Knowing In Part
of differing political viewpoints
that revolve around the
geographic and political
center of America.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
That Pesky Pledge
A recent article by Dahlia Lithwick in Slate presents a first hand account of the arguments in the Supreme Court hearings regarding the "Under God", phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance. There have been other opinion pieces covering the issue (William Safire from the New York Times) and I can't really add anything to the argument. However this post is related to a discussion Benton and I had the other day.
It's hard to argue against the premise that the Founders were religious men. I think that its evident in their writing and the documents they authored that we point to with reverence at times. However I also think it is hard to argue with the premise that they were also practical. I think that the majority of these men, and in the Slate article there is a specific reference to Thomas Jefferson removing a statement concerning God from the Virginia Bill of Rights, realized that the documents they were crafting were not solely for their time but for their children and grandchildren’s time. As a result I believe that they took great pains to render a document that would be usable for years after their deaths.
Now when it comes to the actions of our current leaders, I am not so convinced of their concept of the long term. What popular issues have they (an their predecessors) acted upon to satisfy a popular whim without thinking of the long-term consequences? Prohibition is a fine example. In some cases legislature defined court sentencing have had unforeseen negative consequences and to some Americans are in fact unfair and should be repealed. There are parallels in business, Total Quality Management caught on in Japan after the Second World War allowing Japanese industry to out pace American industry until the same techniques and methods were applied in both places. Conversely the irrational financial activities of the Japanese banking sector looked wonderful in the 1980s'. However the decade long recession and financial difficulties in Japan can attributed to these policies and the inability of the Japanese government to resolve these problems through reform.
So I would like to point out something simple and folksy to Congress and our esteemed state legislatures:
Good men and Evil men are at times hard to separate by their words. It's their actions that define them to history.
We as a people do not need to have religious affirming statements in our expression of government. God, whichever one you believe or disbelieve in, will be manifest in your actions or the lack thereof. It is through behavior and performance that the true effect of religion, morality, charity, and liberty should be felt in our government. Its easy to say one thing and do another, its harder to be consistent in word and deed. I think if people dwelt more on the long-term effects of their actions and less on the short-term ego whim of the electorate we would all be better of, both today and tomorrow.
UPDATE: An posting at Marginal Revolution (thanks to Cronaca) has an interesting history of the Pledge. Read it and make your own decisions. The pictures of children saluting the flag are truly bizzare in light of the evils wrought by Facism. Read the first Comment to the posting at Cronaca for some more history about our Pledge.
A recent posting by Kevin Drum (formerly Calpundit) of The Washington Monthly blog has an interesting point about the recent furor over judicial nominations. I direct you to two posts, March 24, 2004 and October 27, 2003. There has been a great deal of rancor in the media, mountains of righteous indignation from members of Congress (both sides) and our various partisan talking headsm and a lot of obscuring information and blame handed out for subverting the Constitution and the "advise and consent" protocols.
I think both posts and the surrounding media make it obvious that BOTH sides are at fault in this issue. However if the "Blue Slip" information is correct the first stone thrown in the RECENT argument seems to have come from Orrin Hatch. It seems that prior to 1995 (Republicans regain control of Congress) the nomination process required two written objections to the validation of the President's choice for a particular position on the bench. The rule reverts to two objections with the election of GW Bush. Then when the Democrats regain Senate control (briefly) in 2001 with the defection of Jeffords the rule is for one written objection again. With the defeat of the Democrats majority (through elections and death) in the Senate the rule again reverts to two objections. As a result the Democrats threaten and follow through with a filibuster. The precedent for judicial filibusters comes to us from the late Republican Senator Strom Thurmond. He took issue with Johnson's nomination of Abe Fortas for Chief Justice to replace Earl Warren on the grounds that he would be too liberal on civil rights issues. The end result is the recent recess appointments which as Kevin Drum points out quite possibly violate he intent of the Framers of the Constitution.
I would expect informed readers to check this information out for themselves, and come to their own conclusions. I am troubled by the actions of both sides, however I am most angry with the group who cries foul when behavior they have employed in the past is used against them.
Friday, March 26, 2004
Marriage and Civil Unions
Having read through Sam's post I find that I agree with him in most regards. The issue of gay marriage and religion cannot be easily separated. In some minds there is no separation. Marriage is inherently a religious institution. The separation of church and state is well established in the federal legal system. It is one of the fundamental pillars of American civil and religious life. I personally treasure the idea that my government will never tell me what or how to worship. I do not like the fact that the government has co-opted a religious institution as part of its everyday operation. As Sam said, there should be no difference between the way government treats two individuals who have decided to join themselves in a personal contract. In essence, all marriages are civil unions and should be viewed as civil unions by the government. I agree that the government has no part in sanctifying my marriage. Government is responsible only for the legal aspects of my marriage.
In the best case, government would no longer have the ability to issue a marriage license. Just the ability to give you a document attesting to your joining with another person in a legal contract of union. The religious aspects of marriage should not have an impact on this function of government.
I also believe that the opponents of gay marriage have legitimate concerns about it. To many of the opponents, gay marriage inherently damages the institution of marriage because of their religious beliefs that homosexuality is sinful in the same way that alcoholism and adultery are sinful. These concerns are moral in nature and not legal. This is one of the reasons that I support the government not interacting with marriage. The government has no place in determining moral and immoral. Just as Prohibition was largely a religious movement to ban drinking it was correctly repealed and left up to individuals to decide if they want to consume alcohol. That does not change the religious objections to drinking. So while I feel that the opponents of gay marriage should focus their energy into the policies of their local congregations and not the federal government, I am unwilling to simply state that those objections are foundless.
So Sam and I agree on the result, but come at the issue from slightly different directions. I'm sure there will be many topics in the future where our conclusions differ significantly, but on this issue I think the position we have stated would eliminate a significant portion of the grandstanding and vitriol that have so far marked the discussion of gay marriage.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
Farewell to the Invisible Adjunct
Seems like the Invisible Adjunct has decided to give up blogging. I read this blog on an almost daily basis and greatly enjoyed the issues, commentary, and discussion. I found the discussions stimulating and informative, especially during my search for a tenure-track faculty position. The loss of this blog is a true shame. If IA was half as good at history as blogging the loss to academia is profound.
Marriage, Homosexuals, and Congress
Up to this point I have in personal discussions stated that the whole brouhaha over the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that homosexual couples should be treated the same as heterosexual couples is a lot of hot air over nothing. It gives the farther right something to lament and the farther left something to champion, while leaving the rest of the country to fluctuates in the middle as seen in the polls. I would suppose that these fluctuations are due mainly to the questions being asked, as in all the bluster there has been virtually no new information given to support either side. I'll delve into this issue in part now.
Marriage in my understanding is a religiously constructed event that solemnizes the agreement of two people "to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, until death do us part." I have always felt that most marriages (and that includes my marriage) were religious in nature. Even the practice of common law marriage is religious since common law descends from English common law where the King/Queen was the highest political and religious authority on earth. That leads me to question of what the marriages of those outside a religious or common law standpoint really are worth. What, for example, if you are an atheist? Is your marriage null in the eyes of those who would say that marriage is sacred and precious? I have yet to hear this subject broached in an intelligent secular manner.
Lets look at some of the arguments for gay marriage:
(1) Equality of rights and responsibilities, decisions, finances, and privilege.
(2) Access to insurance benefits given to heterosexual couple.
From a secular viewpoint these arguments should resonate with people who understand the concepts of freedom and equality. I am stunned when members of Congress of African lineage decry the correlation of gay marriage and the civil rights movement. I am stunned because I can think of NO other event that so adequately corresponds. IF its only about equality, and I tend to believe this, then there is no justification for the forbidding of gay marriage under our current political construct. From a religious viewpoint these arguments should also resonate. Why is if equitable to exclude a group of people from a public feature just because you disagree with some of their views.
Now the arguments against it:
(1) Its immoral and offensive.
(2) It will damage and demean heterosexual marriage.
(3) It is an assault on the American way of life and our political beliefs.
From a secular viewpoint these arguments are not as clear as the pro-marriage ones. Immorality is a slippery thing. What is immoral to one may or may not be immoral to another. Its the purpose of laws and regulations to forbid those acts that are criminal (theft, murder, fraud, sexual abuse, rape). However moral distaste at a particular lifestyle, belief structure, or physical condition has no place in the law and is rightly shunned by our legal system. I would kindly remind everyone that while homosexuality is immoral and offensive to some is to no longer an illegal act in and of itself. However there are situations where speech and behavior are regulated under the guise of offensive activities. I'll remind everyone about the ongoing insanity regarding Janet Jackson's breast and the firestorm that it started. Another example is that of Howard Stern. I'll leave this issue to Jeff Jarvis who eloquently and passionately comments on it on a daily basis.
As to the argument that gay participation in marriage will damage heterosexual marriage I can find no real explanation as to exactly how it will damage marriage. If a marriage is between two people and their god then how can someone else's marriage interfere? Does the marriage of atheist demean my marriage? Does common law marriage? I'll wait to see if someone presents reasonable evidence to validate his point before making final judgment. However my current thoughts are that this argument is total bunk.
Lastly the issue of gay marriage striking a blow at the American way of life. I have seen this argument trotted out against immigrants, the environment, taxes, and other sundry issues. My personal feeling regarding such an argument is that it is used as a scare tactic in lieu of a real argument. Hugh Hewitt presents and covers this argument in a recent article in the online Weekly Standard. Now I read Hugh and I while not always in accord with him have never felt him to be so far offbase. His argument that gay marriage strikes at the traditional concept of the "consent of the governed" to determine how they are governed strikes me as an argument only worthy of an old school segregationist. He makes a good point that NO state legislature has authorized gay marriage in the 228 years of our existence as a country. However over half of states have moved to make it forbidden by statue and code. It was just such a statue that was at question in Massachusetts. What troubles me the most and was echoing in my head while reading his article was the simple phrase "the tyranny of the majority". If as he suggest the will of the governed is only valid where the majority agrees then segregation, "Jim Crow", and other forms of racial discrimination were fine and by his arguments against gay marriage should have been enshrined in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson himself feared the hostile rule of the majority and the potential abuse of the minority. This is evident in his writings and political philosophy. Hewitt's article seems to insinuate that the actual decision should be made to satisfy the will of the emotional masses, which is a feature of the Jacksonian facet of American politics. The interested reader should check out the article concerning Jacksonian political thought by Walter Russel Mead at The National Interest for a description and discussion of where it differs from Jeffersonian thought. I can find little merit in Hewitt's argument. Never has the US Constitution been written to exclude a sector of the population from a personal activity that doesn't infringe on other protected rights. Unfortunately state constitutions can't be admired in the same manner. It is this fact and its inherent equality troubles that the Massachusettes Supreme Court was addressing in their ruling. Nothing dictates that other states need feel the same way until the Supreme Court decides that to be the case.
Now you may be asking, "What does Samuel really think?" Hold on to your seats, I ernestly feel that the government has NO business regulating marriage. I have no problem with the government regulating the financial and responsibility features of the joining of two people. Its just that marriage has such religious overtones that I can't understand how it can be made to function in the present manner under the current interpretation First Amendment. Its the use of the work marriage that bothers me most. If the only arguments against gay marriage lie in the words used to describe it then I am DEEPLY troubled by any constitutional change related to the definition of marriage. President Bush himself uses religious imagery when he discusses "protecting" marriage. It all sounds like a certain group doesn't like the use of a word to describe an act because of its religious connotations. To remedy this I propose that the government (local, state, and federal) discard the word marriage, and the requirements they have enacted therein. I think the example of that county in Oregon is exact what needs to happen. Let the word marriage belong to the religious. Let all secular marriages activities become civil unions in the eyes of the government. You can be joined by a judge or the captain of a ship without the blessing of a minister, priest, rabbi, or imam. Why therefore should there need to be a sanctification of that civil function. All marriage bestows on the heterosexual in this life is a certain joining of rights and property. How does the gender of the participants factor into that? I think it is this facet of the current discussion, that the majority can't separate the word marriage from its religious overtones, that prevents people from seeing what gay marriage really means. If the argument was purely secular then the fact that civil unions = marriage is a no brainier and there would be no problem.
Formatting the page
Hey everyone. We'd really appreciate any feedback on the page design. We are tinkering with it as we go along and if you have suggestions or problems we'd like to know. Just put it in the comments on this post. We've sized the blog to 1024 x 768 so if you are using 800 x 600 you may have very large pictures. Sorry in advance.
Thanks a ton.
Is there a gay gene?
Tonight at UT, Chandler Burr will present make presentation titled "Is There a Gay Gene?" at 7:30 in the UC Auditorium. The interview is available here. What emerges if you read his comments is that the question has been answered "yes". After reading the interview of Mr. Burr, it would seem he believes the real challenge is to now win over the other side.
More importantly, he throws down the gauntlet with this: "Conservatives who dislike homosexuality have always hated the concept of a gay gene, and argued against it. But this is because conservatives do not realize what its existence really implies." If one were to accept the existence of a gay gene (I believe the scientific court is still out on this one), then it would not be ONLY conservatives that would not understand the implications. It would also be, well, EVERYONE.
Should parents of a child carrying the gay gene be allowed to seek treatment and medical intervention? Should parents of a child prenatally identified (diagnosed does not seem to be the word here) be allowed to abort the child? Should psychiatrist, psychologists, or counselors be allowed to help someone who is genetically gay behave in a heterosexual manner? Should psychiatrist, psychologists, or counselors help someone who is not genetically gay but wants to be in a gay relationship? Is there a bi-sexual gene and what are the implications of its existence (again, I think science is not making a call yet)?
I believe the more accurate title for the presentation based on the interview would be "There may be a gay gene?" or "There is a gay gene."
I have always felt that the science was a non-starter for most individuals and societies. Most social codes have not asked the question "Is there a gay gene?" The group that would be labeled the conservative, religious orthodoxy in the US has no first order need of this question. If there is a gay gene (???), then the persons with a gay gene are no more or less children of God. The issue is should they be allowed to conduct homosexual lives. I hope you will take the time to slowly read
this by a man who tells his story of dealing with the moral side of the question.
I will post more later if there is an interest. Right now, I have to leave.
Andrew Sullivan's Post
Reading Andrew's editorial in the London Times made me reconsider the events of the past March 11 in a different light. Before I had been willing to at least accept as reasonable the defense of the vote in Spain as a reaction against the party in power instead of a vote for appeasement. Now I'm having to face the reality that whatever the motivation of the Spanish public the effect of voting in a government who has stated repeatedly thier intention of pulling out of the coalition in Iraq is tantatmount to caving to the blackmail of violence. He is absolutely correct when he says
"It's simple really. Bomb and murder your way in order to achieve your political goals; and if you succeed, reward the governments you have intimidated - while making sure they realize that the option of renewing violence is always available."
If this decision holds and other elections go the same way Europe is bound to become the target of terrorism from within by those who wish to gain political power. Threats have been made in France unless the government repeals its headscarf ban. How long before similar threats appear in Germany, England, Italy, and elsewhere? Europe's willingness to ignore and appease those who stand against them and threaten violence is bound to have dire consequences in the near future.
Jacksonian Diplomacy, Swing Voters, and the War on Terror
With the political season spinning up and the Democrats and Republicans tuning up the hit machines I'm going to take a moment to discuss a couple of topics that I think will play heavily into the coming election. Who goes too far in their attacks on the other side and drives off the swing votes and if the War on Terror, especially Iraq plays as big a role in this election as it did in the mid-term elections.
I recently read an excellent article in The National Interest by Walter Mead that discussed US foreign policy in the context of Jacksonian political tradition. The article also leaves you with the distinct impression that a majority of the "swing voters" in the US belong to the Jacksonian camp. There are three other camps but each of these groups seems to me to be committed to a party already.
The devotees of the Jeffersonian camp are typically non-interventionist promoters of democracy, or in today's political world, those people who favor peace at all times but wish to see democracy flourish. In my view this group sides largely with the Democratic party. They are seen in the people attending the peace rallies and calling for more understanding and diplomacy, because they believe that everyone is inherently good and with some help will come to share their opinions and behave in a way the Jeffersonians approve.
Wilsonians are believers in the need for and importance of international organizations such as the UN. They are the inheritors of Wilson's failed League of Nations who are trying to perfect the system and initiate a world government that will be able to address the problems of the world in the best way for everyone. In foreign affairs Wilsonians will push for international cooperation at every turn. Devotees of this camp can be seen in both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Hamiltonians are the strong business and economic movers. They will support almost any foreign policy they see as a benefit to the economic well being of the nation. In my view Hamiltonian devotees are mainly to be found in the Republican party but will appear in both to some extent.
That leaves the rest of us as Jacksonians. People who follow political instinct more than philosophy. A group of people who will often oppose foreign policies proposed by any of the other three groups just because it seems unnecessary. Jacksonians are often slow to engage in international inventions against other states, but once we start the fight Jacksonians will demand that we fight as hard as we can to be sure we win.
The Iraq war to me seems to be a good example of Jacksonians deciding that we needed to go get who ever was responsible for the September 11 attacks and make sure they couldn't do it again. Hamiltonians helped bring Iraq into and Jacksonians supported it because they were unhappy with the fact that he was left in place 11 years ago. So while all but the absolute Jeffersonians supported going after Al Queda, it was largely the Hamiltonians and Jacksonians who supported going into Iraq.
That leads us into the question of are the Jacksonians satisfied with the effort in Iraq now that we are establishing a democratic government and Saddam has been captured. I personally feel that I fall into the Jacksonian camp with Hamiltonian leanings. As I noted in an earlier post, in my opinion oil was and should have been a major factor in the nature of the Iraq conflict. Now that the oil is beginning to flow steadily and Saddam is gone, I think that most of the support Bush enjoyed during the first year has evaporated because so many of us feel like we did a good job and now we are just cleaning up. That could come back to haunt Bush, because as a moderate conservative I am extremely frustrated with his domestic policy initiatives such as Prescription Drugs and the rising deficit.
So Bush has lost some Jacksonian support because they feel satisfied with what happened in Iraq, that means a large chunk of the swing votes that were solidly in his corner a year ago are now back in play. This change in attitude to the war in Iraq and the War on Terror will be a huge factor in the election. Bush's best case for re-election is on the War on Terror, but his success has crippled his ability to use that as an effective campaign plank.
So the War on Terror will be the determining factor for some, but not a majority. The Dems and Republicans will still vote the party line. That means that just as in 2000 the swing will decide everything again. I'm convinced that what will push the swing voters one way or the other is the extent to which the party attack machines find real issues to attack each other on and who gets desperate first. The first party to cross that invisible line between what is strident criticism and what is ruthless will be the one who fails.
Both parties love to talk about how dirty the other side is. Both sides love to talk about the mean tricks the other side pulls while behind their backs they are planning a counter assault of their own. This is the normal course of politics today. As disgusting as I find this, it is still going to happen. There will be little real discussion of the issues and lots of name calling and accusations. It happened with the Republicans while Clinton was in office, it is happening now with the Democrats with Bush in office.
That is one of the reasons I helped start this blog. Our small group got sick of having to listen to all the rhetoric and decided we would try to tell our perception of the real issue without having to filter through all the partisan sniping. So to provide an answer to my last issue, who will cross that line first, I think that both sides will cross the line somewhere around October, but I think the Republicans will do it first. After almost 4 years of the administration having to defend practically every aspect of anything they did or proposed I think they will be the first to cross that invisible line between acceptable and unacceptable that will push the Jacksonian undecideds into the Democratic camp for this election.
Sam I Am
Well since Ben and Sid have posted a little about themselves I assume I should in turn. I am an academic chemical engineer nearing the completion of my PhD. In July I will be moving from Tennessee to take a faculty position in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania .
My professional areas of focus are engineering, the environment, and academia. I have had a deep interest in politics and the discourse thereof for some time. It wasn't until I stumbled upon Instapundit , the Volokh Conspiracy, Samizdata, and Crooked Timber that I realized that groups of people might be able to have a political issue based discourse at a distance.
I hope that people who come to our blog will notice that we all diverge on views in some areas while we coalesce regarding others. Its my view that this is much closer to the reality of the American body politic, despite all the bluster of the hard-left/right pundits. It is the purpose of this blog to provide a commentary based in that reality.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Work In Progress
Hey everyone. Just wanted to let you know that we are working to improve the look of the site and will be getting around to a more frequent posting schedule soon. We hope. I'll have a post tomorrow on the Andrew Sullivan piece that Sid linked, as well as a couple of other good articles you may have missed.
Read Andrew's comments
Andrew Sullivan's comments in the London news are available to read here. It is simply stating what many have tried to say since 9-11.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Who Sid is?
I am a happy person. I started this blog because I object to the insanity and misinformation being thrust upon me daily. I promise to make the posts as useful as possible. My area of interest is issues related to life in the preschool years (parenting, family, education, child care, etc...).
I am currently working on a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee in Child & Family Studies. I earned a BS in Child Development and a MS in Family Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi. I have worked at all levels (janitor to director) of child care and child development laboratories. I served in the Invasion of Panama, was recalled for Desert Storm, and deployed in support of the initial mission in Bosnia.
I will provide more personal information on a separate document soon. For now, know that I am on the side of common sense and reality.
I have read Ben's post and agree with most of his message. However, I am willing to admit that oil is important to the US and the rest of the world. Oil is a strategic need. I am NOT saying this was a war for cheaper oil, blood for oil, or oil monopoly attempt. I am simply stating that oil is part of our way of life. Every facet of our life is in some tangible way connected to a supply of oil. Therefore, if the oil supply is threatened, we can argue for a war.
If not for oil, the region would have not strategic or symbolic value. The terrorists depend on ol revenue to trickle into thier funding. As Ben, points out, the Saudis have turned a blind eye to this situation for too long. Intervening in Iraq puts the US in a much better position to aid and demand that the Suadi govenrment does some housekeeping.
Further, the US can now project a message in the Middle East that is not hate. Why Muslim clerics continue to preach hate as a way of life simply escapes me.
Monday, March 22, 2004
Getting the ball rolling --
Okay here goes my first post.
Warning label. I'm a moderate conservative. I'm personally religious. I'm opinionated but not convinced I'm right. I'm open to other ideas and discussion about what I believe. I'm also slow to respond to email. I'm have a BS and MS in Chemical Engineering and am a bit of a geek at times. Now that I've labeled myself for you, hopefully you'll read what I have to say and make your own conclusions about me.
First topic: War in Iraq
It seems like a lot of news lately is about the war in Iraq after year one. And with Clarke's 60 minutes interview making the rounds right now it seems like a good time to talk about this from my perspective.
I remember most of the US being in favor of invading Iraq a year ago. Some people say that was only because of the WMD argument, but I don't buy that. I also don't buy the "Iraq is not part of the War on Terror" argument. It just doesn't make sense to me. The jihadist groups, like Al Queda, get their support and manpower from the people and the governments of the totalitarian states in the middle east. Saddam, his regime, and other regimes like his may not have directly funded Al Queda, but their goals are largely the same. They would love to see the US humiliated and destroyed. The oppressive regimes of the region foster an environment where jihadist groups can recruit and thrive. Afghanistan may not be in the middle east but in ideology the Taliban was no more than a stone's throw from Saddam. So removing Saddam and his regime appears to me to be another step in the right direction toward thwarting terrorism where it breeds.
In addition we are promoting democracy in a region that for too long has been denied that freedom. We are putting into place a government that will be elected by Iraqis, filled by Iraqis, and accountable to the Iraqi people. They finally begin to have the freedoms that so many here in the US and abroad take for granted. I find it hard to argue against promoting the spread of freedom.
And an aspect that I don't think many people consider; by establishing a democratic Iraqi government we may be able to disengage ourselves from other governments in the region that we find less pleasant to deal with, but much preferable to Saddam. Here I speak mainly of Saudi Arabia. It is widely known that Al Queda and Osama Bin Laden originated in Saudi Arabia and still draw much support from the country. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Yet the US has been a friend of the Saudis for quite sometime. Some have even accused the White House of covering up details of the 9/11 investigation to protect the Saudis.
Since the Saudis are a major player in OPEC we have very good reason to want to keep ourselves in thier good graces and vice versa. I believe before the invasion of Iraq we had a handful of friendly nations in the region, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen and some of the smaller states around the Persian Gulf. We need those friends to protect the oil supply that drives the American economy. It would be a huge mistake to downplay the importance of foriegn oil on the normal operation of America and what it would mean to have that oil supply restricted. Therefore we need friends in the Middle East who are willing to keep production up.
Enter 9/11 and the discovery that most of the hijackers are Saudis. We still need the Saudis to keep the oil supply up, but now we have real reason to be mad at them. How could we as a country get around this impasse? Answer- the same way we can go after terrorism at its root, by establishing a democratic government in an oil rich country that is likely to be a friendly to us as a democratic country. Here two important goals converge in Iraq. I feel that this is one of the reason the Bush administration was so intent on going into Iraq. They could potentially kill two birds with one stone. But no one ever really adresses the oil issue in public. Is that to keep the public from realizing just how vulnerable the US economy is to foreign oil interests or for some other reason? I don't know but I find it strange that so little of this aspect of the situation ever gets adressed. Maybe it just doesn't have a lot of political power to admit that realistically we must bow to energy needs in some situations.
So let us consider what is happening now. OPEC has voted to cut production. The price of oil is already up to $38 a barrel, significantly up from the $31 it cost just a few years ago, and the production cut is still going through. Why? An article I read recently and I will try to link later points out the possiblity that the more oppressive regimes in the Mideast may be trying to hamstring US efforts at economic recovery and hinder further efforts in the Mideast. This seems plausible to me. Maybe the Saudis and others would like to see GWBush gone from office and cutting production at a time when the oil supply is already low is one way to help tip the balance in someone else's favor.
Establishing a free democratic Iraq may allow us to finally turn the heat onto the Saudis to really do something about the terrorism breeding on their soil by freeing us from our dependance on their oil. And having a place with true freedom in the middle of so many people denied the basic freedoms we have may be the pebble that starts an avalanche toward democracy for all the people of the Mideast. That is in part, what I see as being the prime reasons for the war and for supporting the war. I could be wrong.
That's my take on at least a portion of what has happened up to now. I'm sure I'll comment more about this and similar topics in the future, but maybe this will start the first good discussion here on the site.
This is the first post of a new group blog called Knowing In Part. We hope to have a consitent intelligent discussion of current political topics. We as a group are rather diverse in experience, philosophy, and location and hope that our differing viewpoints and discussion will be of interest to each of you. We aim to be up and running with good posts and discussion in the next couple of weeks. Please bear with us while we ramp up to speed.
Roger L. Simon
Michael J. Totten
Winds of Change
Outside the Beltway
Daniel W. Drezner
The Ornery American
Iraq the Model
The New Republic Online
National Review Online
The Crayon Years
Number 2 Pencil
The Weekly Standard
New York Times