Posts about Politics


Between terrorism, never-ending unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, and now Katrina, you’d think that finally — finally — politicians would take the strategic energy issue by the horns. You’d think that someone would be getting on TV with a man-on-the-moon-sized, project-Manhattan-prioritized initiative on oil: incentives to develop alternative sources and find new efficiencies. Start with that guy who built the 250 mpg Prius and take him to Detroit and Toyko and tell them all: If he can do it, you can do it.

But we’re not hearing a peep. Is it just because they are incapable of thinking strategically. Is it because they’re too embarrassed at how current events show their lack of leadership? Is it because they’re stupid or think we are?

I saw regular at $2.99 last night. All arguments that Americans don’t really care about energy will fade quickly and energy will become a political opportunity. Let’s see who jumps on and rides.

: And in the meantime, rebuilding Iraq’s oil infrastructure wouldn’t exactly hurt, giving us oil (isn’t that what we’re fighting for?) and giving them the money to build their nation and tell the terrorists to go suck an exhaust pipe.

Editor & Pontificator

Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher — which spends time dissecting such issues as thorny journalistic issues as a missing hyphencalls on newspapers to call on the U.S. to leave Iraq:

It’s time for newspapers, many of which helped get us into this war, to use their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it.

Three-ring war

I haven’t so much as mentioned Cindy Sheehan because I think it’s a story about both sides using her and vice versa. It’s a hall of mirrors and PR, this story. A clear illustration of that comes when you read Frank Rich in the New York Times alongside Patrick Frey (aka Patterico) in the LA Times. Rich:

True to form, the attack on Cindy Sheehan surfaced early on Fox News, where she was immediately labeled a “crackpot” by Fred Barnes. The right-wing blogosphere quickly spread tales of her divorce, her angry Republican in-laws, her supposed political flip-flops, her incendiary sloganeering and her association with known ticket-stub-carrying attendees of “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Rush Limbaugh went so far as to declare that Ms. Sheehan’s “story is nothing more than forged documents – there’s nothing about it that’s real.”

But this time the Swift Boating failed, utterly, and that failure is yet another revealing historical marker in this summer’s collapse of political support for the Iraq war.

When the Bush mob attacks critics like Ms. Sheehan, its highest priority is to change the subject….


But in its apparent zeal to portray Sheehan as the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement, the Los Angeles Times has omitted facts and perspectives that might undercut her message or explain the president’s reluctance to meet with her again….

Sheehan’s changing accounts of her meeting with Bush are relevant to understanding the president’s decision not to meet with her again. So are her descriptions of the president in a Dallas speech reported by leftist newsletter Counterpunch as a “lying bastard,” a “maniac” and the leader of a “destructive neocon cabal.” In an article for, she called that supposed cabal “the “biggest terrorist outfit in the world.”

She also has turned her son’s death into a tax protest, refusing to pay her income taxes for 2004, the year her son died, reportedly saying in the Dallas speech: “You killed my son, George Bush, and I don’t owe you a penny.” Sheehan’s use of such inflammatory rhetoric sheds light on why Bush likely sees little upside in a public confrontation with her. But you would never know about these statements from reading The Times’ news pages….

Both accounts then try to spin the story of her son’s death: Rich concentrates on the worthlessness of the Iraqi forces, Frey concentrates on Casey Sheehan reenlisting the day after the war started and volunteering for the mission in which he died.

I’m more with Frey than Rich on this but I still find that the Sheehan story has been made into a bizarre and often sad sideshow by the hangers-on and the attackers and the spinsters and certainly by the media, who love a circus and it’s a circus they have.

: LATER: In the comments, Frey/Patterico wants to make clear:

I would just emphasize that my piece was intended as media criticism, not as criticism of Sheehan herself. Internet readers know the facts I discuss in my piece, but people who get their news exclusively from the news pages of the LA Times (if such people exist) don’t.

Yes, we’re both criticizing the media. Patrick was clear in his lead that he has great sympathy, as anyone should, for Sheehan’s loss.

You take the high road and….

When I first heard about libertarianism, back when I was in school, the example of the philosophy in practice was private roads. I thought that was aburd then — still do — and only after reading blogs and Reason did I see more sense in the essence of libertarianism, in the effort to preserve individual liberties.

But now the private road gambit is becoming real — not out of political philosophy but out of government incompetence. From Gannett New Jersey:

New Jersey could make $30 billion — enough to cover the entire state budget and still have $1.7 billion left over — by selling the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, according to a report by Merrill Lynch.

The report said private companies’ interest in buying U.S. toll roads is increasing and cited New Jersey and New York as two states where toll roads have great potential for privatization because of their established roads and budget woes.

They should be doing just the opposite: Tear down the toll booths and fire the bureaucracies fed by them. I’ve long marveled how the Interstates by me operate with much less visible infrastructure — staff, facilities, equipment, expense — than the toll roads. Tolls roads cause tremendous inconvenience. And they tempt government — and now private enterprise — to try — though often unsuccessfully — to turn the public infrastructure into a profit center.

Meeting at the fringes

Driving into a criminally early meeting this morning, I listened to Sen. Rick Santorum on NPR flogging his book — and flogging Hillary Clinton and liberals in the other sense of the word. His interviewer says that in It Takes a Family, Santorum attacks big government, big media, big entertainment, big universities and big business. Santorum says, taking off on his fellow senator’s book:

They say that ‘it takes a village’ but really what their ideology is based around is the individual. We understand that the basic unit of society is the family, that the individual needs to be nurtered and supported and molded and shaped through this family structure, through the real village, which is the church, the community organizations….

Sounds like a village to me.

But what’s interesting here is the talk — from both sides — about molding people.

Santorum goes on — listen up bloggers — to attack libertarians:

One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. The left has gone so far left and the right in some respects has gone so far right that they come around in the circle.

He’s right but not at all in the way he thinks. Stay with me.

Santorum continues:

This whole idea of personal autonomy — I don’t think that most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. And they have this idea that people should be left alone to do what they want to do, that government should keep taxes down, keep regulation down, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, that we shouldn’t be involved in cultural issues, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world. And I think that most conservatives understand that we can’t go it alone, that there is no such society that I’m aware of where we’ve had radical individualism and it has succeeded as a culture.

Well, here’s the tasty irony to that: Santorum is trying to portray “individualism” as “radical” when I’d argue, and I’ll bet most of you would agree, that individualism — otherwise known as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — is the core of Americanism.

That’s not radical. That is the center of America. That is where most of us live — in let-us-be land. Santorum lives on the fringe, right neighborly with the PC folks who would tell us what to think and say.
Yes, the far right and far left do, indeed, meet at the fringes and that’s where Santorum is: They meet at trying to shape people and they only disagree about the mold — Christian or progressive — and to interfere in culture and language and in some cases business and in other cases the bedroom. That is the radical edge.


Now note also that Santorum is against something else that is essentially American in the conservative mold: big business (and big media). This reminds of me — dare I speak the name? — Bernie Goldberg. Go to his site and you will see a fancy show directed at Big Bad Media as the enemy.

What I saw that, I thought it was odd for a conservative: He’s looking for government regulation of and interference with media and busineess. I thought that government regulation was poison to conservatives.

Ah, but conservativism isn’t the thread that ties these guys — and their odd, mutated form of conservatism together: It is control. That, you see, is where these two fringes really meet: At the desire to control us, the way we live, the way we talk, the way we think. That is radical. It’s not true conservatism. It’s not true liberalism, either. It’s not true Americanism, as far as I’m concerned. Valuing the individual is American.


Watch out, too, for the internet in all this. The internet is the ultimate in individual empowerment. That’s what the internet is at its core: a way for each of us to do what we want and need to do. It is the ultimate expression of our individualism. And these guys hate that.