartisan cover-up. On the claim that there were no rules broken, Americablog quotes the ethics group CREW':
In fact, Rule XXIII of the House Ethics Manual requires all members of the House to conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.” This ethics standard is considered to be “the most comprehensive provision of the code.” When this section was first adopted, the Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the 90th Congress noted that it was included within the Code to deal with “flagrant” violations of the law that reflect on “Congress as a whole,” and that might otherwise go unpunished. This rule has been relied on by the Ethics Committee in numerous prior cases in which the Committee found unethical conduct including: engaging in sexual relationships with congressional pages as well as the failure to report campaign contributions, making false statements to the Committee, criminal convictions for bribery, or accepting illegal gratuities, and accepting gifts from persons with interest in legislation in violation of the then gift rule.
Sure, Hastert and Co. conducted themselves "at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House." Right. The whole site has a number of choice nuggets.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan catches this fun irony:


********

The Speaker is revealed as at best untruthful by the House Ethics Committee:

Mr. Hastert has said that he was unaware of suspicions surrounding Mr. Foley until he resigned his seat. But the panel found that "the weight of the evidence supports the conclusion that Speaker Hastert was told, at least in passing, about the e-mails" months before the resignation both by his majority leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, and by Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, who headed the party’s Congressional campaign committee.

Even so, the committee said, "neither the Majority Leader nor Rep. Reynolds asked the Speaker to take any action in response to the information each provided to him, and there is no evidence that the Speaker took any action."

Who did take it seriously? The openly gay Clerk of the House, Jeff Trandahl:

Others familiar with Mr. Foley's actions were keenly aware of the potential for a scandal that could ruin Mr. Foley and cast the House in a bad light, the investigators found. For instance, many months before the scandal erupted, then-House Clerk Jeff Trandahl conferred with Representative John M. Shimkus, the Illinois Republican who was head of the board that oversaw the pages.

Mr. Trandahl testified before the ethics committee that he told Mr. Shimkus that Mr. Foley persisted in his actions despite being warned "multiple times," and that Mr. Foley was "a ticking time bomb."

So the straight Republicans covered up or ignored Foley's grossness and an openly gay man did all he could to stop it.

*********

Funny how that happens.

It would have been more appropriate if Dennis Hastert had resigned when this scandal came to light. Yet, there is also something fitting that the last working day of the 109th Congress -- the final day of a Republican majority -- comes with a report damning the leadership as "negligent." Meanwhile, the first thing people see at the Speaker's web-site is still the announcement of the "Page Program Tip Line Number."

What an epitaph.



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Open Thread

May post a couple of quick items a bit later, but very crazy day at work, so you can start the fur-flying early!

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

 

Don't Hate The Game...Hate The League

I've neglected Gregg Easterbrook's cool Tuesday Morning Quarterback column this season. However, after remembering it this week, I found this point pretty compelling:

The wonderful NFL Sunday Ticket, restricted via NFL cartel arrangement to customers of DirecTV in the United States, is available to any cable customer in Canada, as noted by many frostback readers, including Kevin Heselton of Regina, Saskatchewan. This means Canadians get better access to NFL games, played in stadia funded by American taxpayers, than American taxpayers do. Is there somehow some need for the NFL to forbid all but DirecTV customers from choosing any game -- does this somehow advance the NFL business model? No, because as
many international readers including Alex McLeish of Beaconsfield, United Kingdom, have reported, anyone who lives outside the United States can now watch any NFL game live by signing up for a Yahoo! streaming video service. Live outside the United States? The NFL is happy to let you watch whatever game you please. Are you an American whose taxes paid for the NFL's stadiums? Sorry, you are shafted.

In 1961, the pre-merger National Football League received an antitrust exemption from Congress, partly in return for its promise that all game broadcasts would be available equally to all Americans. For a decade, the most desirable broadcast service the NFL offers, Sunday Ticket, has been denied to the majority of Americans who don't or can't get DirecTV, in seeming defiance of the league's promise to Congress. Last year the NFL signed a contract that extends the cartel till 2011, and the reason was simple, DirecTV paid a lavish fee. But DirecTV shouldn't be able to buy something that violates at least the spirit, if not the letter, of the NFL's 1961 promise to Congress. As the new Congress takes its seat, the Senate Judiciary Committee has announced it will investigate NFL dealings with DirecTV. Sure the NFL and DirecTV signed a contract, but it's one that violates a public trust -- and Commissioner Roger
Goodell, it will go better for you and the sport if you amend the Sunday Ticket
deal on your own terms, rather than waiting for Congress to alter it for you.
Unless, of course, you'd rather surrender the NFL's antitrust exemption.
The entire section on TV access is well worth the read. Easterbrook is, I believe, wrong in one important area (and Ed can correct me if I'm incorrect): The NFL no longer has an antitrust exemption; indeed major league baseball is the only major sport that has such an exemption. Recall that the USFL technically won its lawsuit with the NFL on antitrust grounds (that's why the upstart league was awarded treble damages -- amounting to three dollars).

Easterbrook's broader point though remains true: So many NFL stadiums are built with taxpayer money -- yet a private entity gets to buy exclusive rights to broad distribution of all games. Hmmm....

Another point that Easterbrook doesn't examine is the huge economic boost that Sunday Ticket has provided the hospitality industry: Satellite distribution of NFL games have turned sports bars into a secular polytheirstic church-going experience for many Americans on Sunday: The games are the preachers; the fans are the congregation; the bartenders are the acolytes: Everyone gathers there to "worship" their preferred deity. Would this communal experience continue if the NFL "released" rights to all games to platforms other than DirecTV?

UPDATE: I'm wrong! The NFL does have a limited antitrust exemption -- which may come under scrutiny in the next Congress:
A law that allows the National Football League to sign lucrative television contracts on behalf of all 32 teams should be repealed, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said at a Senate hearing Thursday.

Specter said he would introduce a bill in the new Congress that would repeal the NFL’s antitrust exemption under the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961.

He claimed that he wasn’t afraid to tackle the commercially and politically powerful NFL. “I think I’ll have a lot of company, and that is the football fans of America, who are being gouged,” he added after chairing a hearing on sports-programming issues.

NFL director of communications Brian McCarthy said the status quo was sufficient because the league’s “television practices have been recognized as consistent with the public interest” in that they provide “fans extraordinary amounts of programming” either free-of-charge or at little out-of-pocket expense.

“There is no basis now to repeal statutory provisions that have supported the development of these pro-consumer and pro-fan policies,” he added.

With Democrats taking control of the Senate in January, Specter will have to yield his committee chairmanship to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Although Leahy has not taken a stand on the NFL issue, he helped to pass legislation that narrowed Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, Leahy spokesman David Carle said.

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Social-CON Game

Okay, I took something of a light approach yesterday to the news of Mary Cheney's impending motherhood. But this reaction from social conservatives is simply maddening:
Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America described the pregnancy as "unconscionable."

"It's very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father," said Crouse, a senior fellow at the group's think tank. "They are encouraging people who don't have the advantages they have."

Crouse said there was no doubt that the news would, in conservatives' eyes, be damaging to the Bush administration, which already has been chided by some leaders on the right for what they felt was halfhearted commitment to anti-abortion and anti-gay-rights causes in this year's general election.

Carrie Gordon Earll, a policy analyst for the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family, expressed empathy for the Cheney family but depicted the newly announced pregnancy as unwise.

"Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn't mean it's a good idea," Earrll said. "Love can't replace a mother and a father."
The argument about conceiving a child outside a traditional family structure obviously echoes to the Dan Quayle-Murphy Brown flap of some 15 years ago. Calista Flockhart restarted it a few years ago when she elected to adopt a child alone.

But this isn't the same (if even single-parent adoption should even be considered intrinsically negative).

The major concern is that poor, unmarried young women will get the wrong message from wealthy single celebrities or otherwise powerful women who have the economic clout to raise a child by themselves.

There's a wealth of data showing that a child is likelier to experience up in poverty -- or be on welfare at least one point in his life -- growing up in a single parent household. One can understand that an impressionable young girl -- seeing a celebrity raising a child by herself -- might consider doing the same.

But that's not the case here. Cheney and Poe are in a committed relationship that they call marriage. This will be a two-parent household, though not the traditional variety. There is little danger of any economic hazards -- and hey, they "waited" to have kids until both parents were set in their professional careers.

Then, when Janice Crouse's wailing about Mary Cheney's decision
"encouraging people who don't have the advantages they have" is just nuts. What, she thinks girls will now want to dump their boyfriends for their favorite girlfriend and decide to have a baby together? Sorry, but the real world doesn't work that way.

If the issue is "love can't replace a mother and father," well, that battle was lost decades ago when courts across the nation ruled that single adults -- straight and gay -- could adopt children (Florida is a notable exception to allowing gays to adopt).

What's interesting here is that social conservatives would undoubtedly admit that there is a biological urge among women to want to have a child. Yet, they want Mary Cheney to ignore that urge -- for what would be ultimately a political decision rather than a personal one.

As I said, "maddening"!



UPDATE: The Blogger ate my homework -- or at least a major chunk of the end of my post. Now fixed (though I'm not sure I just wrote exactly what I had in mind last night!


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

 

"Grave and Deterioriating"

The Iraq Study Group Executive Summary.

Complete text.


Appendices.

Prediction: The political battle over the next two years will be over how much of this report will be implemented. The White House will want to be as piecemeal as possible. The Democratic Congress -- the 9/11 Commission (has Lee Hamilton become the Forrest Gump of foreign policy commissions?) -- will want to maximize its recommendations.

Let's see how this plays out.

UPDATE: Many thanks to venerable RT Commenter Bill "Always-Opinionated-But-Never-In-Doubt" Barker for helping out the beleagured host of this site by diligently reading through the ISG report, posting excerpts in the Comments thread -- thus initiating a good conversation.


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Anybody Seen David Crosby Recently?

A Cheney blessed event.

John Kerry has apparently sent a card congratulating the Cheney-Poe couple on their "lesbian motherhood."

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Andrew Sullivan has a number of posts about this story -- and the reaction to it. This is a good one. Yes, who would you want watching your child -- Britney Spears or Mary Cheney? (Keeping in mind that Mary might keep her in an undisclosed location until the babysitting was over.)



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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

 

Ask The Internet....

...as Ann Althouse does: Has Michael Richards ruined "Seinfeld" repeats?

And the Internet responds! (top video)

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Ranking the NFL - Week 13

We have reached the time of year when teams start playing differently: Some teams play better than they have been, while others start playing worse. How else do you explain the Colts losing to the Titans?

THE ELITE
RAVENS: Splitting the series with the Bengals is more of a positive sign for the Bengals than a negative sign for the Ravens. However, the Colts loss leaves the Ravens as the best team in the NFL by default. Their victory over the Chargers earlier this year looms large.

CHARGERS: A test of character for a good team is to win close games against bad teams like Buffalo. On the road. In December.


THE GOOD
COWBOYS: I'm a believer. With Tony Romo as their starting QB, the Boys are 5-1. I won't call them "elite", but they are clearly the best team in the NFC.

COLTS: I don't think anyone really believes the Titans are better than the Colts. However, I think the Colts' loss shows they have some glaring weaknesses.

PATRIOTS: This week Detroit. Next week Joey Harrington. Somewhere, the scheduling gods are having a chuckle.

BENGALS: Splitting games with the Ravens is a positive sign that the Bengals are coming around. Of course, they face their toughest test this weekend against the Raiders. I have heard the NFL is arranging special security for this game: They will need to protect the fans from all the prisoners on the field.

BEARS: I get a laugh from all the pundits who think the Bears should start Brian Griese instead of Rex Grossman. As a longtime Raider fan, Griese was my favorite Denver quarterback. No matter how close the game was, Griese always found a way to choke against the Raiders. I am not saying Grossman is great, but I am saying Griese will break your heart (unless you are rooting for the Bears' opponent).

SEAHAWKS: It is a bad sign when your defense gives up two touchdown passes to a rookie quarterback in his first NFL game. Seattle won, but I wouldn't smoke a cigar over it.

BRONCOS: Jay Cutler looked like a rookie. But have faith Denver fans. He showed some potential. Next year is looking better. You didn't honestly think Shanahan switched to Cutler because he thought Cutler gave them a "better chance to win this year"?

SAINTS: Got...to...resist...urge...to...rib...Texans. ARGH! I can't do it! Reggie Bush against the 49ers, 168 total yards and 4 touchdowns. Mario Williams against the hapless Raiders' offensive line, 2 tackles and no sacks. I bet the Texans are hoping Bush blows out a knee soon.

CHIEFS: Will the real Kansas City team please stand up? Was it the "Chiefs" team that beat the Broncos last week, or the "Chefs" team that lost to the Brownies this week? It doesn't get any easier for them in the next two weeks, as they have the two best teams in football coming up, with the Ravens followed by the Chargers.

PANTHERS: The Panthers are now 0-3 against the NFC East, with the Giants coming up this weekend. I am beginning to wonder if I didn't give Jake Delhomme too much credit in my recent "Best of the Worst Quarterbacks" post.


THE AVERAGE
TITANS: To all the so-called football geniuses who thought, and still think, Vince Young would/will never be a great NFL quarterback, I say: Eat his dust. I predict by his fifth season, if not sooner, he will be considered among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Ask the Eagles, Giants, and Colts what they think of Young.

GIANTS: It looked like the Giants got a major dose of Pepto Romo. Even though the final score was close, the Giants did not deserve to win.

49ERS: The 49ers game was sort of like the 2000 Presidential Election. Although the final score of 34-10 didn't leave room for (Frank) Gore to ask for a recount against (Reggie) Bush.

STEELERS: These guys are still playing? I thought they had already conceded the rest of the season. Although the Buccaneers are just bad enough to have told Pittsburgh, "no thanks, YOU take the win."

BROWNS: Just when I am about to write this team off, they pull off a huge win over the Chiefs. Romeo Crennel, you da man! This team looked ready to implode after being shut out by the Bengals last week, but Crennel pulled them together this week.

JETS: Against teams that begin with a "C", the Jets are 0-2 (Chicago and Cleveland). Against the rest of the NFL, the Jets are 7-3. Fortunately, they are not scheduled to play Cincinnati this year.

FALCONS: Don't feel so good about the win over the Skins. Over the last five weeks, the Dirty Birds are 1-4.

BUCCANEERS: Tampa Bay has won three games this year, by a combined total of 6 points. Oakland has won two games by a combined total of 20 points. How did these two teams make it to the Super Bowl a couple of years ago?

REDSKINS: The 2007 NFL Preseason has come early to Washington.

JAGUARS: I liked what I saw from quarterback David Gerrard. If the Jags could surround him with some talent, especially at wide receiver, he could be very good, although I don't see him becoming great.

EAGLES: Maybe Jeff Garcia isn't so bad after all?

DOLPHINS: On the losing side of the Jags-Dolphins game, Joey Harrington looked ok, but the Dolphins definitely missed Ronnie Brown.

VIKINGS: With one win in the last six games (against Arizona), "YO HO!" is becoming "yoohoo".

RAMS: Speaking of teams mailing it in...I know the Cardinals are not respectable, but you would think the Rams would actually make an appearance. Losing 34-20 means they sent St. Louis University.


THE BAD
BILLS: On the bright side...oh heck, there is no bright side. Just because the Bills played a close game with the Chargers doesn't make them suck any less.

PACKERS: In the post-game press conference, after getting plastered by the Jets 38-10, Brett Favre said he didn't know what happened. Brett, I will tell you what happened: You got old and the Packers got too young.

TEXANS: In a game otherwise know as "The Reggie Bush Consolation Prize", the Texans beat the Raiders.

RAIDERS: In the Brady Quinn Sweepstakes, the Raiders are running neck-and-neck with Detroit at 2-10. Thank you Houston!

CARDINALS: If someone lays down on the road in front of you, and you floor it as you drive over them, does that really mean your car is running well? After the Cards beat the Rams, QB Matt Leinart said the Cards were getting better. Riiiiight...

LIONS: Ask the average fan who handles personnel decisions for the Lions, and everyone will say Matt Millen. Now ask them who does it for the Patriots, and you will most likely get a collective shrug. Yet who is better at it? If you said Scott Pioli, you are either a football lunatic like me, or a Patriots fan. Regardless, let us give praise where it is due, since the Pats beat the Lions. Mr. Pioli, you are doing a darned fine job.


UPDATED: With the results from the Monday Night game.

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Dem-Libertarian Lures?

Sebastian Mallaby discusses a New Republic essay (subscription required) that poses the question whether libertarians should ditch the Republicans in favor of the Democrats:


Brink Lindsey, the director of research at the libertarian Cato Institute...is not merely joining the large crowd of disenchanted conservatives who believe that the Republican Party has betrayed its principles -- spraying money at farmers, building bridges to nowhere and presiding over the fastest ramp-up in federal spending since Lyndon Johnson. Rather, Lindsey is taking a step further, arguing that libertarians should ditch the Republican Party in favor of the Democrats.

Why react to the temporary corruption of a party by abandoning it outright? Lindsey's answer is that Republicans are not merely failing to live up to their principles; the principles have altered. The party has been virtually cleaned out of the Northeast; it has suffered setbacks in the Mountain West; it increasingly reflects the values of its stronghold in the South. As a result, it has lost its libertarian tinge and grown more religious and traditionalist.
...

Would libertarians be more comfortable in the company of Democrats? On moral questions -- abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research -- clearly they would. But on economic issues, the answer is less obvious. For just as Republicans want government to restore traditional values, so Democrats want government to bring back the economic order that existed before globalization. As Lindsey puts it in his New Republic essay, Republicans want to go home to the United States of the 1950s while Democrats want to work there.

If Democrats can get over this nostalgia, there's a chance that liberaltarianism could work. For the time has passed when libertarians could seriously hope to cut government: Much of what could be deregulated has been, and the combination of demographics, defense costs and medical inflation leaves no scope for tax cuts. As Lindsey himself says, the ambition of realistic libertarians is not to shrink government but to contain it: to cut senseless spending such as the farm program and oil subsidies to make room for the inevitable expansion in areas such as health.

As it happens, this also describes a plausible agenda for the Democratic Party -- at least if it can shed the back-to-the-1950s yearnings of its reactionary left. Precisely because Democrats want government to provide social insurance against the volatility of globalization, the party has an interest in cutting unneeded federal spending. Precisely because entitlements are expanding so expensively, the party needs cost-saving ideas from anyone who has them -- including libertarians.
Of course, on one "social" issue liberals and libertarians are in very much different camps -- affirmative action. Libertarians don't like the idea of counting by race or trying to get defined racial and gender outcomes in college admissions or hiring practices. Clearly, Republicans are on the side of the libertarian "angels" on that issue.

Another area that poses problems for a Democratic-libertarian alliance is that Mallaby notes how conservatives were victims of their success because of welfare reform. Well, the Holy Grail for libertarians is entitlement reform -- Social Security, Medicare, etc. Mallaby seems to think that libertarians will happily just smile and enjoy the "inevitable" expansion of health-related costs. Put me down as dubious on that score.

However, Lindsey and Mallaby may be on the right track IF libertarians have become like many conservatives and liberals who are more interested in the role of government government plays in overseeing (or not) cultural and lifestyle issues -- economic issues be damned.


If that is the case, then, yes perhaps libertarians will line up with donkeys rather than elephants.


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Monday, December 04, 2006

 

Margaret Alexander Parker, R.I.P.

Photo: Mary Noble Ours

April 12, 1958-November 30, 2006.

Her family, friends and colleagues said goodbye to her Monday. She was much loved and will be much missed. She lived life to the fullest and the smiles she brought to rooms were as radiant as her own.

Our sadness at her passing is alleviated by the knowledge that her own suffering is over.

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