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weekend rundown

Lots to talk about from a perusal of today's WaPo.
First, an informal opinon poll: Would you say the nation has become more or less partisan since 9/11? (My humble opinon, shared by 50% of respondents, is that the level of partisanship is just about the same as before 9/11. My thoughts are though that that is especially regrettable, given the latent ability for consensus and compromise that 9/11 demonstrated). More broadly speaking, in terms of the American political landscape, has 9/11 changed things or not? Is it more a function of the war in Iraq? And there, is it the war itself or just its persecution?

Next up: After now 5 days of fighting, what if anything are Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah going to accomplish? Will this discredit Hezbollah enough to allow the implementation of UN resolution 1559, which calls for the Lebanese gov't to exercise broader control and to disarm its unruly militias? Does anyone reading see how this ends?

Third: The G-8 Summit and WTO talks stalling - Putin and Bush aren't exactly driving buddies anymore. As one executive's power is waning (Bush) the other's is waxing (Putin, who is actually enjoying a quite popular and well recieved stretch of presidency, flush with energy wealth and renewed dimplomatic sway.), which is bad news for US interests, aside from what I am sure is to be a lucrative engineering contract for bechtel or halliburton under the new civilian nuclear regime announced last week. At stake are Russia's admittance into the WTO, which despite round the clock negotiations by USTR Schwab, have faltered. To be fair, the summit itself was a potemkin deadline, needed more for political gladhanding than anything else. But with President Bush unpopular at home, many mainstream US foreign policy backbones are disintegrating, like US support of moving institutions toward democratic policies, which with respect to Russia, is seen as impious soapbox lecturing.

And Last, some food for thought in more serious matters of philosophy:
What do you make of "right to conscience" laws that allow medical practioners to deny treatment if said treatment or service violates their personal sense of morality?
I feel that although there is a lot to be said about developing a sense of moral principles by which to live your life, if you find your profession to be in the position of violating those principles it is incumbent upon you to leave the profession. Additionally, asking the courts to decide (as I'm certain they will have to at some point) what constitutes a legitimate conscience principal and is a frivolous one, i feel, is getting into some frightening teritory. It's not unprecedented, as in conscientous objector cases, but I don't think those are entirely analogous. Asking someone to kill people they do not know in a place they have never been to for a cause that is at best morally ambigous is one thing; denying a lesbian who has been a client of yours a physical so that she and her partner can't adopt a child is another.

I know that's a lot to digest, but I think it's varied enough to stimulate some good comments. I actually had more to write, but I'll save that for a different time.

I found this interesting:

More broadly speaking, in terms of the American political landscape, has 9/11 changed things or not? Is it more a function of the war in Iraq? And there, is it the war itself or just its persecution?

People that criticize the prosecution of the war but that are against withdrawal and/or supported the war to begin with tend to be pretty moderate. People were against the war from the start and people who want to (basically) immediately withdrawal are pissed regardless of how well the war is conducted. So I don't think the quality of Bush's leadership on the war significantly contributes to polarization.

that's generally what the research the article was explaining demonstrated. But they only asked self-identified Dems, which was interesting, b/c that reveals the significant cleavage in the caucus.
I think something like a sixth thought it was a central front on the war on terror, a third were upset about the prosecution of it, and half were in favor of somekind of withdrawl soon.

With the obvious resonance that the issue has on the electorate, do you think Repubs will be able to effectively exploit a semblance of a united front?

I haven't followed the polls and research as much as I should, but here's some armchair conjecture.

I don't think that Republicans are that much more united when you consider other issues. You see big splits on comprehensive immigration reform and stem cell research. You'd think this would hurt Republicans more. Why doesn't it?

I think the American public is becoming pretty disaffected with the administration's Achillean hubris. It would be difficult to reframe the argument for the continuation of our presence in a Hectorian vein, stressing duty and responsibility, because that would necessarily require an admission of guilt.

Security analysts that research insurgency warfare generally say you need 10-20 years to quash an insurgency. That's one big fucking rabbit we have to pull out of a hat. I don't know what Republicans are going to do about the issue, and I can only hope that the Clinton/Biden/Lieberman crowd can stand their ground and support a continued presence.

RE: the clinton/biden/liberman crowd -
My friend Frank has a good take on the KoS crowd and their distaste for Joe (Lieberman, as opposed to Biden, whom everyone just seems to roll their eyes at) over on his blog devinelysouthern.com

RE: November.
Karl Rove has made it clear that candidates who don't fall in with his party line on Iraq do so at their own peril, and Im not sure there is more to be said on it. Basically, they aren't united (at least that's the impression I got from the hacks on the hill I befriended), but its the semblance of coherent thought and cohisive action that electorates respond to. I am thinking that they have positioned themselves to do that better, especially on Iraq.

I think that the people who switch to vote democratic in november will do so not on the basis of Iraq specifically, since the midterms will not herald a shift in Iraq policy nor in execution, but will be voting for a redirected fiscal policy and greater openness on national security issues that directly implicate civil liberties. I think a growing portion of the electorate recognizes that most of the policies that would trangress constitutional bounds are at best imperfect proxies for things that bureaucracies in general fail to do and the problems generated by opportunistic politicians and invariably end up being at best dangerous crutches and at worse the first heralds of tyranny.

The theorists who argue that an insurgency will take a decade minimum to quell are right, but I think the nature of this insurgency is endemic to middle eastern arab states and that in real life terms we can link a portion of any insurgency simply to our continued presence; withdrawal thus can be calculated on a timetable that discounts for that along with including baseline measures of economic and governmental stability.


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