It is miraculous that SA has pulled together since the end of apartheid. Its situation is such that it would seem to need an almost "panicked reconstruction", like what the US military has done in Iraq.
It is even more miraculous that in an effort to improve things, their government hasn't turned authoritarian, with the idea of forcing the public to accept known good ideas.
Not what people in America or Europe we would think of as "bad", but as "necessary" authoritarianism. For instance, we would demand that the government be intolerant of shanty towns; that by whatever means such places would have to be replaced by acceptable housing. But shanty towns would have to go.
Yet somehow SA is developing slowly without such authoritarianism. Whatever works, I guess.
Hat Tip: Pappy
Today, we believe that democracy is the "normal" state of a society. We are probably wrong. The overwhelming weight of evidence should have taught us that organized freedom is just as exceptional today as it was during the time of the Republic of Venice. It appears that the vast majority of societies are suited to producing cheese, shirts or, indeed, books. Very few, however, have been able to produce political liberty.
If we were to count the number of countries that have been able to maintain, uninterrupted, a democratic regime for the duration of a lifetime (70 years, let's say), we would have to exclude the vast majority. In effect, only the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK, and Switzerland would fully qualify. Three of the seven states here listed might have become Soviet republics during the Cold War if not for the military might of the United States. Some of the countries that joined the European Union in 2004 and 2007, such as Bulgaria or Slovakia, have no democratic record worth mentioning. Even "respectable" states such as Spain, Greece, or Italy have spent most of their modern history balanced between civil war and authoritarianism. Not to mention that Sweden was virtually a client state of Germany during WW2. Or that Switzerland was probably somewhere on the list if Germany didn't fall sooner or later. I could also quibble about Iceland, which is all of, what, 60,000 people? (And no, I don't have time to look it up).
Many countries today classified as "free" or "democratic" fail to satisfy even the most basic criteria of modern democracies. Take Romania, for instance, as of 1 January 2007 a member of the European Union. For the last decade, most of its "legislation" has not passed through Parliament but been issued directly by the executive in the form of "emergency decrees". The prime minister, Tariceanu, leads a PNL-UDMR government supported only by less than 20 per cent of the Parliament. Most if not all elections since 1990 have been widely criticized by both internal and external observers as rigged, including the 2003 referendum for the revision of the constitution. On this occasion, public officials appeared on TV to advertise a raffle with cars and home appliances as prizes for those who bothered to show up and vote "Yes". There are practically no independent newspapers or magazines and certainly no independent television channels. For Romanians, it was a revelation to watch on television in September 2007 a surveillance film that unmistakably showed a current and a former minister accepting bribes. The second part of the film was never aired after the director of the station, an appointee of the Social Democrats, declared the film "unfortunate". In order to block the criminal prosecution, the government issued another decree suspending an article of the constitution referring to the criminal liability of the members of the executive. When the constitutional court recently declared the decree to be unconstitutional, the head of the lower chamber of parliament, who happens to be the prime minister's son-in-law, tried to block the publication of the court's decision. I am beginning to think there's something wrong with the parlaimentary systems and their insistance of maintaining majorities by agreements between party leaders rather than by direct consultation with the people through elections, in particular. But here the author hits the heart of the matter:
What is truly worrying is not simply the number of failed democracies. It is rather the extensive misuse of democratic institutions, symbols, and practices. Thus, presidential elections become an opportunity to propel to power an unstable demagogue (Venezuela) and parliamentary elections an opportunity for the business oligarchy to buy political influence (Ukraine). From Thailand to Bolivia, from Russia to the Gaza Strip, democracy everywhere has been perverted beyond recognition; often, demagogues do not even that pretend theirs is the "Western" variant of democracy. Francis Fukuyama's contention that we are witnessing the final triumph of "liberal democracy" sounds increasingly shallow. The perception of the classical authors is probably truer. Free states are precious few, beacons of light in the dark and boundless ocean of despotism. They're basically building airstrips and control towers out of bamboo and hoping we'll send the cargo, or let them sell us the cargo we've nickel-and-dimed the manufacturers of here out of business... and we're dumb enough to, so who's to say they're stupid?
I've had the same thought more than a few times - most nations in what we'd consider the West are the exception, not the rule, and yet we act as though we expect everyone else to think and act and believe just as we do. As though putting a thug into a suit is going to make him something other than a thug.
What really breaks my heart is the way that the thugs and autocrats seem to understand this game so much better than our own leaders and intellectuals, who scamper around pretending that someone like Abbas or Hussein or Kim has as much legitimacy as a leader as someone like Bush or even Brown. And the thugs get all sorts of handouts and play these pretend elections, and then go back and slam the West. And our own "intellectuals" aren't any better; judging from their writings and speeches, they apparently believe that this whole democratic republic thing is evil and overrated. No doubt they'd prefer a thug.
Posted by: The Doctor ||
12/17/2007 14:19 Comments ||
Well, once you get right down to it, a lot of communist ideology, leftism, "anti-colonialism," and what have you, is basically an ideological push to make the asiatic despots of "HEAR AND TREMBLINGLY OBEY" fame look like hip revolutionary anti-authoritarians instead of what they really are.
It just goes to show how unbelievably prescient our founding fathers were to create the kind of government we've inherited. Too bad it's been eroded so badly over the past 100 years. Yet it still functions to the betterment of its citizens far more than any other type of government. It would be even better if we could undo some of the mistakes made by Wilson, FDR, and Lyndon Johnson.
Posted by: Old Patriot ||
12/17/2007 19:50 Comments ||
Peace activist, Cindy Sheehan says that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi collaborated with the Bush administration in condoning torture because Pelosi knew about water boarding torture since 2002. Even before becoming Speaker of the House of Representative, she said that impeachment of Bush is out of question. She should be impeached for knowing about torture which dehumanize us all, she added.
Washington Post reported last week that in September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrat Rep. Jane Harman, was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk. . . . Technically speaking, you don't impeach House members, the House expels them.
Works for me.
I think it's a fine idea that Sheehan is running. Our country prides itself these days on inclusion, and even idiots deserve representation in government.
What really gets me is that these morons think that impeachment is like a recall election or something. Like you can impeach someone just because you don't agree with their policy. Impeachment is a criminal proceeding, the party being impeached must have committed a crime.
These left-wing airheads need to learn how government works.
Also, you cannot impeach a sitting House member : there is a different set of procedures for such a removal, and it is NOT impeachment. Plus, you need that nasty old criminal charge that you can PROVE for an impeachment.
The House can censure and expel a member according to the rules - it just never happens. Look at how few House members have ever been expelled.
So this has what it's come to, Cindy. OpEdNews.
Remember the old days? Putting the Times on hold because NBC wanted an interview and you had to to try to squeeze them in between Newsweek and CNN?
Good times...good times...
The old pro Donks haven't learned the hard lesson yet. Even Hitler turned on the SA Brownshirts and Mao turned on his Redguard to retain control. Yeah, they were useful for a while, but little things like this demonstrate there comes a time to 'purge' the party or lose control. Pass the popcorn.
This is the very first, (And only) GOOD thing I've ever herd from Sheehan.
Posted by: Redneck Jim ||
12/17/2007 18:03 Comments ||
Actually, Representatives may be recalled, or they can fail an upcoming election. Impeachment is only for high government officials: the President and Vice President, and judges. Judges, including Supreme Court judges, ".. may hold their offices during good behavior..." (Article 3, Section 1, US Constitution). It's been a hundred years since any judge was removed for improper behavior. We need to go back to removing judges, especially ANY judge that uses foreign law in a US courtroom (yes, I meen you, Ruth Badder Ginsburg!).
Posted by: Old Patriot ||
12/17/2007 20:20 Comments ||
Remember also the litigation over the House refusing to seat Adam Clayton Powell.
Posted by: Eric Jablow ||
12/17/2007 20:47 Comments ||
Red on red is such a lovely colour. Cannibalistic moonbats? Pass the popcorn!
. . . It wasnt a total meltdown, but Hillary Clintons interview with NBCs David Gregory this morning might be another one of those red-flag moments. The guys at NewsBusters have a transcript and video highlights.
I understand Hillary's urge to emphasize the Des Moines Register endorsement, but she returns to it robotically, and just refuses to acknowledge Gregorys question about recent lines of attack on Obama.
I guess the reaction to this exchange will come down to whether you think it's legitimate to ask Hillary about her husband saying that electing Obama is a crapshoot. Gregory tries to get some specifics, on what makes Obama so risky, and she just keeps ignoring it, and saying You get change through hard work. Theres quite a bit of crosstalk, and after the fourth or fifth invoking of the endorsement, if it were in person, one wonders if she would whack Gregory with a rolled up Des Moines Register newspaper, and say, Read it! Read it!
I suspect that mext year, if Hillarys president, David Gregory is going to be the first taxpayer to get daily audits.
Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has written an article for Foreign Affairs magazine, the first two paragraphs of which are stunningly silly, misguided, and unfortunately for Huckabee, deeply revealing.
The two opening paragraphs read this way:
The United States, as the world's only superpower, is less vulnerable to military defeat. But it is more vulnerable to the animosity of other countries. Much like a top high school student, if it is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved. But if it attempts to dominate others, it is despised.
American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognized that the United States' main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists. At the same time, my administration will never surrender our sovereignty, which is why I was the first presidential candidate to oppose ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, which would endanger both our national security and our economic interests.
Where ought one to begin untangling this unholy mess?
Perhaps the place to begin is with his contention that America is ungenerous, which (according to Huckabee) explains the animus now directed at the United States. The fact is that the United States, in fact, has sacrificed enormous an amount of blood and treasure to help other nations. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong and even offensive.
We have, for starters, liberated more than 50 million people from two of the most repressive regimes in modern history (the Taliban and the Baathist police state in Iraq). The global AIDS initiative qualifies as among the most humane and generous acts in the history of American foreign policy. We give billions in additional foreign aid; including the enormous generosity America displayed in helping Indonesia and other nations in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Indonesia and other nations in December 2004.
The United States, while imperfect, ranks as perhaps the most benevolent superpower (to say nothing of its status as a benevolent nation) in human history. Unlike past empires, we are using American power and influence for great good instead of as a means of advancing oppression.
Beyond that, the belief that if we are modest and generous we will be loved by other nations, and that anger at America is based on our attempts to dominate, is both naive and foolish. Some nations (like Cuba, Syria, Iran, North Korea, and others) will oppose us because they are totalitarian states that hate our efforts to curb their ambitions and advance freedom and self-determination.
They are not the loving kind.
Other nations (like France under Jacques Chirac) will oppose us because they cant stand the idea of a unipolar world and want to counterbalance it. And other nations (like China and Russia) will oppose our efforts to end genocide in Darfur and keep Iran from gaining nuclear weapons because of their economic interests.
Memo to Mike Huckabee: Sometimes we are despised for all the right reasons.
The United States is hated precisely because it is so generous. Think of the difference between the French and the Germans; the French are ashamed of being rescued while the Germans feel no shame in being defeated (that they can blame on the Nazi party putting whatever spin on the topic they choose).
The Arabs never give a dime to anybody - not even their muslim brothers - and they get a pass. So do the Chinese.
If Huckabee is the Republican nominee for prez in 2008 then the Republicians lose the WH, regardless of who the Dems nominate. Deservedly so, I might add.
Posted by: Mark Z ||
12/17/2007 11:15 Comments ||
Soon he will be Huckabeen.
Posted by: Deacon Blues ||
12/17/2007 11:41 Comments ||
Good news for Thompson: Iowa Congressman Steve King just announced his endorsement of Fred Thompson. The Romney folks were all geared up for the well-known and admired conservative's nod, and they didn't get it. K-Lo, at NRO, gave the news in a one-line sentence. Nothing yet at Hugh Hewitt's blog. Heh.
I don't know about Mike, but I endorse David Huckabee!
Posted by: Michael Vick ||
12/17/2007 16:47 Comments ||
ION, REDDIT > The GREAT DIVIDE is coming into focus - real issue is NO LONGER RIGHT VERSUS LEFT, BUT [GOVT/PUBLIC] AUTHORITY VERSUS PERSONAL LIBERTY; + DIGG > THE FCC IS PAVING THE WAY FOR THE ORWELLIAN STATES OF AMERICA.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.