18 June 2008

Summer solstice snippets

  • There can be little doubt that the Bush administration has needlessly squandered the considerable international good will extended to the United States in the wake of 9/11. This study will only further harm America's already tattered reputation: Guantanamo detainees were tortured, medical exams show. Jim Skillen weighs in with his own response to this situation: Rule of Law Succumbs to Torture for Safety. Of course, this is not merely a matter of image, but of justice itself. Let us hope and pray that either McCain or Obama can see this more clearly than his predecessor.

  • Speaking of whom, if Rod Dreher is right about the lack of enthusiasm of Republicans for their own candidate, there could be a low voter turnout in November — low by even American standards. On the other hand, if Republicans dislike Obama more than they like McCain, we could see at least a small spike in the numbers of those flocking to the polls to vote against Obama. Perhaps I need a degree in psychology to figure this one out.

  • The Irish 'No' Leaves the European Union in a Fix. Um, haven't we seen this story before? Ask the French and the Dutch.

  • In the meantime Europeans and Canadians alike seem to be much more interested in this: Euro 2008. Though I've seen lots of cars with national flags flying from their antennae, I imagine their drivers are blithely unconcerned with the fate of the Lisbon Treaty.

  • I read this article shortly after it was published nearly a decade ago, but it is worth a second look: Why There is a Culture War: Gramsci and Tocqueville in America, by John Fonte. Despite his trenchant critique of the quasi-marxist influence of today's "Gramscians" in the US, it is not immediately evident that an affirmation of American exceptionalism, of which traditional religion is but one element, offers a sounder alternative.

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper has offered a long overdue apology for Canada's unjust treatment of its aboriginal peoples. The political implications of this remain to be seen. It is no easy matter to come up with a resolution that will do justice to both our First Nations and our nonaboriginal citizens. Something like the wisdom of Solomon may be needed here.

  • A friend alerted me to this a while back: Taxes are a common good, by Chandra Pasma, on the website of Citizens for Public Justice. According to the author,

    Now I know there are disagreements about what the role of government should be in providing these goods and services. Certainly, the private sector and the voluntary sector have a role in many of these areas. But we should be able to have a public debate about what government’s role should be. After all, there are no timeless principles determining the role of government. Government is us, citizens, acting collectively. We have a right to decide what we do and do not want to do collectively.

    I recognize, of course, the problematic character of the word timeless, with its static connotations. Yet if political debate is simply a matter of citizens deciding collectively what they want government to do, that would seem to preclude a principled debate on what government ought to do.

  • Finally, it seems literary aspirations run in the family: The devil, God and Ronald Reagan. Could my young cousin be the next Stephen King?
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