B After The Fact

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A New Rationale Is Coming

Bob Herbert's op-ed is called "Blood & Oil"

He says that there is too much oil in the Middle East for the Bushies to leave -- ever.

Donald Rumsfeld said this week that we may start to withdraw troops in May 2006.

I think that both of these men are correct.

Oil has clearly been a major rationale for the war. For the Bushies, it may be real rationale, as Mr. Herbert says. I have deep ambivalence towards a war for oil. Ambivalence is not disagreement. 30 years of American history (1972-2002) made us unwilling or unable to resort to conservation methods, or alternative energy sources. Therefore, we have little choice but to go in and make sure that people like Sadaam Hussein are not controlling our oil fields. That people like the Saudi princes are not controlling our oil fields. And we pray that we are correct that this is a better way, the most conservation conscious way, the way God wants for us, to fuel our automobiles.

On the other hand, Rumsfeld knows that his all-volunteer army cannot sit in Iraq much longer without a change in recruitment (like, say, a draft). Someone on the political end, Andy Card, Karl Rove, W- himself, realizes that although they got by on War Fever in the 2002 election and the 2004 election, that it will be hard to go back to these same Red States, to these same people who give all, while the rest of us pontificate on blogs, and tell them there is no end to the war in sight.

We have to stay in the Middle East indefinitely, both militarily and as a matter of Middle East policy and energy policy, and to salvage all the assumptions behind the American Empire and the War on Terrorism.

We cannot stay in the Middle East indefinitely, politically and, perhaps as a matter of foreign policy in the rest of Asia (unless we offer China the oil at a reduced rate).

Looks pretty unstable to me. The public will soon be presented a new rationale for continuing our stay in Iraq.

Wish I knew what it was.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I Got Up Too Early ...

Joe Conason in the New York Observer , regarding Republican plans to discredit the Special Prosecutor once the indictments come down, and on the Senate plans to hold hearings at the same time the White House refuses to comment on anything.


I was going to post Richard Cohen's piece complaining about how the same people who are so gung-ho to have the government administer the death penalty get all upset when the government exercises its eminent domain right. I thought he was going to write a much-needed piece in favor of eminent domain. Unfortunately, Cohen then went on to criticize the death penalty as an excessive government intrusion. Oh well.


If the Mets can get Alfonso Soriano for any two of the "top-name" players mentioned, and this is the last time that Victor Zambrano will ever appear in the same sentence with the words "top-name", the Mets should do it. Unfortunately, the Rangers appear to want four such players.


As a Democrat, I can't imagine what my confreres think they are going to find that disqualifies John Roberts. I would prefer, as Professor Amar suggests in today's New York Times, that they simply engage him in a conversation about past cases. Of course, that would require a knowledge of American History that apppears to bore most people to death.

One thing that I haven't seen in all my reading, and I'll throw it in the mix ---

Liberals know that the "liberal elite" is way more liberal than even people like me, much less someone who is a "rank-and-file" liberal because s/he is a Union member, or who becomes a liberal as the parent of a special needs child who might need a large government to care for their child after they die, or becomes a liberal as they come to believe that the government is the best protector of minorities civil rights, or because Grandfather Brown was Democrat, and if its good enough for grandpa ... But basically liberals get the difference between the way they think and the way Michael Moore or Al Sharpton thinks.

Liberals think that "rank-and-file" conservatives don't get how conservative "movement" conservatives are. And I use the term "conservative" loosely. It is one thing to think that abortion is a shame, or even a sin, and another thing to make it completely unavailable. You have to be pretty old now to remember what that means. Or to inhale the dirty air. Or to have a workplace injury due to faulty machinery and be told that stuff happens. Or having to quit your job to take care of Grandmother Brown without relying on her SSDI check to make ends meet. Or what it will really mean when you are no longer able to convince the staff at the hospital to let her come home to die in peace.

Liberals keep thinking if you expose people who think like this to the sunlight, that the public will recoil. So liberals keep trying to draw the shades.

But it is going to be hard to find anything to stick to John Roberts. If John Roberts fails to be confirmed, if John Roberts is considered beyond acceptable, then the Democrats should not have all this trouble winning elections.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Still More On States Rights

The Unrepentant Individual talks about the RIGHT OF SECESSION

He says a great many things about States Rights that I have different views on, and have occasionally raised the issues.

October 15, 2004 , November 30, 2004 , ,
January 27, 2005 ,
November 13, 2004 ,

To pull together just some of the loose strands:

States Rights, as the term was used in the 1850s, meant something entirely different from what States Rights means today.

In the 1850s, in the South, States Rights meant that the sovereign entities were the states, and that the states were members of some lesser entity called the United States.

Under this theory of States Rights, the Federal government had the obligation to protect the institutions of each of the several states. Since slavery states needed special protections, this theory of states rights argued that the Federal government must grant states with slavery special protections, such as Slave Codes, such as the Fugitive Slave Act, such as Dred Scott, such as permitting slavery in the territories.

So in fact, the South wanted a Federal Government strong enough to defend the right of States to provide protection for slaveholders. Since most of the population did not want slavery, that meant that the Federal government had to be extremely strong. The South helped build that strong government when it suited their purposes.

Once Lincoln became elected, the South understood that this view of States Rights, vis-a-vis slavery, was impossible. The Constitution with its Senate, with its 3/5 rule, with its Electoral College, with its Supreme Court, was full of protections to assure that pro-slavery factions would control the government. If, with all those protections, the South still couldn't win the Election of 1860, the South could not see the point in remaining in the Union.

There was nothing to secede about except issues of slavery.

The rights of people, whatever the color of their skin, outside of their rights as property holders of persons "in service" had nothing to do with States Rights of the 1850s.

States Rights in its modern context means exactly the opposite. Where the slavery holders of the 1850s invoked the doctrine of States Rights to force the Federal government to help defend slavery, the South of the 1950s invoked the doctrine of States Rights in an attempt to avoid Civil Rights legislation and other pro-labor legislation that was being introduced by the Federal government.

IMHO, States Righters of today are wrong if they think they have the same viewpoint of the Federal government as those who seceded to make the Confederacy. The South seceded not because the Federal government was too strong, but because it was not strong enough to maintain the only order the South cared about.

The other problem is that even though, in theory, States Rights can be used in a number of contexts, both right and left, in reality, it has only been used to justify racism and unfair working conditions for the poor.

Of course, the South of the 1850s is gone, and the South of the 1950s is gone, and States Rights is just a doctrine that losers use to find some protection from the winners. The South is no longer racist in that way. There is no need for any doctrine of States Rights, and in a number of important ways (which is another essay for another day), no President has governed with such a complete disregard for States Rights as George W. Bush has.

For just one example --- the entire filibuster debate, both earlier this year, and as it may yet happen, is impossible in a world where States Rights are taken seriously.

Quick on the other points:

The Declaration of Independence was a document to declare the right of the people to rise up against unjust government, to make people see that if they did that, that the Creator would approve this exercise of inalienable rights, and the people would not burn in hell for all time. It says nothing about the obligation of the sovereign, exercising his divine right of kings, to let go of power willingly. No one expected King George to let the colonies go in peace, any more than anyone should expect the President to let the States go in peace.

Lincoln's first job, any President's first job, is to turn over the entire country to his successor. That is why Buchanan was our worst President, by lots and lots and lots and lots and lots. If Buchanan had done even a fraction of his job, Lincoln might not have had to overcompensate (if holding the Union together and freeing the slaves is what you mean by overcompensation) so much to do his.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

This England

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in a silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Feared by their breed and famous by their birth

Shakespeare -- Richard II, 2.1, 40-51


They bomb these targets because they think that freedom and liberty and mostly equality for non-believers are wrong, and tyranny and oppression and intolerance and caste are right. For them, those of us who press for freedom and liberty are just fools.

While I know that people reading this blog have vastly different opinions about the wisdom and the nature of what the response so far has been, and what it should be going forward, one fact must always be agreed upon. They are the bad guys.

What we say and do amongst ourselves, the way we argue or disagree amongst ourselves, makes us all more free. We are prosperous because we are free and because we can argue amongst ourselves. It is easy to be safe and a slave. It is hard hard work to be prosperous and free. Rather than admit that it is possible to be prosperous and free and tolerant, some people like to bomb targets.

It is not our policy on abortion or on the equal status accorded to Muslims and non-Muslims or the content of our cartoons that is the root cause. It is not our decision to go into Iraq or to defend the right of Israel to exist that is the root cause.

The root cause is that these people prefer to show resentment through violence rather than reduce resentment through good productive actions to better their own lives. They prefer to bomb things rather than admit that freedom can lead to prosperity. Rather than admit that it is possible to be tolerant and free and moral and prosperous all on the same day.

They will die to defend their stupid theories but they lack the courage to see their theories through the billion peaceful avenues available for those who truly think they have found a better way.


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

-- William Blake

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Are Democrats Good? Are Republicans Evil?

Howard Dean said, earlier this year, that we are in a struggle between “good and evil” and Democrats are “good.” I happen to agree with what Howard Dean said on the following level.

You cannot have Republicans run a Presidential campaign where they say that the issue is that the Democrats are going to subvert the Bible, that they are evil people, and let the issue of evil in the Republican Party go unremarked upon. What is evil anyway? If the Republican Party can say that policy differences are actually battles between good and evil, and if voters agree with that approach, who is to say the voters are wrong?

If the Republican Party can go throughout the Bible Belt saying that I am evil and about to burn in hell, why can't the Democratic Party respond in kind? Since Democrats have not spoken in those terms since the 1960s, Dean's broaching the subject may have been clumsy.

However, until Democrats are able to say to each other that the atmosphere of intolerance that pervades large swatches of the Republican Party is evil, then they will not be able to say it to the country as a whole. What is intolerant in the Republican Party position that may be classified as evil? Let’s just take the news of the week:

The part that says Democrats are anti-religious because certain Democrats objected to anti-Semitic behavior at the Air Force Academy. [Actually, the investigation began in earnest when an Air Force cadet -- the Jewish son of a Reagan official -- got tired of being called a “f----g Jew” every day, in formal settings, and brought the matter to the attention of his father.] The strong implication made by the Indiana Congressman was that Anti-Semitism is so important to Christianity, that preventing Anti-Semitism is tantamount to government suppression of Christianity.

The part that says child molestation by Catholic clergy in the so-called "Blue States" was understandable, since an environment where Democrats and secular freedom were tolerated was bound to lead to a clergy where pederasty and fondling was tolerated. According to the Pennsylvania Senator, even the most devout clergyman is powerless against what he apparently believes to be the kryptonite of freedom.

The part that says that marriage is such an important sacrament that it can not be offered to gays, but still rails over the fact that Hillary Clinton has never divorced the “sumbitch”,

The part that says that the lawyers in the Senate who made a big spectacle of passing a cynical, empty law on Palm Sunday, not in an attempt not to save Terri Schiavo (which they could have easily done by drafting the law differently), but to continue to rile their supporters and increase their fundraising are good, but the judges who read and interpreted the Palm Sunday statute as a nullity should be impeached or worse?

The part that says marriage is such an important sacrament that Michael and Teresa Schiavo’s marital rights, anyone’s marital rights, can be abrogated whenever Jeb Bush and Bill Frist read a poll result?

The part that says that the state can tell you when you can choose to die, when you can have an abortion, when you can do medical research that may cure you of Alzheimer’s, but cannot tell you to move your house 6 inches for multi-million dollar compensation?

The part where the President’s closest advisor gets to say that anybody who breathes against the war is a liberal who is destroying the war effort (and is by implication un-American), but (if today’s blogosphere is to be believe) is not destroying the war effort when he outs a CIA agent? (Can you imagine? It is possible that Judith Miller of the New York Times is going to jail to protect Karl Rove. Can you imagine Brit Hume going to jail to protect Karl Rove?)

The part that says that a Supreme Court justice ought to be killed [and we’ve been through this one fellas – references very available on request] for looking to European precedent to attempt to justify a holding against the death penalty, but expects these same “strict constructionist, intent of the framers, constitution-in-exile” judges to make holdings on matters such as euthanasia, the death penalty and takings, on no law or precedent at all?

The part that says that Alberto Gonzalez is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court because he is too liberal – because he attempted – one time – ONE TIME -- to look at the law in reaching a legal decision?

Maybe some of these things are just wrong-headed policy choices, maybe some of them are part of the debate on good v evil. Howard Dean raised these issues as a Democratic family matter, and it was really none of the Republican's business to comment on them.

P.S. --- From where we sit on the Democratic side of the aisle -- the entire 2005 political season has been devoted to the needs of rich white Christian males to the exclusion of everything else. Howard Dean pointed that out. It was bad p.r. -- because a lot of rich Christian white males are writing heavy checks to the Democratic Party, and those people may think twice now. Doesn't make it untrue.