Saturday, February 15, 2003

You can buy the "First Iraq, then France" bumperstickers from Silflay Hraka.
I just saw this list from Silflay Hraka of how we'll know we're winning the war on terrorism. A sample:
5. The third legitimately elected Palestinian president is sworn in the capital of a free Palestine, Damascus.

4. Teheran's hottest political debate is over the relative merits of Tennesse vs. North Carolina barbeque.

3. After their Tony winning performances in a revival of "The Odd Couple", Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Benjamin Netanyahu star in a remake of "Some Like it Hot".

Jonathan Rauch has a great article. The title tells it all, "America Can Beat Iraq. But Can It Vanquish France?"
Michael Barone credits the Republican victories in 2002 to a renewed concern for Life, Liberty, and Property.
John Fund has an interesting profile of a Milwaukee sheriff who is standing up to racial mau-mauing.
Appellate Blog features a detailed summary of a talk that Justice Scalia gave at the University of Pennsylvania. In his speech, he explains his belief in Originalism and his opposition to the "Living Constitution."
Harry at Ain't It Cool News doesn't really like Gods and Generals. He didn't like Gangs of New York either.
Little Green Footballs points out that the peace protesters are so clueless that they don't realize the irony in having a sign asking for "peace in our time." It's probably because most history classes in school do not get to World War II or the what led to the war. So, people today have no historical judgment about the dangers of another Munich.
Gods and Generals will trigger debate about the cause of the war. Some may be horrified at the implication that the war was about anything else but slavery. But, the book (I haven't seen the movie.) uses what many southerners believed at the time. They firmly believed that they were fighting for state's rights and that they were as much for liberty as the Founding Fathers were. They just closed their eyes to the fact that the liberty they were fighting to preserve was the liberty to own another human being. But, it would be anachronistic of the movie to imply that Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson were personally fighting for slavery. Both believed that they were fighting for their homeland, Virginia.
Instapundit points out that there is already an Axis of Weasels website.
Jay Ambrose says that we should have a George Washington Day. I agree. And Lincoln should have a day. Growing up in Illinois, we always celebrated Lincoln's birthday, just as the entire nation should.
A teacher in Des Moines got into trouble for making fun of Republicans. Maybe I should worry.
John Leo says the American street is heating up. This seems a little too sanguine for me. Maybe that's because of all the well-meaning, but mistaken people out protesting in favor of appeasement today.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Richard Perle accuses the French of selling out for an oil deal with Iraq.
Fred Barnes says that anti-French humor is a sure winner. I've found that is also true among my high school students.

And why are French streets tree-lined? So the Germans can march in the shade. How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? No one knows. It's never been tried. What do you call 100,000 Frenchmen with their hands up? The army. How many gears does a French tank have? Five, four in reverse and one forward (in case of attack from behind). FOR SALE: French rifles . . . never fired, only dropped once.

Dennis Miller specializes in anti-French humor. "The only way the French are going in is if we tell them we found truffles in Iraq," Miller says. "The French are always reticent to surrender to the wishes of their friends and always more than willing to surrender to the wishes of their enemies."

That last one is more than a joke. It's shrewd commentary. It captures why the French make such poor allies. When they pulled out of NATO 40 years ago and declared Americans must close down their bases in France, Secretary of State Dean Rusk had a bitterly caustic response. Should we dig up the graves of American soldiers in Normandy, too, and take them home? No French answer was recorded.

Mark Steyn says that Saddam is like one of Hitchcock's MacGuffins.
Saddam is what Alfred Hitchcock called the MacGuffin. Like the top-secret formula in The 39 Steps or the uranium in Notorious, he's the pretext for the movie, but he's not really what the movie's about. Despite the best efforts of the French and Germans, the old butcher will be gone in a few weeks. The real debate in Washington is about the speed and scale of post-Saddam Middle Eastern reform: There are legitimate differences about that but the "post-Saddam" bit of it is taken for granted. As noted in this space many months ago, he's being taken out first because he's the weak link in the chain of Arab despots. All the other stuff -- the chemical weapons, the ties to Islamist terrorism, the material breaches -- is true but ancillary.

....Oh, dear, oh, dear. Are there no foreigners good enough for Shields, Scheer and the other "multilateralists"? Brits, Aussies, Italians, Poles, Lithuanians: none of 'em count. During the Great War, Irving Berlin wrote a song about a proud mother watching her son march in the parade: They Were All Out Of Step But Jim. In this war, according to the picky multilateralists, they're all out of step but Jacques. Well, President Chirac can do the math: On the Continent of Europe, the majority of nations support the Anglo-American position; Belgium supports the Franco-German position, and the rapid crumbling of support for the Schroeder government at home suggests, if he's not careful, that the axis of weasels is going to be down to Paris and Brussels, Monsieur Evil et Mini-Moi. Chirac is playing a high-stakes game -- Schroeder is merely the dumb moll who's along for the ride and way out of her league -- and it's important to understand that the swaggering Texan gunslinger is a mere proxy for his real target: Tony Blair.

Here are some Mark Russell jokes on the Democrats and Estrada. (link via How Appealing)
Why, "today's stardummy, John Cusack gets four out of five Barbra Streisands on the Barbrometer.
Philippe de Croy on the Volokhs' site has some interesting notes about why the Democrats are so determined to block Estrada's nomination.
Some of the commentaries I have read on Miguel Estrada's nomination overlook a point about its historical context. Important seeds of the current filibuster were sown when the Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore. Most Republicans don’t think about that decision so much anymore, but Democrats do. The Court could have ducked the whole matter easily on the ground that it involved political questions in the Baker v. Carr sense or on other prudential grounds. One reason why that would have made sense is the type of outcome we now see. When a Court decides to entangle Article III in the business normally associated with Articles II and I, a natural risk is that Article III will end up getting splattered with politics. Sure enough, soon after the Court’s decision came down many liberal academics and politicians apopleptic about the result talked together about its implications. Meetings were held. Advice was given. It included the importance of not letting members of Article III courts (i.e., the Justices) rig the composition of the Article III courts by picking the president who in turn picks the judges. Democrats have not forgotten this. (If a more liberal Supreme Court had done the same for Al Gore, conservatives would have had the same reaction.)

One consequence of those discussions and decisions was that many of Bush’s nominees were stalled for the year and a half leading to last November’s elections. Another consequence is the filibuster now being played out. It might have occurred anyway, as DC Circuit nominations became an arena for various sorts of game-playing during the Clinton years. But this is an unprecedented upping of the ante, and I think it has to be understood as emboldened by the events of December 2000. The feeling remains among Democrats and their base that Bush, who won the election by such a close margin (and, in the view of many Democrats, didn’t legitimately win at all), has no mandate to put people on the federal bench who will steer it significantly to the right -- especially when his victory was helped along by members of the same branch this nomination will affect. (Ironically enough, of course -- or perhaps more than ironically -- Estrada was on the legal team that helped Bush secure his victory in the Court.)

Of course there’s more to it than this. If the Democrats knew Estrada would stay on the DC Circuit forever they wouldn’t mind so much. It’s about the Supreme Court. Everyone knows Bush wants to appoint a Hispanic. Everyone knows Estrada would be on his short list for any opening that arises this year or later in his presidency. The Democrats understandably have no interest in seeing Estrada on the Court; he’s too conservative, too smart, and too young. Of course they could wait and filibuster if and when he gets the nomination, but then it would be more costly. Today most people in the country have no idea who Miguel Estrada is or that a filibuster is occurring, but the attention and pressure focused on it would be immense if it occurred in the context of a Supreme Court nomination. Filibustering today makes it less likely that a more high-profile filibuster will be needed this summer or next year. In addition to probably taking Estrada out of the running for the Court anytime soon (and this even if the current filibuster fails), it also serves as a show of strength warning Bush not to try to put anyone comparable on the Court. How Bush (or Rove) will respond remains to be seen, but a certain point has been made. The Democrats have the will to make a filibuster work. Bush can decide to try to outlast them, but he may have better things to do this summer than start a cage match over a Supreme Court nomination. We shall see.

Democrats can't get their facts straight on Estrada.
I like this phrase: Nouvelle Nevilles.
Our nouveau Nevilles ooze with the same self-absorbed "peace cant," a monologue of conspiracy theories utterly detached from reality. Many so-called peace rallies are so barmy they exist beyond parody. After the gray-beard prof-type delivers an epithet-laden rant asserting President Bush and America are more dangerous than Saddam and bin Laden, several hundred 50-ish women disrobe and spell "No War" with their naked bodies. Peace in our time?

It's dumbfounding that many on the "peace left" claim to promote international, multilateral action, particularly in the United Nations, for they oppose the very policies that would strengthen the U.N.'s ability to promote peace.

In the 1930s, when Fascist Italy smashed Ethiopia and Japan savaged China, the League of Nations complained and did nothing. The League became a laughing stock. Failure to act when challenged by murderous tyrants killed it.

Failure to confront the tyrants of today will kill the United Nations. Finishing Saddam is about enforcing multilateral resolutions. In the wake of Desert Storm, U.N. Security Council resolutions mandated that Saddam give up his weapons of mass destruction.

Dolly RIP.
The Telegraph reports this anecdote from the US State Department.
Another official circulated an internet page with a picture of M Chirac looking surprised. Captions were invited below. Among the more printable were: "Jacques Chirac works hard on his look of utter disbelief, preparing for the announcement of the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in liberated Iraq."

One person ventured that M Chirac was saying: "Non! Non! We cannot use the codename 'Vichy' for our new Iraq plan!" Another suggested: "Mon Dieu! I'm mutating from a cheese-eating surrender monkey into a leaf-eating appeasement tortoise!"

(link via Instapundit) That's more gumption than I expected from the State Department.
Check out yesterday's Doonesbury. (via Instapundit)
A Commissioner on the Commission on Civil Rights speaks out in favor of Estrada.
Debka is reporting that a prominent Iraqi has defected.
Kim Dae-jung of South Korea admits that they bribed North Korea to get to the peace table. Then they won the Nobel Peace prize.

Kim, who leaves office on Feb. 25, also apologized for the scandal, which has embarrassed his government in its final days and intensified criticism of his "sunshine" policy of engaging North Korea — a diplomatic overture that helped him win the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize.

"I am really sorry for causing deep concern to the Korean people owing to the controversy," Kim said in a nationally televised speech. "As a person, I feel miserable and my heart is aching."

Happy 100 to Bob Hope.
How the NEA is destroying education.
Is Senator Kerry going to be hurt by his frontrunner status?
Here's the stupid suit of the day.
Which brings me to the pair of overgrown crybabies who are suing Southwest Airlines over a ridiculously misperceived racial insult. The Kansas City Star reports this week that sisters Louise Sawyer, 46, and Grace Fuller, 48, are headed to trial because their feelings were hurt by a flight attendant who used an old nursery rhyme to get meandering passengers to hurry up and sit down before flight departure.

Sawyer and Fuller allege that they were discriminated against on a crowded February 2001 flight after Southwest Airlines attendant Jennifer Cundiff said over the intercom: "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go."

Everyone who has ever flown Southwest knows it's a different kind of ride. Among the ranks of Southwest flight crews are many former and aspiring stand-up comedians. The company encourages a little levity to make crammed flights slightly more tolerable. A few of the light-chuckle lines used by Southwest flight attendants and reported recently by the Wall Street Journal: "OK, people, it's open seating, just like at church -- saints up front, sinners in back" and "Remember, this isn't a furniture store. You're only renting this seat for an hour."

The "eenie, meenie" crack was used by other attendants and recycled by Cundiff on several flights. But Sawyer and Fuller, who are black, felt ridiculed and persecuted by Cundiff, who is white. Bingo: Racist hate crime. "I was infuriated by the comment," Sawyer said. Fuller whined: "It was like I was too dumb to find a seat."

All together now: Awwwww.

Check out the NY Post's cover picture of the UN meeting.
Senator McCain has some strong words for those who think "containment" is an adequate strategy.
Mr. McCain singled out the Clinton administration for its "feckless" policy against Saddam. He also ridiculed former President Bill Clinton's boast that a cruise-missile attack in response to a planned assassination attempt against the elder President George Bush dealt "a devastating blow to Iraq's ability to plan and carry out terrorist operations in the future."

"In fact, [Mr. Clinton] sent Saddam the message that in response to his attempts to kill an American president, the United States would kill a few janitors," he said.

Mr. McCain compared the "resolve and unity" of American allies that won the Cold War with the way today's European powers form "a coalition of the willing to find peace at any price for Baghdad."

The French and Russians are putting their "commercial interests above international law, world peace and the political ideals of Western civilization," the Arizonan said, adding that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder "looks little like the ally that anchored our presence in Europe throughout the Cold War."

"A German Rip Van Winkle from the 1960s would not understand the lack of political courage and cooperation with its allies on the question of Iraq exhibited in Berlin today," Mr. McCain said.

If war is necessary, the United States will not "be going it alone," he said, but will wage war in Iraq with a coalition of allies — with or without the blessing of the United Nations.

"The problem here is not whether we do damage to the United Nations if we have to take military action," he said. "The question is, will the United Nations follow the League of Nations and risk irrelevancy."

Andrew Sullivan explores the incoherence of the NY Times. Always a worthwhile subject.
Hispanic groups are divided on Estrada's nomination.
People are flooding the French embassy with anti-French phone calls. Poor dears.
McCain-Feingold is coming back to bite the Democrats. The Republicans will have a huge advantage in 2004.
Things are getting ready. The 82nd Airborne is being deployed.
If Justice William O. Douglas lied about his war record, should he be buried at Arlington?
Some Congressmen file a suit to stop war in Iraq under the War Powers Act. It will have as little success as similar suits.
A great article from the National Post outlining how tight the French have been with Saddam for almost 30 years.
What is unarguable is that their hostility to any effort to rein in Saddam Hussein was in evidence long before this crisis; it has nothing to do with questions of peace or war. If you weren't sure how much to detest the French, read this article. You'll know after reading it.(link via

When the issue was sanctions, they were against sanctions. When the issue was inspections, they were against inspections. And while they now profess to favour disarmament, they have not only consistently opposed any practical measure to effect it over the years, they have themselves been Saddam's chief suppliers of weapons of mass destruction -- and may be even to this day. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that they are not so much interested in opposing war as in supporting Saddam.

The French, needless to say, are the most deeply implicated. France has been romancing Iraq since at least 1972, when Saddam, already the number two man in the Ba'athist regime, nationalized the Iraqi oil industry, more or less at the point of a gun. Had the West held firm in its opposition, the putsch might not have succeeded, and Saddam would never have acquired the revenues to pursue his ambitions. But France broke ranks -- in exchange for a cut of the action.

The pattern was to be repeated three years later, when Saddam began shopping for a fast-breeder nuclear reactor, with a view to acquiring nuclear weapons within 10 years. No one was willing to provide him with the advanced technology he was seeking -- not even the Russians, who had sold him with a small research reactor some years earlier. It was not until he met with the French prime minister, one Jacques Chirac, that Saddam found what he was looking for. The French agreed, knowing full well what Saddam was up to, in exchange for $3-billion in cash, some oil concessions and a huge contract to purchase France's Mirage F-1 fighter planes. Oh, and one other thing: The Franco-Iraqi Nuclear Co-operation Treaty stipulated that "all persons of Jewish race" be excluded from participating.

More deals followed: armoured vehicles, surface-to-air missiles, antiship missiles. By 1982, Iraq accounted for 40% of all French arms exports. Other countries -- the Russians, the Italians, the British, less so the Americans -- also sold arms to Iraq, especially during the Iran-Iraq war, when revolutionary Iran seemed the greater threat to the region. The Germans, egregiously, provided Saddam with much of his chemical weapons capacity, from mustard gas to nerve gases like Tabun and Sarin, as well as the ballistic missile technology with which to deliver them to places like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But none did so with anything like the audacity of the French.

Even after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, French support for Iraq did not waver. François Mitterrand went so far as to make a speech to the UN in September of that year in which he lent legitimacy to Iraq's territorial claims. The French were early and ardent enthusiasts for lifting the sanctions imposed after the war, and did everything in their power to undermine the disarmament regime. In 1997, following a series of confrontations with UN inspectors, the Security Council passed Resolution 1134, which threatened to impose travel restrictions on Iraqi officials (quelle horreur!) if the harassment continued. France abstained (along with Russia and China). Emboldened, Saddam stepped up his defiance. The inspections regime soon collapsed.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Some clear language on the Bush budget.
On average, Bill Clinton’s deficits were larger than George W. Bush’s. On average, the Clinton deficits over the first three years of that administration were much larger than Bush’s. The 2004 deficit, adjusted for inflation, is ranked 12th since 1940. The 2004 deficit, as a percent of GDP, is ranked 21st since 1940. The top five deficits run in this country happened while Democrats were in the White House.
Andrew Sullivan quotes a great line from Dennis Miller.
From Dennis MIller on Donahue: the New York Times will decide to support a war as soon as they find out Saddam has opened an all-male golfing club in Tikrit.

More anti-French humor.
The British are becoming less opposed to the war as they concentrate on hating the French.
John Podhoretz weighs in with his Oscar predictions.
Scalia speaks out against the delays in approving judges.
The British note that the chosen villian in America now is the French.
More lies about the DC Circuit.
There are over 390,000 jedis in Britain according to their latest census.
This is an absolutely hilarious look at French history.

Gallic Wars - Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian.

Hundred Years War - Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman."

Italian Wars - Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.

Wars of Religion - France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots

Thirty Years War - France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.
War of Devolution - Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.

The Dutch War - Tied

War of the Augsburg League/King William's War/French and Indian War - Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Frogophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.

Read the rest - it's terrific.
Inside the Beltway at the Washington Times points out this memo fromt Senate Republicans.
The morning after President Bush's new budget was released, newspaper headlines around the country proclaimed "record deficits" — the highest in U.S. history.

But could these headlines be erroneous?

The Senate Budget Committee's Republican staff is asking the Washington press corps to take a short quiz: "How many times in the past 60 years has the deficit been larger than the level Mr. Bush is projecting for 2003 and 2004?"

The answer, they say, is nine times — 1943, 1944, 1945, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1992 and 1993.

"If historical comparisons are to be made, one must consider changes in the value of the dollar, as well as changes in the size or our economy; otherwise, the use of the word 'record' is meaningless," say the staff.

Robert Novak looks at the nightmare that Sharpton is going to be for the Democratic party.
An expected African-American vote of 40 percent gives Sharpton an edge in South Carolina's crucial early primary. While he will not be nominated, he poses an omnipresent embarrassment at multi-candidate debates and will demand a major speaking slot at the national convention in Boston. So, the party is stuck with Sharpton.

....However, Sharpton is tougher than usual Republican targets. Whenever Begala interrupted him, Sharpton interrupted back. When Begala demanded a "yes or no" answer to whether he would support any Democratic presidential nominee, Sharpton responded: "I'm going to answer it my way. You know, you all have to get used to (it). You all can't give orders no more, Paul. There are grown up folk in this party now, and we're going to answer the questions the way we believe."

Sharpton's rivals for the Democratic nomination dread such a riposte. Nor do they relish being the brunt of the Reverend's counterattacks. When asked by a reporter about his role in the Tawana Brawley non-rape case, he replied: "The next time anybody wants to know about Tawana Brawley, I'm going to ask them: 'Do you ask Teddy Kennedy about Chappaquiddick? Do you ask Hillary Clinton about her husband?'" If the Democrats don't dare risk abuse by challenging an African-American candidate, the alternative is enduring the Sharpton nightmare.

Sometimes, you just gotta love politics.
Ann Coulter does a rundown of celebrity ninnies who have come out against war in Iraq.
Krauthammer says that the 1990s were America's holiday from history.
Four months late, the nation's budget is almost ready.
Another cattle call for Democratic candidates in 2004 at an AFL-CIO meet.
The DLC is criticizing the Democrats' shift to the left.
Congressmen are now discussing ways to retaliate against France. I don't recommend retaliation through trade. That could come back to bite us in the end. But, I am happy to avoid French wine and cheese. What else to we get from France?
The Post says the rift is deepening over Estrada. And, just to rub it in, they nominated a member of Starr's Whitewater team to the 8th Circuit.
This is a very funny (non-PC) alternate map of the Muslim world. (link via Instapundit)
I'm so confused. Who can tell from this advice what we should be doing to prepare?
A Boston Globe columnist looks at the Democrats and their opposition to Miguel Estrada.
Of course, Democrats insist their opposition to Estrada has nothing to do with the fact that he is Hispanic. But that claim has nothing to do with reality. While it may not be fair to suggest Democrats are opposing Estrada just because he is Hispanic, it would be naive to think that they would oppose him as aggressively as they have if he were not Hispanic.

Democrats would not be fighting this hard, holding out this long, and spending this much capital trying to defeat a nominee who didn't pack the emotional punch that Miguel Estrada does -- and a lot of the muscle behind the punch comes from the fact that this nominee is Hispanic.

At first, it looked like a knockout punch. When Estrada was first nominated, there were rumors that, if confirmed, he might be on his way to becoming the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.

That no longer seems possible. It is likely that there will be a Supreme Court vacancy this year, long before Estrada is in a position to fill it.

And yet, the Honduran immigrant still packs a wallop. If Estrada makes it onto the appellate court -- despite the best efforts of Senate Democrats to prevent it -- Hispanics might ask what the party of Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy has done for them lately.

That's a good question. And one that is a lot tougher than any the Democrats threw at Miguel Estrada.

Powell plans to be frank with France and Germany.
Secretary of State Colin Powell says he intends to ask France and Germany whether they are opposing war with Iraq in order to get President Saddam Hussein "off the hook."
Oh, as if they'd answer that question honestly.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Researchers have determined that most people lean to the right to kiss. We started doing this in the womb.
Sometimes, you gotta just love Tom DeLay. The Corner links to this quote from the Washington Post.
DeLay is trying a more personal approach. "I was at a celebration of India's Independence Day," he told reporters, "and a Frenchman came walking up to me and started talking to me about Iraq, and it was obvious we were not going to agree. And I said, 'Wait a minute. Do you speak German?' And he looked at me kind of funny and said, 'No, I don't speak German.' And I said, 'You're welcome,' turned around and walked off."

They're going at on C-Span right now. Orrin Hatch is having kittens.
Now, Carol Mosely Braun is running. Is she serious or is she just doing her friend, Donna Brazile, a favor by trying to draw black votes away from Al Sharpton?
Go Go Gonzales. Albert Gonzales, Counsel to the President, has written a super-duper memo to Senators Leahy and Daschle answering point by point every stupid, dishonest, and hypocritical objection that they've made to Miguel Estrada. It is a masterwork and should be read in its entirety. The wonderful judicial blog How Appealing has posted it. Here are some excerpts, but you should read the whole thing.
First, as the Department of Justice explained in its letters of June 5, 2002, October 8, 2002, and January 23, 2003, all living former Solicitors General (four Democrats and three Republicans) have strongly opposed your request for Solicitor General memoranda and stated that it would sacrifice and compromise the ability of the Justice Department to effectively represent the United States in court. Even more telling, we are informed that the Senate has not requested memos such as these for any of the 67 appeals court nominees since 1977 who had previously worked in the Justice Department (including the seven nominees who had previously worked in the Solicitor General's office). The few isolated examples you have cited -- in which targeted requests for particular documents about specific issues were accommodated for nominees to positions other than the U.S. Courts of Appeals -- similarly do not support your request here.

Second, as explained more fully below with respect to your request that Mr. Estrada answer additional questions, the only specific question identified in your letter refers to his judicial role models. You claim that Mr. Estrada refused to answer a question on this topic. In fact, in his written responses to Senator Durbin's question on this precise subject that Mr. Estrada submitted three months ago, he cited Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Lewis Powell, and Judge Amalya Kearse as judges he admires (he clerked for Justice Kennedy and Judge Kearse), and he further pointed out, of course, that he would seek to resolve cases as he analyzed them "without any preconception about how some other judge might approach the question." Your letter to the President ignores Mr. Estrada's answer to this question. In any event, beyond this one query, your letter does not pose any additional questions to him. Additionally, neither of you has posed any written questions to Mr. Estrada in the more than three months since his all-day Committee hearing. Since the hearing, Mr. Estrada also has met (and continues to meet) with numerous Democrat Senators interested in learning more about his record. Finally, as I will explain below, Mr. Estrada forthrightly answered numerous questions about his judicial approach and views in a manner that matches or greatly exceeds answers demanded of previous appeals court nominees.

...In assessing your request that Miguel Estrada did not answer appropriate questions, we begin with rules of judicial ethics that govern prospective nominees. Canon 5A(3)(d) provides that prospective judges "shall not . . . make statements that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court" (emphasis added). Justice Thurgood Marshall made the point well in 1967 when asked about the Fifth Amendment: "I do not think you want me to be in a position of giving you a statement on the Fifth Amendment and then, if I am confirmed and sit on the Court, when a Fifth Amendment case comes up, I will have to disqualify myself." Lloyd Cutler, who served as Counsel to President Carter and President Clinton, has stated that "candidates should decline to reply when efforts are made to find out how they would decide a particular case."

....Even in the context of a Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Senator Kennedy defended Sandra Day O'Connor's refusal to discuss her views on abortion: "It is offensive to suggest that a potential Justice of the Supreme Court must pass some presumed test of judicial philosophy. It is even more offensive to suggest that a potential justice must pass the litmus test of any single-issue interest group." Nomination of Sandra O'Connor: Hearings Before the Senate Comm. on the Judiciary on the Nomination of Judge Sandra Day O'Connor of Arizona to Serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 97th Cong. 6 (1981) (statement of Sen. Kennedy).

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg likewise declined to answer certain questions: "Because I am and hope to continue to be a judge, it would be wrong for me to say or to preview in this legislative chamber how I would cast my vote on questions the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide. Were I to rehearse here what I would say and how I would reason on such questions, I would act injudiciously." Similarly, Justice John Paul Stevens stated in his hearing: "I really don't think I should discuss this subject generally, Senator. I don't mean to be unresponsive but in all candor I must say that there have been many times in my experience in the last five years where I found that my first reaction to a problem was not the same as the reaction I had when I had the responsibility of decisions and I think that if I were to make comments that were not carefully thought through they might be given significance that they really did not merit."

Of course, the facts don't seem to bother the Democratic senators who are going nuclear with a filibuster. But, anyone else with an somewhat open mind should be convinced. I hope this is the start of a major PR offensive from the White House.

Time reports that Saddam has lost some of his luster in the Arab world.
History News Network has provided a list with links of articles concerning liberal bias among historians.
The pundits at NRO's The Corner are pointing out the rank hypocrisy of Mary Landrieu. While running for senator she had an ad running on Hispanic stations with the following line it it.
Now, she's switched and is supporting the filibuster against Estrada. The Corner quotes from her press release trying to explain her position.
[M]y campaign ran an ad that was intended to convey only that I did not oppose his nomination, instead it read as if I had already decided to support him. Unfortunately, some of my supporters in the Hispanic community who helped us produce this commercial misinterpreted my neutrality as a statement of support. I take personal responsibility for the error and I apologize to anyone who was misled by these ads, which ran for less than 2 weeks on one radio station in New Orleans.
Is that at al coherent to you? It's a shame we have to wait 6 years to try again at her.
So, what does it say about cosmic karma that Darwin and Lincoln share the same birthday? Some in England want a national holiday for Darwin's birthday.
Byron York goes through the politics of the Democrats' filibuster of Estrada's nomination.
Although not surprised by the demands, some Republicans are amazed at the audacity of Democrats to keep making them. As far as the documents are concerned, the Justice Department has maintained that the papers are "highly privileged." While some Democrats might attribute that position to politics, it is supported by all seven living former Solicitors General, who last June sent Leahy a letter saying that "we do not think that the confidentiality and integrity of internal deliberations should be sacrificed in the [confirmation] process." The letter was written by Seth Waxman, who served as Solicitor General under President Clinton, and it was signed by not only Waxman but by Walter Dellinger and Drew Days III, who also held the post under Clinton; Kenneth Starr, who held it under the first President Bush; Charles Fried, who was Solicitor General under President Reagan; Robert Bork, who served under President Nixon; and Archibald Cox, who served under President Kennedy.

As for Estrada's alleged refusal to answer questions, Republicans point out that if Democrats were unhappy with his performance at his hearing last September, they could have held another hearing or at least announced their intention to do so. They did not. In addition, it is normal practice for senators who are unsatisfied with a nominee's answers to send the nominee written follow-up questions after a hearing. Nominees take such questions very seriously and take care to answer promptly. But in the case of Estrada, only two of the ten Democrats then on the Judiciary Committee sent follow-up questions. New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who has complained loudly that Estrada has not answered questions, did not bother to send Estrada any follow-up queries. Now Schumer cites the allegedly unanswered questions about Estrada as a reason for opposing the nomination.

Republicans are pledging to stand firmly behind Estrada, and they vow to debate the nomination for as long as it takes to win. Tuesday afternoon, Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "We're willing to stay today, tomorrow, tomorrow night, the next day, the next night, possibly Saturday, possibly into the recess." Frist warned Democrats that a filibuster would have "dramatic political fallout in the eyes of the American people, Independents, Democrats, and Republicans."

Now the question is: What are the GOP's options? As Frist said, the first plan is to keep talking. It is likely that Republicans will force Democrats to filibuster for progressively longer periods of time, stretching into the President's Day recess, which is scheduled for next week. All the while, Republicans will be working to find the support of enough Democrats to stop the filibuster. Sixty votes are needed. All 51 Republicans support Estrada, and three Democrats — Ben Nelson, Zell Miller, and John Breaux — have publicly said they will vote for him. That means Republicans need six more Democrats to end the standoff.

If Republicans believe they have enough support, they could force a vote on cloture, which would cut off debate and pave the way for a final vote on Estrada's confirmation. But so far Republicans are adamantly opposed to a cloture vote. They cite two reasons, one practical, the other principled.

"The first reason is we don't know if we have the 60 votes yet," says one Republican. "We're getting there, but we don't have it yet." The second reason, the Republican explains, "is that we don't want to get into the practice that any time you have a 'controversial' nomination, you have to have 60 votes to confirm. We don't want to concede that point."

On the other hand, Republicans realize that there is an argument to be made for calling a cloture vote at some point as the filibuster drags on, even if Republicans are unable to collect enough Democratic support to win. A roll-call vote would force Democrats to stand up one-by-one, by name, in opposition to allowing a confirmation vote for Estrada. "We need to get these Democrats personally on the record about this," one Republican says, "with a roll call vote to put up or shut up."

George Will compares Bush's 2004 budget to 1862. That seems a bit of a stretch.
The budget evokes 1862. In that annus mirabilis, with the national government's writ severely restricted and the entire American project in doubt, Lincoln and Congress nevertheless enacted the Homestead Act, which sped the settlement of the Great Plains; the Morrill Act, which begot the land grant college system; and the law that ignited construction of the transcontinental railroad.

Today, with the nation in a war against terrorism and on the brink of a related war against Iraq, the president's budget calls for a dash for economic growth through another round of tax cuts, a tax-cutting pace President Reagan did not attempt; a prescription drug entitlement linked to reform of Medicare; and reform of the way Americans save. And in a budget-related document, the administration floats the idea of scrapping individual and corporate income taxes in favor of a consumption tax.

Sigh of relief. My favorite in the world of news, Brit Hume, has signed on for another 3 years at Fox.
The Washington Post comes out for the pilot program for vouchers in DC schools. There is hope yet.
Some people just have a life that is too perfect if they feel they're owed a million dollars for bad wedding pictures. Read Catherine Zeta Jones' testimony in her suit against photographers who snapped pictures at her wedding to Michael Douglas. See how sorry you feel for her. I'm sure your heart will be going pitty-pat for her.
Astronomers think that NASA has developed a picture of what the universe looked like after the Big Bang.
Wow! Michael Kelly has the background on German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and his ties to terrorists in the 70s. It's rather scary that a man with such close ties to the most terrible terrorists from the 70s, thugs who were involved in the Munich Olympics and Entebbe and the Bader-Meinhof Gang, would now be the second most important man in the German government. No wonder the Germans are aiming to break up NATO. You must read this article.
Irony of the day. points out this quote from Hillary Clinton.

--"Time and time again, this administration is proving itself to flout the rule of law, to be very concerned with secrecy, unwilling to share information with the elected representatives ."

-Hillary Clinton on the anniversary of the day the Senate voted not to impeach her husband

One small correction. Her husband was impeached. That is the job of the House. The pusillanimous Senate had the duty of trying the impeached president. They voted not to convict him. I tell my civics students that if they can understand that difference, they'll know more than 95% of the American people.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Eric Grunden, the inestimable chemistry teacher at my school, has some lessons from chemistry that will help you survive an attack with WMD.
As always, Den Beste has a very interesting discourse on world affairs. Now, he's explaining things by invoking the Jacksonian trend in American foreign policy.
A New Republic editorial tries to explain French behavior and predict their future behavior.
The ultimate fear is that France will dig in and veto America's efforts to win a resolution to disarm Iraq by force. But given that France is a mid-ranking power lucky to enjoy far more clout than its population, economy, and history merit, which is more likely: That France will ratify its own irrelevance by vetoing U.N. action, thus forcing America to circumvent the United Nations--the most enduring source of French influence--and act alone? Or that France will hold out until the last, bending the wording of an eventual resolution as close as possible to its own position before jumping onto the back of the inevitable American victory? Anyone unsure of the answer would be advised to read up on the deliberations leading up to the first Gulf war--which France, after initial objections, supported.

Glenn Reynolds does a useful thought experiment by asking how America would behave if it were imperialistic.
An imperial nation, possessed of the kind of lopsided military power the United States has in today’s world, wouldn’t waste its time with inspectors and diplomacy. Nor would it limit its ambitions to Iraq.
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An Imperial America would probably join with nascent superpower India to divide up and conquer the region. India could have Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; we’d take Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt.

What about the “Arab street?” The answer would be machine guns, labor camps, and bulldozed mosques. (Replaced, perhaps, by new mosques with pliable mullahs). Really troublesome populations would be relocated, a la Stalin and the Crimean Tartars. (If the task proved too ugly for American troops, we’d hire mercenaries — excuse me, “Foreign Legion troops” — from sub-Saharan Africa, East Timor, and other places whose populations dislike Muslims. There would be atrocities and brutality, of course, but that would be part of the plan.) The response to people who said the war was just about oil? “You’re right. And if you’re nice to us, we’ll sell you some.” To keep the Russians happy, they’d get a cut of the action so long as they played ball.

Complaints from France and Germany would be ignored. And, given French history and German pacifism, the complaints would probably be muted once they realized they were dealing with the sort of brutal empire that they have historically either accommodated, or aspired to be. Any efforts at going beyond complaint would be met by unpleasant consequences ranging from trade sanctions, to sponsored insurgencies, to war.

What would Bismarck and Talleyrand have said about their countries' behavior today?
Here's another editorial analyzing why feminists are failing criticize Iraqis for their treatment of women. (Thanks to Tom at The Right Track for the link.)
The British take note of the anti-French and anti-German attitude in the U.S.
If there has been any European country that has attracted more contempt than others, it is France. In the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Hitchens described Jacques Chirac as "a positive monster of conceit _ the abject procurer for Saddam ... the rat that tried to roar". In the Washington Post, George Will opined that the "oily" foreign affairs minister, Dominique de Villepin, had launched France into "an exercise for which France has often refined its savoir-faire since 1870, which is to say retreat - this time into incoherence".

And in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman argued that France should be removed from the security council and be replaced with India: "India is just so much more serious than France these days. France is so caught up with its need to differentiate itself from America to feel important, it's become silly." The Wall Street Journal editor, Max Boot, argues: "France has been in decline since, oh, about 1815, and it isn't happy about it." What particularly galls the Gauls is that their rightful place in the world has been usurped by the gauche Americans."

The Democrats say they're ready to filibuster Estrada's nomination. The Republicans say they'll keep 'em talking. This could be historic. What fun.
You MUST read Mark Steyn's discourse on the UN. Every word is positively brilliant. Here is a sample:
Earlier this week, on NBC’s Today Show, Katie Couric, America’s favourite wake-up gal, saluted the fallen heroes of the Columbia: ‘They were an airborne United Nations — men, women, an African-American, an Indian woman, an Israeli....’

Steady on, Katie. They were six Americans plus an Israeli. And, if they had been an ‘airborne United Nations’, for one thing the Zionist usurper wouldn’t have been on board: the UN is divided into regional voting blocs and, Israel being in a region comprised almost entirely of its enemies, it gets frosted out from the organisation’s corridors of power; no country gets so little out of its UN membership. Say what you like about Abu Hamza, Britain’s most prominent cleric, but in claiming the fate of the shuttle was God’s punishment ‘because it carried Americans, an Israeli and a Hindu, a trinity of evil against Islam’, he was at least paying attention to the particulars of the situation, not just peddling vapid multiculti bromides.

Miss Couric could have said the Columbia was an airborne America — the ‘Indian woman’, Kalpana Chawla, is the American Dream writ large upon the stars: she emigrated to the US in the Eighties and became an astronaut within a decade. But somehow it wasn’t enough to see in the crew’s multiple ethnicities a stirring testament to all the possibilities of her own country, so instead Katie upgraded them into an emblem of a far nobler ideal: the UN.

In the days before Miss Couric’s observation, there were two notable news items about the United Nations, informing us that: 1) The newly elected chair of the UN Human Rights Commission is Libya; 2) In May, the presidency of the UN Conference on Disarmament will pass to Iraq.

But, as Katie demonstrated, no matter what the UN actually is, the initials evoke in her and many others some vague soft-focus picture of Danny Kaye, Audrey Hepburn or some other UN ‘special ambassador’ surrounded by smiling children of many lands. There were many woozy Western liberals who felt — and still feel — that the theoretical idealism of communism excused all its terrible failures in practice. The UN gets a similar pass but from a far larger number of people. How else to explain all those polls in Britain, Australia and even America that show popular support for war contingent on UN approval? ‘The UN’ means the Security Council; ‘the Security Council’ is a negative — it means anything which doesn’t prompt France, Russia or China to use their vetoes. I mentioned a few months back those Anglican churchmen who’ve redefined the Christian concept of a ‘just war’ to mean only one sanctioned by the UN, and said I couldn’t see why it should be left to two atheists and a lapsed Catholic to decide whether this is a war Christians could support. But amazingly the Anglican position has now been embraced by huge majorities of the British, Australian and American peoples: only the UN can confer moral respectability on the war.

Read the rest.
This is very funny. Check out the Hollywood Foreign Policy Review.
Senator McCain gave a speech about why it's important for NATO to support Turkey. Are France and Germany listening?
Check out this site my daughter found where you can see pictures from the Bible made with Legos.
With all the problems that we have in our elections, we should be glad that we don't have to face wild elephants as electors in this Indian state do.
Here are the Washington Post's predictions for Oscar nominees. You can check their powers of prognositication in a couple of hours when the nominees are announced.
Dennis Prager says that shelling out thousands for an expensive college is just not worth it.
Mona Charen writes about all the politicians suddenly discovering their Jewish relatives.
Read this article in the Washington Post about anti-Americanism in Europe. It seems that many Europeans have reached a delusional state in their resentment of American power.
In Britain, Blair has dismissed anti-Americanism as "a foolish indulgence." But aides say he is increasingly aware that the gap between his views and public opinion is widening, and he has launched a major public relations campaign of speeches and television appearances to try to narrow it. The distance he has to go was suggested by a challenge from one member of the studio audience he addressed last week: "I would say to you, Prime Minister, that [if] the war is to get rid of a despotic dictator who has no real democratic mandate, who's very destabilizing, who commits human rights violations -- is Mr. Bush next, perhaps?"

Similar popular sentiment in France helped make a runaway bestseller of a book that claimed the Sept. 11 attacks were carried out not by al Qaeda, but by a right-wing cabal in the U.S. government. The book, published in English as "The Big Lie," was dismissed as crackpot speculation by even the most left-wing of French journalists. But when its author, Thierry Meyssan, expounded his thesis on a popular late-night television talk show, sales took off. The book sold 100,000 copies in 10 days, according to its publisher, Patrick Pasin of Carnot books, and has sold more than 500,000 copies in France and other countries. Meyssan, the proprietor of a small, activist left-wing Web site, has been hailed in France and in the Arab world as a courageous truth-teller up against the American leviathan.

While some observers here have attributed the popularity of "The Big Lie" to France's obsession with conspiracy theories, others see it as one barometer of just how far anti-Americanism has spread into the mainstream. Guillaume Dasquie, a French journalist who co-wrote a book, "The Horrifying Lie," that dismantled Meyssan's claims page by page, said he has seen a marketing study indicating that many of those who purchased Meyssan's book are newcomers to book buying.

"The idea of Americans as victims was too unsettling for many ordinary people," said Francois d'Alancon, chief foreign correspondent for La Croix, a Catholic newspaper. "It contradicted their normal view of the world. But with Meyssan's theory, the Americans are the villains again. They become the ones responsible for these terrible events. It's much more acceptable."

Don't they remind you of Arabs who think the Israelis are behind 9/11 since only Jews would be smart enough to have pulled it off?
Ron Ziegler, Nixon's press secretary has died.
More celebrities giving us their dim views on foreign policy.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Mark Steyn on Powell's speech at the UN.
That won't do now. The trouble with the UN is simple: At its inception, its structures reflected the realities of the Second World War victory parade; then, from the '50s to the '80s, it reflected the realities of the Cold War stalemate; now it reflects not the new reality--a unipolar world dominated by a hyperpower--but the denial of that fact. For most of the participants in this week's meeting, the UN is not a reflection of geopolitical power but a substitute for it, a means by which the Lilliputians can tie down the American Gulliver. The fantastical, unreal character it adopted after the collapse of Communism sealed its fate. Wednesday was merely a confirmation.

Two or three dozen countries will join the war to liberate Iraq. If the Americans and British are wise, they'll play up the smaller fry, let their generals handle some of the press conferences, talk up their war heroics. All the late 20th century arrangements--the European Union, NATO and most definitely the UN--are about to be remade.

Sounds like a good outcome to me.
Magic, the Gathering cards for our new war.
Taranto also links to this weird non sequitur in a Reuters story.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has angered the Bush administration with his outspoken opposition to a war in Iraq, a position that has widespread backing in Germany where six million people were killed during World War II.

Hmmm. What exactly are the parallels between the US leading a war to throw out a hideous dictator who kills his own people and poses a threat to other nations and Germany losing millions of its citizens in WWII? I'm not sure if Reuters is saying that Germany was a victim in WWII like Iraq would be today or if it's implying that Bush is like Hitler in launching an unprovoked war. Whatever the point, it's quite insidious for a supposed unbiased news story. As James Taranto says, "Is one man's Nazi another's freedom-fighter?"
James Taranto thinks Den Beste might be on to something. He also notes how much France and Germany are willing to risk in order to keep us from dislodging Saddam.
It's worth dwelling for a moment on the absurdity of the proposal itself. When the U.N. passed Resolution 1441, it promised "serious consequences" if Baghdad failed to comply with its earlier mandates. Everyone understood that to mean military intervention, not tripling the inspectors. No one is calling on France and Germany to participate in Iraq's liberation; Germany (along with Cuba and Libya) has already said it will not, and France is more than welcome to sit on the sidelines too. But surely both countries would contribute troops to the proposed U.N. force, since it's their initiative. Chirac and Schroeder, in other words, are willing to put their boys in harm's way to keep Saddam in power.

Den Beste has more pondering of what could be the possible motivation for France and Germany.
Look at what they've done: the UN is finished as an effective institution (if it ever was one). They have also killed NATO for all practical purposes by refusing to let it come to the defense of member nation Turkey. (The eastern European nations who had been eager to join will surely think twice now about an alliance that won't actually defend existing members.) They have clearly acted in ways which must seriously damage future relations with the US. They have deeply embarrassed Colin Powell, betraying him and making him look like a fool, and turning him into an enemy. They have strengthened the position of the hawks in the US administration.

And they have now reached the point where they are seriously imperiling the process of creation of the European Union. I do not believe that they would have gone this far if their primary motivation was moral inhibition.

Even for Germany that is not plausible for me, and for France it's provably wrong that they are doing all this to prevent war, given that they themselves are fighting one right now in Côte d'Ivoire. It's not that France opposes war in some sort of generic sense; it's that they oppose this particular war by the US against Iraq for purposes of deposing Saddam.

Germany approved of the bombing in Yugoslavia. Remember that? it's not the case that Germany is now the world's biggest principled pacifist which works to prevent anyone anywhere from ever fighting about anything. And if they were, then why haven't they denounced the French intervention in Côte d'Ivoire? In fact, with little fanfare, the UNSC passed a resolution authorizing the French military intervention in Côte d'Ivoire a few days ago. Germany voted for it. Where is that grand public opposition to all war anywhere for any reason?

He has his own sinister explanation for why they're behaving this way.

Mickey Kaus takes on the shallowness of John Kerry and mines the topic for a lot of good hits on the Senator from Christophe.
The Washington Post says that the Bush administration is pushing ahead with a plan for education vouchers for DC. Look out for another big fight in Congress for this one. (Link from The Brothers Judd.)
Scrappleface has gotten a peek at France's and Germany's new UN resolution.
France today will introduce a new resolution in the United Nations Security Council giving Iraq "only 12 more years to comply" with the UN resolutions of the past 12 years.

John Hawkins at Right Wing News gives out its first annual Warblogger Awards. Very interesting and lots of new blogs to check out. I'm going to be busy with these.
Peter Hannaford argues that dynamic scoring would change the debate on the budget.
Another good London Times editorial on the French and Germans.
It is not just a desire for superpower status (without paying the concomitant costs) that motivates France and Germany; but also a desire to cash in on construction contracts in the Middle East that they hope will be awarded to them rather than American or British firms. The members of what we might call "the Versailles bloc", after the palatial self-congratulation of their recent joint parliamentary sessions, have their eye on the profits that they hope will come their way as a result of Arab fury with Washington and London in the aftermath of a war against Iraq.

We can but hope that if and when Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, comes to power in Baghdad this year, he will not forget France and Germany's disgraceful spurning of his country's hopes.

Without far higher defence spending, without significant allies even in their European homeland, and instead merely relying on Vladimir Putin - who needs much more from the Americans than they need from him - the Franco-German diplomatic project will turn out to be little more than bluster. If it leaves Saddam thinking he can continue to deceive the UN weapons inspectors, it could actually lead to earlier regime change in Baghdad, rather than none. Nothing in Middle Eastern politics is so familiar as the law of unintended consequences.

But if, by their posturing, France and Germany have weakened Nato's protection of one of its most stalwart members, and if this were to result in a successful Iraqi chemical or biological attack on Istanbul, history will not soon forgive her leaders for their cynicism and attempted blackmail. As for Belgium, which even refused to provide ammunition for Nato's liberation of Kuwait in 1991, perhaps we should have just let the Kaiser keep the place in 1914, rather than sacrifice a generation to earn such loathsome ingratitude.

There are plenty of ways for France to pursue her age-old policy of epater les Atlanticists - her invitation of Robert Mugabe to Paris being a typical example - but deliberately to refuse an ally protection as a war looms is ignoble even by Fifth Republic standards. That pacific, decent, united Germany should go along with such tactics is in some ways the foulest development of all.

All these war protestors who believe that Bush is for war simply for financial reasons or to exert more power over the world have it exactly backwards. It is France and Germany who are motivated by concerns over money and hegemony.
An editorial in the London Times says that NATO might be the latest casualty of the fall of communism.
Two Republicans from North Carolina are in trouble for remarks that are insensitive to Japanese-Americans and Arab-Americans. Don't politicians engage their brains before their mouths anymore?
Thanks to the Naked Voter for pointing out this link to a Real Clear Politics observation on Bill Clinton's appearance on Larry King.
because I simply couldn't stomach the former President's self-congratulatory answers to almost every single question.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

KING: Should we stay with humans going into space?

CLINTON: I believe so. I gave the approval for the Israeli astronaut to go.

KING: Really? It started then.

CLINTON: And on the day that he went up, former Prime Minister Barak called and thanked me and reminded me that he and I had done this deal to allow this remarkable human being to go into space.

Could any other person take such a simple, general question about the US manned space flight program and turn it into a paean to himself?

One thing Bill Clinton did for me was teach me a new word, "solipsistic." It describes BC perfectly. I saw it somewhere in an editorial and latched on the word as the perfect description of BC's approach to everything. It refers to the belief that "the self is the only reality." Doesn't that describe him exactly? Everything, whether it's North Korea or the tragedy of the Columbia is about the big Him.
Real Clear Politics has a good essay refuting the point that Michel Martin's point that Estrada's nomination was an argument for Affirmative Action.
Martin unwittingly highlighted the truly insidious and divisive nature of affirmative action: the idea that ANY minority who achieves prominence within a given field - whether it be Condi Rice, Colin Powell or Miguel Estrada - has done so because of affirmative action. This is demeaning not only of the individual and their achievements, but also promotes the cynical (not to mention absurd) notion that minorities as a group must rely on preferences and quotas to be competitive.

Indeed, by her own logic Ms. Martin is just a piece of affirmative action window dressing on This Week to balance out the all-white, male cast. That's certainly one way of looking at it.

Another way would be to say that Michelle Martin is a very gifted journalist and her qualifications put her in the top echelon of commentators at ABC News. Among this elite group, she was asked to be part of the This Week roundtable team because, in addition to her outstanding record, the producers of the show valued the different perspective she would bring to the discussion as a minority woman.

Republicans are stepping up efforts against Schumer and Clinton.
The police busted the guy in the Dell ads. "Dude, you're getting a Cell" is the headline at The (Link via Drudge)
The Telegraph has an interesting, albeit distasteful, profile of Jacques Chirac. Note these tidbits. Madame Chirac has candidly recounted, life with Jacques has been far from easy. A flavour of the difficulties was offered last year by Chirac's long-serving chauffeur, Jean-Claude Laumond, in a book called Twenty-Five Years with Him.

In it, Laumond portrays his boss as an insatiable bedroom athlete who specialised in high-speed conquests of secretaries and party workers. On one occasion he allegedly tried to seduce the Syrian President's wife during a state visit. Chirac was particularly tormented, claims Laumond, by any mention of the sexual successes of his rival and presidential predecessor, Mitterrand. "On hearing that Mitterrand had seduced a particular woman, Chirac would rage: 'What! He's had her as well!' Then the boss would set off in pursuit of the same lady, to even the score as it were."

Such matters, if discussed at all in public, tend to count for little in terms of French votes. Far more damaging is the whiff of corruption that has trailed Chirac since his earliest days in politics. His three terms as Mayor of Paris were notable for the remarkably high standard of living and many extended holidays that the Chiracs enjoyed. Jacques managed 45 solo trips to Japan alone. His claims to have become a sushi aficionado and sumo wrestling fan sounded reasonable enough. But where did the money come from? Chirac's personal finances at this time are the subject of a long-running, but currently stalled, investigation.

For in 2001 a court ruled that the President was immune from prosecution - or even questioning - for as long as he remained in office. To no one's great surprise, Chirac decided to run again last year - defeating the yawn-inducing Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin in the first round and routing Le Pen in the run-off. Bent or honest, popular or loathed, as George W Bush and Tony Blair pursue the tricky task of bringing France on-side, Chirac is the only game in town.

Charmant. (Link via Andrew Sullivan)
Jay Nordlinger has this anecdote from the Columbia memorial.
As you undoubtedly know by now, the Israeli astronaut who was killed on the Columbia — Ilan Ramon — was one of the pilots who daringly and bravely took out the Osirak reactor. At his funeral, President Bush reportedly told his children, “I’m going to finish the job your dad started.”
I hadn't heard this before, but I like it.
Kate O'Beirne, in calling for a "real" filibuster on Estrada's nomination gives a good summary of the history of the filibuster. AP Government students, take note.
The notion of the drama-laden, longwinded Senate filibuster is an outdated one arising from Hollywood movies and the bitter civil-rights debates of the past. In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the idealistic newcomer halts Senate action for 23 hours while he rails to the point of exhaustion against congressional corruption. Eighteen southern Democrats and one Republican conducted the longest filibuster in history when they blocked action on the 1964 Civil Rights Act for 75 days. The longest lone filibuster was staged by Strom Thurmond, who prepared for the ordeal by dehydrating himself in a sauna before taking to the Senate floor for over 24 hours to block a vote on a 1957 civil-rights bill.

After the adoption of Rule XXII in 1917 (at the behest of President Wilson, who was frustrated by the chamber's tolerance for endless debate), senators intent on blocking action by talking non-stop could be silenced by a two-thirds vote that invoked cloture, thereby limiting debate on pending legislation. The new rule was used in 1919 to end a filibuster against the Treaty of Versailles. But despite Rule XXII, filibusters remained an effective tool to block Senate action owing to the difficulty of rallying a two-thirds vote. An increasingly crowded Senate schedule and persistent frustration over filibuster delays led senators in 1975 to reduce the supermajority to the current three-fifths.

In the 1960s, the Senate averaged just two filibusters a year. (That is to say, actual filibusters, not just threatened ones.) The 1980s saw the filibuster threat used about 90 times, including in 1989 to block a capital-gains tax cut. By the early 1990s there was an average of 15 a year. In 1993, majority leader George Mitchell complained, "Right now in this Senate there are six different filibusters going on at one time."

The "modern," "silent," or "gentleman's" filibuster might more accurately be called the "lazy man's" filibuster. It has become so trivialized that there is no longer any need to silence an objecting senator. Once he signals his intent to filibuster, a senator is free even to leave town if he chooses, confident that he has triggered the need for 60 votes. The Senate will generally move on to other business, without any requirement that he be prepared to follow through on his filibuster threat. Sen. Robert C. Byrd has described the cozy arrangement as a "casual, gentlemanly, good-guy filibuster . . . Everybody goes home and gets a good night's sleep, and everybody protects everybody else."

But when a Republican minority blocked action on the Clinton agenda, Democrats cried foul, going so far as to launch a campaign in 1994 dubbed "Action, Not Gridlock" to abolish the modern filibuster. When the balance of forces changed in the Senate later in 1994, so too did liberals' rules of engagement and their view of the misuse of this particular parliamentary tactic. In early 1995, only 19 of 47 Democratic senators voted in favor of an unsuccessful attempt to get rid of the filibuster. "Gridlock, Not Action" had become the battle cry of the new Democratic minority now committed to blocking Republican initiatives.

Byron York clarifies how the Republicans are staging a "preemptive filibuster" on Estrada's nomination.
So much for France's idea. Blix says that more inspectors won't help as long as Iraq isn't cooperating.
David Frum resurrects this quote from Bill Clinton in 1997. “One of the greatest sources of our strength throughout the Cold War was a bipartisan foreign policy. Because our future was at stake, politics stopped at the water’s edge.” Oh, and that's why every Clintonite is crawling out of the woodwork to criticize Bush's foreign policy.

He also offers this handy scoring of last week's debate in NRO on whether or not the media has a liberal bias between Brent Bozell and Eric Alterman.

1) Alterman praises his own book and then quotes a couple of conservatives denying that they think liberal media bias is real or important.

2) Bozell points out that there is abundant empirical evidence of bias and presents a couple of damning examples.

3) Alterman praises himself some more and then accuses Bozell of prejudice against homosexuals.

4) Bozell presents more empirical evidence of media bias.

5) Alterman at last offers one solitary concrete argument for his contention that conservatives exercise immense media power: In October 2001, ABC News President David Westin told a Columbia Journalism School class that he had “no opinion” whether the Pentagon was a legitimate target for attack by America’s enemies. Many people objected to this remark, and Westin apologized. Alterman says he found this "capitulation" "dispiriting."

6) Bozell refrained from scoring the obvious debater’s point here: “Do you, Eric Alterman, truly mean to concede that it is ‘conservative’ to be anti-terrorist and ‘liberal’ to be agnostic about terrorism? Maybe you and Anne Coulter have more in common than you think.” Instead, Bozell calmly concluded that he had offered evidence to prove his point and Alterman had offered none. Game, set, and match to Bozell - and a pretty convincing demonstration to those of us who have not yet read Alterman’s book that we need not bother.

Howard Kurtz checks in on how the Dems are reacting to having Al Sharpton in the race. For a good perspective on this, just change Democrat to Republican and Al Sharpton to David Duke. Then imagine if everyone would be so nicey-nice about all this.
William Raspberry, who always manages to come down on both sides of every issue, says that he likes Powell and believes him, but is still not ready for war.
Time reports that Chris Dodd is pondering a run for the roses. The Democratic field is getting crowded. Instead of being the Seven Dwarves, they're in danger of becoming the Dirty Dozen.
The Tarnished Hero awards for "to America's most notorious animal-rights zealots, environmental scaremongers, celebrity busybodies, self-anointed "public interest" advocates, trial lawyers, and other food & beverage activists who claim to "know what's best for you." are out. Some examples:
The "Most Callous Exploitation of a Tragedy" Award

Awarded to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who was not the slightest bit sorry after declaring that U.S. pork farmers are "a greater threat than Osama Bin Laden." Kennedy made the comment during a speech on behalf of his Waterkeeper Alliance, which has waged its own Jihad against those who bring America's little piggies to market.

The "Better Dead Than Fed" Award

Awarded to Greenpeace, for pressuring Zambian dictator Levy Mwanawasa to deny his 2.5 million starving people access to U.S.-provided food aid, because it contains the same genetically enhanced corn (or, as he called it, "poison") that Americans have been eating for years.

The "Excuse Me, But Your Agenda Is Showing" Award

Awarded to Ingrid Newkirk, president and co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who admitted to U.S. News & World Report in a rare, candid moment: "Our nonviolent tactics are not as effective. We ask nicely for years and get nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works." PETA made news in 2002 when its tax filings disclosed a $1,500 donation to the North American Earth Liberation Front, an FBI-labeled "domestic terrorist group" whose crime spree has caused over $40 million in damage.

John McCaslin has the story of the Bush presidents' Afghan woman barber.
Steve Young says the threat level has been raised on Michael Jackson.
Citing "specific intelligence" gathered in a British television documentary, Homeland Security Chief, Tom Ridge, announced that the possibility of Michael Jackson doing something horribly repulsive had increased so substantially, that he is upgrading the Wacko Jacko alert system to orange.

Debra Saunders tees off the new EU regulations that mandate toys for pigs.
In Great Britain, failure to comply with the European Union regs could result in a fine of 2,500 pounds or three months in jail. In short, the EU message to its member nations is: Great bacon comes from happy pigs. Or else.

Bore a pig, go to jail.

Many British farmers say they already provide diversions to keep their pigs happy. Still, the governments of the United Kingdom already regulate farming, so many aren't exactly thrilled at the prospect of EU pig police with the power to fine or jail inspecting their farms.

One disgruntled farmer complained to a local paper in the United Kingdom, "You can't be sent to prison for not giving toys to children, why should it be different for animals?"

Why? Because animals have a stronger constituency than children have in certain EU countries.

Those constituencies don't shrink from measures that would drive up the prices of food. (Poor children, who can't afford pork -- well, they can eat cake.)

....It seems the next assignment is to figure out what toys can be fed to EU regulators to keep them from being bored and overly aggressive.

Quelle surprise! Gallup reports that Americans' opinions of France are dropping. I can't figure how they found so many who had a favorable opinion of France!
So, now Belgium can veto any NATO action. What a joke of an organization. Check out this picture of the Belgium foreign minister. He seems quite comfortable with putting the kabosh on NATO. I don't understand why the US can't send AWACs to Turkey without NATO's permission. My question is why we need NATO any more now? The Soviet Union is no more. We can work through a shifting set of alliances when we need to. What has NATO accomplished recently? And as for France's and Germany's plan for a new resolution that would beef up the inspections efforts in Iraq, they should talk with Blix. He's saying that he still isn't getting much cooperation from Iraq after this weekend's meeting with Iraqi officials. So much for more inspectors being able to do anything more despite Iraqi intransigence.
Andrew Sullivan explains why Powell is now in favor of war.
Even those who argue that Bush's cabinet is a den of trigger-happy imperialists must nevertheless concede that Powell cannot even faintly be pushed into that caricature. Now recall Powell's demeanor that Wednesday morning. It was composed; it was measured; but it was also packed with fury and determination. It seems to me that Powell's insistence on enforcing U.N. Resolution 1441 must therefore be a centrepiece for any debate on the looming war. Why, an anti-war advocate should ask herself, is this man so angry and so resolute?

Let me suggest a reason. Powell's fury and determination is not because he has doubts about the United Nations, but because he believes in it. He wants the body to work. He's not naive enough to believe that a body that can place Libya as the chair of a human rights commission has a moral center. And he's not stupid enough to hold that power-politics don't play a critical role in making the U.N. effective. But he does believe that the U.N. is the worst way of organizing international relations - except for all the others. He sees a real value in having world affairs channeled through a genuinely international prism. And he sees universal values - peace, human rights, disarmament, the prevention of genocide - as best enforced through collective rather than unilateral endeavors.

And that's why Powell is now pro-war. Resolution 1441 was not a resolution passed by the U.S. Congress. It was passed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council. Unanimously. After twelve years of delay, obfuscation and intermittent avoidance of the problem, the U.N. demanded immediate, active and complete cooperation by Saddam in his disarmament and threatened severe consequences if he did not. Again, that's not my interpretation. It's the simple meaning of 1441, a resolution which Powell had a vital hand in drafting. He drafted it because he believed that the U.N. is the place to resolve such disputes and ameliorate such crises.

Not a single member of the Security Council agrees that Saddam has done anything like enough to comply with the U.N.'s demands. The chief arms inspector, Hans Blix, himself has confirmed this. Powell's evidence confirms something far worse: an active attempt by Saddam's regime to foil the inspections. Not a single member of the U.N. has provided any evidence that Powell's presentation was inaccurate or false. None has openly disputed anything in it. 1441 is unequivocal about what should be done in that event.

The critical fact about the next two weeks is therefore not whether an international coalition of the U.S. and dozens of other free countries will disarm Saddam. The question is whether the United Nations can survive as a credible international institution. Powell's passion - and Blair's - is as much about rescuing the U.N. as it is about protecting Western citizens from Saddam's nerve gas, anthrax and botulism. If a U.N. unanimously-mandated war is prosecuted against the opposition of a majority of Security Council members, the institution will effectively be an oxymoron. It will be demanding that its own resolutions not be enforced. It will be a joke.

To say, as the French have said, that the response to a deliberate attempt to foil inspectors should be to send more inspectors to be foiled is absurd on its face. No one has a credible argument that doubling or tripling the number of inspectors will make the slightest difference. Finding such arms in a country the size of Iraq is like finding a contact lens in a football stadium. Without Iraqi willingness to tell us where these arms are, we might as well stay home. Moreover, to keep this farce going amounts not just to impotence, but to a flagrant attack on the U.N. itself.

....And Powell has another reason for his anger. He knows that Americans are deeply uncomfortable about acting alone in the world. For all the hyperventilation about a so-called American empire ready to spring from its lair, the default position of most Americans is still isolationism. September 11 killed that dream for a while, but the further we get away from that awful day, the more those instincts return. Powell knows that if the U.N. undermines itself fatally in the next couple of weeks, the chances for a future American presence around the world will diminish.

Terry Eastland demonstrates what a difference those few seats in the Senate make to the President's ability to get his nominations through.
The Democrats are starting to hear from state party officials that their opposition to Estrada is hurting them among Hispanics. So, the nomination could be a twofer for the Republicans. They'll get a judge the want (in the end) and have a wedge issue to use to appeal to Hispanics later on. The Democrats must wonder who's driving the bus.
Suzanne Fields reports from the CPAC conference. Can't be doing that bad when they have the President and Miss America on their side.
Rudy Guiliani argues in favor of Miguel Estrada.
Here's a nice profile of Torie Clark, Rumsfeld's spokeswoman.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Rory Lee gets a load off on those, like Dennis Kucinich, who just think war is so archaic.
Now, of course we should carefully weigh the lives of the young men and women we expect to go pro patria mori against the need for the action. But these sanctimonious nit-wits papering every flagpole and mailbox with flyers about the horrors of war as if this were some amazing fact unknown to the rest of the country -- give it a rest already, Tinkerbell. I realize that that class you took on Poets of the Great War probably left you with the impression that some surprised young British men were the first humans in the universe to expose the great truth that war is not much fun, and often people die during it. I assume you believe that the relative lateness of this revelation is the reason it has not yet reached beyond the provinces of your university department and the many poets who spent their slipshod careers rewriting Wilfred Owen in iambic pentameter. Okay, next semester how about you sign up for a class in, say Civil War poetry so you can find out that yes, indeedy, even those poltroons in the Victorian era knew that war was a lot less fun than, say, working on a farm 14 hours a day for the rest of your life. Which is really not much fun.

So the next time you are temped to hit the forward button on some email headed "WAR -- EXTREMELY NON-FUN!" I want you to stop. I want you to go out to your car, the one with the "No Blood For Oil" bumper sticker on it, and I want you to drain all the gas out of the tank and then drive yourself home. Then I want you to go get a steamship to Iraq and find some Kurds and explain to them that you are against war because it's a real drag. Then if there's anything left of your sorry hide, drag it home and hit the delete button.