One political party wants to destroy the social-insurance system. The other wants to destroy the private economy and put everyone on the government payroll or welfare. Both parties support perpetual war in the name of defeating a terrorism that was mostly a matter of failure to enforce immigration law.
From his bellicosity in the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, it seems that Mitt Romney can’t wait to get the United States into a few more wars. But electing Romney may actually be the prerequisite for ending President Obama’s stupid “nation-building” war in Afghanistan, where U.S. soldiers are as likely to be killed by their supposed allies in the Afghan Army and police as by their supposed enemies, the Taliban.
For as it was with the Vietnam War in 1969, once a Republican president is elected and administration of the war becomes Republican, Democratic members of Congress may feel free to start voting against war appropriations. Already most Democratic congressmen don’t believe in the war and support it only because a Democratic president is waging it. (To them our futile casualties don’t count.)
If Romney is elected president and the Democrats retain control of the Senate or regain the House, within a few months the Afghan war may burn out for lack of appropriations.
Conversely, with a Republican president and a Republican Congress, within a few months the United States may be at war not just in Afghanistan but in Zambia, Nepal, Paraguay, and a half dozen other countries that couldn’t find the United States on a map, much less threaten it.
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A few decades ago, when the state enjoyed economic growth, a Connecticut newspaper aiming for intellectual tone undertook in its Sunday editions to review the architecture of recently erected buildings. Readers whose idea of a good time was more likely to include monster truck rallies than opera and ballet wondered what anyone was supposed to do with an architecture review. Was it to call the contractor and say, “Sorry, Jake, but it got a bad review, so tear it down”? Or, when passing by, to refuse to look at the building?
The new president of the University of Connecticut, Susan Herbst, wouldn’t go that far. Unfortunately she might go further. Herbst complains that the buildings on the university’s Storrs campus, many of them new, clash in appearance. Correcting this, she says, requires more coherent architecture and thus possibly major renovations and new construction. So she plans to hire an architect to be the university’s master planner.
Having put a couple of billion dollars into expanding and renovating UConn over the last 15 years, Connecticut taxpayers may be aghast that the university now thinks it didn’t get it right. After all, the expansion and renovation were all very much part of a plan. Somebody at UConn was deciding on building styles.
And at least to anyone who spent much time at the university prior to the expansion and renovation, even with its supposedly now-incoherent architecture the place looks fantastic and has improved sensationally not just in appearance and facilities but in substance too. Though of course the recession has increased the financial attractiveness of most public universities, the caliber of UConn’s students has been rising steadily for years and the university is recognized as among the top public universities in the country.
No university will be begrudged a master planner and architect for the long term, and Herbst acknowledges that architectural harmonization must depend on the university’s uncertain finances. But UConn’s current big initiative, hiring dozens more professors to reduce class size and make courses more available to students so they more easily can graduate in four years, is infinitely more urgent.
Harmonized architecturally or not, UConn is likely to look very good to Connecticut for a long time just as it looks now. And architectural harmony won’t improve its appearance as much as keeping tuition down will.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.