Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I'm going on vacation with the whole fam damily, but I want everyone here to keep arguing. Don't mind me being gone. I'll be back Tuesday and there better be some really good comments on this site or you all will have a lot of explaining to do.

You think I'm joking, huh?

Please vote on my new feedback survey. I'm bummed because for some reason the sixth selection didn't show up which is "Shut up, Pauli, we're sick of you" or something like that. This selection doesn't make much sense because no one was forced to come here. But I've learned that many a wandering traveler has wound up here only to be greatly offended by something emanating from this humble cottage off an obscure exit ramp on the information highway. Maybe it's the fried zucchini with garlic?

Also -- no one has remarked on my Simpsonesque portrait, not even my wife. What do I have to do to get attention around here?

Oh, yeah, that's the "Vacation" album cover, in case you forgot.

UPDATE: Oh there's that 6th selection. Fire away, Gridley.

And now... the REST of the story

From the Jul-Aug '07 Catalyst, publication of the Catholic League:

The Associated Press Reported on June 1 that Catholic voters "support legalized abortion in all or most circumstances by 53% to 43%, according to 2004 exit polling."

Such polls typically don't separate practicing Catholics from those who haven't been to Mass in ages. When that distinction is made, the numbers are much more revealing.

For instance, a 2006 poll by Purdue University's james Davidson found that 72% of weekly Mass attendees oppose abortion; versus only 29% of lukewarm or lapsed Catholics.

Weigel on "moral democratic realism"

Worth reading. Excerpt:

"Moral democratic realism" follows Augustine in its determination to see things as they are and Thomas Aquinas in its resolve not to leave things as they are, when prudence indicates that positive change is possible. "Moral democratic realism" is one 21st century embodiment of what used to be called Catholic International Relations Theory — although few Catholics today (including many publishing in America and Commonweal, where Catholic I.R. Theory used to flourish) remember that this distinctive way of thinking about the world ever existed.

Kaufman rightly rejects alternative grand strategies on prudential grounds. Isolationism of the Pat Buchanan sort ignores the lessons of history and, to our eventual endangerment, abandons any American commitment to helping build order out of chaos in the world. Neo-realism (think Brent Scowcroft, James Baker, and most of the permanent State Department bureaucracy) imagines that messes like the Middle East can be managed by manipulating "our thugs;" yet this is precisely the approach that helped create conditions for the possibility of 9/11. Jimmy Carteresque multilateralism is hopelessly unrealistic, and thus dangerous.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Give Up the Funk!

Michael Barone writes a short piece about the "National Funk". Bootsy Collins is not mentioned, so here is a picture to help all y'all get down with it, baby.

The last part mirrors how I feel about the self-indulgence in what many Americans consider to be a well-earned bad mood.

But what basis do Americans have to suppose that, for the first time in history, a younger generation will be worse off than their parents? Perhaps it's just a feeling that things cannot possibly get any better. In any case, we seem to be in a pronounced national funk.

We might take some comfort in some of the trends of opinion in the rest of the world. In China and India, large majorities think the next generation will be better off -- a vote of confidence in their surging economies, which are providing cheaper products for us and are growing as markets for American goods and services. In Latin America, most believe that people are better off with free markets. (The highest percentage was in Hugo Chavez's socialist Venezuela!) In Africa, most express great optimism in the future -- a sign that the world's most troubled continent may be at last turning around.

Perhaps most importantly, the Pew Global survey showed sharply reduced numbers of Muslims saying that suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified as compared with 2002. That's still the view of 70 percent in the Palestinian territories. But that percentage has declined from 74 percent to 34 percent in Lebanon, from 43 percent to 23 percent in Jordan, and from 33 percent to 9 percent in Pakistan.

We've been instructed by many sages that the rest of the world hates us and does not want to follow our example. The Pew Global numbers tell us something different.

People around the world may oppose American intervention in Iraq, but they also want many of the things we do. Perhaps we should take a cue from the optimism of the developing world and appreciate what we have -- and get out of our national funk.

Good news on the dramatic opinion changes regarding the justifiability of suicide bombings. And it seems like people in China and India know how to make that all important Mothership Connection to optimistic thinking.

And y'all know I'd like to see another Clinton in the White House. (Not that white girl from Chi-town!) But their ain't no chance; no amount of optimistic vibes could make the "The King of Interplanetary Funksmanship" accept such a demotion.

(Yeah, tear the roof off the sucker!)

O'Hanlon/Pollack: "We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq"

Here's an op-ed on the subject of Iraq by two Democrats who were recently in that neck of the world. It's well worth reading, excerpts:

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.


But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).


Another surprise was how well the coalition’s new Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams are working. Wherever we found a fully staffed team, we also found local Iraqi leaders and businessmen cooperating with it to revive the local economy and build new political structures. Although much more needs to be done to create jobs, a new emphasis on microloans and small-scale projects was having some success where the previous aid programs often built white elephants.