Friday, December 21, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
By now, readers will know who I favor in the Democratic race. Here's my most considered case. But what of the GOP? For me, it comes down to two men, Ron Paul and John McCain. That may sound strange, because in many ways they are polar opposites: the champion of the surge and the non-interventionist against the Iraq war; the occasional meddling boss of Washington and the live-and-let-live libertarian from Texas. But picking a candidate is always a mix of policy and character, of pragmatism and principle. And what these two mavericks share, to my mind, is a modicum of integrity. At one end of the character scale, you have the sickening sight of Mitt Romney, a hollow shell of cynicism and salesmanship, recrafted to appeal to a base he studied the way Bain consultants assess a company. Paul and McCain are at the other end. They have both said things to GOP audiences that they knew would offend. They have stuck with their positions despite unpopularity. They're not saints, but they believe what they say. Both have also taken a stand against the cancerous and deeply un-American torture and detention regime constructed by Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. In my book, that counts.
I admire McCain in so many ways. He is the adult in the field, he is attuned to the issue of climate change in a way no other Republican is, he is a genuine war hero and a patriot, and he bravely and rightly opposed the disastrous occupation policies of the Bush administration in Iraq. The surge is no panacea for Iraq; but it has enabled the United States to lose the war without losing face. And that, in the end, is why I admire McCain but nonetheless have to favor Paul over McCain. Because on the critical issue of our time - the great question of the last six years - Paul has been proven right and McCain wrong. And I say that as someone who once passionately supported McCain's position on the war but who cannot pretend any longer that it makes sense.
Let's be clear: we have lost this war. We have lost because the initial, central goals of the invasion have all failed: we have not secured WMDS from terrorists because those WMDs did not exist. We have not stymied Islamist terror - at best we have finally stymied some of the terror we helped create. We have not constructed a democratic model for the Middle East - we have instead destroyed a totalitarian government and a phony country, only to create a permanently unstable, fractious, chaotic failed state, where the mere avoidance of genocide is a cause for celebration. We have, moreover, helped solder a new truth in the Arab mind: that democracy means chaos, anarchy, mass-murder, national disintegration and sectarian warfare. And we have also empowered the Iranian regime and made a wider Sunni-Shiite regional war more likely than it was in 2003. Apart from that, Mr Bush, how did you enjoy your presidency?
McCain, for all his many virtues, still doesn't get this. Paul does.
Paul, moreover, supports the only rational response: a withdrawal, as speedily and prudently as possible. McCain, along with Lieberman, still seems to believe that expending even more billions of dollars to prop up and enable a fast-devolving, ethnically toxic, religiously nutty region is somehow in American interests. Given the enormous challenges of the terror war, the huge debt we are piling up, the exhaustion of the military, the moral and financial corruption that has its white-hot center in Mesopotamia, I do not believe that an endless military, economic and political commitment to Iraq makes sense. It only makes sense if we are determined to occupy the Middle East indefinitely to secure oil supplies. But the rational response to oil dependence is not to entrench it, but to try and move away from it. Institutionalizing a bank-breaking, morale-busting Middle East empire isn't the way to go.
But the deeper reason to support Ron Paul is a simple one. The great forgotten principles of the current Republican party are freedom and toleration. Paul's federalism, his deep suspicion of Washington power, his resistance to government spending, debt and inflation, his ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble, least of all by government: these are principles that made me a conservative in the first place. No one in the current field articulates them as clearly and understands them as deeply as Paul. He is a man of faith who nonetheless sees a clear line between religion and politics. More than all this, he has somehow ignited a new movement of those who love freedom and want to rescue it from the do-gooding bromides of the left to the Christianist meddling of the right. The Paulites' enthusiasm for liberty, their unapologetic defense of core conservative principles, their awareness that in the new millennium, these principles of small government, self-reliance, cultural pluralism, and a humble foreign policy are more necessary than ever - no lover of liberty can stand by and not join them.
He's the real thing in a world of fakes and frauds. And in a primary campaign where the very future of conservatism is at stake, that cannot be ignored. In fact, it demands support.
Go Ron Paul!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
While the news media continues to talk about Barack Obama passing by Hillary Clinton in the early primary state polls and Mike Huckabee seemingly coming out of nowhere to overtake both Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani in the very vulnerable Republican race for the 2008 White House, all eyes this weekend (at least when it comes to the bookmaking community) are focused on who many consider to be a long shot candidate - Ron Paul. That long shot, however, is the focus of a much ballyhooed "money bomb" on Sunday forecast by oddsmakers to reel in around $6 million.
"The $6 million mark is where the oddsmakers have set the shortest odds," says Payton O'Brien, Senior Editor of Gambling911.com.
Bookmaker.com had been offering odds on the range of money taken in on Sunday. By Friday evening they had ceased taking any more action on this bet for reasons unknown.
The range was as follows:
How much money will Ron Paul raise on December 16th?
- $1-3 million 3 to 1
- $3-6 million 5 to 6
- $6-10 million 11 to 10
- Over $10 million 2 to 1
Tomorrow is the day!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I guess if he fails in his presidential run God himself is to blame.
Almost overnite, Mike Huckabee has become the darling of the Religious Right in America. Christians are suckers for political a candidate who talks frankly and non-apologetically about his faith and says nice things every once in a while on the issue of abortion. Huckabee fits the bill to tenth degree and has all the charisma and vernacular of the Sunday morning minister he used to be.
It's no problem looking past all the questionable ethics of Huckabee's past for these people. Never mind his aggressive push for the pardon of a convicted rapist who went on to murder. Never mind the destructions of public property on his way out the door when he left office in Arkansas. Never mind he raised taxes during his stay there more than Clinton did during his tenure. Never mind the non-Christian attitude towards members of the media who cross his path. All these things can be easily brushed aside for a soft spoken southern baptist who "says what he believes" even if he doesn't act on those beliefs.
The fact that words speak louder than actions for the Christian Right is, of course, nothing new and Huckabees behavior as a Governor is not exactly earth shattering. Indeed, corruption in politicians is as common as politicians themselves (Ron Paul excepted of course). All these things can probably be tolerated as typical political shenanigans. I've come to expect those type of activities from politicians and have based a lot of my political philosophies on those expectations. Those dishonesties aren't the real problem with Mike Huckabee.
The real problem with Mike Huckabee is that he's a warmonger.
John Hagee is a Christian Zionist and televangelist. He's known for his books Jerusalem Countdown and more recently In Defense of Israel, a pair of books that make outlandish and fear-based claims about end times and biblical predictions. Like Huckabee, Hagee purports to know the very will of God in order to further his own agenda. In older days these type of men were known as charlatans, now-a-days we call them leaders in the Christian Right.
Hagee's evil beliefs are based on a twisted theology of fundamental dispensationalism is comprised of the belief that the nation state Israel is the fulfillment of Bible prophesy and that thus, it deserves full political and military support from the US. But any friendly gestures from the likes of Christian Zionists like Hagee or Pat Robertson are merely formalities, because the ultimate prediction is Armageddon VIA nuclear war and the conversion of the Jews that survive or some such nonsense I can't be bothered to fully learn. Of course all of his prophesies are dependent on war, so he preaches and writes and gives interviews encouraging preemptive war with Iran.
Worst of all, his theology is that which 99% of practicing Christians would instantly reject. Watch here as he openly claims Jesus Christ DID NOT come to Earth to be the messiah.
And this is a man who is shaping the politics of the Christian Right. And endorsing Mike Huckabee.
You might be wondering what any of this Hagee business has to with Mike Huckabee. Well Hagee's publisher and long time friend Stephen Strang is directly linked to Huckabee. Just before fall Strang's magazine The New Man endorsed Huckabee. Likewise, Huckabee added Strang to his Faith and Values Coalition, an event for which John Hagee was in attendance. Strang has written and supported Hagee's threat's to Iran.
The Huckster sounds eerily like Hagee in this interview with Wolf Blitzer making the case to first starve the children and poor in Iran in the same way we did to Iraq inbetween Iraq Wars I & II, then using a preemptive nuclear strike to bomb Iran into compliance with his will. Of course all this tough talk of preemptive war against Iran sounds altogether more frightening with the NIE report that came out recently saying that Iran has long abandoned it's nuclear program. Imagine what a preemptive strike would have done to our country's security and prosperity if Huck and Hagee had their way already.
Compare Huckabee and Hagee's warmongering tones to those of Ron Paul at a debate earlier this year speaking on the subject of preemptive war with Iran:
“I do not believe that [pre-emptive war] is part of the American tradition. We, in the past have always declared war in the defense of our liberties or [to] go to aid somebody.
But now we have accepted the principle of preemptive war. We have rejected the just-war theory of Christianity. And now tonight, we hear that we’re not even willing to remove from the table a pre-emptive nuclear strike, against a country that has done no harm to us directly and is no threat to our national security!
We have to come to our senses about this issue of war and pre-emption. [We have to] go back to traditions and our Constitution, and defend our liberties and defend our rights, but not to think that we can change the world by force of arms and to start wars.”
Who sounds like the true Christian candidate?
Fellow libertarian Christian William N. Grigg (one of my new favorite bloggers) recently posted on the ties between Hagee and Huckabee and posited the follwing:
"The only authentic conservative in the race, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, disqualified himself in the Christian Right's eyes by taking the teachings of the Prince of Peace too literally, and applying the Golden Rule to foreign policy. The Mullahs of the Mega-Churches, and many of their followers, are mortally offended by the notion that decades of bellicose interventionism by Washington might have something to do with the antagonisms that breed and feed anti-American terrorism."
"I suspect that if Mitt Romney is elected president, Hagee would have no difficulty reaching across the theological divide -- as long as Romney remains true to the gospel of militarist bloodshed. If Huckabee makes it to the Oval Office, it's likely that Hagee would be part of the Inner Court. Either prospect would be troubling to the Christian Right, were it more interested in defending Christian principles than in accumulating and preserving political power."
Amen to that.