Don’t Waste Your Vote! (Third Parties Turn the Tables)

Anyone who has ever considered voting for an independent or minor-party candidate has probably been vigorously admonished by his Republican or Democratic friends not to “waste” his or her vote.  Yesterday, the Libertarian ticket turned the tables by sending out an e-mail arguing, in effect, that a vote for John McCain would be wasteful in precisely the same sense.  The e-mail, which came from Bob Barr’s Campaign Manager Russ Verney (former Campaign Manager for Ross Perot), carried this subject heading:  “McCain is guaranteed to lose . . . so what does that mean for America?”  Here’s the rest of the e-mail: Read the rest of this entry »

Ron Paul, “The Revolution: A Manifesto”

Last winter, when I donated to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, I made the mistake of buying a Ron Paul sweatshirt but no Ron Paul T-shirt. I do not remember whether that was simple inadvertence on my part or whether it reflected a conscious prediction that Dr. Paul would likely be irrelevant by the time it was too warm for the sweatshirt. Either way, it was a mistake, because Ron Paul’s role in the presidential election is today very much the same as it was back in January. He is a man who will not be president, but who will not stop asking some of the most important questions about the course our nation is on. It is perhaps no coincidence that he also provides the most philosophically coherent package of answers. Read the rest of this entry »

Consequentialism and Integrity (or: Why People Disagree About Iraq)

A few weeks ago, toward the end of a spirited exchange on Iraq, abortion, Catholic social teaching, and the presidential election (we like to keep the topics narrow enough to be manageable on this blog), I expressed some thoughts on consequentialism that I was leaving unfinished because I needed a book from my shelf. Today, I give you the coda to that discussion, which of course I hope will turn out also to be a prelude to other discussions. Discussions about Iraq? Yes, and other things. Read the rest of this entry »

Catching up with the New York Review of Books

I spent a lot of time on my back this week due to a freak dog-washing injury. But I’m a silver-lining kind of guy, so instead of writing about the stabbing pain I’m writing about the fact that I got to catch up — a bit — on a few unread issues of the New York Review of Books, which always seems to give me so much to think about.

From the September 27 issue, I enjoyed Christopher Jencks’s review of Pat Buchanan’s State of Emergency, a book we also discussed on this blog a few months back, and also Janet Malcolm’s article “Pandora’s Click,” an uncharacteristically brief review that provides a timely reminder about the perils of e-mail and that medium’s own special contribution to our incivility. I also finally got around to reading the piece Jim Walsh recommended in the October 11 issue, Bill McKibben’s review of four books on climate change.  But what really held my attention in the October 11 issue was this fascinating excerpt from Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s journals of 1966 and 1967.

It’s called “The Turning Point,” and it’s all about LBJ’s fateful decision to escalate rather than withdraw from Vietnam. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Book Reviews, Bush Presidency, Civility, Failure of Imagination, Foreign Policy, History, Iraq, Politics. Comments Off on Catching up with the New York Review of Books

Separation of Mosque and State

Today’s Washington Post has a short but fascinating story on the “religious enlightenment” programs we’re providing for Muslim detainees at a military facility in Iraq that we call the “House of Wisdom.” According to the Post,

The religious courses are led by Muslim clerics who “teach out of a moderate doctrine,” [Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M.] Stone said, according to the transcript of a conference call he held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers. Such schooling “tears apart” the arguments of al-Qaeda, such as “Let’s kill innocents,” and helps to “bring some of the edge off” the detainees, he said.

I have a number of reactions to this, and they are not entirely consistent. Read the rest of this entry »

“Far More Complex” (Updated)

I’ve been trying to steer clear of newsy items because I doubt anyone comes here for news. But I try to give President Bush credit when he does something well because I don’t want to be written off as a knee-jerk Bush-basher. (Just to be clear, it’s the “knee-jerk” part that’s the problem.)

I did not watch the President’s speech on his veto of the “emergency” funding bill for “Iraq,” but when I read the transcript a couple of points impressed me. Read the rest of this entry »

Loyalty in Government

In Washington, there are weeks when everyone seems to know someone, who knows someone else, whose sister went to school with a close friend of Smith, the unfortunate person who is at that moment caught up in a political firestorm of some sort. Smith, it turns out, is pronounced by the grapevine to be a really good guy, a person of keen intellect and sound judgment, and those who know him personally are baffled at how a guy like Smith could do something so boneheaded. GeorgeTenet, Donald Rumsfeld, D. Kyle Sampson — the characters change but the plot is largely the same.

But another important piece of grapevine information available in Washington for the last six years has been the extraordinary degree to which political loyalty has been made the basis for hiring decisions. Read the rest of this entry »