This is the before picture of the blood vessels in my heart. This is a bad thing.
the major blood vessel is 96% occluded, which means that blood flow to me heart was very weak. My doctor said I was about a week away from croaking at this point.
They went in through my leg with a catheter, and inserted a stent. So, the after picture looks like this:
Much, much better.
Anyway, as it turned out, I am a raging diabetic. My blood sugar was 416, and my triglycerides were at 885.
So, I'm looking at a lot of immediate life changes. But, all's well that ends well. I made it through, my heart attack was minor enough so that my heart wasn't actually damaged, and they got the vessel opened in time.
I'm one lucky SOB though.
As you may have noticed, blogging has been light since Wednesday. I had a heart attack Wednesday evening. More details will follow in due course.
Photo: Reuters/William Philpott
Photo: Reuters/Jeff Topping
(Review) Dorothy Rabinowitz's response to the Democratic presidential debates is that these guys are a bunch of whining losers.
Not since the Democratic Convention of 1984, which saw parades of the wild-eyed take to the streets of San Francisco for all the nation to see, have Americans had the opportunity to view so telling a display of the frenzy driving Democratic candidates. Walter Mondale lost for other reasons, of course, but San Francisco gave America a view of the Democrats, their values and their base constituency that it did not soon forget.
This display comes much earlier in the campaign. It's a struggle so revealing in its evidence of presidential aspirants willing to say virtually anything--about the war in Iraq, the motives of the administration and even the state of the nation--in order to appeal to voters, that it is hard to recall its equal. It is hard to recall any time in memory when we heard as extreme a level of assaultive oratory as the one directed Sunday at the administration, and the president in particular, from candidates for the nation's highest office. Can this unremittingly strident display of Bush hatred--barely lower than the cacophony that comes booming from the crowds of grizzled street activists waving placards that show President Bush's picture emblazoned on a swastika--be what these candidates think Americans will find appealing, and worthy of their trust? This is their program?
Well, yes, as far as I can tell, it is. It's a simple program: Leave Iraq, end the War on Terror, raise taxes.
Let's just huddle over here in America and never, ever do anything that might be construed as a defense of American interests.
Oh, yeah, and prepared to do the Clinton lip-biting thing on camera when the next 911 kills thousands of Americans because these guys don't have the stones to defend the country.
(Review) Dennis Prager weighs in on the Mel Gibson Passion controversy. He writes that much of the controversy arises because Jews and Christians aren't watching the same movie.
Early this past summer, Mel Gibson invited me to see "The Passion," his film on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The invitation was significant in that I was the first practicing Jew and active member of the American Jewish community to be invited. He did so because he believed, correctly, that he could trust me. I have long worked to build trust between Jews and Christians, especially traditional Christians.
The increasing tension over this film has reinforced impressions I offered Mel Gibson that day. When watching "The Passion," Jews and Christians are watching two entirely different films.
For two hours, Christians watch their Savior tortured and killed. For the same two hours, Jews watch Jews arrange the killing and torture of the Christians' Savior.
Actually, that explains a lot. So does the rest of Prager's article. Read it all.
(Review) Thomas Sowell comments on the problems with public education, particularly in California.
According to education officials quoted in the story, an "unprecedented rise" in test scores has been achieved by "shifting away from a nationally normed test and toward exams that measure what children are being taught in the classroom."
In other words, when school children in California were taking the same tests as children in other states, their results were lousy. But, now that we have our own test, results are much better.
If you or I or anyone else could make up his own test, wouldn't we all turn out to be geniuses?
Yes, we would. And the California Teacher's Association knows that as well as anyone. The problem is, as the CTA sees it, that if scores are low, then parents start blaming teachers. That, for the CTA, would be a bad thing. Too much of that, and parents might want to start making teachers accountable.
No, better for everyone all around if we can dump nationally standardized tests, and make up our own statewide tests, so that the test scores show incredible improvement.
Well, better for everyone except the kids, of course. But protecting the kids isn't CTA's job. Their job is to protect the teachers. It is, after all, a labor union.
While 26 percent of California's elementary schools scored above the level considered "excellent," only 14 percent of middle schools did and just 7 percent of high schools.
Other tests reported elsewhere show a similar pattern. Young schoolchildren in the United States score better, relative to their peers in other countries, but fall progressively further behind the longer they stay in school.
What this shows is that American children are not innately less intelligent but that the American school system leaves them falling further and further behind the longer they stay in our pubic schools.
The longer our kids stay in school, essentially, the dumber they get. Somehow, we get these bright 6 year-olds, who are eager to learn, and we spend the next 12 years beating that out of them. So, by the time they graduate high school, a large minority of them are functionally illiterate, and a large portion of the remainder, who can read, would look at you like a lunatic if you suggested that reading might be something one does for pleasure.
That's not an education system, that's an anti-education system.
(Review) Ralph Peters gives several reasons why Iraq is nothing like Vietnam, except one:
There is only one way in which the situation in Iraq resembles Vietnam: Our enemies realize that they can't win militarily. This is a contest of wills much more than a contest of weapons. The terrorists intend to wear us down.
Our enemies are employing media-genic bombings to leap over our soldiers and influence our political leaders and our elections - just as the Vietnamese did. The suicide bombers themselves are deluded madmen, but the men behind the terror campaign calculate that, if they can just maintain a sufficient level of camera-friendly attacks, our military successes and all the progress of our reconstruction efforts will be eclipsed by a mood of dejection in Washington.
If the terrorists turn out to be right, the butcher's bill in the coming years and decades will be vastly higher than the casualty count in Iraq.
It's obvious that the leaders of the Democratic Party don't have the ability to fight this war of wills. It only remains to be whether the American people as whole recognize this, and are cognizant of the cost of failure.
(Review) Half a century of diplomacy, peace plans, negotiations, cease fires, and superpower involvement have utterly failed to bring us any realistic hope of Mideast peace.
Clearly, it's time for Jennifer Aniston to give it a try.
Where presidents, diplomats and politicians have failed, Hollywood stars hope to succeed.
Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Danny DeVito are among celebrities hoping their star power can help achieve peace in the Middle East.
The Hollywood bigwigs have joined up with a group called OneVoice, which plans to appeal to Israeli and Palestinian "ordinary folk" to bring peace to a region that has recently seen every potential agreement shredded by bomb blasts.
"The past few years of conflict mean that yet another generation of Israelis and Palestinians will grow up in hatred," Pitt and Aniston said in a joint statement. "We cannot allow that to happen."
Ah. I see. And Brad and Jennifer are gonna stop it. They can't, you see, allow it anymore.
No word from either Brad or Jennifer how they are going to sway those "ordinary people," like the large majority of Palestinians who respond to polls by stating that they wish to destroy Israel even if they get a state of their own.
What a fascinating life Hollywood people must live, to give them such an...uh...expansive view of their influence on world events.
Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing
Photo: AFP/Pool/File/Rich Pedroncelli
Photo: AFP/Getty Images/File/Bill Pugliano
(Review) The more I learn about Janice Rogers Brown, the more I like her.
What is most remarkable about Brown's jurisprudence is that she sees all basic individual rights as equally fundamental. Unlike many liberals, she counts property rights and economic liberties as deserving of judicial protection. In Santa Monica Beach, Ltd. v. Superior Court (1999), for instance, she dissented from a decision upholding a rent control ordinance, declaring that "[a]rbitrary government actions which infringe property interests cannot be saved from constitutional infirmity by the beneficial purposes of the regulators."
In a dissent in San Remo Hotel v. City and County of San Francisco (2002), which upheld the city's sweeping property restrictions, Justice Brown expanded on that theme. "Theft is still theft even when the government approves of the thievery," she declared. "The right to express one's individuality and essential human dignity through the free use of property is just as important as the right to do so through speech, the press, or the free exercise of religion."
Brown also consistently upholds such rights as freedom of speech, privacy, and the rights of criminal defendants—a position that bothers many conservatives. In People v. Woods (1999), Justice Brown objected to a police search of a home justified by the fact that a roommate was an ex-felon. "In appending the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, the framers sought to protect individuals against government excess," she wrote. "High in that pantheon was the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures."
Likewise, Justice Brown voted to strike down a warrantless search of a man arrested for riding a bicycle on the wrong side of the street. Describing the search as excessive, Brown noted that an arrest for such a silly infraction never would have taken place in an affluent neighborhood. "If we are committed to a rule of law that applies equally to 'minorities as well as majorities, to the poor as well as the rich,' we cannot countenance standards that permit and encourage discriminatory enforcement."
That's my kind of justiciating!
Which probably means her appointment is doomed.
(Review) Andrew Sullivan takes to the pages of The New Republic to deliver a stout fisking of Gen. Wesley Clark and Sen. John Kerry for their remarks about Iraq on the Sunday chat shows. He concludes by recalling a recent comment by Donna Brazile:
Watching this debate only confirms the wisdom of Donna Brazile's comments to the Associated Press over the weekend: "There's a huge credibility gap our party has on national security--not because we don't have enough military medals, but because we have no plan of action." Amen.
For some reason, this wisdom seems lost on most of the leading lights of the Democratic Party.
(Review) The Gematriculator has scored my web site. What is the Gematriculator, you ask?
The Gematriculator is a service that uses the infallible methods of Gematria developed by Mr. Ivan Panin to determine how good or evil a web site or a text passage is.
Basically, Gematria is searching for different patterns through the text, such as the amount of words beginning with a vowel. If the amount of these matches is divisible by a certain number, such as 7 (which is said to be God's number), there is an incontestable argument that the Spirit of God is ever present in the text. Another important aspect in gematria are the numerical values of letters: A=1, B=2 ... I=9, J=10, K=20 and so on. The Gematriculator uses Finnish alphabet, in which Y is a vowel.
Experts consider the mathematical patterns in the text of the Holy Bible as God's watermark of authenticity. Thus, the Gematriculator provides only results that are absolutely correct.
Well, OK, if you say so, but I'm not sure why K=20. Isn't K the 11th letter? I mean, if this is so all-fired accurate, how come you can't get the K right? And, while we're at it, why Finnish? First of all, who speaks it? If this all biblical, then shouldn't we be using a Hebrew or Aramaic alphabet? And if we're using Finnish, how do you score a word like "Rakentamismääräykset"? English doesn't even have the "ä" letter, so it just doesn't seem fair.
Oops. There I go, using skeptical and rational inquiry again. Sorry. Let's carry on.
So, with that in mind, lets look at the score for the blog. For those of you who see the glass as half full:
For those of you who see the glass as half empty:
I guess I can live with that.
(Review) The Tommy Chong half of the Cheech and Chong comedy duo is now securely imprisoned in a Federal penitentiary. At last, the citizens of this great country are safe from his depredations, and can once again breathe the clean air of freedom. As Deroy Murdock writes:
At last, the homeland is secure from Chong, a 65-year-old comic whose merchandise spared potheads from fumbling with rolling papers. Could there be any greater triumph for public safety than that? And in this peaceful world and placid nation, taxpayers can rest assured that officials are using their hard-earned cash as wisely as possible. Recall that Chong and 54 others were busted in Operation Pipe Dreams, a February 24 crackdown on the drug-paraphernalia industry. That project involved 1,200 local, state, and federal authorities, the Drug Enforcement Administration estimates. These professional sleuths could have pursued al Qaeda instead, but what would that have accomplished?
It could have been worse. Chong could have run a business based on...gambling! The very foundations of the Republic would have been imperiled.
Unless, of course, the gambling was conducted in Nevada, Atlantic city, or the sovereign land of an Indian reservation, in which case it would have been just peachy.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Houghton's court pleadings sought Chong's harsh punishment because he got rich "glamorizing the illegal distribution and use of marijuana" in films that "trivialize law enforcement efforts to combat drug trafficking and use."
Chong must have wondered when such activities became criminal. Perhaps the FBI now will arrest Sean Penn for hilariously smoking grass in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Then they can handcuff Denzel Washington for portraying a crooked narcotics officer in Training Day."
Well, clearly, such fellows are committing thoughtcrime. Prison's too good for 'em. They should be put in bamboo cages and poked with sharp sticks!
Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing that happening to Sean Penn...but I digress.
Note, by the way, that Tommy Chong wasn't selling drugs. He had a store that sold bongs and rather odd pipes. Well, all I can say is if it takes 1,200 federal agents and millions of dollars to shut down a head shop, then it's money well spent!
(Review) John Derbyshire writes a very interesting....well, eulogy isn't the right word. Let's just call it a post-death article on Madame Chiang, in which he manages to impart a nice bit of modern Chinese history as well.
(Review) Jon Henke has an excellent post that shows the depth of International ANSWER's problems with the truth. He's definitely got their number.
(Review) Well, it looks like most of the danger has passed. There are still a few hot spots burning from the fire I photographed yesterday, but the vast majority of it is out, and what remains has moved away from the house to the north.
Thanks to Jon Henke of the QandO blog for his concern.
(Review) Peter Lawler writes that Justice Antonin Scalia's public statements are no different from his published opinions. And his opinions on Lawrence happen to be correct.
Justice Scalia, in his dissent in the recent sodomy case (Lawrence v. Texas), does not deny or even bemoan the fact that "[s]ocial perceptions of sexual and other morality change over time." And he notes without judgment that "homosexuals have achieved some success" in their effort to persuade their fellow Americans that "consensual homosexual acts" should be perfectly legal. He even observes that it's true enough that laws that seem necessary and proper to one generation often seem oppressive to another. Later generations are, under our Constitution, perfectly free to repeal such laws.
But that liberty is given by the Constitution to the people, not to the Court. There is nothing in the Constitution that allows the Court to read into the Constitution views of liberty that have no specific textual support and would not have occurred to its Framers. To say otherwise would allow justices — who are by profession nothing but lawyers — to be philosophers, the sort of philosophers who pride themselves on being on the cutting edge of the spirit of their time. That means, in practice, that justices in their pride become captive, as Justice Scalia said in his lecture, "to the latest academic understanding of liberal political theory." And the shallow and naive way they so often understand trendy theory shows their pride to be mostly vanity.
Somehow, we have got to have some sort of civil audit of the judicial system. We are already perilously close to having an Imperial Judiciary. Somehow, the will of the people--which is theoretically sovereign in our political system--needs to have its say in the outcomes of judicial review.
(Review) Debra Saunders writes about a new charter K-6 school proposed in Sacramento next year. The charter itself is an interesting read.
Here's a clue as to how un-academic the K-6 school is likely to be if it opens next fall: "Mahatma Gandhi (the petition reads) once said, 'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its non-human animals are treated.'''(Clue: Gandhi did not use the term "non-human animal.")
While the petition promises rigorous academics, it's hard to find advanced math or challenging literature buried under the avalanche of edu-jargon, as in "value of relationships," "a safe learning environment for students to speak about their own authentic feelings and experiences," "class bonding" and "constructivist and multicultural education and thematic, project-based learning."
Some of this sounds academic: Documents say social studies classes will "draw upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, religion, sociology." Except the school is K-6: Many students will be beginning to learn to read -- or are supposed to be learning to read.
Where's the math? The kids may not know how to multiply, but math classes will help students "explore economic costs as they relate to environmental degradation, the loss of wildlife and companion animal overpopulation." (No indoctrination there.)
Well, sure, the kids may not know much when the leave grade 6, but at least their little minds will be full of rightthought and goodthink.
(Review) Dr. Sydney Smith writes that Canada is great place to practice medicine. Unless you actually practice there.
Three years ago, a survey by the Harvard School of Public Health of over 2000 physicians in Canada, Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States found that Canadians were by far the most pessimistic. More of them felt that their ability to provide quality care had declined and that it would only get worse in the future. The overwhelming majority of Canadian doctors complained about medical and diagnostic equipment shortages, and long waiting times for care. And, like their counterparts in the United States, they feel short-changed in the time they have to spend with their patients.
But the dissatisfaction in Canada goes beyond venting in surveys. Since the 1990's, Canada has experienced an exodus of physicians. Their number one destination? The United States and its much maligned healthcare system. At last estimate, there were over 8,000 Canadian physicians practicing in the United States. The vast majority have let their Canadian licenses lapse, indicating no desire to return.
The plight and flight of Canadian doctors reached its peak in the mid-1990's when the government tightened its healthcare budget and physician reimbursement declined dramatically. And yet, although the Canadian government has tried to reverse the trend by committing more tax dollars to its healthcare system, physician emigration still jumped by 68% in 2001. According to Dr. Hugh Scully, co-chair of a Canadian task force on physician supply, the equivalent of two or three medical school classes are leaving the country each year. It's a not a situation that a country with too few medical students can afford to maintain.
By the way, have I mentioned yet today that socialism's failures can be seen practically everywhere it's practiced?
Oh, yeah, I have.
(Review) Although, as Joe Klein writes, in the case the dream was to keep charter schools from making regular public schools look bad.
Here's the deal. Bob Thomspon, a retired road builder, sold his company for 442 million. He then offered $200 million to detroit for charter high schools, with the proviso that 90% of the students had to graduate, and 90% of graduates had to go to college.
This was, essentially, the deal that Thompson offered Detroit. He didn't specify curriculum or who should run the 15 independent charter schools. Theoretically, any organization—including the teachers' union—was eligible to propose its own system if it presented a plausible plan for a 500-student campus and agreed to Thompson's 90-90 yardstick. New state legislation would be needed to establish the schools. But both Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Governor Jennifer Granholm were thrilled by Thompson's offer—at least until the Detroit Federation of Teachers made plain its opposition. On Sept. 25 the DFT held a work stoppage, which closed the public schools, and staged a rally at the state capitol in Lansing. The mayor withdrew his support, and Thompson withdrew his offer soon after.
I'll bet the 90-90 provision just scared the devil out of the DFT. Because, let me tell you, the Detroit school system doesn't sport numbers anywhere near that. And if the charter system could do it, people might start wondering why the public schools couldn't.
Why, before you know it, there might even be calls for...gasp!...school reform. Golly, some teachers could end up getting fired!
And we can't have that now, can we?
(Review) Ralph Reiland takes a look at Europe's economy, and doesn't much like what he finds.
What's happened in Norway, and even more so in the other European welfare states, is that excessive regulation and taxation have killed the spontaneous market-driven process of job creation in the private sector, and the politicians are now stuck trying to fill the void in job formation with subsidies and handouts...
In France, with the welfare state in full bloom and the rejection of the more laissez-faire "Anglo-Saxon model" a point of pride, this year's jobless rate is running at 10 percent and overall economic growth is nonexistent, i.e., the gross domestic product for the second quarter of 2003 was down 0.34 percent from the previous quarter.
It's much the same in Germany, Spain, Finland and Greece, all operating this year with unemployment rates that are roughly 50 percent higher than the U.S. rate, and all running with jobless rates among under-25s that exceed 20 percent.
The bottom line is that Europe's highly developed welfare state and relatively egalitarian income distribution has undermined incentives, innovation, entrepreneurial activity and job creation.
This is the thing that really kills me about the Left. The world is full of examples of the failure of socialism. And they still don't get it.
Oh, and by the way, that 10% jobless rate in France and Germany doesn't count the number of people who are on permanent or long-term "disability", which amounts to about another 7%+ of the workforce. Real unemployment is about twice as high as the official figures.
But, that's the same kind of economic performance we'd have here if Teddy Kennedy got his way.
You know, when the USSR collapsed, I had this fantasy where Leftists would take a look at how badly the USSR and its client states were run, and they'd take a second look at the policies they were proposing. I just hoped that the inherent failures of the socialist model would be obvious. But, of course, it took about a month for the Leftist argument to shift to, "Well, you can't count the USSR, because they didn't have real socialism."
The Left embraces socialism with the fervor of religious belief that is every bit as intense as that of a bible-thumping fundamentalist in Alabama. The difference is, of course, that unlike religion, socialism is not immune to disproof. The Left just likes to pretend it is.
But, as the European experience shows, socialism in lighter doses is just as harmful. It just takes longer to drain the life out of the nation's economic life.
(Review) Bill Safire writes that price controls, and the market distortions they cause, are about to hammer pharmaceutical companies.
The price of most new prescription drugs is high in the U.S. mainly because it includes the producers' huge investment in scientific research. In Canada, the government strips out the cost of such research and imposes a low price ceiling. Shortsightedly, our pharmaceutical companies have meekly or greedily gone along with this foreign rip-off, picking up extra sales on a research investment already made.
But this foolish acceptance of foreign price controls means that the U.S. consumer is subsidizing the foreign consumer. Not being dopes, pursuing their economic interest, American bargain-hunters are now buying these drugs where they are sold cheaply — outside the U.S.
To counter this trend, our federal officials have been warning that imported drugs may be counterfeit or conflict with other drugs. That may scare some buyers, but most will take their chances. In reality, what with an open border and the Internet, sales will go to the cheapest seller. More Americans will join Canadians in buying drugs that do not support the cost of research into new drugs.
Thus has Phanny Pharma outsmarted itself. By willingly cutting its prices to sell into price-controlled economies, not only has it invited American buyers to go where the bargains are, but it has also invited U.S. politicians to call for foreign prices on products bought by U.S. state and local governments. And there go billions in private capital and earnings needed for costly research into new cures and treatments.
Politicians have this odd tendency to live in a fantasy land where they can repeal basic economic laws by political edict.
So, we have a situation now where it takes 7-14 years, and hundreds of millions of dollars to get a single drug approved by the FDA. And, after spending all that money to get a drug approved, politicians blithely assume that price controls will allow people to buy drugs cheaply, but the pharmaceutical companies will not be discouraged from spending billions on R&D and approval costs that they will be unable to recapture through drug sales.
This is, quite literally, fantastic.
(Review) Michael Barone writes that the threat of rogue nukes is best handled through regime change.
It is no accident that two of the most hideous regimes in the world have been seeking nuclear weapons. The Iranian mullahs and the North Korean maniacs seek nukes to hold on to power, and there is no reason to believe that they have any compunction about delivering nukes to terrorists who would use them against us. Diplomatic negotiations can delay the danger, at best holding it off for some years. But the effective way to end the threat of a nuclear September 11 is regime change, which has ended the threat that Iraqi WMD programs, now documented by David Kay, could produce weapons for use against us and our friends. Bush has embarked, with some effectiveness, on the multilateral diplomacy so often recommended by his critics. But he should not forget that our safety is best assured by regime change in the remaining axis of evil.
Works for me.
(Review) Susan Estrich writes that the prosecution is blowing the Kobe Bryant rape case.
(Review) Bob Novak writes that Senate Majority leader Bill Frist is about to launch an escalating attack on Democrats who have been filibustering all of the Bush Judicial nominations.
Phase One: Start this week with a cloture vote on the nomination of U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering Sr. of Mississippi for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans. Pickering, bottled up in the Judiciary Committee during the 2001-02 Democratic interregnum, has just been sent to the Senate floor.
Phase Two: Next, order a cloture vote for the second time on Alabama State Attorney General William Pryor for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta. Claims by opponents that Pryor's ''deeply held beliefs'' taint him for the court have produced accusations of anti-Catholicism.
Phase Three: Vote on three female nominees. Attempts to get cloture on Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen's nomination for the 5th Circuit have failed three times. California Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl's two-year-old nomination for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco is coming to the Senate floor for the first time. Just released by the Judiciary Committee and already threatened with a filibuster is California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, an African American.
Failure to reach 60 votes for cloture on each of these women is scheduled to be followed by consideration of the bill co-sponsored by Frist and conservative Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia. That measure would reduce the number of votes needed to end filibusters on nominations. That, too, will be filibustered.
All this refocusing is intended to set the scene for a bitter battle in next year's session of Congress. At that time, an effort may be made to rule out of order a filibuster against judicial nominations -- the ''so-called'' nuclear solution. This would require only 51 votes, but Frist does not even have that many today because of reluctance to tamper with the traditions of the Senate.
Ah, the beloved traditions of the Senate. I am reminded of the story Winston Churchill, who, when told by an admiral that a particular operation would not be in keeping with the traditions of the Royal Navy, replied, "The traditions of the Royal Navy, sir, are rum, sodomy, and the lash!"
I understand that isn't quite fair. The lash has never been a tradition of the Senate.
But whatever the traditions of the Senate, it seems pretty clear that they aren't superior to the Constitution. Not that Democrats have any great interest in the Constitution, except insofar as is required to subvert it for their own political gain.
A president--any president--deserves an up or down vote on his nominees, and it seems to me that, as long as the nominees are qualified (by which I mean they have the requisite experience) they deserve a vote on the floor of the Senate.
Of, course, the Democrats are desperate to allow such a vote, because they know they would lose. They have just enough votes to sustain a filibuster.
And, so far, Bill Frist hasn't had the guts to call them on it, which, as near as I can figure, makes him just as much of a gutless weasel as Trent Lott.
(Review) Hey, just out of curiosity, why is it that we have to walk on freakin' eggshells so as not to disturb anybody during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, but the Muslims themselves can blow up 40 people in homicide bombing attacks.
I'm just, you know, wondering.
A heavy pall of gray-brown smoke is covering everything. So, we can't see if the fire is still burning to the east of us. But the wind has remained calm, and our house doesn't appear threatened at the moment. So the big fire from last night appears to have slowed radically or completely stopped.
(Review) Bryon Scott of the Slings and Arrows blog reports on the status of the fires near his home.
Chris wanted to get a clearer idea about how far the fire was from our house. We can only drive about 1/2 mile up the street in the direction of the fire; the police have blocked off the street past that point.
From that vantage point we were able to shoot these pictures.
The fire is about 1 mile away from our vantage point, which puts it about 1 1/2 miles from the house.
In case we have to evacuate, we have the staple items packed. All we have to do is gather up the pets, throw the stuff into the car, and we're outta here.
Fortunately, there is almost no wind in the area right now, so the fire is spreading very slowly. But, the trouble with Santa Ana winds is that they can come up suddenly, and blow up to 50 miles per hour. In that case, the fire could be here in less than an hour from where it is now.
So, let's hope the wind stays away.
(Review) The Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein fisks the NY Times editorial questioning Janice Brown's suitability for the Federal appeals bench.
Chris and I are a bit nervous at the moment. 100,000 acres are in flames here in San Diego county as brushfires sweep across the county. She keeps looking out the upstairs windows at the huge plume of smoke rising to the east of our house as the fire rages in Valley Center. We live on the eastern end of Escondido, and Valley Center is directly to the east of us.
It's just after 1:00pm here, but it looks like late afternoon, because the sun is being filtered through this huge layer of brown smoke. There is a layer of ash coating everything, and you can smell the smoke in the air.
Valley Center is far enough away so that I'm not really worried yet, but the Santa Ana winds are pushing the flames in this direction.
Farther south, it's even worse. The I-15 and I-52 are closed, and the fire is eating into the Kearny Mesa area. This may end up being the worst fire in California history in terms of fire damage, houses and buildings destroyed. Maybe about $10 billion in property damage so far. The Fire department is evacuating the densely settled Tierrasanta area from the Scripps Ranch area to Mira Mesa High School, and North Tierrasanta to Qualcomm Stadium. God only knows how many people will be homeless before this thing is over.
The San Diego Union-Tribune has a photo gallery of the fires here.
The fire department is urging everybody to stay off the roads. Well, there's not much of a choice, cutting off the I-15 effectively shuts off traffic from north to south on the east side of the city.
Fire departments are stretched mighty thin, too. And, since all the available airborne firefighting equipment is fighting fires in San Bernardino county, out firefighters have no airborne firefighting support. The county Fire Chief has already said that fires in some rural areas are just going to have to burn themselves out, because there's no one available to fight them, since firefighters are already struggling to stop the fires in central areas of the city.
Now, the wind is picking up, making the fires even harder to fight. And, of course, the wind is blowing the Valley Center fire directly at us.
OK, now I'm getting worried. I can see the flames now. Here is what I can see from my back yard:
We have a main street about 40m to our west. From there I can see the fire better:
And this gives an overview of the fire's size from the same vantage point:
This is about 2 miles from the house at this point. And closing. Chris is preparing for the possibility of an evacuation order, and while she's doing that, I've taken hi-res pictures of every room in the house, just in case.
A closeup of the fires from the street:
It's 3:00pm. The sun is so dommed by smoke you can look at it with your bare eyes. The ambient light level is like dusk.
(Review) Lisa Belkin writes in the NY Times about women--college grads with high-powered jobs--who are just...quitting. Choosing to leave and raise families.
Women -- specifically, educated professional women -- were supposed to achieve like men. Once the barriers came down, once the playing field was leveled, they were supposed to march toward the future and take rightful ownership of the universe, or at the very least, ownership of their half. The women's movement was largely about grabbing a fair share of power -- making equal money, standing at the helm in the macho realms of business and government and law. It was about running the world.
Yes, it was. And it assumed that women would want to run the world. That they would want to engage in the same compromises and office politics in which men have always been engaged.
Gender, the feminists told us, was a "social construct", a cultural role imposed on women. Five billion years of evolution couldn't possibly have anything to do with the differences between women and men, except for providing different plumbing.
This was never anything more than a Utopian political fantasy.
I say this with the full understanding that there are ambitious, achieving women out there who are the emotional and professional equals of any man, and that there are also women who stayed the course, climbed the work ladder without pause and were thwarted by lingering double standards and chauvinism. I also say this knowing that to suggest that women work differently than men -- that they leave more easily and find other parts of life more fulfilling -- is a dangerous and loaded statement.
It's a "dangerous and loaded" idea? And why should that be? Wasn't feminism supposed to be about giving women choices?
Well, no, not really. Despite the fact that the women's movement talked about giving women choices, women who chose to stay home were treated as second-class citizens in the movement. They weren't supposed to make that choice. To do so was to knuckle under to the Patriarchy in a way that was practically traitorous. Throwing away a Princeton MBA to raise children? Why, it's beyond the pale.
And, to a large extent, it still is, if stating the obvious--that women want to raise families--is still a "dangerous and loaded" thing to say.
And lastly, I am very aware that, for the moment, this is true mostly of elite, successful women who can afford real choice -- who have partners with substantial salaries and health insurance -- making it easy to dismiss them as exceptions. To that I would argue that these are the very women who were supposed to be the professional equals of men right now, so the fact that so many are choosing otherwise is explosive.
The other Utopian fallacy the women's movement foisted upon women was the idea that they could have it all: a rewarding career and to raise a family.
But common sense should tell you that this just can't really be true. It implies that choices are cost-free. That you can get your MBA, work a 50-60 hour week, and still have time to bake cookies for the cheerleader bake sale and attend PTA meetings.
But, of course, the truth is that every choice we make has a cost. Sometimes, it's a cost we're willing to pay, either in time, or money, or inconvenience. But there's always a cost, and to pretend otherwise is to lose touch with reality.
But, if you lose touch with that reality, then I guess it is explosive to find out that women who do have real freedom of choice tend to choose family over career.
Look at how all these numbers compare with those of men. Of white men with M.B.A.'s, 95 percent are working full time, but for white women with M.B.A.'s, that number drops to 67 percent.
Perhaps that's because men don't have the luxury of having the same kind of choices. If you don't believe it, then try to tell a prospective wife that you want to quit working and raise the kids while she puts in 50 hours a week at the office. Chances are that, by the end of that conversation, she'll be your ex-fiancée.
Because women still have expectations about men, and that expectation doesn't usually include taking time off from your career to raise children for six to ten years. In general, the expectation is that you'll be getting up at 6:00 AM every morning and going to work, while she decides between work and child-rearing.
Not, that I'm complaining, but it's funny how rare it is for the work/family choice to cut both ways. On the other hand, men don't generally expect to get to make that choice.
As these women look up at the ''top,'' they are increasingly deciding that they don't want to do what it takes to get there. Women today have the equal right to make the same bargain that men have made for centuries -- to take time from their family in pursuit of success.
Ah. I see. It was bargain we made. We had a choice, I guess, but we held firm until we got the right to go to work every day for 45 years or so.
Funny, but I don't remember the negotiations that resulted in that bargain. The closest thing to it that I remember was my dad coming to my room when I was 14, and asking me, "Don't you think it's about time you got a job, son?"
It was "bargain" only in the sense that no woman would willingly marry a guy who wasn't pretty good at convincing here that he was a dependable provider. And it's not that easy to do so today, either.
In other words, we accept that humans are born with certain traits, and we accept that other species have innate differences between the sexes. What we are loath to do is extend that acceptance to humans. Partly that's because absolute scientific evidence one way or the other is impossible to collect. But mostly it is because so much of recent history (the civil rights movement, the women's movement) is an attempt to prove that biology is not destiny. To suggest otherwise is to resurrect an argument that can be -- and has been -- dangerously misused.
The trouble is, that you can argue all you want about how biology is not destiny, but that doesn't change biology. The women's movement tried to argue that 5 billion years of evolution was entirely unimportant. But argument didn't make it so, and biological impulses are, for the most part, completely unfazed by political ideology.
Trofim Denisovich Lysenko forced the Soviet Academy of Sciences to proclaim that Mendelian genetics were an anti-communist heresy. This became the official position of the USSR on biology. As a result, Soviet biological and agricultural sciences were stunted for 50 years. The Soviet position didn't make genetics any less true, it just made Soviet science in those areas irrelevant and useless.
By the same token, the women's movement's rejection of the biological urges toward childbearing and child-rearing were similarly empty. Reproduction and the raising of children are the most basic and central of biological urges. For the women's movement to pretend otherwise is simply a form Lysenkoism.
''Everyone had an M.B.A.,'' says Tracey Liao Van Hooser, the only one in the present group without one, though she does have a degree from Brown University and a decade of work in advertising and marketing to add to the cumulative resume. ''It was wonderful to find a group of women who had made the same decisions I had. This play group is the reason I feel so happy with my choice.''
Van Hooser says: ''I am not a housewife. Is there still any such thing? I am doing what is right for me at the moment, not necessarily what is right for me forever.''
Talk to any professional woman who made this choice, and this is what she will say. She is not her mother or her grandmother. She has made a temporary decision for just a few years, not a permanent decision for the rest of her life. She has not lost her skills, just put them on hold.
''I'm calling this my 'maternity leave,''' Sears says. ''As long as I have the chit on the table that says 'This is not forever,' then I feel O.K. about it.''
Brokaw agrees, protesting, ''Don't make me look like some 1950's Stepford wife.'' In the years since she left her law firm, she has helped found the Atlanta Girls' School (the same place where Tarkenton once worked) and also raised a successful challenge to a bridge that was to have spilled its traffic into her residential neighborhood. ''I use my legal skills every day.''
This seems a bit defensive, like Fredo telling Michael, "I'm smart! I can handle stuff! Not like everybody says! I'm not dumb!" But why be defensive? Why does Ms. Van Hooser need the validation of these other women? Why isn't she simply saying, "I am taking part in raising the next generation. That is a perfectly honorable and rewarding thing to do," and being happy about it? Could it be because she's internalized the women's movement disapproval of making the choice of family over work?
I don't begrudge women the ability to have the work/family choice available to them. But I do begrudge fact that women who chose family instead of work are made to feel like traitors to their gender in some way. Almost as if they are failures for not choosing to stick it out in their careers, and to do their bit to overthrow the Patriarchy. I'm not sure that encouraging embarrassment among women who choose family is a wise thing to do.
No wait, that's not true. I am sure it isn't.
The task force begins its work this winter. But Hewlett's preliminary research makes her pessimistic about what today's women will face when they want to return to work. At any given time, she says, ''two-thirds of all women who quit their career to raise children'' are ''seeking to re-enter professional life and finding it exceedingly difficult. These women may think they can get back in,'' she said, when I told her of what I had been hearing in San Francisco and Atlanta and on my own suburban street, where half the women with children at home are not working and where the jobs they quit include law partner and investment banker. ''But my data show that it's harder than they anticipate. Are they going to live to the age of 83 and realize that they opted out of a career?''
So, when women leave the workplace for 5 years to raise children, getting back into the workplace is difficult? Really? You mean if I just quit working for a couple of years, I couldn't just jump right back into my old job?
I'm shocked--shocked!--to learn of this!
Again, I have to go back to what I said earlier: Choices are inherently costly, and it's a fantasy land you're living in if you think otherwise. Sure, it would be great to be able to move in and out of careers at your choice, but that simply isn't the way the world works. So, the question you gotta answer yourself is if child-raising is a choice that is worth the cost to your career.
And, of course, somewhere in all this, you have to ask yourself if you'd rather raise your kids yourself, or have an au pair or day care do it for you.
(Review) Dan Weintraub's editors have approved the following post at the California Insider:
Senate Leader John Burton has notified members not to expect to reconvene in session before Gov. Gray Davis leaves office. That means last-minute Davis appointees who require confirmation will have their fates in the hands of Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger, who could rescind any of the appointments before they are confirmed.
So, that means all of Gray Davis' last-minute appointments are dead, unless Arnold approves them.
(Review) Victor Davis Hanson has the number on America's "Allies" and their opposition to Iraq.
For some reason or another, a series of enormously important issues--the future of the Middle East, the credibility of the United States as both a strong and a moral power, the war against the Islamic fundamentalists, the future of the U.N. and NATO, our own politics here at home--now hinge on America's efforts at creating a democracy out of chaos in Iraq. That is why so many politicians--in the U.N., the EU, Germany, France, the corrupt Middle East governments, and a host of others--are so strident in their criticism, so terrified that in a postmodern world the United States can still recognize evil, express moral outrage, and then sacrifice money and lives to eliminate something like Saddam Hussein and leave things far better after the fire and smoke clear. People, much less states, are not supposed to do that anymore in a world where good is a relative construct, force is a thing of the past, and the easy life is too precious to be even momentarily interrupted. We may expect that, a year from now, the last desperate card in the hands of the anti-Americanists will be not that Iraq is democratic, but that it is democratic solely through the agency of the United States--a fate worse than remaining indigenously murderous and totalitarian.
Read the whole thing.
I just want to expand on what I wrote previously about the judicial process and it’s effect on society. Earlier this year, the issue came up in reference to Sen. Rick Santorum’s comments about homosexuality. At the center of that issue was the “right to privacy”, which, as I said before, I think is a deeply flawed constitutional principle.
I suppose I should state at the outset that I don’t believe there should be laws regulating homosexual conduct, or adultery--or prostitution, for that matter. But it is one thing to support fairly liberal public policy vis a vis consensual activities between adults, and quite another entirely to say that the Constitution protects such activities. This is a volatile issue, mainly because the whole concept of a Constitutional right to privacy is so broad that the ripples from it impact on all sorts of issues, and mainly in a negative way.
If the right of privacy means that consensual adult activity A is protected, then one must explain why consensual adult acts B, C, and D are not. As a practical matter this means that if there is a protected right to consensual homosexual activities, then one must explain why incest, wife-swapping, and polygamy between consenting adults are not equally protected. Indeed, if economic transactions in a private setting are Constitutionally protected, and consensual sexual activity in a private setting is equally protected, then why isn't prostitution a protected activity since it simply marries (if you'll pardon the expression) protected economic transactions and protected private naughtiness? Unless you can argue that consensual homosexual acts are in some way qualitatively different than adultery, incest, or polygamy between consenting adults, then it seems that a valid argument can be made that those activities are equally protected as well.
Now, practically everyone says that the right to privacy is settled Constitutional law. Well, maybe, but the limits have never been settled, and it seems to me that fairly close limits have to be applied to such a right, especially as it is a judicially-created right that does not explicitly appear in the Constitution.
One of the key criterion a right must meet before it is recognized as a right is that it must be deemed "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty," or "so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental." The Supreme Court declared abortion to be one of these rights in 1973. The ensuing 30 years of controversy, public protest, and bitter acrimony seems to argue against the court's position that the right to abortion was "so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental," since such a large percentage of the population disagrees with it. Indeed, the current filibuster in the US Senate over the matter of Bush judicial nominations revolves almost solely around the issue of abortion.
Rights that are "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty," or that are "so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental" don't usually divide the nation 50-50. Indeed, by definition, they cannot. If they are so controversial, how can they possibly be deeply rooted in our history or traditions? No, it seems to me that the right of privacy as it has been extended by the Court does nothing more than create new "rights" about which the framers were entirely unaware.
As a result, there has not only been bitter public acrimony, but the very operation of government and judicial selection has been tainted by reference to it. That’s a pretty widespread effect for a right that is never mentioned in the Constitution.
The Framers didn't mention quite a lot of things, as it happens. And the reason they did not was because, outside of proscribing a range of specified, inviolable rights, they left the state and national legislatures free to make whatever rules that seemed best to the polity they represented. The proper place to define such privacy limits beyond those fundamental to the concept of ordered liberty is the legislature, not the courts. If we wish to enshrine new rights into the Constitution, the proper place to do so is through amending that instrument, not through judicial fiat whereby five out of nine lawyers in Washington DC promulgate rights at their discretion.
The whole area of judicially-created privacy rights has led to nothing but controversy that has poisoned political discourse. As a result it has politicized the Court to such an extent that the very process of selecting and confirming judges has been tainted. When interest groups are protesting regularly in front of the Supreme Court's steps, that's a pretty good indication that the Court is engaging in political rather than judicial activity.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the whole problem with the concept of a Constitutional right to privacy. Constitutional rights are first principles from which all other political actions flow. Once you set down a Constitutional rule, you have to recognize that, if broadly applied--and in general, that is how they are applied--it is going to cover a lot of things that you might not have thought about.
Constitutional rules are hard to limit to one specific subset of circumstances, denying the remainder of the superset. Constitutional rights are blunt instruments, not scalpels, and that is precisely what they are meant to be. That is why the Framers created a limited set of 10 rights in the Bill of Rights. The rest they left up to us, to decide by the political process, or the process of amendment.
What they did not intend was for the Courts to create new rights without any sort of audit by either the citizens or their representatives. None of this is to say that anti-sodomy, or anti-adultery, or anti-prostitution laws are wise or just. I personally don't think they are, and I am not interested in having the armed agents of the state popping by to cart me off to jail because I'm having sex outside of marriage, or because I’m spending some of my disposable income to procure some company for the evening.
But the Constitution's purpose is not to prevent the passage of unwise or silly or useless laws. It is to prevent the passage of tyrannical laws that sever the activities of the government from public audit. Somehow, we've lost sight of that simple purpose, and have taken to treating the Constitution as some sort of rights-dispensing machine, because it's easier to have the courts declare our pet cause to be a "right", than it is to convince 50% + 1 of our fellow citizens to vote for it.
To the extent that we treat the Constitution in that cavalier way, we move closer to a non-democratic form of government where public policy is decided by whatever 5 out of 9 robed lawyers believe at a particular moment. And whatever those 5 lawyers believe, we'd better reconcile ourselves to it, because their opinions cannot be trumped by the regular political process. Now, maybe that wouldn't be bad if all nine justices were the perfect incarnation of Plato's philosopher-kings, but they aren't. And once they've decided, the only way to overturn it is by amending the Constitution. And we've only been able to do that 27 times in more than 2 centuries. And 10 of those were passed immediately after ratification.
Well, today has been a big day of change for the blog. Not only did I convert the DIV tags to tables, but totally changed the display, so it more closely matches the rest of the site. Along with some stylistic changes.
And the comments are fixed, too.
(Review) It's been a bad week for Democrats, as John Podhoretz points out.
Worst of all, for the Democrats, has been the economic news, with some economists predicting 7% GDP growth by the end of the year. And, with initial claims for unemployment coming in under 400k yet again, the signs are that job creation is moving back on track.
They're running out of sticks with which to beat the Bush Administration.
(Review) Daniel Henninger writes in the Wall Street Journal that much of America's increasingly polarized political culture is the fault of a judiciary run amok.
In some ways, America may now be closer to the England of the Stuarts, rife with religious and political animosity, than to the intentions at Philadelphia in 1789. If not, it is sliding toward reflexive strife.
I agree with the argument that this war of the cultures dates to the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. The history of the cultural tensions that came afterward is familiar to everyone, even people merely upset at "what's gone wrong with the country."
Beneath this history lies another argument, with which I agree, that the country's judges the past 30 years have made much law touching people's deepest beliefs about the ordering of public and private life, which previously was the first responsibility of elected legislatures. So internalized has the courts' legislative primacy become that seminars are now held to argue whether liberal or conservative judges are the more activist.
When the founders set up the American system of government, their purpose was not to have the courts become a superlegislature with the power to veto the will of the people.
The founders created a strict set of political freedoms that the government was forbidden to touch. In cases where the government encroached upon these freedoms, the courts could declare the government's actions to be unconstitutional. The Constitution secures political rights, and those most closely related to them.
The basic idea behind this principle was that if the political system was open and free, the public could order their lives through the legislature in whatever ways seemed right to them. This leaves huge swathes of public policy to the discretion of the people, and it should leave judges completely out of the picture.
Clearly, with the Federal judges keen to rule on any number of propositions that appear nowhere in the constitution, such as abortion or homosexual marriage.
But those are issues that legislatures are supposed to handle, not judges. The whole "culture war" environment we are experiencing in America is a direct result of the judiciary meddling in legislative matters. As Henninger points out:
I think many people who don't get paid for waging politics are becoming quite frustrated with dysfunctional legislatures that are now polarized--as in Congress or in California--essentially along the cultural faultlines created by 30 years of allowing judges to pre-empt the broader community's ability to discover, or re-examine, its social beliefs. These legislators have become little more than clerks to judges and the complainants in their courts--the law as not much more than a brief. When this happens, citizens lose their status as voters or electors and become mere courtroom spectators. How can this be good?
Continuing to use the courts in this way--the ACLU boasting it will get a court to overthrow a law passed by Congress or any legislature--and then demanding that large portions of American society simply shut up and swallow it is a recipe for a kind of war much more serious than the mere chattering crossfire of talk shows.
The reason that Judicial nominations have become rife with character assassination and political infighting is that judges now matter in a far deeper way than they should. The judiciary has become a fount of "rights" and a means of implementing public policy that would never be approved by legislatures.
Nothing has done more damage to modern constitutional jurisprudence than the "right to privacy". This term appears nowhere in the Constitution, and the only way the Supreme Court could assert the existence of such a right was to talk about the "penumbras" and "emanations" that flow from the Bill of Rights.
Once you've got your penumbras and emanations goin' on, you can find a right to anything in the constitution. Or, you can find a right that prevents the people, through their legislatures, from setting public policy.
"You don't like abortion? Well, it's a right, so suck it up, Cotton Mather. Have a problem with homosexual marriage? Well, it's a right, so try to wrap your narrow little mind around it anyway. Oh, you think affirmative action is a form of constitutionally barred racial preference? Ooh, sorry, there, Simon Legree, wrong answer. You want to ban illegal immigrants from receiving welfare benefits? Nope, they got a right to 'em, Nazi-boy. And we're judges, so you can just eat it, 'cause what we say goes."
We are creating a system where the country is run by an unelected judicial oligarchy. And we're paying the price for it in increasing frustration with the political system, and more divisive politics.
(Review) A big thank you to Michael Williams for pointing me to a quick link that contains a solution for the DIV tag display problem that IE6 users experience. It has fixed up the display problem on the blog page (although I'm still having trouble getting it to work reliably with the comments, mainly because of the difficulty of getting DIV tags and form fields to cohabit peacefully)
But it's a fairly quick fix, and it works without having to go through the tedium of converting all your DIV tags to TD tags inside a table.
In case you were wondering why blogging was a little light today, I spent much of the day working on a selection of new web site templates. If, you'd like to take a peek at them, you can find them here, here, and here.
They're only images at this point, rather than actual pages, so they run about 179k apiece. So, for you dial-up people, a few seconds of patience will be required.
(Review) Howard Kurtz's article on Bush Hatred in the Washington Post refers to something called a "perjury trap".
The New Republic's editor complained in a letter to the Times that Brooks had ignored Chait's substantive arguments against Bush. And Chait says that gee, by the way, Republicans set a "perjury trap" and impeached a popular Democrat, and yet "suddenly it's time to declare president-hating out of bounds."
As I wrote 5 years ago, on the occasion of the President's imeapchment, there is no such thing as a perjury trap. The concept does not exist anywhere in Federal Law. All witnesses in all Federal legal proceedings have an absolute responsibility to tell the truth at all times. You obviously cannot be entrapped to tell the truth. And if you have previously lied under oath, you may, if asked the same question again, decline to answer by invoking your 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. Since this is the case, it is not possible to create a "perjury trap".
Let me add another word about entrapment in general. Even if the above were not true, and it was possible to construct a perjury trap, entrapment would still not apply in Mr. Clinton's testimony before the grand jury. The legal definition of entrapment is when a law enforcement official convinces you to commit a crime for which you have not shown a previous propensity to commit, and which you would not have committed in other circumstances.
In Mr. Clinton's case this clearly would not have applied. Mr. Clinton had already given statements under oath in the Jones case that were, by his own admission, "misleading". Also, he knowingly allowed his counsel in that case to make representations about his relationship to Ms. Lewinsky that were clearly false. As such had already shown a propensity to lie under oath. Since that is the case, Mr. Starr’s questioning could not in any way be considered entrapment.
(As an aside, I would point out that Mr. Clinton’s counsel in the Jones case, Bob Bennet, stated in Mr. Clinton’s presence during the deposition that there was no sex between the president and Ms. Lewinsky "in any way shape, or form". When this was later found out to be false, Mr. Bennet, in order to escape the possibility of disbarment proceedings, was forced to write a letter to the judge, Susan Wright Edelman, acknowledging that representation as untrue.)
And, of course, the president was eventually disbarred for lying under oath.
(Hat tip: Pejman)
(Review) It's called Operation Rollback, and it's resulted in 300 workers at various Wal-Mart being revealed as illegal aliens and rounded up.
Now the interesting thing about this is something I didn't pick up on, but Michael Williams, of the Master of None blog, did. It;s the list of states where the operation took place.
No California? No New Mexico? Arizona and Texas are in there, but apparently they were after workers who were "Eastern European and a few were of other ethnicities" and not illegal immigrants from Mexico.
Yeah, we sure wouldn't want to get Vincente Fox PO'd at us, now would we. Gotta keep him happy, just like the Saudis.
(Review) Lileks weighs in on the Rumsfeld memo.
I's not an "admission of failure," as Daschle put it - hell, the administration could put Osama's head on a stick in the Rose Garden, and Daschle would call it an admission of failure that they hadn't located the torso. I will never trust these people with national security again. Never, never, never. We're in the fight of our lives, and all they can do is carp and bitch and piss and moan, because - as was the case with many conservatives in the Bosnian conflict - it's not their war.
Every time Daschle opens his mouth, I'll bet Harry Truman spins in his grave like a machine lathe.
(Review) Thomas Sowell notes that a lynch mob of The Usual Suspects is out to do a hatchet job on Bush judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown.
And he uses the "lynch mob" imagery intentionally.
What the left-wing can never forgive her for is upholding the right of California voters to ban racial quotas. More than 4.5 million Californians voted for Proposition 209, which outlawed group preferences and quotas. But liberals wanted the state Supreme Court to overrule the voters. Janice Rogers Brown refused and instead wrote the majority opinion upholding the voters' right to make the laws under which they live.
In the country at large, the real issue behind all the sound and fury is that special interest groups like "People for the American Way" want judges to impose items in the left-wing agenda that cannot be imposed through the democratic process.
Nowhere in this country are racial quotas likely to get voter support. But such quotas exist because elected officials do not have to risk their careers by voting for quotas because they can leave that to judges.
That includes not only liberal judges but also weak-kneed "conservative" judges like Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, who on issue after issue tend to split the difference and go along to get along.
What really scares the left about Janice Rogers Brown is that she has guts as well as brains. They haven't been able to get her to weaken or to waver. Character assassination is all the left has left.
And it's a weapon they know how to use well.
(Review) Tom Fiedman writes that, since looking to Democrats for realistic appraisal of the Iraq situation is pointless, Republicans better be asking the tough questions of themselves.
I've often pointed out the good we have done in Iraq and unabashedly hoped for more. No regrets. But some recent trends leave me worried. Unfortunately, there are few Democrats to press my worries on the administration. Most Democrats either opposed the war (a perfectly legitimate position) or supported it and are now trying to disown it. That means the only serious opposition can come from Republicans, so they'd better get focused — because there is nothing about the Bush team's performance in Iraq up to now that justifies a free pass. If Republicans don't get serious on Iraq, they will wake up a year from now and find all their candidates facing the same question: "How did your party lose Iraq?"
But, now wait a minute, wasn't the Rumsfeld memo an attempt to do precisely what Friedman is asking Republicans to do? It certainly doesn't sound like even the administration's chief defense official is "applauding without thinking." In fact, it seems like he's doing quite the reverse.
Yes, Friedman is right that we should be looking at the situation in Iraq and try to learn from our mistakes. And he's certainly right that bringing in Turkish troops is an extraordinarily bad idea.
But as far as I can see, there isn't an attitude of uncritical applause for the Bush efforts, even inside his own administration.
(Review) I have argued, since the beginning of this blog, and for years previously, that the true obstacle to Mideast peace is not the policies of the Israeli government, but rather the intransigence of the Palestinian Arabs.
An opinion poll of Palestinian attitudes has just been released that confirms my point of view.
Fifty-nine percent of Palestinians believe that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad should continue their armed struggle against Israel even if Israel leaves all of the West Bank and Gaza, including East Jerusalem, and a Palestinian state is created, a new survey shows. Similarly, 80 percent of Palestinians say that, under those circumstances, the Palestinians should not give up the "right of return."
It isn't Israel's policies that the Palestinians object to. It is Israel's existence.
(Review) The Euro Zone countries signed a treaty called the Stability Pact several years ago in order to make the Euro a viable international currency. They promised, among other things not have a deficit greater than 3% of GDP. According to the Pact, countries that do not meet the Pact's economic requirements can be fined up to 0.5% of their GDP.
Germany demanded on the Pact as a prerequisite to joining the Euro, because zone Euro Zone nations, notable France and Italy regularly devalued their currencies. Everyone else agreed because, without Germany there would have been no Euro, because it was the only Deutsche Bank's reputation for monetary probity that made the currency trustworthy.
As it happened, last year it was the socialist government in Germany that came perilously close to breaking the stability pact through high deficits. The Germans barely escaped EU sanctions by promising a round of budget cuts.
Well, France is now running a budget deficit equal to 4% of their GDP. Not only that, but they've told the Eu that they don't intend to fix the problem any time soon.
So, the European Commission met and...let France off the hook.
Conservative finance spokesman in the European Parliament Theresa Villiers said the failed attempts to apply the Pact to differing national economies showed a “one-size-fits-all” economic policy cannot work.
The decision to let France off the hook was another blow to the euro’s credibility, she said
“This is another fudge to disguise poor economic performance in Euroland.
“We were told by supporters of the euro that Stability Pact rules were vital to ensure that the Euro worked well.
“Now they are being flouted by France, which is getting off scot-free. It is no wonder opposition to the Euro is at an all-time high in the UK.”
This is, it seems to me, a key indication that the Euro is doomed to failure as an international currency to rival the dollar. If the EU cannot prevent what is, in effect, a devaluation of the currency through bad fiscal policy, then the Euro cannot become a trustworthy currency for investment or international trade. The currency risk becomes simply to high.
The whole point of the Stability Pact was to provide for the Euro what its name implies: Stability.
And if France can violate the Pact without fear of reprisal by the EU, then why can't Italy or Spain, two other nations who were relatively keen to devalue their own currencies at the drop of a hat?
And who does France think they are, anyway, by unilaterally violating international law?
(Review) I guess that when liberals take economics courses in college, their eyes just glaze over as soon as the prof begins talking. Or maybe they don't take any economics courses at all. In any event, for whatever reason, Matt Yglesias seems to have no clue that people respond to incentives.
There are a lot of grand questions of principle surrounding vouchers, but as I found myself inundated by pro-voucher ads watching TV over the weekend I became a bit puzzled as to what, exactly, it is that conservatives think vouchers are going to do. After all, it's not as if there are millions of private school slots sitting empty right now just waiting for people to pony up the tuition money. If you made vouchers available to public school students who couldn't otherwise afford private schools, some pretty small number of them would displace richer occupants from a few existing private school slots, but for the overwhelming majority of public school students, there would be no change at all. Plus, the displaced private school students would either wind up in public school or else displacing a candidate from a less selective private school who, in turn, would wind up in public school or else [future iterations here].
Either way, the total number of public school students wouldn't change very much, and public schools wouldn't get any better as a result of the process. Indeed, they'd probably get a little worse since you'd be dragging average student quality down. There may be good reasons for wanting to adopt a plan like this (there's a sense it which it would be fairer, at least to the smartest of poor kids), but I have a really hard time seeing how this could be a solution -- or even a major part of a solution -- to America's education problem.
First and foremost, the reason that there are relatively small number of private school slots available now is because relatively few parents can afford to send children to anyplace other than public schools. As soon as a voucher system was passed into law, the number of private schools would increase rapidly. Therefore the number of available private schools slots would rise very quickly.
Public or private schools that did not provide a quality education would lose students to schools that did.
It's not really a difficult concept. It's called "supply and demand". No really. Adam Smith wrote all about it in 1776.
It's funny that liberals get purple with apoplexy at the very thought that a private company might exercise a monopoly on some good or service. They go on and on about how quality is reduced, prices are increased, and output declines.
But a state monopoly on education? Why that's just peachy.
And, of course, their political opposition to vouchers has nothing whatsoever to do with their interest in keeping that NEA union money rolling in.
(Review) A UN report of the bombing of UN offices in Baghdad has concluded that UN officials are a bunch of sad losers.
The team outlined a systematic pattern of incompetence, negligence and poor judgment among senior U.N. leadership that raised questions about the organization's fitness to protect U.N. workers in any high risk operation. And it recommended the appointment of an independent body to review the culpability of individual U.N. officials.
So, essentially, the UN's ability to provide security for its own employees is pretty much on a par with its ability to act forcefully against lawless states.
(Review) This internal Pentagon Memo from SecDef Donald Rumsfeld has been released, and is causing a bit of controversy. Here's the full text of the memo.
TO: Gen. Dick Myers Paul Wolfowitz Gen. Pete Pace Doug Feith
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
SUBJECT: Global War on Terrorism
The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror? Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment? Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?
DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.
With respect to global terrorism, the record since September 11th seems to be:We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them — nonetheless, a great many remain at large.
USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis.
USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban — Omar, Hekmatyar, etc.
With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started.
Have we fashioned the right mix of rewards, amnesty, protection and confidence in the US?
Does DoD need to think through new ways to organize, train, equip and focus to deal with the global war on terror?
Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental? My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?
Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?
Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.Do we need a new organization?
How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools?
Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?
It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.
Does CIA need a new finding?
Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madrassas to a more moderate course?
What else should we be considering?
Please be prepared to discuss this at our meeting on Saturday or Monday.
As far as I can tell, this is precisely the type of memo I want the SecDef to write. These are the questions that need to be asked. One wishes that Robert MacNamara had been asking similar questions between 1964 and 1968.
As far as I'm concerned, the content here is utterly uncontroversial.
But then, I'm not a Democrat. The Dems' response sounds like this:
Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the memo marked "the first bit of introspection that I've even whiffed" from the Defense Department's top civilian officials.
"I'm not suggesting there's a change in direction but there's a little self-doubt setting in," Biden said.
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate, said, "Secretary Rumsfeld is only now acknowledging what we've known for some time -- that this administration has no plan for Iraq and no long-term strategy for fighting terrorism."
Or, like this:
"I think Secretary Rumsfeld's comments are an illustration of the concern that they have about the failures of their policy in Iraq so far," added Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. "They acknowledge they have not succeeded to date."
Yep. Just a big failure.
Except that the Iraqi people have been freed, and Saddam Hussein's regime has been overthrown. Just like the Taliban in Afghanistan. I can only imagine how these guys would have dealt with George Washington if they'd been in Congress during the long years of the American Revolution.
Would these idiots prefer a memo from Rumsfeld that said, essentially, "Ooh, what a cool boy I am?" Would they prefer senior administration officials to do what they did in the Johnson Administration, who spent 5 years looking at body counts and kill ratios in order to convince themselves that things in Vietnam were just going swimmingly?
Rumsfeld is asking, how we're doing, what can we do better, how are we judging success. That's his job.
The Democrats' attempt to spin this into some admission of failure is sickeningly partisan and dishonest. Oh, and I note that none of them are baying with outrage to find the person who leaked a sensitive, strategic document to the press.
This kind of stuff is why I'm no longer a Democrat, and why I have nothing but contempt for the lame hacks who hold all the senior leadership positions in the party.
(Hat Tip: Balloon Juice)
(Review) Jonah Goldberg writes on the truism that Presidents don't run the economy.
residents like to claim they "create jobs." Well they do - a few thousand of them, mostly around Washington, D.C. But they don't create millions of jobs in the private sector, at least not with any precision or in a way that can be replicated by flipping some job-creation switch. Even the New Deal was largely ineffective until the onset of WWII. What creates economic growth are billions of decisions all over the world, made according to a timeline that only vaguely coincides with the political calendar.
It now looks like the economy's about to take off again. President Bush will surely claim more credit than he deserves. President Bush's tax cuts were in, my book, a good idea. But they surely didn't restructure the U.S. economy.
There's very little the president can do about the day-to-day state of the economy. Any changes the president might want to make have to be approved by congress. And, absent major changes in the way fiscal policy is structured, even fiscal policy changes are of of marginal effect.
(Review) Beltway sniper suspect John Muhammed has decided to stop defending himself and get a real lawyer.
That's a really wise decision. Some of the statements he's made so far, like, "The prosecution wasn't there; I was," probably didn't help him.
(Review) Not the democrats evidently, according to Byron York.
There is some stunning — and so far unreported — news in a new poll conducted by Democratic strategist Stanley Greenberg.
The survey — sponsored by Democracy Corps, the group founded by Greenberg, James Carville and Robert Shrum — focused on Democrats who take part in the nominating process in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
What Democracy Corps found was that Democrats, at least those who are most active in politics, simply don’t care about terrorism.
Just don’t care.
In one question, pollsters read a list of a dozen topics — education, taxes, big government, the environment, Social Security and Medicare, crime and illegal drugs, moral values, healthcare, the economy and jobs, fighting terrorism, homeland security, and the situation in Iraq — and asked, “Which concern worries you the most?”
In Iowa, 1 percent of those polled — 1 percent! — said they worried about fighting terrorism. It was dead last on the list.
Two percent said they worried about homeland security — next to last.
In New Hampshire, 2 percent worried about fighting terrorism and 2 percent worried about homeland security.
In South Carolina — somewhat surprising because of its military heritage — the results were the same.
Democrats in each state were then given the same list of topics and asked to name their second-most concern. Fighting terrorism and homeland security still placed near the bottom of the list.
Democrats seem to have forgotten that the first and primary responsibility of the Federal government is to ensure the nation's security. Somehow, they seem to think the Federal government's primary job is to provide entitlements and national health care.
I hope that's an attitude that will shock and disgust a majority of the voters. But this seems to point to the conclusion that national security will be a key issue in the next election, and it will be interesting to see if the Democrat's message of "surrender now" will resonate with the electorate.
And if it does, I suspect that another 911 will be waiting just around the corner.
(Review) Glenn Reynolds writes that blogging is a lot like the Citizen's Band revolution of the 1970s. And that's more important than you might think.
Citizens' Band radio gets a bum rap nowadays -- in most people's minds, it's associated with images of Homer Simpson (in the flashback scenes where he had hair) shouting "breaker 1-9" and singing C.W. McCall's Convoy! loudly and off-key. In other words, something out of date and vaguely risible, like leisure suits or Tony Orlando.
But, in fact, CB was a revolution in its time, whose effects are still felt today. Before Citizens' Band was created, you needed a license to be on the air, with almost no exceptions. Radio was seen as Serious Technology For Serious People, nothing for normal folks to fool around with, at least not without government approval. Citizens' Band put an end to that, not by regulatory design but by popular fiat. Originally, a license was required for Citizens' Band, too, but masses of people simply broke the law and operated without a license until the FCC was forced to bow to reality. It was a form of mass civil disobedience that accomplished in its sphere what drug-legalization activists have never been able to accomplish in theirs. No small thing.
And it didn't stop there. Citizens' Band radio became popular because of widespread resistance to another example of regulatory overreach: the unpopular 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. Actually passed in 1974, but popularly identified with Jimmy Carter's "moral equivalent of war," speed limits were for the first time set not for reasons of safety, but for reasons of politics and social engineering. Americans rejected that approach in massive numbers, and entered into a state of more-or-less open rebellion. CB was valuable -- as songs like Convoy! and movies like Smokey and the Bandit illustrated -- because it allowed citizens to spontaneously organize against what they saw as illegitimate authority.
And, eventually, it worked, too.
OK, sure, maybe we're just fooling ourselves, and Glenn is grasping at straws to try and make his avocation as Blogger-in-Chief seem more important than it really is.
But then, that's what Jimmy Carter said about CB radio.
(Review) I wasn't going to admit it, but since Indepundit did, I guess I will, too. I watched Joe Millionaire on FOX last night. And I felt pretty much the way he did.
Not only are these women shallow, gold-digging Euro-trash, but they all seem to harbor some very nasty anti-American prejudices. Did you see the looks on their faces when they were told that their host was a "real American cowboy?" It got even worse when it was further "revealed" that he was the son of a Texas oil baron.
Of course, they all cheered up a bit when they were informed that he was worth approximately $80 million.
I hate them all. And I'm going to enjoy watching them suffer. In fact, my only disappointment is that none of them are French.
Fresh Potatoes also took a look at it, and he agrees.
Last night's episode was particularly illuminating because it clearly revealed the snobbery and condescension that the shallow European sophisticate has for American culture. When the European women of last night's episode were told that their guy was a "real American cowboy," the disgust was palpable. The women mocked the idea of a man riding a horse, and living on a ranch, and eating salad "with ranch dressing." At one point, a woman suggested that the cowboy would be okay if he didn't spend all his time on a ranch and instead occasionally "went clubbing."
I don't believe I've ever seen a more obnoxious, shallow, and unsympathetic group of women in my life.
The American girls who were on last February in the first incarnation of the show were pussycats compared to these shrews.
It's like looking at a train wreck. It's horrific, but you just can't seem to look away. It just rivets you with appalled fascination.
(Review) Megan McArdle argues that privatization of the Social Security system is inevitable, unless we're willing to just sit back and watrch the demographic disaster unfold.
Privatization will be a major component of any long-term solution to the Social Security crisis. Why? Because private accounts increase our national savings. Unlike money given to the government, which overwhelmingly goes into current spending, money invested in the private sector is used to do new research, invent new products, and buy new facilities and equipment -- all of which will eventually make our future workers more productive. When we've gone as far as we can go towards changing the ratio of retirees to workers, privatization can take us the rest of the way by increasing the output of the workers we have left so that both workers and retirees can continue to live in comfort. It can also improve the efficiency of our economy by stopping the Social Security surplus -- which people think is being saved for their retirement -- from being funnelled into wasteful spending by legislators, on things they presumably wouldn't fund if they had to beg their constituents for the tax increases to pay for them. But privatization is risky, say advocates of the status quo. And of course, that's true to some extent, but right now, we have a choice between private sector risk, and the 100% certainty of demographic and fiscal disaster.
Right now, the Democrats are on the side of disaster.
Not that that's any big surprise.
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If you choose an ASP/.NET server for your hosting plan, you will have access to 30+ components.
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(Review) Amitai Etzioni writes in the Christian Science Monitor that the Democrat's problem isn't that they have no messengers. It's that they have a bad message.
The reason liberal messages are not resonating isn't because they're unheard, but because they're out of touch with the majority of Americans. In 2000, the proportion of Americans who identified themselves as liberals - including those who see themselves as "slightly liberal" - amounted to only 1 in 5. And that was no fluke. Since 1972, National Elections Studies polls show Americans labeling themselves liberal have never topped 23 percent.
So how did the Demo-crats get elected? By running on a centrist - not liberal - message, as Bill Clinton did in 1991. He took the Democratic party toward the political center, drawing heavily on ideas formulated by centrist "New" Democrats. Responsibility and community have been among their core themes, not traditional liberal buzzwords such as inequality and racism. (The current President Bush won in part because he did the same for Republicans: He moved them toward the center.)
One would think that the formula for a winning message for the Democrats is clear: anything but liberal. Yet many left liberals - including the same Democrats who voted for Ralph Nader, thus helping to defeat Mr. Gore - have become particularly influential in the party since 2000. They're still smarting from what they consider to be the usurpation of a presidency that was theirs. They're furious with many of the policies that the Republicans are pursuing overseas and at home. And, as a minority that cannot get traction, they're becoming ever more frustrated, vociferous - and extreme.
To the extent that the Democrats keep veering farther to leftward, their chances of winning elections will continue to shrink.
(Review) Deroy Murdock argues that the President needs to be more forthright in engaging his critics who aver that Saddam Hussein's regime had no real ties with terrorists. Murdock's article is chock full of information about those ties, and he wonders why the administration hasn't been more aggressive in talking about them.
(Review) Mike Northover, of the Master of None blog points to a fascinating paper by UCLA economics professor Michael F. Sproul on the the Real Bills doctrine of monetary policy. The paper itself is fairly accessible to the layman, and I highly recommend it.
Sproul contends the following:
In this paper I argue that the Real Bills Doctrine has been wrongly discredited, and that it ought to displace the Quantity Theory as the dominant theory of money. The discussion begins with the observation that the issue of backed money will not be inflationary as long as central banks follow the Real-Bills rule of only issuing money to those customers who offer good security in exchange. I then contend that modern paper currencies, which we normally think of as unbacked fiat money, may in fact be (and probably are) backed. If correct, this would imply that the Real Bills Doctrine, and not the Quantity Theory, is a correct model of the value of modern money. The paper concludes by discussing a few controversies in the history of the Real Bills Doctrine, and shows that the major arguments responsible for the defeat of the Real Bills Doctrine contain obvious and serious errors.
If true this revives the dead horse of the Real Bills doctrine. Sproul argues that the US dollar is not, in fact, an unbacked currency. It is not convertible to other assets, such as gold or silver, but he argues that the Fed does not issue dollars except in exchange for assets, mainly debt securities held by federally-chartered banks.
We are now in a position to make an important observation: It is possible that what we think of as unbacked fiat money is in fact money that is backed but inconvertible. Consider the usual justification for asserting that the dollar is fiat money:
You cannot convert a Federal Reserve Note into gold, silver, or anything else. The truth is that a Federal Reserve Note has no inherent value other than its value as money, as a medium of exchange. (Tresch, 1994, p. 996.)
Observing that the dollar is inconvertible, economists conclude that it is unbacked. The most remarkable thing about this simple non-sequitur is that it has survived virtually unquestioned for centuries. If we want to show that the dollar is not just inconvertible, but unbacked, it is not enough to say that the Federal Reserve does not pay out gold on demand. Yet economists' belief in fiat money, and in fact the better part of monetary theory, is founded on nothing but this obviously flawed premise. Add to this the facts that the Federal Reserve (like all central banks) does in fact hold assets against the money it issues, that no dollar is ever issued except in exchange for valuable assets, and that the Federal Reserve's balance sheet plainly identifies those assets as "Collateral Held Against Federal Reserve Notes", and we have good reason to wonder if fiat money is no more real than the phlogiston, ether, and caloric of early physical sciences.
Now, Sproul is going way out on a limb with this particular point of view, since the orthodox position is that the Real Bills doctrine has been discredited. But he makes some very interesting and compelling points.
And economic orthodoxy has occasionally been found to be wrong.
So, I get up this morning and I notice I have instant hot water in the kitchen. I also notice all the kitchen tiles next to the sink are very warm on my feet. After opening the Kitchen cupboard under the sink, I faintly hear the sound of water running through the hot water pipe. I can't see any water anywhere. I just hear it running and feel the slab foundation around the kitchen sink getting very warm.
A plumber is on his way over. I think my homeowners insurance is about to have to come through for me, big time.
(Review) The newest version of the Arab Development Report released by the UN is full of advice that Arab governments will hate.
The report proposes building a new knowledge society on “five pillars.”
“A climate of freedom is an essential prerequisite of the knowledge society,” it says. “It is also imperative to end the era of administrative control and the grip of security agencies over the production and dissemination of knowledge and the various forms of creative activity that are foundations for the knowledge society in Arab countries.”
Basic education should become universal and last 10 years in an educational system that should be radically improved, the report says of the second pillar. An independent Arab organization should be established for the accreditation of all higher education programmes.
Appropriate institutions, with appropriate funding, are needed to encourage basic research that will meet regional demand, especially in science and technology, which is the third pillar. “A starting point for this is to overcome the illusion that importing technology, as embodied in products, machinery and services, is equivalent to acquiring knowledge.”
The report recommends “shifting rapidly towards knowledge-based and value-added production,” thereby diversifying economic structures and markets, as the fourth pillar.
Creating the Arab knowledge model, the fifth pillar, will involve “delivering pure religion from political exploitation and respecting independent scholarship,” undertaking serious linguistic research into and reform of the Arabic language and “promoting cultural diversity in the region and opening up to other cultures abroad.”
Freedom, tolerance, diversity, and rational and skeptical inquiry. Yeah, that's just what the Saudi royal family wants to encourage, I'll bet.
Here's something funny, though. The San Fransisco Chronicle story (which was actually written by the Washington Post's Peter Slevin) about this report starts with the following paragraph:
Progress in the Arab world is being hindered by the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 tightening of visa restrictions and the U.S. government's treatment of terrorism suspects, a team of Arab intellectuals contend in a new report to be released today in Jordan.
Yeah, that's the most important bit of the report, according to Slevin. It's America's, fault that Arab progress is being hindered. Not because of, you know, the Arab jones for autocracy and religious fundamentalism, or anything like that.
In fact, you have to read seven paragraphs into the story before you get to this:
This year's human development study focuses primarily on the failings of Arab societies that have fallen far behind other countries in most measures of human endeavor. The authors blame repressive Arab governments that fear change and resist educational reform and investment in infrastructure, from telephone lines to translators.
Ideology and the self-interest of oligarchies contribute to regressive societies, as do virulent strains of Islam that are used to justify intolerance and defend terrorism, according to the 210-page document, a follow- up to a widely-discussed analysis last year. The authors note outside challenges, but emphasize that Arabs must solve their own problems.
Common assertions that Arabs are the victims of world events and immutable structural forces are a "comforting escape" that must be avoided.
Unless you're talking about visas to enter the US, I guess, in which case Arabs evidently are "victims of world events." Or, at least, the Bush Administration.
When a report devoted almost in its entirety to the cultural and intellectual deficiencies of the Arab world is transmogrified into a criticism about Bush's immigration policy...well...that's just an odd take on the report. The story is 13 paragraphs long, and the first 6 are devoted to what a weasel Bush is.
Look, when practically all the governments in your region of the world "fear change and resist educational reform and investment in infrastructure, from telephone lines to translators," or when "virulent strains of Islam that are used to justify intolerance and defend terrorism" are rife within your society, then you've got a lot bigger problem than whether the president will allow the State Department boys in Foggy Bottom to issue you a freakin' visa.
"But," as I'm sure the editors of the Chronicle and the Post would be quick to tell us, "This isn't evidence of any media bias."
No, not at all.
(Review) For the first time since 1839, researchers working in Canada have discovered a new way of generating electricity.
Canadian researchers have discovered a new way to generate electricity -- something that nobody in the scientific world has been able to accomplish since Michael Faraday in 1839.
Even though the process is still barely more than a baby on the laboratory bench, Alberta-based scientists are already forecasting a day when the world will be full of cellphones without batteries and calculators powered by energy derived from the flow of pressured water through glass or silicon sieves.
The physical basis for the discovery of the "electrokinetic effect," by Larry Kostiuk and Daniel Kwok of the University of Alberta's engineering department, is simplicity itself.
Water is squeezed through tiny holes in a non-metallic solid such as glass. As the water passes through, it interacts with the surface of the sieve and creates a thin layer of positively and negatively charged electrons.
These differently charged particles eventually cluster in opposite ends of the sieve and, in so doing, create an electrical engineer's idea of nirvana.
Photo: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco
Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed
Photo: AP Photo/Bernat Armangue
(Review) Jonah Goldberg has been on a self-imposed hiatus from writing about the war, and why we went to war.
The hiatus is over.
Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is to beat the tar out of a bad guy — even if that bad guy was "innocent" of the specific offense that ticked you off. If a crackhead robs your house, there's no reason in the world you should feel bad about shutting down all of the crackhouses in your neighborhood. If a rat bites your baby, would you tell your wife "Well, honey, I know there's a whole rat's nest out in the backyard, but there's no way I can identify the specific rat that bit the baby. So, there's nothing I can do."
I doubt Saddam had anything to do with planning 9/11 and frankly I don't give a damn. The lesson of the 3,000 dead was that we're going to take our responsibilities seriously again. And that means cleaning up unfinished business and telling the rest of the world we are serious. Nobody — nobody — has made a remotely persuasive case for why it would have been good to keep Saddam in power. Nobody dares make the case that Saddam and his regime didn't deserve everything they got — because that would be like arguing you shouldn't fix the shot brakes on your car because your last accident was the result of bald tires.
No, the opposition never said it was wrong for Saddam to go. Rather, they rejected the notion that America should actually have its way. More than anything else, this desire to thwart America explains the motives of the U.N., the French, the Left, and pretty much everyone else except for the Arab leaders. The Arabs have something even bigger at stake should America succeed in transforming Iraq into a prosperous democracy — their own corrupt kleptocratic torture states might be next.
Regardless, the gripes we hear today are the predictable complaints of people who grew pretty comfortable in the shadow of a sleeping giant. The giant was rudely awoken. And if the resultant harsh light of day is unpleasant or inconvenient to you, too frick'n bad. The United States is taking care of business and we've got nothing to apologize for.
I'm happy to say that the WMD problem wasn't my main reason for overthrowing his regime, although I did think it was a compelling one. No, my reason was that I despise totalitarian regimes of all stripes, and I was giddy with delight at any excuse for toppling him.
So, now that we haven't found much in the way of WMD, I don't really care. I got almost everything I wanted. And, if we manage to kill Saddam at any time in the future, I'll consider it a full hat trick.
(Review) Larry Kudlow is giddy with optimism about the economy.
Metal prices have skyrocketed to a 30 percent rate from a 5 percent decline rate over a year ago. Raw industrials have moved from zero percent to 21 percent.
For supply-siders, those are some very sexy numbers. They represent the real recovery that is finally taking place in the hard goods world of industrial production and inventories. In both economic and political terms, these commodity gains spell jobs, jobs, jobs.
Here's what's going to happen. The next several quarters will produce 5, 6 or 7 percent economic growth. Big profits, perhaps as high as 20 percent, will mark these quarters. Outsized sales revenues will also materialize. It's a complete sea change from the tepid, sub-par recovery we've witnessed since the end of 2001.
I think I should point out here that those numbers aren't just a happy sign for supply-siders. Those of us in the neo-Keynesian fold also realize that that spiking industrial commodities prices indicate increased demand--and, hence, production--from businesses.
Employment, of course, is a trailing indicator. Hiring new personnel is expensive, as well as being a commitment to keep someone employed for a reasonable amount of time. As a result, businesses tend to hold off on doing so until they are sure they will be expanding. But as the expansionary nature of the economy becomes clear, business hiring usually begins at a fast clip.
So, as Kudlow points out, the signs are increasingly good.
(Review) Ronald Brownstein has an excellent article in the LA Times this morning about the rising cost of health care.
These problems of cost and access are inextricably connected. It's easy to see how rising costs translate into reduced coverage. But the reverse is also true. The growing number of Americans without insurance means that doctors and hospitals have to provide more uncompensated care that must be subsidized by the premiums of those with insurance. As Bruce G. Bodaken, chairman and president of Blue Shield of California, put it in a speech last winter: "In essence, we are charging the private health-care system a hidden tax, a tax that can't be sustained"
That should be the real issue in the current struggle over health-care costs. As a group, employers are getting a bad rap. Some may be trying to shift an inordinate share of the health-care bill to their employees. But the employers providing coverage are not, en masse, abandoning their responsibilities.
Employers who provide health insurance are not shifting a larger share of the premium cost to their workers, according to the definitive annual surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In fact, the trend is slightly in the opposite direction. Ten years ago, employees contributed 32% of the cost for insurance; now the number is 27%, Kaiser found.
And while total out-of-pocket health-care costs for employees have jumped 50% in the last three years, that's no faster than the rise in premiums paid by their employers, Kaiser's surveys show.
The real issue is that costs are rising so fast that the burdens are growing unbearable for employers and employees. Controlling costs will require many steps, including slowing the rise in prescription drug prices. But most experts agree it won't be possible to restrain health-care costs without significantly reducing the number of uninsured.
There's no shortage of ideas for how to do that. But the real question in all of them is the bottom line: Who pays?
The answer is a more equitable sharing of the bill between government, employers and individuals. One guidepost should be the existing division of the tab: Today, individuals and government both contribute about one-third of the nation's $1.6-trillion health-care bill, with employers chipping in about one-fourth and foundations and charities the remainder, according to analysis by Emory University's Kenneth E. Thorpe.
Since the uninsured are overwhelmingly low-wage workers, they probably can't pay as much as individuals now contribute overall, Thorpe notes. That means a sensible plan would allocate more of the cost to government and business (though not as great a share as California is imposing). One promising model might be the plan that Bodaken of Blue Shield proposed last winter that would impose a mandate on employers to provide coverage, a mandate on individuals to purchase coverage (which solves the problem of the young and healthy skewing the risk pool by opting out), and provide government subsidies for both.
Clearly, we can't operate in an environment where the cost is doubling every 7 years. And we can't have 1 out of six Americans--or more--without health coverage.
Are there things on which we can all agree as a starting point for creating some system of universal coverage that doesn't result in a single-payer system? I think so, but it will require some changes.
Here are some off the cuff proposals.
That should do as a starting point. But sooner or later, and probably sooner, this is an issue that we must address. And if free-marketers don't get out in front on this issue and come up with some workable UHC plan, the statists will dump single-payer on us.
(Review) Joe Klein notes that the Democratic "warriors" who are seeking the presidential nomination went wishy-washy over the $87 billion spending package for Iraq. Meanwhile, the non-warriors showed true political courage in supporting the bill.
My guess is that each of the Democratic presidential candidates who "opposed" the $87 billion would have voted the opposite way if his vote had been critical for passage. Their opposition was equal parts fury and political convenience — the polls say a solid majority of Americans are against spending more money in Iraq. It was also a way for those who favored the war, like Kerry and Edwards, to make amends with the peaceniks who dominate the Democratic primary electorate. Of course, Bush was playing politics too, by combining into one bill the popular funds for troops with the unpopular funds for reconstruction. But the President had the moral high ground: clearly, more money is needed to fund the Iraq occupation.
Is it too much to ask that politics be put aside on this one issue of transcendent importance, where lives are literally at stake? Happily, Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt did the right thing last week. "I will support the $87 billion," Gephardt said, "because it is the only responsible course of action. We must not send an ambiguous message to our troops, and we must not send an uncertain message to our friends and enemies in Iraq." This will not help Gephardt in Iowa, but it was an act of courage — Lieberman has made a habit of such acts in this campaign — and a stark contrast to the position taken by both Kerry and Clark, the two alleged warriors in the Democratic field.
Military service is a good thing, and it should be honored. I did a decade's worth of it myself. But to pretend that military service gives one a vision of this country's security that non-military people lack is just wrong.
(Review) Walter Cronkite writes that we should pay the $87 billion--and more--for Iraqi reconstruction with a smile. And while we're at it, we should pay more for reconstructing Afghanistan, too.
The bottom line? The $87 billion in the administration's emergency request is not sufficient to meet the United States' obligations for defense and reconstruction. Those obligations were incurred when America went to war. And make no mistake about it: It was the nation that went to war, not just the administration.
It's good to see so many old-time liberals taking this stand, in opposition to the New Left morons who currently seem to be running amok in the Democratic Party.
(Review) Karl Zinsmeister reports that things in Iraq aren't as bad as the media makes it seem, or the Democrats wish.
My friend Christopher Hitchens - who like me, numerous congressmen, and other recent visitors to Iraq witnessed what he calls "ecstatic displays" toward Americans by grateful Iraqis - characterizes what is taking place in Iraq today as "a social and political revolution."
That's no overstatement. Maj. Pete Wilhelm, with the 82nd Airborne in Baghdad, recently described how US forces are nurturing the first shoots of democracy in the Fertile Crescent: "We set up a Neighborhood Advisory Council representative of each neighborhood, and they voted on a leader who attends the city advisory council. Early on, the meetings would last four hours, and it would seem as though no progress was being made. The whole concept of a 'vote' came hard and slow. We have gradually transitioned the burden of the agenda into the hands of the representatives, renovated the meeting hall with AC, and pushed the autopilot button. The meetings are down to an hour and a half, and we just keep the ball in play and act as referees. We are making great strides at grass-roots democracy."
After a recent trip to the country, Mr. Hitchens agrees, saying, "I saw persuasive evidence of the unleashing of real politics in Iraq, and of the highly positive effect of same."
All of this has been accomplished in less than six months from the fall of Baghdad. Keep in mind that Germany - a much more advanced nation that already had a democratic tradition - didn't hold elections until four years after World War II ended. Gen. Douglas MacArthur progressed less rapidly in Japan.
You can't take a country that was run by a one-party state headed by an absolute dictator for thirty years and turn it around overnight. But people who go there and observe the current process all seem to agree that we're doing a better job of it that we're being given credit for.
(Review) ABC News is reporting today that an extensive poll about health care shows that Americans are beginning to think seriously about some sort of universal health coverage.
Let me digress for a moment. The Interocitor and I have been having a disagreement this weekend about the UFCW strike here in Southern California. The Interocitor—and many of the commentors at his blog—seem to regard the supermarket companies' offer to the UFCW as an example of corporate greed.
There are several things the UFCW doesn't like in the contract proposal they've received, but the main issue is health care benefits. That's certainly the issue that all the union members are stressing.
The company offer is that, instead of receiving full medical insurance coverage for free, they'd like the employees to pay $5 per week for an individual or $15 per week for family coverage. In addition, the contract offer also requires some higher co-pays.
But the companies simply can't continue to pay for gold-plated medical benefits to part-time employees (70% of the UFCW employees work part-time) in an environment where the cost of health care is doubling every 7 or 8 years. Especially not when the profit margin for grocery retailers is about 2%. It just can't be done. Even if the management of Vons-Albertsons-Ralphs were beneficent angels who loved the workers as if they were management's own children, it still couldn't be done.
As I wrote last week, the increasing cost of health care is becoming a crisis. And that is evident from the ABC News/Washington Post poll released today. 62% of respondents prefer to have some universal health coverage plan, rather than the employer-based system we currently have.
Of course, being Americans, the respondents' idea about what this universal coverage plan should entail is
A mixture of the barely possible and the hopelessly quixotic:
In an extensive ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll, Americans by a 2-1 margin, 62-32 percent, prefer a universal health insurance program over the current employer-based system. That support, however, is conditional: It falls to fewer than four in 10 if it means a limited choice of doctors, or waiting lists for non-emergency treatments.
In other words, they only want socialized medicine if it produces free-market results. Note to my fellow citizens: Cake. Have it. Eat it. Choose one.
This reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon where Dilbert is reading over the customer specifications for a new piece of hardware: "The device must have a 19-inch screen, and be able to fit comfortably into a purse or wallet."
The Left just loves to moan about how wonderful the Canadians have it, what with their free medical care and all, while blithely ignoring the long lines of Canadians in doctor's waiting rooms in Buffalo, Detroit, Seattle, Chicago, etc. But when people are voting with their feet like that, it usually isn't because they're just too overwhelmed by the wonderfulness of their system to expose themselves to it for long periods.
No, if you don't want limited health care choices and long waits, the Canadian system probably isn't the one you want to emulate. Health care is rationed pretty strictly in Canada. The provinces squeeze every penny until it screams. And they have to, because when you offer something valuable to people for "free", the demand for it goes way up. Unless, of course, you need a heart bypass, and don't feel like waiting for eight months for it. Then it's off across the border to the US, so you can get serious medical care.
Why? Because there are more MRI machines in freakin' Bismarck, North Dakota than in the entire nation of Canada, which tells you, really, all you need to know about the quality of Canada's national health coverage.
The trouble is, when health care costs are doubling every 7 years, universal health coverage starts to look pretty good. Hey, if your kid has a bicycle accident, or your wife gets food poisoning, then presto, you call 911, an ambulance takes them to the hospital, and they get treated, no questions asked. No co-pays, no insurance forms, no nothing. Just "free" health care. As long as you're not looking at your income tax withholding at the time, it seems like a good deal.
But that health care isn't free. It's paid for through taxes. If you think Uncle Sam is a bit greedy when it comes to appropriating your income now, then take a look at Canada's tax rates. That's what our tax rates would look like with universal health coverage. You're paying for it all right, just not at the point of service.
But, if you want to control health care costs, then you have to do tort reform. One reason why health care costs and arm and a leg is because doctors and hospitals are terrified of getting sued for malpractice. Much of medicine the way it is practiced in the US today is defensive medicine.
If you have chili with beans for lunch, and then go to the doctor complaining of shooting abdominal pains, there's a good chance he won't tell you its gas and send you on your way. He'll want to test for stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, dengue fever, and anything else he can think of, because if, God forbid, it's not gas, you can sue the crap out of him. That's why he has to pay a quarter million per year for malpractice insurance. We have got to get a handle on tort litigation or it will eat us alive.
Heck, it already is.
That puts the Democrats in bad place though, since the Trial Lawyers Association is a major source of the Democratic Party's bankroll. Tort reform will shut off the cash spigots to the Trial Lawyers, and by extension, to the Democrats as well. But--and this is deliciously ironic--so will single-payer universal health coverage, which many Democrats so badly want. Because if health coverage is universal, and the government has to pay for it, then you can kiss malpractice lawsuits goodbye. Congress will eliminate them, or, at the very least, substantially reduce them, just as they have already done for the military medical system to control costs.
(Review) Walter Russell Mead argues in the LA Times that progress in Iraq and the U.S. economy could leave the president sitting pretty for 2004.
(Review) Tomorrow will be a big day for some courageous Arab social scientists. The second part of the Arab Development report will be released. even though the report is still embargoed, Tom Friedman gives us a little preview.
But there is another tremor shaking the Arab world. This one is being set off by a group of courageous Arab social scientists, who decided, with the help of the United Nations, to begin fighting the war of ideas for the Arab future by detailing just how far the Arab world has fallen behind and by laying out a progressive pathway forward. Their first publication, the Arab Human Development Report 2002, explained how the deficits of freedom, education and women's empowerment in the Arab world have left the region so behind that the combined G.D.P. of the 22 Arab states was less than that of a single country--Spain. Even with limited Internet access in the Arab world, one million copies of this report were downloaded, sparking internal debates.
Tomorrow, in Amman, Jordan, these Arab thinkers will unveil their second Arab Human Development Report, which focuses on the need to rebuild Arab "knowledge societies." The report is embargoed until then, but from talking with the authors I sense it will be another bombshell.
The Arab scientists behind this report are making some brave statements about the political, social, and cultural failures of the Arab world. They deserve kudos for their willingness to detail some unpleasant truths about it.
(Review) Today, Mark Steyn is looking at the Saudis with a gimlet eye.
Wahhabism is the most militant form of Islam, the one followed by all 19 of the 9/11 terrorists and by Osama bin Laden. The Saudis -- whose state religion is Wahhabism -- fund the spread of their faith in lavishly endowed schools and mosques all over the world and, as a result, traditionally moderate Muslim populations from the Balkans to South Asia have been dramatically radicalized. How could the federal government be so complacent as to subcontract the certification of chaplains in U.S. military bases to Wahhabist institutions?
Here's an easy way to make an effective change: Less Wahhabism is in America's interest. More Wahhabism is in the terrorists' interest. So why can't the United States introduce a policy whereby, for the duration of the war on terror, no organization directly funded by the Saudis will be eligible for any formal or informal role with any federal institution? That would also include the pro-Saudi Middle East Institute, whose "adjunct scholar" is one Joseph C. Wilson IV. Remember him? He's the fellow at the center of the Bob-Novak-published-the-name-of-my-CIA-wife scandal. The agency sent him to look into the European intelligence stories about Saddam Hussein trying to buy uranium in Africa. He went to Niger, drank mint tea with government flacks, and then wrote a big whiny piece in the New York Times after the White House declined to accept his assurances there was nothing going on. He was never an intelligence specialist, he's no longer a "career diplomat," but he is, like so many other retired ambassadors, on the House of Saud's payroll. And the Saudis were vehemently opposed to war with Saddam.
Think about that. To investigate Saddam's attempted acquisition of uranium, the United States government sent a man in the pay of the Saudi government. The Saudis set up schools that turn out terrorists. They set up Islamic lobby groups that put spies in our military bases and terror recruiters in our prisons. They set up think tanks that buy up and neuter the U.S. diplomatic corps. And their ambassador's wife funnels charitable donations to the 9/11 hijackers.
But it's all just an unfortunate coincidence, isn't it? After all, the Saudis are our friends. Thank goodness.
Funny how often our "friends" the Saudis keep popping up, huh?
(Review) It is not satire, however, but an actual Life magazine article from 7 Jan 46, whose author, the famous novelist John Dos Passos, argues that 7 months after the victory over Nazism in Europe, we are losing the peace.
As Dos Passos put it, "We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease."
The most bitterly ironic subhead from the article is: The Skeptical French Press.
Perhaps you should read the whole article and consider what Europe is like now before opening the NY Times and reading about the abject failure of our rebuilding effort in Iraq.
Or better yet, just replace the words "Hitler", "Germany", and "Nazi" with "Saddam", "Iraq", and "Ba'ath", and you'll essentially have already read today's NY Times.
(Review) The Interocitor and I are having a little disagreement.
By the way, you'll never believe the naughty word my spell checker wants to replace "UFCW" with.
(Review) The Christian Science Monitor has a quiz to help you find out if you're a neocon or not.
As it turns out, I'm a "realist". Actually, that result both surprised and pleased me. I guess you can be pretty hardline about the war on Terror and not be a Neocon.
(Review) Neil Kressel is bothered that we can't find reliable--and loyal--Arabic translators. He thinks its all the fault of our schools.
When the U.S. military can't find a team of loyal translators to interrogate al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, we've all got a big problem.
The fast fix is to send a few thousand smart guys from the military, intelligence and diplomatic communities for crash courses in Arabic and other languages vital to the War on Terror.
But that's no long-range strategy. Once a specific foreign-language need has arisen, it's already too late to start worrying about training for our national-security needs. The truth is, we're in this mess largely because our schools only pretend to take foreign-language instruction seriously.
It's hardly a secret that most of our high school and college graduates can point to years of language classes and then admit - shamelessly - that they can't speak a word.
What a waste.
In testimony after 9/11, Dan Davidson, an expert on languages and national security, told Congress that only about one college-level foreign-language student in 100 will ever speak a second language reasonably well. Most won't learn a thing. Presumably, high school students learn even less.
And that's only part of the problem.
Our nation needs students to learn Arabic, Farsi, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and a host of other languages many kids today haven't even heard of. Instead, at every level from pre-school through college, our schools mainly teach . . . Spanish.
Here's a clue, Neil: for 99 out of 100 of our students, Spanish is the only useful second language they'll ever need. And here's a second clue: even if they did learn Farsi in high school, unless they use it regularly, they'll lose their ability to speak it pretty darn fast.
I lived on the Dutch-German border from 1988-1991, and I spoke pretty fluent Dutch and German. As soon as I arrived, I went to classes to learn to speak the languages, because I had too, or it would have been pretty hard to buy groceries, get my car repaired, etc.
Wanna guess how much German or Dutch I can speak now?
I spent a couple of years studying Fortran, COBOL, and RPG in college, too. Wanna guess how much programming I could do in those languages right now? Not a bit of it. And they are programmed in English, for goodness sakes!
If you do not use a foreign language regularly, you'll lose almost all of it. You have to be able to think in a foreign language to acquire fluency in it, because conversation goes too fast for you to translate every phrase from Arabic to English in your head while you're talking.
And just how many high schoolers are going to take Arabic, for cripes sake? When are they ever gonna foresee using it? "Here, Johnny, we'd like you to take a really hard foreign language that, in the normal course of events, you will never use, which means that you'll forget it entirely within a few years."
Oh, yeah, the kids'll just be lining up for that.
C'mon, this kind of thing is why the Defense Department set up the DLI. If the DLI had spent the last decade or so training translators, we wouldn't be in this fix.
If the US military has a need for Arabic speakers, they should be providing it for themselves. It's been pretty clear that the Mideast was a trouble spot for the last three decades or so. In fact, it seems to me that I remember that practically all of us who were on active duty--and a good portion of reservists--back in 1991 got sent to some place that was big, hot, east of here, and had a lot of guys named Mohamed shooting at us.
Well, OK, mainly they were surrendering to to us, but still...
The DLI was all keen to spend two years or so immersing translators in freakin' Russian back in the 80s, so why didn't anybody in Monterrey wake up and smell the coffee around the time of the Gulf War? I mean, it's not like we haven't had a constant military presence there for the last decade or anything.
No, sorry, it's not the schools' fault this time, and the schools won't be particularly useful in solving it.
The fault lies squarely with the DOD, and the DLI. Their job is to ensure we have an adequate number of language specialists for our national defense needs and they haven't been gettin' it done.
A secretive group of tightly connected Muslim charities, think tanks and businesses based in Northern Virginia were used to funnel millions of dollars to terrorists and launder millions more, according to court records unsealed yesterday.
An affidavit from Homeland Security agent David Kane said that the Safa Group, also known as the SAAR network, in Herndon had sent more than $26 million in untraceable money overseas and that leaders of the organization "have committed and conspired to . . . provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations."
Then, there's this:
President Bush designated a Qatari man [Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri] in U.S. custody as an enemy combatant--accusing him of helping Al Qaeda agents settle in the United States so they could plan and prepare for new terror attacks...In February, the Saudi Arabian government ignored a request from the State Department and issued a passport to al-Marri's wife and five young children, who have since left the United States.
Finally, there's this:
The Saudi government has been paying for lawyers, and in some cases for bond, for hundreds of its citizens who have been detained, prosecuted or questioned inside the United States during the crackdown on terrorism. The FBI openly calls the practice tantamount to buying off witnesses.
Saudi officials said they have spent more than $1 million to provide American lawyers for those detained or questioned here since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Wow. <sarcasm>I shudder to think where we'd be if our brave Saudi "allies" didn't have our back in the War on Terror.</sarcasm>
Instapundit thinks this bad press vis a vis may signify a new phase on the War on Terror is beginning. I doubt it though. President Bush has never seemed interested in holding the Saudis feet to the fire about...well...anything. I doubt he's planning to start now.
But, I can always hope I'm wrong.
(Review) Linda Seebach writes that a new Cato Institute study indicates that, quite apart from being blatantly unconstitutional, McCain-Feingold also appears to produce the opposite of the practical effects that it's supporters predicted.
(Review) David Brooks writes in the NY Times (and it's still a pretty odd experience to read him there) that the "Pelosi Democrats" have precisely the wrong message for our terrorist foes around the world.
These Democrats voted against Paul Bremer's $87 billion plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. The essence of their case is that the Bush administration is too corrupt and incompetent to reconstruct Iraq. If Bush is for it, they're against it.
Their hatred for Bush is so dense, it's hard for them to see through it to the consequences of their vote. But if Pelosi's arguments had carried the day, our troops in Iraq would be reading this morning about the death of the Bremer plan and the ruination of our efforts to rebuild Iraq.
Saddam Hussein would be jubilant in Pelosi's Iraq. He has long argued that America is a decadent country that will buckle at the first sign of trouble. If the Pelosi Democrats had won yesterday's vote, the Saddam Doctrine would be enshrined in every terrorist cave and dictator's palace around the world: kill some Americans and watch the empire buckle.
That is, after all, the message the Clinton Administration gave to terrorists--and Saddam Hussein for that matter--when it came to opposing American interests.
And look who signed on to this bad idea:
For the roster of the Pelosi Democrats, look at those who voted against the Bremer plan. Some names are obvious: Dennis Kucinich, Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer. But there are some names you wouldn't expect to see on that list: John Kerry and John Edwards.
Notice the names of the Presidential candidates there. Is this really the message the leading lights in the Democratic Party wants to give to the world?
Right. Dumb question. Of course it is. There is a significant proportion of Democrats who are convinced that American policy is the primary cause of trouble in the world.
But if they expect a majority of Americans to agree with that view, they're headed for electoral embarrassment.
(Review) The Spoons Experience is on the fence about converting some of our Iraq aid to loans.
I think this is a no-brainer--or rather, I would think it was a no-brainer, except that the people with no brains seem to be the ones that are pushing for the loans.
Look, the reason this should be a gift and not a loan is because we don't want to look like we're trying to get a hold on Iraqi oil revenues. The whole Arab world is rife with the kind of tortured conspiracy theories about which Oliver Stone has wet dreams. Maybe it's not fair, but the last thing we want to do is give these fantasists some reason that gives credence to their beliefs.
Invading Iraq was already the kind of thing that sends conspiracy theorists through the roof. They can point to it, and our action in Afghanistan as some kind of proof that there's an American "crusade" (touchy word in the Mideast, that) against Muslims.
It seems to me that we have to be purer than Caesar's wife in all this, and if it costs us an extra $10 bil or so out of a $2 trillion budget, then we pay the money, rebuild their country, ensure that there's some sort of consensual government there, and then leave with a smile.
Invading an Arab country is touchy enough. The last thing we want to do is give them the impression that we went in there, took over the country, then got our hooks into the primary source of that country's wealth. It just looks bad.
Remember, the goal is to set up the sort of government is Iraq that simply doesn't exist in the Arab world, and try to make it a beacon of tolerance, or at least as much of one as is possible in that benighted corner of the world. That's going to be hard enough in Iraq as it is, without settling them with another $10 bil of debt, even if it's only on paper.
On the contrary, the Iraqis should think that an American invasion means they've won the freakin' lottery.
(Review) I really want to join this list!
(Review) The Inland Valley Daily News is reporting on Governor-Elect Schwarzenegger's proposed educational policies. Since school funding is nearly half of the states $99 billion budget, any budget reform will lean heavily on school funding reform.
The incoming governor wants to repeal a law that requires districts to prove that outside vendors will save money and requires that the contractor's wages not undercut school district pay rates. He also wants to lump the funds for educational "categorical" programs into block grants.
The first will be tough, because he'll face union pressure from the California Teacher's Association (CTA) to drop that like a hot potato, no matter how much money it would save.
The latter will be tough as well because everybody and their sister has a favorite categorical to defend. Indeed, a great part of California's budget mess is due to categoricals of various types, not just in education, but all across the budget.
First, let me admit I was wrong to support Prop 53, and I'm glad it failed. This prop would have mandated that the legislature spend 3% of the budget on infrastructure. Sounds good, but there is a problem with it, and, on reflection, it is the fundamental problem with the budget as a whole. In fact, it's a weakness of the whole initiative and referendum process that California has.
You see, over the last 30 years, we've had ballot propositions that have mandated all kinds of spending in the California budget. Sure, it's easy to vote for the proposition to buy orphaned kittens for schoolchildren, or what have you.
Over the long term, what we've managed to do is proposition the budget into an impenetrable morass of mandated spending that we can't cut, because the spending is part of the Constitution now, and we'd never get the public to vote to kill spending for the "Fuzzy Kitty Love" program. No one wants to vote against fuzzy kitties.
But, that means these categoricals are now deeply embedded in the budget, and, even if all the fuzzy kitties were to die tomorrow from some horrible kitty-borne pathogen, we'd still have to fund the darn program for the next 50 years.
The whole state budget is like this, although, admittedly, it's a worse problem in education spending than it is anywhere else. Californians just love to mandate spending on education. It's for the children, you see, which is beginning to be the most frightening political argument in the country.
Well, sure, kids are just great, I guess, when they're not playing their 50 Cent at 180 decibels while driving down my street, but really, we've managed to create a terrible spending mess by doing so.
The legislature can't divert spending to other programs because the categoricals have to be funded. And any attempt to eliminate them causes the CTA to turn purple with apoplexy because it's for the children. (And not because it might mean some CTA members might lose their jobs, nosiree. They're above that kind of petty reasoning.) And the CTA is a BIG political contributor for the Democrats out here, just as the other big public employees union, AFSCME, is.
So, it's not clear, really, what Arnold will be able to accomplish as far as cleaning up the budget goes. Even if his audit shows that the state is spending money like a drunken sailor on a Singapore shore leave, the legislature can't just re-order it's spending priorities, even assuming they wanted to, and had the cajones to stand up to the CTA.
Killing the categoricals will require an act of law from a Democratic legislature that is beholden to the CTA for massive amounts of campaign money. And since the CTA isn't particularly interested in any education funding reform that might imply fewer jobs or less money, that means Democrats will have to show a lot more backbone than they usually do.
This means that Arnold really needs to get public support behind him. Only the threat of a voter revolt will force the legislature to attack the problem.
Unfortunately, given the California Democrat's unrealistic--unworldly, even--response to the recall, there's no clear evidence that they'd be responsive to voter pressure either.
Yeah, 2004 might be one heckuva political year in California.
For those of you who don't live in California, we are going through some interesting times here. First, there is a big supermarket strike. The employees are all members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, and they are striking at the "Big 3" supermarkets: Albertsons, Vons, and Ralph's. The teamsters are also lending a hand to the supermarket workers, so the strike is now extending to the distribution centers, which means that the stores aren't receiving new deliveries of food, so shelves are starting to get a bit bare. In addition, transit workers in LA are on strike as well. The mechanics walked off the job, and the drivers--both train and bus--are refusing to cross the picket lines. So, about half a million extra commuters have to drive instead of using the MTA, with the predictable effect on Southland freeway traffic.
And, by the way, why does LA call itself the Southland? The Southland is supposed to be some place with lots of Spanish moss, green lawns, and whitewashed antebellum mansions, where people sit on the porch and drink mint juleps. Not some trendy place at the edge of the western desert.
Anyway, the thing that these strikes have in common is health benefits. In both cases, the employer is asking the employees to pony up a little money for health insurance, which they receive for free right now.
I have to say that I'm not really sympathetic with the food workers. They already have a pretty good deal. They work 25 hours a week, make up to around $18 per hour, and they get full health coverage for free. I don't know of anyplace else in the country where you can work at unskilled labor part-time and get a free ride on health care. So, I have no problem crossing the picket line if I need a gallon of milk. Still, these strikes, no matter how little sympathy I may have for the UFCW, highlight a growing problem, of which the strikes are just the tip of the iceberg: Health care/health insurance costs.
The biggest morning radio show in LA is on the powerhouse KFI radio station, and is hosted by a guy named Bill Handel. Handel is also a lawyer, whose Law practice specializes in surrogacy and adoption law. Handel says that he asked his insurance agent to cost out what it would run to buy a health insurance package for his 20 employees that had the same coverage as the UFCW union workers get. The answer: $1,000 per employee per month.
Now, that's a pretty expensive benefit. Sure, the Feds subsidize part of it. Health care benefits are not taxed at the employee level, and are write-offs for the employer. So, the Federal government foregoes about $120 billion per year in tax revenue. So, in that sense, at least, health care is already partially subsidized by the federal government. But, not quite enough, evidently.
A couple of salient facts are instructive. For the last four years, the cost of health care and health insurance has risen by 11%-14% per year. This year, it's expected to rise another 12% nationwide. (In California, the California Healthcare Foundation estimates a rise of 14.7%) Now, these cost increases have come at time when overall inflation has risen by about 2% per year. This means that, since most employers only cover 70%-80% or so of the health insurance cost, a lot of employees are electing to forego health insurance even if their employer offers it because they can't pay the 20%-30% of the premium they would have to pay. So, the number of uninsured people is rising, and stands now at a record 43 million.
Naturally, we are paying the freight for that 43 million people, because they go to the emergency room when they need medical care, and if they can't pay for it, the taxpayers have to cover it. And, of course, emergency room treatment for what should be primary care issues is hideously expensive.
Both the public and policy makers have, at various times, moaned about the rising cost of health care, but very little is being done about it. Whatever party can get together a workable plan to do something about it may have a winning issue in upcoming election years.
Now, I am, as if there was any doubt, a big free-market guy. The last thing I want to see is some sort of massive medical bureaucracy, or single-payer health care. But at the current rate of cost increases, it's hard to see how anyone except the very wealthy will be able to afford either medical care or health insurance within the next decade.
Right now, just getting a Blue Cross or Blue Shield HMO plan for a 40 year-old individual costs over $300 per month! And that's with a $500 deductible. And Blue cross and Blue Shield is non-profit! (OK, if you live in some Southern California counties, you can get a decent PacifiCare HMO plan for $247, and no deductible at all. But, outside those counties, you're kinda screwed.)
But let's say you have a family. What does it cost to buy those same HMO plans for a Family? If you have 1 spouse between 35 and 39, one spouse between 30 and 34, and two+ children, the costs for the Blue Shield Spectrum PPO Plan 500 ($500 deductible) is $678 per month. The PacifiCare - HMO 10-30/250a will cost you $617 per month. So do the math. How much money would you have to make to pay another $600 per month for health insurance?
Sure, employers don't pay as much per month, because they get group rates, but the savings isn't all that much compared to an individual plan's premium. And if you want to take a hefty deductible of $2000 bucks, you can get a lot cheaper health plan. Assuming, of course, that you can afford to shell out the $2000 bucks.
So where does that leave us? You can't double the cost of health insurance every 8 years and expect people to be able to pay for it. And you can't really blame the health insurance providers for increasing their costs when the cost of health care itself is doubling every 8 years. They have to at least break even, or they won't be providing any health insurance at all for long.
There are certainly some solutions we should be looking at. For example the use of Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) would help out in the short-term. The way an MSA works is that, at the beginning of every calendar or fiscal year, the employer would put $2000-$3000 into an MSA for each employee. On top of that, the company would buy a major medical policy for catastrophic care problems, which would be much cheaper than a full coverage plan. Any time the employee or his family needed to go to the doctor, he would pay for it out of the MSA. At the end of the year, any money remaining in the MSA would be rolled over into the employee's 401(k) or IRA, or the employee could take it as income and keep it (although Federal Income Tax on the remainder would have to be paid in that case). This would provide both primary and major medical care coverage to the employee, while at the same time providing an incentive for the employee to use as little of the MSA money as possible in order to keep the remainder at the end of the year.
One of the things this would do to help restrain the rising cost of medical care is to reduce health care demand. Traditional health care plans don't do that. After all, if you're covered by an HMO plan, all a doctor's visit costs you is $10 bucks or so. So, why not go see the doc if you've got a bit of a sniffle. With an MSA, you have to pay the full cost of the office visit, at the tune of $120 to $150 bucks or so out of your MSA, which means less money for you at the end of the year.
So, some large-scale expansion of MSAs might be helpful in reducing the costs of health insurance to employers, as well as reducing the inflation in health care costs by reducing the demand for health care.
At best, though, that's a stop-gap measure unless policy makers are willing to take the issue of tort reform by the tail. And, I can guarantee you right off that the Democratic Party, which is essentially a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trial Lawyer's Association, won't be willing to do it.
One of the prime reasons--perhaps the prime reason--for the increasing cost of health care is the cost of doctors protecting themselves from malpractice suits. Malpractice insurance costs about $250,000 a year, now. A lot of doctors, and I do mean a lot, are simply dropping out of medicine, because their malpractice premiums are killing them. And who can blame them? Why take the trouble to go to eight years of college and an additional 4 years of internship for a job that costs you a quarter mil a year just to do? In addition to the hundred thou or so in tuition loans just to become a doctor in the first place.
We are an increasingly litigious society, and lawyers are getting rich off of us. Liability costs are skyrocketing everywhere, not just in the medical field, and the vast majority of that cost is the price of litigation. The only way to stop this expensive legal juggernaut is by a) eliminating contingency fees, and forcing lawyers to work strictly on an hourly basis, b) through some sort of "loser pays" tort system, or c) some combination of the two.
This could be a great issue for the Republicans, or at least, it would be if they had the guts to take it on, which, evidently, they don't.
But, somebody better have the guts to do it, and soon. Because if they don't, we are inevitably headed straight for a single-payer system. Like my friend Barry Asmus used to say during the ClintonCare debate, "If you think health care costs a lot now, wait 'til you see how much it costs when it's 'free'." Talk all you want about how giddy the Canadian health care system makes you, but there's a reason why Canadians come to the US for medical treatment. And, when we get single-payer healthcare, and are waiting 8 months for our heart bypass operations, we'll begin to understand what that reason is.
(Review) Trudy Rubin writes that Muqtada al-Sadr is one Iraqi who wants civil war. He requires, she says, special handling, however.
"The citizens of Najaf and Karbala don't like the Mahdi Army," said Abu Jassem, proprietor of a chicken rotisserie restaurant overlooking the shrines. Neither do the clerics of the Hawza. In Najaf, the offices of the chief clerics were shut up tight as a safety precaution against Sadr or his allies.
There is a commonality of interest here between the Shiite clerics and U.S. forces. Sadr must be curbed. But just as local fighters curbed the threat in Karbala, Shiite leaders know best how Sadr should be handled. Nothing would be worse than to have U.S. forces shooting up holy cities, or invading Shiite slums.
When it comes to muzzling Muqtada al-Sadr, U.S. officials must listen closely to what Iraqis say.
I really hope she's right that the Iraqis can take care of this guy. The last thing we need is some fanatic whipping up trouble like he seems inclined to do.
(Review) James Klurfield--no great friend of the Bush Administration--says what I just said below, although he manages to do it tactfully.
The Democratic Party is committing political suicide if it allows its peace wing to dictate its foreign policy. Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, has jumped to the first tier of candidates on his anti-war platform. He's tapped into a real anger at George W. Bush. But the perception that the Democrats are not comfortable using American power has been a major weakness of the party for decades. In the post-Sept. 11 world, it's likely to be a disqualification to be in the White House.
I won't take a backseat to anybody in my disdain for much of the Bush administration's ultra-conservative agenda. But the relevant question now is whether we are going to make the effort to put Iraq back together, having taken it apart, and whether we can aid the forces of moderation and modernization in the Middle East. The alternative is not in our national interest: chaos, fanaticism and terror.
OK, I agree with the guy's point but this just kills me: "I won't take a backseat to anybody in my disdain for much of the Bush administration's ultra-conservative agenda."
I guess that would be the ultra-conservative agenda that gave us the "No Child Left Behind Act" that his buddy Teddy Kennedy helped write. Or maybe it refers to his Dick Gephardt trade tariffs on steel, lumber and textiles.
And why don't we ever hear Ted Kennedy referred to as the "ultra-liberal" Ted Kennedy. Frankly, Teddy's a lot farther to the left than W is to the right.
(Review, Subscription required) Dang. Mort Kondracke's turning all neo-conservative on us.
By every standard except the short-term political, Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean and Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) have made a catastrophic decision in saying they oppose President Bush's $87 billion aid package for Iraq.
Another candidate, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) - who claims to be a national security expert - has said he's leaning toward the same politically suicidal and unconscionable position taken by Dean and Edwards.
Face it: Voting against the $87 billion means voting not to support U.S. troops now fighting for their lives and voting against the reconstruction of Iraq, where people's desperation will make life more dangerous for U.S. troops.
Such a vote is a vote to bug out of Iraq and leave it to the tender mercies of Saddam Hussein, his followers and international terrorists who will kill everyone who associated themselves with the United States and the goal of democratization.
C'mon Mort. How do you really feel?
He's absolutely right, of course. The leading Dems' position on Iraq is morally, politically, strategically, and tactically indefensible.
Even if you think that the War in Iraq was the most morally invidious foregn policy act since the Rape of Nanking, it's happened. We can't ask Sherman to jump into the wayback machine and pretend it didn't.
The key question now is how do we a) reduce the chances that we will have to do it again, and b) return the country to some semblance of normalcy and international benignity?
Bugging out accomplishes neither.
I mean, Jebus, it's freakin' obvious!
The English language doesn't even contain the words to adequately describe this stupidity. This is the kind of intentional obtuseness that usually requires years of post-graduate study to acquire.
(Review) How can I put this tactfully? If you don't read Arnold Kling's TCS pieces regularly, then you're a moron.
Today's piece is just masterful, and it describes my point general point of view on both foreign and domestic policy better than I could. I won't even try to excerpt any of it.
Go. Read. Now.
(Review) OK, so are we being unilateral now?
(Review) Emmett Tyrell has decided how to characterize the fringe-Left yahoos that that adore Howard Dean: The Moron Vote.
Deception plays very well with the Democrats' moron vote, though it is perhaps more accurate to refer to that vote as the indignant moron vote, for it is very indignant and in fact proud of its anger. Anytime I write something discourteous about Howard Dean, I receive a torrent of emails from the indignant moron vote. Usually, the indignado begins by claiming never to have voted before but now to be attracted by the shirt-sleeved medico's illusory virtues.
Now, I wonder if Sen. John Pierre Kerry has nibbled away at Howard Dean's vote. The Vietnam veteran who supported the war in Iraq, but did not support the war, who boasts of his war record, but does not boast of his war record, is certainly an obvious enough fraud to appeal to the moron vote. Moreover, he is sufficiently angry to give the morons goose pimples.
The interesting thing is that most of the Democratic contenders seem keen on courting it.
(Review) Paul Marshall writes that radical Islam is expanding from the Arab world into regions like Africa, where it is making disturbing inroads. And the Bush Administration's response to it, such as it is, is misguided.
The Bush administration is sending Special Forces personnel and upgrading anti-terrorism work in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania. But it is also thawing relations with Gaddafi, complimenting Sudan for "good cooperation" on terrorism and treating Saudi Arabia as an ally. Instead, the United States should demand that Tripoli, Khartoum and Riyadh cease their export of radicalism to Africa. It should also encourage democratic development through the Millennium Challenge funds.
If, as President Bush has said, "America is committed to the success of Africa" and has a "long-term commitment" to developing democracy there, it needs to counter the threat to democracy posed by the spread of extremist forms of Islam.
That, of course, would require confronting the Saudis. For whatever reasons--and I certainly can't think of any good ones--the Bush Administration seems completely unable to do that.
(Review) Howard Fineman doesn't appear very impressed with the current crop of Democratic presidential contenders.
Hanging out together in interminable non-debate debates, the nine Democratic contenders seem at times to have congealed into a glutinous, undifferentiated mass, each sounding more and more like the other as the days pass. Now they’re all, at a minimum, for abolishing most of the Bush tax cuts; now they’re all complaining, with ever-growing fury, about Iraq. Rep. Dennis Kucinich remains the only Vegan, but give the others time. The result is the political equivalent of entropy.
That means it’s taken the Democrats nearly a year of crisscrossing the country and huffing and puffing on the campaign trail to reach one firm and seemingly final conclusion: Sen. Bob Graham isn't ready for prime time. I’m glad we got that settled.
Fineman then goes on to handicap the 6 top possibles in horse race fashion.
I usually object to the horse race nature of political coverage. The real story should be not who's ahead, or how the polling is going. Instead, the coverage should focus on each candidate's positions in order to give us glimpse of how they would govern, and the types of decisions they would make.
In this case, however, as Fineman points out, there simply isn't that much daylight between the candidates' positions, except for the notable exception of Joe Lieberman.
(Review) Bob Novak writes that the Russian stance on Kyoto gives the US a powerful ally against the environmental extremists. At the very least, as Novak points out, it means we don't face a global mandate to wreck our own economy in order to be environmentally pure.
(Review) James Pinkerton appears to agree with Doonesbury's Raoul Duke in that the chinese "are an especially tricky people.
If the Chinese are serious about exploring what they call the "fourth frontier," then the human race could be in for an epochal shift in power relationships. In the Middle Ages, China was the leading sea-going nation in the world, sending ships as far away as India and Africa. But then, in the mid-15th century, China canceled its expeditions; the emperor feared foreign influences. So we can only imagine what the world would look like today if the Chinese had voyaged to the new lands of Australia and the Americas, planting their flag ahead of the Spanish, Portuguese and English.
So now, maybe, the Chinese, having made the colossal blunder of the second millennium by forgoing national expansion, are determined to make up for that mistake in the third millennium, by occupying the high frontier of the heavens. Of course, China's space ambitions could be a bluff, merely an excuse for a more powerful missile offense/defense program.
But either way, too few Americans are paying attention to other countries' advances. And not watching others, and what they do, is a formula for rude surprise. We surprised the Japanese with our 1945 wonder-weapon, but history has proven that we also can be surprised.
Mankind's future is in space. That's the long and short of it. It may be that the Chinese are starting to realize that. Too bad the west has forgotten.
(Review) Nick Kristoff didn't want the US to go to war in Iraq. But nowm that we're there, he realizes that just packing our bags and leaving would be a huge mistake.
If Iraq continues to go badly, if Democrats continue to hammer Mr. Bush for his folly, if Karl Rove has nightmares of an election campaign fought against a backdrop of suicide bombings in Baghdad, then I'm afraid the White House may just declare victory and retreat.
In that case, Iraq would last about 10 minutes before disintegrating into a coup d'etat or a civil war.
Couldn't happen, you say? We let Afghanistan fall apart after the victory over the Soviet-backed government in 1992. We let Somalia disintegrate after our pullout in 1993-94. And right now, incredibly, the administration is letting Afghanistan fall apart all over again.
If that happens in Iraq, American credibility will be devastated, Al Qaeda will have a new base for operations, and Iraqis will be even worse off than they were in the days of Saddam Hussein.
Hmm. Who knows? In that event, Saddam might return as the warlord of Tikrit.
How do we reduce the chance that Iraq will collapse? First, by holding our noses and passing the president's budget request for Iraq and Afghanistan.
We simply have to do what needs to be done. Even if you think it's a bad choice, its better than any of the other choices facing us.
(Review) Debra Saunders hopes that Rush Limbaugh's problem with addiction will prompt conservatives to have second thoughts about the drug war.
The hard-time drug warriors don't appreciate that their own kids might some day make the same bad choices. If their kids were jailed for years, or decades, they'd likely change their tune. And maybe with their hero in the hot seat, they'll reconsider their notions on appropriate punishment.
It is not to the right's credit that so many conservatives treat small- time nonviolent drug-offenders as irredeemable. Or disposable.
Limbaugh is living proof to the contrary. His fate should give dittoheads pause: How should society punish a crime for which the main victim is often the offender himself?
Not just with a stick.
How about not punishing it as a crime at all? That would be a good start.
(Review) Anne Applebaum writes that the annual book convention in Frankfurt reveals a disturbing new tendency in German thought.
It was also hard not to notice how much the chatter about books in Germany reveals nowadays about the mood in Germany. As in the United States, many of the books that have recently found their way to the top of German bestseller lists concern Sept. 11, 2001. Unlike those in the United States, many of them also argue that the Bush administration was responsible for Sept. 11. One book, by a former German government minister, argues that the planes that hit the World Trade Center may have been secretly steered from the ground. Another -- translated from the French and titled "The Appalling Lie" -- says that the Pentagon was never hit by a plane at all but was instead deliberately blown up with a bomb. Germany's establishment press has studiously debunked these theories, to little avail: Recently, an opinion poll showed that one in five Germans believe them.
But if German bestseller lists reveal a German reassessment of the United States, they have also in recent years revealed an even more vigorous German reassessment of Germany. Not one but two books have become popular through their descriptions of the Allied bombing of Dresden in 1945, which resulted in fires that caused tens of thousands of deaths. One of the authors used the word "crematoria" to describe the burning buildings, described the Allied bomber pilots as the equivalents of Nazi police units that murdered Jews and concluded by wondering whether Winston Churchill, who ordered the bombings, ought to have been condemned as a war criminal.
These books have also been effective: According to another opinion poll, more than a third of the Germans now think of themselves as "victims" of the Second World War -- just like the Jews. Nor has this new interpretation of history remained limited to books. Lately momentum has gathered behind a movement to build a new museum in Berlin dedicated to Germans expelled from their homes at the end of the war -- just like the Holocaust museum. It's not wrong for Germans to remember their relatives who suffered, but the tone of the campaigners is disturbing, because they seem, at times, almost to forget why the war started in the first place. Their leader, for example, is the daughter of a Wehrmacht officer, and was born in occupied Poland. Tragically, she was expelled from her childhood home when German troops were defeated -- the adverb "tragically" representing a certain point of view here, not an objective observation.
The last time the Germans thought of themselves as victims was after World War I. The notion that Germany's surrender in the war was forced upon the country by the "November criminals" who "stabbed Germany in the back", was appropriated by Hitler, and led, in no small part, to his rise to power. It is disturbing, to say the least, to see a resurgence of that kind of thought in Germany.
As Churchill once elequently put it, "The Hun is always either at your knees or at your throat." It looks like the Germans are getting tired of the former.
(Review) Jill Stewart takes on LA Times Editor John Carroll's response to her criticisms of the paper, it's interest in getting the dirt on Schwarzenegger, and it's lack of interest in Gray Davis'...um...oddities.
She also offers a Times insider's view of the "Get Arnold" campaign.
"Toward the end, a kind of hysteria gripped the newsroom. I witnessed a deep-seated, irrational need to get something on this guy [Schwarzenegger]. By Wednesday before it was published, I counted not fewer than 24 reporters dispatched on Arnold, and this entire enterprise was directed by John Carroll himself."
"Carroll launched the project with the words: 'I want a full scrub of Arnold.' This was fully and completely and daily driven by Carroll. He's as good as his word on being balanced and trying to make this paper more balanced, he really is. But not when it came to Schwarzenegger. Carroll changed completely. It was visceral, and he made it clear he wanted something bad on Schwarzenegger and he didn't care what it was."
"The air of unreality among people here was so extreme that when they did the office pool, of something like 113 people who put in a dollar to bet on the outcome of the recall and on who would be chosen governor, only 31 bet 'yes' on recall and 'yes' Schwarzenegger to win. All you had to do was read a poll to know how wrong that was, but inside this place only about 25 percent of the people could see the recall coming."
"People inside here are far more detached from the new media reality. They are generally unaware that the Times is reviled by large numbers of Southern Californians."
First, I think it's clear from this account that there was a strong anti-Arnold bias. This isn't surprising. And, frankly, I don't really mind if a paper has a bias, as long as they declare it openly. That's how newspapers used to be. This idea that the news pages are paragons of objectivity is a pretty new phenomenon, and is part of the J-School effect I will discuss in a moment.
The trouble though, is that the bias of the media is so ingrained, they don't recognize it as bias. People who work in the media generally feel that they have perfectly moderate reasonable views, and those who hold opposing views are simply extremists of one stripe or another.
But everybody has biases. It's practically the definition of being human. The inability of the media to admit theirs just confounds me.
Second, newspapers are supposed to be hard-bitten, cynical places, full of street-savvy reporters and editors. They certainly used to be. But media in general has fallen under the spell of the J-School effect.
You see, back in the good old days, you got a job at a newspaper right after getting out of High School, or the army. Maybe you started off as a copy boy. Then, you got promoted to the police beat, hanging out with either cops or riff-raff at all hours. Then, maybe you got sent up to the metro desk, etc., etc. In short, the newspaper business was a trade, not a profession.
The J-School effect has turned the media into another Ivory Tower profession. You go to J-School for 4 years, and learn how to craft delightfully sculptured sentences. You learn how a paper is published, and how a newscast is put together. And that's about the only thing you learn, aside from the usual political pap that colleges force-feed the students these days.
History? Political Science? Economics? Oops, sorry, that doesn't fit into the curriculum.
So you graduate from J-School, knowing everything there is to know about "journalism" and practically nothing at all about what you're supposed to reporting on as a journalist.
That's not quite the training regimen we need for our reporters, if we want to be reliably informed about the world.
(Review) E.J. Dionne laments that the Democratic Party is becoming a party of the intellectual elite, instead of the working class.
But here's the secret of the Democratic primaries: They are no longer dominated by millworkers and milkmen. Steadily, the Democratic Party is becoming the party of the educated upper middle class.
Just look at last week's recall vote in California: The strongest opposition to tossing Democratic Gov. Gray Davis from office came from voters with postgraduate degrees. (Davis also appeared to do reasonably well among voters who did not graduate from high school -- part of the Democratic base that pollster Andy Kohut calls "the partisan poor." But members of this group did not figure in large enough numbers in post-election surveys for analysis.) Where Davis got clobbered was in the middle range -- effectively the great middle class Democrats talk about so much.
These are worrisome numbers for Democrats. For one thing, those "postgraduate" voters include many members of what political scientist Henry Milner labels "the state middle class"--teachers, nurses, social workers and others whose livelihoods depend on government expenditures. It is no knock on the helping professions to say that a political party won't win--and Davis didn't--if it cannot extend its reach far beyond their ranks.
This is the key point of weakness for the Democratic party. The vast majority of voters are not dependent on the government for their livelihoods. Quite the contrary, they view the government as one of the prime factors that eats into their livelihoods.
But, since so much of Democrats' support comes from unions like the government workers union, AFSCME, cutting the size of government isn't really high on their list of priorities.
Government workers, after all, can think of 1,000 reason why there needs to be an even more expansive government, and very few reasons why they should put their jobs at risk through government downsizing.
But for the small business owner in California, whose Federal Income Tax rate is 36%, Self-Employment Tax rate is 15%, and State Income Tax is 9.3%, an even more expansive government really isn't very high on his list of priorities.
(Review) Mark Steyn analyzes the Democrat's reaction to the California recall.
You gotta admire the way the media stayed on the Democrats' sinking California ship right to the very end. On the CNN Web site, even after Gray Davis had conceded, they were sticking to the loser's talking-points: ''Schwarzenegger, who, like Hitler, is a native of Austria . . .''
CNN? Oh, that's that network with Larry King, who, like the Son of Sam, is a native of Brooklyn. Used to be owned by Ted Turner, who, like the Cincinnati Strangler, is a native of Cincinnati. Now part of Time Warner, founded by the Warner Brothers, the oldest of whom, Harry Warner, like many Auschwitz guards, was a native of Poland.
But 10 minutes after the polls had closed, the Dems and the media were once again rocketing off to Planet Bananas. Before Election Day, the official line was that the recall was part of a pattern of hardline Republican subversion of the democratic process, going back through the Florida recount to the Clinton impeachment. In an about-turn so fast poor old DNC honcho Terry McAuliffe must have gotten whiplash, the new line was that the recall reflected a voter anger against incumbents that would spell disaster for Bush next year. And even as I lay on the floor howling with laughter, up there on CNN Judy Woodruff & Co. were taking it seriously. That would be the Judy Woodruff who, like 1970s serial killer Lendell Hunter, is a native of Augusta, Ga.
Yeah, 2004 should be real interesting.
(Review) Andrea Neal writes on this Columbus Day holiday, that students need to receive a more balanced picture of Christopher Columbus than they are currently receiving. Comparisons to Hitler are not useful, besides being completely wrong.
It is ludicrous to compare Columbus, the NASA astronaut of his age, to a man who tried to wipe Jews off the face of the earth. It is irresponsible for historians to apply their contemporary values to Columbus' acts of conquest. He was not the first to engage in imperialistic aggression. He was simply the first European to do so in the Americas.
Up until that moment in history, empire-building through battle was the story of the globe. Consider the Mongols, the Turks, the Huns, the Muslim expansionists, the Christian Crusaders who came before Columbus. Even in America, imperial aggression was commonplace. The Aztecs of central Mexico expanded territory and power by vanquishing adjacent empires through intimidation and human sacrifice until the time of Spanish colonization. During a single festival month at the end of the 15th century, the Aztecs killed 100,000 slaves and prisoners of war.
Columbus' own words make clear: His plan wasn't to conduct ethnic cleansing as some now describe it. His plan was to find a trade route to the Asia-India corridor. To the day he died, he insisted he had found it and "never changed his mind," writes the historian William Manchester.
In "Columbus and the Age of Discovery," the fabulous book that accompanied a PBS documentary series by the same name, Zvi Dor-Ner writes, "Christopher Columbus changed the world. He took his world, the world of the late Middle Ages, and set it on its way to becoming the place we inhabit today." That's the historic context students need to hear, not derogatory statements likening his achievement to the Holocaust.
Here's an idea: Let's try to make education the process of imparting knowledge to the students, rather than trying to "redress political grievances via the curriculum".
Just a thought.
(Review) William Raspberry takes a very un-PC stance by questioning how much of a difference between black and whites in academic performance is cultural.
I can almost feel the resistance from black Americans to the notion that there is something cultural about the underachievement of black students. Almost as palpable is the easy conclusion on the part of many whites (and I'm not talking about racists) that if black people would just buckle down as other disadvantaged groups have done, many of their problems would evaporate.
And yet -- how hard this is! -- the buckle-down crowd may be closer to the mark. That is not to say that the academic gap (as much as four years by the time of high school graduation) is merely the aggregate result of individual black laziness. It isn't.
But as Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom make clear in their new book, "No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning," a significant source of the gap is in the attitudes toward academic achievement that are prevalent in black America, even among the economically successful, college-trained middle class.
This is not a popular idea in Black America, for obvious reasons, but it is, I think one that Booker T. Washington would have agreed with.
(Review) The Democrats' problem with Arnold is not that he's a Nazi Groper. It's that his message is the antithesis of everything the Democrats stand for, and the voters seem to prefer it over their high-tax statism.
Another lesson, and one that's not such good news for the Democrats, is that Republican can see now what's in a winning ticket, even in Democrat strongholds, like with Giuliani in New York and now with Schwarzenegger in California. What won is a policy mix of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, a position that's consistent, i.e., consistently libertarian, in that it seeks to put a lid both on how much the government can grab out of our wallets and on the regulations and laws that mandate how we live.
In Schwarzenegger's case, that comes down to a stance that's pro-business and anti-tax, a perspective that's pro-choice on abortion and supportive of gay civil unions. It's a position, in short, that targets free-spending legislators as the problem, not individual freedom. The result? On Tuesday, with registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republicans by 45 percent to 35 percent in California, Republicans took 62.4 percent of the vote.
The Democratic Party, in it's modern incarnation, is being led by people who love the government. And frankly, so is the Republican Party. The only difference between them is that they want the government to control different things.
The American people, however, have a long history of wishing the government would just leave them the hell alone.
Not that the Republicans will be any more willing to learn that lesson than the Democrats.
Wow, I've missed a lot since Thursday, too.
Rush Limbaugh is, as I suspected, a hophead.
Jay Rockefeller is either a liar or a fool.
Ed Asner is a numbskull.
The European politcal class is a buch of arrogant a-holes.
The American Left, consumed by blind hatred of George W. Bush, is foaming at the mouth.
The analisys of the recall by California Democrats shows that they don't have a freaking clue.
So, really, nothing's changed.
Yesterday was a bit short of blogging, and today might be, too. The Lovely Chris was on her way to go to Arizona to see her family yesterday when she was rear-ended while sitting at an intersection. So, I had to take her to the hospital, go pick up meds for her, and generally take care of her.
She's a bit bruised and battered, so today will probably be a bit short as well, since I have to take her back to the doctor again.
So, blogging is definitely lower on my priority list at the moment.
(Review) The University of Pennsylvania's Muslim Student Association (MSA) has invited the neo-Nazi "Reverend" William Baker to give the keynote address at it's Muslim Awareness Week. In a touching multicultural gesture--unless you're like, you know, a Jew or anything--the University (i.e., the taxpayers of Pennsylvania) will be paying for it.
Baker’s selection as speaker is bad enough, but the use of university funds to pay for it is a scandal; the Office of the Chaplain and the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life helped MSA come up with nearly $5,000 for the week-long program.
The office of the Chaplain. Of course. Baker is, after all, an "inter-faith leader". Why, he even worked with the well-known and respected Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller.
At least, he did before Dr. Schuller read this profile of Baker in the Orange County Weekly.
Yes, "Reverend" Baker has long been known for his sensitive handling of racial issues.
Baker has a long record of anti-Semitism; for example, his self-published 1982 diatribe, "Theft of a Nation," called for the dismantling of the "Zionist State." In a 1983 speech to the racist Christian Patriot Defense League in Missouri, Baker referred to the Reverend Jerry Falwell as “Jerry Jewry” (for his friendliness to Jews), and his disgust at traveling to New York City, getting off the plane to meet, "pushy, belligerent American Jews."
How terribly nice. And how lucky for the MSA to get him for a speaker. I'm sure they regard it as a real coup.
I certainly hope the taxpayers of the state of Pennsylvania feel they are getting their money's worth.
(Review) I realize the recall has really blown my econoblogging out of the water, so maybe I should try getting back to it.
And it's a good day to do so as well, since Initial Claims for Unemployment came it at 382,000. That's the lowest level of claims since 8 Feb 03. The four week moving average also dipped to 393,500, also the lowest since Feb 8.
No matter how well the economy is doing in any other area, the employment picture is the real key to both improved spending, consumer confidence, and practically everything else. Now we've spent the last couple of months hovering around this 400,000 level of new claims. In general, new claims over 400,000 per week implies job shrinkage, while claims lower than 400,000 implies job growth.
And we've certainly seen some job growth. But not a lot, and nowhere near what we need to see if we want to keep the economy expanding at a rate congruent with our increases in productivity, which have been quite strong. So, far, both job growth and economic growth have been below our potential growth rate of 5.6%.
So, we really need to see some movement on the jobs front.
(Review) The editors of National Review are pulling no punches when it comes to the extraordinarily foolish idea that aid to Iraq should be a loan rather than a gift.
Besides, saving money should not be the priority of congressional conservatives in taking up this legislation. Ensuring the success of our foreign policy should be. We have no more important foreign-policy objective today than establishing a peaceful, stable, and free Iraq.1 The reconstruction aid is defense spending every bit as much as the money for our armed forces is.
This should be so blindingly obvious as to be beyond question. That it is not leaves me slack-jawed with stupefaction at the sheer idiocy of some of our representatives. Do we really want to risk throwing away a shot at real friendship with the Iraqi people over $20 billion dollars in a $2.4 trillion dollar budget?
The English language doesn't contain the graphic language needed to adequately describe that kind of stupidity.
1 Emphasis mine.
(Review) Tom Friedman appears to be running out of ideas vis a vis the Israel/Palestinian peace problem. He thinks Israel--and the US--have to try and make some deal with Arafat that can work.
First, let me state my own bias: Iraq is the whole ballgame. If we can produce a reasonably decent, constitutionally grounded Iraqi government, good things will happen all around the Middle East. If Iraq turns into a quagmire, it will be a disaster for U.S. interests all around the world. So, for me, everything should be focused on getting Iraq on the right path.
Which is why we may need to let some of the Axis of Evil out on parole — or at least out on work-release. We can't allow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to spread into a Israeli-Syrian-Shiite-Hezbollah conflict. It would greatly complicate the ability of Iraqis to work openly with us and would greatly enhance the ability of anti-U.S. forces in Iraq to mobilize militants.
I have enormous sympathy for Israel's predicament in confronting the madness of suicide bombers. No society has ever faced such a thing. But every military strategy Ariel Sharon has tried has failed. Maybe the only way Israel can deal with this phenomenon is by trying anew to do business with Mr. Arafat — indirectly, through his new prime minister, Ahmed Qurei.
OK, look, I don't mind that Friedman is out of ideas. When it comes to the Palestinian deal, the Bush Administration doesn't have any bright ideas, either. Nor, for that matter, do any of the leading lights of the Democratic Party.
But I think it's wrong to say that Sharon's military strategies haven't worked. Not because Sharon has been a success; he hasn't. But because he hasn't actually had a military strategy. He's a had an aggressive policing strategy that uses military units, but it isn't a military strategy. But, yes, that strategy has been a failure, if we measure success by the ability to keep maniacs from blowing up innocents.
The trouble with Friedman's argument is that we've tried for a whole decade to make some sort of deal that is acceptable to Arafat. And Arafat can never quite bring himself to say "yes" to a deal. And when he says "maybe", his actions make it clear that he doesn't mean it. I expect that we can talk to this guy until we're blue in the face, but when you're dealing with a guy whose map of "Palestine" includes all of the area currently occupied by the state of Israel, then no matter how quickly the talks move, you're on the fast track to nowhere.
Arafat, a guy who demands visitors address him as "General" Arafat, seems uninterested in doing as Dennis Ross suggests, and turning over governance of the PA to Mr. Qurei, his prime minister. And frankly, given the fanatical and death-worshiping bent of Palestinian culture, I'm not sure what Mr. Qurei could do even if he had carte blanche to come to some sort of deal. Any deal that required him to round up the usual suspects from Hamas, Al-Aqsa, et al., would be deeply unpopular.
It's also weird to see the argument that road to a settled situation in Iraq runs through Ramallah, especially coming, as it does, from a guy who last year argued that the road to peace in Palestine ran through Baghdad. Well, now we're in Baghdad and the argument is reversed.
But even if Friedman is completely correct, I don't see how that knowledge helps us much. To a very large degree, success with the Israel/Palestine question has very little to do with us. Golda Meir once said that Israel would have to keep fighting Arabs until they Arabs loved their children more than they loved killing Jews. I don't see a lot of evidence that has happened yet.
No matter how much the US tries to intervene, or how much goodwill it has, I don't think that there will ever be any chance for peaceful settlement between Palestinians and Israel until there is a fundamental change in the Palestinian culture. And no one has any good ideas on how to effect that either.
Which essentially means that the problem is intractable, short of Sharon actually implementing a real military strategy. And that implies that either a) a lot of Palestinians will end up dead, b) a lot of Palestinians will find themselves exiled to Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, or c) both. Either way, "Palestine" would be essentially Arab-free when it's over.
The chances of Sharon doing something like a forced relocation of Palestinians is pretty darned small. International condemnation would be severe. But the chances are no longer zero, and with every suicide bombing in Israel they get very slightly but measurably larger.
The Arab experience with pushing Israelis into a corner has not been a happy one. It would be nice if the Palestinians would absorb the appropriate lessons from that, but so far, that doesn't appear to have happened. The way things are going now, I don't think they are going to learn it in time.
(Review) James Pinkerton writes that Arnold's victory gives a valuable lesson to Republicans about building a coalition from the center.
Most governors have relatively little effect on the course of their state. They can make incremental changes, not seismic changes. But a Schwarzenegger victory is, at minimum, a repudiation of the back-scratching, logrolling culture of spending that has nearly bankrupted a rich state.
Schwarzenegger will be a reminder to the Republican Party that it's possible to build a coalition from the moderate center, not from the far right. He has done enough living to see the practical value of live-and-let-live. And that pro-personal-freedom message is worth sending all the way to the East Coast.
Live and let live. Too bad that's not a message that either major party wants to hear.
(Review) The LA Times' Steve Lopez vents...uh, I mean...presents his reaction to Arnold's election.
It's piquant subtlety can be encapsulated by the piece's headline: "Der Gropenfuhrer Muscles His Way Into Office--So What Now?"
That's just classy!
Oh, by the way, note to the LA Times proofreader: It's "führer", you dolt.
(Review) I meant to link to this yesterday and forgot.
Senior Democratic strategists knew the particulars of last Thursday's L.A. Times exposé on Arnold Schwarzenegger well in advance of the story's publication, the Weekly has learned from well-informed sources. This knowledge came not only in advance of publication but also before anyone outside a close circle at the Times knew of the story's timing and particulars.
While the Times insists that its reporting uncovered the allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Schwarzenegger, there can be no doubt that advance knowledge of the story was very helpful to Governor Gray Davis' efforts to retain his office in the recall election.
So here's the deal. The LA Times gave Gray Davis' campaign at least a full day before the story ran. Arnold's campaign, meanwhile, got a phone call from the Times at 9:00 PM Thursday night, informing them of the story, and letting them know that they had 30 minutes to craft a response, because they were so close to the Times' deadline time.
Now, I don't think that's fair. In fact, I would characterize it as despicable. A major newspaper intentionally leaked a late-hit scandal story about a politician to his opponent well in advance of publication, then gives the subject of the hit piece half a hour to respond. Not much of a chance to gather up some opposing witnesses, huh?
The LA Times has become the very synonym for "partisan journalistic hacks". I think we're about to have Jayson Blair moment right here in California. The Times has now become part of the story, and I don't think this kind of scandalous behavior will go away, no matter how much the Times' editors might wish it to.
(Review) Marc Levine writes a handy test you can take to determine whether you are a leftist. Some highlights:
-You believe President Bush is too dumb to be President and Arnold Schwarzenegger is too dumb to be Governor of California, but the Dixie Chicks, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Barbra Streisand, Eddie Vedder and Jeanine Garofalo are qualified to discourse at length on foreign policy.
-You believe all conservatives are racist, but do not think minorities can ever succeed without Affirmative Action
-You root for prisoners when they escape from our oppressive prisons, but oppose allowing poor children to escape from failing public schools.
-You support every kind of "diversity" on campus, except political orientation.
-You support banning the smoking of tobacco and legalizing marijuana.
-You believe religion is a scourge on our society, but becoming one with Mother Nature by merging with the universal consciousness and harmonizing with lunar reverberations will save us.
Read the whole thing.
(Review) Andrew Sullivan has some questions for social conservatives.
What exactly is the post-Lawrence conservative social policy toward homosexuals? Amazingly, the current answer is entirely a negative one. The majority of social conservatives oppose gay marriage; they oppose gay citizens serving their country in the military; they oppose gay citizens raising children; they oppose protecting gay citizens from workplace discrimination; they oppose including gays in hate-crime legislation, while including every other victimized group; they oppose civil unions; they oppose domestic partnerships; they oppose . . . well, they oppose, for the most part, every single practical measure that brings gay citizens into the mainstream of American life.
This is simply bizarre. Can you think of any other legal, noncriminal minority in society toward which social conservatives have nothing but a negative social policy? What other group in society do conservatives believe should be kept outside integrating social institutions? On what other issue do conservatives favor separatism over integration? We know, in short, what conservatives are against in this matter. But what exactly are they for?
Let me be practical here. If two lesbian women want to share financial responsibility for each other for life, why is it a conservative notion to prevent this? If two men who have lived together for decades want the ability to protect their joint possessions in case one of them dies, why is it a conservative notion that such property be denied the spouse in favor of others? If one member of a young gay couple is badly hurt in a car accident, why is it a conservative notion that his spouse not be allowed to visit him in the intensive-care unit? In all these cases, you have legal citizens trying to take responsibility for one another. By doing so, by setting up relationships that do the "husbanding" work of family, such couples relieve the state of the job of caring for single people without family support. Such couplings help bring emotional calm to the people involved; they educate people into the mundane tasks of social responsibility and mutual caring. When did it become a socially conservative idea that these constructive, humane instincts remain a threat to society as a whole? And how do these small acts of caring actually undermine the heterosexual marriage of the people who live next door?
Sullivan is right. This is simply stupid.
Look, I think I'm a pretty mainstream guy, i.e. I think male homosexuality is completely icky, and female homosexuality is...not. In fact, I've seen a lot of female homosexuality on film, or, at least, rented video, and I have no problem with it at all. Quite the contrary.
But that's neither here nor there. Let's see, where was I?
Oh, yes! Social policy.
Anyway, I think people are going to have to just realize that homosexuals are our fellow citizens, and they deserve the same civil rights as the rest of us have. And that includes recognition of long-term monogamous relationships as well.
Maybe, as some have implied, "monogamy" to a male homosexual implies something different than it does to a male heterosexual. You know what? I don't care. I know plenty of guys in "monogamous" marriages who appear to think monogamy means "I can sleep with other women as long as my wife doesn't know."
What I want the government to do is prevent people from robbing, beating, or killing me, or damaging my property. Other than that, I want the government to butt out.
What is it about social conservatives that gives them the fits every time somebody lights a joint, or pokes something in the wrong hole? Just let people live their lives, for cripes sake. If they aren't hurting anybody else, then keep the government's nose out of it.
Conservatives are just as prey to the totalitarian temptation as Liberals are. The two groups just want to regulate different things. Whatever happened to Thomas Jefferson's idea of "A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned?"
Silly question, really. That government's been dead for 70 years.
(Review) Well, I guess it's time to autopsy this recall thing, and move on.
First, I think you can characterize this as a landslide. After all, no sitting governor of California has ever been recalled, and 55% is a fairly big margin. Second, although Arnold didn't get an absolute majority of the vote, his 48% is 1% more than Gray Davis got in 2002.
The reaction from Democrats has been interesting. (And by "Democrats" I refer to the leading figures in the party, not to the rank and file voters.) Rep. Adam Schiff said, "I think what we saw today in California was really an anti-incumbent sentiment strongly expressed." Last night on FOXNews, Democratic dirty-tricks hack and hit man Bob Mulholland said pretty much the same thing adding that this also sends a message to "Bush Jr." that he better start doing a good job, too.
I'm not sure how much crack you have to smoke to be so totally disconnected with reality.
The Democrats can pretend that this recall had nothing to do with Gray Davis, personally, if that's what they want to believe. But the reality of the situation is that this recall was about Gray Davis, and that Gray Davis put a gun to the head of his own political career when he directed Steve Pease, the state's finance director, to unilaterally triple the car registration tax. All people had to do was look at their registration papers and they could see instantly how big a check they'd have to write to the state. Davis pulled the trigger when he signed the illegal alien driver's license bill.
Although they appear to be having some second thoughts this morning in the clear light of day, last night several Democrats, including Mulholland, were talking about how, if Arnold hadn't fixed the state's problems in 100 days (problems resulting from 5 years of Democratic misrule in Sacramento) they'd start a recall drive against Arnold, sometime in February.
Really? Well, I say, "Please! Please do it!" Because if that's the kind of tactic they want to use in an election year, they run the risk of so discrediting themselves that the November elections will turn into a bloodbath for them.
Because this election was, in no small part, a revolt against the sense of entitlement that characterizes the way things are run in Sacramento. People are tired of the "pay for play" politics, and special interest stranglehold that defines California's state government. And the Democrats are kidding themselves if they don't realize that. The legislature is, if anything, even more deeply unpopular than Gray Davis is.
The Democrats in the legislature can whine that they balanced the budget, really. But the voters realize that you don't "balance" the budget by borrowing $11 billion.
So, the Democrats are simply fooling themselves if they believe that this election was simply some expression against "incumbents".
Rainbow/PUSH head Jesse Jackson, who has campaigned with Davis repeatedly for the last several weeks, announced that a challenge to the results was likely, since voters were disenfranchised by the speedy race that forced polling places to be condensed.
"To reduce [the number of polling places] by two thirds and consolidate, there are thousands of people who are disenfranchised," Jackson said.
This attitude highlights the other problem Democrats have of complaining that Republicans are involved in some anti-majoritarian conspiracy to thwart the will of the people, while at the same time running to the courts to overturn majoritarian election results.
Look, the idea of some Republican conspiracy to take over the country is simply ludicrous. When half of the people in the country already vote Republican, and you have Republican majorities in the House and Senate, and control most statehouses and state legislatures, you already run the country. You don't need to conspire to take over the country when the voters are willing to just give it to you.
And when the recall has won by such a big margin, you really have to argue that this disenfranchisement was so egregious that 6% of the vote would have gone the other way on the recall question. That's simply a fantasy.
But Jackson wants to go to court to overturn the election. The implicit argument is that, since his side didn't win, there must be something essentially illegitimate about the election. And that, really, is the core of the Democratic Fantasy: "Our party is obviously correct about everything. No reasonable person could possibly believe otherwise. Hence, if we didn't win, then there must be some skulduggery going on that prevented the true wishes of the people from being expressed. Quod erat demonstratum." This is simply a breathtaking expression of hubris.
Exit polls show that 25%-30% of Democrats voted to recall Gray Davis. That's a pretty inconvenient fact to sandwich into your "Republican plot" theory. But the Democrats have to argue that this election, is somehow illegitimate, so that they can convince themselves that going to the courts to overturn it is acceptable. Because, you see, only Republicans try to overturn "legitimate" elections.
How convenient then, for Democrats, that an "illegitimate" election is defined as "any election where we lose". So when Democrats go to an explicitly anti-majoritarian institution, i.e., the courts, to overturn an election, they are doing so to "defend the rights of the voters", but when Republicans take a recall election directly to the voters, they are engaged in an illegitimate power grab. That's a fairly disingenuous argument, and the voters are smart enough to realize it.
The core problem with the Democratic party right now is that the True Believers are seizing control of it. Both party's have their True Believers, and both parties need them. But when the True Believers take control of a party, you've got a problem.
The nature of True Believers is to assume that they are always right, and that any opposing view is unreasonable on it's face, and any compromise is a betrayal. Tom McClintock, for example, is a True Believer, who displays those precise characteristics. The problem is that this just turns off the vast majority of voters.
Right now, the Democrats seem to be succumbing to the fantasy world that the True Believers live in. "If only," they muse, "we endorsed even more radical left-wing policies, we'd win!"
In the end, even the "centrist" Gray Davis fell prey to this fantasy. He tripled the car tax, after months of assuring us he'd do no such thing. He signed the illegal alien driver's license bill, even though he'd vetoed similarly flawed bills twice in the past. He signed SB2 into law. Rather than reaching out to the vast number of centrist voters in California, he bought into the idea that appeasing the True Believers would bring him victory.
He was wrong. And the Democrats at both the state and national level appear to be completely ignorant of this lesson.
Here's more from the Sacramento Bee's Dan Weintraub:
Late last night, just before Gray Davis conceded defeat in a gracious speech, I spoke at his event with Sen. Sheila Kuehl, the Santa Monica Democrat who hopes to replace John Burton next year as leader of the state Senate. Kuehl is a partisan liberal, head of the “Progressive PAC” that raises money for leftist Democrats running in legislative primaries. She is also usually level-headed, pleasant, intelligent and courteous. Last night, she was none of the above. Here is an excerpt from our interview:
DW: How are you feeling?
KUEHL: I am really sad. I'm more angry than anything. And I haven't even started thinking about what the Senate will need to do in order to save the state.
DW: Save the state from what?
KUEHL: From ignorance. This guy has no idea how to run a state. One of two things will happen. He'll have his own ideas and no way to carry them out. I mean he has already proposed three things that the governor cannot do. He wants to roll back the car tax on his own by fiat, which he can t do. He wants to tax the Indians, which he can't do. He doesn't know anything about running the state. So either he will propose a lot of stuff he can't do and we'll have to govern, or he'll be pretty well manipulated by people who have an agenda, very much the way I think the president of the United States has been handled by people who are really telling him how to do these things. In which case we may have to counteract things that are worse than things he proposed on his own. His handlers will probably be more conservative than he is, or in the Republican Party line. Convince him he'll bring businesses back to the state by cutting more benefits to workers, by unraveling anti-discrimination statutes which they call job killers.
DW: Will he be received civilly by the Democrats in the Legislature?
KUEHL: He will be received civilly. We have received everyone civilly. I don't know if everybody is going to go to the State of the State (speech). Because frankly I don't think there is going to be a lot of content that anyone's interested in. What's this guy got to say to us about the state of the state? Nothing.
That's exactly the attitude voters rebelled against in this election. "We're right, and you're wrong, and you have to do what we say." The Democrats want to go on pretending that California's problems have nothing to with their wise management of the state. Or, even worse, that they are entitled to escape the consequences of their own mismanagement. And it's that sense of entitlement that's the most galling.
You know, I can't go to my boss and tell him, "Hey, the payments on my new Jaguar are pretty stiff. You have to give me an extra $500 a month to cover it." Well, actually, I can do that, but I wont be getting the 1/2 G per month. But that is essentially what the Democrats in the legislature are trying to do to their putative bosses, the people of California. They overspent wildly, and now that they don't have the money to cover it, they just assume they can force us to increase their revenue by force of law. Right now, Democrats in the legislature have $20 billion in new taxes on the table.
"So what if we overspent over the past 5 years?" they ask us. "Too bad. Now you have to give us more money to fix the problem." They assume they are entitled to have things their way, and this message from the voters appears not to have even impinged upon their consciousness.
These are not the signs of a party that is particularly receptive to the will of the voters. This is a party with ideological blinders on.
Nearly a century ago, when the Southern Pacific railroad owned the legislature lock, stock, and barrel, Gov. Hiram Johnson faced a similar attitude. He won by going directly to the people, and they forced the legislature to enact progressive reform. I suspect that Arnold Schwarzenegger will have to do the same thing, because Kuehl is representative of the Democratic attitude in the legislature.
It'll be interesting to see if Arnold has the guts to do what will need to be done to overcome the opposition he will face. And I'll bet the 2004 election year will be very interesting indeed.
(Review) Hugh Hewitt writes a brutally frank open memo to LA Times editor John Caroll, along with some suggestions for change.
(Review) Arnold Kling savages Paul Krugman's vitriolic and unfair style of political argumentation.
(Review) Well, not real surprise here, except for the fact that, as I write this, at 9:08PM Pacific Time, Arnold has an absolute majority of votes, rather than a plurality.
So Gray is definitely out, and Arnold is most definitely in.
It's pretty much bed-time for me, but I expect that I'll have a postmortem first thing tomorrow.
(Review) Art Torres can't possibly believe what he says.
Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres said the predicted high turnout "could be the definite advantage for the governor. ... I think the lieutenant governor (Cruz Bustamante) is closing in on the second part of the ballot, so we may even have a double victory here."
If he really believes this, then he's wading waist-deep in the self-delusion pool. The electorate does not turn out in record numbers to vote for the status quo, as I've explained before.
(Review) Richard Cohen starts the day off with a depressing piece about how Israel is faring in its war against terrorism.
His counsel is to return to the 1967 "Green Line". I certainly understand the arguments he makes for doing so. But I'm willing to bet that if the Israelis thought this would end the terror and make israel more secure they would so.
I doubt, however, that would appease a people whose main goal seems to be the elimination of all of Israel. So, I think that in the end, if the Big Wall doesn't work, the next stop on the Israeli policy train will be to force the Palestinians into exile.
If, in fact, Isael's enemies will be satisfied with nothing short of it's destruction, then there's no other realistic way to solve the problem.
(Review) Secretary of State Colin Powell writes in a Washington Post op/ed that David Kay's report makes it clear that Iraq was in material breach of the relevant UN resolutions, and that we were right to whack him.
Frankly, while I'm pleased to hear it, I think Saddam should have been whacked on general principles.
(Review) SurveyUSA has released what will be the last poll on the California Recall election, and the results make it look like Davis will be leaving Sacramento in the very near future. This is especially interesting in that all of SurveyUSA's polling was conducted after Arnold's "babe eruption" on Friday.
|Recall Gray Davis|
If this poll is close to being accurate, it's conceivable that Arnold may win an absolute majority of votes on the replacement question.
That would be a neat trick, considering that Davis didn't even manage to do that in 2002.
(Review) The Field Poll estimates that turnout today will be huge, with 10 million + voters, a 30% increase over the last statewide election for Governor. In fact, it might be the largest turnout for a non-presidential election in California history, with 65% of eligible voters turning up at the polls.
None of which is a good sign for Gray Davis at all.
So, I'll go out on a limb and predict that Davis gets removed from office by 60% vote, and that Schwarzenegger wins on the replacement ballot with 40%
Well, today is the big day here in California. Time to go out and vote on the recall. Think carefully about your choices:
1) Do we remove the proven incompetent?
2) If so, who do we replace him with?
Good luck out there today.
(Review) In a lengthy and link-rich post, Jon Henke reviews the administration's case for war in Iraq in detail.
(Review) Commentary Magazine has a fascinating symposium on their web site. The magazine asked several distinguished commentators--both liberal and conservative--to address the issue of Judicial activism by answering three questions.
1. Have recent rulings by the Supreme Court subverted fundamental elements of our constitutional order? If so, exactly how grave is the situation, and is responsibility to be laid equally at the feet of liberal and conservative Justices?
2. Controversial court decisions have been rationalized by appeals to an “emerging” democratic consensus or (as in Lawrence) to human-rights norms elsewhere in the world. Is there any legitimacy to this development? In deciding constitutional questions, are there circumstances in which the Supreme Court is justified in reaching beyond its own precedents and the Constitution itself?
3. Do you see any merit in proposals to limit the power of the Court? More broadly, what (if anything) should be done to contain or roll back the imperial judiciary?
The responses, from such stellar commentators as Sanford Levinson, Cass Sunstein, Alan Dershowitz, James Q. Wilson, Bill Bennet, Bill Kristol and more, are fascinating, indeed.
This is required reading for anyone who is concerned about the tendency of the judiciary to overreach their proper bounds.
(Review) Debra Orin writes that, no matter how successful we have really been in Iraq, the Bush Administration's post-war effort to communicate to the American people what's at stake there has been pretty abysmal.
The Internet is full of first-hand accounts - e-mails and weblogs - from U.S. troops in Iraq who are desperate to tell folks back home what's going right. Why isn't the White House sharing the bully pulpit with them?
And why didn't we know about the video of Saddam's bloodthirsty Dobermans until now? It may be too graphic to show even in the age of Hannibal Lecter, but people learned what was in the video of reporter Daniel Pearl's brutal murder by al Qaeda thugs without seeing it.
Telling this story, spreading news of Saddam's torture videos, is part of history - just like telling the truth about Hitler's concentration camps. It should be White House Communications 101. Otherwise it's easy for critics to say condescendingly that they "suppose" Iraqis are better off without Saddam, as if he wasn't truly evil.
And what on earth explains Team Bush's failure to spread the good news? Every expert will tell you that the American people can cope with setbacks and even troops killed in ambushes - as long as they're confident there's a plan and there's progress.
The Bush team seems remarkably willing to let the press and it's opponents--and, all too often, they are the same people--draw the picture of progress in post-war Iraq. That's just stupidly self-defeating.
(Review) John Podhoretz writes that there is a lot more in David Kay's report on Iraqi WMD than is being covered.
NOW, you probably thought that the United States had already searched through Iraq's known ammo dumps and come away empty-handed.
I sure thought so.
But, according to Kay, only 10 - that's ten, t-e-n - have been examined. In other words, 120 of the 130 known "Ammunition Storage Points" have yet to be searched for chemical weaponry.
How could this be? Well, Kay's team numbers 400, and they've only been at work for three months under very difficult conditions. And many of these dumps "exceed 50 square miles in size and hold an estimated 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordinance."
Searching them is itself a dangerous business requiring great care and deliberation.
So where chemical weapons are concerned, Kay is suggesting, some incredibly dangerous stuff might be hiding . . . in plain sight.
Not only that, but Kay's report also touches on the justification for the war in Iraq.
Kay himself said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday": "I'm sort of amazed [that] what was powerful information about both [Iraq's] intent and [Iraq's] actual activities that were not known and were hidden from U.N. inspectors seems not to have made it to the press."
Amazed? Why? The press is investing heavily in the idea that the Iraq War was a colossal failure. They're ignoring all sorts of things, so why should this be any different? Just read the NY Times on any random day for a report of the cascading failure that is the American occupation of Iraq.
This is what Kay actually told Congress Thursday: "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002."
"The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that [Kay's team] has discovered that should have been declared to the U.N."
As Andrew Sullivan wrote Friday, "Translation: Saddam was lying to the U.N. as late as 2002. He was required by the U.N. to fully cooperate. He didn't. The war was justified on those grounds alone. Case closed."
Case closed, indeed.
(Review) Charles Duelfer, former Deputy Chairman of UNSCOM, writes that just because David Kay's inspection team hasn't found a large WMD stockpile in Iraq doesn't mean that Iraq wasn't a threat.
Kay states that while no ready-to-use weapons have been found, Iraq is a big country and many depots and other locations are yet to be inspected. However, the Kay report does list evidence of continuing research and development (though not production) in each weapon category. It also describes activities and equipment that Iraq failed to declare to the United Nations and that were not discovered by the inspectors.
So, there evidently was a WMD program, and one that could have been kicked into high gear as soon as the heat from the UN cooled. Which, by the way, Duelfer thinks was likely.
The argument is made that if no weapons were found in Iraq, then maybe the U.N. inspection process was successfully containing Hussein and, therefore, the war was unnecessary.
This will be proven wrong if the Iraq Survey Group can show that Hussein could outlast and outwit the efforts of the Security Council to keep him from ever obtaining WMD. While the inspection system may have appeared to be successful at a given point, it was not sustainable and eventually the U.N. Security Council would lose focus. Kay's group needs to document the strategy that Hussein's regime was pursuing to counter and erode the U.N. disarmament measures.
Now, fortunately, none of that will happen
(Review) Gray Davis Signed SB2 into law. Now all employers will be required to provide health insurance to even part-time employees.
Under the new California law, companies must pay at least 80 percent of monthly insurance premiums, leaving employees to pay no more than 20 percent. Low-income workers would contribute only 5 percent of their wages toward the premium.
Employees will qualify for coverage after three months on the job if they worked at least 100 hours each month. Workers who qualify would either get insurance through their employer or a state-run insurance pool.
While the law leaves details of the pool to be ironed out later, it would be run by the same state board that administers the Healthy Families program for low-income Californians. The board will set fees for joining the pool and also determine how much workers should pay out-of-pocket when they see a physician or fill a prescription.
The new law applies to all employers with more than 20 workers. Employers that have more than 200 workers will have to pay the health insurance for their workers families as well.
This is about the biggest job-killing bill to come down the pike in quite a while.
Or rather, it would be if it actually went into effect. The incentive to kill it by ballot initiative will, I suspect, prove irresistible.
(Review) Will, it looks like the Clinton Presidency is having one long-term political effect. People are more readily inclined to dismiss allegations of private sexual misconduct. And they are more inclined to dismiss such allegations as politically motivated.
"What about Clinton?" said Ella Romano, who was decorated from her sun visor to her tennis shoes in "Join Arnold" stickers. The 60-year-old mother of three daughters and grandmother of one, an independent voter, did not want to hear any "trash stories from the filthy press about Arnold and sex." "Arnold wasn't president when he supposedly did those things that women said he did," she said. "And it's all old garbage against him, anyway."
That's what the Democrats wanted the public to feel about such charges, isn't it? Well, guess what? It is. Not that Democrats like it when the shoe is on the other foot.
Lorraine Osborn, 49, a Sacramento computer engineer, felt that way, even though until this recall election, she was a lifelong Democrat -- "a really, really liberal Democrat at that."
"What changed my mind was all the tax increases," she said, "the tax on the car, and because we're so broke when we weren't broke before Davis."
As for the reports of Schwarzenegger's groping, inappropriate touching and language toward women, Osborn, like so many other Schwarzenegger supporters, shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes. And, like so many others, she questioned the timing of the report, so close to the election. She wondered, as others did, why the women had not come forward at the time they were supposedly groped. And she brought up a favorite antidote to the accounts of Schwarzenegger's boorishness: his wife, Maria Shriver.
Incompetence, as Gray Davis is finding out, can trump ideology and party affiliation.
Robin Tamas, 35, a registered nurse in Pleasanton, where she attended a Saturday afternoon rally for Schwarzenegger, said that her experience with women has taught her that they often flirt with men and then accuse them of misbehaving. "The allegations don't sway me at all," said Tamas, a registered Republican. "I'm very pro-woman. But unfortunately, because I work with women, I know how silly they can act."
Well, that's not very politically correct. Yeah, it's true, but you're not supposed to just say stuff like that.
Of course, not all of Arnold's female supporters are thinking in an overtly political matter. Or, really, thinking much at all.
In Modesto on Saturday afternoon, three young women admired Shriver's prominent cheekbones and declared afterward that they needed to diet. "Then maybe I'll get someone like Arnold," said Tiffany Lopez, 21, who "definitely, definitely" planned to vote for Schwarzenegger -- her first vote, ever. The women issue? "Not an issue at all," she said. "I'd let him grope me any time!"
"I am woman, hear me roar," Tiffany?
(Review) The newest recall election poll--and the first one that covers the period after the groping allegations against Schwarzenegger--has been released. It shows support for the recall fading, slightly, although apparently not enough to save Gray Davis' job.
|Recall Gray Davis|
Now there is some question about the weakening movement towards recall, because the population sample appears to have a slight oversampling of Democrats in the Friday and Saturday samples. Instead of 41% Republicans, the Friday sample was 31% and the Saturday Sample was 39%. So the samples may skew the numbers a bit in an anti-recall direction.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley reports that as of Saturday morning, 3.1 million absentee ballots had already been received. That's about the same number as voted in the last election. Considering that several hundred thousand absentee ballots get dropped off on election day, it looks like absentee...uh...turnout?...will be higher in this election that the 2002 statewide election.
Looking deeper into the poll numbers, a trend does appear that looks bad for the recall effort.
On the first Question on the ballot, recalling Gray Davis Daily poll numbers for those inclined to vote "Yes" looked like this:
When you look at those who say they will definitely vote for the recall the numbers drop each day:
Clearly, dirty politics works in California. It's certainly gotten Gray Davis elected. Now it might just keep him in office.
(Review) Jill Stewart details some of the allegations made about Gray Davis' tendency to physically assault his subordinates, and the LA Times refusal to investigate it.
Unlike their keen attention to Arnold's groping problem.
(Review) This is how Americans are supposed to solve problems. Now, if we can just get this kind of can-do attitude in the rest of Iraq...
(Review) Mark Steyn comments that the press' appetite for scandal is drowning the real story of this election.
The story here is that California is in crisis. The electorate understands that; its media don't. It's CNN that, while sniffing that this election is a "circus", runs tedious featurettes on the pornographers, sitcom actors and other fringe candidates. Meanwhile, the public winnowed the 130 runners down to a quartet almost immediately.
Indeed, the only folks obsessed with joke candidates were the media professionals who took ex-London socialite Arianna Huffington's campaign seriously. In last week's debate, Arianna and Arnold bickered constantly. The pundits assured us Arianna had come out on top. The next poll showed her with 0.4 per cent and she withdrew from the race shortly thereafter. So much for media savvy. The only bottom that's an issue in this election is Gray Davis's, and on Tuesday all it will be feeling is the electorate's boot.
The real issues in California is not whether Arnold delivers one unwanted sexual advance to a woman every three years or so. Or that he is insufficiently condemnatory of Adolf Hitler.
The real issues are things like:
For most of us, there are issues that are a lot more important than who groped whom in a stairwell 20 years ago.
But the press seems a lot more concerned with the latter. That is a discredit to the press, and a disservice to the people of California.
Hopefully, most people are, unlike me, doing fun weekend things and ignoring the election. But there's both good news and bad news for Arnold today.
First, as I mentioned previously, Arnold appears to have had pretty good anti-Nazi credentials going back to when he was 17.
The source of the original Nazi allegations, Peter Butler, has issued a revised statement saying that the first allegations were overblown, and based on incorrect transcripts.
The bad news is that the LA Times has now found three more women who allege naughtiness on Arnold's part.
I think that we can dispense with the Nazi stuff. As far as I can tell, it's all a crock.
And these latest allegations from the LA Times, concerning Arnold's behavior on the set of Twins, seem a bit less trustworthy. Arnold's campaign has been hauling out a lot of people who were on the set of the movie and they seem pretty skeptical about the allegations.
I do notice, however, that while Arnold categorically denies two of the new allegations, they've remained silent about the third.
In general, the groping allegations are harder to dismiss. It certainly looks like Arnold has all the tender sensitivity we've come to expect from Austrian athletes.
I would say this, though. Let's say Arnold is a boor. I'll say the same thing about it as I said about Clinton's hijinks. I don't really care about his private sexual life.
My only quibble with Clinton was that he lied under oath. If he'd been a stand-up guy and come clean like he should have, his critics would have been left flat-footed. Clinton did what politicians generally do, which is to commit felonies to cover up misdemeanors. That was not only illegal, it was stupid.
Look, Arnold, has lived his whole life in professional body-building and Hollywood, both of which are cultures in which women have thrown themselves at him with witless abandon. Frankly, I suspect he's shocked and stunned when he comes across women who don't want to screw him. And that's not a lifestyle that one can reasonably expect to inculcate a sense of decorum in dealing with women.
And, for the older allegations, I'm just not concerned at all. Now, I know a lot of my readers are younger people who don't actually remember the 70s and the early 80s. But trust me, it was a different time. And if you think you can apply the standards of 2003 to Gold's Gym in Venice in 1975, then you're just living in a fantasy world.
The 1970s was a time of free love, open marriages, swingers, wife-swapping pool parties, and all sorts of other stuff that fill us with fear and loathing a quarter-century later. That little slice of time in post-60s, pre-AIDS American life was just....different.
As far as Arnold goes, I think he assumes that women want his attention because, in his experience, 99.9% of the time, they do. Arnold is a smart guy, however, and I expect that the last few days have been quite a learning experience.
Still, I was willing to give Clinton a free pass on his sexual private sexual appetites, so I extend the same courtesy to Arnold. And I am disgusted--though not surprised--that die hard Clinton defenders like the people at MoveOn, who were so quick to excuse Clinton's behavior, now find that Arnold's behavior is beyond the pale.
I mean, these were people who savaged the women who made allegations about Clinton. Now that it's a political foe on the receiving end, they hold press conferences featuring them.
That stinks of hypocrisy.
(Review) If we really want to get serious about the war on terror, we should hunt down and kill people who do this.
(Review) Arnold's old Austrian gym owner says that Arnold didn't like Nazism much.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, gym owner Kurt Marnul said the young Schwarzenegger participated at least twice in organized disruptions of neo-Nazi gatherings near his hometown of Graz during the 1960s.
Marnul, 74, recounted how he personally saw Hitler's soldiers kill three people, "two Jews and a young boy," and that the experience motivated him to break up neo-Nazi rallies later in life.
He told AP he described his experiences to Schwarzenegger, who was about 17 at the time, and said the young bodybuilder reacted with shock and anger. He said Schwarzenegger, whose late father served as a volunteer with the notorious Nazi storm troops, told him such horrors had never been discussed at home.
"He was so outraged," so filled with rage against the Nazi regime," Marnul said.
This leads me to suspect that Arnold's statements about Adolf Hitler in the latest allegations were the result of Arnold trying to explain a relatively complicated idea in his poor English at the time.
(Review) MoveOn.Org will be holding a press conference with one of Arnold's female "groping" accusers.
Arianna Huffington will be hosting the press conference, so we know it will be a quiet, dignified affair.
(Review) Tammy Bruce observes that the same people who defended Clinton's behavior are castigating Arnold.
It is absolutely remarkable for me to watch the same Democratic party hacks, who stood by and supported Bill Clinton during the revelations that he was an abuser of women, pull their hair out screaming about Schwarzenegger the Barbarian.
For those of you who do not know, I am a former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and also served on the National NOW board of directors in the early 1990s. That said, it was the obscene support of Bill Clinton by the entire Left wing establishment that woke me up to the hypocrisy of the Left, and of Democrats and the feminist machines in particular.
Now, suddenly the Democrats are outraged, just outraged, at how women are treated. Where was this concern when Bill Clinton was groping and humiliating a wide swath through Washington, DC? And Little Rock? And now New York? Paula Jones, Juanita Broderick, Kathleen Willey did not insist on anonymity. They explained and answered the questions publicly, and to the world.
Bruce was also pleased by Arnold's reponse, and it's contrast with Bill Clinton's.
As a feminist who has spent most of my professional life dealing with the bad behavior of men and working for equality for women, those charges aren’t shocking. When I heard of them, I also thought them to be probably true.
But it was a long time ago when I threw my idealistic expectations of politicians out the window. My romance with heroes ended when I found my own feminist colleagues were corrupt, and realized that politicians, gulp, lie. I still want honesty and some decency from politicians, but I understand now that we must demand it of them, and hold their feet to the fire.
So, what I wanted to know when I heard of the allegations was if Arnold would do what virtually every politician (and man legitimately accused of sexual harassment) does: deny, deny, deny, and lie, lie, lie. Actually, we should now call that tactic “Clintonizing.”
Arnold, however, did not disappoint. In a speech to supporters in San Diego, he began to address the accusations with the phrase “Where’s there’s smoke there’s fire…”. The crowd began to cheer in a way that they expected him to deny the allegations. In fact, a campaign spokesman did just that earlier in the day. But then in what media outlets described as "remarkable," "astounding" and "unexpected," he admitted it, and apologized!
He did not shake his finger in the air and deny having 'sexual relations' with any woman. His wife Maria did not go on a morning show to blame the accusations on a vast left wing conspiracy. No, he admitted his bad behavior and said he now realizes what he did was wrong.
Do I think the actions described are repulsive? Absolutely. Do I think the women subjected to his boorish behavior should have complained at the time? Yes. All of them explained that they didn’t for fear of retaliation. While that is a legitimate concern for women in that situation, it is extraordinarily unfair to come forward years or decades later to accuse anonymously in an effort to ruin the person you took no action against at the time.
If we (women) want equal rights, and to be treated with dignity, we need to stand up for ourselves and have the courage of facing the consequences of doing so.
Hard to believe that Bruce was a NOW leader, isn't it?
(Review) David Kay, the administration's point man in the search for Iraqi WMDs did find a fair amount of evidence that Iraq had a WMD program, even if large stockpiles weren't found.
· Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.
· New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.
· Documents and equipment, hidden in scientists' homes, that would have been useful in resuming uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS).
· A line of UAVs not fully declared at an undeclared production facility and an admission that they had tested one of their declared UAVs out to a range of 500 km, 350 km beyond the permissible limit.
· Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited SCUD variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the UN.
· Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1000 km -- well beyond the 150 km range limit imposed by the UN. Missiles of a 1000 km range would have allowed Iraq to threaten targets through out the Middle East, including Ankara, Cairo, and Abu Dhabi.
Clearly, something was going on.
(Review) Deroy Murdock reports that the Racial Privacy Initiative, which will appear as Prop 54 on the California Recall Ballot, has an excellent chance of passing. Why?
Minorities appear to support it.
With limited exceptions, RPI would forbid state and local governments from ethnically classifying residents for public education, employment, or contracting. Although it has been overshadowed by the gubernatorial brawl, RPI enjoys surprising support among the Golden State's minority voters.
The 2003 Multilingual Survey of California Voters found that every ethnic group polled favors RPI. Hispanics endorse it 46 percent to 33 percent. Asian-descended voters are pro-RPI, 42 percent to 40, while blacks back it, 41 percent to 33. Whites, interestingly enough, support RPI 31 percent to 25 with a hefty 44 percent undecided.
Still, as Miami-based pollster Sergio Bendixen told the Sacramento Bee: "Mathematically, it is impossible for Proposition 54 to be defeated unless minorities oppose it."
Let's hope those poll numbers are accurate.
Rush Limbaugh's opening monologue gave short shrift to the drug allegations. He says he doesn't know "the full scope" of what he's dealing with. But, as soon as he knows, he told his listeners, he will tell them about it. He then proceeded to give a 10-minute explanation of the ESPN deal.
But, as far as the drug story goes: No confirmation. No denial.
Well, that's not a good sign. Presumably he knows if he's illegally obtaining prescription drugs. I know that if I was falsely accused of obtaining drugs illegally, my first order of business would be to emphatically and categorically deny it.
Oddly, Rush didn't do that. As a result, I infer from that lack of denial that these allegations are not entirely false.
I may be wrong, but it's difficult to construct a scenario in which an innocent person who is falsely accused doesn't declare his innocence in the most emphatic terms.
This looks bad for Rush.
(Review) David Ignatius writes from inside the "Sunni Triangle" at Fallujah, Iraq that, despite the tone of the news, Iraqis want us to stay and help them rebuild.
American soldiers have been attacked again here the day I visit this smoldering core of revolt in Iraq's Sunni Triangle. But what is worrying Sheik Khamis Hassnawi, the leader of one of the region's largest tribes, isn't the possibility that the U.S. occupiers might stay, but that they might leave. "It would be a disaster," says Hassnawi of a quick American pullout. "If coalition forces withdraw now, the strong will eat the weak and people will start killing each other in the streets."
Fallujah is the last place I thought I would hear Iraqis plead for the United States to stay the course. But the tribal leader's comments are an illustration that things in postwar Iraq aren't always what they appear from a distance. What angers most Iraqis isn't the U.S. invasion -- which nearly everyone I met still describes as liberation from a hated regime -- but America's surprisingly poor performance in delivering services and security.
Tom Friedman said it six weeks ago: The Iraqis should believe the American invasion means they won the lottery.
There is, it seems, a reservoir of good will towards us in Iraq. Whether we deepen it or squander it away all depends on how well we do in rebuilding the country.
(Review) USC Law Professor and former Michael Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich writes in the LA Times to attack the LA Times for its hit piece on Arnold.
First, she dismisses the idea that Cruz Bustamante floated yesterday, which is that Arnold is guilty of some crime.
As a professor of sex discrimination law for two decades and an expert on sexual harassment, I certainly don't condone the unwanted touching of women that was apparently involved here. But these acts do not appear to constitute any crime, such as rape or sodomy or even assault or battery. As for civil law, sexual harassment requires more than a single case of unwelcome touching; there must be either a threat or promise of sex in exchange for a job benefit or demotion, or the hostile environment must be severe and pervasive.
Next, she addresses the questionable nature of the Times' motives and timing.
What this story accomplishes is less an attack on Schwarzenegger than a smear on the press. It reaffirms everything that's wrong with the political process. Anonymous charges from years ago made in the closing days of a campaign undermine fair politics.
Facing these charges, a candidate has two choices. If he denies them, the story keeps building and overshadows everything else he does. Schwarzenegger's bold apology is a gamble to make the story go away. It may or may not work.
But here's my prediction, as a Californian: It's too late for the Los Angeles Times' charges to have much impact. People have made up their minds. This attack, coming as late as it does, from a newspaper that has been acting more like a cheerleader for Gray Davis than an objective source of information, will be dismissed by most people as more Davis-like dirty politics. Is this the worst they could come up with? Ho-hum. After what we've been through?
To his credit, Schwarzenegger apologized for "behaving badly." So should the Los Angeles Times.
One in tempted to give some credit to the Times for carrying Estrich's piece, except for the fact that it's buried on the Op/Ed page, while the impact of it's front page story on Arnold is still working itself out. The times can afford to be charitable to Ms. Estrich. The damage, after all, has already been done.
(Review) Today's Rush Limbaugh Show should be...interesting.
I am not one of Rush's listeners. But I think I will be today.
(Review) The other shoe has dropped. Now the allegations are that Arnold was an admirer of Adolf Hitler.
At some point today or tomorrow, we'll probably hear how Arnold kills kittens with bayonets, before spitting them on an open fire.
In this case, the guy who brought the allegations to light says even he has two different transcripts of the interview where Arnold made the allegedly pro-Nazi comments.
"I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."
"I admire [Hitler] for being such a good public speaker and for his way of getting to the people and so on. But I didn't admire him for what he did with it. It's very hard to say who I admire, who are my heroes."
And, of course, given Arnold's rather tenuous grasp of English at the time, there's a lot of room for wondering if what he said and what he meant were the same things.
Look, I suspect that on some level, Arnold probably did admire Hitler back in 1975. In fact, after living in Europe and working daily with Germans for three years, I can tell you that there are a lot of Germans who admire Hitler, even if they despise what Hitler did.
Germans and Austrians are, in many ways, deeply ambivalent about the Nazi years. It was a time when Germany rose from a defeated--and beaten--nation to become the master of Europe. At the same time, hideous crimes were committed by the German and Austrian people. Germans tend to be embarrassed about the crimes, yet still, there is in many ways a longing for the days when Greater Germany mattered.
Americans simply don't have that kind of ambivalence, and our national experience has been entirely different than that of Germany. As such, we find it hard to understand.
But apparently, Arnold has done some work for the Simon Weisenthal Center, and has for the last couple of decades, been unvaryingly critical of Hitler and Nazism. I suspect that being in America has changed Arnold's views about a lot of things.
And I think that there should be a statute of limitations on this kind of stuff. People do a lot of stupid things as a result of being young and dumb. Going back thirty years to dredge them up seems like quite a stretch. People do, after all, change and grow. I am not, at 39, the same man I was at 19. I suspect the same is true of Arnold.
And, of course, there is the question of why this stuff is coming out in the last week of an election. You see, even if all this stuff is true, the timing makes it look so much like a political dirty trick, my disgust at that type of politics makes me automatically want to resist being toyed with in that way.
(Review) David Kay's initial report on Iraq's WMDs, or rather, the lack of them, casts some serious doubt on our intelligence capabilities.
"We have not yet found stocks of weapons, but we are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapon stocks do not exist or that they existed before the war and our only task is to find where they have gone," he said, according to the transcript.
"Whatever we find will probably differ from prewar intelligence," Kay acknowledged. â€œ... It is, however, only by understanding precisely what those difference are that the quality of future intelligence and investment decisions concerning future intelligence systems can be improved."
Speaking to reporters Thursday at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld indicated for the first time that he, too, had serious doubts about the credibility of the prewar intelligence reports.
Fortunately, it's not only our intelligence that got it wrong. Every other major power thought he had WMDs, too.
Still, we need to find out how we all got fooled, and how we can prevent it from happening again.
For my part, I'm just as happy that he didn't have WMDs as I am that his government has been destroyed. Saddam intentionally tried to give the impression he did have a WMD stockpile. That was a mistake, and one I am happy that we have corrected.
Now that I've had a chance to think about it a bit more, a few more things come to mind.
First, this story has been around for two years. The National Enquirer and Premier Magazine printed many of these same allegations over two years ago. So there's evidently nothing new here. The question then becomes why the LA Times felt it necessary to rehash these two year-old allegations less than a week before the election.
LA broadcast reporter and columnist Jill Stewart is reporting on the radio that Democrats were already prepared to dump some horrific stuff on Arnold today. Stewart reports that a union official was prepared to announce that Arnold had raped her several years ago. According to Stewart, Democrats backed off because the LA Times did their dirty work for them.
Because these allegations are so old, and have already been covered in two separate media outlets years ago, the timing of today's story has made the LA Times the story, and suspiciously so.
Too bad the LA Times didn't think it was equally important to investigate the rather serious allegations that Gray Davis has a serious anger management problem, and is a serial abuser in the office. Allegations that include serious physical assaults on state workers in his offices. Pushing women into walls, shaking them, throwing glass ashtrays at workers. I mean, nasty stuff. And these stories don't come from Davis' political opponents. They come from his own advisers, staff members, union leaders, etc.
The allegations themselves are more difficult to address. We do know that one of the accusers in the article is the wife of a body-builder who has had a decades-long feud with Schwarzenegger. The other named woman has a talk show in Britain, in which she herself engages in some rather naughty hijinks. It's her schtick.
As for the unnamed, anonymous accusers, well, I suspect we'll never know what really happened, or whether the allegations are true. They may very well be, and, if so, indicate some rather deplorable conduct on Arnold's part.
But we essentially knew all this stuff two years ago, and it's rehashing on the front page of the LA Times at this particular moment looks like nothing other than an intentional political hatchet job.
(Review) I can't say I'm a Rush Limbaugh fan. I haven't actually listened to his radio program in years. So I don't have any emotion invested either way in his troubles.
But he's sure had a bad week.
In addition to getting bounced off ESPN, he's now evidently under investigation for illegally obtaining prescription drugs.
I have to say I feel sorry for the guy if the story is true. I think drug use should be legalized, so it bothers me to see a non-violent offender looking at serious prison time. I think prison should be reserved for violent criminals who hurt others, not "criminals" whose only victims are themselves.
But, my understanding is that Rush has always been a firm drug warrior (although, not being a listener, I could be wrong), so I guess now he will get a first-hand look at how the criminal justice system treats non-violent drug offenders.
I hope he finds it a valuable learning experience.
And for all you conservative, dittohead, drug warriors out there, please reflect on the fact that if drug use was legalized, your hero would be looking at many more productive years on the radio, instead of a few years in the pen.
(Review) While decrying the LA Times story for what it is, a blatant smear attack a week before the election, Arnold Schwarzenegger admits he has behaved badly, and apologized to the crowd at a rally in San Diego.
Schwarzenegger said that harassment charges are untrue, but added that "where there's smoke there's fire, that is true, so I want to say yes, I have behaved badly.
"Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right which I thought then was playful but now I recognize that I offended people," he added.
This is about the best thing Arnold can do, but it'll be interesting to see what effect this has on the outcome of the election.
Actually, now that I think about it, this can't possibly have an effect on the election, except to improve Arnold's chances at winning. After all, the Democrats spent years telling us that the Clinton thing should have been beneath notice because it was "all about sex."
I suspect that Democrats will now come out en masse to support Arnold in the face of these crude sexual allegations, just like they did for President Clinton.
Yeah. I'll just be right here waiting to watch it happen.
(Review) Jonah Goldberg is tired of the President's critics whining because they don't get a free ride for their criticism.
So let me just get this out of the way as quickly as possible. Criticizing someone else's criticism — even when a government official does it — isn't an assault on free speech. It is free speech. And leadership does not require saying "thank you sir may I have another" every time some yutz takes an unfair swipe at you. If giving as good as you get intimidates people from speaking their mind, maybe that's a good thing, because it most likely means those people haven't thought through their positions well enough to offer an opinion worth listening to. If that makes you sad, if that makes you want your boo-boo-kitty and a cookie from your mommy, that's fine. But spare me the prattle about how dissenters are being intimidated. Either offer some facts or stop your whining.
Democrats want to be able to criticize the Bush Administration with Teddy Kennedy-like vitriol, then whine about "repression" and an "assault on civil liberties" when the administration responds.
Cake. Have it. Eat it. Choose only one.
(Review) George Will writes that it is evident that much of our pre-war intelligence about Iraqi WMDs was wrong, for whatever reason. The best thing for the administration to do is admit it, and to tell us what they've learned from its mistakes.
First, kicking the can of this controversy down the road places on Kay's report a burden -- of vindicating pre-war assessments of intelligence -- that it cannot possibly bear. Second, complacency about pre-war intelligence assessments paves the way to a future crisis.
This president or a successor is likely to have to ask the country to run grave risks in response to intelligence from what the government will call ''solid sources.'' So unless the public is convinced that the government is learning from this war -- learning how to know what it does not know -- the war may have made the public less persuadable, and the nation perhaps less safe.
We can handle the truth, Mr. President.
(Review) Michael Tanner writes that somebody should be asking the Democratic presidential candidates about what their plan is to fix social security.
Wesley Clark is "still working on" a proposal, along with the rest of his domestic agenda. Howard Dean used to favor raising the retirement age. Now he doesn't. John Kerry backs means-testing benefits, except that maybe he doesn't. Richard Gephardt wants to "get back to an economy where we have a surplus so we can fix the Social Security problem." Exactly how he would fix it remains unclear. And poor Joe Lieberman, having abandoned individual accounts, has been reduced to clichés. "The first thing to say about Social Security is we've got to keep it strong and not mess around with it," he said, not very helpfully, a short while ago.
Frankly, that isn't good enough. No one should be running for president if he can't stand up and tell the American people what he would honestly try to do about Social Security. This is not a complicated matter. In fact, the Democratic contenders can take a lesson from a party stalwart, former President Bill Clinton. It was Clinton who clicked off the three options for reform: raising taxes, cutting benefits, or getting a higher rate of return within the system through private investment. Since the current crop of Democrats all oppose private investment, they should tell us which taxes they will raise and which benefits they will cut. It's a fair and simple question.
Don't hold your breath waiting for a fair and simple answer, though.
(Review) The LA Times has a front page story that states Arnold Schwarzenegger has groped and humiliated several women over the past three decades.
The Times tells the story of 6 women, 5 of whom declined to be named, who claim Arnold groped them.
Now, I don't know the veracity of these claims. But it sure seems suspicious that the Times waited until 6 days before the election to release the story. And of course, 5 women who decline to be named make it difficult to refute the allegations.
The timing of this story just smells to high heaven. Maybe it's true. I don't know. But it sure has all the earmarks of a political dirty-tricks effort, coming as it does a week before the election, and containing a large number of unsourced, anonymous allegations.
The Times undertook, by their own admission, a seven-week investigation to uncover these stories. I wonder why they didn't feel a similar effort was necessary any time over the last 5 years to uncover some dirt on Gray Davis' pay-for-play politics in Sacramento. Similar coverage over, say, the way Davis awarded Oracle a hefty state contract the week after receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions might have been a worthy effort. And who knows, they might even have been able to actually quote some named sources for that one.
No, this looks like a hatchet job, pure and simple.
(Review) The Hindustan Times reports that Kuwait security officials have found some Iraqi WMDs.
Kuwaiti security authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle $60 million worth of chemical weapons and biological warheads from Iraq to an unnamed European country, a Kuwaiti newspaper said on Wednesday.
Watch this one closely.
(Review) Mark Sappenfield writes in the Christian Science Monitor that The Davis Campaign has...wait for it...gone negative on Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Of course he has. That's what Davis does. He certainly can't run on the success of his own record.
I'm just waiting for this 30-second Davis commercial to show up this week:
(Cue smiling pic of Arnold)
Narrator: Arnold Schwarzenegger says he wants to reform California's government.
(Fade to pic of Arnold with an angry scowl)
Narrator: But he doesn't have any political experience. He's never held elective office in California.
(Fade to pic of Arnold beating up Sharon Stone in "Total Recall")
Narrator: In fact, Schwarzenegger isn't even from California at all. He came to California from Austria.
(Fade to a 40% opacity pic of Arnold frowning, superimposed on Austrian flag waving in the background)
Narrator: Do you know who else came from Austria? Adolf Hitler.
(Hard cut to Hitler addressing the 1936 Nuremburg Party Rally)
Narrator: Can you trust a man with that kind of background?
(Hard cut to SS troops marching down the Unter den Linden)
Narrator: Vote "No" on the recall.
It's the perfect Davis commercial. It smears his opponent without mentioning Davis at all, since mentioning Davis name might prompt voters to remember that he hasn't proven to be a prize in the office himself.
(Review) Front Page Magazine has collected a whole lot of quotes about Democrats speaking out on Iraq. Funny, but they were all saying something completely different last year than what they are saying today.
Here's few gems:
"There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."
Letter to President Bush, signed by Sen. Bob Graham, D-FL, and others. Dec, 5, 2001.
"We know that he [Saddam Hussein] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
Vice President Al Gore. Sept. 23, 2002.
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV. Oct. 3, 2002.
"[W]ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real."
Sen. John F. Kerry, D-MA. Jan. 23, 2003.
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA. Sept. 27, 2002.
Well, there's certainly no slavish devotion to consistency there.
(Review) Economist Thomas Sowell is getting a bit tired of people criticizing him for being against Affirmative Action since he "benefited from it". Apart from anything else, the charge is silly.
Think about it: I am 73 years old. There was no affirmative action when I went to college -- or to graduate school, for that matter. There wasn't even a Civil Rights Act of 1964 when I began my academic career in 1962.
Moreover, there is nothing that I have accomplished in my education or my career that wasn't accomplished by other blacks before me -- and long before affirmative action. Getting a degree from Harvard? The first black man graduated from Harvard in 1870.
Becoming a black economist? There was a black professor of economics at the University of Chicago when I first arrived there as a graduate student.
Writing a newspaper column? George Schuyler wrote newspaper columns, magazine articles, and books before I was born.
A recent silly e-mail declared that I wouldn't even be able to vote in this year's California election if there hadn't been a Voting Rights Act of 1965. I have been voting ever since I was 21 years old -- in 1951.
There are a couple of other charges that bother him, and you can find out what they are by reading the rest of the article.
(Review) Bob Novak writes to try and clear up some of the questions surrounding his "Valerie Plame" column.
The leak now under Justice Department investigation is described by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and critics of President Bush's Iraq policy as a reprehensible effort to silence them. To protect my own integrity and credibility, I would like to stress three points. First, I did not receive a planned leak. Second, the CIA never warned me that the disclosure of Wilson's wife working at the agency would endanger her or anybody else. Third, it was not much of a secret.
The words "tempest in a teapot" come to mind...
(Review) More From Dan Weintraub:
Secretary of State Kevin Shelley said today that absentee voting so far is up more than 50 percent from last year’s election, even after a week of dead time while the federal courts put the election on hold. Shelley said 1.1 million Californians have voted already, compared to about 700,000 who had voted by this time in 2002. About 2.8 million Californians have requested absentee ballots. Shelley believes this to be a record but isn't sure because counties haven’t kept records on this in the past.
These are not results that indicate the voters are in a status quo mood. Not at all.
(Review) Dan Weintraub writes that Cruz Bustamante did an interesting interview with the Spanish-language TV network, Univision. According to the English translation provided by Univision:
The lieutenant governor had strong words for his Republican opponents in the recall race. "People who are on the ballot - people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock - want Proposition 187 once again. They don't want driver's licenses for immigrants. They are against food. They are against access to colleges and access to schools. They are against the opportunity to organize labor unions. They are against so many of the values we have in our community. I think it's important to see who the enemy is... It's the Republican legislators, candidates, and officials who say that they don't want to solve our community's problems. That they don't want children to go to school. That they don't want driver's licenses. All of those are Republicans, they're not Democrats."
Well, actually, Cruz, nobody cares if immigrants get driver's licenses or go to USC. What the people of California--Democrat and Republican--are against is driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Funny how Cruz always manages to drop that simple little word, "illegal".
And, forgive me if I missed it, but I'm having trouble remembering exactly which Republicans it was who said they didn't "want to solve our community's problems."
Of course, most people in California don't think illegals are part of "our community." They are part of another community, and the only reason they are in ours is because they broke the law to do so. And relatively few of us are interested in subsidizing their health care or university tuition. Nor are we particularly happy that they can now get driver's licenses with essentially no verifiable documentation.
This is just the same old "Republicans are evil" tripe that the Left trots out when an examination of the facts reveals them to be either fools or liars.
Or, in Cruz Bustamante's case, both.
(Review) The LA Times' polls have shown surprising--some would say suspiciously surprising--support for Gray Davis. At least, they did until this morning. Now, even the LA Times can't disguise the sickly-sweet smell of death and decay that surrounds the Davis Campaign.
|Recall Gray Davis|
There's more bad news for Davis when you look deeper into the numbers, because they show his own constituencies turning against him.
For Davis, a key challenge in the final days of the race is to bolster support among Democrats. Despite his aggressive efforts to woo union members, Latinos and other traditional blocs of the party, the survey found 27% of Democrats supporting the recall, up from 19% in the last poll.
Among liberal Democrats, support for the recall grew from 1-in-10 to 2-in-10. Among moderate Democrats, support climbed from 30% early last month to 35%. Union members, a key to Davis' success in prior elections, also tilted further in favor of the recall, from 51% in the last poll to 54% in the most recent.
Other signs of trouble for Davis: 54% of women back the recall; early last month, 54% of women opposed it. Support for the recall also grew among the elderly, who typically turn out to vote in large numbers. While voters 65 and older were evenly split on the recall in the last poll, they now favor it, 54% to 46%. Even Los Angeles County voters, crucial to the success of any Democrat in a statewide election, have swung in favor of the recall, 53% to 46%. Early last month, they opposed it, 58% to 38%.
When a third of your own party wants you gone, then you're pretty much screwed. And Cruz Bustamante won't find much hope in this poll either.
For Bustamante, the poll results are bleak. Only 41% have a favorable impression of him, while 58% view Schwarzenegger favorably and 62% see McClintock in a positive light.
Bustamante's millions of dollars in campaign donations from casino-owning tribes — the subject of an unfavorable court ruling and a host of Schwarzenegger ads — appear to have damaged his public image. Four in 10 voters say those contributions make them less likely to vote for Bustamante, although 54% say they make no difference.
Oakland Democrat Lark Coryell, 50, a brand-identity consultant, said Bustamante seems to offer little improvement over Davis. "They both strike me as very slippery," she said.
So, despite Davis' people saying that their internal polls show something completely different, it looks like the Governor has received the kiss of death from the electorate.
(Review) Arianna Huffington is an idiot. When she announced her withdrawal from the race--in order to avoid the embarrassment of coming in last place--she said, "This is about preventing a Republican hijacking of the state."
Really, Arianna? A Republican hijacking? Let's see.
So, Arnold would actually be the only Republican in the entire state of California to hold any statewide political office at all.
Those Republicans must be an especially tricky people to hijack the state like that.