Too Much Faith in Democracy

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"A vocal minority clamoring to transform Iraq in Iran's image will not be permitted to do so," declares Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "We will not allow the Iraqi people's democratic transition to be hijacked by those who might wish to install another form of dictatorship."

But what if a majority of Iraqis want to "transform Iraq in Iran's image," and what if they promise to hold regular elections? Then the new Iraqi government would be democratic, which is the main U.S. requirement. Would that be acceptable?

Retired Gen. Jay Garner, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, doesn't seem to think so, although he's hazy as to why. According to The New York Times,

General Garner brushed aside the suggestion that Iraq, where about 60 percent of the population are Shiites, could become an Islamic republic. The United States insists on one thing—democracy—in the formation of a new government, he said. Given that bottom line, he said, it was difficult to "think how an Islamic Republic would be a democratic process."

Maybe he should think harder. If most Iraqis really do want to put the ayatollahs in charge, then democracy and theocracy are perfectly compatible. The U.S. should stop pretending that democracy is enough to prevent tyranny.

NEXT: Addiction and Choice

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  1. “The U.S. should stop pretending that democracy is enough to prevent tyranny.”

    Why should it stop pretending? This is just spin for the Idiot Left. Otherwise they will make a big stink about “corporations running Iraq” and well fill in whatever Chomskyite nonsense you want. Policy makers in the NR, WSJ and Weekly Standard have already said the REAL US policy will be to liberalize first, then democratize.

  2. The concept is not as hard as Garner thinks. In 1992, Algerians were on their way to electing an Islamist government — in an open and democratic election — before the army decided this wouldn’t be a good thing and shut down the voting. Garner’s statement just confirms suspicions that we’re really not looking for real democracy in Iraq. After all, it wasn’t the fact that Saddam was a dictator that bothered us; it was the fact that he wasn’t OUR dictator.

  3. Fareed Zakaria’s book is about this very subject: that the lack of civil society in Iraq could make it very easy for a dictarship to be established by democratic means, like the Nazis did in Germany. It’s a tough problem, perhaps they need a strong constitution?

  4. If the Iraqi people choose an Islamic Republic…then they do. They will have to have an opportunity to choose sometime relatively soon. I am not so pessimistic about it. One important thing that could happen that would change everything– the regime in Iran could fall before this year is over. Why no story about the anticipated general strike?

  5. England had elections (limited suffrage I realize) for all manner of posts in government for hundreds of years before qualifications for office based on religious practice, persecution of dissenters, and the like were abolished. And their abolition was very slow in its progress I might add. People tend to forget that the general religious liberty we see in places like France, Denmark and the US did not spring up on its own and was not agreed to by peaceful consensus. It took all manner of crises, dissension, bloody civil wars (SEE England, Scotland, etc. 1642/3-1661) and clashes between various types of religious zealots to bring an end to the official state persecution of religious belief and practice. We have seen, and we will see the same shit in the middle east over the next fifty to one hundred years.

  6. A vocal minority runs America. Why not Iraq?

  7. “A vocal minority runs America. Why not Iraq?”

    What a stupid comment. Your alias is too telling.

  8. People get exactly the government they deserve.

    Stupid people get a stupid government (usually a dictatorship)

    Educated people get a slightly better one — but not that much better.

    Either way, when it comes to “democracy”, the top elite always reflects the bottom teeming masses.

  9. To quote Homer Simpson:

    When will people learn…Democracy doesn’t work.

  10. > “A vocal minority runs America. Why not Iraq?”

    > What a stupid comment. Your alias is too telling.

    It is true, though.
    Less than 50% of the people voted for Bush, and certainly less than 50% of the population wields political power.
    Whether >50% of people would choose Bush if forced to choose a leader is another story.
    Who knows? Maybe they would.
    The above statement is fundamentally true.
    Iraq is obviously a country that does not have a democratic tradition.
    What happens if there is a free and proper election, but the only people who come out to vote throw their support behind radical clerics? (or the Baath party?)
    Do you throw out the election results and try again?

  11. We don’t want to smuggle into the discussion the assumption that Islamism enjoys a clear popular mandate.

    Enemies of free government-fascist, Marxist and Islamist-have been able to float mass-movements with significant popular support, and often concentrated in sectors of the culture and civil society which can throw weight beyond their numbers (eg. intellectuals, unemployed youth, de-mobbed soldiers), and in deteriorating situations can sometimes capture adventitious majorities in ill-conceived plebecites.

    Doubtless some parties would prefer to immediately reduce the Coalition presence, and simultaneously conjure some crackhead referendum under turmoil, to induce the kind of ONE-MAN/ONE-VOTE/ONE-TIME debacle which was the stereotype in decolonising Africa, with the UN to certify an anti-American “victory”.

    But I’m not at all sure that would be the result under the worst scenario?and Garner isn’t going to permit it, in any case. Nor should he, for any practical or moral reason.

  12. Stinky sees leftists under the bed; sort of the root of all evil. Left and right mean nothing in Baghdad, though.

    Stinky and his ilk will stand on their head to make logic of this very deep water we find ourselves in.

  13. Ah, the failings of democracy.

    One can make a fairly persuasive argument that no democratically elected government has the right to impose its will on a minority.

    To say that if a majority in Iraq says so that all women have to cover themselves in public is lunacy.

    TWC

  14. andrew,

    How exactly is Garner going to stop them from doing what they want to do?

  15. It’s not really much of a democracy if you hold elections, but throw out any results that you don’t like. Which is what it sounds like Rummy and Garner are advocating.

  16. Croesus
    What can Garner do ? He can keep a few aircraft carriers in the area, just in case. Just ask Benito Musharraf, if you dont believe that American military might can convince regimes to behave. At the very least, as informed arab liberals have said, it gives them the ability to make their case in an atmosphere that’s as free from coercion as possible. And that’s not trivial.

  17. “How exactly is Garner going to stop them from doing what they want to do?”

    Easily.

    “I won’t stand by and see
    a country go communist because of the stupidity of its own people.” – Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a few weeks before the US-backed military coup that overthrew a democratically-elected government in favor of a military dicatorship.

  18. Because democracy almost invariably leads to “tyranny of the majority” situations — a long-understood historical fact — the people who founded the US saw it as just one tool of many, to be used with care and in the presence of checks-and-balances, in creating a government that was to secure LIBERTY to the citizens. Their goal was not “democracy,” but to incorporate “democratic principles” (“government of the people, by the people, and for the people”) into the system. Democracy alone is NEVER enough; the emphasis on “democracy” in the many revolutions of Western Hemisphere ended up giving their people “banana republic” dictatorships, for example.

    I don’t think that Rummy and his gang are fooling anyone on that score, except perhaps people who have no coherent conception at all of what “democracy” really means.

    By the way, do they have a democracy of ANY kind in Kuwait yet? True, defending or promoting democracy in Kuwait wasn’t our goal back in the time of Bush I, but come on! How can we force-feed “democracy” into Iraq, while ignoring non- (anti-!) democracy in regimes that we still support in the region?

  19. SM,

    “At the very least, as informed arab liberals have said, it gives them the ability to make their case in an atmosphere that’s as free from coercion as possible.”

    You mean one type of coercion.

    T. Lassiter Jones,

    It really wasn’t that easy, or costless in the long run. Several thousand people had to die, and the corrupt cronyism of Pinochet (which in the end may have been better than the corrupt cronyism of Allende) had to be suffered by the Chileans. Of course when other people are paying the costs of your actions, it may seem easy.

    Andrew,

    No one knows what the future holds for Iraq. Rumsfeld seemed to make it clear that a Islamic Republic would not be tolerated in Iraq.

  20. “andrew,

    How exactly is Garner going to stop them from doing what they want to do?”

    Well…I’m not at all sure that the Islamists can summon a majority if elections were held today, and I don’t believe their prospects will improve as time passes.
    I think Islamism flourishes in situations of crisis, despair and limited alternatives. When an interval of reconstruction, security and education has passed, I don’t believe the Islamists will find they have much to work with.
    Elections can’t be held for at least six months, and realistically could be delayed for up to two years. Garner can stack the deck in favor of a pro-western outcome…mostly by providing Iraq with good governance. Does this offend someone’s notions of High-School Civics?
    A couple of hundred-thousand Shi’a took part in a religious procession last week, in a nation of 23 million, and some professed mildly anti-American sentiments (notice they DIDN’T call for elections?), and media skeptics conjure an Islamic juggernaut.
    I don’t see it. I can imagine Iranian provocateurs trying to derail elections, but that is another matter. I don’t believe the actions of terrorists– in advance of timely elections– should be sanctioned by America-bashers, because they are merely PRESUMED to be acting for an Islamist majority, which is by no means evident.
    If legitimate elections produce an Islamist regime, then those results– you can be quite sure– will be honored.

  21. A federal model would be very appealing for Iraq…save for the presence of a destabalising Iran. Fact is, almost any problem in Iraq is easily manageable, given the downfall of the unpopular mullahs in Teheran. Like it or not, we are into this thing!
    The really nightmare scenario for Iraq isn’t a Shi’ite theocracy for the entire country– I don’t think you could impose such a model against the stout resistance of 40% of the population– but a spin-off Shi’a South as a Persian satelite, a de-facto independent Kurdistan which triggers smoke-detectors in Ankara, and an impoverished Sunni west that falls into the Syria orbit (note the “next Lebanon” rhetoric coming out of Damascus), tilting Jordan and the PA toward the radical camp.
    That is why my first note in this thread referenced discontent in Iran. We don’t need/want to invade, but there are relevant things the US can do.
    No kidding, the Islamic Republic of Iran has got to go. Now. (July 9?)

  22. On the “republic not a democracy” comments:

    It’s a quibble over words, not ideas. Nowadays, when Americans use the word democracy, we almost always mean simply a system in which the government is selected by and responsible to the citizens, through free electoral processes. That notion of government being subservient to citizens actually leads to the notion of inalienable rights and liberties: A government that is subservient to the people has no right to oppress them.

    Some people, for whatever reason, insist that the word “democracy” refers to a nightmare scenario of unlimited government, where a simple majority can, via referenda, enact ANY policy they want, even if it oppresses the other 49%. They then say “republic, not a democracy” to stifle whoever used the word “democracy.”

    OK, maybe the word “democracy” used to refer only to that nightmare scenario, but language changes and dictionaries get updated. Nowadays, it usually means government that is subservient to the people and is selected through free elections. I don’t know why people get so bent out of shape over the word democracy, because all they do is turn the discussion into a syntax debate, when the real questions should be “how can we best structure a government (be it in the US, Iraq, or whereever) so that politicians are subservient to the citizens and can’t simply oppress the people at their own whim?”

  23. Guys, this administration doesn’t give a damn what kind of government happens next in Iraq. They have said over and over that we are leaving quickly, knowing full well that the resulting chaos will “cause” us to come right back in. We then fix it by force – along with the outside agitators (Syria, Iran?) who “caused” it. Congress has already authorized our CEO to do precisely this.

    Once a really bad decision has been made there are no good ones to follow.

  24. thoreau is right

    And there is an interesting question, concerning not only Iraq, but many societies who have no history of either personal liberty, or representative government…which comes first?
    The first elected official in North America was John Winthrop, selected as Governor by the adult males (not indentured servants, I assume, but I’m not sure) of the Massachusetts colony in an uncontested election. Interestingly, Winthrop could legally have claimed to be in charge based on the company charter…but sensibly realised the colony would not survive without whole-hearted participation.
    Winthrop exercised virtually unlimited powers (he both banished and executed trouble-makers) and it was some time before regular courts or any kind of legislature came into existence.
    Then again, Winthrop himself was a lawyer, and the structure of the Congregational (established!) church encouraged considerable feed-back. Winthrop stood in periodic re-elections (every two years, I believe) which were eventually contested…he was defeated in one, and acceded to the result.
    Still, it is a long way to 1789.
    I suspect an emerging nation requires a kind of dumbed-down version of both individual liberty, and popular rule. It has gotta make sense to people, and be simple enough to work.
    This is a great thread…it doesn’t get much more important than this.

  25. “The U.S. should stop pretending that democracy is enough to prevent tyranny.”

    I’m not sure who would have thought that Rumsfeld and company meant anything other than “something akin to western style liberal government” when they said they wanted “democracy.” It’s really just after the fact straw-man potshotting to pretend otherwise. It’s not as if their were long speeches and position papers on how democracy, in its strict meaning, was all they were looking for.

  26. There’s nothing wrong with government of the majority as long as it isn’t tyranny of the majority. There’s nothing wrong with letting the Iraqis elect whoever they want as long as they write a constitution that guarantees certain fundamental liberties and incorporates checks and balances. Let the Islamists hold office and govern within the constraints of a bill or rights similar to ours.

    The simple fact is that a secular democratic tradition may take some time to evolve in Iraq. In the mean time, though, a state that is Islamic in its general character but respects fundamental liberties is a good stepping stone to a secular democracy.

    So bring on the vote! Just bring on a bill of rights first…

  27. The administration once again finds itself in difficulty due to poor communications skills. The word “democracy” should have never left the Presidents lips. The US is no democracy, it is a representative republic. There is no reason to foster democracy in Iraq. Tyranny of the majority will be the result. There is no intrinsic right for a people to assume a primitive, savage and utterly totalitarian form of government even by their own choice. The talking point to harp on is forming a representative form of government where all tribal or ethnic groups will have a voice. That will be difficult enough to arrange. The US should shut up entirely about democracy.;

  28. Oh, “democracy” will serve well enough to describe a government subject to periodic election from a broad popular suffrage…and if the broad popular will is Islamist, it seems naive to expect leaders elected from that base to feel bound by counstitutional restrictions they didn’t craft, and don’t respect.
    One reason I don’t believe it’s a good idea to saddle Iraq with an overly patterned Western-style constitution, is that I’d expect it to be tossed aside at once, when some ACLU-style geek tells elected officials that no reasonable accomadations should be made for Ramadan, or daily prayer-calls, or reservation status for Shi’a shrine-cities.
    God made Libertarians to create thought-provoking seminars…God didn’t make Libertarians to design governments.

  29. Andrew, you’re being flip about a critical topic. We could be nation-building a tyranny here if we’re not careful. It may be unavoidable, but that doesn’t absolve us of responsibility to try to avoid setting up a religious dictatorship to replace the Stalinist one. The Shi’ites may be a majority, but there are a number of other groups in Iraq who would suffer greatly under Islamic rule. We cannot discount this.

  30. This is all probably very much ado about nothing. We don’t have any reason whatsoever to think that Iraqis are at all interested in recreating the Islamic paradise next door. If a few thousand advocates for such a system have taken to the streets, that doesn’t mean a damned thing–that we didn’t already know about, such as the existence of an Iranian-backed sect that has been waiting for this supposed opportunity for a long time.

    I laugh to myself when I read all the hysterics over these demonstrations. If you simply watched the demonstrations in the weeks leading up too the war, and used this as some kind of insight into the minds of average Americans, you would have been very badly mistaken. Radicals are always loud, and always vocal. Big deal, they’re not a majority, or even a plurality of potential voters in Iraq, by all accounts.

    Furthermore, to say that we are ruled by a vocal minority in America, and then cite the fact that Bush got fewer than 50% of the vote as evidence, is absurd in every way. Earth to morons: Gore got less than 50% too. As do a great many presidents, even very popular ones. It’s tough in most functional democracies to win a total landslide by popular vote. Frankly, if any president won 80% of the popular vote I’d be worried.

    If, on the other hand, you mean that America is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes (India being the most religious country on Earth and Sweden the least), then you’re right in saying that a vocal minority gets its way in American politics.

    I do agree that we fetishize democracy a bit too much; but if the Iraqis vote their way into despotism, then screw ’em. We shouldn’t try to stop them, since we’ll get no credit for it if we do.

  31. Thoreau is wrong. Because when the talking heads use the word democracy, they always implie that the 60% will be able to impose their will on the 40%. It is in a constitutional republic that the rights of the minority are protected. That is what they should be saying the government of Iraq will be a “constitutional republic”. That is a more precise definition.

  32. As referenced above: CAPITALISM, plus property rights enforced by rule of law, plus a large-scale push to modernize/tehnologize. Not a guarantee, but the best recipe possible.

  33. OK, to re-enter the syntax debate on “republic vs. democracy”:

    I am not here to defend any and all actions undertaken by elected officials and referenda in the US. I am not here to defend every single pundit who has ever uttered the word “democracy.” I am not here to suggest that constitutionally protected liberties are unimportant. In fact, such liberties are essential ingredients of a free society.

    However, I am here to say the following:

    1) Free elections are ALSO essential ingredients of a free society. I think we all agree on this, but I just want to make it clear that my concern is FREEDOM, and I see elections as a partial means to that end rather than an end in and of themselves.

    2) When somebody uses the word “democracy” as part of an argument that you disagree with, the old lecture on “republic not a democracy” is a poor way of getting the point across. When you say “democracy means this, republic means that”, whether you intend it or not the argument often turns into a “dueling dictionaries” debate.

    A more constructive approach is to say “Yes, it is crucial that the government be accountable to the citizens via democratic processes. However, we must also make sure that the majority does not oppress the minority, which is why a Bill of Rights is essential in a free and democratic society.”

    OK, that statement is a bit longer than “this is a republic, not a democracy.” However, the syntax reply will usually lead to more arguments, so you’ll end up using a lot more words soon enough anyway. Better to make a slightly longer but succinct point right away, especially if that point invokes something most Americans claim to cherish: The Bill of Rights.

    The point is, we can call our system of government a republic, a democracy, a farce, a piece of divine inspiration, or even invent a whole new word (how about “beebleskunch”? I like how it sounds…. ;). Name it anything you want, just make sure that the structure protects minority rights.

    If you still aren’t persuaded that the “dueling dictionaries” approach to democracy vs. republic is a waste of time, here’s how Merriam-Webster online defines “democracy”:

    1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
    b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

    The first definition does match your nightmare scenario. However, the second definition is much broader, and is consistent with the US Constitution as it was written: The Founders began the preamble with “We the People…”, they specified periodic elections, and power is wielded by representatives rather than referenda.

  34. In the thread above, people seem to be arguing that our leaders really “intend” to bring something like a federal constitutional republic to Iraq, instead of a “pure democracy,” but that they use the word “democracy” as a token, because “most people” wouldn’t understand the longer and more accurate phrase.

    In looking at the ways that federalism, constitutionalism, and republicanism have been distorted, ignored, or abandoned in the US over the past century, are we really wise to put words in the mouths of our leaders? Can we really say that we know WHAT they intend to bring to Iraq? Isn’t it more accurate, yet, to say that, whenever they use the word “democracy” our leaders mean “a governmental architecture, probably featuring elections of some sort, which is chosen by the politically and militarily connected in Washington”?

    Come to think of it, that fairly describes the “democracy” we have here in the US, too. So who’s to say that this isn’t precisely what “the people” understand, also?

    The game is this: poor schnooks like some of us may try to pin the leaders down to using precise terms with well-agreed meanings, in order to describe their intentions and actions, but the leaders try just as vigorously to use vague terms that will easily accommodate whatever they really intend, or actually do deliver. Anybody who tries to turn the debate in the direction of more specific language, to which the leaders may be held accountable, or by which public expections can fairly be set, is marginalized as a “wonk,” a “dictionary debater,” a
    “semanticist,” and so forth. This game is as old as politics.

    I was never all that great a fan of Ayn Rand, but she did focus on rationally epmloyed language as a logical activity aimed at the unambiguous identification of things and concepts, without which true human progress was impossible. Whatever our leaders mean by “democracy,” it is not an empty exercise (although it may prove fruitless) to try to understand precisely what they mean, and to try to re-express and record that understanding in a way that allows the public to hold the leaders accountable. If WE are to have anything like a functioning “democracy” (which I am using here as the catch-all umbrella term that includes such things as constitutional federal republics), we have to form expectations of our leaders, and we have to hold them accountable for what they say and do. Otherwise, the people have no teeth, save explosive, bloody revolution. We don’t have to go down that road, if we start paying attention to words like “democracy,” and the ways they are used (or misused) in the rhetoric of our leaders, and then act accordingly, when it comes time to exercise the people’s own constitutional powers.

  35. OK, so we’ve got “democracy” and “republic” sorted out. How about getting a definition of “Islamic Republic”? Does it denote a legal system less democratic than, say, the US Supreme Court?

  36. Just to point out:

    Clinton was never elected with a majority of the popular vote. Was that undemocratic as well? Most officials are elected in a “first past the post” manner. How is “first past the post” less democratic than the Electoral College?

    The Electoral College has disagreed with the popular vote 4 times now. Every time people complain and make noises about abolishing the Electoral College. But it has never happened yet. If people really thought it undemocratic, they’d amend the Constitution, just like the did for direct election of Senators (who used to be chosen by state legislatures).

  37. SOCCER! . . . That’s the way to westernize Iraq!

    We did it with BASEBALL in Japan; we can do it with soccer in Iraq.

    Have you noticed how most of those young men (most of ’em under 30) throw sticks & stones, raise their clenched fists (because it’s the thing to do) while throughout it all, wear baseball caps and T-shirts emblazoned with western logos?

    Even while they’re mouthing Islamic shibboleths, they secretely identify with the symbols of the west.

    OK. So let’s accommodate ’em. Let’s get some soccer teams over there and in the process, over the years, slowly convert them to the benefits of western freedom, complete with Cokes and hotdogs, and all the other accouterments of the west. (The girls can come later.)

    I think it’ll work. Especially if — like we do with our kids — we let ’em win a few games in the beginning.

    (But, Shhhh! Hush!)

  38. What’s interesting is this obsessive pre-occupation with “spreading democracy”, as if it were some magical form of government that will miraculously transform Iraq from a fundementalist Islamic state into a modern Western society. This is placing form over function. A government is not a society, a government will simply reflect the values of a society. For example, Hong Kong has never had a democratic government, either under the British or the Chinese. Still, it’s acknowledged Hong Kong has greater economic freedom than even the United States.

    A corrupt democracy will be no improvement over a corrupt dictatorship or a corrupt monarchy.

    More important than democratic government is just government. If a goverment secures the rights of life, liberty and property, equality under the law, etc., what difference does it make whether it’s a democracy, a monarchy, a theocracy, or a benign dictatorship?

    This from supposed conservatives. It used to be conservatives knew better.

    “A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good society?whatever political machinery it may utilize; while a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society?no matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be.”

    –Russell Kirk

    “Freedom and liberty consists of having government under those laws by which their lives and their goods may be most their own. It is not in having a share in government, sirs.”

    –from Charles I’s scaffold speech

  39. Gabriel makes a very good point. I wish that the media would start reporting the REAL electoral totals, i.e., the number of votes actually cast, and the victory percentages those votes represent, relative to the TOTAL number of registered and eligible voters. Yes, the law will still say that the candidate earning the plurality (or in some cases, the majority) of votes cast will win the office. But it is very important for people — especially those sitting on the sidelines at election-time — to understand just how few people actually “decide” in our so-called “democracy.”

    Recently-active Libertarian campaigners, notably Ken Krawchuck — whose gubernatorial campaign in 2002 was successful enough earn the LP legal “ballot-status” in Pennsylvania in 2004 — have pointed out that the state of electoral participation is so dismal that an LP candidate needs to earn only 1 vote out of every eight ELIGIBLE voters to win office in a 3-way race. By running a shoestring campaign that targeted disaffected voters, in hopes of exploiting that calculus, Libertarian Ed Thompson earned 10% of the votes cast in his gubernatorial run in Wisconsin last year, confounding and surprising those who thought his anemically funded, third-party campaign would, at best, earn low single-digit support. Instead, Thompson’s campaign did well enough to earn the LP a seat on the state elections board, prompting entrenched politicians to introduce a bill to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. So much for “democracy” in the badger state.

    Our government proceeds as if silence was equivalent to consent. Even vigorous shouting in protests is treated as little better than silence by those who know better how to run our domestic and foreign affairs, and spend our tax dollars. The majority is vast, and, as far as voting is concerned, disturbingly silent. Even skimming the cream from this great reservoir, candidates such as Krawchuck and Thompson have given their opponents and political pundits apoplexy. What would happen if the silent ones were to make a loud noise in the voting booths in the next election? Talk about your Little Big Horn.

  40. Jesse Ventura could have beat Bush and Gore. That’s scary.

  41. Bruno that is why in an earlier post I stated that what people should demand is CAPITALISM. In a true capitalist society the form of the government is less important because the rights and freedoms of the individual are protected. As long as it is a capitalist republic, capitalist theocracy , capitalist monarchy and so on things will be alright. To repeat capitalism is the ONLY politica/economic system in which the freedom of the individual is the paramount goal. To bad we don’t have that here. Maybe it’s time for a second American Revolution?

  42. Andrew is wise to look at the beginnings of American democracy (democracy! democracy!) to try to find a model for Iraq, rather than the late model that exists today. Things have to develop.

    One important feature of the development of our system is that it began locally. First as town meetings and the election of local officials (within a royalist system), then growing to the state level, and finally to the national level, eventually including the chief executive. Working with existing models of cooperative or consentual rule as they exist in Iraqi culture, and extending them into local democratic governments, is an important start. These can be extended into a regional governments, which can form the bones of a federal system.

    Trying to start with an elected national government, and trying to impose a foreign system, are useless, top-down exercises that will never develop the ideas of democratic participation and citizenship necessary for a lasting democratic government.

  43. I also agree that thoreau is wrong, if he is going to assert that people use “democracy” as a euphemism for “western-style government” (e.g., constitutional republics) instead of (or without believing that this entails), for example, rule of the 40% by the 60%.

    People got all pushed out of shape by the 2000 election, saying that “democracy” was betrayed. In fact, the constitution does not provide for popular election of the president; only the states, delegating their constitutional power to select presidential electors, turn popular presidential votes into binding democratic referrenda, with “escape clauses” that allow the state legislatures to reclaim their elector-selection authority under certain circumstances SUCH AS OCCURRED IN FLORIDA IN 2000. The demand that EVERY VOTE BE COUNTED is a blunt appeal to the ideal of pure democracy. I don’t think that counting all the ballots is ever a bad idea, only that it is much more critical to a pure democracy, or a purely democratic mechanism, than to the “democratically flavored” mechanisms that are sprinkled through the US governmental system.

    In California, a majority decided to tax a hated minority — smokers – for their “sin,” and hand the proceeds to more “deserving” people and projects. Warnings about the tyranny of democratic majorities fell on deaf ears. “It’s the people’s right to take that money…” I was told on any number of occasions, by people who must have believed in the reality of literal democracy.

    There are many more examples. We have gone far beyond a government that is merely “responsive and responsible” to the people. The function of the US government today (and many of the inferior state and local governments as well) is commonly seen to be more a matter of implementing the public will, whatever it may be, as opposed to securing individual rights and protecting the persons and property of individuals.

    This discussion about “democracy” is not merely a quibbling over semantic shift, except, perhaps, as such a shift has engendered a fundamental (and, in my view, unfortunate) mission creep. Without that creep, we might not have become so embroiled in the middle-eastern situation over the past several decades, much less the big gorilla in two significant conflicts.

  44. OK, who took a political thory class is college? “Democracy” is just a word we throw around. Of course we don’t want a true democracy Iraq. We don’t want that in the U.S. Human beings have know since Aristotle that true democracy leads to the kind of tyranny of the majority that would result in a theocracy in Iraq. We don’t want that. We want a representative style of government, perhaps a federalist republic, with certain checks and balances and enumerated government powers and individual rights that protect citizens from each other and their government. That’s what we want in Iraq. Ok? Problem solved, so quit trying to catch Bush in some sort of ideological quagmire that doesn’t exist; there is no incosistency in his call for “democracy” while also denying the possibility of an Iranian theocracy. He just can’t call it what it is, because most people wouldn’t understand a “representative federalist republic.”

  45. Mr. Stinker wrote:

    “… But like I said, Rick claims to not be anti-semetic so lets give him the benefit of the doubt”

    Thankyou Mr Stinker, But I’m supsrised that you could have ever come to the opinion of:

    “what I percieve to be anti-semetic overtones,”

    in anything Ive ever posted. Ive never posted anything anti-semetic or racist of any kind. This is just crazy. As Ayn Rand said: racism is the most Primitive form of collectivism. I despise racism. It denies individuality. Criticism of Israel, Sharon, and the neo-cons(who are not all Jewish but it wouldn’t matter if they were) is not anti-semetic. Criticism of fundementalist Judiaism is no more or less anti-semetic then criticism of Catholicism is anti-(Catholic people). Its always wrong to make argument based on racism but its also wrong to refrain from making an argument out of fear of unjust accusations of racism.

    “My opionion is that Rick uses “neo-con” the same way the Left uses “fascist” as in “someone I don’t agree but I can’t present a rational argument.””

    Even a quick survey of neo-con writings reveals that there are plenty arguments that can be made agaist their advocacies, such as a hyper-interventionist foreign policy, reflexive support of Sharon and his policies, support to commit the U.S. to war against any of Israel’s enemies. (Remember how soon it was after the tanks quit firing that were pushing for an attack on Syria. Remember when Tim Russert asked Richard Perle, the neo-con who has been at the nexus of the attack Iraq groups and has supported an attack on Iraq for years, on Meet the Press if Perle could assure the American People that this war was for the USA and not Israel, Perle sort of replied “trust me”. Should we really trust Richard Perle on this matter when in 1970 he got caught on a federal wiretap giving classified information to the Isreali embassy while he was in the employ of Democratic senator “Scoop” Jackson. I say: Be skeptical be very skeptical.

  46. Rick: Your theories stink even worse of anti-semintic conspiricy theory bullshit when you attempt to articulate them.

    Name names. Who do you consider a “neocon”? Then make the case that they are a unifed group. Then make the case that they are really pulling the strings.

    Stretch is right — lots of other groups have influcence over the Admin’s policies. And lots of these groups are also supporting the Adminstration for a variety of reasons.

    But you only single out a shadowy group — who you haven’t even defined — as calling all the shots with very questionable evidence (a conspiricy). Oh yes, you also claim this shadowy group also supports Isreal (a nation of JEWS), Zionism (a JEWISH cause) and is made up primarily of Jews. And I am crazy for suspecting anti-semitism?

    Racism is more than just wrong. It is a symptom of a weak, irrational, sloppy mind. And it also makes all the arguments from this mind highly suspect.

  47. “And I am crazy for suspecting anti-semitism?” No, Stinky, just a little quick on the draw. Was Al Sharpton crazy for suspecting racism behind welfare reform? More importantly, who cares? Try to address the ideas, not just hurl names at people.

  48. “Name names. Who do you consider a “neocon”?”

    Those who use the term to identify themselves for
    a start.

    “Then make the case that they are a unifed group.”

    Its now clear to me that you know enough about neo-conservatism to be debating it.

    “But you only single out a shadowy group …as calling all the shots”

    Neo-cons are not “shadowy” and I never would say that they are “calling all the shots”. These accusations are getting hilarios.

    “And I am crazy for suspecting anti-semitism?”

    I wouldn’t call you crazy but that suspicion is.

    “Rick: Your theories stink even worse of anti-semintic conspiricy theory bullshit when you attempt to articulate them.”

    You would do better to debate the issues instead of name calling. Its not “my theories” What Ive said said in the post in this thread is all pretty verifiable stuff.

    “Racism is more than just wrong. It is a symptom of a weak, irrational, sloppy mind. And it also makes all the arguments from this mind highly suspect”

    Well good, you actually said something correct in your post. We should also be very suspicios of arguments that come from minds that make unfounded accusations of racism.

  49. Mr. Stinker,

    I hate to be a stickler, but 1/4 of Israel’s population isn’t Jewish.

    BTW, I don’t see how arguing that Israel (and those who are friendly toward Israel) has too much influence in the US government is anti-semetic. I my mind you’ve made some fairly significant, and unjustified, mental leaps to come to the conclusion that you have.

  50. “Was Al Sharpton crazy for suspecting racism behind welfare reform?”

    Yes, because Sharpton himself is somewhat racist.

    “Those who use the term to identify themselves for
    a start.”

    Such as….? Name names. Otherwise you are dodging.

    “Its now clear to me that you know enough about neo-conservatism to be debating it.”

    I know enough about conservatism and the history of the conservative movement to consider the whole “neocon conspircy theory” to be horseshit. You are wrongly applying neoconservatism (a movement, not a group) to something that is is not. The question is what? Who really is your target?

    “Neo-cons are not “shadowy” and I never would say that they are “calling all the shots”.”

    Then why constantly single them out in your posts. You seem to indicate that these mysterious quasi-masonic adepts are the ones really behind the Administration’s policies (which you also claim are in service of Isreal).

    “You would do better to debate the issues instead of name calling. Its not “my theories” What Ive said said in the post in this thread is all pretty verifiable stuff.”

    It is you who is doing the name calling, with your constant (and unfounded) rants about your mysterious “neocons” who you can’t even name, and their loose connections to Isreal.

    “We should also be very suspicios of arguments that come from minds that make unfounded accusations of racism.”

    I didn’t quite make the accusation yet. I simply said it stinks of anti-semtism. That is a feeling, an intutition. Perhaps answer my questions instead of dodging and I will have better understanding.

  51. correction:

    “Then make the case that they are a unifed group.”

    Its now clear to me that you DON’T know enough about neo-conservatism to be debating it.

  52. “I hate to be a stickler, but 1/4 of Israel’s population isn’t Jewish.”

    You are missing the point. It shouldn’t matter if they are Jewish or not. Rick is speculating that the “neocons” (which he refuses to name) are connected somehow to Isreal and Zionism. What is the connection? Why is it that most people (maybe not Rick, he hasn’t said yet) who rant about alledged “neocons” focus on their Jewishness?

    “I don’t see how arguing that Israel (and those who are friendly toward Israel) has too much influence in the US government is anti-semetic”

    I don’t think it is, but overestimating this influence as Rick has, and then blaming this influence on a mysterious group (Jewish?) smells like anti-semetism. Certainly outspoken anti-semites use the same arguments.

    “I my mind you’ve made some fairly significant, and unjustified, mental leaps to come to the conclusion that you have.”

    But I haven’t made a conclusion yet. I have not yet called Rick an anti-semite, just that something smells funny about his arguments. He is dodging like crazy and has avoided some of my direct questions, so it is hard to make any type of conclusion.

  53. “Its now clear to me that you DON’T know enough about neo-conservatism to be debating it.”

    I have no idea what YOU mean by neoconservatism, so I am unsure what knowlege I have that is applicable. I have read most of the conservative tracts written in the last 50 years and a lot of the popular stuff as well. I also read most of the conservative media on a daily basis. But since you haven’t given your definition or list of names, I am unsure what you mean by the word in the first place.

  54. Rick Barton,

    Neo-conservative (the term) grew out of or somehow took over a term coined by Wolfowitz: “neo-Reaganite.” The latter term was coined in the second half of Bush pere’s Presidency. It was supposed to signify Wolfowitz’s (and whoever else identified themselves with the term) desire to return to the supposedly moral, freedom-supporting, aggressive, etc. FP of the Reagan administration (which I myself think is a crock of ahistorical shit, but that’s not really the issue). I don’t know which term was coined first, or how neo-Reaganite moprhed into neo-conservative, but it appears that the same folks (Wolfowitz, Perle, Rumsfeld, Krauthmeir, etc.) who called themselves neo-Reaganites in the early 1990s are now called neo-conservatives today. Hope this is helpful.

  55. Croesus: I maintain that it is a useless and therefor suspect term. I have seen it used for: Non-“paleo” conservatives, ex-Trotsykite conservatives, ex-Leftist conservatives, Straussians, Zionist conservatives or those that simply like Isreal, Jewish conservatives, ex-Democrat conservatives and editors of various conservative publications (National Review, Weekly Standard, etc). Notice that none of these have very much in common, other than the fact they are conservative and usually A) Jewish or B) formerly Leftist or C) all of the above.

    Left/Right, conservative/liberal are mostly useless abstractions. Terms like “neo-conservtive” are totally useless and seem to place the emphasis on the orgin of the person in question. This is a dangerous assumption in my opinion, given the origin of many of the above and the fact the influence and power of those labeled “neocons” is overstated and presented in sinister fashion.

  56. Mr Stinker,
    I think your just trying to avoid disscussing the actual issues as you ingore the ones Ive brought up in favor of name calling. You repeat only broad claims against what Ive written with out refuting or even acknowleging the rebuttles I’ve made against those claims.

    For your edification some luminary neo-cons are Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, Bill Bennett,Jean Kirkpatrick. But you wrote:

    “as in the fact that many so-called “neo-cons” were FORMERLY trots or leftists.”

    So,who did you mean? And aren’t you the same person who went under the handle “Mr. Stinky” who called me names and made unfounded accusations in an earlier thread? If you are I can only conclude as I did before that you are devoid of honor.

  57. Stretch Cannonbury’s attack on Jacob Sullum seems to be unfounded:

    Stretch Cannonbury wrote:

    ” A popular vote for theocracy is NOT DEMOCRACY. It is the end of democracy ”

    No; It is definatly democracy and only MIGHT be the end of that democracy. There are variations
    of theocracy. There is a movement in Iran to make their theocracy more democratic. Israel is a theocracy with democracy. Also, liberty is more imprtant than democracy. But Stretch’s point about the need for a constitution is a good one as constitutions can restrict what the majority can do to the losers of elections. If we impose anything on Iraq it should only be a constitution and then leave.

  58. Mr. Stinker,

    How is the term useless? Because it is an abtrasction? The fact that it is an abstraction is hardly damning. Lots of words are abstractions, yet they get their point across. Neo-conservative to me is simply a term that differentiates interventionist, FP oriented conservatives, from the more insular, isolationist variety of conservative (paleo?). Likely these two poles are not densely inhabited, but it gives one a context to start with. Also, in defining these terms this way, you give them some historical context, because these two poles have always been present amongst American conservatives (think back to the post-WWI era and the unwillingness of the US to enter the League of Nations).

  59. Rick Barton,

    I don’t see where you get that I claim that the first generation were ex-Troskyites, etc. I simply said that Wolfowitz coined the term “neo-Reaganite” and that somehow this morphed into or was take over by the term “neo-conservative.”

  60. To me its interesting that the domestic policies of “neo” or “paleo” conservatives are never discussed. Are these two groups (using the definition I have used above) in agreement on these issues or not? If we were to take Pat Buchanan as an example of a “paleo-conservative” (I think he self-identifies as such), the “paleo” agenda could be characterized as an unsavory mixture of anti-capitalism and “nativism.” Would “neos” agree with this? I doubt it.

  61. The most important institution we can leave behind in Iraq is a Independent National Trust for the oil revenues. To begin with the trust could contain the billions the UN owes Iraq from the oil for food program, and whatever can be scavenged from Saddam’s looting. After that the proceeds from selling oil backed up in the pipeline could be added, and eventually all the revenue Iraq earns from the sale of oil once the fields operate again.
    Such a trust could indeed be administered by parties from the UAE, as well as Singapore, which has a lot of experience with these kinds of arrangements.
    The trust initially could probably make one or several one-time payments of, say, a thousand dollars each to every adult citizen of Iraq, thus immediately easing the current penury and providing a nest egg to get society started again.
    After that, best would be a trust like an IRA, which could only be used for old-age and medical insurance…rather than current income. A new Iraqi govt. wouldn’t have the potential for mis-rule that fabulous oil revenues gave Saddam, and the people would still have to work and trade.
    One important side-benefit…men and women would be exactly equal, in a very practical way.
    The idea, if introduced early, and given time to sink in, could become a sacrosanct as social security in America, before a thieving regime had a chance to undo it.

  62. “It is my opinion that if the liberties of this country, the United States of America, are destroyed, it will be by the subtlety of the Roman Catholic Jesuit priests, for they are the most crafty, dangerous enemies of civil and religious liberty. They have instigated most of the wars of Europe.” – Lafayette

    Forget the Jews. This is what we need to watch for. You know a lot of the high ranking intelligence officials are Roman Catholics and more importantly, Knights of Malta, who are under the sway of the Black Pope (Superior General of the Jesuits). It never has been explained how witht the billions of dollars spent on intelligence they had no inkling of 9/11.

  63. I hope Chilly Dog is joking about Catholics being a threat to America. My humor receptors don’t always work very well. It seems like sarcasm, but I’m not 100% sure. Maybe the name “Chilly Dog” should clue me in…. 😉

    I don’t like the theory that one group or another is engaged in a dark conspiracy. To me it’s pretty obvious that at different times, different groups are more influential in the executive branch. Right now certain industries and certain schools of thought on foreign policy are dominant. That’s no dark conspiracy, it’s the plain out-in-the-open truth.

    Those who agree with such policies can say “Ah, finally!” Those who disagree can say “Throw the bums out in 2004!” I’m in the later category. I plan to vote for REAL regime-change: Straight ticket Libertarian.

    And yes, I’m the same “thoreau” who posted earlier in the “Republic, not a democracy” debate. While some Libertarians and libertarians (there’s a difference) seem to fear democratic processes, I think it’s best for everybody involved if we take power away from politicians and give it to the citizens.

  64. This is an unusally moronic post from Jacob Sullum. If the question is whether individuals can use democratic processes to vote for dictatorship, the answer is yes, as has been demonstrated over and over going back decades.

    Once again, Reason’s brightest minds demonstrate their congenital inability to understand democracy as a dynamic process. A popular vote for theocracy is NOT DEMOCRACY. It is the end of democracy – precisely the opposite of what we’re working for over there.

    Yet over and over we read silly posts by the frequently silly people running Hit & Run bitching and moaning that the US should HOLD ELECTIONS RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND, proclaim victory, and leave immediately, consequences be damned.

    Building a lasting democracy requires that the democratic process cannot be turned against itself…at least, not without great effort and near unanimity. That requires a constitution, which the new Iraq does not yet possess. Everybody knows this. Constitutions are the foundation for modern democracy (the UK notwithstanding). So what is the point of this post, other than for Jacob to advertise his ignorance about how democracy operates?

  65. I, for one, would love to see the Islamists get voted into power, rule the country for four years, and then have to face an electorate. Best thing that could happen.

    Democracy is more than a way of assigning offices. It’s about culture, values, and practices. But those things won’t develop unless the people have actual experience with self governance. Hence, my post about starting local.

    This is going to take an enormous amount of flexibility, precision, perserverence, and commitment to democratic values to get right. Thank God Bush and Rumsfeld are one the scene!

  66. For Rick, a column on the mystical “neo-cons”:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/impromptus/impromptus042803.asp

    My opionion is that Rick uses “neo-con” the same way the Left uses “fascist” as in “someone I don’t agree but I can’t present a rational argument.”

    I will take his word and give him a pass on what I percieve to be anti-semetic overtones, which is simply a more vile and sinster method of the weak-minded to irrationaly dodge the truth — one with a very ugly history. But like I said, Rick claims to not be anti-semetic so lets give him the benefit of the doubt.

  67. On neo-conservative conspiracies –

    I’m not one to assume my adversaries are racists. I’ve never really personally even encountered much racism in my life.

    But I am convinced that ANYBODY speaking of “neo-con” conspiracies are consciously and deliberately using the term “neo-con” as a proxy for “Jewish”. I’m certain of it.

    Look, even the hated religious right has never been accused of orchestrating conspiracies. Yes, Republicans are in their back pocket, but conspiracies? Never.

    When you think about it, it takes a particularly cunning, mischievous, and duplicitous personality to pull off a conspiracy, especially one that gets the US government to start wars that are, in this mindset, not in its own interests. In other words, Jews.

    So, I don’t think you’re off the mark at all. You’re being too generous, if anything. Lots of people maneuver for influence over US policy – everybody from farmers to labor unions to gay activists to bible-thumpers. But only one shadowy group is publicly accused of conspiring in the shadows, and that’s Jews.

    Only, it’s considered ill form to say so, so the term “neo-con” is substituted for “Jew”, and voila – there’s your neo-con conspiracy to hijack the United States. Anybody speaking specifically of a neo-con conspiracy can be safely assumed to be an antisemite in drag.

  68. Name some neo-cons, Mr Stinky said. And so many of you have.

    In fact, virtually the only neo-cons to be named by name by any of their opponents are Wolfowitz and Perle.

    Now, there are lots of neo-cons. And as I said before, there are lots of political philosophies and lots of organizations that vie for influence over the government.

    But I’ll reiterate what Mr Stinky keeps getting back to. It’s not opposition to neo-con policies I (we?) oppose. It’s that this opposition is marinated in suspicion of conspiracy – in other words, neo-cons are not just wrong, they’re wholly illegitimate. Why, they’re only in it to help out Ariel Sharon! They’re not even real Americans! (Sound familiar?)

    Back to my point – so, who are the only neo-cons most anti-neo-cons ever mention? Wolfowitz and Perle. And what do they have in common?

    The question answers itself, doesn’t it?

    I don’t mean to suggest specifically that Rick or any other individual is necessarily anti-semitic. But I do suggest, to use Mr Stinky’s excellent characterization, that all this neo-con conspiracy talk stinks, and I think most of it – generally speaking – is anti-semitism.

    Remember Trent Lott’s appalling comments about Strom Thurmond? Many leftists remarked that Republican talk about the confederate flag was really code – innocent sounding to those of us in the North who aren’t still fighting that war, but to southerners, it was a wink – we’re on your side, boys. We just can’t say it.

    Neo-con conspiracy theorizing is the left’s equivalent. It’s a wink and a nod. “It’s not Jews we have a problem with, it’s neo-cons. Like Wolfowitz and Perle!” Yeahhh.

  69. Theocracy vs. democracy –

    A theocracy can not be democratic, by definition – because in theocracies ultimate power is held by unelected clerics enforcing religious law. To accuse Israel of being a theocracy is ignorant and offensive.

  70. Sorry – Mr Stinker, not Mr Stinky. I’m not sure it’s possible to offend somebody who calls himself “Mr Stinker” but if I did, sorry.

    Yrs,
    Stretch Cannonbury 😉

  71. Stretch: I am not entirely sure but it does stink to high hell, as your points indicate. Take a look at some of these (dubious) assumptions:

    Neocon = Zionist, which is combined with the fact that many so-called “neo-cons” really are Jewish. This may or may not be true, but it has little to nothing to do with current policy.

    Neocon = Secret Commie, as in the fact that many so-called “neo-cons” were FORMERLY trots or leftists. In the early 20th century, accusations of being secretly communist were also paired with anti-semetism.

    Neocon = Non-libertarian, which is not really an argument as many conservatives do not claim to be libertarians in the first place. However many so-called “neo-cons” readily accept many libertarian arguments and are more classically liberal than the Religious Right or the Isolationist-Buchannan Right.

    Neocon = Not-a-real-conservative, which is an together stupid argument, as the so-called “neocons” claim to be conservatives and support conservative positions (though conservative is subjective, as Straussians would rather restore pre-liberal mindsets).

    Now I do not believe that this implied racism by critics should give a free pass to Bush and his supporters (including those branded as “neo-con”). Ironically these veiled anti-semetic tactics are doomed to backfire and will actually increase support of the Administration. The American people (rightly) will not stand for anti-semitism or any other type of racism.

    Mr. Stinker, Not a neo-con

  72. @Chilly Dog:

    Yes, I’ve visited capitalism.org, and I understand where you’re coming from. But the point I was trying to make was that successful models of governance must be built to accomodate the underlying cultural values. Form must follow function, not the other way around.

    While I’d agree that, for me, living in a capitalist/libertarian society would be ideal, not all cultures value personal liberty as their punultimate goal. For example, Sweden historicly has had a very communal culture, and Social Democracy seems to work well for them. Personally, I’d find living under that kind of a government a nightmare, but then, they apparently feel the same way about my notions of ideal governance.

    This is a point that conservatives understand that libertarians and doctranaire capitalists and liberals don’t seem to get: culture counts.

    The funny part about the Iraqi situation is that we’re planning on implementing democracy, a system of majority rule, on a population where the majority has made it clear they don’t want anything to do with it. Over 60% of the population are Shiites, and they’ve made it clear they prefer an Islamic theocracy. You have to find that ironic – a form of government that supposedly reflects the will of the people is being implemented against the will of the people.

    Under the circumstances, one can assume that the first order of business for this “democracy” will be to vote itself out of existence.

  73. “The Jesuits are a military organization, not a religious order. Their chief is a general of an army, not the mere father abbot of a monastery. And the aim of this organization is POWER. Power in its most despotic exercise. Absolute power, universal power, power to control the world by the volition of a single man…

    The General of the Jesuits insists on being master, sovereign, over the sovereign. Wherever the Jesuits are admitted they will be masters, cost what it may… Every act, every crime, however atrocious, is a meritorious work, if committed for the interest of the Society of the Jesuits, or by the order of the general.” –
    Napolean Bonaparte, “Memoirs”

    “Therefore, for challenging the Pope’s Temporal Power, in attempting to thwart Rome’s grand design against the peoples of the world, John F. Kennedy, America’s first Roman Catholic President, was brutally murdered in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, by the soldiers of Francis Cardinal Spellman within the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service, Military Intelligence and the Mafia.

    On September 11, 2001 this same Intelligence Network, overseen by New York Archbishop Edward Cardinal Egan being under the supervision of Jesuit General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, attacked and destroyed the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center and partially destroyed the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. These acts of high treason against the American People have now justified our present Crusade against Islam, surnamed “the war against terrorism”, and heartily endorsed by the Pope’s Masonic Jewish Zionists to the detriment of the beloved, racially Jewish People in Israel. This “war on terrorism” is to the exclusion of notorious Jesuit-trained terrorists and mass murderers such as Fidel Castro of communist Cuba and Gerry Adams of Ireland’s Irish Republican Army. Why?” –
    Eric Phelps, “Vatican Assasins”

  74. Cindy-

    As somebody else said, a Libertarian is a member of the Libertarian Party, an active supporter if not necessarily a dues-paying member. A libertarian is a person who generally believes we need smaller government. Although they may share the same goals as the Libertarian Party, they often support some of the more libertarian individuals within the Democrat and Republican parties.

    Also, the Libertarian Party tries to maintain very strict, ideologically pure stances. A libertarian may believe that government should be a lot smaller without necessarily supporting the nano-sized government favored by the Libertarian Party.

  75. Thoreau, I know it’s 81 posts (and counting) but you said:

    >> some Libertarians and libertarians (there’s a difference) seem to fear democratic processes

  76. So what IS the difference?

  77. Croesus

    “I don’t see where you get that I claim that the first generation were ex-Troskyites”

    I know you didn’t,I did.

    “If we were to take Pat Buchanan as an example of a “paleo-conservative” (I think he self-identifies as such), the “paleo” agenda could be characterized as an unsavory mixture of anti-capitalism and “nativism.” Would “neos” agree with this? I doubt it.”

    Pat Buchanan is opposed to free trade, so on the trade issue I agree more with the neo-cons except where Buchanan would abolish the IMF while the neos would maintain it. Foreign policy is the area where I think Buchanan’s advice is sage. Less Foreign entanglements! Keep the troops home!
    For a rebutle of the National Review piece you cited see: //amconmag.com/04_21_03/cover.html from the April 21 issue of “The American Conservative” Also see: //www.lewrockwell.com/callahan/callahan106.html

    Also Croesus; I suspect Stretch Cannonbury might be Mr. Stinker; Check out the posts. There are tell tale signs.

  78. Thanks, guys! Seems like I’m the lower-case version then.

  79. Croesus & Rick: Name some names that are not Jewish and maybe I will be convinced. Clearly neither of you can define “neocon” to anyone’s satisfaction, so Rick’s conspiricy theory is dangerously unfounded.

    And I did not call anyone a name, I mearly rejected the use of the word “neocon” which was being used in a sinister fashion, one that stinks of anti-semetism.

    (Was the Irishness of anyone a factor for the Northern Ireland polices? So why is the Jewishness of anyone a factor for the Mideast? Why does Rick object so much about this, while not asking if anyone is German or Japanese or Korean or Lutheren or Buddist or Shinto, as these nations are clearly part of the “American Empire” – something stinks here, 1930s style)

    Cindy: Libertarian (big L) is a member of the Libertarian Party, libertarian (small l) is a someone who holds the philosophy of libertarianism but may not be a member (or even a supporter) of the LP.

  80. Just in time for Rick:

    “The Neoconservative-Conspiracy Theory: Pure Myth”
    http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i34/34b01401.htm

  81. Croesus –

    You are correct that it’s not JUST leftists who obsess late at night about shadowy neo-conservatives conspiring to destroy the world. This group includes the far right too. But I’d say it’s a much more mainstream viewpoint on the left than on the right. If you recall, the avatar of the paleo-con right, Pat Buchanan, got a tick less than 1% of the vote the last time he ran. On the other hand, there are several whacked-out conspiracy theorizing left-wing members of Congress – Jim Moran is the king moron of that group. He’s said it over and over – Jews got us into this mess. Hell, he doesn’t even bother with the niceties of substituting “neo-con” for “conniving disloyal Jew”.

    Second, I never commented on who it was who “blew the whistle” on Trent Lott. What I said was that LEFTISTS highlighted the phenomenon of Republicans subtly talking in code about race in the past, by (among other things) wanting to keep confederate symbols a part of public life. These are two different things. I don’t understand what your argument is. Trent Lott wasn’t speaking in code, he came right out with it – “too bad about the civil rights movement, eh”?

  82. Rick –

    This is the first real confirmation I’ve had that conspiracy theorists are loony. I mean, I’ve always suspected it, but now I have hard proof. You are now trafficking in a conspiracy theory that I’m posting under 2 pseudonyms. As if one weren’t enough. Between you and me, I have half a dozen aliases because I don’t like being googled. While I’m a big fan of cock jokes, I’m not much for fart jokes, which are just 1 or 2 rungs too low on the toilet humor ladder for my tastes. No offense, Mr. Stinker.

    On a side note, I was reviewing an old post, and it’s just occurred to me that you’re the same wingnut wacko head case who recently waxed rhapsodic about the glories of life in Somalia.

    You are officially too unstable and weird to debate. Good luck with your post cross-analyses. If you need a handwriting sample, you know where to find me, smart man.

    Love,
    Croseus

  83. Stretch,

    Do clerics in a theocracy have to be unelected? Is that a pre-requisite for a theocracy?

    Israel has some theocratic undertones (and these are stronger than what is found in the US it appears), though it is not a full-fledged theocracy in the Plymouth Plantation, Taleban, etc. sense.

  84. Stretch,

    BTW, as far as I can tell, its not really the left that appears to be all that concerned with the “neo-conservatives” (whoever they might be – and I’ve named four potentials I might add) its other conservatives (or self-identified ones at the least). SEE the National Reviews “Unpatriotic Conservatives” screed. BTW, it wasn’t “leftists” who blew the whistle on Lott, it was bloggers like Andrew Sullivan (hardly a leftist).

    In other words, Stretch, you are using the same stereotypes, abstractions, etc. that you accuse others of.

  85. Don’t get so upset, Stretch. Rick simply (and obviously) has a lot of time on his hands. Let ’em play.

  86. Mr. Stinker,

    Ted Kennedy is always catching crap for being too pro-Ireland, especially from Anglophiles like John Derbyshire.

  87. this website is very gay i asked bout the massachusetts colony before the revolution and u say every thing about sadam and not any thing about the colony. u suck

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