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July 5, 2004 [LINK]

Independence Day 2004

Most Americans intinctively equate national (collective) liberation from foreign oppression with individual liberation from domestic oppression. That's a result of the somewhat unique circumstances of our relatively recent national origins stemming from English colonial roots. The land once known as Mesopotamia and now known as Iraq, in contrast, has been colonized by Arabs, Turks, and (briefly) by the British over the centuries. What would it take for future Iraqis to make a similar association between national liberation and individual freedom? Well, a reasonably broad national consensus on our long-range objectives in the Middle East would be a good place to start. Doubts the Iraqi people may have about the U.S.-led mission to stabilize and democratize their country can only be aggravated by hyperpartisan bickering here in the States. Michael Moore, John Kerry, and other nay-sayers certainly aren't doing the Iraqis any favors.

An article in the Washington Post last week played up divisions over fiscal policy in the Republican Party. It quoted former senator Warren B. Rudman, a co-founder of the bipartisan deficit-cutting Concord Coalition:

For a majority of Republicans in Congress, tax cuts are now more important than budget constraints, and they've gotten themselves between a rock and a hard place because you can't have both.

Since it was via the Concord Coalition that I gradually migrated toward the Republican side, I must confess that I have similar worries. Granted, tax cuts can be an effective means to restrain spending, but it depends on the circumstances. Republicans in Virginia recently let Governor Mark Warner score a big victory over the budget last month by exploiting divisions between those who prioritize tax cuts (mostly in the House of Delegates) versus those who prioritize fiscal responsibility (mostly in the state Senate). Most reasonable people in Virginia became convinced that very little "fat" remained in the state budget, and any further spending cuts would sacrifice "muscle tissue" in education, highways, and public safety. The Republican leaders' failure to work out a joint negotiating strategy in advance of this year's legislative session was simply inexcusable. As a statewide government shutdown loomed, many of the moderates succumbed to pressure and cut a deal, leaving the tax-cut champions out to dry. It was not unlike what happened to the Republican Revolution in 1995, when the Clinton spin machine prevailed in a high-stakes "game of chicken" with the Republicans in Congress. For over three decades the Democrats had built an entrenched empire in Washington by creating new voter blocs via ever-expanding entitlements, and when necessary, making budget compromises that systematically exploited the Reublicans' greater concerns about fiscal restraint. From the Democrats' perspective, having a permanent majority in Congress was perfectly natural. It was the perfect scam, and it probably explains much of their recent rage against the Republicans for having spoiled it all.

Now, however, the shoe is on the other foot, and it is the Republicans who are tempted with abusing the levers of state spending power to cling to majority status. On July 1 Andrew Sullivan cited the above Post article and predicted an "outright Republican civil war after this election," whether Bush wins or loses. Time for a huddle...

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 17 Sep 2010, 4: 00 PM

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Blog highlights have been compiled for the years 2010-2012 thus far, and eventually will be compiled for earlier years, back to 2002.


The "home made" blog organization system that I created was instituted on November 1, 2004, followed by several functional enhancements in subsequent years. I make no more than one blog post per day on any one category, so some posts may cover multiple news items or issues. Blog posts appear in the following (reverse alphabetical) order, which may differ from the chronological order in which the posts were originally made:

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