This post comprises of a bunch of pointing at things, nodding and going "uh-huh! uh-huh!" Let's get down to business:
I have not formed a strong opinion about PR. I think, in principle it's a good idea, but I fear that the devil is in the details. And the fact that there is a great variety of PR options available, is it really realistic to suggest that we could agree upon a change of system before the next election? If we're going to go, we'd better go quickly.
I have found a couple of interesting resources, however. First of all, there is this ten-minute video produced in 1983 talking about PR in Britain (link courtesy Sinister Thoughts). It stars John Cleese and you should watch it if only to marvel at how Mr. Cleese makes a very dry subject seem fascinating.
Finally, there is an exceptionally persuasive commentary by Andrew Coyne. Now, normally this man and I don't see eye to eye, but boy can he write. If he can persuade me and a number of other centrists and democratic socialists in my circle, it might persuade you.
But again, show me the details. Can we agree on one system and move towards it quickly? Will it be better than the system we've got? Let me see.
Fighting Fear in the War on Terror
POGGE, in my view one of the best and most thoughtful political bloggers in the Canadian blogosphere, has a great post talking about recent developments in Washington on the War on Terror and saying what I've been saying (clumsily) about overstating and at the same time diminishing the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.
And there it is. The terrorists are targeting Americans because of American values. Americans are attacked just for being Americans so there's no point in trying to understand any more than that. "They hate our freedoms."
Can't we put this one to rest finally? Yes, there are murderous fanatics out there who are likely impossible to reason with and who pose a threat. But they don't attack Americans because of their "values". They attack Americans because they want America to change its foreign policy. And while they may be capable of committing a fair amount of mayhem, they don't threaten the "freedom and security" of the United States of America. They don't have that much power.
Even if you agree with American foreign policy you don't have to be a brilliant military tactician to figure out that if you're facing a threat, you'd best understand the nature of it as thoroughly as possible. The better your understanding of it, the better equipped you are to protect against it. Don't underestimate it, but don't overestimate it either. And understand the enemy's goals so you can better predict their actions. But these two champions of freedom first tell us that too many are "insufficiently aware" of the enemy's designs and then repeat the same old platitudes designed to obscure, not inform. If you can keep the threat hazy and ill-defined, you can more easily promote the idea of endless war.
Go read his whole post. It's great stuff.