Saturday, December 13, 2003

The Wall Street Journal asks if it is better to help the French or our allies? You decide.
The list of eligible countries reflects not so much a punishment for those that were missing, but recognition of those that--some at great political risk--made the sacrifice. Britain and Poland sent fighting troops, for example, and Italy, Spain and others have provided security forces. They've all taken casualties.

Germany and France not only opposed the war but actually tried to obstruct the waging of it. They did not pledge any money at the donors' conference in Madrid this fall. And they, along with Russia, have not sent any troops to postwar Iraq. Worse, these countries, which took what they implied was the high moral ground against the war, are now complaining that they cannot make private profit from its aftermath. It's not a pretty sight.

In Quebec you can't order a toy that speaks English and have it shipped to a friend.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Gregg Easterbrook has some comments on media coverage of Bush's environment policies.
Poliblogger is up with a new Toast-o-meter.
Check out the Barney Cam. It's Barney Reloaded at the White House.
Lt. Col. Allen West only got fined $5000 and will still get his pension. That sounds right.
MSNBC has a listof the greatest political hits of 2003. Here's number one
1 — Best metaphor for a career move: Al Gore joined the board of directors of Falcon Waterfree Technologies. What is Falcon Waterfree Technologies? In their words: “The cornerstone of Falcon Waterfree Technologies is our proprietary cartridge, installed at the base of the urinal. The cartridge is what allows us to save water and eliminate urinal odor.” Too bad it does nothing for a hanging chad. But that’s a different great political year.
MSNBC has a listof the greatest political hits of 2003. Here's number one
1 — Best metaphor for a career move: Al Gore joined the board of directors of Falcon Waterfree Technologies. What is Falcon Waterfree Technologies? In their words: “The cornerstone of Falcon Waterfree Technologies is our proprietary cartridge, installed at the base of the urinal. The cartridge is what allows us to save water and eliminate urinal odor.” Too bad it does nothing for a hanging chad. But that’s a different great political year.
Vodka Pundit has the right take on this story.
The headline reads:

Coalition: Nearly half of new Iraqi army has quit

Well, if the entire army quit during war, I suppose half of them quitting during relative peace sounds about right.

Denis Boyles gives a report on the French efforts to ban Muslim girls from wearing veils to school.
The reason for this fascination is obvious — and a perfect example of how the French attack a critical, complex social issue by focusing on the most superficial aspect of it. The real problems associated with the rampant Islamification of the French state won't be solved by issuing a dress code: In French hospitals, Le Monde reported, female Muslim patients refuse to be examined by male doctors, and the corridors are turned into crowded prayer halls. There's a problem with overtly Muslim jurors and with Muslim defendents, who claim their trials are unfair because the judge is a Jew. Crime is rampant and the public, the media, the politicians, even the authors of the Stasi report itself (reprinted in a .pdf file here in its entirety by Le Monde) all know who is responsible. The large minority of Frenchmen — although not all have citizenship — who perpetrate hate crimes against the French Republic are frequently "disaffected" Arabs, mostly from North Africa. They despise America, Jews and, unfortunately for the French, France itself. They are responsible for the rapid escalation of anti-Semitism in France. The once-suppressed EU report on European anti-Semitism said as much, and there aren't many Frenchmen who would deny it. Hence, the chauvinistic Le Pen's popularity, according to this Guardian report, continues to soar: 22 percent of French voters support him, which means he would still give the Socialists and the other parties on the left hell in an election. (Wait. It wasn't too long ago that every nationalist politician in France was fighting for all of Algeria to become part of France, if I recall.) Nicholas Sarkozy, the popular and efficient interior minister, and perhaps the only French politician willing to call a Muslim a Muslim, has been diligent in keeping social unrest under control, but it's an uphill struggle.

Before his tenure, the figures were really ugly: In 1999 crime in France was worse than in the U.S. By 2001, crime had increased 7.2 percent over 2000's figures; murders and attempted murders were up 35 percent; sexual assaults increased 40 percent; pick-pocketing on the Metro was up 38 percent. In 2002 there were violent clashes in Paris following Le Pen's electoral surprise; on Bastille Day, Chirac survived an assassination attempt; and last October, the mayor of Paris, Betrand Delanoe, was stabbed during an all-night rave he had organized called "Nuit Blanche." Not a small percentage of this can be laid at the feet of fanatical and angry French Muslims.

David Frum has some more to say about the Iraqi reconstruction contracts story.
couple of under-emphasized details might, however, have left readers with some rather different perceptions. The fact is that Germany, France, and Russia have already been pressed by the United States to forgive Iraq’s debts, most insistently at an October conference in Madrid. All three refused, as they have refused to provide significant aid to the new Iraq.

So who’s kidding whom here? The idea that the allies-only rule might somehow “embarrass” President Bush’s attempts to obtain economic assistance for Iraq is pure State Department wishful thinking. To the contrary: the swift and firm application of an attention-getting two-by-four may well be the only method to persuade the ill-intentioned three to offer any assistance.

There’s a more profound question at issue here. It is always hard for the human mind to adapt to the fact of change. For half a century, Germany has been a firm and faithful ally of the United States; France, an often annoying but still ultimately reliable friend. It’s natural to hesitate to absorb the evidence that these relationships may be coming to an end--that Germany is edging away from the old alliance and that France has for reasons of its own opted to pursue a policy of rivalry and even hostility to the United States. But if it is natural to hesitate to accept unwelcome new realities, it is dangerous to deny them. In Iraq, France was Saddam Hussein’s ally, not America’s--and France now wishes the United States, Britain, and the rest of the coalition to fail in Iraq, not succeed. It is useful for the French government and others to be made aware that Americans have observed this hostility--and that America’s future policy toward France and others will take this hostility into account.

As for Iraq’s debts, they are a matter between those who chose to lend money to Saddam Hussein--principally France, Germany, and Russia--and the new government of Iraq. The United States will of course wish to see Iraq and its creditors negotiate some settlement. But it’s also true that when debtors and creditors cannot agree, debtors sometimes simply default--refuse to pay. And what will those creditors do if Iraq does default? Invade?

Mark Steyn is perturbed about politically correct multi-culturalism.
In California, Muslim community leaders have applauded the decision of the Catholic high school in San Juan Capistrano to change the name of its football team from the Crusaders to the less culturally insensitive Lions.

‘It’ll be just our luck that they’re going to the same place as us.’

Meanwhile, 20 miles up the road in Irvine, the Muslim Football League’s New Year tournament will bring together some of the most exciting Muslim football teams in Orange County: the Intifada, the Mujahideen, the Saracens and the Sword of Allah.

That’s the spirit. I can’t wait for the California sporting calendar circa 2010: the San Diego Jihadi vs the Oakland Sensitives, the Malibu Hezbollah vs the Santa Monica Inoffensives, the Pasadena Sword of the Infidel Slayer vs the Bakersfield Self-Deprecators.

Like the unfortunate Mr Colin Rose, fired from his prison officer’s post at Blundeston jail for making an ‘inappropriate’ remark about Osama bin Laden that could easily have distressed large numbers of his Muslim jailbirds, we must all try harder to avoid giving offence. Especially at this time of year, when the streets are full of exclusionary imagery —snowmen, reindeer, Yuletide logs, all evoking the time when the crusading white men of northern Europe rode their reindeer into the streets of Damascus hurling blazing Yule logs at Muslims.

Dana Milbank just won't let go of criticizing the President's trip to Baghdad. Surprise, surprise, the military invited special groups to the dinner. And the British air traffic controllers union is upset. According to Milbank, the trip is still "causing turbulence." Only for those who go looking for discontent. The air traffic controllers maybe have a point. The turkey story that Milbank was gabbling about last week was totally bogus.
Usually polls showing a matchup between an incumbent and unnominated challenger at this point in the election cycle would be rather meaningless. But a new poll from New Hampshire is striking. New Hampshire is arguably, next to Vermont, the state that knows Dean best. He's a neighbor and has been campaigning there all year. But the poll shows Bush creaming Dean in a matchup 57 to 31 among registered voters. This is a state that Bush won last time, but not overwhelmingly. Dean is lapping the field in polls among Democrats. But this new poll shows that, while Dean can win a healthy percentage of Democratic primary voters, he's not getting the independent and Republican voters at all.
Greenpeace is accused of "Sailor mongering."
John Podhoretz describes how blogs are doing a better job thatn the US media of getting some of the real story out about the situation in Iraq.
The President is trying to stay above the fray. No sense getting in the mud with the Democratic candidates who attack him everyday.
Dean's still facing questions about his gubernatorial records.
Gore's daughter says that Gore tried to call Lieberman the night before his endorsement of Dean, but couldn't reach him. Liebermans' people are disputing that story.
I like Bush's response to complaints about not letting nations that worked against the war in Iraq bid for contracts.
But Bush was unyielding in defending the policy. "It's very simple," Bush told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. "Our people risked their lives. Friendly coalition folks risked their lives, and therefore the contracting is going to reflect that, and that's what the U.S. taxpayers expect."

Bush said even a decision by countries such as France and Germany to forgive Iraqi debt would not enable them to compete for the contracts in Iraq. And he was derisive when asked about German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's remark that "international law must apply here," saying: "International law? I better call my lawyer; he didn't bring that up to me."

Andrew Sullivan gets it.
What a relief to hear the president forthrightly defend his decision to bar Germany, France and Russia from competing on Iraq reconstruction contracts. There is a difference between being magnanimous and being a patsy. Germany, France and Russia are completely free to donate money and troops to help Iraq's transition away from a dictatorship they defended and bankrolled. (They have, of course, delivered nothing.) But, after doing everything they could to undermine the U.S. at the U.N. and elsewhere in order to protect their own favored dictator, they have absolutely no claim on the tax-payers of the United States. The idea that we should reward them for their obstructionism out of our own coffers on the same terms that we are rewarding countries that gave money and lives to help the liberation is a preposterous one. It's tantamount to inviting exactly the same kind of intransigence and betrayal in the future. France in particular went much further earlier this year and last than simply opposing the U.S. on Iraq. The French government did all it could to rally world opinion, lobby foreign governments, and delay the war to Saddam's benefit in order to isolate and humiliate the U.S. They didn't just object; they opposed, plotted and lied to our faces. Forgetting this is absurd. Rewarding it is obscene. The president is right. Let the real allies of the U.S. benefit from the alliance. Let France, Germany and Russia live with the consequences of their own moral bankruptcy and strategic error. The alliance is indeed not what it was. Nor can it be. And the responsibility lies squarely in Paris, Berlin and Moscow.
Remember. This concerns US taxpayer money. Why should it benefit weasels?
Charles Krauthammer explains Gore's endorsement.
The Gore strategy only works if Dean wins. The idea that Gore is now positioned for 2008 if Dean loses is fanciful. Political parties have little tolerance for people who lose even once, as Gore did inexcusably in 2000. But to be associated with a second loss -- one that gives Bush not just another term but historical legitimacy -- is unforgivable. It would be more liability than anyone could bear, let alone a man as charismatically challenged as Gore.

Is it over? Yes, except for one possibility. With the Gore endorsement, Dean has everything going for him. Not just money, but an Internet money machine. Loyal grass-roots troopers. Connection to the party establishment. A huge lead. A sense of inevitability.

Indeed, he is now leading for the first time in the national polls, not just in the two small states, Iowa and New Hampshire, that he has practically lived in for the last year and a half. There's the rub. Expectations are now as high as they can possibly be. He is expected to win -- win everything and win big.

If there is going to be another swing to the story line, there can only be one, and the media will hype it as much as they hyped his rise: ``Dean stumbles." A loss to Gephardt in Iowa would be huge news. Two polls have Dean with a 30-point lead in New Hampshire. Any rival who on primary day narrows the gap to single digits will be labeled the ``comeback kid,'' just as Bill Clinton ``won'' the New Hampshire primary in 1992 by finishing ``only'' eight points behind Paul Tsongas.

On the night he won the Massachusetts primary in 1976, Sen. Henry Jackson euphorically predicted he would win big in New York. He won by 13 percent. It was played as a defeat. He never recovered.

Howard Dean is no Henry Jackson. But he has yet to demonstrate that he has the resilience of Bill Clinton. True, he may not need resilience. There may be no bumps on the road to his nomination. But if there are any -- and if they come soon -- the fall could be hard.

The GOP is getting frustrated that the press is not paying attention to the leaked memos from the Democratic staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee?
The Campaign Reform Act has already changed the political landscape.
Nowhere is the new landscape more evident than in the current presidential race. Three candidates, led by President Bush, have decided to forgo public campaign financing and spending limits through the primary-election season. And most candidates, particularly Howard Dean, have elevated the role of the Internet as a fund-raising tool, using it to tap people previously unengaged in politics.


"Howard Dean has showed that it's possible to raise significant sums of money - hundreds of millions of dollars probably over time - from small donors," said Rep. Robert Matsui, D-Calif., the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "What we really are going to have to do is to focus on the small dollars."


Both Republican- and Democrat-leaning organizations have emerged to promote candidates and educate voters, replacing the political parties as both the organizers of politics and the reservoirs of unlimited contributions.


"What we're seeing is a predictable diversion of money and political power," said Republican election lawyer Jan Baran. "Political parties have been significantly defunded and have less resources to finance their activities. This is a more secure world for billionaires and groups who have rights under this law that political parties do not."
Is that really the world that the reformers wanted: weaker parties and billionaire-funded organizations?
Jimmy Carter zings Zell Miller and says that his appointment to the Senate to replace Paul Coverdell was a terrible mistake. Meanwhile, Miller's book sales keep rising.
Scott Lehigh says that Gore's endorsement of Dean will ultimately hurt Dean's candidacy since he won't get the rehearsal that he needs.
But the very real evidence of a candidate who is a few rehearsals short of a competent performance and still distressingly willing to shoot from the hip should give pause to Democrats serious about selecting the best challenger for November.

Then there are the other considerations that should be crucial for any party truly interested in retaking the White House. Questions such as: Does it really make sense to lead with your chin on raising middle-class taxes? And: Which candidates can show some appeal in the South? Having lost a disputed election he should have won handily as a peace and prosperity candidate, Gore, of all people, should understand the perils that confront a nominee who can't play in that region.

But by calling for Democrats to rally round Dean, Gore has tried to short-circuit the testing and vetting of the primaries. If, rather than triggering a backlash, his benediction helps Dean wrap the nomination up early by winning the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and then steamrolling to victory on Feb. 3, it may mean that the race will never, for any appreciable time, narrow from a crowded field to the sort of two- or three-person contest that allows a true battle test of the candidates.

In that light, it's hard to say what was more risible about Gore's remarks: His claim that he respected the prerogative of caucus and primary voters or his suggestion to the other candidates that they should "keep their eyes on the prize" and eschew attacks on the front-runner.

Democrats with extraordinarily long memories may recall that in the 2000 race, then Vice President Gore had fallen behind mild-mannered Democratic rival Bill Bradley in New Hampshire. A beleaguered Gore responded by launching a demagogic attack on Bradley's proposal for near universal health care. Given that history, his admonition to the other Democrats essentially amounts to this: Do as I say, not as I did.

Credit the true leaders of the Democratic Party -- Bill and Hillary Clinton -- with striking the right wait-and-see attitude as they watch their party's candidates joust. Why? Perhaps it's because the Clintons understand the value of a nominating process that allows a hopeful to overcome adversity, display his mettle, and prove to voters, primary by primary, that he is the best candidate.

Now, it's altogether possible that the front-running Dean will do just that. But if so, his victory should come because of what he himself says and does -- and not because Al Gore, having run a wretched campaign in 2000, wants to set himself up as a kingmaker in 2004.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

It's depressing to see this list of mistakes from one of John Keegan's books. Maybe it is just that American warfare is not his speciality.
Test your grammatical usage with this short quiz. You'll see all the mistakes that drive me crazy with my students on a regular basis.
Read about how terrible the Washington, DC schools are. And these are schools with some of the highest per student spending in the nation.
John Fund writes of how Justice O'Connor has become a full judicial activist under the "Greenhouse effect."
Judge Laurence Silberman, recently retired from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, made a landmark speech in 1992 that explained the kind of pressures that nudge someone like Justice O'Connor away from her conservative moorings. Judges, he noted, are often swayed by a desire for praise. Their judicial vanity is often flattered when reporters or professors at elite law schools write glowing descriptions of how they've "grown in office,"--that is, come to see a liberal point of view more favorably. Journalists "have a lot more impact than [they] think," he noted ruefully. He said the most prominent media practitioner of the effort to "put political heat" on judges to move them in a more activist direction was Linda Greenhouse, then and now the legal affairs reporter for the New York Times. Judge Silberman called this process of co-opting judges the "Greenhouse effect."

Four out of five tests have succeeded in tests of destroying missiles. Notice how this receives little publicity but when there is a failure it's big headline news.
Scalia's dissent is incisive and so convincing.
This is a sad day for the freedom of speech. Who could have imagined that the same Court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved of restrictions upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child pornography, Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U. S. 234 (2002), tobacco advertising, Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly, 533 U. S. 525 (2001), dissemination of illegally intercepted communications, Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U. S. 514 (2001), and sexually explicit cable programming, United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc., 529 U. S. 803 (2000), would smile with favor upon a law that cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government. For that is what the most offensive provisions of this legislation are all about. We are governed by Congress, and this legislation prohibits the criticism of Members of Congress by those entities most capable of giving such criticism loud voice: national political parties and corporations, both of the commercial and the not-for-profit sort. It forbids pre-election criticism of incumbents by corporations, even not-for-profit corporations, by use of their general funds; and forbids national-party use of "soft" money to fund "issue ads" that incumbents find so offensive.

To be sure, the legislation is evenhanded: It similarly prohibits criticism of the candidates who oppose Members of Congress in their reelection bids. But as everyone knows, this is an area in which evenhandedness is not fairness. If all electioneering were evenhandedly prohibited, incumbents would have an enormous advantage. Likewise, if incumbents and challengers are limited to the same quantity of electioneering, incumbents are favored. In other words, any restriction upon a type of campaign speech that is equally available to challengers and incumbents tends to favor incumbents.

Whenever you think that the State Department is going to shape up and do its job, you read a story like this. This poor reporter wanted to interview members of the Iraqi Symphony Orchestra that just played at the Kennedy Center. He couldn't get any help from the State Department or the Kennedy Center finding out any information about the concert or when the Orchestra would be here. You'd think this would be the sort of thing that the State Department would want to trumpet and would want to have interviews on the Today Show or Sixty Minutes.
Here's a wonderful story about a 13 year old girl who was able to get donations to send stuffed animals and duffel bags to foster children.
Blake Edwards is going to get an honorary Oscar.
Doesn't it strike you as odd that there seemed to be little discussion between Dean and his wife about his running. You get the feeling that he just told her that he was going to do it. They also don't sound like a very close couple.
"He didn't ask me whether he should run or not, because that's not something I really think about, whether it's a good idea for him to run," she said. "We did discuss how it would affect the family and whether we could handle it or not."

The Supreme Court heard an important gerrymandering case yesterday.
I don't see the administration deciding not to accept bids for rebuilding Iraq from countries that didn't back the war in Iraq as a major political problem for Bush. However, democrats like Kerry have already jumped on the bandwagon to criticize this decision. Will the American people really be upset that the Pentagon isn't giving American taxpayer money to France, Germany, Russia, and Canada?

Rod Dreher has a nice fable about this.
Once upon a time, four friends shared the forest. When an evil dictator threatened the peace and security of them all, one of the friends concluded that the bad man had to be driven out of the forest.

"Who will help me disarm and depose this dictator?" asked the American Eagle.

"Not I!" said the French Cock.

"Not I!" said German Boar.

"Not I!" said Russian Bear.

So the Eagle moved its soldiers to the dictator's doorstep on her own.

All the animals gathered in a clearing to try to talk the dictator into doing the right thing before it was too late.

"We've given the dictator 12 years of warnings, and he has done nothing but lie to us, and evade his promises. We all have solid reasons to believe he has poison weapons, and will use them against us one day if he's not stopped," the Eagle said. "Who will help me hold him to account?"

The animals thought for a minute, and, agreeing with Little Bunny Foo-Foo, the secretary-general of the forest, they decided to give the evil dictator "just one more chance." They responded to the Eagle thus:

"Not I!" said the Cock.

"Not I!" said the Boar.

"Not I!" said the Bear.

Here's another report on the marches in Baghdad for peace.
Starting Sunday, the ban on interest group ads that name a candidate 60 days before an election will go into effect.
George Will has a killer column with questions for the Democratic candidates. I hope Bush can manage to make some of these arguments when asked about unilateralism, economic growth, and unemployment.
Peggy Noonan pays a lovely tribute to Bob Bartley.
I don't know why there are all these gabby people in the Bush campaign. Do they have to do all this chattering to the press about what Bush may or may not do. Now, they're talking about how they're sure Dean will be the candidate and are planning maybe to have Bush start campaigning against Dean early while the primaries are still going on.
One Republican who speaks regularly to White House officials said there was serious thought about pursuing the earliest and most aggressive of the plans under consideration: putting Mr. Bush into full campaign mode soon after he delivers the State of the Union address in late January. In that way, the Republican said, Mr. Bush could get a quick start on defining Dr. Dean as too far to the left for the country before the former Vermont governor can wrap up the primaries and begin trying to move himself toward the political center.

Seeing that 45% of Democrats can't name one of the candidates, there is still time to define Dean as the GOP would like to do.
Nearly half of all voters -- 48% -- can name a Democratic candidate -- more than could do so in August – but half still can’t name one. 45% of Democratic primary voters can’t name any of their party’s candidates running for president.
I interpret that statistic to mean that independents and Republican voters can name more of the Democratic candidates than the Democratic voters can and that is why the percentage rises from 45% to 48% for the general electorate. Heh.
The decision by the Supreme Court yesterday initially will boost the Republican party which can get more money in small donations compared to the Democratic party. But that doesn't take into account all these new groups that Democratic billionaires can fund. The result is that there will be more secretive money flowing into the election mix. For my AP Government class which took their test on Interest Groups yesterday, notice that this won't change a lot of what will be done.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (news - web sites) says it will spend on phone banks and direct mail, among other activities. The AFL-CIO has said the law won't prevent it from spending millions trying to get its members to the polls.

The National Rifle Association plans to ask each of its 4 million members to give at least $20 to its political action committee, money it could use for direct candidate support, including ads calling for candidates' election or defeat.

"It's not going to shut us up," NRA executive director Wayne LaPierre said of Wednesday's ruling. "And we're up to the task, so stay tuned."

But with the legal issues now settled by the Supreme Court, the big test of the new system will occur with the new outside soft money groups that are cropping up.

"I think it clearly underscores the need to do what we're doing," said Harold Ickes, a former Clinton White House official who has formed one such group called the Media Fund which intends to raise $10 million to help elect Democrats next year.

Rick Hasen outlines three concerns that reformers should have. So, don't think we've seen the end of this issue.
Reformers should be aware especially of three potential dangers. First, just because a law like McCain-Feingold is constitutional does not mean that it is desirable. We have already seen a somewhat anticipated consequence of the soft-money ban. Big money has been flowing in recent months to groups outside of the political parties to pay for election advertisements. George Soros and other wealthy individuals have begun funding such groups with Democratic-leaning tendencies, and we can expect other individuals to follow suit by funding Republican-leaning organizations. Under the McCain-Feingold law as written, such groups are likely to be subject to disclosure rules but no limits on funding. These "shadow parties" could weaken real political parties and potentially undermine candidate messages. After the 2004 election cycle, reformers should consider whether Congress did more harm than good in the desire to break the sale of access to candidates by parties.

Second, the people must be vigilant to ensure that incumbents in Congress and state legislatures do not pass self-interested campaign finance laws in the name of "reform." More court deference means that the people will be the main check on laws purportedly aimed at preventing corruption or promoting fair elections but really aimed at incumbency protection.

Indeed, the majority in the McConnell ruling rejected plausible arguments that aspects of the McCain-Feingold law should be struck down as incumbency protection measures.

Third, the McConnell decision is the product of a fragile court majority. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who had voted to uphold limits on corporate campaign expenditures in a 1990 case, switched his vote to opposition here. In response, perennial "swing voter" Justice Sandra Day O'Connor switched her vote in the opposite direction — her third apparent shift on the issue since she has been on the court.
Robert Novak looks at Dean's wild accusations against Bush.
Unlike George McGovern in 1972, Dean's core problem is not ideological. It is loose lips: fabricating the story of a patient impregnated by her father, seeking support from pickup truck drivers with Confederate flags, and seemingly exulting in his draft deferment for a bad back. Nothing so worries old-style Democratic politicians, however, as proclaiming the apocryphal warning from Saudi Arabia.

In his Dec. 1 interview on NPR's "The Diane Rehm Show," Dean was asked about allegations that President Bush is suppressing information that he was warned about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "The most interesting theory that I have heard so far . . . ," Dean responded, "is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis." This received scant media attention (except for Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer), but Democratic politicians shuddered.

Dean was given a chance to back off six days later by Chris Wallace, debuting as "Fox News Sunday's" moderator. "I don't believe that," the candidate said, then added: "But we don't know, and it'd be a nice thing to know." He concluded: "Because the president won't give information to the Kean Commission, we really don't know what the explanation is." After playing to Bush-haters who listen to National Public Radio, Dean repeated the same canard to Fox's Sunday morning mainstream viewers.

None of Dean's opponents raised the issue during Tuesday night's debate in Durham, N.H., but moderator Scott Spradling of WMUR TV did. Dean still defended publicizing what he now called a "crazy" theory.

Where did Dean pick it up? A Dean spokesman told this column it was "out there." A rival Democratic candidate's campaign suspected it came from "some blog." The Russian newspaper Pravda published reports that Jordan's and Morocco's intelligence -- not Saudi Arabia's -- gave the CIA advance knowledge. The World Socialists circulated a story that the Saudi royal family knew of the attack in advance. Somehow, the urban legend penetrated Dean's mind.

Of course, this sort of story won't penetrate the democratic electorate in the primary states unless the other Democratic candidates make an issue of it. And I bet they won't. Wesley Clark certainly won't do it since he's spinning all sorts of rumors himself about how Bush has a plan to invade seven Middle East countries.
"Clark ... renewed his charge that soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration contemplated overturning as many as seven Middle Eastern and African governments. Clark ... told an audience . . . that he learned while visiting with Pentagon acquaintances in the fall of 2001 that such thinking had already been put on paper ... [H]e reeled off the countries that he had heard were on the administration's potential hit list ..." (Paul Barton, "Clark Again Tells Of Post-9/11 Hit List," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 11/4/03)

Asked To Back Up Claim, Clark "Acknowledged" He'd Never Seen Proof, Just Heard "Gossip." "Questioned afterward, Clark acknowledged he never saw the Pentagon memo or paper himself. 'But they told me there was something, some kind of a memo or something. I never saw it. I said, "Stop, I don't want see anything more. I just didn't want to get into it."' When asked if it was prudent to make the charge when he hadn't seen the Pentagon paper, Clark insisted it was. 'It's in my book,' he said, adding, 'You only have to listen to the gossip around Washington and to hear what the neoconservatives are saying and you will get the flavor of this.'" (Paul Barton, "Clark Again Tells Of Post-9/11 Hit List," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 11/4/03)

The fact that these two guys are the frontrunners says a lot about the Democratic base.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Kofi Annan is so full of air. Now he's upset because he thinks that the Internet apparently doesn't have enough on it.
He singled out the use of English as the lingua franca of the internet.

"There is a content divide. Much of the information on the web is not relevant to the real needs of people," he said.

"Nearly 70% of sites are in English, at times crowding out local voices and needs."

And who is stopping people from having sites in their own languages? And what information would he prefer on the web? I admit that videos of Paris Hilton probably don't help victims of warring tribes in Africa, but I'm not sure the Internet is the major problem there.

For a good laugh. Read some of the comments on Lucianne about Annan's speech. Of course, those comments are in English so, like this site, they are contributing to that English dominance of the Internet.
The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center wants non-citizens to be able to vote in California. Is this where we're headed? Will there be no division between being a citizen and not being a citizen? It's sort of like where we're headed on the differences between being married and not married.
CBS says that Gore's endorsement of Dean had the unintended consequence of firing up Lieberman. That's all well and good. But, how much play can you get off of people feeling sorry for you because Gore dumped on you and treated you rudely? I think, Lieberman will get a momentary bump and then slide back. But if he should recover his slippage in the polls and emerge as the anti-Dean candidate due to Gore's ham-handedness, that would be just too delicious.
Sadly, Robert Bartley of the Wall Street Journal has died. At least he was alive last week to learn that he'd been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Read Ken Starr's online chat on the Washington Post site answering questions if you're trying to understand the meaning of the today's Supreme Court decision on campaign finance. He explains things clearly.
An Iraqi blogger describes the marches in Baghdad against the terrorists. (link via Instapundit who has lots more links to stories of these marches)
The rallies today proved to be a major success. I didn't expect anything even close to this. It was probably the largest demonstration in Baghdad for months. It wasn't just against terrorism. It was against Arab media, against the interference of neighbouring countries, against dictatorships, against Wahhabism, against oppression, and of course against the Ba'ath and Saddam.

We started at Al-Fatih square in front of the Iraqi national theatre at 10 am. IP were all over the place. At 12 pm people started marching towards Fardus square through Karradah. All political parties represented in the GC participated. But the other parties, organizations, unions, tribal leaders, clerics, school children, college students, and typical everyday Iraqis made up most of the crowd. Al-Jazeera estimated the size of the crowd as over ten thousand people.

You can find a list of some of the parties that we noticed there at Omar's blog. At one point it struck me that our many differences as an Iraqi people meant nothing. Here we were all together shouting in different languages the same slogans "NO NO to terrorism, YES YES for peace".

I spent most of the time taking pictures. heh, I really enjoyed playing the role of a journalist. Everyone was tugging at my sleeves asking me to take their photos mistaking me for a foreign reporter. Some people recognized a reporter from Al-Arabiyah station and they started taunting him. One old man shouted to him "For once, speak the truth".

What was interesting, a group of Al-Sadr supporters showed up and started
shouting "NO NO to occupiers" obviously in an attempt to hijack the demonstration. They drowned in the rest of the crowd.
Kerry attacks Dean for being a phony. He'd have done better to cite some of the things that David Brooks wrote yesterday. Read how mumblety-mouthed Kerry was when asked a question about Dean being a phony. This is the great brainiac of Massachusetts?
The Supreme Court today upheld much of the Campaign Finance Reform Act or McCain-Feingold Act. Here's a preliminary article from the NY Times and here's an analysis from Rick Hasen, a supporter of the law.
Awwww. France and Germany are upset about being excluded from making money off the war they opposed.
Thomas Sowell ridicules those who only look for achievements by minorities and women in textbooks.
Brent Bozell offers his take on Hillary Clinton's appearance on three of the Sunday shows.
How arguments at the FCC show the debate between Hayek and Stieglitz.
This is as it should be. Nations that tried to block us in the war in Iraq won't have a role in rebuilding Iraq.
Everyone is criticizing Ted Koppel's handling of the debate. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at ABC's preparation for the debate.
Jonah Goldberg looks at the Kremlinology of trying to figure out what Gore's endorsement of Dean means.
The angle I find particularly fascinating is the one illuminated by Gore's treatment of Joe Lieberman, also a Democratic candidate. Never mind the spectacular ungraciousness of Gore not giving his 2000 runningmate the courtesy of a phone call - Lieberman learned of Gore's endorsement from the press.

Instead, think about what this says about a man who spent almost his entire life running for president as a moderate, reasonable centrist in the "New Democrat" mold.

In 2000 Al Gore insisted that Joe Lieberman was the most qualified man to fill his shoes should a President Gore be unable to complete his term. Obviously, politics were a consideration, but Gore nonetheless made the plausible and necessary case that Lieberman was the best man to take his place.

Since then we've been brutally attacked on our own soil, we've fought two conventional wars and we are continuing to fight a third on global terrorism. In the time since then, Joe Lieberman has been at the forefront of the war on terrorism in the Senate. He was pretty much the original drafter of the Department of Homeland Security, and in 2001 and 2002 he was the chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs committee. In short, not only is Lieberman more qualified than he was in 2000, but the things that made him qualified to be Al Gore's stand-in back then are all the more important after 9/11.

Meanwhile, Howard Dean was still an ex-governor of the second smallest state in 2000 and nothing he's done since then has made him any more qualified to be president. Like many of his fellow contenders, he sees the war on terrorism as a law enforcement issue. He sees nation-building (once an important issue for Gore) in Iraq to be so much imperial folly. Dean ridicules pretty much all of the centrist positions on defense and domestic policy that both Gore and Lieberman used to be synonymous with.

I understand Gore sees in Dean one qualification Lieberman doesn't have: the potential to win. But when you think about all that has happened since 9/11, for Gore to say that the post-9/11 world makes Howard Dean more, not less, qualified to be president than Joe Lieberman really shows how unserious Al Gore and his party have become.
Look for fireworks in January as the GOP attempts to pass the omnibus spending bill and the Dems threaten to filibuster it over the proposals for school vouchers in DC. So, in their desire to keep back an attempt to let some poor children evade the terrible public schools in DC (and also increasing money for DC's education budget) the Democrats will block spending for a huge part of the government. Will that fly with people?
Catch this picture of Al Gore. Not attractive. And notice how ticked off Charles Rangel is by Dean's attempt to appeal to blacks by making the announcement in Harlem.
It sounds as if the candidates spent more time attacking Gore and Ted Koppel than Bush last night. I was at my daughter's concert and missed this talkathon. Here's Kerry reaching again for the youth vote by being crude.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who has seen his poll numbers evaporate in the heat of Mr. Dean's campaign, also attacked Mr. Koppel.

Reminded by Mr. Koppel of his disappointing numbers, Mr. Kerry responded, saying, "If I were an impolite person, I'd tell you where you could take your polls."
And Al Sharpton also took a leaf from George H.W. Bush's book by attacking the questioner.
While discussing Mr. Gore's endorsement of Mr. Dean, which took place in New York, the Rev. Al Sharpton wondered whether Mr. Gore had noticed that "Tammany Hall is not there anymore."

"Boss-ism is not in this party," he said. "Let the people decide."

After Mr. Koppel noted Mr. Sharpton's minuscule poll numbers, Mr. Sharpton ended the debate by saying that Mr. Koppel had little room to talk, given the small viewership of his "Nightline" program, compared with "Saturday Night Live," which Mr. Sharpton hosted Saturday.
The Bush people should just shut up about how they're happy to be facing Dean. And notice how they're already trying to lower expectations about Bush's performance against Dean in debates.
Good news in the case of Lt. Col. West facing a possible court martial for firing his gun while interrogating an Iraqi prisoner and thus getting the information to avert an attack on US troops. It sounds like he'll just face administrative punishment rather than a court martial.
Nurses are number one as the profession people trust. I can buy that.
So, does Gore's endorsement expose the cleavage in the Democratic Party?

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

A history teacher argues that students should be taught facts before sent on to do criticial thinking. Exactly right. I've always hated the examples I've seen of course materials where students are taught a few things and then sent out to make generalizations and comparisons based on the little that they know. Since they don't know anything, they're always asked to compare to something in their own lives (thus, it's relevant, you see). How would they feel on the Underground Railroad? What would it feel like to be a kid working in a factory? These are the type of things I see in high school level materials. Pshaw!
Did you get a look at Gore's speech endorsing Dean? Yeccch! It reminds me of how odious he was. First he spoke in that fake slow voice. His accent has gotten increasingly southern now. It seems much more noticeable now than it did before. Then he got all worked up with his hair hanging in his forehead with that artificial passion. I saw Susan Estrich on Fox News and she was saying that Gore has ticked off some of his former supporters in the DLC. And his shaft to Lieberman seems so gratuitous. He could have had the grace to have called Lieberman ahead of time. Charles Krauthammer says that Gore has cemented his nomination as Secretary of State in a Dean administration. One shudders to contemplate such a vision.
Byron York explains how Republicans got access to the Democratic memos in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Apparently, everyone had access to everyone else's file. All that you had to do was click one icon or the other. What stupidity. And, as York points out, the media is more concerned with how the documents got leaked than what was in them, something that would never happen if the documents had been damaging to a Republican.
It's pretty bad when the lead headline from the AP about the Democratic debate says that they aren't coming clean about facts that might make Bush look good. It's a pretty amazing story from the supposedly neutral AP.
Dems Criticize Bush, Omit Facts Sometimes
The Onion says that Bill Clinton has discovered the Internet.
David Brooks proves over and over again his value as one of the two conservative columnists at the New York Times. He has a great column today on Howard Dean.
But Dean runs less on biography than any other candidate in recent years. When he began running for president, he left his past behind, along with the encumbrances that go with it. As governor of Vermont, he was a centrist Democrat. But the new Dean who appeared on the campaign trail — a jarring sight for the Vermonters who knew his previous self — is an angry maverick.

The old Dean was a free trader. The new Dean is not. The old Dean was open to Medicare reform. The new Dean says Medicare is off the table. The old Dean courted the N.R.A.; the new Dean has swung in favor of gun control. The old Dean was a pro-business fiscal moderate; the new Dean, sounding like Ralph Nader, declares, "We've allowed our lives to become slaves to the bottom line of multinational corporations all over the world."

The philosopher George Santayana once observed that Americans don't bother to refute ideas — they just leave them behind. Dean shed his upper-crust WASP self, then his centrist governor self, bursting onto the national scene as a mysterious stranger who comes out of nowhere to battle corruption.

The newly liberated Dean is uninhibited. A normal person with no defense policy experience would not have the chutzpah to say, "Mr. President, if you'll pardon me, I'll teach you a little about defense." But Dean says it. A normal person, with an eye to past or future relationships, wouldn't compare Congress to "a bunch of cockroaches." Dean did it.

The newly liberated Dean doesn't worry about having a coherent political philosophy. There is a parlor game among Washington pundits called How Liberal Is Howard Dean? One group pores over his speeches, picks out the things no liberal could say and argues that he's actually a centrist. Another group picks out the things no centrist could say and argues that he's quite liberal.

But the liberated Dean is beyond categories like liberal and centrist because he is beyond coherence. He'll make a string of outspoken comments over a period of weeks — on "re-regulating" the economy or gay marriage — but none of them have any relation to the others. When you actually try to pin him down on a policy, you often find there is nothing there.

For example, asked how we should proceed in Iraq, he says hawkishly, "We can't pull out responsibly." Then on another occasion he says dovishly, "Our troops need to come home," and explains, fantastically, that we need to recruit 110,000 foreign troops to take the place of our reserves. Then he says we should not be spending billions more dollars there. Then he says again that we have to stay and finish the job.

At each moment, he appears outspoken, blunt and honest. But over time he is incoherent and contradictory.

He is, in short, a man unrooted. This gives him an amazing freshness and an exhilarating freedom.

Here's a little background on how Gore contacted Dean to tell him that he wanted to endorse Dean.
Ramesh Ponnuru refutes the growing argument that Dean is unbeatable, refuting the arguments that others, like Jonathan Rauch, have made.
Dean's proposal to repeal the Patriot Act has not gotten much attention as a potential Dean vulnerability, partly because there are so many other vulnerabilities and partly because opponents of the act, both on the left and on the right, have been more vocal than supporters. But it could be a serious problem. Bush will be able to list various law-enforcement powers that Dean wants to eliminate, and that sound like common-sense measures to the public. Opposition to Patriot creates another problem for Dean, too. His response to 9/11 has been to oppose most of Bush's international war on terrorism and to oppose his domestic war on terrorism, too. He's against racial profiling, presumably against tighter border controls, and sort-of committed to defending Israel. So what's his anti-terrorism policy? It's not clear what he would have done besides fighting the war on Afghanistan and continuing to hunt down al Qaeda members. It should be easy for the Republicans to characterize this as a weak response to 9/11, because it is one.

Here's a story that shows how firm discipline in a school is the stepping stone to higher achievement.
Liberal pundits are lining up behind Dean.
William Kristol looks at how Dean could beat Bush.
I think the underreported story is what's going on in Russia's politics. We'll wake up and find that Russia is again a military dictatorship and wonder how that happened. I'm not sure what we can do to stop this, though.
Rich Lowry looks at the logical, economic reasons why unemployment benefits should not be extended. Another example of the rules of economics functioning as predicted.
Since 1970, the median duration of unemployment has been 6.6 weeks when the economy is growing, and 8.2 weeks immediately following a recession. In roughly 40 percent of cases, the period of unemployment is 5 weeks or less. So the unemployed aren't a single class of people, but a group constantly changing as people cycle in and out.

In many cases, job turnover -- although painful -- is a very good thing. It is by switching jobs that people learn new skills and find a better match for the skills they already have, thus earning higher wages. A typical young worker has seven jobs during his first 10 years in the job market. A third of that worker's wage growth will occur when leaving one job for another.

Public policy should be leery of anything that discourages this churning in the job market. (Otherwise, four out of 10 of all Americans would still be working on a farm, as we were a century ago.) Because unemployment benefits essentially subsidize unemployment, they can have this effect, encouraging people to stay unemployed instead of jumping back into the job market.

One study shows that each additional week of unemployment benefits increases the time a person spends unemployed by a day. Indeed, the unemployed are twice as likely to find a job in the week before their benefits expire than in the weeks prior. Makes you go, "huh," doesn't it?

People respond to incentives. Experiments in a few states have shown that giving a re-employment bonus to the unemployed speeds up the time it takes them to find a new job by roughly a week. Europe has longer and more generous unemployment benefits than the United States -- and also chronically higher rates of unemployment.
The early ads in Iowa and New Hampshire are dure to the silly McCain Feingold bill. When will the Supreme Court deal with that sick puppy?
On Tuesday in Durham, N.H., the FINAL Democratic National Committee debate will take place and the other eight wannabes will have another opportunity to whack Howard Dean. But now, they aren't even waiting for the debates. Last week, three negative ads went on against Dean in Iowa. The conservative Republican Club for Growth hit him from the right, claiming he'd raise taxes of average Iowan families by $1,900 a year. A group on the left (a classic 527 front group with murky funding and at least one tie to Dick Gephardt) spent $230,000 on a TV buy attacking Dean for his high ratings from the NRA.

Blame McCain-Feingold for some of this Grinch-like behavior; the law mandates that "issue ads" from groups can't run within 30 days of a primary. So only 12 more shopping days, you little 527 devils, until Dec 19.
John Podhoretz looks at Democratic criticisms of Bush hurting social programs just as Bush is increasing spending right and left.
YESTERDAY, George W. Bush signed into law a massive expansion of the federal government's "safety net" first created during the Depression by Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the New Deal. The new Medicare bill "ought at least to retire the claim that George W. Bush is a radical right-winger," writes David Frum, who deeply disapproves of Bush's action, on NationalReview.com; after all, "radical right-wingers want to get rid of programs, not create them."
Sorry, David. On Sunday, Sen. Hillary Clinton went on "Meet the Press" and accused President Bush of attempting to destroy the New Deal.

"When I first saw the Bush administration in action, I thought that they wanted to undo everything Bill Clinton had done," said the junior senator from New York. "Then I realized that, you know, they're taking aim at the New Deal. They really do have a mission in mind to radically restructure the social safety net."

How on earth can Democrats argue that President Bush wants to destroy the social safety net when small-government conservatives are screaming that he has abandoned all sense of fiscal discipline? "The 7.6 percent average annual growth [of the federal budget] over the past two years more than doubled the 3.4 percent average annual growth from 1993 to 2001," reports the Heritage Foundation, which points out that only half of the Bush-era government expansion is due to defense and homeland-security needs in the wake of 9/11.

Clinton arrested on drug charges.
Andrew Sullivan has a similar analysis of the Gore move as an anti-Clinton move.
What's in it for Gore? As John Ellis points out, a lot. You have to remember that just because almost everyone else on the planet thinks Al Gore's political career is over, Al Gore doesn't. By endorsing Dean now, he stands to get a major job in a potential Dean administration. Secretary of State? Supreme Court Justice? Who knows what elaborate scenarios Gore has been contemplating in his own mind. And if Dean goes down in flames (which must surely be the likeliest eventuality), Gore has allied himself with the energized, leftist Democratic base, and could position himself in 2008 as the real soul of the party - unlike that centrist opportunist, Senator Clinton. In fact, the minute after a Bush re-election, the Gore-Clinton struggle for control of the party begins again in earnest. To my mind, this is somewhat delusional of Gore. No sane political party would ever give him another chance at the presidency, after he threw it away with such spectacular incompetence in 2000. But all politicians have to be a little delusional; and Gore is nothing but a politician. For Dean, this kind of endorsement helps build momentum toward inevitability. And it also marks the first time that a major establishment figure has essentially blessed the new forces of web-based anti-war upper-middle-class activism that has propelled his candidacy. Gore, of course, helps with blacks, for good measure, a group now indispensable to any chance the Dems have next year. So there you have it: the left-wing take-over of the Democrats continues apace. And only the Clintons can stop it.


WHO ELSE WINS? Of course, one problem with the Gore-Dean juggernaut is that it makes an anyone-but-Dean candidacy more likely to emerge at some point. Clark was the obvious option, but he's so bad a candidate I can't see him pulling through on a centrist message (especially since he's been getting shriller and shriller on the stump). Kerry ... oh, never mind. Lieberman could have done it, but Gore's knifing him in the front rather knocks that scenario into the delete file. Edwards? He's run by far the most appealing campaign to my eyes, but he cannot hope to compete in the big leagues yet, especially with the kind of flattening momentum Dean now has. So Gore manages both to set himself up for 2008 and dent a few potential rivals at the same time. Smart and bold.
The Boston Globe says that Chris Wallace had a "fair and balanced" premiere on Fox News Suncay.
Dean apologizes for some of the obscenity-laced digs at Bush that Judy Gold and Janeane Garafolo and pals used at a fund-raiser for Dean.
Aides said that Dean didn't authorize the X-rated attacks and that the Democratic front-runner found them so "offensive," he almost refused to come out and speak at the fund-raiser, one of eight New York events that raised close to $2 million yesterday.

The X-rated fund-raiser came just days after Democratic rival John Kerry used the F-word to attack Bush in Rolling Stone magazine.

Hmmm. Exactly what type of language did Dean expect. He can apologize but he's happy to rake in the money.
Dick Morris thinks that Gore's endorsement is Gore's attempt to take the party back from the Clintons and to hitch a ride on the Dean-bus. It's about what I wrote yesterday.
The New York Times looks at how Gore's endorsement of Dean hurts Lieberman. Gore didn't even call Lieberman to let him know. Gore really shows a lack of class and manners.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Mickey Kaus is one of the smartest political observers out there. Read his take on the Gore endorsement and the so-called death of the "swing voter." The one objection I have to all his theorizing on Gore's motives is his idea that Gore wants to run again for president. I just don't see it. I think he wants to be the Emminence Grise of the Democratic Party. He wouldn't mind replacing the Clintons. I don't seeit happening. To tell the truth, until he emerged to endorse Dean, he seemed totally beneath the radar of most people, myself included. He seems to hibernate and then emerge like the Groundhog to bash Bush and then return to his den.
Debka has some interesting behind the scenes information on a shakeup in who is in control in Iraq. They highlight a guy I'd never heard of, "Robert D. Blackwill, deputy national security adviser to the president and Bush’s newest personal Iraq watchdog at US-led coalition administration headquarters." According to Debka, Blackwill is becoming the will of the administration on Iraq, representing some dissatisfaction with how the Pentagon is handling things. If this is true, Bush is setting up some problems with a confused chain of command. As always, take what Debka says with the proverbial grain of salt.
Mark Steyn has a great defense of Rummy as a speaker of plain English despite what some grammarians in England think.
This was his winning performance: "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me," the US Defence Secretary began, "because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."

If the Plain English Campaign thinks that's the worst use of English this year, then the Plain English Campaign is plain nuts. If there's a point to these guys, it's that there's an awful lot of bureaucratese and jargon around that officials use to evade responsibility and it's useful to have someone point that out.

If one had to extend it to the war on terror, I would be in favour of pointing out the laziness of the "root cause" crowd - all the poverty-breeds-resentment, resentment-breeds-desperation, desperation-breeds-terrorism, terrorism-breeds-generalities, generalities-breed-clich├ęs stuff.

Any response to the latest Palestinian atrocity that involves "ending the cycle of violence" and "getting the peace process back on track" is also worthy of derision.

But Rummy does not fall into this group. The Defence Secretary is perhaps the best speaker of Plain English in English-speaking politics, and it would be a less despised profession if there were more like him.

Want an example? At some Pentagon briefing during the Afghan campaign, a showboating reporter noted that human rights groups had objected to the dropping of cluster bombs and demanded to know why America was using them. Rumsfeld replied: "They're being used on frontline al-Qa'eda and Taliban troops to try to kill them."

Plain enough for you?

Or how about his dismissal of France and Germany? "Old Europe": within a week, Rummy's two-word throwaway had become the accepted paradigm of transatlantic relations. Belgium - Old Europe. Poland - New Europe.

I mention these examples not in mitigation, but because his little riff about known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns is in fact a brilliant distillation of quite a complex matter.

Let us take an example close to the heart of arrogant Texas cowboys: John Wayne is holed up in an old prospector's shack. He peeks over the sill and drawls: "It's quiet out there. Too quiet."

What he means is that he knows the things he doesn't know. He doesn't know the precise location of the bad guys, but he knows they're out there somewhere, inching through the dust, perhaps trying to get to the large cactus from behind which they can get a clean shot at him. Thus he knows what to be on the lookout for: he is living in a world of known unknowns.

But suppose, while he was scanning the horizon for a black hat or the glint of a revolver, a passenger jet suddenly ploughed into the shack and vaporised both him and it. That would be one of Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns: something poor John Wayne didn't know he didn't know - until it hit him.

It's about time that we're doing this. I wonder if Germany will appreciate how their anti-American stance has made this move more likely. Just like communities in the U.S. that depend on the presence of the military bases, this has got tohurt German communities.
The United States briefed NATO allies Monday on plans for an overhaul of American forces in Europe that may see tens of thousands of troops transferred from Cold War-era bases in Germany to new bases closer to potential trouble spots.
Al Gore is really snubbing Joe Lieberman. It sounds like this is Gore's effort to achieve some relevancy in Democratic politics. If he waited to endorse Dean, it wouldn't mean as much now. Now, he can take partial credit and be considered a sort-of khaki kingmaker. It's also a nice little snub at the Clintons. It gives us a vision of how Gore would have handled September 11, as if we couldn't guess.
This is what the magnificent campaign reform act has gotten us.
Though companies and unions are now banned from financing last-minute election ads, wealthy individuals already are writing big checks that will give them a voice on the airwaves in the final days before voters pick candidates.

An exemption in the nation's campaign finance law allows well-heeled people to give unlimited amounts to certain tax-exempt, unincorporated groups to pay for TV and radio ads targeting candidates just before elections.

The option is so attractive that some traditional political groups, such as the GOP-leaning Club for Growth, are considering shedding their incorporated status to qualify for the right to influence elections with big-dollar ads down the stretch.

"I'm sure if and when that ever happens it will drive all the campaign finance reformers batty. But it clearly is allowed by the law," said David Keating, executive director of the Club for Growth.

Keating's group already collects several five- and six-figure donations from business executives, including at least $75,000 in recent months from Arkansas banking magnate Jackson Stephens.

Though the national political parties no longer can collect big checks known as soft money under the law, some of their most loyal donors are lining up to give to the outside groups.

Large Democratic donors have already donated or pledged $10 million to a new group called the Media Fund formed by former Clinton White House official Harold Ickes to air ads against President Bush next year.

....The entire strategy, however, could be affected when the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the law -- a decision that could come this month.

The law, which took effect in November 2002, bans national party committees from raising soft money -- unlimited contributions from corporations, unions and wealthy people -- and imposes new limits on political ads.

Interest groups cannot air TV and radio ads the month before a primary and two months before a general election if they identify a federal candidate, are funded with corporate or union money or target the candidate's district.

The exception is any large donation given by an individual to spend on ads by tax-exempt groups that are not legally incorporated and which keep any large individual donations they receive for ads separate from corporate and union donations.

Does anyone think that it is really a better system to have unregulated, possibly anonymous millionaires able to run unlimited ads and regulated grouops that report their donations publically have limitations? I hope the Supreme Court justices are paying attention to all this as they consider the case on the law.
In a California public high school, it's now okay to ask God to bless America when singing Lee Greenwood's song.
Well, here's a Duh! headline.
Polls: Dean's Strength Is Among Liberals
My AP Government and Politics students could tell you that caucuses and primaries, particularly ones in Iowa and New Hampshire, bring out the party's activists who are always more extreme than the general voting electorate. Look for Dean to start tacking right.
Gosh, I so despise the United Nations. The same UN that would not even pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism or the killing of Israeli civilians now wants the International Court of Justice to rule on Israel's fence to keep out terrorists. I wonder what the UN did at the building of the Berlin Wall.
Evan Bayh, a Democrat understands the need for preemption.
"Even if there's only a 10 percent chance that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden would cooperate, the question is whether that's an acceptable level of risk," Bayh told me. "My answer to that would be an unequivocal 'no.' We need to be much more pro-active on eliminating threats before they're imminent."
Big Arm Woman's two-year old has discovered one of the delightful differences between men and women.
Here's an interesting article about how high school is not doing enough to prepare students for college. The push is on for a more rigorous high school curriculum and to have more students take AP courses. I agree totally. As a teacher of both an AP and non-AP US history course, I can already see how much more analytical thinking and writing is required to get students ready for the AP test rather than just to pass the North Carolina requirements for US history. OF couse, the result might be more students dropping out inhigh school rather than college.
A Democratic strategist says that it is more interesting that Senator Kerry called Dean a "lefty" than that Kerry says that Bush f****ed up the war.
If Senator Kerry thinks that Bush has [expletive deleted] the Iraq War, then I hope my 8 year-old son isn't listening when the Bostonian gives his real opinion on how he thinks his campaign consultants have handled his once front-running candidacy for the Presidency.
Check out what this former ABC reporter, Peter Collins, says about Peter Jennings.
Collins recalled one encounter with Jennings in the late 1980s that he said illustrated the anchorman's thinking. Collins said he had just finished meeting with Jennings in his New York City office when the incident took place.

"On the way out, I stopped by the desk of his secretary," Collins said. "I remarked how nice Mr. Jennings had been. And she looked at me with kind of beatific smile and said, 'Yes, it's his sense of noblesse oblige.' "

Noblesse oblige, a French term, means an obligation of those in power to be honorable.

Collins pointed to Jennings' background as the son of Charles Jennings, who retired as vice president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. When Peter was 9 years old, he hosted his own radio program on CBC. Jennings was born and raised in Canada.

"Peter, I believe, genuinely thinks of himself as a nobleman doing public good," Collins said. "I know that sounds preposterous, but that's the attitude."
Check out this anecdote about Wesley Clark courtesy of Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus.
Have you gotten a load of Gen. Wesley Clark? I mean, the most recent load? He told a synagogue down in Florida that he had seven Jewish cousins living in the state. He said, "I'm so proud of my Jewish family and Jewish heritage that I just had to share it with you." Did you know he was Jewish? Me neither. Sounds like one of those Hillary things. According to the Miami Herald, Clark said that, when he learned that his father was Jewish, "I was overjoyed and thrilled and happy." Yeah, I'll bet, General. I believe the ol' boy (or should that be "goy"?) doth protest too much.

Clark may be the phoniest presidential candidate in modern history, which is saying something. He makes his fellow Arkansan, Bill Clinton, seem like Joe Authenticity.

Amir Taheri looks at the drawbacks of "soft power."
Scrappleface has found out that the Soviet Union will endorse Dean.
CBS is considering a reality show to pick a presidential candidate. Hey, it might work beter than the primary system.
Ralph Nader is making some exploratory moves about running. He promises to decide by the end of the year. Those Republicans who have been supporting Dean thinking he'd be the easiest Democrat to defeat, should start contributing to Ralph Nader's campaign as insurance.
Rich Lowry is not impressed with John Kerry's proposed foreign policy. But then, most Democrats in New Hampshire aren't impressed either. I predict that Kerry is going to be a bitter, broken man. So much promise, so much hair and he couldn't convince people that he was the answer.
Kerry criticizes Bush for what appears to be a "politically expedient" strategy of "cut and run" in Iraq. This is rather rich coming from the candidate who voted against the $87 billion package to rebuild Iraq and fund U.S. military operations there because he is trailing Dean. Kerry's implausible proposal is to hand operations over to the United Nations, an organization that already has cut and run from Iraq. More fantasy.

For the other trouble spots in the world, Kerry prescribes talk — with Iran, the Palestinian Authority and North Korea. But the Clinton administration tried soft-touch diplomacy in all three cases and got respectively: nothing, a terror war against Israel, and a broken nuclear-arms agreement. Kerry displays a liberal's core belief that the world's bad actors will come to see reason so long as we keep up a cheerful patter with them. Yes, diplomacy has its place, but this faith in the power of talk for talk's sake is simply naivete.

Right Wing News has its list of the 20 most annoying liberals. I may have problems with the placement of some of the winners, but these are all worthy candidates.
Dean has a Southern strategy. Mostly it accuses Bush of trying to divide the country by race and gender. Dean says that he wants to appeal to Southerners on economic issues but his zingers are about race and guns.
The Supreme Court will hear two cases concerning Miranda wanrings and if "fruit of the poisoned tree" can be used against the accused.
If you want to understand how Congress works, read Bob Novak's column about how senators won't come back from vacation to pass the omnibus appropriations package despite all the lovely pork there is in the bill.
The Washington Post looks at how Lieberman has bashed the entertainment industry but now has backed away from this issue since running with Al Gore in 2000.
Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton, based on their extensive military experience, have figured out what the administration has done wrong in Iraq.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

I appreciate the job that the Secret Service has to do, but going to interview Eminem because he made a stupid song saying he'd like to kill the President seems a bit much.
Cal Thomas does a nice job of exposing Hillary Clinton for the fraud she is.
When they read this, all my 10th and 11th grade students will want to move to Britain.
Here's a look at how people both love and hate Wal-Mart. It's like most things where the consumer and the seller have different desires. Consumers like Wal Mart because they can get a pair of jeans for $12.99. Other sellers hate Wal Mart because they can't compete. But, should we retard the expansion of Wal Mart in order to keep some sellers in business despite the wishes of the consumers. Should we subsidize higher prices for milk just to help dairy farmers? It depends if you drink milk or spend your day working with cows. For myself, I vote for Wal Mart.
Clifford May takes a depressing look at anti-Semitism in Europe based on the EU-commissioned study on anti-semitism which was then withheld because it determined that anti-Semitism was most virulent among the Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups. It was deemed too incendiary to speak the truth. Better just to let the prejudice carry on.
Niall Ferguson attempts to explain how Bush can have both guns and butter.
Fred Barnes explores the canard that Bush or the Republicans are calling Democrats unpatriotic for criticizing him. While Bush has never done that, Democrats routinely call him unpatriotic for the war in Iraq and how it's going.
There is, however, one political figure who's been accused time and again of being unpatriotic: President Bush. The accusers? Democrats. Graham said Bush's Iraq policy is "anti-patriotic at the core, because it's asking only one group of Americans, those soldiers in Iraq and their families, to pay the price of the occupation." Kerry was harsher. In a candidate debate last September, he said Bush "lives out a creed of greed for he and his friends. I'm tired of seeing chief executives be permitted to take their millions or billions to Bermuda and leave the average American here at home stuck with the tax bill. You know what I call that? Unpatriotic." Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton complained of Bush, "Real patriots don't put troops in harm's way on a flawed policy." And Dean has questioned the patriotism of Bush's attorney general, John Ashcroft.

But Democrats have convinced themselves they are victims. To shut off dissent from Bush's Iraq policy, they insist, the administration tars dissenters as unpatriotic. When the White House said Durbin had disclosed classified information in a Senate speech, he responded by claiming that anyone who questioned Bush's case for war would be unfairly attacked. "This White House is going to turn to you and attack you," he said. "They are going to question your patriotism." Democrats were incensed by a recent Republican TV ad that says "people are attacking the president for attacking the terrorists." That, said Clark, showed Bush is "trying to strip us of our patriotism."

Democrats are selectively sensitive about TV ads. They remained completely passive when the NAACP aired a commercial in 2000 that accused Bush of killing James Byrd "all over again"--Byrd had been murdered by racist thugs--for refusing to sign a new hate crimes bill. And today they blame Bush for failing to deliver on his promise to "change the tone" in Washington. Yes, the tone needs changing. But it won't change if Democrats keep complaining, in order to discredit Bush, that their patriotism is being questioned--and then also claiming that the president is unpatriotic. They are wrong on both counts.



John Kerry is having some problems sticking to facts and real numbers rather than the ones he makes up.
The polls have not been kind to erstwhile front-runner John Kerry, so the Democratic presidential candidate has settled on a novel solution: make 'em up.

"Let me tell you something," he said Thursday on the CBS "Early Show." "John McCain was 30 points behind Bush in New Hampshire at this point in time." The point was clear: Kerry, far behind Howard Dean in New Hampshire, would have a come-from-behind victory, just as McCain did over George W. Bush in 2000.

Well, not exactly. At this time four years ago, an American Research Group poll found McCain with a 37 percent to 30 percent lead over Bush in New Hampshire. And a Franklin Pierce College poll put McCain's lead at 15 points.

This is not the first time Kerry has cited fanciful polling. A month ago, Kerry was asked at a debate about polls showing Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) ahead of all the actual Democratic candidates. "I saw a poll the other day that showed me about 15 points ahead of her," Kerry replied. But his campaign could produce no such poll.

And that blooper came just a day after Kerry said on CNN's "Inside Politics," "I am not as far behind in New Hampshire today as Al Gore was to Bill Bradley four years ago." Hmm. In November 1999, a Dartmouth College poll gave Gore a 7-point lead and a Newsweek poll put Gore's advantage at 10 points.

Seems that with all that turnover at the Kerry campaign, the research department is getting a bit thin.
I know the refrain gets tiresome. But, just imagine if Bush had made up numbers like that.

Also in this article, the Washington Post makes note of Howard Dean thinking the Soviet Union was still around.
The Telegraph has an intriguing story interviewing a former Iraqi officer who was the source for the claim that Iraq could launch WMD in 45 minutes. He also claims that Saddam had ordered biological weapons to the front in preparation for using them. He thinks that the members of the Iraqi army balked at using them. If this were true, you'd think that there would be some corrobrating evidence somewhere.
Continuing our family's blogging adventure, my husband highlights Judy Woodruff's futile efforts to get Bono to badmouth President Bush.
My daughter squeezed out a few minutes from her schedule to update her blog which had lain fallow for almost 3 months. Check out her description of the Great Poster Wars at our school as the Amnesty International Club put up posters advocating gun control to stop terrorism.
Blogger is finally back up. One day I will switch, but it involves too much mental energy to think about that now. However, Blogger being down was a good excuse for me to focus on work and writing midterms for my little sweethearts. I'm sure they'd be willing to pay Blogger to never be down again if it meant that I couldn't devote as much energy to writing a devilish midterm.