Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bush - A conservative ?

Cut'n'pasted this from the John Kerry-official website.

The line of lifelong Republicans who have decided to vote for John Kerry keeps getting longer. The latest new Kerry voter is Clyde Prestowitz, who was counselor to the secretary of commerce in the Reagan administration. Here is his explanation of why conservatives should vote for John Kerry.
"The conservative case for Kerry "Clyde PrestowitzWashington, DC
As a former Reagan-administration official, registered Republican, born-again Christian, and traditional conservative, I am going to vote for John Kerry. So are many other old-line Republicans. Here's why.
While the Bush administration calls itself "conservative," its use of the term is frankly Orwellian. It not only deprives the word of meaning, but also presents the administration's philosophy as the opposite of what it actually is.
Conservatives have always believed in fiscal responsibility: in being sure you could pay your way and in providing for the future. Conservatives pay down debt, rather than adding to it. This doesn't necessarily mean balancing the budget every year, but at a minimum it means striving toward balance as a top priority.
The Bush approach is completely at odds with such thinking. If any proof were needed, it was amply provided in the president's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. With Congressional Budget Office projections showing oceans of red ink for the indefinite future, President Bush promised more tax cuts. His audience cheered.
Conservatives are often well off, but they understand that the best way to preserve the society in which they are doing so well is to ensure that all its members can survive at a reasonable standard of living. It was the conservative Otto von Bismarck, after all, who first introduced social-security programs in 19th Century Germany for just that reason.
Conservatives do not loot the Treasury or bet the future health of their society on the chance that the best-case scenario will actually materialize. They provide for the worst case. So a conservative would have expected that the president's tax cuts and promises of more to come would at least have been accompanied by plans for cutting expenditures.
That expectation would have been disappointed, however, as the president promised about $1 trillion of new spending programs that, given his tax cuts, can be paid for only with red ink.
Which brings us to a second fundamental principle of conservatism: small government. From the founding of the Republic until now, conservatives have feared the threat to liberty posed by big government.Conservative icon Ronald Reagan came to power primarily by focusing on big government as the source of most of the country's problems. But the Bush administration has presided over a steady increase in the size of government, as federal expenditure has risen as a percentage of gross domestic product, after declining in the late 1990s.
Conservatives have never been enthusiastic about foreign adventures or about messianic undertakings. John Adams made the point early in our history when he emphasized that "America does not go abroad to slay dragons."
It was the liberal Democrats Woodrow Wilson and John Kennedy who committed the United States to making the world safe for democracy and to "bearing any burden and paying any price to assure the success of liberty." These are fine-sounding words, but they are not the words of conservatives. Thus, when President Bush promises to democratize the Mideast, conservatives cringe. So much so, in fact, that several former high-ranking officials of the Reagan and first Bush administrations have told me that they are not supporting the president for re-election.
This is because they know that, administration rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, we are not safer today than we were three years ago. Far from destroying al-Qaida and cutting its alleged links with Saddam Hussein, we have made Iraq into a magnet for terrorists. Worse, there is a real possibility that Osama bin Laden could gain control of our ally Pakistan, with its nuclear weapons and operational long-range missiles. Safe? Not on your life.
Nor are we freer. Conservatives are nothing if not steadfast defenders of individual rights, rule of law, and due process. Yet the Patriot Act and the procedures at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere have visibly infringed on all of these. It is ironic that even as it preaches about widening the circle of freedom abroad, the administration is reducing it at home.
Before the current campaign, it might have been argued that at least in affirming the importance of faith and respecting those who profess it the administration had embraced traditional conservative views. But in the wake of the Swift Boat ads attacking John Kerry, even this argument can no longer be maintained. As an elder of the Presbyterian Church, I found that those ads were not at all in the Christian tradition. John McCain rightly condemned them as dishonest and dishonorable. The president should have, too. That he did not undermines his credibility on questions of faith.
Some say it's just politics. But that's the whole point. More is expected of people of faith than "just politics."
The fact is that the Bush administration might better be called radical or romantic or adventurist than conservative. And that's why real conservatives are leaning toward Kerry.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

A Class apart!

I've been reading VS Naipaul of late and I must say that he is by far the best writer I've ever stumbled upon(with the possible exception of PG Wodehouse !). What makes him so special?
If I were to cite 1 reason, it has to be his fidelity to truth. If an intellectual is the one who is unflinching in his pursuit of truth, then Naipaul thoroughly deserves that appellation. It
comes as no surprise that the Swedish Academy was impressed with his ouevre.
After having read him, one finds it hard to believe that he is one of the most detested expatriate novelists among the Indian 'liberals'. His views may be politically incorrect,but are seldom off the mark.Take for example his claim that in most Islamic societies,history is often
distorted, nay effaced,in order to ensure conformity with the fundamentalist view of the world.
The liberals retort by saying that the author is playing into the hands of islam-baiters,but refrain from disproving the claim itself.This is because the claim is not a conservative fancy,but a plain truth. Is it not true that in today's Shia Iran , people don't even have the remotest racial memory of their Zoroastrian past. I do aver that saffronites in our country must not try and appropriate Naipaul's writings to meet their narrow political objectives.But people who brand him as an acolyte of the far-right just haven't read him carefully enough. One would urge them
to read his acclaimed Indian trilogy in which he is unsparing in his criticism of the Hindu way of life as well.
Naipaul, as a writer , transcends narrow ideological affiliations.Like a true intellectual,he does not subscribe to ideologies. He writes what he considers to be right and minces no words in his musings.


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