Monday, November 05, 2007
Vote early! Vote often!
Thanks to your generous support, Gus Van Horn leads the polls by a comfortable-looking margin in the 2007 Weblog Awards "Slithering Reptile" size category. However, the nearest competitor, Slow Cooker Recipes, is attempting to subject my blog to the same nefarious techniques of prolonged exposure to low heat levels that its authors seem to employ indiscriminately on everything edible from caviar to peanut butter sandwiches!
Fortunately, there is a way to yank that plug from the wall and lift the lid on this madness: The poll, as some of you have mentioned, allows each user one vote per computer per day. I think you know what to do from here!
To make this simpler, there is now a graphic and hyperlink to the polls in the upper right corner of the blog. That shiny button I want you to push each day is now just one easy mouse click away! Polls close on November 8.
Remember: Vote early! Vote often! It's not just a wisecrack: It's a strategy.
And thank you for your continued support!
Oh yes. One more thing: Until Bubblehead, who nominated me, figures out how to convince his main opponents that, "Rove will hack the voting machines for me", he'd probably appreciate some support as well! He's won this thing before, but he's second as of this writing.
What's Going on in Pakistan?
Stanley Kurtz of National Review attempts to make some sense of what is going on in Pakistan. Most interesting was his analysis of the military there as an institution:
Pakistan's military is an almost totally free-standing institution -- a sort of state within a state. The military largely controls its own appointments, and even has independent sources of revenue which limit its reliance on public taxation -- especially for its generous pensions and benefits system. At first, this amounted to, say, the Pakistani air force operating the nation’s air line industry. But under Musharraf, the military, both directly, and through its retired officers (who often leave service in their 40's), now controls vast sections of Pakistan’s state apparatus and economy -- everything from universities, to the post office, to companies that make cement, soap, and even breakfast cereal.Even if Pakistan's military were a somewhat reliable ally, it can provide only a temporary holding action against chaos or an eventual Islamic totalitarian takeover of Pakistan. Pakistan's Islamic culture, whatever its British influences, is a poor foundation on which to build a society that respects individual rights to begin with and we see that the one thing that imposes a modicum of order is actually undercutting the growth of any social institutions that might aid a transition to such a society.
More than ten million Pakistanis directly or indirectly derive their incomes from this vast military-dominated apparatus. And while retired military officers may not know everything they ought to about running a business, in comparison to widespread civilian corruption and incompetence, Pakistan's military is an efficiently-functioning meritocracy. Military education is extensive, serious, and liberal -- teaching the classics of Western and Islamic philosophy and literature, and nowadays even incorporating classes in economics and business management. As members of the most disciplined, merit-based, and effective sector of society, military men have both esprit de corps and contempt for civilians. And again, in a vicious circle, the military increasingly replaces, and therefore further undercuts, poorly functioning sectors of the state [and the economy --ed], making added military expansion all the more necessary.
In one sense, much as in Turkey, Pakistan's military is an outpost of secular and liberal modernity. Yet who can blame Pakistan's civilian liberals for bemoaning this oddly militarized misfiring of the conventional democratic path? Even so, the army's domination of Pakistan's institutional life means that Musharraf's rationale for imposing an emergency may be something more than smoke and mirrors. [bold added]
Since no matter how heavily-armed, a military cannot retain power without some other base of support, the military will eventually have to strike a deal with the Islamists to retain power should they continue growing in strength. The military is, ironically, helping them do just that!
President Bush's foreign policy -- which should have been named "'Democracy' by Fiat" -- has been shown to be disastrous whatever the means he has used to superimpose Western-looking institutions on fundamentally anti-Western societies. "Palestine" elected itself into a dictatorship after diplomacy brought about elections there. Iraq has no separation of religion and state and is gradually succumbing to Iranian influence even after we took it over militarily and rebuilt its infrastructure. And now, Pakistan, which we simply declared a Western ally, is looking very bad.
In every case, our foreign policy has been guided by the unrealistic assumption that people already want to be free and that this is alone enough to result in freedom, if given a chance. unfortunately, the ideas of the people in a society guide their actions, and if those ideas are antithetical to Western values, that society will not end up acting like a Western society in any meaningful way. The examples of "Palestine", Iraq, and Pakistan are showing this in spades.
The proper purpose of America's foreign policy is not to save people from the consequences of their own mistaken beliefs. It is to protect the lives of American citizens. I think it's time to abandon "Democracy" by Fiat and try something else.
Can Hillary Win over Evangelicals?
Despite evidence that the religious right is becoming more leftist, here's an article that says that the polling data show that Hillary will not win their votes.
A group of leading conservative Christians is threatening to bolt to a third party if the pro-choice Giuliani gets the Republican nomination, and they are not alone. The entrance of Rudy suddenly makes the predictable much less so.But then again, she doesn't need their votes.
However, even if these voters don't go to Rudy in 2008, they will not flee to Hillary -- a trade-off that might be just fine with her.
If values voters stay home on election day -- or go to a third party -- then they will indeed do precisely what Hillary Clinton has hoped all along: Win her the White House.