There are a couple things I'd like to talk about, so I'll address them briefly:
Thing #1: Congrats to Hamas for proving that when the Bush administration spoke about democracy transforming the Middle East, they were really talking about liberalism (lower-case "l") transforming the Middle East. Democracy is a system of government in which elections ensure that the government reflects the will of the people. Therefore, when the people are anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist extremists, you can expect an anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist, extremist government. Democratic Peace Theory (a theory that I feel makes some good points) has some explaining to do.
Thing #2: In case you haven't been listening to Thomas L. Friedman or Danny Rouhier complain (rightly) about the ways in which our dependence on foreign oil affects our foreign policy, check out this quote from an Iranian senior government official in an excerpt from yesterday's NY Times:
While the top leadership had decided to take a more confrontational approach with the West even before Mr. Ahmadinejad was elected, the new president began with such a harsh style that many officials were initially unnerved. But when the West failed to stop Iran from defiantly restarting its nuclear program, or to punish it, some opponents reluctantly accepted that Mr. Ahmadinejad was right and they were wrong.
''First we thought he is not right,'' said a senior government official who consults frequently with the ruling clergy. ''Now we understand he is right. You need us more than we need you,'' he said of the West.
Scary. Also, for the Europhiles out there, please note that Iran does notice when they are allowed to act with complete impunity.
Thing #3: To those who believe that the U.N. Security Council is a pantheon of enlightened negotiation and noble intentions, I ask: Would any body seriously concerned with protecting peace and human rights give China, Russia, and even the U.S. (with our ambiguous position on torture) veto power? Really, no matter what you're political ideology, you can't be too excited about Iran having a nuclear weapon. And yet any action taken by any coalition of nations will be viewed by many as illegitimate unless Russia - who have numerous investments in Iran as well as a considerable interest in the price oil - and China - who are determined to stem U.S. influence at all possible junctures - approve. Meanwhile, the opinions of many gigantic countries with no veto power - among them India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Germany, Brazil, and Japan - barely matter. I'm not saying that the U.N. is useless, but does anyone really think that the opinion of that body should confer any type of legitimacy on decisions?
Thing #4: A hilarious article mentioned on Ryan Conner's blog once again making the point that you are far more likely to kill yourself or a family member with your gun than an attacker. My favorite nugget of outstanding logic in this article comes from Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-8th): "The truth is you're more likely to get hurt in a car accident than by a gun, so why restrict people's freedoms?"
Thing #5: Foreign policy involves no numbers and very few absolute truths, and is therfore almost always debatable. I am generally not a fan of the Bush foreign policy, but there have been some aspects of it that I like (e.g., negotiating an end to the war in Southern Sudan - though not the genocidal one in the West), and I feel that most of the issues involved are, at least, debatable. The budget, however, does involve numbers, and I feel that the following point is not debatable: the way that Bush and Congress (mostly Republicans in Congress) have handled the budget is an unmitigated disaster. For evidence, see the Congressional Budget Office's Economic Outlook, 2007-2016. I'll sum it up for you: we will be buried in piles of debt for the foreseeable future. And this is true in spite of the fact that we have cut many programs that primarily benefit the poor. Fuck you, Art Laffer. Unbelievable.
Thing #6: In his state of the Union speech tonight, President Bush will likely propose a tax write-off for out of pocket medical expenses. That is a stupid, ineffective idea. If you'd like to read why, check out the Washington Post from yesterday.