On War & Big Government an Opposition Party Would Be Nice.

I keep harping on the sad fact that when it comes to important issues like U.S. belligerence, we might as well not have a functioning opposition party. It’s sad to note that when it comes to big government bloat the problem is the same.

Andrew Sullivan watched the Republican convention and notes:

[C]onservatism as we have known it is now over. People like me who became conservatives because of the appeal of smaller government and more domestic freedom are now marginalized in a big-government party, bent on using the power of the state to direct people’s lives, give them meaning and protect them from all dangers. Just remember all that Bush promised last night: an astonishingly expensive bid to spend much more money to help people in ways that conservatives once abjured. He pledged to provide record levels of education funding, colleges and healthcare centers in poor towns, more Pell grants, seven million more affordable homes, expensive new HSAs, and a phenomenally expensive bid to reform the social security system. I look forward to someone adding it all up, but it’s easily in the trillions. And Bush’s astonishing achievement is to make the case for all this new spending, at a time of chronic debt (created in large part by his profligate party), while pegging his opponent as the “tax-and-spend” candidate. The chutzpah is amazing. At this point, however, it isn’t just chutzpah. It’s deception. To propose all this knowing full well that we cannot even begin to afford it is irresponsible in the deepest degree. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the only difference between Republicans and Democrats now is that the Bush Republicans believe in Big Insolvent Government and the Kerry Democrats believe in Big Solvent Government.

Jacob Sullum of Reason too, notes that at the convention, “calls for cutting government and praise of the free market were conspicuous mainly by their absence.”

If it weren’t clear from their performance in Congress and in the White House, it would be clear from their platform that the Republicans have given up on reducing government even as an aspiration. The best they can do is assert that “our leaders must make sure that the growth of the federal government remains in check.”

Notice how, even in a document full of wishes that will never come true, the Republicans have resigned themselves to the inevitable growth of Leviathan. Notice, too, that they seem to think the government’s expansion is already “in check”; despite a 25-percent increase in federal spending , all they need to do is stay the course.

Nagam Hatab was hooded and cuffed by U.S. troops who suspected that he had participated in an ambush that killed 11 other soldiers.

Within two days of Hatab’s arrest in , a guard found his lifeless, naked body covered in his own waste in a yard at Camp Whitehorse outside Nasiriyah.

According to a Lance Cpl. Roy, who has been granted immunity, [Sgt. Gary] Pittman, who in civilian life was a federal prison guard, karate-kicked the handcuffed, hooded Hatab in the chest so hard that he flew three feet before hitting the floor.

An autopsy concluded that Hatab had seven broken ribs and suffocated from a crushed windpipe. Defense lawyers say Hatab died of natural causes, perhaps from an asthma attack.

Pittman was court martialed and convicted, and he was sentenced… “to 60 days of hard labor and demoted to the rank of private.”

“This was about as light a punishment as they could give,” said Pittman’s civilian defense attorney, John Tranberg. “This was a tremendous outcome.”