February 13, 2006

The UIA Strains

One of the things that is going to determine whether or not Iraq is going to succeed as a parliamentary democracy is the split of the Shia. This seems to be moving apace with the Sadrists pushing things to the edge of the toleration of the other members of the UIA and gaining their choice for prime minister by a 1 vote margin. You can have such close splits, you can personally black ball people out of the cabinet. What you can't do is to expect to carry it off over and over again without eventually splitting your coalition and creating a scenario where you find yourself in a lonely plurality, with an everybody else coalition forming against you.

There is nothing essential that the Sadrists provide that mandate that they be in the majority all the time. They are a faction, one among many, and they seem to be destined to play the role of splitting the Shia majority.

Posted by TMLutas at 04:52 PM

February 12, 2006

The Right Plays ACLU

The ACLU is famous for defending interests that are disreputable, even odious, in order to defend free speech. As far as I can tell, having visited the ACLU and run a couple of searches, they are totally missing in action regarding the Cartoon Wars. At the very least, a statement of solidarity would have been appreciated. Apparently, they don't feel that it's in their interest to uphold the principle of free speech against the chill wind of State Department disapproval.

Their banner of defending the rude and worse is being carried, instead, by their usual nemesis, movement conservatives. I strongly doubt, had there been no violent reaction, that most of these conservatives would have batted an eye or risen to the defense of the cartoons and their illustrators had they been on the receiving end of nastygrams and words of pain and shock at sacrilege. This is par for the course. There might even have been a little shared commiseration, a "welcome to the club" as it were that would have somewhat tightened the bonds of conservative christian and muslim groups.

But violence was committed, the principles of free speech, diplomatic immunity, and proportionality were all grossly violated, and the right swung to defend the West in a strategy script that could have been carbon copied out of the ACLU's defense of any number of objectionable defendants.

Such an occurrence should be remembered the next time the 2 minute hate is about "right-wing intolerance of free speech".

Posted by TMLutas at 11:22 AM

September 23, 2005

Personal Political beliefs

I found this over at Balloon Juice. Here are my results.

You are a

Social Liberal
(60% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(80% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Capitalist




Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Posted by TMLutas at 01:59 PM

February 22, 2005

Who is He Giving the Finger To?

First thing I noticed about the Bush tapes story was the accompanying picture (look at his left hand). He's giving somebody the finger, but who?

20wead184.jpg

The first contender is that it's Bush, but if that's so, he's going about it in a very strange way. The accompanying story is probably the best press that Bush has gotten out of the NY Times in years. If this is saying screw you to the Bush clan, that's a funny way of going about it. But still, there's that semi-extended middle finger, so who's he sending a message to?

Posted by TMLutas at 01:33 PM

October 17, 2004

Do Events Harden or Soften Presidents?

Dr. Barnett's making a pretty good bit of advocacy for Kerry here. I'm on the other side of the fence, finding it impossible to conclude anything other than disaster for a Kerry presidency, both in foreign and domestic affairs. But that is for posts past and future. This post will verticalize a bit of Barnettian sprawl. Horizontal thinkers like Dr. Barnett run through ideas and concepts in such a machine gun fashion that you can examine one of their posts in depth and tease out a dozen in depth threads. This is the process I'm dubbing verticalization, This bit of verticalization is about the following paragraph:


Events tend to harden presidents, not soften them. Bush is about as hard as he can get with his certitude and his baggage, as are the major players in his administration. It's time to reset the political rule set known as party control of the Executive Branch.

Do events tend to harden presidents, or soften them? Let's do a quick review from Carter to Bush 43.

1. Carter got a bit harder toward the end of his first term as events shook him out of his earlier convictions, particularly the invasion of Afghanistan and the hostage crisis in Iran.
2. Reagan, I would say, got softer in his second term than he was in his first. He saw his uncompromising politics yielding results and he made some generous offers on the way to burying the Soviet bloc in order to avoid creating another Versailles type treaty. Reagan also got softer on tax policy, not aggressively defending his earlier supply side ideals
3. Bush 41, started soft and got softer and regretted it. He abandoned his line in the sand tax pledge. He's a wash on foreign policy, leaving things much as he found them in terms of his policy hardness.
4. Clinton was a complicated character. In some ways you can make the case that he hardened over time, especially with Yugoslavia but you can make a countervailing case that he softened after the disaster in Mogadishu that left us with our tail between our legs, running from muslim gangs.

While this is a pretty small sample size, the trend line seems to be that Republicans soften over time and I would expect Bush 43 to maintain that pattern. If the hardened by events pattern holds anywhere, it would be for Democrats. The unyielding nature of Reagan I led to our partners giving in to him once he got his second term. They couldn't afford to wait an american president out for another four years. There is no reason that I can see for that dynamic to apply any less to the current generation of "american cowboy president" than it did to our last one.

Posted by TMLutas at 09:48 PM