Thursday, March 27, 2003
Quote of the Day: From wounded Army Staff Sgt. Jamie Villafane on being tossed out of his Humvee when Iraqi soldiers, clothed as civilians, hit it with an rocket-propelled grenade:
Getting shot at really wasn't that bad.
It's the getting shot part that sucked.
After being thrown from the Humvee, a wounded Villafane singlehandedly captured four Iraqi soldiers.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
On a reduced posting schedule: I won't be posting a lot over the next week or so as I prepare to move into my new condo. Posting will ramp up when I can find the time.
Friday, March 21, 2003
How many francs does a clue cost in Paris?: I say that because I just read the following Associated Press bulletin:
Jacques Chirac says France will not authorize a U.N. resolution allowing the United States and Britain to administer postwar Iraq.
Jacques, how many battalions does the U.N. have? If, for some reason, it had escaped your notice -- this isn't a U.N. operation. Remember?
Your opposition to a resolution not "allowing" the U.S. and Britain to administer a post-war Iraq is irrelevant. We will administer a postwar Iraq because we have the forces on the ground to be able to do it.
You still don't get it. When you refused to go along with the use of force to oust Saddam Hussein from power, you forfeited any say in what a postwar Iraq would look like.
Somebody slap him and call me in the morning.
Bush is like a butterfly: According to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest tirade, the relatively modest Bush tax cuts (you know, the $300 rebate, elimination of the marriage penalty, etc.) are responsible for wreaking fiscal destruction like that created by anyone stupid enough to cast Pauly Shore in romantic comedy opposite J. Lo.
The new study, carried out by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, estimates the present value of the revenue that will be lost because of the Bush tax cuts -- those that have already taken place, together with those that have been proposed -- using the same economic assumptions that underlie those Medicare and Social Security projections. The total comes to $12 trillion to $14 trillion -- more than the Social Security and Medicare shortfalls combined. What this means is that the revenue that will be sacrificed because of those tax cuts is not a minor concern. On the contrary, that revenue would have been more than enough to "top up" Social Security and Medicare, allowing them to operate without benefit cuts for the next 75 years.
I hate having to keep referring to this old post from just over one year ago, but here it is. There is no lockbox. There is no way in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks that a mere $12 to $14 trillion dollars could "top up" Social Security and Medicare for 75 years.
Check out this, somewhat old faq from the CATO institute.
Social Security is going bankrupt. The federal government's largest spending program, accounting for nearly 22 percent of all federal spending, faces irresistible demographic and fiscal pressures that threaten the future retirement security of today's young workers. According to the 2000 report of the Social Security system's Board of Trustees, in 2015, just 15 years from now, the Social Security system will begin to run a deficit. [Editor's note: If you follow the link above to my post last year, you'll note that the 2002 figures had actually pushed the date back to 2017.] That is, it will begin to spend more on benefits than it brings in through taxes. Anyone who has ever run a business--or balanced a checkbook--understands that when you are spending more than you bring in, something has to give--you need to start either earning more money or spending less to keep things balanced. For Social Security, that means either higher taxes or lower benefits.
It's the date that Social Security runs a deficit that's the important one. When the government actually has to start redeeming those bonds in the "lockbox," that money has to come from somewhere. Unfortunately for the American people, that somewhere is the general fund, which pays for interstate highways, the military, and various pork programs that keep the big spenders in Washington fat and happy.
Krugman's economics system works on the old axiom about the weather, that when a butterfly flaps its wings in Shanghai, it rains in Seattle. Thus, a small (in the grand scheme of things) tax cut proposed by Bush equals big trouble 50 or 75 years down the road.
Unfortunately, history teaches us that that just isn't true. It was that great conservative JFK who more than 40 years ago cut the top marginal rate from 91 percent to 70 percent -- a huge giveaway to the rich. To follow Krugman's logic, it should be another 2 billion or so years before the federal budget recovers from that debacle.
Oh, that JFK tax cut, and others that followed, spurred growth in the economy and eventually produced (albeit short-lived) budget surpluses? Wow! Quick, somebody alert Princeton!
Thursday, March 20, 2003
War Update Central: Over at The Agonist Sean-Paul is doing yeoman's work when it comes to compiling all war-related information at a breakneck pace. Go check it out.
Diplomatic failure? Is the escalating war with Iraq a diplomatic failure, as identified by Senate minority leader Tom Daschle? According to U.S. News & World Report's Michael Barone, Daschle is disingenuous to say the least.
Only in San Francisco, Calif.: Only in the Bay Area can you get that rare mix of political/protest activism and the vanity of maintaining a slender figure.
In a unique form of opposition, some protesters at the Federal Building staged a "vomit in,'' by heaving on the sidewalks and plaza areas in the back and front of the building to show that the war in Iraq made them sick, according to a spokesman.
You never knew bulimia was really a protest statement, did you?
Protesting the Protesters II: The guys over at brain-terminal.com have up their latest video from last weekend's San Francisco protest. It's not as comic as the last one, but the wacko guy who tries to explain the interplanetary and interdimensional evils done by President Bush is kinda amusing -- if it wasn't so sad.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
It has begun: Head on over to any news site, turn on any TV station, and you'll see the worst of American and world journalism right now. At this point, we've launched a few missiles at "targets of opportunity" -- hopefully Saddam Hussein and some of his top aides. That's all there is to report, but news organization after news organization shifted immediately into "endless speculation" mode.
They don't know anything, but they're willing to go on and on and on and on about it.
Let's pray this goes quickly and we get Saddam's head on a stick.
I'll spend quite a bit of time praying over the next few days, because I've got friends over there. In my church group, there are seven guys, all Marines, who are in-theater. Four of them I consider very good friends.
God, keep them safe.
My "upset" special tournament bracket is up: If you're interested, check it out. [Adobe PDF required]
Reference material: For those of you who are interested about the United States "going it alone" in the war against Iraq, here's a list of who's with us now, and who was with us back in 1991 during the first Gulf War.
2003 -- 31 nations: Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan.
U.S. State Department says 15 other unidentified countries also have pledged support.
1991 -- 34 nations: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Britain, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Honduras, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Korea, Spain, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States.
Czechoslovakia since has split into two nations: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Note also that the current list doesn't include Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or Qatar -- all places where coalition troops are based.
Ummm...do you really want to bring that up?: Sen. Joseph Lieberman was on "The O'Reilly Factor" last night and complained that President Bush had lost the goodwill of the world by, among other things, withdrawing from the Kyoto Treaty on global warming.
The same treaty the Senate voted 95-0 to indicate that it would not ratify.
Apparently Democrats are more concerned about appearances than honesty. They want it to appear that they care about global warming by having the president sign the treaty, but they don't want to recognize that the treaty is fatally flawed and actually have a real vote on it.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Countdown to war: I was in the newsroom earlier tonight when President Bush made his speech to the nation. Most action stopped as people gathered around the television sets to watch.
Though I've long advocated war, if necessary, to bring about the end of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's evil regime, as the time nears where American soldiers venture into harm's way, I feel no joy. American soldiers, I know not how many, will die in the coming days, in an effort to bring an end to terrorism, tyranny and evil in Iraq.
It's unfortunate that it's come to this. Twelve years ago we made a couple of mistakes.
First, we didn't go to Baghdad. Even though this would have likely resulted in the fracturing of Bush 41's vaunted alliance, it should have been done.
Second, after encouraging uprisings to overthrow Saddam Hussein, we withdrew our support when it was needed most -- leaving Saddam in power and his opponents dead.
All of that is done now, and we are set to correct the mistakes of the past decade.
It is time for the Iraqi people to live free from terror. To live free from tyranny. Once again, that freedom will be bought by American servicemen.
Too much of the world doesn't like this. Many Arab rulers do no not approve of the creation of a democratic Iraq, because it will put pressure on their despotic regimes to reform.
The French and Russians do not like it because it puts in jeopardy lucrative oil contracts and debts incurred by the current regime.
Some are criticizing us for wanting to remake the world in our own image -- as though democracy is a bad thing.
Anti-war protesters decry a "war for oil" or "American imperialism" -- willfully ignoring American history -- and the fact that in the past 100 years every war in which we've been involved has been a war for freedom. They ignore the fact that when we had control of Iraq's oil fields at the end of the 1991 Gulf War we did nothing to "steal the country's oil."
American soldiers will die for freedom. As they fight in the deserts of the Middle East, anti-war activists take to the street because they hate President Bush more than they do murderous tyrants.
Change is coming to Middle East -- and it's a good thing. It may not be an easy job, but the world will be a better place when Saddam Hussein isn't in it.
Eric Alterman, Chapter 1 (Part two): Alterman's take on Bernie Goldberg is to nickel-and-dime the former CBS newsman to death. Anyone who's read Goldberg's book knows it's not a scholarly work. It is a series of recollections on a subject. Goldberg is loose with his language, which is not surprising. Alterman punishes him for it, which is also not surprising.
However, Alterman also uses data compiled by the liberal Daily Howler Web site that doesn't necessarily completely support Alterman's point.
Alterman refers to this Daily Howler report to take issue with Goldberg's claim that Sen. Ted Kennedy is "never" identified as a liberal.
For instance, Ted Kennedy does not appear on the [meaning television] news with much frequency, but during the first six months of 2001, when he did, it was almost always accompanied by the word "liberal."
Unfortunately, the Daily Howler is not quite as definite on its Web site. The Daily Howler did a Lexis search and presented a several cases that refute Goldberg's assertion. However, the Daily Howler never says that the examples it presents were every reference to Kennedy on the evening news broadcasts. The Daily Howler was looking for cases where Goldberg was wrong in his "never" assessment -- and found them. Alterman takes those few cases and turns them into "almost always."
From the Daily Howler:
Clearly, Goldberg was totally wrong in his statement to Grossman. He implied that network newscasts never call Ted a lib, and that is plainly false. Do they identify Kennedy more or less often than they do with conservative solons? That question we simply can’t answer. We don’t plan to do all Bernie’s research for him?but that is a question he should have studied before he published his laughable book, and before he went all over the country making pleasing but flagrant misstatements.
Listening to both sides: Alterman's complains that while the "liberal" media -- The Nation, Mother Jones, etc., often have a token conservative columnist, the "conservative" media do not do the same.
At least two of the media outlets Alterman complains about, however, shouldn't be in his list. Fox News has Mara Liasson and Juan WIlliams, both liberals (but maybe not liberal enough for Alterman). The Wall Street Journal has Al Hunt.
It may seem obvious to everyone but Dan Rather that The New York Times editorial page is liberal, but according to Alterman it's not -- because William Safire is a columnist. Safire, a moderate Republican isn't the only non-left guy, according to Alterman. "Current denizen Bill Keller also writes regularly form a soft, DLC neoconservative perspective."
It's not just the Times columnists either, "Why is this alleged bastion of liberalism, on the very morning I wrote these words, offering words of praise and encouragement to George W. Bush and John Ashcroft for invoking the hated Taft-Hartley legislation on behalf of shipping companies, following a lockout of their West Coast workers."
You see, if you agree with anything the Bush administration does, you're no longer a liberal.
Name-calling alert: Pat Robertson is an "anti-American telepreacher."
Finally, Alterman turns to Times columnist Paul Krugman, the man who never found anything good to say about the Bush administration, to analyze the media:
As the economist/pundit Paul Krugman observes of Republican efforts to bully the media into accepting the party's Orwellian arguments about Social Security privatization: "The next time the administration insists that chocolate is vanilla, much of the media -- fearing accusations of liberal bias, trying to create the appearance of 'balance' -- won't report that the stuff is actually brown; at best they'll report that some Democrats claim that it's brown."
Were that the real world was so easy to discern as the difference between vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Just because Krugman (and Alterman) are sure of their analysis of an issue, doesn't make them right. When it comes to just about any issue, there are at least two sides. To say that one side is right and another is downright wrong in an area of government or economic policy, as a journalist, is a dangerous venture into the area of advocacy and bias. Why? Because often the truth is not apparent for years, or even decades.
ON A RELATED NOTE: Left-wing blogger Scoobie Davis recently visited the site, and cited my critique of the first half of the first chapter of Alterman's book as a sign of the "decline of American journalism." Why? Because I chose not to defend Ann Coulter from Alterman's criticisms.
Hoy states on his web page that he was trained as a journalist and he works for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Yet he doesn’t care about Slander’s sourcing issues, only Alterman’s less important critiques of it. What’s wrong with that picture? First, Coulter’s sourcing issues were the main point of Alterman’s critique?that Coulter’s mendacity and bile refute the very premise of her book: that the decline in political discourse is ?all liberals’ fault.? Also, Alterman go [sic] beyond writing that ?her footnotes don't support her claims.? Alterman illustrated that Coulter is a lying sack of **** [expletive deleted] (though he put it much more delicately). Yet in Hoy’s world, since he doesn’t care about the point, it is irrelevant and should be ignored. Shouldn’t that be a journalist’s primary concern?
Apparently, I should care about Coulter's work. Sorry, I don't. I didn't read her book. I don't care to read her book. I don't think the issue is irrelevant. I'm just not going to spend my time on it. That doesn't mean it should be ignored. In fact, as Davis takes pains to point out -- it isn't ignored.
*ON ANOTHER RELATED NOTE* The Hill newspaper has a review of Alterman's book, and it's decidedly not positive. The reviewer makes a very similar point to the one I"ve attempted to make, which is that Alterman's definition of what is a "liberal" is so narrow that the media must be conservative in his eyes.
Somewhat more troubling is that Alterman brings to the debate ideological baggage of his own. Bias is of course a relative question, dictated largely by an observer’s own place on the political spectrum.
About this Alterman leaves little doubt. Look at how he identifies some of the people he writes about: The Democratic Leadership Council is “neoconservative,” New York Gov. George Pataki (R) is “conservative,” radio shock jock Howard Stern is lumped in with “movement conservatives.” Michel Martin, the liberal foil for George Will on ABC’s “This Week,” is “nonpartisan,” while The Wall Street Journal’s token liberal Al Hunt is a “token moderate.”
*ANOTHER UPDATE* Glenn Reynolds, better known as Mr. Instapundit, makes a similar point.
Monday, March 17, 2003
Things not said: Well, Paul Krugman's written another column, and war has not yet started.
Krugman's latest thesis is that the U.S. has gone beserk when it comes to our foreign policy.
The members of the Bush team don't seem bothered by the enormous ill will they have generated in the rest of the world. They seem to believe that other countries will change their minds once they see cheering Iraqis welcome our troops, or that our bombs will shock and awe the whole world (not just the Iraqis) or that what the world thinks doesn't matter. They're wrong on all counts.
Victory in Iraq won't end the world's distrust of the United States because the Bush administration has made it clear, over and over again, that it doesn't play by the rules. Remember: this administration told Europe to take a hike on global warming, told Russia to take a hike on missile defense, told developing countries to take a hike on trade in lifesaving pharmaceuticals, told Mexico to take a hike on immigration, mortally insulted the Turks and pulled out of the International Criminal Court - all in just two years.
This administration told Europe that Kyoto was dead? I'm sorry, that happened in 1997 when the Senate voted 95-0 (note that the GOP did not have a 95-0 supermajority in the Senate at that time) that it would not approve the Kyoto protocol.
Missile defense? The Russians considered it no big deal -- unlike certain American politicians and pundits.
Lifesaving pharmaceuticals? This administration is spending $15 billion on AIDS in Africa.
Mexico and immigration? Maybe 9/11 has something to do with that.
Insulted the Turks? They don't sound too insulted to me.
The ICC? When Clinton signed the treaty, he noted that it needed major changes. It wouldn't have passed the Senate as adopted, which is why Clinton never submitted it.
Krugman's main problem seems to be that he still doesn't get that 9/11 actually occurred. International terrorism came home to America on a scale, to that point in time, unknown anywhere in the world.
The American people get it. Nations that support terrorism -- anywhere in the world -- are on notice. We can no longer ignore what these nations do half a world away. The Pacific and Atlantic oceans, in a technologically advanced world, are no longer large enough to keep those who hate us at bay.
Last week, I wrote some satire which attempted to make the point that we can no longer wait for a threat to become "imminent" -- because defining "imminent" is impossible to do.
Krugman says that there may soon be war on the Korean peninsula.
People who really know what they are talking about have the heebie-jeebies over North Korea's nuclear program, and view war on the Korean peninsula as something that could happen at any moment. And at the rate things are going, it seems we will fight that war, or the war with Iran, or both at once, all by ourselves.
Krugman, like many foaming-at-the-mouth liberals, thinks that only France, Germany and Belgium count as allies when it comes to war. If there's a war on the Korean peninsula, we won't be fighting it all by ourselves, South Korea, at the very least will defend itself.
War against Iraq is "unilateral" even when it will be a coalition of Americans, British, Australians and even the Poles. That list is by no means complete. There is a good portion of the world that supports us, even if it doesn't get good media play.
The president is elected to represent the American people -- not the world. His primary duty is to defend the American people from the country's enemies. If America's "allies" are not interested in helping us, then so be it -- but that cannot be an excuse for the president not to act. Iraq sponsors terrorism and is a danger to the people of the United States. That is why he must be deposed.
End of debate.
*UPDATE* Musil has more.
More on the SPJ-L list: Well, I sent out a response to the SPJ-L listserv to the one I made below, prompting a number of irrelevant responses.
One person responded that the operation in Kosovo was a NATO operation -- "totally within Europe, was not UN."
And this is relevant how? Clinton went to war without U.N. approval. NATO is really nothing more than a coalition of (sometimes) like-minded nations with a catchy acronym.
The missive also (I believe) prompted an e-mail from an individual who wrote:
Subject: All I can do is laugh
You call yourself a journalist?
Why yes I do. Why wouldn't I? Lessee, I've got a bachelor's degree in journalism. I've worked as a reporter, editor, design editor and a page designer for nearly 9 years. I write a web log on an almost-daily basis. I think I fit the description of "journalist" to a "T." Unless...maybe there's some sort of requirement that I must have a certain worldview to be considered a "journalist."
So much for Alterman's thesis.
Oh no! Now what are we going to do? Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said that Canadian forces would not fight in a war with Iraq.
We're going to miss them -- all 30 of them.
Funny ha-ha: I subscribe to the Society of Professional Journalists Internet listserv. Why? I'm not sure exactly. It long ago stopped being a forum for discussing journalism issues. It's now mostly a right-bashing club, with a lone conservative (who's not even a journalist) presenting himself as a whipping boy for a bunch of leftists, from America and abroad.
So, I wasn't surprised when one of the members of the non-existent (according to Eric Alterman) liberal media sent the following message out to the list.
While my fellow American's [sic] are eating freedom fries, dumping Champagne down the toilet and belching war whoops, there's one guy who sees clearly and speaks for me.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you William Jefferson Clinton:
"The U.S. should be strengthening the UN and other "'mechanisms of cooperation,'" Clinton said. "We need to be creating a world that we would like to live in when we're not the biggest power on the block."
Clinton, who bombed Serbs in Kosovo (something I agree should have been done, but I also think we should have readied ground troops in case the bombing campaign didn't work), without going to the U.N. and getting approval.
I'd argue that by ousting Saddam Hussein and putting a pro-American democracy in Iraq is creating a world "we would like to live in when we're not the biggest power on the block."
Saturday, March 15, 2003
A democrat is stupid...: Therefore it must be a Republican's fault. It seems former Clintonite and spokesman for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign Chris Lehane pulled a dummy and left his laptop in plain sight in his car. Of course, to certain, less-than-upstanding Californians fallen on tough times due to Gov. Gray Davis' economic policies, such a pricey item could pay for one week's rent in San Francisco.
So, someone smashed the car window, grabbed the laptop and took off.
So, whose fault is this? Republicans of course.
"I'm the just the latest victim of crime," he quipped. "Crime has gone up under George W. Bush's watch."
The logic is mind-boggling.
Bummer: Cal Poly loses by 3 to Utah St. At least, Cal Poly didn't embarrass themselves.
More on adult stem cell research: I wrote an item a little over a week ago on an experiment to treat a youth whose heart had been damaged in an industrial accident (I'm being generous -- some idiot co-worker shot him in the chest using a nail gun). Friday, over at National Review Online, Discovery Institute fellow Wesley J. Smith comments on that case, and another that flew under the radar.
As reported by Dr. Michel F. Levesque to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the California neurosurgeon had treated Turner for his progressing Parkinson's with (Californian Dennis) Turner's own neural stem cells. First, a pea-sized sample of tissue was removed from Turner's brain. Then, stem cells in the tissue were isolated and cultured into the millions. Finally, the cells were injected back into Turner's brain. One year after the procedure, the patient's symptoms were reduced by more than 80 percent ? even though Turner was treated in only one brain lobe.
On another positive note, is the New York Times' coverage of the recent adult stem cell success is a departure from past pattern and practice.
Maybe the Times is beginning to see this as a medical research issue as opposed to an abortion issue.
Woot! My alma mater, Cal Poly SLO is in the Big West tournament final for the first time! Tonight at 9 p.m. (PST) I'll be watching them on national TV! Go MUSTANGS!
Friday, March 14, 2003
In search of a little name-dropping: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest anti-Bush screed can be found here. It should come as no surprise that in his latest piece, Krugman reveals to us that President Bush is arrogant, a compulsive liar and completely nuts. No surprise there really, but Krugman does dig up a bit of news that I wasn't aware of before.
Over the past few weeks there has been an epidemic of epiphanies. There's a long list of pundits who previously supported Bush's policy on Iraq but have publicly changed their minds. None of them quarrel with the goal; who wouldn't want to see Saddam Hussein overthrown? But they are finally realizing that Mr. Bush is the wrong man to do the job.
A long list, huh? I want names. The only name I could come up with that might fit Krugman's description is Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory. On Feb. 6, McGrory wrote a column entitled "I'm Persuaded" after Secretary of State Colin Powell made a presentation to the U.N. Security Council. A month later, after apparently receiving an avalanche of "How could YOU!?" letters, McGrory wrote an apology piece. But I'm not really sure that McGrory is one of the pundits mentioned, because of the following explanation in her second column:
You have declared yourselves to be shocked, appalled, startled, puzzled and above all disappointed by what you thought was a defection to the hawk side. "I'm Persuaded," said the headline, which went a little beyond the story.
But it was my fault. I did not make it clear enough that while I believed what Colin Powell told me about Saddam Hussein's poison collection, I was not convinced that war was the answer. I guess I took it for granted that you would know what I meant.
A google search of "changed my mind" and "War" "Iraq" turned up a bunch of garbage and this May 28, 2002 entry from Josh Marshall's "Talking Points Memo." Unfortunately, this entry, though dated, doesn't support Krugman's thesis either.
A little more than a month ago I set to work on an article about how attacking Iraq -- once a hobbyhorse of right-wing think tank intellectuals -- had moved to the center of the American foreign policy debate. Clearly, President Bush's election and 9/11 had a lot to do with the change. But neither development completely explained the shift to my satisfaction. So I launched into the project eager to skewer the various propagandists and ideologues who've used all manner of underhanded methods and cheap media ploys to hustle the country into a second war against Saddam Hussein.
But along the way I came to an unexpected and for me troubling conclusion. I decided that the hawks were right. By that I mean that containment isn't working and that what the right-wingers like to call 'regime change' really should be our national policy. And, if necessary, we should do it by overwhelming military force.
Of course, the liberal Marshall goes on to say that the Iraq hawks are "reckless, ignorant about key issues about the Middle East, and -- not that infrequently -- indifferent to the truth. They have been underhanded and they have used cheap media ploys." But, even despite this, he believes that the hawks' argument holds up better than that of the doves.
I thought about checking out some of the liberal bloggers like Atrios and Hesiod, to see if they might fit Krugman's storyline, but I'd be shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you!) if they were ever for war in the first place -- at least during the Bush administration. (Clinton likely could do no wrong in their eyes.)
Krugman also brings up the "North Korea is more of a threat" line and says that Bush is ignoring the problem.
Need I point out that North Korea, not Iraq, is the clear and present danger? Kim Jong Il's nuclear program isn't a rumor or a forgery; it's an incipient bomb assembly line. Yet the administration insists that it's a mere "regional" crisis, and refuses even to talk to Mr. Kim.
Does Krugman propose a solution to the North Korean problem? Nope. Exactly what have we got to talk about with a regime that's broken every nonproliferation agreement, both international and multilateral, that it's ever signed? Yes, please "Mr." Kim, I'd like to meet with you so you can lie to me some more.
Krugman also makes a prediction that the war will start before next Tuesday (the date of his next column -- unless he's taking a vacation). I doubt it. The pieces aren't all in place yet.
However, if I am wrong I will come here and admit it. If Krugman is wrong...
A few years ago, in an alternate universe:
President Clinton readies troops for invasion of Afghanistan
Claims Taliban, Osama bin Laden threat to U.S.
Washington, D.C. (AP) -- President Bill Clinton, in a hastily-called address to a joint session of Congress, sought congressional authorization for a war against Afghanistan.
The president told Congress the Taliban government is providing aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden, a man he said was responsible for the recent bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa.
"Osama bin Laden poses an imminent danger to the people of the United States," Clinton said. "I call on Congress to authorize offensive action against a known terrorist state."
Clinton acknowledged that his plan might find little support both at home and abroad, but said that was not his primary concern.
"I took an oath to protect and defend the American people," Clinton said. "This war is necessary to keep the American people safe."
Republicans and Democrats alike said they were shocked by the president's address.
GOP leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) suggested that the president was again trying to use the military to divert attention from his domestic policy woes.
"A small, impoverished country a half a world away is no threat to America," Lott said. "The president should be focusing on Social Security, not making war on innocent people."
Lott's counterpart, Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said the president had not provided enough evidence linking bin Laden to the embassy bombings.
"If there truly is a danger to the United States, the Congress will support the president, but he hasn't made the case yet," Daschle said.
Other politicians, however, immediately attacked the president, accusing him abandoning nearly two centuries of tradition by proposing a pre-emptive war.
"The president's new doctrine will create a wave of violence throughout the world," said Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.). "If we attack Afghanistan, what would stop a country like North Korea from attacking South Korea?
"Afghanistan is not an imminent threat," Biden said. "Congress is very unlikely to pass a resolution authorizing force."
Thursday, March 13, 2003
Anti-American Actor Mike Farrell: Is scheduled to appear on "The O'Reilly Factor" tonight. Let's hope that Bill confronts him with this little tidbit from today's Wall Street Journal.
Actor Mike Farrell, best known for his role as Trapper John's replacement in "M*A*S*H," has emerged as a leading antiwar activist. This month, he even engaged in a surreal debate on geopolitics with former senator Fred Thompson on "Meet the Press." "It is inappropriate," Farrell declared, "for the administration to trump up a case in which we are ballyhooed into war."
But in 1999, Mr. Farrell defended the Clinton administration's rationale for war in Kosovo: "I think it's appropriate for the international community in situations like this to intervene. I am in favor of an intervention." To avoid casualties, the Clinton administration had bombers fly at such high altitudes that "collateral damage" to civilians was bound to increase.
I'll see how O'Reilly does when I get home -- the VCR is already programmed to record.
*UPDATE* O'Reilly did an acceptable job. Basically he let Farrell hang himself. Farrell says we can go into Iraq if no innocent Iraqis die and no American servicemen are put in harm's way. Farrell also believes that if the Iraqis have biological or chemical weapons, the weapons inspectors will find them.
Obviously, positive IQ points aren't required for actors.
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Oriana Fallaci!: The Italian journalist has a piece in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.
My favorite part:
For Christ's sake, in 1991 the Iraqi army deflated like a pricked balloon. It disintegrated so quickly, so easily, that even I captured four of its soldiers. I was behind a dune in the Saudi desert, all alone. Four skeletal creatures in ragged uniforms came toward me with arms raised, and whispered: "Bush, Bush." Meaning: "Please take me prisoner. I am so thirsty, so hungry." So I took them prisoner. I delivered them to the Marine in charge, and instead of congratulating me he grumbled: "Dammit! Some more?!?" Yet the Americans did not get to Baghdad, did not remove Saddam. And, to thank them, Saddam tried to kill their president. The same president who had left him in power.
And some pundits are suggesting that we should be worried about street-to-street fighting against the Iraqi army in Baghdad?
On an economic note: I just signed the loan papers for my new home this morning. Why should this interest you? It shouldn't, except that today is the day for the obligatory banging of the tip jar. You can donate at the Amazon or PayPal links over at the left, or, buy a book or something through the big Amazon.com link.
I deliver the checks for the down payment tomorrow. *sigh*
Alterman vs. McGowan: Over at MediaMinded there's a summary of the feud between media critics William McGowan, author of "Coloring the News" and Eric Alterman, author of "What Liberal Media."
To make a long story short, Alterman apparently (I haven't gotten that far yet) slams McGowan's book based on a negative review in the Washington Monthly magazine. (The same publication that lauded New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in a feature article.)
After McGowan wrote an open letter to Alterman pointing out factual inaccuracies in the original review (which McGowan also contested when the review was first published) and asking for a retraction. McGowan also gave numerous sources Alterman could check to verify the veracity of his version.
Instead of doing a little reasearch or making a phone call or two, Alterman simply says that he trusts the Washington Monthly and its writer, so no other checking is necessary.
Of course, lazy reporting is nothing new for Alterman.
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Be afraid, be very afraid: Saddam, this one's for you!
Lede of the day: From Rod Dreher over at National Review: "[T]he French are going to go proctological on America in the Security Council this week, leading to a fresh round of pop-cult French-bashing."
"Go proctological!" How apt.
Eric Alterman's "What Liberal Media" Chapter 1: As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I recently received a review copy of Alterman's new book and began reading it. I got through about 2 1/2 chapters when I realized that I should be reading with a pencil in hand. Every few sentences, Alterman would make some claim that I would find unfounded or outrageous, and I realized that if I was going to "review" his book, I was going to have to make some notes.
So, I started over again, with pencil in hand. Over how ever long it takes, I'll be posting my observations of Alterman's work. I think my catchphrase for this project will be: "I read it so you don't have to."
Chapter 1: Introduction -- Bias, Slander and BS (Part 1)
Alterman isn't wishy-washy when comes to what his thesis is: The press isn't biased to the liberal side -- it's not even neutral -- it's decidedly conservative.
As evidence of the conservative tilt of the media Alterman quotes our previous "whiner in chief" Bill Clinton that he didn't get "one damn bit of credit from the knee-jerk liberal press."
Is anyone really surprised that Clinton is claiming to be a victim? This is supposed to prove Alterman's point?
Of course, intelligent people agree with Alterman -- stupid ones don't.
But while some conservatives actually believe their own grumbles, the smart ones don't. [emphasis added]
There's an excellent argument: You agree with me, or you're stupid.
Alterman quotes former GOP chairman Rich Bond during the 1992 election cycle as evidence that conservatives know the media isn't liberal, but they make that complaint to win favorable treatment from a chastened media establishment.
"There is some strategy to it [bashing the 'liberal' media].... If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is 'work the refs.' Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one."
Alterman refers to the idea of "working the refs" later in the book, but he seems to ignore the fact that a desire to "work the ref" doesn't preclude the possibility that the ref is treating your side unfairly.
The two main targets of Alterman's ire in the first chapter are former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg's book "Bias" and Ann Coulter's "Slander."
I must confess, I haven't read Coulter's work -- she doesn't really impress me and I've felt no desire to buy her book. Since I've not read "Slander," I won't attempt to defend it, but I will note that Alterman attacks it on two grounds: First, her footnotes don't support her claims; Second, she engages in mean-spirited and excessive name-calling.
I'll skip Coulter's sourcing issues -- frankly, I don't care. But I found it curious that Alterman would chide her for name-calling -- since Alterman practices it early and often. I won't point out every one of Alterman's zingers, but I will try to make note of some of the more colorful and original ones.
The first couple are on Page 2. First, Alterman refuses to refer to George W. Bush as president of the United States. To Alterman he is simply: "The presidency's current occupant." Second, is a cheap shot at Pat Buchanan (a pundit/politician I harbor no sympathy for) referring to him as the "American ayatollah."
Alterman then gets downright silly in attacking Goldberg and Coulter, writing "it's amazing neither one thought to accuse 'liberals' of using the blood of conservative children for extra flavor in their soy-milk decaf lattes."
And Alterman wants his book to be held up as a model of journalistic scholarship?
In attacking Coulter, Alterman notes the media attention and the bookings that she manages to get. (I think I detect a note of jealousy.)
Coulter joked about how wonderful it would it would have been if Timothy McVeigh had blown up the New York Times building and murdered all of its inhabitants... For such comments she is celebrated and rewarded."
If this is evidence that the media is conservative, then what does Michael Moore's success, praise and adulation mean? Remember, Moore is the one who complained that the 9/11 terrorists hadn't killed enough Bush voters.
When Alterman moves into attack Goldberg is where he starts to lose it. Alterman highlights Goldberg's comment: "Everybody to the right of Lenin is a 'right-winger' as far as media elites are concerned." Alterman derides this characterization, but then seems to justify this statement repeatedly by evicting people from the "liberal" tent if they don't agree 100 percent with the Nation editorial board.
As I was reading Alterman's criticisms of Goldberg, a couple of things came to mind: First, Alterman doesn't recognize hyperbole when he sees it; Second, Alterman bent over backwards to avoid addressing the report that spurred Goldberg to write his book. Alterman chides Goldberg for referring to "unnamed liberals" in the news media, but the fact is that Goldberg does name names. In the same vein, Alterman claims Goldberg "concerned himself only with the evening news broadcasts, and not even with politics, but with social issues." Yet again, Alterman ignores the defining event for Goldberg, CBS newsman Eric Engberg's treatment of Steve Forbes' flat-tax plan.
More to come...
Monday, March 10, 2003
Advice to aspiring journalists: I've been in the journalism business for more than a decade (if I count my student-journalism days at Cal Poly SLO) and I've always been happy to help student journalists, aspiring writers and even talk about journalism to schoolkids. So, when asked, I often volunteer to share what I've learned. It usually comes down to "marry rich, because you're never going to make any money." (I often point out that the only job that requires a bachelor's degree that pays less than journalism is that of social worker. Public schoolteachers are rich as far as we're concerned.)
So, I was favorably inclined last week when an e-mail was sent around at the Union-Tribune from a university j-school professor at a BIG XII school seeking, for lack of a better term, pen-pals for some of her students.
That is, I was favorably inclined, until I read the message. Nothing turns me off as a journalist/editor/page-designer than sloppy writing, grammar and a failure to use the SHIFT key on the keyboard. Honestly, this professor, who shall remain nameless, wrote a seven paragraph letter soliciting help -- without capitalizing a thing. Not proper nouns. Not the first word of a sentence. Not the personal pronoun "I."
Professor, you're doing your students a big disservice.
Sunday, March 09, 2003
The Mother of all Surrenders: Britain's Sunday Mirror is reporting that the Iraqis are trying to get a head start on the imminent war -- by crossing the Kuwaiti border and attempting to surrender to British troops.
The motley band of a dozen troops waved the white flag as British paratroopers tested their weapons during a routine exercise.
The stunned Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade were forced to tell the Iraqis they were not firing at them, and ordered them back to their home country telling them it was too early to surrender.
Now, later, whenever. And to think, the Iraqi soldiers voted for Saddam.
Saturday, March 08, 2003
I like Mark Steyn! A little jewel from his latest:
The "human shields" are leaving Iraq, disenchanted after discovering that their Iraqi "co-ordinators" wanted to deploy them not at "humanitarian" facilities but at military bases. One fellow said he was used to working with young children and would have preferred to be deployed at an orphanage. Pity the poor Iraqi official who had to explain to the guy that the orphanage has already got all the human shields it needs: they're called "orphans".
Silly Brits: I just caught a couple of minutes of something that appeared to be a debate between some enlightened British intellectuals on C-SPAN. I turned the channel after one of the "anti-" America speakers rattled off a list of countries we've sent troops to (or, in one case, bombed) in the past decade or so. His list included Afghanistan, Somalia and Kosovo. To this "smart" kid then suggested that all of these moves were made to "broaden our sphere of influence."
Yeah, Somalia has.....what exactly was that that we wanted there? Oh yeah, we were trying to feed some people. We wanted people not to starve to death.
Afghanistan? Jeez, that wouldn't have anything to do with 3,000 dead New Yorkers? This stupid git was actually suggesting that 9/11 was a pretext for putting troops into Afghanistan.
Kosovo? Where was the profit in that?
At least they never let facts get in the way of their argument.
*ON A RELATED NOTE* Whatever happened to Ted Rall's natural gas pipeline theory? Remember, the one that said we only invaded Afghanistan so U.S. energy companies could strike it rich by building a pipeline? Well, here's the latest bit of news I could find. [emphasis added]
Due to its location between the oil and natural gas reserves of the Caspian Basin and the Indian Ocean, Afghanistan has long been mentioned as a potential pipeline route, though in the near term, several obstacles will likely prevent Afghanistan from becoming an energy transit corridor. Unocal had pursued a possible natural gas pipeline from Turmenistan to Pakistan in the mid-1990s, but pulled out after the U.S. missile strikes against Afghanistan in August 1998. The new Afghan government under President Karzai has tried to revive the pipeline plan, and talks have been held between the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan in 2002 on the issue, but a signing ceremony for a framework agreement between the governments has been delayed until at least December 2002.
Given the obstacles to development of a natural gas pipeline across Afghanistan, it seems unlikely that such an idea will make any progress in the near future, and no major Western companies have expressed interest in reviving the project. The security situation in Afghanistan is one obvious major risk, and the tensions between India and Pakistan make it unlikely that such a pipeline could be extended into India, which unlike Pakistan has sufficient immediate demand for imported natural gas to justify a project of such magnitude. Financial problems in the utility sector in India, which would be the major consumer of the natural gas, also could pose a problem.
Once again, they don't let facts stand in their way.
A bit of wisdom from Jonah Goldberg: I liked this line from National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg's latest column:
Being friends with sons-of-bitches in order to spread freedom and fight tyranny is entirely defensible; being friends with SOBs because it's convenient is immoral.
Friday, March 07, 2003
A new era begins: If you've watched presidential press conferences any time in the past couple dozen years, it's become tradition for the first question to be asked by the "elder stateswoman" of the White House press corps, Helen Thomas. For many decades, Thomas worked for UPI, but when the ownership changed, she quit and was hired by Hearst Newspapers. No longer really a reporter, Thomas writes a syndicated column.
Last night, tradition ended. President Bush, not only didn't call on Thomas first. He didn't call on her at all.
It's really no wonder, when you consider what Thomas has said in recent months. Earlier this week she asked White House spokesman Ari Fleischer: "Why does the president want to kill Iraqi civilians?" Fleischer, to his credit, didn't slap the old bat upside the head. But, are these sorts of outrageous, hysterical, and criminally stupid questions the type that you would want to answer, as president, at a press conference called with the sole purpose of preparing the country for war -- a serious war?
Helen, get used to it.
The view from Princeton, N.J.: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (who needs to take longer vacations) weighs in once more with an insightful analysis of U.S.-Mexico relations more than 1,500 miles away from the border.
The point of Krugman's column, is that the U.S. officials have suggested that if Mexico, which has a seat on the U.N. Security Council, fails to vote with the United States on the latest proposed resolution that there might be some bad feelings between the countries.
But Mexico's seat on the U.N. Security Council gives it a vote on the question of Iraq -- and the threats the Bush administration has made to get that vote are quickly destroying any semblance of good will.
Last week The Economist quoted an American diplomat who warned that if Mexico didn't vote for a U.S. resolution it could "stir up feelings" against Mexicans in the United States. He compared the situation to that of Japanese-Americans who were interned after 1941, and wondered whether Mexico "wants to stir the fires of jingoism during a war."
Incredible stuff, but easy to dismiss as long as the diplomat was unidentified. Then came President Bush's Monday interview with Copley News Service. He alluded to the possibility of reprisals if Mexico didn't vote America's way, saying, "I don't expect there to be significant retribution from the government" ? emphasizing the word "government." He then went on to suggest that there might, however, be a reaction from other quarters, citing "an interesting phenomena taking place here in America about the French . . . a backlash against the French, not stirred up by anybody except the people."
And Mr. Bush then said that if Mexico or other countries oppose the United States, "there will be a certain sense of discipline."
These remarks went virtually unreported by the ever-protective U.S. media, but they created a political firestorm in Mexico. The White House has been frantically backpedaling, claiming that when Mr. Bush talked of "discipline" he wasn't making a threat. But in the context of the rest of the interview, it's clear that he was.
Well, the context of the rest of the interview depends on how predisposed you are to seeing nefarious motives in whatever the Bush administration does -- something that Krugman has repeatedly demonstrated he is particularly talented at doing.
From the Copley Press article:
If Mexico -- or other countries -- oppose the United States, he said, "There will be a certain sense of discipline." But he quickly added, "I expect Mexico to be with us."
He joked about a comment in yesterday's New York Times suggesting that Bush "does keep score" when countries oppose him. "I wouldn't believe everything you read," he said with a laugh.
Krugman then, ever in tune to what is happening near the border, suggests that remarks that "went virtually unreported by the ever-protective U.S. media" would spur a wave of violence (?) against all Hispanics.
Moreover, Mr. Bush was disingenuous when he described the backlash against the French as "not stirred up by anybody except the people." On the same day that the report of his interview appeared, The Financial Times carried the headline, "Hastert Orchestrates Tirade Against the French." That's Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House of Representatives. In fact, anti-French feeling has been carefully fomented by Republican officials, Rupert Murdoch's media empire and other administration allies. Can you blame Mexicans for interpreting Mr. Bush's remarks as a threat to do the same to them?
So oderint dum metuant it is. I could talk about the foolishness of such blatant bullying ? or about the incredible risks, in a multiethnic, multiracial society, of even hinting that one might encourage a backlash against Hispanics. And yes, I mean Hispanics, not Mexicans: once feelings are running high, do you really think people will politely ask a brown-skinned guy with an accent whether he is a citizen or, if not, which country he comes from?
But my most intense reaction to this story isn't anger over the administration's stupidity and irresponsibility, or even dismay over the casual destruction of hard-won friendships. No, when I read an interview in which the U.S. president sounds for all the world like a B-movie villain ? "You have relatives in Texas, yes?" ? what I feel, above all, is shame.
Mexico has a decision to make. I'd be surprised if Mexico didn't vote with the U.S., for the simple reason that it has nothing to gain, and everything to lose from opposing us. Mexico, as Krugman has noted in the past, seeks changes to U.S. immigration policy -- it would be smart to support the newest Iraq resolution -- seen by the Bush administration as a national security issue. If Mexico shows concern for our national security in the wake of 9/11, then it is more likely to eventually win concessions on guest-worker policies.
Americans, from Krugman's ivory tower, are merely sheep to be guided by the speaker of the House. I'm a news junkie. I spend a lot of my time (probably too much) reading newspapers, blogs, etc. and I hadn't seen the Financial Times piece he refers to. I suspect that most people in America have no idea what Hastert says on a daily basis -- he's not exactly the most high profile Republican politician. The Americans who are ticked-off at the French don't need Hastert to tell them to be ticked-off. We see through the French holier-than-thou attitude which merely covers up the huge financial interest they have in seeing the continued rule of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
So, to Paul Krugman, President Bush sounds like a B-movie villain? Well, that's certainly an improvement over what Krugman has called him before.
Thursday, March 06, 2003
Lede of the day: From National Review's Jack Dunphy: [L]ike a favorite hymn learned in childhood, the words are as comforting as they are familiar: "The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, accordingly, is reversed."
Stem cell research update: There's another promising experiment going on with adult stem cell research -- the kind that seems to work -- and doesn't get a lot of media attention.
ROYAL OAK, Michigan (AP) -- Doctors said Wednesday they are attempting an experimental procedure to heal a teenage patient's heart by infusing it with the boy's own blood stem cells. It could take months to know whether it works, but doctors say they are already seeing encouraging results.
You'd hope that if this was successful, there'd be a new influx of funds for researching adult stem cells -- but don't hold your breath. Success isn't nearly as newsworthy as Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve begging Congress for more money.
Religion of Peace Update: David Horowitz's Frontpagemag.com has a three-part symposium on Islam. I read part one a couple of days ago, and just finished parts two and three.
The symposium is interesting not only for what it tells us about Islam, but what its defenders have to say when challenged. The two Islamic experts start out with ad hominem attacks on their opponents, then eventually resort to saying that Western society has problems too.
For example, from Part 2:
Gentlemen, if today’s terrorism is not an outgrowth of Islam and if it gives Islam a "bad name", and therefore even defames Islam, why isn’t the outcry from the Muslim world much more vehement? Where are all of the mass demonstrations of angry Muslims shouting and denouncing Bin Laden for slandering Islam?
As'ad AbuKhalil: Why should Arabs and Muslims always dance to US tunes? So Arabs and Muslims are only humans if they respond to US orders for demonstrations only on issues that the US decides on? In the Middle East, people widely and uniformly condemn the Sep. 11 attacks, so they do not feel the need to keep reiterating their stance to appease anti-Muslim bigots like Falwell, Robertson, and F. Graham.
For those of you who live in California, you'll be happy to know that AbuKhalil is supported by your taxpayer dollars. He's a political science professor at CSU Stanislaus.
Islam needs better spokesmen (I'd say spokespeople, but women aren't allowed) if they're going to convince the rest of the world that they are really a religion of peace.
Oh, and things like this don't help the case.
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
Alan Colmes on radio: I don't always agree with the guy, but I think he's doing a pretty good job.
He's got Gore Vidal on right now. Vidal, if you didn't think he was before, is officially a nut. In less than 10 minutes into the interview (Colmes is doing an admirable job -- not great -- but not crummy either), Vidal has: compared Bush to Hitler; suggested that Jeb Bush rigged the Florida election in 2000; called the American people stupid for not electing Al Gore as president; said that the oil companies are running the country; confused Fox News with AOL/Time Warner; said Bush knew Sept. 11 was going to happen and did nothing; and, curiously, said Bush didn't know what was going to happen on Sept. 11.
All in all, I think Colmes has a pretty good show.
Some informative graphics: While searching for information on the judicial nomination process, I came across a lecture given at the Heritage Foundation last year by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
When making their arguments the Democrats often like to compare unlike political conditions -- that is, Clinton's last two (lame duck) years to George W. Bush's first two years. A comparison of like time periods shows a great discrepancy in how the Democrat-controlled Senate changed the rules.
Leahy: I'm a hypocrite: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has released a statement acknowledging that he said he would never filibuster a judicial nominee, but that he never meant it that way.
Some Republicans have been taking a quote out of context from Senator Leahy from June 1998 about judicial nominations, replacing his actual words with an ellipse, then distributing it widely and misusing it.
Here is what Republicans keep quoting: "I have stated over and over again ... [ELLIPSE] that I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it is somebody I opposed or supported."
What the Republican talking points omit with their ellipse is the essential context of that quote. Senator Leahy’s actual comment was made during floor discussion about AN ANONYMOUS REPUBLICAN HOLD on yet another of President Clinton’s nominees. Here was his actual comment:
?I have stated over and over again on this floor that I would refuse to put an anonymous hold on any judge; that I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it is somebody I opposed or supported; that I felt the Senate should do its duty.?
Elipsis or no, what is the "duty" that Leahy refers to? The only logical reading of Leahy's statement is that the Senate's "duty" would be to vote. A duty to not have "AN ANONYMOUS REPUBLICAN HOLD" doesn't make any sense.
But that's not where Leahy's statement stops. Leahy also recalls all manner of slights, real or perceived, suffered by Clinton nominees -- ignoring the fact that Clinton and Reagan both nominated a very similar number of judges in their terms.
The process of the anonymous holds with which Republicans prevented action on Clinton judicial nominees required NOT JUST A MAJORITY or a SUPERMAJORITY for the Senate to proceed to votes; Republicans were killing Clinton nominees by requiring UNANIMITY. And they were doing it ANONYMOUSLY, without accountability to the public. In the case of the Estrada nomination, Senate Democrats are using their leverage to PUBLICLY seek the Justice Department memoranda that the Judiciary Committee began requesting NEARLY A YEAR AGO, before proceeding to a vote.
Leahy's contention is not entirely accurate. When it comes to judicial nominees, the "hold" is what is referred to as a "blue slip." Basically, a blue slip is sent to the two home state senators as acknowledgement that they were "consulted" (part of the "advise" part of the "advice and consent" referred to in the Constitution) and that they approve of the nominee. If the blue slip is not returned, then the nomination dies. One may or may not agree with the process, but it is one that both parties have used for at least a decade. Leahy's statement makes it seem as though any senator can put an anonymous hold on any judicial nominee -- this obviously isn't true, because then we wouldn't be having this debate over a filibuster -- because it wouldn't be necessary.
As far as the Justice Dept. memoranda -- it's a red herring. Leahy continues to crow about it, despite the fact that every living former solicitor general say that the Senate has no right to them.
Leahy closes with the following statement:
Senate Democrats have raised serious and legitimate concerns about the Senate proceeding to a final vote, concerning the incompleteness of the record, the lack of responsive answers to basic questions and the refusal to turn over memos equivalent to memos provided to the Senate in other nominations.
What a bunch of malarkey. The "memos" Leahy wants aren't equivalent -- not even democratic ex-solicitor generals agree with that statement. As far as not getting "answers to basic questions" see the post immediately below this one.
The democrats, with Leahy and Chuck Schumer leading the way, have created a new standard for judicial nominees. Eventually they will regret it.
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
More on Estrada: National Review's Byron York reports that Senate Democrats have missed another opportunity to ask circuit court nominee Miguel Estrada any new questions. White House counsel Alberto Gonzales had offered Democrats (actually, any Senator for that matter) another opportunity to submit written questions to Estrada with a deadline of last Friday. Estrada would answer them over the weekend and Democrats would have had the information they say they need to make an informed decision today.
Well, Friday came and went and not one question was submitted. Estrada can't answer questions when he isn't given any.
Some of the "gentlemanly" conduct of the Senate needs to give way. The next time a Democratic senator says that Estrada hasn't answered the questions posed to him, Republicans should call them on the carpet -- even using the term "liar" when appropriate.
Monday, March 03, 2003
An interesting idea...: but I don't think it'll fly. One of the "Top 10" Letters to the Weekly Standard's online edition (#4), suggests that the Senate's filibuster of Miguel Estrada may be unconstitutional.
The filibuster rule (part of Congress's Constitutional right to organize) prevents Congress from carrying out its Constitutional mandate to advise and consent (Terry Eastland, Filibustering Miguel).
Is it not reasonable to assume Congress cannot establish rules that prevent it from carrying out its duty to advice and consent? Therefore, filibuster of judicial nominee is unconstitutional and Republican leadership should seek court relief. After all, the Senate was not able to filibuster impeachment, so some Senate functions can't be filibustered.
It's an interesting theory, but don't bet on any court touching this with a 10-foot pole -- the judiciary probably very reluctant (and rightly so) to meddle with the rules by which the Senate plays.
I will say that the Democrats in the Senate have raised the bar on judicial appointments to such a level that they can bet it will eventually bite them in the butt. I'm confident that someday we'll have another Democrat in the White House (it'll probably be a long time), but when it happens -- good luck getting any talented liberal judges on the courts.
One of the
excuses complaints that many Democratic senators are hanging their hats on with regard to Estrada's nomination is that he hasn't answered questions from the committee. Well, the only questions he hasn't answered are the ones that judicial nominees are supposed to decline. Pejman Pundit has a collection of quotes that should be quite enlightening on the subject.
Oh, and while I'm talking about Estrada and the filibuster -- if Republicans are serious about stopping this filibuster, they need to go back to the kind of filibuster made famous in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." This garbage where they discuss other business and go home at the close of business each day is ridiculous -- and it merits nary a peep from the major media outlets. If you want to get the attention of the American people to what the Democrats are doing -- make the filibuster real. Watch CSPAN-2's ratings begin to rival those of MSNBC. As long as this goes on under the radar, it's to the Democrats' advantage.
Great political cartoons: Anti-idiotarian cartoonists Cox and Forkum have launched their new blog -- head over and check it out. I'm going to add it to the list on the left eventually. I seriously need to catch up on my Web Log Links.
Another columnist who needs to get out more: Is the Union-Tribune's James O Goldsborough. Jim's a smart enough guy, who sometimes just likes to be a pain in the butt. In Goldsborough's latest column, he takes up what is perhaps the lamest, most inane and ludicrous of the extreme anti-war left's claims -- that the war on Iraq is a modern-day crusade.
George W. Bush's Iraq war will be America's first religious war, one inspired by groups of Christian fundamentalists and Jewish neoconservatives, a coalition whose zeal for war is as great as that of the original crusaders.
The origin of the crusades was a 1095 meeting in Autun, France, where 36 bishops made the first vows to "go to Jerusalem." Four years later, the crusaders took Jerusalem, only to see it recaptured by Saladin. The First Crusade launched centuries of war between crusaders and indigenous peoples from North Africa to Russia.
Today, the idea is to "go to Baghdad," but is rooted in a the same desire: to serve Jerusalem (Israel) and remake the Middle East. Like the crusaders, the new coalition represents the wedding of religious zeal and military power, always a fatal connection.
Frankly, it's sad that a "serious" columnist like Goldsborough would even bother with this drivel -- must've been a slow week.
*UPDATE* San Diegans have responded to Goldsborough's drivel -- including the head of the local ADL.
Krugman's on vacation: Which means it's Nicholas Kristof's turn. I don't disagree much with's Kristof's sudden "discovery" that hey, there aren't a whole lot of evangelical Christians in the mainstream media -- I've known it for a long time. In fact, in my nearly 9 years in newspapers, large and small, I can easily call to mind three evangelical Christians I've worked with.
However, what I will take issue with is Kristof's ignorance about what works -- especially in Africa -- in curbing the spread of AIDS.
I tend to disagree with evangelicals on almost everything, and I see no problem with aggressively pointing out the dismal consequences of this increasing religious influence. For example, evangelicals' discomfort with condoms and sex education has led the administration to policies that are likely to lead to more people dying of AIDS at home and abroad, not to mention more pregnancies and abortions.
Maybe if Kristof took his own advice and interacted, on a less-accusatory basis, with those very same evangelical Christians, he might actually find out more about what is actually happening out in the world.
What are the "dismal consequences" of promoting abstinance in AIDS-ravaged African nations? National Review's Rod Dreher recently reported on them.
In the late 1980s, when AIDS first came to Uganda, the Kampala government realized that it was being transmitted through sexual behavior. Authorities rallied religious leaders and others behind a massive campaign to convince the population to change its sexual behavior. "Zero grazing outside of your own field," was the slogan the government used to promote its "ABC." initiative. The message to the Ugandan people: Abstain from sex if you can, Be faithful to your partner, and if this doesn't work, use a Condom.
It worked brilliantly. Unlike most other African nations, the HIV infection rate peaked in 1991, and has been steadily dropping since. Studies show that Ugandans dramatically reduced their risky sexual activity. And this successful program, which was devised wholly by the Ugandans themselves, could be implemented with little money.
The real truth why Kristof and his friends in the liberal elite oppose anything that smacks of religion in dealing with a deadly, largely sexually-transmitted disease, is that the are loath to condemn any "lifestyle" as being somehow "wrong" -- especially when it involves sex.
I deal with people who hold fundamentally different worldviews all the time -- it helps to broaden my perspective. Kristof might consider spending one Sunday morning a month at a church -- it might help him.
Today's sign that the apocalypse is upon us: Madonna, author of "Sex," signs deal to write childrens books.
"It will be a story with a moral," said Majorie Scardino, the chief executive of Penguin's parent company Pearson.
Exactly which moral Madonna has finally discovered was not revealed.
Literacy in France: is apparently incredibly poor. On ABC's "This Week," George Stephanopoulos interviewed French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and discovered that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 really means.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just ask one final question. If the United States goes forward anyway and in a month, two months, they go into Baghdad, they go into Iraq, and discover thousands of tons of chemical/biological weapons, what would you think then?
DE VILLEPIN: Well I think that we should have gave more time to the inspectors to make sure that this was going to happen. You see if the army is going to find it, don't you think the inspectors are in the position to find it? I think, and that's why we said we are ready to reinforce the inspectors, to give more hundreds of inspectors on the ground. We have the possibility everyday to know more about these programs. We should use this possibility. Every day we know more about these programs. [emphasis added]
Let me answer that question -- hell, NO! Monsewer De Villepin, it is clearly spelled out in 1441 that Iraq has to account for all of their chemical, biological and nuclear programs to the UN. If we go in and find chemical weapons, then that means that Saddam has not been cooperating, despite what you've said several times earlier in your fundamentally faulty defense of a murderous dictator.
The other interesting point of Monsewer De Villepin's presentation was his absolute refusal to consider that, knowing what we know now about Saddam Hussein's Iraq, maybe it was a bad idea to build him a nuclear reactor back in the early '80s.
STEPHANOPOULOS: France and Iraq have a long and complicated history on nuclear cooperation. France provided the original nuclear reactors to Iraq. Given what Saddam Hussein has said in the past, he has said the only mistake he made in 1991 was invading Kuwait before he had nuclear weapons. Do you now believe that Israel was right to bomb the Osaraq(sp?) reactor and France was wrong to help build it?
DE VILLEPIN: I think you cannot remake history. You can take lessons. You can imagine different scenarios. I don't think it's possible today definite answers. I think that the idea of preemptive strike might be a possibility. Have it as a doctrine, as a theory, I don't think it is really useful. Sometimes by using force preemptively we might create more violence and we have to be always thinking to what are the consequences.
The French are in bed with Saddam up to their necks (if I may mix my metaphors). They've got the opportunity to take sides in this conflict. To quote from "Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail": "You've chosen unwisely."