Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Krugman update: Donald Luskin reports that Paul Krugman's non-fact-checked column quotes Winston Churchill incorrrectly. The "most unsordid act" in history that Churchill refers to is the Lend-Lease Act, not the Marshall Plan. Kinda messes up the whole title of the column.
Innuendo, and little else: New York Times columnist is back from vacation. It should really be no surprise no one that some time off has not cured Krugman's madness.
After tossing out innuendo, but no evidence, regarding the fairly won, contracts Halliburton and Bechtel received being a result of "crony capitalism," Krugman moves on to the process for awarding cell phone contracts in Iraq. (it should be noted that Halliburton's contract was a work/consulting contract that they competed for and won before Bush even took office.)
For example, in July two enterprising Middle Eastern firms started offering cellphone service in Baghdad, setting up jury-rigged systems compatible with those of neighboring countries. Since the collapse of Baghdad's phone system has been a major source of postwar problems, coalition authorities should have been pleased.
But no: the authorities promptly shut down the services. Cell service, they said, could be offered only by the winners in a bidding process — one whose rules, revealed on July 31, seemed carefully designed to shut out any non-American companies. (In the face of strenuous protests the rules were revised, but still seem to favor the usual suspects.) Oddly, the announcement of the winners, originally scheduled for Sept. 5, keeps being delayed. Meanwhile, only Paul Bremer and his people have cellphones — and, thanks to the baffling decision to give that contract to MCI, even those phones don't work very well. (Aside from the fact that its management perpetrated history's biggest accounting fraud, MCI has no experience in building cell networks.)
To quote Paul Harvey, here's the rest of the story:
An article in Newsweek's Web edition, by Christopher Dickey -- someone who obviously shares Krugman's sympathies -- offers some less sinister explanations for running out the foreign cell phone services, even while attacking them as being insensitive to the Iraqi people.
For a few days at the end of July, a couple of companies from Bahrain and Kuwait actually did set up a working cell-phone network for the public. But Bremer shut it down right away. According to the briefer sent out to meet the press, the “illegal” Bahrain and Kuwait phone service was interfering with U.S. military communications and the MCI network. The public’s phones were causing problems, in other words, for all those folks in the Bubble. Now we’re told “legal” phones won’t be in operation until mid-November at the earliest.
When a colleague of mine pressed one of the Bubble’s senior officials about this problem the other night, this up-and-coming Washingtonian said he didn’t see what all the fuss was about. “Quite frankly, we are in no hurry to establish a cell net here,” the official confided. “We don’t want the terrorists talking to each other.”
What are a few more dead American servicemen when Krugman wants to make a political point?
And what about the "rigged" rules for bids to build a cell system in Iraq and the "suspicious" delays.
Businessweek presents a less sinister and much more reasonable explanation:
No bidder could be more than 5% government-owned. That meant that nearly every mobile operator in the Middle East and Europe was out of contention. Plus, the three winners would be required to post bonds covering the full cost of construction -- possibly as high as $150 million each. Such demanding terms, says telecom-equipment analyst Jason Chapman for researcher Gartner Inc., "would have made the short list very short."
But a surprising thing happened over the next few weeks. Responding to the outcry from potential bidders, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) twice relaxed its terms. By the time bids were due on Aug. 21, the CPA had lowered the bond requirement to $30 million and agreed to permit up to 10% government ownership in any bidding consortium. That let state-owned carriers enter the running in conjunction with private investors. More than a half-dozen Middle Eastern telcos have thrown their hats in the ring.
Originally the winner(s) were to be announced on Sept. 5 -- that's barely more than two weeks since the bids were received -- is it any real surprise that any government agency can't make a decision like that in 15 days?
And is the Bush administration really planning sweetheart deals for American companies? If you read the rest of the Businessweek article, it becomes apparent that if the cell phone contracts are a giveaway, then they're a crummy, double-edged one.
Seeking a lightning-fast rollout, the CPA devised a scheme to carve Iraq into three wireless regions. Each will be served by different carriers. After 12 months, the operators are encouraged to invade other territories in the hopes of fostering competition.
The decision to limit the contracts to two years was perhaps the boldest stroke. After that, a new Iraqi government is expected to organize its own tender -- and there's no guarantee September's winners will be picked again. It's an assurance to Iraqis "that we're not giving it away forever," says a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer. Thus, most bidders have lined up Iraqi partners. "Having local investors in a winning consortium is seen as an insurance policy when a subsequent Iraqi government takes over," says Norman Sandler, director of global strategic issues for Motorola Inc. (MOT ).
On the other hand, the two-year term could make it nearly impossible for companies to recoup their investments. Iraq's infrastructure is so shattered that operators may need to build pricey fiber or microwave backbones to connect cellular towers. The threat of sabotage by rebels necessitates expensive security. And market potential is limited by widespread poverty. Motorola figures on only about 500,000 mobile users initially -- roughly a $60 million annual business if customers spend an average of $10 per month. Such small returns suggest that only the very brave -- or foolhardy -- are plunging into the fray.
If that's a government sweetheart deal, then I never want one.
Who's Sordid Now? Well, it starts with a P. It ends with an N. And has AUL KRUGMA in the middle. Once again, the truth is much less interesting than the paranoia.
How are basketball players like Cruz Bustamante?: They both get special treatment at Fresno State.
Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante got credit but did not have to attend a basic speech class at Fresno State in the late 1990s because a professor decided in 15 minutes or less that the Fresno Democrat would have earned at least a C based on his public utterances.
Bustamante left Fresno State in the late 1970s without earning a bachelor's degree but returned 20 years later to complete it, which he did this spring. He needed to take approximately eight classes, and the speech class satisfied a general-education requirement.
"In my judgment at the time, he had certainly demonstrated minimal proficiency, and I emphasize minimal proficiency ... in the fundamental skills mandated by the course," Robert Powell, former chairman of the communication department, said last week. He interjected: "I'm not going to make any judgment about the eloquence or anything else" of Bustamante's speeches.
Of course, you'd think a politician could manage beter than a C.
On a related note: Saw a second (newer?) version of the Cruz Bustamante opposes Prop. 54 television ads. A superior court judge ruled that the funds for the ad buy were illegally laundered through old Bustamante campaign committees, but Bustamante's people are claiming that the ads will continue to run because they cannot "breach a contract" they have with TV stations to run the ads. But, according to the Los Angeles Times, if Bustamante were serious about following the judge's ruling, then he could have them pulled.
Although NBC requires four weeks' notice for ad cancellations, the employee said, affiliates treat political candidates as "preferred customers" and would likely reach a quick compromise with Bustamante.
I never expected an honest politician -- but at least Bustamante could try harder at faking it.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
Don't call me: The Boston Globe reported today that the federal judge who found the FTC's do-not-call list to be an abridgement of freedom of speech had his own phone number on the list.
The story notes that anyone can put a number on the list, so it is possible that a censorious aide to the judge might have done it -- or maybe his wife.
Laughs aside, I suspect that this judge will have his order overturned on appeal, on several legal theories.
First, though I think it's bogus, I'm going to use it: "right to privacy." Unwanted phone calls from people selling weed whackers during dinner (or early in the morning while I'm sleeping in) infringes on my right to privacy. Especially after I have publicly stated my desire not to be called by signing up for the list.
Second, the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that commercial speech has less Constitutional protection than political speech.
Third, with the news that people will soon be able to switch their landline numbers to cell phones, produces a situation where an unwanted telephone solicitation will actually cost the consumer money in the form of cell phone airtime used. The courts have similarly ruled on unsolicited faxes being illegal for much the same reason -- the cost of ink and paper to print out the solicitation costs the consumer money.
The do-not-call list will eventually become the law of the land. There is no free speech right to annoy people in their own homes.
Disgusting: The upcoming issue of National Review has an excellent article by Dave Shiflett on the late, great Johnny Cash. That's not what is disgusting. What is disgusting is the recounting of former Vice President Al Gore's comments at Cash's funeral.
At his funeral, daughter Rosanne Cash said he was "a Baptist with the soul of a mystic." Pop idol Sheryl Crow sang "The Old Rugged Cross." The only sour note, by some accounts, was struck by Al Gore, who seemed to forget who was at center stage. "I wish I could stand here . . . and tell you I was Johnny Cash's closest friend. I can't. I'm not a singer. I'm not a preacher. I'm just a recovering politician . . . who used to be the next president of the United States of America."
Al, sometimes it's not about you.
*UPDATE* My colleague, Eric Lindholm over at VikingPundit says the above just can't possibly be true. Well, here's a second source.
Former Vice President Al Gore, who knew Cash but said he wouldn’t claim to being a close friend, said that he felt he could “speak for the millions who felt like they knew Johnny Cash.” Gore drew laughter when he said that he was “not a singer or a preacher. I’m just a recovering politician. I used to be the next president of the United States of America. If it had been up to Johnny Cash, I would have been the next president of the United States of America.” Cash, Gore said, was able to empathize and feel the suffering of the underclass and identify with prisoners so effectively because Cash “had come to understand that there is a prison within, and he lived in that prison. He found a way out, but he was a recidivist, a repeat offender. He came to understand through the healing love of time and his family that he could explore the truth within him and reach out to his savior and break loose of those walls.”
Eric, I can't make this stuff up.
Friday, September 26, 2003
Racist state of California: San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Joseph Perkins has a great article in today's paper on Proposition 54.
What astounds is that race demagogues like (Jesse) Jackson and (Cruz) Bustamante are hardly the only ones who hold this view. Many whites in California also share this view, particularly those who consider themselves enlightened on matters of race.
The "enlightened" whites think themselves above race prejudice, beyond race discrimination. But they think the rest of California's white population is less colorblind than they.
So they oppose Proposition 54 ostensibly to keep other whites honest. And to affirm their solidarity with blacks, browns, yellows and reds in the continuing struggle of those "minorities" for race equality.
The perverse irony is that the white and nonwhite foes of Proposition 54 find themselves supporting public policy – classifying individuals according to their skin color – that has a long and racist tradition.
It's reminiscient of a recent cartoon by the Detroit News' Henry Payne:
Perkins also provides an answer to some of the opponents of Prop. 54 with regard to its impact on medical studies and treatment:
And they employ the most dubious arguments to justify their support for public policy that has no moral or legal validity.
Like the claim that, if California health care providers stop collecting race data, the state's nonwhite population will not receive proper medical treatment.
That does not jibe with the scientific findings of J. Craig Venter, who founded Celera Genomics, the biotechnology firm that shares credit for decoding the human genome.
In a recent issue of Science, Venter says that collection of race and ethnicity data – for clinical drug trials – could lead to "misleading and biologically meaningless conclusions."
That's because "race" is a social, rather than scientific construct. "Instead of applying social categories," he wrote, we should be promoting obtaining scientific data. Color of skin does not work as a surrogate."
In fact, he noted, several scientific studies have shown that there are more differences in drug responses within racial and ethnic groups than among them.
Prop. 54's time has come.
If Al Gore had won...: Then Gen. Wesley Clark would be running for the Republican nomination for president in 2004. After reading Clark's remarks at a fund-raiser for the Pulaski County Republican Party in May 2001, I can't comprehend how a man who graduated first in his class at West Point and was a Rhodes scholar can make what is a nothing less than a tectonic philosophical shift in just two years.
You see, in the Cold War we were defensive. We were trying to protect our country from communism. Well guess what, it's over. Communism lost. Now we've got to go out there and finish the job and help people live the way they want to live. We've got to let them be all they can be. They want what we have. We've got some challenges ahead in that kind of strategy. We're going to be active, we're going to be forward engaged. But if you look around the world, there's a lot of work to be done. And I'm very glad we've got the great team in office: men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condolzeezza Rice, Paul O'Neill--people I know very well--our president, George W. Bush. We need them there, because we've got some tough challenges ahead in Europe.
It's important to note that Clark said this before 9/11, before the country rallied behind the president. The Democrat faithful were still challenging the president's legitimacy. The economy was beginning to really feel the recession and President Bush was pushing for tax cuts. And yet, here is the Democrat-candidate-to-be full of praise for the current administration.
So what has changed in the last two years? Well, Bush has begun to look politically vulnerable, Democrats weak, and an opportunistic and ambitious Clark sees an chance for higher office.
Clark is a chameleon; he changes his political beliefs to blend in with his chosen surroundings. It should come as no surprise that he is surrounded by former Clinton supporters -- the president who made most every decision based on the results of some public opinion poll.
If Democrats decide on Clark, they're getting the candidate they deserve.
Cal Poly administration gets what's coming to it: And that's a lawsuit from the Center for Individual Rights.
If you're looking for some background on the issue, you can check out my blog posts here, here and here. You can also check out some work on the case done by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education here.
Cal Poly will lose this lawsuit. The judge that gets this case should save the California taxpayers some cash and just issue a summary judgement in favor of Hinkle. It's amazing that no one in the Cal Poly administration has had the sense to stop this before it got this far.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
Bake sale nixed: As has been done at numerous campuses, conservative students at Southern Methodist University had an affirmative action bake sale. Unlike other campuses, school officials shut the bake sale down because it created a "hostile environment."
This just in, the real-world is a "hostile environment."
The quote in ths story that really got me was one by a black student who was offended by the bake sale.
Matt Houston, a 19-year-old sophomore, called the group's price list offensive.
"My reaction was disgust because of the ignorance of some SMU students," said Houston, who is black. "They were arguing that affirmative action was solely based on race. It's not based on race. It's based on bringing a diverse community to a certain organization."
Yeah, it's based on bringing a diverse community based on race to a certain organization. Until affirmative action is based on something like a person's financial background or political viewpoint, then affirmative action is based on race. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.
My reaction is disgust because of the ignorance of a SMU student named Matt Houston.
Correction of the day: From today's New York Times corrections page:
An article on Monday about Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz's comments at a forum on Iraq misstated President Bush's position on whether there were contacts between Al Qaeda and the government of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush has said there were such contacts; he has not said they were unsubstantiated.
The Times and the president's other critics, need to understand that while there is no evidence Saddam Hussein was complicit in the Sept. 11 attack on the United States, there is no doubt that Saddam -- and therefore Iraq -- was a state sponsor of terrorism.
More California budget problems: A federal judge has taken the California government's credit card away.
judge has blocked as unconstitutional the state's plan to borrow nearly $2 billion to pay for employee pensions, part of the more than $15 billion in borrowing lawmakers relied on to balance the budget.
If upheld on appeal, the judge's preliminary opinion could raise legal questions over other planned bond sales in the $99 billion budget signed by the governor early last month, and possibly lead to further cutbacks and new taxes.
Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Cecil ruled orally Tuesday that the sale of bonds approved in the Legislature violated a portion of the state Constitution which bans borrowing more than $300,000 over several years to pay for routine spending.
Boom! This year's budget crisis is still unsolved. This could spell doom for Gray Davis' hopes of defeating the recall. Davis' poll numbers climbed after the legislature passed, and he signed, the current budget plan. If that "solution" turns out, on appeal, to be invalid, then expect Davis' numbers to head downward into the abyss once more.
Thoughts on the debate: I watched/listened to quite a bit of Wednesday's California recall/gubernatorial debate. It was on in the newsroom, but I couldn't pay 100 percent attention to it because I had other work to do. You can find a transcript of the entire debate right here.
- The debate's format, something that was a point of contention, worked surprisingly well. Candidates were able to give longer, though still scripted, answers. You didn't have the annoying moderator trying to cut them off incessantly. Everyone got their say, and it just seemed to be more interesting this way.
- Arianna Huffington is a nut. Arnold Schwarzenegger had it right when he suggested that she should be running against George W. Bush -- every issue that was raised, Huffington linked to problems in Washington, D.C. If Huffington wants to solve the problems she's identified, then she's running for the wrong office. If there is another debate, Huffington shouldn't be invited to participate.
- Bustamante made it through the night with no major gaffes, but he did make an admission that Schwarzenegger and McClintock would be wise to pounce on in their media buys.
Well clearly we spent too much. We spent more as a government, we spent more than it was coming in. There's no rocket science to this. We clearly knew that there were certain incomes that were coming in, and we spent more than we had. But what I've decided to do, what I've decided, to face this realistically, to deal with this practically, to understand it and not tell half-truths about what we're likely able to do. We've done all the easy things, and now it's time to do the tough things. That's why I submitted a plan. A plan that I called tough love for California. In that plan, I raised tobacco taxes, I raised alcohol taxes, I raised the upper income tax brackets on the largest and the highest 4 percent of all Californians. I do that, but in return we close the budget gap, we fully fund education, we put 123,000 community college students back into our colleges, and we relieve the car tax for all those vehicles that are under $20,000. We do something in terms of raising taxes. She called it raising revenues. We know what it really is. But at the same time, we get something good for California.
Bustamante acknowledges that the governor and the state legislature spent taxpayer funds irresponsibly -- and now they want more. Also note the conflicting impulses from the Democrat candidate. Bustamante wants to raise taxes on "the rich" (I'm always wary of how that definition is determined -- sometimes it seems much too low), but he also wants to raise the "sin" taxes on tobacco and alcohol -- which is effectively a tax on the poor.
- Bustamante also seemed very laid back. Quite a few of the commentators, including Democrat Susan Estrich, observed that it appeared as though Bustamante had been over-prescribed valium. Others likened his performance to that of Al Gore with his condescending sighs towards George W. Bush.
- Schwarzenegger had some good one-liners, but not a whole lot in the way of substance. He was right to note that Bustamante and Huffington seem to believe that the only major problem in California is the fact that corporations and "the rich" aren't taxed enough. Polls show that the vast majority of Californians think the state is heading in the wrong direction -- raising taxes alone is not going to get that opinion turned around.
- McClintock overall gave the best performance, though his odds of being elected are still long. Agree or disagree with him, he knows what he stands for and isn't inclined to compromise. He doesn't try to soften stands that are considered unpopular among many Californians (read: pro-life), he is who he is.
- Peter Camejo is a socialist. If that's what you want, he's your man.
Hopefully there will be at least one more debate and hopefully Schwarzenegger will show up for it. The residents of California deserve more than one with Arnold present.
Training basketball players to be men: The Associated Press has an article on the NBA's rookie orientation program -- and the comment from at least one anonymous player demonstrates that while they're legally responsible for their own actions, some of them aren't yet men.
The 59 players gathered in a conference room whistle at the actresses, add their own comments to the scripted innuendo and basically act like boys among boys, which is not far removed from what they are. Fifteen in the group are under 21.
One player comments that the couple on stage don't act like they're committed to a 50-50 partnership. But another says the woman seemed ideal – she knew her place, didn't challenge her upbraiding and acted perfectly compliant to somebody superior to her. (The players' names cannot be used under an agreement which granted reporters access to the drama session for the first time.)
More evidence that sports stars shouldn't be role models for your kids.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Cruz Bustamante, misinformed: In the debate, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, discussing education, lamented the fact that California had not built a new public university in the past 35 years. Well, that's wrong. It's those pesky facts again.
Now this would be cool: No more need for that dangerous boost phase to get a space shuttle into orbit or the super-heated re-entry. Instead, super-strong elevator cables. Very cool -- if they can get it to work.
The military vote vs. the anti-military vote: It appears that Democrat presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark had better position himself as being the kind of military guy liberals who hate the military can vote for, because he isn't going to get the military vote. From the Los Altos Town Crier report on an appearance by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Hugh Shelton:
"What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate," was the question put to him by moderator Dick Henning, assuming that all military men stood in support of each other. General Shelton took a drink of water and Henning said, "I noticed you took a drink on that one!"
"That question makes me wish it were vodka," said Shelton. "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."
If Clark continues to lead the Democrat field once his novelty has worn off (say two weeks or so), expect a close look at his military record and the reason(s) he was forced into retirement.
Airheads: The Weekly Standard's Jonathan Last takes on the Dixie Chicks' latest pronouncement that they're no longer country music artists -- they're rock 'n' rollers.
Forget for a moment that this is like Ian McKellen announcing he's no longer a classically trained actor and that he now considers himself part of the Hollywood action-hero fraternity.
I'm sorry, but I can't stop thinking that way. The Dixie Chick's music is best describes as country, or maybe bluegrass. If you wanted to stretch it, you might get as far as folk. Rock 'n' roll they're not.
Last's article is an excellent look ahead at the Dixie Chicks' future. They're going to have to come to terms with the fact that the people most inclined to like their music are also those who are most likely to oppose their politics. There's a decision to make, they can either be political activists (which doesn't pay that well) or they can be musicians -- they can't be both.
The Episcopal Church's fall: Christopher Johnson over at the MCJ is on top of the division within the Episcopal Church over the decision by a majority of their bishops to substitute their feelings for the word of God.
Judicial nominees, again: Sen. Orrin Hatch calls the New York Times editorial page on its hypocrisy.
You make a plea for "straight talk on judicial nominees" (editorial, Sept. 10), though your own talk has not always been consistent.
On Jan. 1, 1995, an editorial proclaimed, "Time to Retire the Filibuster." Yet on Feb. 13 of this year, you changed your tune, saying "Keep Talking About Miguel Estrada."
You claim that "Mr. Estrada would not answer senators' questions." In fact, he answered more than 125 questions, at his hearing and in writing afterward.
Mr. Estrada's caution about discussing issues and precedents that he would likely face as an appeals court judge is the same as previous Supreme Court nominees'. Democrats defended them and voted for them, yet they filibustered Mr. Estrada for taking that same position.
Sen. Hatch, you just don't get it. Those were liberal judicial nominees who were pro-choice, "living Constitution," elitist, activists. Estrada was (probably) pro-life and a strict constructionist. The two situations are different. If you lowly, uneducated, easy-to-control Republicans could only understand the difference.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Recall redux: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the Oct. 7 recall election. The truly surprising thing about this is that the ruling was unanimous. Just goes to show you how far out there on the margin the original three-judge panel was.
The ACLU may appeal, but don't expect the Supreme Court to touch this with a 100-foot pole.
*UPDATE* That was quick, the ACLU has decided, wisely, not to appeal. I guess they realize it would be futile anyway.
Cal Poly climbing: The latest Div. I-AA poll is out and the Cal Poly Mustangs have climbed to No. 14. Up Next: No. 25 Northern Arizona. In fact, Cal Poly has 3 ranked teams remaining on its schedule, including at Montana and home against Idaho St.
Here's keeping my fingers crossed that I might get to see Cal Poly on national television come December.
Bustamante is busted: A court has ruled that Cruz Bustamante's "creative financing" with regard to his ads opposing Prop. 54 is a no-no.
Monday, September 22, 2003
More on the Nutty Ninth "Circus": Despite having an aspirin-resistant, persistant, splitting headache for much of the day (hence the non-existent posting -- I'm feeling a little better now), I managed to watch the en banc hearing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the California recall.
I'm not going to predict what the court's decision will be come Tuesday -- I don't have enough information to predict the outcome with any reasonable certainty. One bit of good news for the pro-recall side, however, might be found in an interview with Judge Harry Pregerson, one of the original three judges who first put the recall on hold.
"You know who's on the panel, right? Do you think it's going to have much of a chance of surviving? I wouldn't bet on it," Judge Harry Pregerson said in an interview.
While listening to the arguments before the full court, I was struck by a couple of things:
First, on the basis of pure performance, the ACLU side definitely did a better job. Lawrence Tribe and Mark Rosenbaum argued their case much more passionately than Douglas Woods, California's deputy attorney general. Charles Diamond, who argued on behalf of Rescue California, the pro-recall group, did slightly better.
Second, the ACLU's argument, though when pressed they denied it, seemed to be that if there is the possibility that any vote might not be counted, then no voting should take place. They painted touchscreen and optical-scan ballots as a voting panacea -- ignorning the fact that they too have potential difficulties. The ACLU also equates the inaccuracy inherent in any voting system with the intentional refusal to count some (specifically minority) votes.
Voting is an important and serious responsibility -- and if all voters would treat it as such, then there would be no pregnant, dimpled or pimpled chads.
The answer is not to delay the election because of the possibility that some negligent voters will not have their ballots counted.
More on Gen. Clark: A Newsweek story this week reveals that Democrat presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark bases his party affiliation not on basic philosophical standards or where the parties stand on the issues of the day, but on who returns his phone calls.
“I would have been a Republican,” Clark told them, “if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls.”
Of course, it turns out even this isn't true. The Weekly Standard called the White House and asked if Gen. Clark had called Karl Rove. The White House, which keeps a log of all calls received, has no record of Clark calling Rove.
Of course, this is the same guy who several months ago was making claims that the White House urged him to link the Sept. 11 attacks to Saddam Hussein. When pressed, Clark said it wasn't the White House, it was people around the White House (whatever that means), when pressed further he said the phone call came from a foreign policy think-tank in Canada which apparently doesn't even exist.
It's a pity the Democrats can't come up with better candidates.
Friday, September 19, 2003
Distorting the language: In reporting on Democrat presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark's flip-flop on whether he would support, the New York Times report spins like a Clark campaign operative.
On the third day of his campaign, Gen. Wesley K. Clark struggled today to clarify his statement on Thursday that he would "probably" have voted for the Congressional resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq.
General Clark, a former NATO commander who has retired from the Army, never denied making the statement in an interview with four reporters on his chartered plane. But he seemed stunned by the headlines that it generated, as supporters worried that he had undercut his position as an antiwar candidate with military bona fides.
"I never would have voted for war," he said here this afternoon in an interview and in response to a question after a lecture at the University of Iowa. "What I would have voted for is leverage. Leverage for the United States to avoid a war. That's what we needed to avoid a war."
Clarify his statement? This is nothing less than a full-fledged flip-flop.
Clark apparently wasn't pressed as to how exactly a resolution would have been worded that gave the president "leverage."
The Congress hereby resolves to give the President of the United States a two-by-four and a fulcrum...
And the overnight poll results are in: A day after announcing that "On balance, I probably would have voted for it (the war on Iraq)," Democrat presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark bravely ran away.
"I would have never voted for war," Clark told Reuters before delivering a foreign policy speech at the University of Iowa. "I'm a soldier. I understand what war's about, but I would have voted for the right kind of leverage for the president to head off war and avoid it."
It's sad that the only Democrats who appear to stand on principle on this issue (Kucinich and Dean) are the ones standing for the wrong principles.
Primary Sources: The Nutty Ninth Circuit has posted various documents on their Web site [Adobe Acrobat Reader required] related to the October 7 recall.
Two of the documents, which thankfully are not couched in legalese, are informative.
The first is from former Secretary of State Bill Jones, who was quoted in the three-judge panel's as having "banned" the use of punchcard ballot systems in "all future elections."
Well, it turns out that's not quite true:
These erroneous statements occur in the published opinion of the panel concerning my reasons, as then-Secretary of State, for decertifying pre-scored punchcard voting systems in 2001. The panel opinion begins with two incorrect factual statements contained in its lead topic sentence at page 1 of the panel opinion: that "the [punchcard] voting system is so flawed that the Secretary of State has officially deemed it 'unacceptable' and banned its use in all future elections."
This statement is incorrect in two ways: (1) as Secretary of State, I have never concluded, nor was it -- or is it -- my view, that pre-scored punchcard voting systems are flawed; and (2) I did not "ban the use of punchcard voting machines in all future elections" The incorrect implication of the first statement is that punchcard voting systems were and are defective, a view I never held and do not hold now. During my tenure as Secretary of State, dozens of elections involving national and local contests were successfully conducted using pre-scored punchcard voting systems. There was never a challenge in California to the result of any election because the election had been conducted using pre-scored punchcard voting systems.
The incorrect implication of the latter statement above is that punchcard voting systems would not be used in any elections between my decertification order and the date of its implementation. Moreover, the latter statement implies -- incorrectly -- that my action in 2002 somehow anticipated the recall and validates the panel's decision.
Facts? The Ninth Circuit don't need no stinkin' facts!
The second document is a letter from the Sacramento County registrar of voters. Outlining the wasted money and big-time mess a delay in the election would cause.
The Court ruling canceling the October 7, 2003 Statewide Special Election has already resulted in more voter confusion and antipathy than would ever potentially occur as a result of the continued use of the punch card voting system at issue.
If this election is delayed until March, 2004, it is possible that Sacramento County will have insufficient ballot capacity on our optical scan card to include all 135 candidates for the recall, plus all of the Federal, State and local contests that are scheduled for the March 2, 2004, election. The optical scan system that we plan to use does not allow for multiple cards, so we could potentially need to use a second voting system to accommodate the entire ballot. This would definitely cause voter confusion. We would be asking the voter not only to use a new system, but two new systems.
Voter confusion would also occur because the recall candidates are non-partisan running in a primary election. How would we explain to a Republican voter that he could vote for a Democrat in the recall contest but not for president?
And on the money issue:
Sacramento County estimated that this election would cost $1.5 million. At the present time, we have already expended approximately $1 million for the printing and mailing of ballots and Sample Official Ballots. This figure does not include staff time, overhead or indirect costs. The ballots and Sample Officials Ballots were prepared specifically for the October 7, 2003 Statewide Special Election and cannot be used or reused in another election. At least $1 million of Sacramento County’s taxpayer dollars will have been wasted if the October 7, 2003 Statewide Special Election is cancelled.
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, in an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, waxed eloquent that the Ninth Circuit had done the right thing. Tribe's argument is predictable, yet lame. If you check out the reader responses to Tribe's article, the combined effect is a thorough fisking.
However, there is one point in Tribe's article I'd like to single out for particular scorn.
People moaned and groaned about a hanging chad here and a dimpled chad there in Florida in the election of 2000 and succeeded in getting the federal judiciary to throw away thousands of ballots still uncounted as of an arbitrary date (Dec. 12, 2000).
The Ninth Circuit's critics aren't being wholly inconsistent with the game they played in the 2000 election: they're again hanging onto a purely arbitrary, artificial deadline (there it was midnight on Dec. 12; here it's the arbitrary Oct. 7 date) ...
Tribe is dismissive of these so-called "arbitrary" dates. The problem is, these "arbitrary" dates are the law. They are the rules of the political game. The outcry against the Ninth Circuit's decision to is akin to what might be heard if a NFL referee decided that the visiting team needed 15 yards for a first down and only got three downs. Both of those are "arbitrary" numbers.
Arbitrary is a synonym for "the law."
Funny that a law professor doesn't get that.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Fisking Rall: Michael J. Totten takes vicious, lying, America-hating "cartoonist" and "columnist" Ted Rall to task for his latest nut-case column.
Sometimes I wish Rall would act on some of the things he says so we could try him for treason.
Stupid, self-important bureaucrats: An article in today's San Diego Union-Tribune recounts some gross stupidity by the immigration service that should result in some firings. In short, the wife of a Navy sailor, and her 8 1/2-month-old American daughter, was detained for several days after returning from her native Australia.
"They didn't listen," she said, during a telephone interview from a holding facility at the Los Angeles International Airport.
"They said 'Sit down and be quiet. We don't care what you say. We're sending you back.' "
Confusion quickly turned to panic.
When she asked to call her husband, immigration officials said, 'No, you don't have any rights,' " she said.
Her daughter was hungry and getting sick, the mother said. The infant's eyes were running, her forehead was clammy-hot with fever and she hadn't had a bottle in hours.
She cradled the baby and looked again to a detention officer for help, asking for water to mix baby formula.
"They asked me if I had money to buy the water," she said, explaining she had Australian currency and 65 cents in U.S. change.
"Oh, my God, I couldn't believe they wouldn't give me water for my baby," Vetter said.
Finally, she said, an agent whom Vetter described as "the only one who cared," gave her a bottle of water.
Although they hadn't talked, Rob Vetter, 30, learned of her situation when he went to pick up his wife and daughter at the airport.
"They told me I couldn't talk to her, that she had no rights to see me," he said. Finally, he said, a sympathetic airport medical technician told him they had been moved to a nearby clinic, where he could find them.
There, he talked with his wife, who by then was getting sick with a sinus and ear infection. Rob Vetter said that when immigration authorities intervened, he asked to take his child home.
"She's an American citizen. You have no right to keep her," Vetter said he told an official.
Pete Gordon, interim assistant director for the Los Angeles customs office of Immigration and Border Protection, said they wanted Vetter to take his daughter but he said no.
"What we were told by him is he would have a problem with day care and couldn't take the child," Gordon said.
Lessee, a bureaucrat or the baby's father, who am I going to believe on this one?
Oh, and what about the treatment of the child at the hands of some incredibly stupid bureaucrats?
The next day, Petty Officer Vetter said he was able to leave with his daughter, whom he took to the San Diego Naval Medical Center, where she was treated for dehydration and an ear infection.
Dehydration? They've got to treat a baby for dehydration because some moron feels important by denying the mother water to mix formula for the child?
Heads need to roll.
Errors? Or lies?: The difference between the two is intent. An error is unintentional. A lie is not. So, what is a viewer to believe when the BBC's Andrew Gilligan, the man who told BBC World Service listeners that U.S. troops weren't at the Baghdad airport when they actually were, says that he made a "slip of the tongue" which just happened to perfectly coincide with his anti-war ideology.
Questioned by government lawyer Jonathan Sumption, Gilligan admitted a "slip of the tongue" in his report, subsequently failing to alert BBC bosses when his error got repeated, and losing notes of a key meeting.
But he stood by his argument that there had been misgivings among intelligence officials about a dossier on Iraq's weapons, published by Tony Blair's government in September 2002.
Later, Richard Sambrook, the BBC's head of news, admitted there had been errors in BBC statements following Gilligan's report as a row developed with Blair's office.
He said the BBC should have taken longer examining the issues and that Gilligan's radio report should have been approved by lawyers first.
In his May 29 broadcast, Gilligan said an unnamed senior British intelligence official alleged that Blair's office inserted a claim that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes' notice, when it knew the information was probably wrong.
Appearing at the inquiry for a second time Wednesday, Gilligan said he had not intended to give the impression the government had lied.
"The allegation I intended to make was a spin. I do regret those words ... and I shouldn't have used them."
Gilligan also admitted he was wrong to describe the scientist as a "member of the intelligence services" in his report.
The unfortunate thing is that the BBC waited until one man was dead and their lies became transparent before admitting those "slips of the tongue."
Skepticism is warranted when the source is the BBC.
On a related note: Union-Tribune columnist James Goldsborough, twice opined on the issue, defending the BBC's reporting and blamed the British government for going on a witch hunt. The most recent, published Monday, fails to acknowledge the lies of "one of the world's great news organizations." Instead, Goldsborough accuses the British government for the death of David Kelly, not the BBC and Andrew Gilligan's admitted "spin." Goldsborough also levels the charge that some Brits were pressured to "distort intelligence." Of course, there's no word where specifically the "pressure" came from, nor that the "pressure" was in any way successful.
One wonders if Goldsborough would be so forgiving if the offending network was...say...Fox News.
No, I don't think so either.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Mustangs climbing: Cal Poly Mustangs climb the NCAA Div. I-AA polls to No. 21. Up next: No. 11 Montana State.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Holier than thou: Slate's William Saletan has an excellent piece that the Democrat presidential hopefuls should heed.
I'm not excusing the games Republicans play. But by projecting all evil onto Republicans, Democrats spread the same political disease: the notion that you don't have to be wary of lying or cheating unless the other side is doing it. Lying and cheating don't belong to Republicans or Democrats. We're all susceptible, and we're all guilty.
That may be heretical to some on the loony left (and on the far right too), but it's true.
Luskin on Krugman: Don Luskin does some reporting on Paul Krugman's New York Times Magazine piece. There should be no surprise that Krugman cherry-picks his data and ascribes evil, malicious intent to his opponents, when there is merely ideological differences. Go check it out.
California Recall: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (surprise!) called a halt to the recall election slated for Oct. 7. The most-reversed court in the land has determined that the same voting devices that gave us Gray Davis last year are too flawed to be used to recall the aforementioned Davis.
Scott Ott over at Scrappleface.com leads with the headline: "9th Circuit Court Reverses Elections Since 1964."
The decision by a three-judge panel will be reviewed by a larger group of judges -- but there's no guarantee commonsense will prevail.
As a judge, the sign that you're way off the reservation is if The New York Times editorial page wholeheartedly endorses your position.
Both the judges and the Times argue that punchcards are inherently faulty and using different voting methods a violation of the equal protection clause. In the Times' words:
Voters in the counties stuck with punch cards are far more likely than other Californians to have their ballots thrown out. In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount, saying it violated equal protection to have recount methods vary by county. By the same logic, as the Ninth Circuit noted, counties should not use ballots with significantly different reliability rates.
The recount in Bush v. Gore wasn't stopped because of the unreliablity of the punch-card ballots, but because of the unreliablity of humans trying to determine "intent" on ballots designed to be counted by machines.
Ever since Florida 2000, poll workers and concerned voters have been extra-vigilant regarding the infamous hanging chads. When I voted in the primary and general elections last year, not only did I closely examine my ballot to make sure I was properly recording my vote, but before depositing my ballot in the box the poll worker wanted to check the ballot to see if there was the infamous hanging chad.
I've used punch card machines in both California and Washington state. As a reporter, I've watched as ballots were counted by the machines and the care that is taken by county registrars in the process.
The other problem with the 9th Circuit's decision: It requires the federalization of the elections process. To follow the 9th Circuit's logic, different voting mechanisms from state to state would also disenfranchise some voters. If Alabama uses optical scanning ballots and Florida uses touch screens, with different reliablity rates, then some greater proportion of voters in one state will have their votes "thrown out." (Votes are invalid if the voter fails to follow instructions or doesn't exercise proper care. To use the term "thrown out" suggests an arbitrary, capricious and malicious action -- that just doesn't happen -- except maybe in Chicago.)
Just what is "significantly different" anyways? With an election as close as the presidential race in 2000 was in Florida, a difference of one tenth of one percent in the reliability rates could be the difference between President Bush and President Gore.
What the court is appearing to requires is a perfect election process. Unfortunately, they're all run by less-than-perfect humans -- and they know it. So why the delay? Politics. But you knew that already.
By the way, every voting device has its problems. (Full disclosure: I voted in San Luis Obispo County in 1994.)
Monday, September 15, 2003
They do do corrections: The New York Times editorial page has two corrections in Tuesday's paper.
[A]n Op-Ed article on Friday about the playoff hopes of the Cubs and the White Sox incompletely described the life cycle of cicadas in Chicago. While some have appeared after 13 years underground, most emerge after 17 years.
An Op-Ed article on Sunday about Johnny Cash misidentified the branch of the military he served in. It was the Air Force, not the Army.
You'd think that if they'd fix these rather trivial errors, they'd also deal with the Dowdification of quotes and Krugman's mathematical difficulties. You'd think, but you'd be wrong.
Not NOW: NOW president Kim Gandy has written a letter to The New York Times defending her organization's decision to trivialize itself by endorsing Carol Moseley-Braun for president.
If Braun ever started polling in double digits, the media would be forced to stop ignoring her corrupt past. She would then plunge once more into the depths of the polling abyss.
Do-it-yourself: I'm not talking about home-improvement -- despite the fact that ever since the new owners of the condo above mine took ownership, their bathroom has been leaking into mine. (It's being taken care of -- one way or another.)
No, I'm referring to Mark Steyn's latest column on not relying on government when you can do the job yourself.
But, for the second time in as many weeks, I find myself wondering where European statism is heading. In France, where the death toll in the brutal Gallic summer is now up to 15,000, the attitude of Junior to the funny smell coming from gran'ma's apartment was the proverbial Gallic shrug and a demand that the government should do something about it. On Thursday, Swedes, though more upset, took much the same line: The government should have done more for Lindh.
''This can happen to anyone, anywhere,'' said Annika, described as ''a 24-year old bystander,'' at the scene of the attack. ''She should have had bodyguards.''
There seem to have been an awful lot of bystanders to Lindh's stabbing -- in broad daylight, in a crowded Stockholm department store, after being pursued by her assailant up an escalator. Granted that most of the people bystanding around were women, it still seems odd -- at least from this side of the Atlantic -- that no one attempted to intervene or halt the blood-drenched killer as he calmly left the store.
It's worth a read.
Dick Gephardt, Miserable failure: Presidential hopeful and AWOL legislator Dick Gephardt appeared on Fox News Sunday and demonstrated unequivocally that he should never set foot anywhere near the White House.
In the first segment of the show, Secretary of State Colin Powell revealed that the French would like to have a solid date for turning over complete control of the country to the Iraqis. Powell further revealed that the French starting point for negotiations on that date is thirty days. Yes, three-zero, thirty days. I suspect that even Rep. Dennis Kucinich would balk at that deadline.
When Gephardt gets his turn, interviewer Brit Hume presents him with the French proposal and asks how he would negotiate with a French government that seems so out of touch with reality. (The "out of touch with reality" is my characterization, not Hume's.)
Gephardt's response is to say that Bush should have gone to the U.N. even earlier than it did in the run-up to the Iraq War. And once the battle was won (of course, he and other dwarfs, on other occasions claim that it still isn't won), we should have immediately gone to the U.N. and NATO seeking assistance.
After Gephardt's revisionist history lesson, Hume again presses his point: What would you do now? How would you, as president (God forbid), deal with France and its "thirty days" stance.
Gephardt's response: "I would negotiate tough with France."
Wrong. Gephardt's entire stance has shown that he would not "negotiate tough with France." Gephardt, and many Democrats, who place international consensus/approval above America's needs would do whatever it took to get France on board. In short, Gephardt would cave.
Hume, thankfully, gave Gephardt rope with which to hang himself, on the issue of dealing with North Korea.
In consecutive statements Gephardt demonstrated that he is a flat-out liar and an idiot.
Gephardt: My criticism is of what the administration did right after the president came into the presidency. Because he said the arrangement or the contract of the Clinton administration had reached with North Korea was appeasement. He criticized severely what President Clinton had done with the North Koreans and made it sound like he would never have put up with that agreement. And then he put them in the axis of evil after 9/11. And then said the leader of North Korea was one of the worst leaders in the world.
Well, Dick, isn't all of that true? Isn't Kim Jong Il one of the worst leaders in the world? His people starve to death while he spends money on nuclear weapons. And that isn't the half of it. From MSNBC.:
- At one camp, Camp 22 in Haengyong, some 50,000 prisoners toil each day in conditions that U.S. officials and former inmates say results in the death of 20 percent to 25 percent of the prison population every year.
- Products made by prison laborers may wind up on U.S. store shelves, having been "washed" first through Chinese companies that serve as intermediaries.
- Entire families, including grandchildren, are incarcerated for even the most bland political statements.
- Forced abortions are carried out on pregnant women so that another generation of political dissidents will be "eradicated."
- Inmates are used as human guinea pigs for testing biological and chemical agents, according to both former inmates and U.S. officials.
Maybe Gephardt would call such a "president" a "miserable failure." Then again, maybe not.
So, we kind of by rhetoric, pulled back from an agreement that was making some sense and got us in a pretty good place.
Hume: Didn't North Korea break that agreement?
Gephardt: North Korea did after all these statements. The president was left an agreement from another administration that I think was a sound agreement. It sure was better than having a war with North Korea, and he disparaged the agreement. Put them in a very unusual category without explaining, you know, why they were there and so we wind up with them pulling out of the agreement; announcing they've violated the agreement. And now we've got to scurry around to get back to the agreement that he called appeasement at the outset. I don't think this is a good performance.
This man can never be entrusted with the presidency.
First, Gephardt seems to argue that it's Bush's fault that the North Koreans violated the agreement, when the historical record confirms that North Korea had violated the agreement long before Bush was elected, let alone uttered the words "axis of evil."
Second, Gephardt believes that ignorance is bliss when it comes to nuclear weapons in the hands of Kim Jong Il. Bush's classification of them in the axis of evil prompts them not to violate the appeasement/agreement, but forces them into "announcing they've violated the agreement." It's not the violation that's bad -- it's admitting it.
Third, only a madman would want to "get back to the (1994) agreement." What good was it? The North Koreans violated it for years, before fessing up. Gephardt appears to be the proverbial insane man who will try the exact same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.
It's questionable that the other Democratic candidates will have the intestinal fortitude to correct Gephardt -- it would win them no votes from the angry left.
But if Gephardt ends up winning the Democratic primary, expect this interview to come back and bite him in the butt. Democrats have to be at the very least credible on national security to be elected. Gephardt has officially failed that test.
Addendum: Questioned later about Palestinian leader/terrorist Yasser Arafat, Gephardt referred to him as a "failure," not a "miserable failure." Apparently that appelation is reserved for George W. Bush alone.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Interns:The San Diego Union-Tribune has a board on the third floor newsroom where they put photos and brief bios of new employees and interns.
One of the Union-Tribune's newest interns is a student at UC San Diego. This individual is majoring in "critical gender roles."
No, I don't know what the heck that is, nor what sort of job that major is supposed to prepare you for.
Among the responses when I commented about this interesting major to a couple of my colleagues was:
"I didn't know you could get a B.A. in 'He said, She said.' "
I replied that the degree is probably a B.S.
Saturday, September 13, 2003
Cult of celebrity: Fox News Watch's Eric Burns takes aim at celebrity worship in his latest column, especially the kind committed by James Lipton and his "Inside the Actor's Studio."
Burns is correct in his assessment of Lipton:
If he had been alive in the Middle Ages, he would have earned his living by licking the boots of the third-rate nobility and then bragging to friends about the sanctity of his tongue.
I will say this -- 99 percent of the time I'll keep on flipping right by Lipton's show -- with two exceptions. I watched his interview of Billy Joel. (What's he doing interviewing a singer/songwriter?) And I watched his interview of the cast of "The Simpsons."
Otherwise, his show is pretty worthless.
Friday, September 12, 2003
David Frum is right: Frum on the Mideast "peace process":
Arafat and the Palestinian Authority (or so we are again urged to believe) are merely bystanders.
Nobody believes this interpretation of events; and yet many, including even the US State Department, feel obliged to continue repeating them. And so they disguise from themselves – and constrain Israel too to ignore – the only possible answer to the Palestinian terror campaign: Arafat and the Palestinians have chosen war. They must therefore have war until they are sick of it, war until they decide that even a disappointing (from their point of view) peace with Israel is better than one more day of fighting. Three years of advice to Israel to show restraint, to use less than its full power against its murderous enemy, has not restored the laughably misnamed “peace process.” Restraint has prolonged and exacerbated the war, at terrible cost to both sides.
Kooky Krugman: Featured in today's column by The New York Times' Paul Krugman:
1. Bush lied
2. Bush lied
3. Bush is politicizing Sept. 11
4. Bush lied
Nothing new to see here, though I did find the following of passing interest:
And some stunts no longer seem feasible. Maybe it was the pressure of other commitments that kept Mr. Bush from visiting New York yesterday; but one suspects that his aides no longer think of the Big Apple as a politically safe place to visit.
Of course, following the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" method of argument, had Bush gone to New York, Krugman had prepared the following alternative paragraph:
Bush's audacity is unabated two years after the terrible tragedy. Other pressing committments couldn't keep the publicity-seeking Bush from attending ceremonies at Ground Zero.
Same ol', same ol'.
Thursday, September 11, 2003
The new isolationists: I'm dumbfounded by what I've been hearing during the debates and in interviews with prominent Democrats following President Bush's Sunday speech requesting $87 billion for the military and the reconstruction of Iraq.
More than one Democratic presidential candidate at Tuesday's debate suggested that they would approve the portion of the $87 billion allocated for the military, but would withhold the portion for reconstruction in Iraq. Other Democrats in Congress have made similar pronouncements.
Democrats, once upon a time, used to complain that Republican presidents didn't want to spend money in foreign aid. Republicans, likewise, used to say that the cash was better spent here at home.
How times have changed.
Democrat threats to shortchange Iraq are not mere disagreements over spending priorities, they are an effort to turn their "quagmire" rhetoric into reality. As Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division has said: "Money is ammunition."
A lack of funds to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure only raises the level of discontent among the population. A lack of funds to put Iraqis back to work only threatens the welfare of our soldiers -- idle hands are the devil's workshop.
Democrats say they support our troops, but voting against funding to rebuild Iraq puts the lie to that claim.
If Democrats truly want the United States to succeed in Iraq...
If they want a stable, peaceful Democratic Iraq...
Then the talk of Bush administration "lies," "quagmire" and "failure" need to stop.
Unfortunately, that won't happen. Today's Democrat party is more concerned with politics than with America.
Demonizing Ashcroft: The Washington Post takes the Dems to task for turning Attorney General John Ashcroft into an "all-purpose bogeyman."
Remembering 9/11:Two years ago today 19 terrorists on four jumbo jets conspired to kill nearly 3,000 Americans. These young Muslim men committed mass murder for the promise of a paradise where their sexual desires would be sated by 72 virgins.
Much of the world mourned with us, as the horror of the day's events began to sink in. Fathers and mothers wouldn't return home that night to tuck their children into bed. Many children, still in their mother's womb, would never know their father. Photographs, home videos and stories told by relatives become the only basis for knowing their father.
Wives and husbands, sons and daughters - lives cut short by a hatred that we cannot comprehend.
While we mourned, some celebrated.
In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinians with an all-consuming hatred of the West in general, and Jews in particular, took to the streets where they cheered, chanted and passed out candy to children.
In Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden held court with his subordinates and took joy in the death of Americans.
As America slowly came to grips with the terrible crime, we realized that our powerful military and two vast oceans were insufficient defense against an enemy that wears no uniform and knows no allegiance to any state.
The Taliban in Afghanistan gave shelter to bin Laden and his cohorts - and they were destroyed.
Here at home laws were passed to tear down the wall that existed between the Central Intelligence Agency, with its focus on protecting America from threats from abroad, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that focuses on solving crimes here at home. Law enforcement tools that were once limited to use against mobsters would now be directed against terrorists and their supporters.
And when we acted, in self-defense, to rid the world of an Afghan government that would give safe haven to terrorists, some of the goodwill that we had "earned" with the blood of innocents was lost. People at home and abroad who believe themselves intelligent and enlightened saw our attack on Afghanistan not as an eradication of evil, but as an act of evil in itself.
And when we acted at home to round up people here illegally, people who might wish to do us harm, cries of harassment and racism made the front page of the local newspapers and were trumpeted on the nightly newscasts. Once again, the enlightened elite took the opportunity to deride efforts to protect the American people as simpleminded hatred of foreigners.
And when President Bush, with honest clarity, identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as evil nations that brutalize their own people and export terror abroad, the intelligentsia again cried foul. "These statements are not helpful," they said.
The only evil in this world, according to them, is calling something evil.
We fought a war in Iraq, to rid the world of a regime which brutally tortured its own people, a regime that provided safe haven and material support for terrorists, a regime which had used chemical weapons on its own people and on its enemies and a regime which continued to defy the United Nations' demands that it come clean about its programs to create more weapons of mass destruction.
We fought too to make an example. To show that to threaten America carried serious consequences. For more than a decade, those who hate America had learned -- from Beirut, to Somalia, to Yemen -- that if you kill a few soldiers, the paper tiger would retreat.
We are disabusing those that would attack us of that notion.
As we fought, the French, the Germans, and those of all nationalities who hate America gave support to a dictator who attempted to assassinate an American president.
The enlightened elite wished for our defeat. They wished for the continued torture and repression of the Iraqi people, because to wish otherwise would be to admit that the Americans were right.
And now, as we work to create a stable government and rebuild Iraq, those who supported Saddam Hussein and hate the Iraqi people continue to turn up their noses at the requests for assistance - demanding lucrative and exclusive contracts to pump Iraqi oil before they will support democracy and freedom.
As the days pass, we need to remember what it was that awakened America from its contented slumber. As the fight against terrorism shifts from Afghanistan to Iraq to the horn of Africa - or wherever radical Islamists try to hide - we must remain vigilant. They have not abandoned their efforts to destroy America and the freedom it represents. They have not resigned themselves to defeat at the hands of superior military force.
They hate us, and they will cease to be a danger when they're dead - not before.
Public opinion polls show that many Americans think little of the danger we still face from terrorists. News coverage has returned to the trivial: Judge Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument, J. Lo and Ben's wedding, and whether Arnold's accent disqualifies him from being elected governor of California.
By general agreement, broadcasters no longer show the images of the Twin Towers collapsing, with thousands of people inside. We no longer see the images of people plunging 100 stories to their deaths. We no longer see that firefighter wondering: "How bad is it up there that the better option is to jump?"
The horror of that day has been sanitized. It has been forgotten by many who are convinced that a Sept. 11 cannot happen again.
But it can happen again. Soldiers are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq not because Shell wants a natural gas pipeline built or Halliburton wants no-bid contracts, but because that is where the terrorists are.
America seeks to build functioning democracy in cultures that have never known the concept because democracy and terrorism cannot coexist. We must be willing to spend the capital, in both money and lives, to succeed at this endeavor.
The alternative is thousands more dead. Civilians. Here in America.
The alternative is not acceptable.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
The Falling Man: There's an excellent article online from Esquire Magazine on one of the most shocking and enduring images from Sept. 11, 2001.
Read it. It's another reminder of why we must never forget.
Good News: Opus is coming back!
Iraqi opinion poll: Karl Zinsmeister reports some results from a scientific opinion poll taken recently in Iraq. In short, they don't hate us. They don't love Osama.
Not what you typically hear on your evening news.
Nine Dwarfs debate: Well, I'm watching my recording of tonight's Democrat presidential debate. I'm 14 minutes in and we've gotten to Rep. Dennis Kucinich. He's just said about the 8th stupid thing I've heard in the debate, so I'm rewinding and starting over, so I can do blow-by-blow blogging of the "debate"
Sen Joe Lieberman isn't popular with the crowd -- at first nearly no applause, then it picked up -- kinda embarrassing.
Starting with foreign policy...
Rev. Al Sharpton says attacks have taken place since Sept. 11 -- not in the U.S. Al, you been awake lately?
Sen. John Edwards -- uninformed -- claims that we're paying for "everything" in Iraq -- not true. "We'll be safer in a world where we're looked up to and respected" -- We'll not win "respect" by kowtowing to the French and Germans.
Moseley Braun -- why is she even on the stage? President "not elected by the American people" -- yeah, that's a winner -- beat that dead horse some more. Iraq is a quagmire -- yeah...right.
Joe Lieberman, the only one who has a chance in a general election..."price tag, not a plan"? Allies are already helping...why does everyone always claim we're going it alone? Surprise! Lieberman is the first one to play the race card! "Disproportionate number of troops are African-American." Well, Joe, that's not quite true, we've been through this before. A disproportionate number of support troops are African-American -- a disproportionate number of the combat troops are white.
Howie Dean: Bush "ignored" Iran, North Korea and al Qaeda "at home." Iraq apparently isn't in the Middle East. Wants to create a Democracy in Palestine -- reality hasn't bit Dean in the butt yet.
French-looking guy (Kerry) -- "rushed to war?" The slowest rush ever.
Kucinich: Blah, blah, blah -- U.N. in, U.S. out...OK, now he's getting nutty. Wants the U.N. to distribute proceeds from the sale of oil to the Iraqi people "with no privatization." Yeah, that worked well when the U.N. was running that oil for food program. The Iraqi people were starving, but Saddam got his palaces built. "Have the U.N. handle all the contracts -- no more sweetheart Halliburton deals..." Yeah, that works too. The U.N. will instead award contracts to French companies...Does Kucinich know how the real world works? Repeal the Patriot Act? Whatever, idiot.
Sen. Bob Graham -- wants U.N. to run Iraq -- not U.S. and not the Iraqi people -- didn't really answer the question of whether we should spend money or Iraq's oil revenues should be spent for rebuilding
Same question to "Miserable Failure Gephardt" -- not answering the question. Ding-ding -- still not answering the question.
Hitting Gephardt again -- next round -- says he wants to put politics aside -- ha! Does anybody around here follow the time rules? U.N. is once again the Democratic holy grail.
Kucinich -- wacko conspiracy theorist. 9/12 Rumsfeld allegedly said to go to war against Iraq -- not likely. Bush is a liar.
Graham -- big cheer! "Yes" president deliberately "misled" the American people. Now we got a wacko yelling about Dick Cheney -- only at a Democratic debate. Sharpton makes a quip. War on terror "abandoned." Read a newspaper lately Bob? Bob doesn't want war on Iraq, instead suggests war on Yemen and Syria.
Braun -- war on Iraq is "showing off" -- we show strength abroad by funding "first responders?" Yeah, I'm sure that scares bin Laden in his cage.
Question for Sharpton: We supported coup in Chile? We didn't immediately deplore it, so that is supporting? Whatever. George Bush is a "gang leader." Well, Sharpton should know about that.
Edwards -- Patriot Act scaremonger. John Ashcroft is the devil in disguise.
Dean on Israel/Palestine -- backs off his comments from Monday that we shouldn't "take sides." Solution to Israel/Palestinian conflict: "focus on it." *smack* Why didn't I think of that?
More wackiness from the peanut gallery. Lieberman: Bush has "broken our alliances." So, if we don't cave to France and Germany's perfidy we've broken the alliance? Blame America first.
Juan Williams to Kerry on the "threaten" the use of force -- not actually use it. Kerry thinks that Bush is a puppet for Cheney? The Neoconservatives?
Gephardt: Tax cuts aren't working. Has a plan -- get rid of the tax cuts and institute socialized medicine. People won't have jobs, won't be able to pay rent -- maybe they can sleep in the hospitals?
Kucinich: Socialized medicine. Americans being "deprived quality healthcare" -- yeah, that's why everyone comes here...
Graham -- won't support gay marriage -- will go for domestic partnerships.
NEWS FLASH: Sharpton took a girl to a dance in high school -- and she left him for someone else -- maybe this explains Sharpton's personality.
Braun on gun-control -- who cares? Wants protection from gun violence for children -- mandatory bulletproof vests for all kids? When is someone going to ask Braun about her ethical/corruption problems?
Jon Edwards -- opposed to vouchers -- wants federalization of public schools, apparently, wants the President to do something about the disparity in schools in poor vs. rich neighborhoods. Problem: Schools typically funded by property taxes -- does the federal government take that over? Wants to pay teachers more -- I'm not opposed to that. While we're at it, let's pay journalists more.
Dean: Can he connect with black voters? Do black voters hate Bush? Yep, Dean can connect with black voters.
Kerry: Bush doesn't do enough for education -- despite passing Teddy Kennedy's education bill?
What's with all the loud-mouthed protesters? Morgan State University -- poor security. Poor showing.
Braun wants to know if the protesters "do this to Republicans." Sharpton threatens to have his National Action Network "thugs" take care of security in the audience. That's encouraging.
Lieberman: All programs can be funded -- without deficits -- if only we elect a Democrat. Lieberman pulls out the whole "stole the vote in Florida" line again. Why? Apparently because Bush hates black people. That's beneath you Joe.
Edwards: Bush is "dismantling the public health system." Yeah, whatever. We need a president who will stand up to "big everything."
Sharpton on hateful, demagogic talk: Democrats aren't guilty of it with regard to President Bush. Sharpton knows hate language -- only white Republicans can be guilty of it.
Back to Braun: On the Patriot Act -- doesn't answer the question -- on why public overwhelmingly supports the Patriot Act and all the Dems hate it.
Kerry: $87 billion a "rubber check?" Is that like Howard "the Rubber underneath the Road" Dean? No money for reconstruction in Iraq, unless tax cuts at home are rescinded.
Dean: Blah, blah, blah...must have affirmative action...President Bush played the race card in the University of Michigan case! Right!
Lieberman: Bush has "compromised the American Dream." African-Americans weren't allowed to vote in Florida? Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.
Gephardt: Blah, blah, blah. Will consider "everyone" as a running mate... Blah, blah, blah -- you've got to win first.
Kucinich: "My presidency..." dream on space cadet. Back to universal health care -- guys, that didn't work for Hillary, what makes you think it will work now?
Graham: In favor of the Schwarzenegger Amendment to the Constitution -- just not for Schwarzenegger.
Sharpton: Dems have to earn the black vote. "You must turn people on..." Please, no -- don't phrase it that way.
Question for the "Gen X" crowd: What's your favorite song?
Gen Xers don't really care -- don't pretend that that's a question "for the Gen X crowd." Those sorts of stupd questions make us continue to seem unserious.
Blah, blah, blah...I'm tired. These guys are killing me.
Kucinich: Iraq War was unjust.
Kerry: Not paying attention. Please repeat the question.
Blah, blah, blah.
Braun: A "doer." Delivering for people who give her money...nope that's not what she said -- but it's the truth. Ding. Ding. Shuddup!
Sharpton: Activist and "person of action" -- whatever. Don't have a prayer of winning.
Edwards: You knew when Bush took office that he was going to have big giveaways to his friends at Halliburton? The unfounded allegations just keep on coming.
Kerry: Cheap John Ashcroft shot. Democrats really do think he is some kind of demon. If it wasn't so childish, it'd be alarming. Suggests Bush is a racist -- "wrapping himself in the Confederate flag."
Brit Hume looks dumbfounded.
Dean: People don't like us. Waaah! So that means we sacrifice our security for popularity?
Lieberman: Bush presidency is a nightmare. Ding. Ding. Shaddup!
Kucinich: Blah, blah, blah. Unite...blah...blah...life experience....blah...blah...blah...don't have a chance.
Gepardt: Miserable failure. Bills mounting...what's the point? Help. Yeah, help me.
Graham: Tonight in America...quagmire...more Larouchies...somebody shoot them. New and tested leadership. Moonbat. Economic plan...ding..ding...shaddup. Brit, enforce the rules. Just keep on going.
It's over. Finally.
Religion of Peace: Yesterday two suicide bombers left fifteen dead and dozens wounded in two separate attacks. Among the dead was the emergency room chief David Appelbaum, a Cleveland native, and his daughter, Nava, 20, who was to be married today.
In the wake of the attacks, the Palestinian people celebrated, parading in the streets.
Israel has responded with bombing -- no word on how many bloodthirsty terrorist-supporters were killed.
I say that because the Palestinian people are nothing more than a death cult. They are all complicit in the terrorism that continues to emanate from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The time to talk of peace is over. Peace will not come until, as Daniel Pipes wrote, the Palestinians give up their hope and desire for the complete destruction of the state of Israel.
We want them back, except one: Jim Romenesko's Medianews column reprints the following letter from Cyrus Krohn, the Slate Magazine publisher. [Hat tip: Luskin]
TO: Brad Smith
Sr. Vice President, Microsoft Legal & Corporate Affairs
FROM: Cyrus Krohn
Publisher, Slate Magazine
RE: Non-Compete Clause & Contractual Interference
As per my voicemail earlier today, I would like to bring to your attention an ongoing problem we're experiencing at Slate.
A prominent East Coast newspaper, The New York Times, has been poaching from Slate, taking key writers and editors invaluable to our evolving franchise. Several years ago I viewed these departures as testament to Slate's reputation within our industry. Being recognized by the media establishment as a breeding ground of top journalists was rewarding. But no longer do I hold these egress offenders in such high regard.
Granted the New York Times has been experiencing talent problems of their own lately, but that's no excuse to "brain drain" us. In my seven years with Slate, I've seen the Times make off with no fewer than five Slatesters. And just last week, they tried to hire away our esteemed editor-in-chief, Jacob Weisberg, according to this item in the New York Post. While the opportunity offered Weisberg was beneath his abilities, I'm thankful he didn't follow his former colleagues.
Our mantra at Slate is to support budding journalists growing in their profession. Should a better opportunity present itself, by all means go forward. But this trend must cease. Our staff are bound by the non-compete clause they signed upon employment, and I was wondering if you could spare some time for Slate now that the DOJ case is behind us? This tortuous contractual interference is beginning to have adverse effects on us.
It's improbable we'll be able to recoup our losses. But just in case, we'd like all of them back except for Paul Krugman.
I appreciate your help and look forward to hearing from you.
Cyrus [Emphasis added]
When I read that I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
McCain-Feingold and the Supreme Court: Just finished listening to all four hours of legal arguments before the Supreme Court on the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. It's enough to put one to sleep. In fact, I listened to the first two hours last night before drifting off to sleep, then the remaining two hours this morning.
The arguments are difficult to follow even if you are informed and interested in the issue, with continual references to very specific parts of the law.
It should come as little surprise that the most critical of the law was Justice Antonin Scalia, continually questioning Solicitor General Theodore Olsen and his deputies over the restrictions on free speech.
The one interesting fact that kept on cropping up was the re-election rate of members of Congress. Defenders of McCain-Feingold referred to the fact that 98+ percent of legislators seeking re-eleciton got it -- and that is supposed to be evidence of money corrupting politics? The main contributor to that number is not campaign finance, but gerrymandered districts.
If you're interested in it, you can listen to the arguments here -- it's the second item. [Realplayer Required.]
Bustamante wins another endorsement: This time from racist Tom Metzger.
(CNSNews.com) - A self-described racist has endorsed California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante in the California recall election, praising the candidate for being what he calls "a separatist," based on Bustamante's past association with a racist Hispanic organization.
The unusual endorsement by Tom Metzger, former Grand Wizard of the California Ku Klux Klan and director of the White Aryan Resistance, was accompanied by a call for all like-minded Californians to vote for Bustamante in the Oct. 7 election.
Insisting his endorsement is legitimate, Metzger said he hopes that if Bustamante is elected, the issue of immigration and border control will reach a boiling point.
"Worse is better, to bring it to a head," Metzger said. "Either we're going to solve this by realistic negotiation or there will be blood on the border. One of the two ways is the only thing that's going to solve this problem."
I can't make this stuff up.
Monday, September 08, 2003
Wrong again: Krugman listened to President Bush's speech Sunday night and -- surprise -- he is not impressed. Actually, it's not clear that Krugman has ever really listened to what Bush has said, as demonstrated the second paragraph of his latest screed.
It's now clear that the Iraq war was the mother of all bait-and-switch operations. Mr. Bush and his officials portrayed the invasion of Iraq as an urgent response to an imminent threat, and used war fever to win the midterm election. Then they insisted that the costs of occupation and reconstruction would be minimal, and used the initial glow of battlefield victory to push through yet another round of irresponsible tax cuts.
An "urgent response to an imminent threat"? Where did Krugman get that idea? From the 2003 State of the Union address:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option. (Applause.)
Bush's argument was, and continues to be, that the United States cannot wait until the threat is "imminent" -- at that point it's too late -- your options are limited.
Now almost half the Army's combat strength is bogged down in a country that wasn't linked to Al Qaeda and apparently didn't have weapons of mass destruction, and Mr. Bush tells us that he needs another $87 billion, right away.
Phantom correction again. Krugman again acknowledges that "almost half" of the Army's combat strength is in Iraq, after he first claimed that "more than half" were in Iraq. The New York Times never ran a correction.
It gives me no pleasure to say this, but I (like many others) told you so. Back in February I asked, "Is this administration ready for the long, difficult, quite possibly bloody business of rebuilding Iraq?" The example of Afghanistan (where warlords rule most of the country, and the Taliban — remember those guys? — is resurgent) led me to doubt it. And I was, alas, right.
Surely the leader who brought us to this pass, and is now seeking a bailout, ought to make some major concessions as part of the deal. But it was clear from his speech that, as usual, he expects to take while others do all the giving.
I won't pretend to be a mind-reader, but let me say that I am skeptical that Krugman really takes "no pleasure" in claiming that he was right.
Krugman's argument is disingenuous. Somehow by asking for $87 billion for the military and reconstruction of Iraq, Bush is demonstrating Krugman is right and that Bush prepared? The administration has been saying for months that they don't know how much the reconstruction was going to cost. Now they finally come up with a number, something liberals have been demanding for months, it's an "a-ha!" moment. Bush has also been saying that we are in this for the long haul. But for Krugman, all of this is meaningless unless Bush puts a specific dollar figure on it?
It was impossible to estimate exactly how much post-war reconstruction and occupation would cost. We didn't know how bad Saddam had allowed the country's infrastructure to get. We didn't know that Saddam's army would melt into the populace instead of fighting and allowing us to rid the country of them. All of these factors, and many more have an effect on how much it costs to create a stable, non-threatening, preferably democratic government in Iraq.
The money is actually the least of it. Still, it provides a clear test case. If Mr. Bush had admitted from the start that the postwar occupation might cost this much, he would never have gotten that last tax cut. Now he says, "We will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary. . . ." What does he mean, "we"? Is he prepared to roll back some of those tax cuts, now that the costs of war loom so large? Is he even willing to stop urging Congress to make the 2001 tax cut permanent? Of course not.
The tax cuts were passed to help get the economy going again. Iraq was attacked to remove it as a threat to peace in the Middle East and a a a potential bio/chem weapons proliferator.
It's not an either/or choice. Both needed to be done. Do they throw the budget into deficit? Yes.
But what is the alternative? A continuing recession, turning into a depression? An emboldened Saddam Hussein? More terrorist attacks here in the United States by terrorists who see our inaction as weakness?
Once again, no solutions, only criticism from Krugman.