What Do Conservatives Want To Conserve?

On another thread I was asked this question.  I thought it was important enough to merit its own blog entry.

Here was my response.

With regard to what I hope to conserve: I'm a big fan of Burke on this score.  I believe society is a fragile, delicate, interconnected web encapsulating the inherited wisdom of the customs and traditions of countless generations.  Its complexity is beyond human comprehension.  We mess with it only at our peril.  So I'm not in favor of "socially engineering" anything, because I don't think it's possible to do successfully.  What I want to conserve are the traditions and customs of the past that has led to the extraordinarily free and prosperous nation that we have (well, minus the socialist bits).  To the extent that customs and traditions are no longer compatible with modern values, then let's change our customs and traditions organically, via consensus, instead of having the imposed by judges.  So that's what I believe.

Timothy then responded:

Interesting. You present the development of history toward secular, pluralistic democracy as a conservative endeavor rather than a progressive endeavor. Are you suggesting that, only by slowing the wheels of progress, we've landed in the place we are at? I'm curious; do you think, were we to go back in time and pick out all of the crucial moments of change that have led us to this point, that conservatives would be the champions of those changes or the opponents of those changes, more often than not?

My guess is that you'd find conservative ideology, by its nature (including what you've listed here) would be opposed, more often than not. The changes that have led us to this "extraordinarily free and prosperous nation" are more likely to have been championed by those forces outside of conservative ideology. Right? Isn't that logically necessary?

My response:

Well I suppose it has to do with how you define "accomplishment".  I don't consider the establishment of "secular, pluralistic democracy" as an end unto itself.  I consider it a manifestation of a particular system of ordered liberty through which individuals can pursue their individual aspirations, and it's these accomplishments which I regard as having made this country prosperous.  So it's good that we have a large amount of individual liberty in this country, but it's only what people do with that liberty (i.e., achieve great things) which makes America truly great.  And it's because of the wise customs and traditions of the past that we, for the most part, use the liberty towards positive ends and not negative ones.  Have you ever wondered: why do people, for the most part, stand politely in line?  There's no law against linejumping.  Yet you almost never see it.  Why?

Plus, keep in mind that conservatives are not anti-progress.  We don't really want to stay in the 18th century forever.  There have been changes that have been championed by conservatives, e.g., women's suffrage.  These changes can be well reconciled with foundational principles of our republic.  Many conservatives today advocate for tremendous change: a radically different tax system, for instance.  What I as a conservative most object to is change that attempts to replace the wisdom of the customs and traditions of the past with the knowledge of smart experts.  I don't care how smart the experts are: the "fragile web" of society is beyond human comprehension, and we cannot tinker with it without expecting it  to get all messed up.  I believe it is also why many people perceive conservatives as being "anti-intellectual".  It's not that we hate smart people, it's that we don't think brains can replace wisdom or "common sense".

Furthermore, if we are going to engage in intellectual time-travel exercises, I also think that our current path of historical development is not the best of all possible outcomes.  Who knows, if abolitionists had not insisted so loudly on ending slavery, and we had never fought a Civil War, then legal slavery would likely have persisted longer.  But it would have come to an end eventually, and I think that if slavery had ended without having a shot fired, then we never would have had the racial problems we have had in this country since the end of slavery, because it would have happened organically and not by force, would have been more generally accepted by all.  Incidentally I feel the same way about Roe v. Wade.  Honestly, you pro-choicers should advocate for it to be overturned, because the undemocratic imposition of legal abortion is a non-trivial motivating force for pro-life protesters. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, and abortion becomes a matter to be decided upon by the states, then eventually I think it will become not just democratically adopted everywhere, but also normalized, and in the end you will have won.  Which is, incidentally, exactly how women's suffrage was achieved in this country.  Judges didn't impose it; it was achieved by referenda and by Constitutional amendment (i.e., votes by representatives of the people).

So my answer to your last question is complex.  Even if conservatives had stood in the way of every single one of those changes (which I think is unlikely), then I don't know if things would have turned out worse, or better, or just merely different.  And we can never know.

What do the rest of the conservatives on this site think?  Am I right or am I way off base?

Using Web 2.0 to build up the base

Calling all activists!


Not long ago I started a group on Facebook named "Conservative Book Club"  My hope is to harness the networking power of Facebook as well as Twitter and other 2.0 media to start a conversation about conservatism.


This isn't new to readers here at The Next Right, Mindy Finn posted as much in her item "Conservative Government: Oxymoron?"  Many people know that they are conservative but don't know why they are conservative.  I was in that group until I started reading more "foundational" conservative works. Often times someone would run an idea by me and I would have a visceral reaction against it.  I might have a difficult time articulating why I was against the idea.  I just knew that it was wrong and that it was something I'd fight against.


The idea reared its head again during a discussion about this phenomenah with a local city councilman.  We were lamenting the decline of the party apparatus and I mentioned my personal struggle to articulate my conservative beliefs.  He told me that his precinct committeeman gave him a copy of Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind" as a demonstration of one way the party used to try to build up the understanding and knowledge of our volunteer base.


Not long after this conversation I picked up a copy of the book and started reading, and underlining, and having passionate discussions at the dinner table with my wife each time I finished a chapter.  That book helped me understand my "gut" reactions to these proposals.  It presented me with new challenges to understand my conservative identity.  It clarified why there are real differences between conservatism and libertarianism.  In short, it filled a pretty big void in my formation as a conservative activist.


Not long after, Tertium Quod, one author at From Burk to Kirk and Beyond posted a link to an archived Heritage Foundation lecture by Russell Kirk on important books about conservatism.  Reading his lecture only stoked my desire to use some forum to encourage discussion of these ideas and books. Notably, Kirk mentions during the lecture:

So, ladies and gentlemen, if you have been seeking forsome Infallible Manual of Pure Conservatism--why, you have been wasting your time. Conservatism not being an ideology, it has no presumptuous crib, the fond creation of some Terrible Simplifier, to which the ingenuous devotee of political salvation may repair whenever in doubt. Do not fall into political bibliolatry; in particular, do not regard Kirk's Works as written by one endowed with the prophetic afflatus. (Kirk, Ten Conservative Books)


Acknowledging there is no one book that we can hope to read, recongnizing that we will always have disagreements about finding one conservative approach to any situation, dialogue and discussion are critical as we work to build up the base and being answering Mindy's question.  As with so many other things in life, it is not the answer itself, but the search for an answer that will help us to understand conservatism and our individual conservative identities.  So to that end, join the conversation and help us to figure out which book we'll use for our first study!

When Reason Fails: Morbid Obama Intoxication

The collective swoon over B. Barak Hussein Muhammed Obama is getting corrosive. If Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) (see parts I and II) was a public health hazard, we ain't seen nothing yet. The Morbid Obama Intoxication (MOI) beats BDS on all fronts.

For a proper understanding we must turn beyond the field of psychology - to philosophy - which explains matters in broad abstracts. As is happens, a number of parameters alarmingly coincide - and here it gets sticky - with the German interbellum.

We all know how that ended. Nota bene, I'm not collating Obama with Adolf Hitler, or lumping him with Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels; although he is playing the campaign like a full-fledged demagogue, the problem rather lies with his fans and admirers.

The American Left is traditionally steeped in pragmatism. That may sound innocent and practical, but it comes with a few less known consequences which seldom come to the fore all at once.

The champion of pragmatism is the American pioneering psychologist William James (1842-1910), who gave the concept its name. The brother of novelist Henry James and of diarist Alice James wrote: 'The true,' to put it very briefly, is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as 'the right' is only the expedient in the way of our behaving." Dewey applied pragmatism to education.

Pragmatism is a Romanticist version of relativism. Extrovert action and passion are valued over introvert reflexion and reason. Pragmatism is essentially amoral. It has contributed to the nastiness of Postmodernism by positing a sort of secular, Western form of taqqiyah, which is governed by the same principle: our goal is so ethical that even the unethical is justified in reaching it - the aim justifies the means, truth is flexible and depends on the need of the moment, a utility expedient towards realization of the goal.

As a consequence pragmatism is rather dishonestly presented as the opposite of what it aims to achieve. It seemingly is the practical over theory, portends to position the individual in a central role, ostensibly respects reason and facts, while its very principle constitutes an assault on logic (everything is in flux), gives a central role to feelings and passions (subjectivism), denies reality (nothing is absolute), and reduces the individual to an atom of the collective. That collective - in pragmatism is usually 'our generation,' 'liberals,' or 'society'; it is not an aggregate, but an 'organic entity.'

It holds a number of Orwellian concepts, as Hegel's 'Ethical Whole' to which individual free will must be sacrificed for the good of the Collective Will, and Rousseau's notion which has come down to us in Marxism, of 'true freedom through the state'. A picture of mystical group-think is emerging from the Obama campaign which looks ominously familiar, but is by itself not enough to warrant great concern.

Is gets more hazardous when pragmatism is coupled to dogma and subjective passions spiral out of control. This is the winning ticket that made National Socialism such a lethal ideology: they strengthen one another. One can see how that works: our aim justifies the means because we say so. Dogmatism couples blind belief to an already brutal concept. It beckons: stop thinking, follow me and I'll give you what you want so passionately!

If we turn our attention to the Obama campaign we hear one mantra: Change, Action, Belief. The latter represents the dogmatic side: blind faith, not in the Obama ideas (he doesn't have any) but in his method, while Change through Action suggests Will to Power: the dogmatic approach to a subjective aim that justifies the pragmatist means.

There is the negative myth as summed up in part II by Front Page Magazine author Ben Johnson's "The Left's Fairy Tale," a shortlist of the main delusions that the Dems and the Leftist world at large have convinced themselves of. The demonization of George Bush is not a Sorelian myth, but it lends sufficient fire and motivation to reach the goal: getting Obama into 'our' White House.

Sit tight for Leonard Peikoff quoting Herman Goerring in "The Ominous Parallels" (Meridian, 1982, p. 55):

"Just as the Roman Catholic Church considers the Pope as infallible (...) so do we National Socialists believe with the same inner conviction that for us the Leader is (...) simply infallible. [Hitler's authority derives from] something mystical, inexpressible, almost incomprehensible which this unique man possesses, and he who cannot feel it instinctively will not be able to grasp it at all."

If you think that's tacky, compare that to this load of Postmodern 'spirituality,' according to which Obama is both the infallible Pope and the celestial Leader rolled into One:

"Barack Obama isn't really one of us. Not in the normal way, anyway. (...) The appeal, the pull, the ethereal and magical thing that seems to enthrall millions of people from all over the world, that keeps opening up and firing into new channels of the culture normally completely unaffected by politics? No, it's not merely his youthful vigor, or handsomeness, or even inspiring rhetoric. It is not fresh ideas or cool charisma or the fact that a black president will be historic and revolutionary in about a thousand different ways. It is something more. Even Bill Clinton, with all his effortless, winking charm, didn't have what Obama has, which is a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity. Dismiss it all you like, but I've heard from far too many enormously smart, wise, spiritually attuned people who've been intuitively blown away by Obama's presence - not speeches, not policies, but sheer presence - to say it's just a clever marketing ploy, a slick gambit carefully orchestrated by hotshot campaign organizers who, once Obama gets into office, will suddenly turn from perky optimists to vile soul-sucking lobbyist whores, with Obama as their suddenly evil, cackling overlord. Here's where it gets gooey. Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul. The unusual thing is, true Lightworkers almost never appear on such a brutal, spiritually demeaning stage as national politics. This is why Obama is so rare."

Mark Steyn noticed it too:

"Obama the humble savior:" "I face this challenge with profound humility (...) limitless faith (...) I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal … . This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation."

It's a good thing he's facing it with "profound humility," isn't it? ... Yeah, and divorced from reason ...

Banishing the Huckabee Boogeyman

So now we know.... It will be Barack Obama and John McCain contending head to head in contest to be the president of these united states, and early polling seems to indicate that the vice presidential pick of each gentleman will have a significant influence on how each candidate fares in any number of swing states.

There is a chance, no one knows how great, or how small, that John McCain may decide that the former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee, may be the person he needs on his ticket to give him the best chance at winning in the currently democratic friendly electoral environment.

There are many, many self described conservatives who have said this would be the last straw, that they would not vote for a McCain/Huckabee ticket. Much of this hostility is rooted in opinions formed of the man, out of the nuggets produced by opposition research in the primaries. Nuggets designed to paint Huckabee in the worst possible light.

Just as we have gone through the process of sifting through the partisan rhetoric to find the areas on which McCain and conservatives can agree, I believe that it is time to start making the case for acceptance of individuals who though not perfectly aligned with our multi-pronged philosophies, may perhaps find themselves on the ticket and in need of our support.

I do not limit this evaluation to Huckabee alone. I would love for someone to make Mitt's case as well, as it is foolish to believe that the entire conservative base is united behind the idea of Mitt for VP, especially in regards to the social conservative wing of the party.

I do not believe in reinventing the wheel. A fairly comprehensive summary of Mike Huckabee's governing philosophy and positions on the issues was written by Joe Carter, a member of his rapid response on line team during the campaign. I am not sure how significant its impact was at the time, but I would like to reintroduce it to the blogosphere for your consideration.

As with most politicians, some of Mike's positions have evolved or been refined over time. Some may define this as a 'flip' but I challenge you to find a 'flop.' Huckabee has never moved back and forth on the same subject multiple times. He has always delievered on his campaign promises and on his word in general. As a result, his supporters feel safe in believing that his current political platform does indeed represent who and what he would be about in the whitehouse, in any capacity.

Please attempt for a few minutes to lay your preconceptions to the side and 'discover' Mike Huckabee for the first time again. I am not asking you to decide if he is a 'conservative' by whatever definition you may use, but rather, to think about if someone with these governing philosophies would be a conservative influence on a president McCain, and ultimately, if a team of these two individuals is more acceptable than a Barack Obama administration.

The article is lengthy, but well worth the read. Thanks for your time, and please be polite in your commentary, even if you forcefully disagree. Here is the link to the original source:

For the past few months I've been defending Governor Mike Huckabee against an onslaught of attacks on his character, positions, and record. When I worked for the campaign I spent a significant portion of my time clearing up misconceptions for journalists and parrying dishonest accusations made by other campaigns. And here on this blog I've written numerous posts responding to the questions posed by bloggers and rebutting claims made by sundry interest groups.

Yet all this time I've failed to make a positive case for why I feel Governor Huckabee to be the most visionary and conservative candidate in the race. I naively assumed that everyone was seeing what I was seeing. Indeed, I'm embarrassed to admit that I failed to recognize that not everyone would have the same familiarity with his policy positions as his former Director of Research.

To rectify this situation I've compiled a list of his most significant policy positions on a range of issues--from tax reform to national security. While all of this information can be found online, I thought it would be useful to cut away the excess verbiage in order to provide as succinct a set of statements as possible. I've also included a prefatory section that explains Governor Huckabee's philosophy of governance.

Although this compilation is not exhaustive, I do believe that it provides a useful outline for anyone who wants to familiarize themselves on Huckabee's true positions on the issues.

Philosophy of Governance

Governor Mike Huckabee: "To me conservative governance means following the "original intent" of the Founding Fathers, it means recognizing that Jefferson won the debate with Hamilton, and that we want very strong, energetic, innovative states, with government both as limited as possible and as close to the people as possible. The states should not usurp functions that can be handled locally, and the federal government should not usurp functions that can be handled by the states. An important part of being a conservative President for me would be strengthening federalism. Conservative governance also means an emphasis on personal responsibility and letting the free market function unencumbered, so that Americans have tremendous opportunity, but not a guaranteed outcome. It means smaller, more efficient government; lower government spending; lower taxes. It means keeping the government out of our lives and letting families keep as much of the money they earn and make as many of their own decisions as possible. It means allowing younger workers to have personal Social Security accounts. It means getting entitlements under control.

I believe that our rights come from God, not from our government; that the people should retain as much power and be left alone as much as possible; that the federal government should not do what can be done at the local or state level; that our government belongs to the people, not the lobbyists and special interests; that government at all levels exists to serve the people and not the other way around; that we must respect the separation of powers and no branch should usurp the authority of another; that my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people from all threats; that the free market, low taxes, and minimal regulation are the keys to economic growth and prosperity; that Americans are owed equal opportunity, but not an equal outcome; that we are a culture of life and recognize that each individual has intrinsic value and worth; that we are only as strong as our families; that we owe a huge debt to those who have given their lives for this country to protect the freedoms and way of life for which they sacrificed.

I would weigh all of my decisions in the context of those principles to assure that I am doing the right thing and not the popular or expedient thing. I will always err on the side of protecting life, strengthening our families, and protecting our citizens and our country from possible threats to their safety."

(Response provided to the American Conservative Union)

Issues and Positions

Tax Reform

-Make all tuition for higher education tax-deductible

-Make health insurance tax deductible for individuals and families as it now is for businesses. (Low income families would get tax credits instead of deductions.)

-Preserve and expand President Bush’s tax cuts

-Eliminate the marriage penalty

-Cut taxes on savings

-Eliminate the Death Tax

-Reduce counterproductively high personal and corporate marginal tax rates.

-Encourage "baby boomers" who plan to work into their late 60’s or even beyond by giving them tax breaks, like additional exemptions or a “working senior” deduction.

-Long-term goal: implementation of the FairTax so that American workers keep their entire paycheck, American businesses can compete on a level-playing field with their foreign competitors, and so that we can brings jobs and investment that are currently parked off-shore back to the United States.


-Subprime mortgage crisis: begin a second round of negotiations with subprime lenders with an eye toward expansion of the “Hope Now” program.

-Cut burdensome red tape that drives up the cost of products and keeps employers from hiring more workers or raising wages.

-Reduce frivolous lawsuits which drive up costs of products and medical care.

-Institute free trade that is fair to America. We will expect our trading partners to live up to their obligations—everyone must play by fair rules.

-Open new markets for American products.

-Ensure the Federal Reserve adapts a pro-growth, low-inflation policy.

-Veto earmarks and unnecessary discretionary spending

Energy Independence

-Implement a national energy security policy which will end our dependence on Middle Eastern oil within ten years by conserving, exploring, and inventing our way to independence in energy.

-pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass.

-Remove red tape that slows innovation, allow the free market to sort out what makes the most sense economically.

-Set aside a federal research and development budget that will be matched by the private sector to seek the best new products in alternative fuels.

Social Issues

-Support passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life.

-Support passage of a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

-Oppose all embryo-destructive research.

-Veto any pro-abortion legislation, including federal funding for Planned Parenthood.


-Make all tuition for higher education tax-deductible

-Support the rights of parents to home school their children

-Support states that want to create more charter schools or implement public school choice.

-Allow states to develop their own benchmarks.

-Work towards a clear distinction between the federal role in assisting and empowering states and in usurping the right of states to carry out the education programs for their students


-Advocate policies that will encourage the private sector to seek innovative ways to bring down costs and improve the free market for health care services.

-Reform medical liability

-Support the adoption of electronic record keeping

-Make health insurance more portable from one job to another

-Expand health savings accounts to include all Americans.

-Making health insurance tax deductible for individuals and families as it now is for businesses. (Low income families would get tax credits instead of deductions.)

-Encourage the states' role as laboratories for new market-based approaches.


-Ensure that an interlocking surveillance camera system is installed along the border by July 1, 2010.

-Ensure that the border fence construction is completed by July 1, 2010.

-Increase the number of border patrol agents.

-Fully support all law enforcement personnel tasked with enforcing immigration law.

-Policies that promote or tolerate amnesty will be rejected.

-Propose to provide all illegal immigrants a 120-day window to register with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and leave the country. Those who register and return to their home country will face no penalty if they later apply to immigrate or visit; those who do not return home will be, when caught, barred from future reentry for a period of 10 years.

-This is not a "touchback" provision. Those who leave this country and apply to return from their home country would go to the back of the line.

-Employment is the chief draw for most illegal immigrants and denying them jobs is the centerpiece of an attrition strategy.

-Impose steep fines and penalties on employers that violate the law.

-Institute a universal, mandatory citizenship verification system as part of the normal hiring process.

-Prevent the IRS and the Social Security Administration from accepting fraudulent Social Security numbers or numbers that don't match the employees' names.

-Promote better cooperation on enforcement by supporting legislative measures such as the CLEAR Act, which aims to systematize the relationship between local law and federal immigration officials.

-Encourage immigration-law training for police. Local authorities must be provided the tools, training, and funding they need so local police can turn illegal immigrants over to the federal authorities.

-End exemptions for Mexicans and Canadians to the US-VISIT program, which tracks the arrival and departure of foreign visitors. Since these countries account for the vast majority of foreigners coming here (85 percent), such a policy clearly violates Congress' intent in mandating this check-in/check-out system.

-Reject Mexico's "matricula consular" card, which functions as an illegal-immigrant identification card.

-Inform foreign governments when their former citizens become naturalized U.S. citizens.

-Impose civil and/or criminal penalties on American citizens who illegitimately use their dual status (e.g., using a foreign passport, voting in elections in both a foreign country and the U.S.).

-Eliminate the visa lottery system and the admission category for adult brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.

-Increase visas for highly-skilled and highly-educated applicants.

-Expedite processing for those who serve honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces.

-Improve our immigration process so that those patiently and responsibly seeking to come here legally will not have to wait decades to share in the American dream.


-Huckabee's judicial philosophy: "I believes that the Constitution must be interpreted according to its original meaning, and flatly reject the notion of a "living Constitution." The meaning of the Constitution cannot be changed by judicial fiat. The powers delegated to the federal government by the Constitution come from "We the People," and judges have no right to prohibit the people from passing democratically-enacted laws unless we have explicitly authorized them to do so. Nor can vaguely-worded language in the Constitution be used by judges to give them power over subjects the framers never intended our founding document to address. As such, any interpretation of the Constitution that is based on "evolving standards of decency," penumbras, or any other judicial fiction, is antithetical to the rule of law, and must be forcefully challenged."

-Appoint justices and judges who not only share his judicial philosophy (e.g., Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito), but who also have established themselves within the conservative legal community as faithful adherents of originalism and textualism.

Social Security

-Allow younger workers the option of personal accounts.

-Allow letting people take the money in their account at retirement and buy an annuity.

-Encourage "baby boomers" who plan to work into their late 60’s or even beyond by giving them tax breaks, like additional exemptions or a “working senior” deduction.

-Since some retirees don’t need their Social Security to retire comfortably, offer them the option of a tax-free lump sum for their children or grandchildren to get when they die, which would delay some payments for decades.

National Sovereignty

-Oppose the Law of the Sea Treaty.

-Oppose the U. N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

-Oppose the North American Union,.

-Oppose the Kyoto Treaty.

Veteran's Affairs
Veterans will be provided the following "Bill of Rights":

-The right to a mandatory rather than a discretionary mechanism for funding veterans' health care, to eliminate year-to-year uncertainty that the funds they need will be there for them

-The right to obtain full and clear explanation of all benefits and comprehensive assistance in obtaining those benefits.

-The right to have a claim processed within six months.

-The right to the fullest possible accounting of the fate of POW/MIAs and the right to be designated as POW/MIA.

-The right to access state-of-the-art treatment facilities for traumatic brain injuries.

-The right of National Guard and Reserve personnel called to active service to receive the same benefits as active duty veterans.

-The right of disabled veterans to receive both their military retirement and VA compensation.

-The right of wounded Reserve troops to be treated like their active duty counterparts until their claims have been processed.

-The right of wounded veterans and those who have served in combat theaters to a comprehensive GI bill that provides full tuition, books, fees, and living expenses at any institution to which the veteran is accepted.

National Security

-Increase defense spending to six percent of GDP.

-Build new planes, new armed vehicles, new robotic land and air vehicles, new ships all right here in America.

-Recruit and train thousands of new troops and bring our National Guard and Reserves back home. We must increase the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps by about 92,000 troops within two to three years without lowering enlistment standards.

-Improve the nation's aging infrastructure (roads, bridges, water systems, sewer systems, etc.).

-Active-duty forces should not be used for nation building. We must return to our policy of using other government agencies to build schools, hospitals, roads, sewage treatment plants, water filtration systems, electrical facilities, and legal and banking systems.

-If we are required to undertake a large invasion we must use overwhelming force.

-[The GWOT] -- The Commander-in-Chief has an obligation to clearly communicate to the American people the nature of the war we are fighting, especially the goal of the jihadists: to kill every last one of us, destroy civilization as we know it, and to establish a theocratic caliphate without national borders.

-[The GWOT] -- The United States' biggest challenge in the Arab and Muslim worlds is the lack of a viable moderate alternative to radicalism. Although we cannot export democracy we should nurture moderate forces that present an alternative to the jihadists.

-[The GWOT] -- The goal in the Arab and Muslim worlds will be to calibrate a course between maintaining stability and promoting democracy. We must not act too hastily but we must act. Specifically, we can help by aiding or promoting basic sanitation, health care, education, jobs, a free press, and fair court systems within these areas.

-[The GWOT] -- We must reduce our dependence on foreign oil if we are going to defeat jihadism.

-[The GWOT] -- We must strengthen both our human intelligence resources and our military assets in order to eliminate the current threat.

-[Iraq] -- We should not withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq any faster than General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander there, recommends. Troops must be brought home based on the conditions on the ground, not on artificial timetables.

-[The Kurds] -- We must encourage Turkey to continue to improve life for its Kurds, and we must encourage the Turkish Kurds to address their grievances through the political process, including through the 20 deputies currently representing them in parliament.

-[The Kurds] -- We should be willing to provide the Turks with actionable intelligence to go after the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) with limited air strikes and commando raids. A even better method would be to train and equip Iraqi Kurds to fight the PKK and rid themselves of this menace.

-[Iran] -- The military option for dealing with Iran should not be taken off the table.

-[Iran] -- Iran is a nation that has to be contained, just as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. In order to contain Iran, it is essential to win in Iraq. We cannot allow Iran to push its theocracy into Iraq and then expand it further west.

-[Iran] -- We must be as aggressive diplomatically as we have been militarily since 9/11. We must intensify our diplomatic efforts with China, India, Russia, South Korea, and European states and persuade them to put more economic pressure on Iran.

-[Iran] -- Despite the protestations of Congressional Democrats, we should support and continue President Bush's new sanctions against Iran, his decision to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction, and the classifications of al Quds force as a supporter of terrorism. We must also encourage our state and private pension funds to divest themselves of Iran-related assets.

-[Iran] -- Despite the protestations of Russia, we should move forward with the current plan to set up ten missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic to protect Europe from Iranian missiles.

-[Iran] -- We should reestablish diplomatic relations with Iran but only after the Iranians have made concessions that serve to create a less hostile relationship.

-[Iran] -- Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. However, a range of incentives (e.g., trade and economic assistance, full diplomatic relations, and security guarantees) should be offered before moving forward with military action. Before we put our troops at risk in Iran, we should exhaust all diplomatic and economic options.

-[Pakistan] -- On September 12, 2001, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf agreed to sever his relationship with the Taliban and let us fight al Qaeda inside Pakistan. But distracted by Iraq, we have since allowed him to go back on his word. We should pressure him to remain firm in his commitment to us.

-[Pakistan] -- Because the next attack on the U.S. will have been planned in Pakistan, we must go after al Qaeda's safe havens in that country. The threat of an attack on us is far graver than the risk that a quick and limited strike against al Qaeda would bring extremists to power in Pakistan.

-[Pakistan] -- Musharraf has spent far more energy and enthusiasm sidelining the moderate Pakistani forces (like former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif) than he has in going after religious extremists and terrorists. We must have a "Pakistan policy" rather than just a "Musharraf policy."

-[Pakistan] -- We must use our friendly ties with India to encourage and help it improve its relationship with Pakistan and to push for increased trade and cooperation between the two countries, all to bring greater stability to the South Asian region.


The Withering State, The Unfortunate Paradox

(Promoted from user blogs. -Patrick)

In the Marxist political narrative, capitalism collapses in on itself and gives way to a dictatorship of the proletariat. This temporary form of government would oversee the initial implementation of communism, but would then wither away as it is no longer needed.

Of course, a middle schooler could see the problem with this scenario. Who decides when 'true' communism has been accomplished? And who will make sure those running this dictatorship peacefully give up their power? To their credit, even self-professed Marxists could recognize the challenge, especially after a few years of the Soviet Union.

Curiously enough, libertarians, and to a lesser extent conservatives, have a similar theoretical challenge. That is, our philosophy is based on the assumption that government is inclined to serve its own interests and therefore should not be entrusted with more power than is absolutely necessary. 

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