Monday, April 18, 2005

Redistricting in Kali

A fine column about why California needs redistricting reform.
The scheme has worked almost perfectly. Common Cause has declared "that competitive electoral races dropped in California by more than 50 percent because of redistricting by politicians," whereas competitive seats increased by more than 50 percent after the state Supreme Court's redistricting in 1991.

UN Follies

Catching up on the fun at the UN. The oil scandal apparently goes back to 1993 and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. And in spite of Volcker's wrap-up, the fat lady is still singing.

Saddam Can Only Watch

A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq
What a difference two years can make. Commenting on the news that Saddam Hussein's nemesis, leader of the people Saddam liked to gas, has now been elected President of Iraq, Mohammed Saleh, a 42-year old Kurd interviewed by the media on the streets of Kirkuk, had this to say: "Today Jalal Talabani made it to the seat of power, while Saddam Hussein is sitting in jail. . . . Who would have thought."

Cartoon OTD

I didn't know Beetle Bailey was still around. But now I'm glad that he is.

Can a Conservative be a Libertarian?

An interesting discussion on the Conservative Philosopher where he claims that conservatives can't be libertarians.
Now this raises all sorts of questions, but it will suffice to make the point. I would argue that any attempt to give a moral foundation to libertarianism (e.g. utilitarian, Lockean) will inevitably end up either favoring moral conservatism to such an extent that it fails to count as genuinely "libertarian" at all (since it will end up denying that we can, strictly speaking, have a "right" to do many of the things libertarians want to claim we have a right to), or it will succeed in being genuinely libertarian, but in a way that rules out the possibility of moral conservatism. In short, there is no coherent way to be both morally conservative and strictly libertarian.

It seems to me that he reached this conclusion largely by tweaking the definition of libertarian. Read some of the comments on the site.

In that article he links to something he wrote three years ago that echoes my own thoughts on abortion, and crystalizes many on morality. It's not short, but it's worth reading:

Self-Ownership, Abortion, and the Rights of Children: Toward a More Conservative Libertarianism. (PDF)

When All Else Fails

Winston Churchill once observed that "Americans can be counted upon to do the right thing - after trying everything else." VDH has evidence that he was right. Writing of such luminaries as Brent Scowcroft and Madeleine Albright, he observes:
For the last year, such well-meaning former "wise people" have pretty much assured us that the Bush doctrine will not work and that the Arab world is not ready for Western-style democracy, especially when fostered through Western blood and iron.

But too often we discuss the present risky policy without thought of what preceded it or what might have substituted for it. Have we forgotten that the messy business of democracy was the successor, not the precursor, to a litany of other failed prescriptions? Or that there were never perfect solutions for a place like the Middle East — awash as it is in oil, autocracy, fundamentalism, poverty, and tribalism — only choices between awful and even more awful? Or that September 11 was not a sudden impulse on the part of Mohammed Atta, but the logical culmination of a long simmering pathology? Or that the present loudest critics had plenty of chances to leave something better than the mess that confronted the United States on September 12? Or that at a time of war, it is not very ethical to be sorta for, sorta against, kinda supportive, kinda critical of the mission — all depending on the latest sound bite from Iraq?