Category Archives: Political Commentary

“Anger And Despair”

James Carroll has a nutty column today in which he agrees with the psychoanalytical diagnoses of Iranian mullahs:

An Iranian official dismissed the talk of imminent US military action as mere psychological warfare, but then he made a telling observation. Instead of attributing the escalations of threat to strategic impulses, the official labeled them a manifestation of ”Americans’ anger and despair.”

The phrase leapt out of the news report, demanding to be taken seriously.

And amazingly (at least to me), he does just that.

“Anger And Despair”

James Carroll has a nutty column today in which he agrees with the psychoanalytical diagnoses of Iranian mullahs:

An Iranian official dismissed the talk of imminent US military action as mere psychological warfare, but then he made a telling observation. Instead of attributing the escalations of threat to strategic impulses, the official labeled them a manifestation of ”Americans’ anger and despair.”

The phrase leapt out of the news report, demanding to be taken seriously.

And amazingly (at least to me), he does just that.

What The World Needs Is A Good Right-Wing Teeshirt

Speaking of the Euston Manifesto, David Weigel has a libertarian take on it, that rapidly and humorously devolves in comments into a debate on tee-shirt icons:

You think Che makes an attractive T-shirt? He looks like something from Planet of the Apes…

…The problem with the right wing T-shirts is that the right is mainly about ideas, while the left is mainly about the ‘cult of personality’, the sound bite and the pretty face.

And one commenter reminds me that I hadn’t checked in on Communists for Kerry since he lost the election. It’s amusingly turned into a “museum of the failed revolution.”

Knee-Jerk Liberalism

Amidst another piece on the Taliban Man at Yale, which John Fund has been all over, I was struck by these three grafs:

Even some who defend the right of Yale to make its own admissions decisions now say it went too far with its Taliban Man. Mark Oppenheimer, a Yale grad who edits the New Haven Advocate, an alternative weekly, says he has “finally come to the conclusion” that “Yale should not have enrolled someone who helped lead a regime that destroyed religious icons, executed adulterers and didn’t let women learn to read. Surely, the spot could have better gone to, say, Afghani women, who have such difficulty getting schooling in their own country.”

Mr. Oppenheimer attributes his prior reluctance to realize Yale had erred to “basic human stubbornness” and says he finds it “awfully upsetting to agree with jokers like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly,” both of whom have discussed the Yale story on Fox News Channel. “The harder they flogged this issue, the more I became convinced that they had to be wrong. I just feel better across the fence from them. . . . I think it’s utterly fair to blame the right wing for making me so desperate to dissemble.”

James Kirchick, a Yale senior, wrote last month in the Yale Daily News that he was disturbed by the refusal of liberals to be outraged over the religious fascism the Taliban represent. Echoing Mr. Oppenheimer, he noted that “a friend of mine recently remarked that part of his and his peers’ nonchalance (and in some cases, support for) Hashemi has to do with the fact that the right has seized upon the issue. Our politics have become so polarized that many are willing to take positions based on the inverse of their opponents’. This abandonment of classical liberal values at the expense of political gamesmanship has consequences that reach far beyond Yale; it hurts our national discourse.”

Indeed.

I recall that when the president announced his new space policy a couple years ago, many on the port side of the debate opposed it purely because it was his proposal. Chad Orzel even admitted that if a Democrat president had proposed it, he’d be supportive.

While irrational, it’s only human to do this sort of thing, of course, and I’m guilty of it myself, but only to this limited degree–I will use peoples’ opinions as a counterindicator in the absence of any other information. For instance, when I was living and voting in LA, and there would be a long roster of judges, and I didn’t know anything about them (as was usually the case), my philosophy was to look at who the LA Times endorsed, and vote the other way. But if Michael Moore came out in favor of wine, I’m not going to stop drinking it.

It’s beyond perverse to oppose something for this reason and this reason alone, and ignore any other knowledge you have of the situation (and refuse to consider any). But that’s exactly what these students and alumni were doing. For them, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly’s opposition to the Yale Taliban was sufficient, in and of itself, to support him. It was more important to them to be on the opposite side of an issue with those two people than it was to stand up for western liberal values.

This is of course a microcosm of the larger political debate since George Bush took office (though it happened on the starboard side of the spectrum when Clinton was president, but I think to a much lesser degree). Much of the Democrat Party has come to define itself almost solely as opposition to George W. Bush (and for the left, opposition to American foreign policy in general). That was in fact Kerry’s primary campaign plank–he wouldn’t be George Bush. Fortunately, the politics of the nation haven’t (yet) become so poisoned that this was quite sufficient to get him elected. But it’s very sad when a left that is supposed to be in favor of human rights and liberal values ends up objectively supporting regimes that are some of the worst on earth in that regard, simply because, in their Bush-hating derangement, the enemy of their enemy is their friend.

Which is why I found this so encouraging. I don’t agree with everything in it, but I could sign on to much of it. I hope that much of the current loony left can come to embrace it as well.

Where’s The ACLU?

I don’t know if this is true, but given the loony bins that modern universities have become I can easily believe it:

Scott Savage, who serves as a reference librarian for the university, suggested four best-selling conservative books for freshman reading in his role as a member of OSU Mansfield

Where’s The ACLU?

I don’t know if this is true, but given the loony bins that modern universities have become I can easily believe it:

Scott Savage, who serves as a reference librarian for the university, suggested four best-selling conservative books for freshman reading in his role as a member of OSU Mansfield

Where’s The ACLU?

I don’t know if this is true, but given the loony bins that modern universities have become I can easily believe it:

Scott Savage, who serves as a reference librarian for the university, suggested four best-selling conservative books for freshman reading in his role as a member of OSU Mansfield

Speaking Of The Hammer

When I read this story, all I could think was WTF? I mean WTFF?

The White House is looking at a list of cost-cutting candidates to head the Office of Management and Budget, and Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, may be on it.

Would that be the same Tom Delay who said that there was no fat left in the federal budget? That “cost-cutting candidate”? That appointment would indicate that the administration is completely unserious about cutting spending (not that there hasn’t been abundant evidence of that over the past five plus years).

Special Olympics Of Politics

Glenn Reynolds:

The good news for each party is that they only have to run against the other, and not against a competent one. The bad news for each party is that the same thing is true for their opposition. As I’ve noted before, it’s like the Special Olympics of politics or something.

Yes. Whenever I see these approval ratings, I’m always amused at the thought of how many people will draw false conclusions from them. There is no point during his administration at which, had you asked me, I would have expressed approval of George Bush. I’ve thought that the country is on the “wrong track” my entire life (to cite another stupid poll question). Yet I was glad he won both times, because the alternative was much worse. I strongly disapprove of the Republicans in Congress. I disapprove of the Dems even more. I don’t know how many are like me, but if there are a lot, then one can’t draw any grand conclusions about the Dems’ electoral prospects from simple approval ratings of either the president or the Congress.

I wonder how much support there would be for a party that was generally libertarian, except with a sane (i.e., not isolationist) foreign policy. I know I’d sign up in a New York minute.

[Update at 4:30 PM EDT]

Russ Mitchell has similar thoughts.

Getting It Reversed

Arthur Brooks says that liberals are heartless. Errrr…sort of. Anyway, you might be able to say they’re mean spirited.

Let’s dispense with righteous rhetoric and look at what really counts: behavior, starting at the level of heart in personal relationships. Consider two groups of people under age 30: those who say they are liberal or extremely liberal, and those who say they are conservative or extremely conservative. According to General Social Survey in 2004, liberal young Americans are significantly less likely than the young conservatives to express a willingness to sacrifice for their loved ones. For example, progressives under 30 are significantly less likely than young right-wingers to say they would prefer to suffer rather than let the one they love suffer, that they are not happy unless the loved one is happy, or that they would sacrifice their own wishes for the one they love. (The practical implication of this is that you might want your daughter to marry a Republican.)