Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Rudeness of Barack

Obama is a genuinely likeable guy- which is, I think, why his personal approval ratings significantly surpass the public's approval of any of his principal policies. When it comes to partisanship, however, Obama often goes beyond the pale in attacking his political opponents, often by attributing the most base motives to them. However, in his speech outlining his deficit-reduction plan, Obama was simply rude. Inviting Paul Ryan, the author of the GOP plan to address the long-term debt problem, to be present at his speech. Instead of being a straightforward proposal of his own plan, Obama launched into a strong and inaccurate denunciation of Ryan's proposals, accusing them of not being serious or courageous. One does not invite one's adversaries to a forum where they have no power of reply and then attack them. Doubtless it makes better theatre, and emphasises his own power to have his rival sit silently, front and centre, through a denunciation. It is, however, the method of the bully.

Jake Tapper has a helpful illustration of the Obama's hypocrisy, juxtaposing two statements made a year apart. As we have learnt, Obama will say the right thing about forgoing personal attacks and scaremongering until it becomes advantageous for him to do the same.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Obama & Reid's Mysterious Devotion to Abortion

It has been a very long time since I once tried to start this blog. This, then, is a second attempt. Forward to the content!

The recent deal in the United States over spending levels for the current fiscal year ended in a compromise. What I found interesting is not so much the analysis of who won, or who caved, but the order of priorities expressed by the White House and Senate Democrats. Amidst arguments over billions of dollars, the Democrats were most concerned with preserving funding to Planned Parenthood. According to the New York Times:
At one crucial moment in the game of chicken over a looming shutdown of the United States government, President Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner, faced off in the Oval Office. Mr. Boehner, a Republican heavily outnumbered in the room by Democrats, was demanding a provision to restrict financing to Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions. Mr. Obama would not budge.

“Nope. Zero,” the president said to the speaker. Mr. Boehner tried again. “Nope. Zero,” Mr. Obama repeated. “John, this is it.” A long silence followed, said one participant in the meeting. “It was just like an awkward, ‘O.K., well, what do you do now?’ ”
Lest we consider that this but the obsession of a single man, we find the Senate Democrats placing the same inordinate importance on funding Planned Parenthood:

The deal breaker for Democrats had been the rider cutting off federal funds for Planned Parenthood. As a "senior Democratic source" told the Huffington Post on Friday, "The cuts will be hard for us to swallow, but we won't bend on Title X" -- that is, federal funding of Planned Parenthood. "Reid doesn't even have to go back to the caucus to ask on that one."

Reid said so himself Friday: "We are not -- we are not! -- bending on women's health."

On a logical level, Democrats claim that this funding (about $80 million) supports only the non-abortion activities of Planned Parenthood. Since the pro-life majority in the House rightly sees supporting the largest purveyor of abortions in the US as a moral issue, it is unquestionably the case that the Democrats could have saved billions in spending in other areas had they agreed to defund Planned Parenthood. Why not take the billions in spending in other areas? Simply put, abortion is the sine qua non of much of the liberal world. This inexplicable devotion of to the culture of death is an expression of the mysterium iniquitatis, the mystery of evil. We witnessed it in the last decade, when President Bush's restrictions on the funding of embryonic stem-cell research led California to put billions of dollars into such research - far more than would have been expected even with federal funding.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

O, The Irony

James Dobson. Ann Coulter. Rush Limbaugh.

All have surpassed any reasonable misgivings a conservative might have with John McCain. In so doing, they look increasingly ill-tempered, stubborn and dyspeptic- precisely the character flaws McCain is supposed to embody in their perspective.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Good (Bipartisan) Sign

For a Red Tory, perhaps the most attractive policy in the world is for the government to effectively partner with religious organizations to help the poor and dispossessed. Canada has always, it seems to me, been better at doing this than our southern neighbours. Perhaps as a result of the extreme church-state separation theory that has been influential in America, US governments had a strong tendency to try and replicate what churches and ministries were already doing, rather than supporting and working with them. George Bush's faith-based initiative was a strong step forward, but didn't succeed as well as many hoped. Still, reasons for hope abound:
Hillary Clinton has declared that there is no contradiction between “support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles.” John McCain has supported the idea especially as it relates to improving educational programs for disadvantaged children. Barack Obama describes faith-based programs as a “uniquely powerful way of solving problems” especially where former prisoners and substance abusers are concerned. When he was governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney created his own faith-based office.
Perhaps more importantly, Kuo and DiIulio report that faith-based initiatives are spreading on the local level:
Increasingly, governors and mayors, with or without Washington’s help, are on the case. Since 2001, governors by the dozens and over a hundred mayors have started faith-based initiatives on their own. In numerous places, the initiatives have persisted through changes in administrations and party control — further evidence for the emerging political consensus in favor of using public dollars to support faith-based organizations. The ideological disputes that infect inside-the-Beltway debates over the separation of church and state have little life in cities where what gets accomplished (or not) in juvenile justice, health care and other social services is a visible, life-and-death drama.
Good to see Americans become more sensible- like their Canadian cousins.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Whither Globalization?

The International Herald-Tribune reports on heresy muttered at the World Economic Forum at Davos:
"Economic theory tells us that globalization is a win-win, but it isn't, at least not in the West," Roach said. "The theory was written for another era. We have to ask some hard questions about unfettered capitalism. We need a new script."
Who is this Roach character? No doubt some left-wing lunatic, working for the ILO. Wait:
...Stephen Roach, chief economist for Asia at Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley, whaa??-- the barbarians are at the gates! Where is Senator McCarthy when you really need him?

Honestly, it does appear as though we need to protect some major blue-collar industries. Full-on protectionism probably isn't necessary and would result in greater harm than , but I fear that globalization has resulted in stagnation for working people and strong gains for the educated business elites.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Marriage & Government

A battle fought and lost. That appears to be the conservative (and Conservative) opinion on gay "marriage".

While social liberalism continues to move forward, sometimes incrementally, sometimes in leaps, it often seems impossible to put the genie back in the bottle. Especially in Canada, the academic, media and social elites have established that any questioning of social liberalization is beyond the pale. Because of their tactical control of much of our institutions of discourse, liberals are able to easily spread their ideas, but more importantly, consolidate and enforce their victories. The conservative answer must be to attempt to reduce the liberal domination of the media & universities, but also to gradually marginalize the various segments of the liberal elites and their institutional supports.

As for gay "marriage", the battle has been lost, and a frontal attack on it today is extremely unlikely to succeed. While some malign effects of gay "marriage" are probably unavoidable at this point, conservatives can still advance policy changes that are aimed at encouraging the same goals as government-recognized traditional marriage: stable families for children to be raised in, a strong birthrate, economic stability for couples, and public virtue.

There are two good, potentially complementary conservative policy answers in this situation. The first is to shift the legal advantages of marriage away from marriage per se and towards the parents of children. Most of the legal benefits to marriage are there in the first place in order to benefit families with children regardless (such as the ability to claim one's spouse as a dependent for tax purposes); to formally give them only to couples with children may be tough on the infertile, but it certainly better reflects the goals to which the policy is directed. If such a policy is combined with an aggressive form of income-splitting, however, we create strong incentives for all couples to remain together to raise their children, discouraging impetuous dissolutions of relationships while making it easier for all parents to opt to have one parent reduce or eliminate their labour outside the home in order to spend more time raising their child or children.

The second policy is to eliminate government recognition of marriage altogether. At first this might appear to be a matter of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face- if homosexuals have to be part of approved marriage, then we shan't recognize it at all. But government-recognized marriage is about advancing policy goals- principally be reinforcing the private understandings of marriage that encourage commitment, permanence, stability, faithfulness and children. Yet even before gay "marriage" was even on the horizon, government-recognized "marriage" was already undermining the private understandings of marriage. The introduction of no-fault divorce was a government policy that strongly undermined the private values of marriage as a strong commitment and a permanent relationship. By eroding the public idea of marriage, no-fault divorce undermined the stability of many marriages, generating its own demand as many people came to see marriage as experimental. The nearly equal benefits given to common-law "marriages" signalled that government did not regard marital commitment as being of a high priority. Finally, while government cannot be significantly implicated in the rise of contraception, its prevalence has undermined the connection between marriage and children; however, the recognition of gay "marriages" has further reinforced the disconnect. Given that the state's treatment of marriage is so flawed, it is time to ask whether the negative effect government marriage policy has on the public attitude towards marriage outweighs the institutional support it lends.

In my view, the erosion of meaning to marriage clearly now is of more importance than the benefits of state endorsement of what remains. Thankfully, government is not the only voice in what defines marriage- but it's continued, discordant presence often drowns out the voice of religious communities, not to mention the innate sense of marriage bequeathed to us by our cultural heritage. If government gets out of the marriage business, a purer, stronger understanding of marriage will likely arise. The decline in couples choosing to marry may continue, but we can reasonably expect that those who do will have a better sense of what marriage truly is, and by that knowledge be better prepared to weather the difficulties and tribulations of both marriage & parenthood - and better equipped to know their joys.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Battle of the Babes

There are but four women left in the Australian Open singles draw... and they are all among the hottest in their sport. It makes it dreadfully difficult to know who to root for.

Ana Ivanović

Jelena Janković

Daniela Hantuchová

Maria Sharápova

What more can one ask for? Well, maybe Maria Kirilenko.

Hillary and History

No, Hillary Clinton isn't historic. If she does become president, she'll be the most banal option for the first female president (and will only become so if she destroys the first serious chance for a black president).

But the New Yorker had an intriguing article about the dynamics of the Democratic race. George Packer quotes Hillary Clinton as saying of Field-Marshall Montgomery that he:
was given great marks for being so brilliant and inspiring of his men, but often had a difficult time making a tough decision, often dithered about it, and claimed he needed yet more information before he could pull the trigger.
A rather trite and superficial, not to mention unoriginal criticism. While Monty's deliberateness annoyed some fellow commanders, it yielded extremely strong results. The central tactical error among the Allied Forces in World War II was Eisenhower's. Following the demolition of German forces in Normandy, the German Army was in disarray, reeling from the continual onslaught of the Allies. But the Allies didn't have the supplies to advance their entire forces swiftly enough to exploit the tactical weakness of the Germans. Both Montgomery and Patton argued that Eisenhower needed to prioritize one half of the Allied Forces to plunge the sword deep into German territory. Eisenhower's dilemma was less whether it was a good idea than dealing with the political cost of necessarily choosing either a British-dominated force or an American-dominated force to give the glory of the final thrust.

As it was, however, Eisenhower refused, necessitating a slower advance, which permitted the Germans to regroup and offer stronger resistance, dragging the war into the winter of 1944-45, which gave the Germans time to launch the Ardennes counteroffensive. Eisenhower's refusal to grant the resources to dynamically advance against the Germans probably prolonged the war about six months, in which time the Red Army ran through Eastern Europe, fating Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Eastern Germany to Communist rule. All because Eisenhower "had a difficult time making a difficult decision."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Firm Foundation

What is this? Well, it's my new blog. Yes, I've blogged elsewhere, but I've decided to try a more political approach to my blogging here. Anyways, what should be said at the outset?

I hope to tackle issues of public importance from my viewpoint as a rather rare species of political animal- a traditional Red Tory. What is a traditional Red Tory? Well, hopefully that will be the subject of a post in the near future, but let us just say that it is consistent with being conservative, Catholic and monarchist. Sort of Charles Taylor crossed with Benjamin Disraeli.