• Politics •
December 20, 2005
December 20, 2005
How should Christians respond to the current controversy over torture and coercive interrogation? Joe Carter of The Evangelical Outpost and Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds organized an on-line symposium on the question. This is an important resource for Christian thinking on this urgent question.
December 19, 2005
Michael Barone, editor of the Almanac of American Politics, and one of the most level-headed observers of the political scene, offers this as his summary of what the last 25 years have taught us. His essay is published in this week’s edition of U.S. News and World Report.
Barone’s lessons: First, that American military power can advance freedom and democracy to all corners of the world. Under Reagan and his three successors, America has played a lead role in extending freedom and democracy to most of Latin America, to the Philippines and Indonesia and almost all of East Asia, and, most recently, to Afghanistan and Iraq, with reverberations spreading through the Middle East. Area experts said, often plausibly, those countries’ cultures were incompatible with democracy. Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and brave men and women in those nations proved them wrong.
Second, that markets work and that lower taxes and less onerous government produce more economic growth than the alternative. About 43 million jobs have been created in the United States since December 1980, while the number in the more statist nations of western Europe is on the order of 4 million. Markets are creating millions of jobs in nominally Communist China and once socialist India.
Third, that politics and effective government can, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, change the culture. The crime-control methods pioneered by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the welfare reforms pioneered by Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, imitated around the country and followed up by federal legislation, resulted in huge decreases in crime and welfare dependency.
These lessons have been widely learned and widely applied by George W. Bush and also to a large extent by Bill Clinton. But not, curiously enough, by those who see themselves as the best and the brightest, our university and media elites. They would still like to see America’s power reined in, as it was in the 1970s. They are insouciant about the costs that larger and more intrusive government and higher taxes impose on the economy. They think that leniency and subsidy are the appropriate responses to deviant and self-destructive behavior. They think our most important right is a right to kill our unborn children. You have to be awfully smart, someone once said, to believe something so stupid. And to be so blind to the clear lessons of the past quarter century of history.
Barone just said all this so well that I wanted to pass it along. Consider doing the same.
December 15, 2005
Iraqi voters began heading for the polls this morning as the nation’s first nationwide election for a non-provisional government began. As The New York Times reports, The elections, which are expected to draw as many as 10 million Iraqis to the polls, will be the last formal milestone in the American-backed political process that was devised to foster a democratic government. The elections are being seen by Iraqi and American leaders as the definitive test of the Bush administration’s assumption that a free vote is the best means for reconciling Iraq’s vastly polarized ethnic and sectarian groups and defeating the Sunni Arab insurgency that is threatening to break the country apart. The voting itself is expected to reveal a fissure of another sort, between a Shiite coalition of religious parties on one side and a mostly secular array of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties on the other. Between them are profound differences over the direction of the country and the nature of the Iraqi state, not just over how heavily it should influenced by Islam but also over the powers of the central government and the autonomy granted to local regions. Implicit in those questions, for many Iraqis, is whether the country can survive at all.
December 15, 2005
What is going on in Iran? The country’s ultra-Islamist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has set off round after round of world-wide concern with his threatening statements, even as international concern builds over Iran’s development of nuclear technology.
December 1, 2005
William F. Buckley, Jr., perhaps the single most influential conservative thinker in America today, turned 80 on November 24. National Review,
the magazine he founded in 1955, became the engine for an intellectual
awakening among American conservatives. From the time I was
a teenager, I tuned in regularly to his television program, Firing Line, and watched Buckley at his best in intellectual combat and exchange.
November 28, 2005
The effort to separate the “Jesus of History” from the “Christ of Faith” is one of the hallmarks of theological liberalism — and a point of contact between liberal theology and postmodern secularism. Made famous by successive “quests” for a merely historical Jesus, this effort represents an attempt to recover Jesus as a figure in history, stripped of all claims to deity. Most Americans would be surprised to know that Thomas Jefferson was involved in his own quest for a merely human Jesus — and this project didn’t stop with Jefferson.
November 21, 2005
Jean Baudrillard, one of France’s most prominent thinkers, is famous for his theory that reality is constructed out of simulation and simulacrum — signs and images. In a media driven age, these signs and images replace the real and appear as the dominant cultural reality.