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Commentary
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, February 23, 2006

They just can't help themselves...
Xenophobic conservatives have found allies with liberals on this [Dubai Ports deal] issue because liberals are a) looking for any opening to criticize Bush on national security; and, b) think they can do that by outflanking Bush to the right on this issue and therefore sound “tougher” and “stronger.”
When my side is wrong about X, we're just being political. When your side is wrong about X, you're a Bad Person.

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This is, of course, bad news...
A powerful bomb shattered the golden dome at one of Iraq's most revered Shiite shrines on Wednesday morning, setting off a day of sectarian fury in which mobs formed across Iraq to chant for revenge and attacked dozens of Sunni mosques.
...unless it's not. I mean, sure, violence = bad. But so long as the Sunnis are unwilling and/or unable to assimilate peacefully and control their own violent fringe elements, there's going to be violence. The only question is how and when it will be confronted.

I'd rather the Sunnis make peace with their fellow countrymen than start a cataclysmic civil war. But the middle-ground — a bubbling, destabilizing, long-term insurgency — is as big a threat to Iraq and to US interests as is a civil war. At least a confrontation may force the Shiites and Sunnis to face down the problem and find a resolution. And the Sunni leadership and majority have no particular vested interest in defending whoever perpetrated these attacks.

Any eventual resolution, of course, may or may not be something we'll like. But that's where we are in Iraq: largely out of the drivers seat, and dependent upon the Iraqis for the success or failure of the Iraq experiment.

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Megan McArdle, on the central theme — the Driving Big Idea — of the Left and Right Coalitions...
The left used to have a Big Idea: The free market doesn't work, so the government will fix it. The social democrats disagreed with the Socialists and the Scoop Jackson democrats about how much fixing was necessary, but they all agreed on a basic premise, and could sell that simple message to the public. Then, after fifty years or so, people noticed that the government didn't seem to work any better than the free market . . . worse, actually, in a lot of cases . . . and it was awfully expensive and surly.

Conservatives stepped in with their Big Idea: the government screws things up, so let's leave more stuff up to individuals, which, if nothing else, will be a lot cheaper. Obviously, liberals disagree with this . . . but they have not come up with a Big, Easily Sellable, Idea With Obvious Policy Prescriptions to replace it. Some of them have just kept repeating the old Big Idea, which it seems to me that fewer and fewer people believe, as the US continues to pull ahead of its economic peers. Others have focused on coming up with lots of little ideas . . . but those take up too much time and energy to attract voters. Gore tried to whang up anger against pharmaceutical companies, and Kerry tried to stoke anger against Bush, as replacement. But in politics, there's just no replacement for the Big Idea.
I've discussed this previously here and here. Both liberalism and conservatism are workable political philosophies because they are not strict moral systems. They are broad tendencies, with no organizing principle.

Libertarianism, on the other hand, is not a viable political philosophy precisely because it is a moral system with an organizing principle.

Conservatism had their Big Idea — "limited government, lower taxes, strong defense" — when the fiscal conservatives and libertarians were dominant, but that Big Idea is declining in power as the social conservatives become more dominant. Liberals, to their own electoral detriment, seem to be too factionalized to rally around a single Big Idea right now.
 
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I’m of the opinion that we may someday look back on the Katrina/New Orleans disaster as the cathartic event which FINALLY put the final nail in the coffin of the "liberal Big Idea".
 
Written By: stickman
URL: http://axiomattic.blogspot.com
I don’t think the decline of the "limited govt." component of the Conservative Big Idea is due to, or even correlated with, the "rise" in power of the Social Cons. My feeling, and I admit it’s just a feeling, is that the majority of Social Cons also happen to be Fiscal Cons.

Or maybe you’re saying that the SoCons prioritize differently, and thereby dillute the Big Idea? And if they prioritize the Social Issues, maybe they give ground on the Fiscal Issues to gain on the Social?
 
Written By: CNH
URL: http://
If by “social conservatives” you mean (mostly Southern) populist nationalists, historically they’ve had no problem whatsoever with indebtedness. Isn’t that what “fiscal conservatism” boils down to? Opposition to indebtedness?

And I think you’ll find that progressivism does have a Big Idea: egalitarianism. Everybody should have the same whatever: money, health care, education. Not the best. Just the same.

Countries all should have the same amount of power. Perhaps there shouldn’t be countries at all because it’s too unequal.

Differences between men’s and women’s brains? Horrors! That would be unequal.

 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
I mean, sure, violence = bad. But so long as the Sunnis are unwilling and/or unable to assimilate peacefully and control their own violent fringe elements, there’s going to be violence. The only question is how and when it will be confronted.
If the implication here is that there is no doubt as to the ethnic identity of the bombers, I would disagree. There is something strange about the whole episode that suggests that there may have been a Shia hand behind it.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Bush’s Big Idea domestically (the one he seems to have been trying to get the rest of the Party to latch onto over the last six years) SEEMS to be "More Choices Right Now Is Always Better, Even If the Government Is the One Giving You The Choices". Which means he’s neither greatly opposed nor greatly in favor of smaller or bigger government, but government’s the biggest tool he has at hand, and that makes it the tool he’s quickest to reach for (the Right Now part).

 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://
When my side is wrong about X, we’re just being political. When your side is wrong about X, you’re a Bad Person.



No, no, no - when wingers criticize Bush, it is a policy difference. When non-wingers do, they are manifesting mental illness, most likely Bush Derangement Syndrome.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Any eventual resolution, of course, may or may not be something we’ll like. But that’s where we are in Iraq: largely out of the drivers seat, and dependent upon the Iraqis for the success or failure of the Iraq experiment.
Where exactly does that put us, though? What are the determinants of success and failure at this junction, if the situation is largely out of our hands? Is there a point where we can look at the situation and say "they had their chance, and they failed" and simply withdraw?

This is a genuine question. Success is fairly easy to identify at this point. The Iraqis step up for their own security and, presumably, are able to handle it. The question of what we do should that fail has not really been answered. If it becomes clear that Iraqis really are interested in having a civil war, what do we do? Do we try to stop it, no matter the costs? Or is there a point where we simply allow matters to take their course without us?

 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
I think the GOP is going to take a hard turn to the right after Bush leaves office. All the liberals/lefties/Dems are going to realize all their complaints about Bush being too conservative were like the "Little Boy Who Cried Wolf".
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
But so long as the Sunnis are unwilling and/or unable to assimilate peacefully and control their own violent fringe elements, there’s going to be violence.
But they have been - they participated in elections and they have fought battles against foriegn fighters from Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, and not their own fringe elements, have carried out this attack and may have very well kicked off a civil war.

Neither the Sunni or the Iraqi armed forces are capable of harming Al Qaeda by interdicting the Al Qaeda supply and infiltration of terrorists. Only the coalition is capable of this and the coalition force has chosen not to do so.

This is not the point to say it is out of your hands, this maybe the last good chance to make a differance by going after the supply routes of the terrorists. Last time the coalition did this, during Operation Steel Curtin, it secured a degree of peace for the elections as supply lines and bases on the Iraqi side of the border were disrupted. Next step requires disruption on the Syrian side of the border and this step is beyond the capability of Iraqi forces.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
For a religion that claims that idolatry is forbidden, they certainly seem to get rather emotionally involved with images and buildings.

This must be one of the very few large explosions in Iraq that inflicted no casualties. Even the security guards received an exceptional amount of consideration. It probably would have been faster and safer for the attackers to simply have killed them.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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